Original Articles

Original Articles

The Human Cost of IIRIRA – Stories From Individuals Impacted by the Immigration Detention System
The 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) has had a devastating impact on immigrants who are detained, indigent, and forced to face deportation proceedings without representation. Despite the growing specter of the “criminal alien” in the American psyche, there is little public knowledge or scrutiny of the vast immigration detention and deportation machine. Enforcement of IIRIRA has effectively erased human stories and narrowed immigration debates to numbers and statistics. This paper tells the stories of individuals — immigration attorneys, immigration judges, and detained immigrants and their family members — who have personally experienced the impact of IIRIRA. Collectively, these vignettes provide a realistic picture of the immigration detention experience and reveal the human cost of IIRIRA.

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Creating Cohesive, Coherent Immigration Policy
US immigration policy has serious limitations, particularly when viewed from an economic perspective. Some shortcomings arise from faulty initial design, others from the inability of the system to adapt to changing circumstances. In either case, a reluctance to confront politically difficult decisions is often a contributing factor to the failure to craft laws that can stand the test of time. This paper argues that, as a result, some key aspects of US immigration policy are incoherent and mutually contradictory — new policies are often inconsistent with past policies and undermine their goals. Inconsistency makes policies less effective because participants in the immigration system realize that lawmakers face powerful incentives to revise policies at a later date. It specifically analyzes US policies regarding unauthorized immigration, temporary visas, and humanitarian migrants as examples of incoherence and inconsistency. Lastly, this paper explores key features of an integrated, coherent immigration policy from an economic perspective and how policymakers could better attempt to achieve policy consistency across laws and over time.

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Seeking a Rational Approach to a Regional Refugee Crisis: Lessons from the Summer 2014 “Surge” of Central American Women and Children at the US-Mexico Border
In the early summer months of 2014, an increasing number of children and families from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — three of the most dangerous countries in the world — began arriving at the US-Mexico border in search of safety and protection. Responses to this “surge,” and explanations for it, varied widely in policy, media, and government circles. Two competing narratives emerged. One argues that “push” factors in their home countries drove children and families to flee as bona fide asylum seekers; the other asserted that “pull” factors drew these individuals to the United States. The first section of this paper examines and critiques the Obama administration’s policies during and after the 2014 summer surge, which took the form of expanded family detention, accelerated removal procedures, raids, and interdiction. The second section examines the “push” factors behind the migration surge — namely, societal violence, violence in the home, and poverty and exclusion in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. The penultimate section explores the ways in which the United States’ deterrence-based policies echo missteps of the past, particularly through constructive refoulement and the denial of protection to legitimate refugees. The paper concludes by offering recommendations to the US government for a more effective approach to the influx of Central American women and children at its border, one that addresses the reasons driving their flight and that furthers a sustainable solution consistent with US and international legal obligations and moral principles.

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The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a Half Million
This paper speaks to another reason to question the necessity and value of a 2,000-mile wall along the US-Mexico border: It does not reflect the reality of how the large majority of persons now become undocumented. The paper presents information about the mode of arrival of the undocumented population that resided in the United States in 2014. To simplify the presentation, it divides the 2014 population into two groups: overstays and entries without inspection (EWIs). The estimates are based primarily on detailed estimates of the undocumented population in 2014 compiled by CMS and estimates of overstays for 2015 derived by the US Department of Homeland Security.

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Working Together: Building Successful Policy and Program Partnerships for Immigrant Integration
Supporting and investing in the integration of immigrants and their children is critically important to US society. Successful integration contributes to the nation’s economic vitality, its civic and political health, and its cultural diversity. Although the United States has a good track record on immigrant integration, outcomes could be better. This paper argues that a robust national integration policy infrastructure is needed. This infrastructure must be vertically integrated to include different levels of government, and horizontally applied across public and private sector actors and different types of immigrant destinations. The resultant policy should leverage public-private partnerships, drawing on the work of community-based nonprofit organizations, and the support of philanthropy, business, education, and faith-based institutions. If the federal government will not act, then cities, states, and civil society organizations must continue to work together to build an integration infrastructure from the bottom up.

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Responding to a Refugee Influx: Lessons from Lebanon
Between 2011 and 2015, Lebanon received more than one million Syrian refugees. Already beset by political divisions, insecure borders, severely strained infrastructure, and over-stretched public services, the mass influx of refugees further taxed this small country. That Lebanon withstood what is often characterized as an existential threat has primarily been due to the remarkable resilience of the Lebanese people. It is also due to the unprecedented levels of humanitarian funding that the international community provided to support refugees and their host communities. The refugee response was not perfect, and funding fell well below needs. Nonetheless, thousands of lives were saved, protection was extended, essential services were provided, and efforts were made to improve through education the future prospects of close to half-a-million refugee children residing in Lebanon. This paper examines what worked well in Lebanon and where the refugee response stumbled, focusing on areas where improved efforts in planning, delivery, coordination, innovation, funding, and partnerships can enhance future emergency responses.

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‘They Need to Give Us a Voice’: Lessons from Listening to Unaccompanied Central American and Mexican Children on Helping Children Like Themselves
This article analyzes the responses of Central American and Mexican migrant children to one interview question regarding how to help youth like themselves, and identifies several implied “no-win” situations as potential reasons for the migration decisions of unaccompanied children. Furthermore, the children’s responses highlight the interconnected nature of economics, security, and education as migratory factors. Examination of children’s political speech revealed primarily negative references regarding their home country’s government, the president, and the police. The police were singled out more than any other public figures, with particular emphasis on police corruption and ineffectiveness. Additional analysis focused on children’s comments regarding migration needs and family.

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The End of the Deterrence Paradigm? Future Directions for Global Refugee Policy
Asylum lies at the heart of the international refugee protection regime. Yet, today, most states in the developed world implement a range of deterrence measures designed to prevent access to asylum on their territories. With particular attention to Europe’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, this paper categorizes contemporary deterrence policies. It then questions the sustainability and effectiveness of such policies. A number of deterrence measures do not conform with refugee and human rights law, rendering the refugee protection regime vulnerable to collapse. Finally, this article suggests some ways forward to address these problems. It discusses the partial success of legal challenges to deterrence measures and opportunities for alternative avenues to access protection. Ultimately, however, it argues that the viability of the refugee protection regime requires collective action and international burden-sharing.

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Critical Perspectives on Clandestine Migration Facilitation: An Overview of Migrant Smuggling Research
This paper provides an overview of contemporary, empirical scholarship on clandestine migration facilitation. It argues clandestine migration is not merely the domain of criminal groups. Rather, it also involves protection mechanisms crafted within migrant and refugee communities. Yet amid concerns over national and border security, and the reemergence of nationalism, said strategies have become increasingly stigmatized and perceived as an inherently criminal activity. This paper constitutes an attempt to rethink the framework in everyday narratives of irregular migration facilitation.

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Mass Deportations Would Impoverish US Families and Create Immense Social Costs

This paper provides a statistical portrait of the US undocumented population, with an emphasis on the social and economic condition of mixed-status households – that is, households that contain a US citizen and an undocumented resident. The study finds that mass deportations would plunge millions of US families into poverty, cost $118 billion to care for US-citizen children of deported parents, imperil the housing market and reduce GDP.

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