This paper examines the importance of applying a subject-centered approach to understanding immigration noncompliance and to developing effective, ethical, and equitable immigration policies. In general, a subject-centered approach focuses on the beliefs, values, and perceptions of individuals whose behavior the law seeks to regulate. This approach has been widely used in non-immigration law contexts to produce a more nuanced understanding of legal noncompliance. By contrast, the subject-centered approach has been an overlooked tool in the study of immigration noncompliance. This paper argues that a subject-centered understanding of why people obey or disobey the law can advance public knowledge and inform immigration policy in important ways. Specifically, the paper considers how the use of this approach might help us: (1) recognize the basic humanity and moral agency of unauthorized immigrants, (2) appreciate not only direct costs of immigration enforcement policies, but also their indirect and long-term costs, and (3) develop new and innovative strategies to achieving policy goals.
This paper analyzes the restrictionist logic that informs the Trump administration’s handling of immigration policy, and explores some of the underlying cultural, philosophical, and political conditions that inspired support for Trump. It contends that the Clash of Civilizations (CoC) paradigm is a useful lens to help understand the positions that President Trump has taken with respect to international affairs broadly, and specifically in his approach to immigration policy. The paper will focus primarily on Trump’s approach to refugee resettlement during his campaign and the early days of his administration. While there are unique aspects of the contemporary reaction against refugee resettlement, it is rooted in a much longer history that extends back to the World War II period. The paper explores this historical backdrop, and helps to clarify the reception of refugees after the fall of the Soviet Union. It also helps to explain how and why a CoC paradigm has become ascendant in the Trump administration. The CoC paradigm is at its core pre-political, and the policy prescriptions that follow from it are more effect than cause. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for restoring support to the US refugee resettlement program, bolstering foreign aid and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (which are essential to the program’s success), and engaging the cultural underpinnings of opposition to this program.
President Trump issued executive orders after taking office in January 2017 that could lead to the removal of many of the 11 million unauthorized foreigners, including one million who work in US agriculture. Agriculture in the western United States especially has long relied on newcomers to fill seasonal farm jobs. The slowdown in Mexico-US migration since 2008-09 means that there are fewer flexible newcomers to supplement the current workforce. Farm employers are responding with worker bonuses, productivity-increasing tools, mechanization, and guest workers. Several factors suggest that the United States may be poised to embark on another large-scale guest worker program for agriculture. If it does, farmers should begin to pay payroll taxes on the wages of guest workers. This will foster mechanization and development in the workers’ communities of origin if payroll taxes are divided equally between departing workers and commodity-specific boards to increase the competitiveness of production in the United States. The economic incentives provided by payroll taxes could help to usher in a new and better era of farm labor.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY With passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), the goal of discouraging illegal immigration and the legal immigration of the poor triumphed over the longstanding goal of family unity in US immigration...
This paper surveys the history of nativism in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. It compares the current surge in nativism with earlier periods, particularly the decades leading up to the 1920s, when nativism directed against southern and eastern European, Asian, and Mexican migrants led to discriminatory national origin quotas and other legislative restrictions on immigration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.