Original Articles

Original Articles

An Examination of Wage and Income Inequality within the American Farmworker Community
This article explores the reasons for earning inequalities among farmworkers in the United States and finds that legal status, rather than foreign birth, predicts lower earnings. Using national data from the Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Worker Survey, the paper analyzes differences in earnings based on factors such as gender, youth, being foreign-born, being unauthorized, being a migrant worker, or being a border region worker. It finds that gender and youth are the most reliable predictors of lower farmworker earnings, and that seasonal farmworkers are among the lowest earning workers. It also confirms that workers lacking authorized status earn less than those who have legal status but surprisingly finds that foreign-born US citizens actually earn more than their US-born counterparts. It recommends the following state and local policies to decrease inequality in earnings for farmworkers: 1) raise the minimum wage, 2) expand compensation coverage, 3) expand overtime laws to cover farmworkers, 4) improve living conditions for onsite farmworkers, and 5) create collective bargaining rights for farmworkers. Federal policies should also increase legalization opportunities for farmworkers as this will positively affect pay and working conditions.

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Family Matters: Claiming Rights across the US-Mexico Migratory System

Despite the fact that family unity is a core goal of the US immigration system, various US immigration policies prolong and force family separation. This paper examines the process by which Mexican binational families assert their legal rights to family unity through the mediating role of Mexican consulates. The paper analyzes an administrative database within the Mexican consular network that documents migrant legal claims resulting from family separation (particularly child support and custody claims), along with findings from 21 interviews with consular staff and community organizations in El Paso, Raleigh, and San Francisco. It finds that the resolution of binational family claims is, in part, dependent on the institutional infrastructure that has developed at local, state, and federal levels, as well as on the capacity of receiving and sending states and the binational structures they establish. The paper recommends collaboration in identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses within consular networks; development of formal protocols for consular staff and officials to work with government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and lawyers in resolving legal claims; limiting the role of local officials in the enforcement of US immigration law; and sharing the best practices of the Mexican consular network with consulates from other countries.

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The Case for a National Legalization Program without Legislation or Executive Action

This paper presents the results of a study that finds that as many as two million unauthorized immigrants in the United States could have a path to permanent legal status. However, these immigrants may not know that they are eligible for legal status or be able to afford the costs. The two million figure is drawn from an analysis of data on 4,070 screened unauthorized immigrants from 12 states. The study highlights the profound impact that a national project to screen for legal status would have on the US unauthorized population, mixed-status families, and US communities, including growth in home ownership and increased tax revenues. The paper recommends the following: (1) a massive, nationwide legal screening and legalization effort; (2) a substantial increase in high-quality, low-cost legal service providers; (3) increased legal training focused on immigration law and eligibility screening; and (4) extensive community outreach and education, especially among under-resourced populations.

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Immigration Detention, Inc.
This paper demonstrates the influence of economic inequality on system-wide US immigration detention policy and on individual detention decisions. The paper describes how for-profit prisons have impacted the immigration system through promoting wide-scale detention, which has led to increased profitability in the private prison sector and influence over policymakers. Next, it details the mechanisms by which economic inequality dictates the likelihood and length of detention in individual cases, through policies of keeping detention beds full and the use of monetary bond requirements for release from detention. The paper raises troubling issues of democratic governance and the commodification of traditional governmental functions. It concludes with recommendations for reform, including lessening the use of private prison companies for immigration detention, promoting the presumption of liberty in the immigration detention system to push back against large-scale detention, and reducing the use of monetary bond requirements as a condition of release.

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From Right to Permission: Asylum, Mediterranean Migrations, and Europe’s War on Smuggling
This paper analyzes Mediterranean migrant smuggling and European anti-smuggling efforts. It argues that European deterrence, containment, and anti-smuggling policies have proven ineffective and costly. It makes the case that the “war on smuggling” has provided a rationale for immigration containment, contributes to migrant vulnerability, and erodes the right to seek asylum. It proposes that European and other liberal-democratic states create policies that build on migrant agency and local civic engagements; enhance and expand family reunification, refugee resettlement, study visas and temporary protection; reverse anti-asylum policies; and set labor immigration quotas that protect worker’s rights and reflect the demands of their labor markets.

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Immigration Governance for the Twenty-First Century
The system of US immigration governance is administered by several agencies and departments across the federal government, with no clear chain of command or single department that captures the reach of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This paper studies the administration of immigration law and policy while looking towards immigration governance for the future. It opens with a historical overview that provides the backdrop for the current fragmented system of immigration governance. It then breaks down the missions and functions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by the lead agencies tasked with these responsibilities. The paper concludes with an analysis of options for improving the current system, such as: reorganizing and expanding governance by creating an Interagency Council on Immigration interagency; consolidating governance by creating an independent immigration agency; or tweaking the current system through critical reforms.

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Twenty Years After IIRIRA: The Rise of Immigrant Detention and Its Effects on Latinx Communities Across the Nation

This paper argues that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility’s (IIRIRA) detention mandate, special interest groups, and major federal policies have come together to fuel the expansion of immigrant detention to unprecedented levels. It discusses the implications of the growth in immigrant detention for human rights, legislative representation, and democracy in the United States. This study analyzes two main questions: What is the role of special interests in the criminalization of immigrants? Does the rapid increase in detention pose challenges or risks to democracy? The paper uses a unique dataset to reveal that major restrictive federal immigration policies such as IIRIRA and the increasing federal immigration enforcement budget have had a significant impact on immigrant detention rates. Based on these findings, the paper recommends: 1) increased transparency and accountability in data management from the Department of Homeland Security and on lobbying expenditures from for-profit detention corporations, 2) the repeal of mandatory detention laws, and 3) the repeal of the Congressional detention bed mandate.

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DREAM Act-Eligible Poised to Build on the Investments Made in Them

This paper outlines the results of a study on young immigrants, known as the Dreamers, who would be eligible for conditional permanent status under the DREAM Act of 2017. The study paints a portrait of a highly productive, integrated group of young Americans, who are deeply committed to the United States and poised to make — with status and time — even more substantial contributions to the communities that have invested in them. These investments include $150 billion that states and localities have to date spent on the education of Dreamers. The paper highlights potential DREAM Act recipients’ large numbers, prevalence throughout the country, high levels of employment and self-employment, long residence, US families, English language proficiency, and education levels. It argues that with time and, particularly, with a path to citizenship, the Dreamers would be able to contribute significantly more to their communities. Finally, the study finds that a large number of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, who will soon lose this status, would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act.

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