This paper examines the ability of immigrants to integrate and to become full Americans. Naturalization has long been recognized as a fundamental step in that process and one that contributes to the nation’s strength, cohesion, and well-being. To illustrate the continued salience of citizenship, the paper compares selected characteristics of native-born citizens, naturalized citizens, legal noncitizens (most of them lawful permanent residents [LPRs]), and undocumented residents. It finds that the integration, success, and contributions of immigrants increase as they advance toward naturalization, and that naturalized citizens match or exceed the native-born by metrics such as a college education, self-employment, average personal income, and homeownership. The paper also explores a contradiction: that the administration’s “America first” ideology obscures a set of policies that impede the naturalization process, devalue US citizenship, and prioritize denaturalization. The paper documents many of the ways that the Trump administration has sought to revoke legal status, block access to permanent residence and naturalization, and deny the rights, entitlements, and benefits of citizenship to certain groups, particularly US citizen children with undocumented parents. It also offers estimates and profiles of the persons affected by these measures, and it rebuts myths that have buttressed the administration’s policies.
On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program opened a floodgate that allowed thousands of young Americans to pursue higher education, better job opportunities, and deepen their social ties in the country. DACA soon proved to be a program of national scope and importance with life-altering impact for its beneficiaries, their families and communities. This paper provides provides a demographic and social portrait of DACA recipients, which shows their deep level of integration and their extensive ties in US communities. For the report, CMS also interviewed several DACA recipients in the New York metro area on DACA’s impact in their lives and what its termination would entail.
This paper describes the genesis and expansion of the universal representation model for persons facing removal from the United States. This public defender-like system — which takes different forms in different communities – is based on the idea that indigent individuals should be entitled to counsel regardless of the apparent merits or political palatability of their cases. The paper describes the benefits of such systems, such as a fairer process for persons facing removal, a more just and efficient immigration adjudication system, and strengthened communities. It also considers challenges regarding the criteria for representation, the need for context-specific models, possible restrictions on representation, and expansion to additional populations, particularly non-detained persons. An overarching challenge in “universal” representation models is to choose the category of persons in removal proceedings who are most in need, most deserving, or who will gain the greatest relative benefit from representation. The paper concludes that the more than 15 existing or soon-to-launch universal representation programs provide a clear picture of the limitations and eligibility restrictions likely to appear as the movement progresses.
This paper critiques US immigration and asylum policies from perspective of the author’s 46 years as a public servant. It also offers a taxonomy of the US immigration system by positing different categories of membership: full members of the “club” (US citizens); “associate members” (lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees); “friends” (non-immigrants and holders of temporary status); and, persons outside the club (the undocumented). It describes the legal framework that applies to these distinct populations, as well as recent developments in federal law and policy that relate to them. It also identifies a series of cross-cutting issues that affect these populations, including immigrant detention, immigration court backlogs, state and local immigration policies, and Constitutional rights that extend to non-citizens. It makes the following asylum reform proposals, relying (mostly) on existing laws designed to address situations of larger-scale migration:
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and, in particular, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should send far more Asylum Officers to conduct credible fear interviews at the border.
- Law firms, pro bono attorneys, and charitable legal agencies should attempt to represent all arriving migrants before both the Asylum Office and the Immigration Courts.
- USCIS Asylum Officers should be permitted to grant temporary withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to applicants likely to face torture if returned to their countries of origin.
- Immigration Judges should put the asylum claims of those granted CAT withholding on the “back burner” — thus keeping these cases from clogging the Immigration Courts — while working with the UNHCR and other counties in the Hemisphere on more durable solutions for those fleeing the Northern Triangle states of Central America.
- Individuals found to have a “credible fear” should be released on minimal bonds and be allowed to move to locations where they will be represented by pro bono lawyers.
- Asylum Officers should be vested with the authority to grant asylum in the first instance, thus keeping more asylum cases out of Immigration Court.
- If the Administration wants to prioritize the cases of recent arrivals, it should do so without creating more docket reshuffling, inefficiencies, and longer backlogs.