Forced Migration

Forced Migration

An Overview and Critique of US Immigration and Asylum Policies in the Trump Era

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.

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Venezuelan Migration and the Border Health Crisis in Colombia and Brazil

The Venezuelan economic, political and health crisis has triggered an exodus of Venezuelans to countries throughout the region. As of early 2019, an estimated 3.4 million Venezuelans had fled to other countries in the region and beyond. The paper reports on the findings and recommendations from public health missions undertaken in the summer of 2018 to two communities that have received large numbers of Venezuelans: (1) Cúcuta, in the Colombian border state of North Santander, and; (2) Bôa Vista and Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, Brazil. These studies included interviews with health providers and organizations engaged in the humanitarian response, secondary analysis of grey literature, and data shared by key informants. Surveillance data demonstrated increases in infectious diseases, as well as adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes among Venezuelans in both North Santander and Roraima. The paper finds that while the Colombian and Brazilian government responses to the immediate needs of Venezuelans have been admirable, they are not sustainable. In particular, there is an urgent need for an expanded humanitarian response to the Venezuelan migrant crisis in the region, particularly to address health needs where surveillance data shows recent and rapid rises in infectious diseases, acute malnutrition, and poor maternal and neonatal health outcomes. It reports that lack of access to preventative and primary care and inadequate funding of life-saving emergency care could result in a health crisis for Venezuelans in Colombia and could impact public health more broadly if not addressed through a more comprehensive and adequately funded humanitarian response. In Brazil, there is a need to invest in integration programs to improve the health and wellbeing of Venezuelans who have fled their country, with sensitivity to the needs of receiving communities, especially those who are underserved, in order to minimize resentment from the local population. This complex and costly process, the paper concludes, will require political will and financial support from neighboring countries, and the international community at large. In the longer term, however, only a resolution of the complex health and humanitarian crisis within Venezuela itself will address these transnational threats to health in the region.

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The Honeymoon between Syrian Refugees and the Erdogan Government Has Ended

Omar al-Muqdad – a prominent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former Syrian refugee – writes a regular blog for CMS titled, “Dispatches from the Global Crisis in Refugee Protection.” This series covers the Syrian Civil War, the experiences of Syria’s immense and far-flung refugee population, the global crisis in refugee protection, religious persecution, and US refugee and immigration policies. Mr. al-Muqdad’s work has been featured by the BBC, CNN, and in many other media outlets. Resettled in the United States in 2012, Mr. al-Muqdad became a US citizen in Spring 2018. CMS features this series in its weekly Migration Update and on its website.

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Refugees Have Few Options, We Have a Lot More

Omar al-Muqdad – a prominent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former Syrian refugee – writes a regular blog for CMS titled, “Dispatches from the Global Crisis in Refugee Protection.” This series covers the Syrian Civil War, the experiences of Syria’s immense and far-flung refugee population, the global crisis in refugee protection, religious persecution, and US refugee and immigration policies. Mr. al-Muqdad’s work has been featured by the BBC, CNN, and in many other media outlets. Resettled in the United States in 2012, Mr. al-Muqdad became a US citizen in Spring 2018. CMS features this series in its weekly Migration Update and on its website.

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Does the United States Need to Invest More in Border Enforcement?

Despite the largest immigration enforcement budget in US history, the Border Patrol is set to apprehend the highest number of border crossers in more than a decade. This essay argues that the administration’s enforcement-only approach cannot successfully address this humanitarian crisis, and does not deserve any additional funding. Instead, the administration should respond to the conditions driving Central American and Venezuelan asylum seekers, provide protection for those fleeing violence and other impossible conditions, and create a strong, well-resourced US asylum system.

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Address by Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of San Jose

On March 12, 2019, Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of San Jose, delivered the welcoming keynote at the 2019 Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative Conference at Santa Clara Law School in Santa Clara, California. In his remarks, Bishop Cantú considers how the Church has and can deploy its limited resources and implement successful models of integration to better address immigration and better welcome immigrants.

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US Admissions Ban Endangers and Separates Families
Omar al-Muqdad — a prominent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and former Syrian refugee — writes a bi-monthly blog for CMS titled, “Dispatches from the Global Crisis in Refugee Protection.” In this blog, al-Muqdad shares the story of Remi Hassoun, a Syrian refugee resettled in Maryland after a vetting process that involved 15 months of waiting and interviews with US immigration and United Nations officers. Despite reaching safety in the United States, Hassoun cannot leave or otherwise see his family. While life may become easier as a US citizen, he worries that he may never reunite with his mother and sisters due to the Trump administration’s ban on admissions of people from specific countries, including Syria.

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CMSOnAir | Her Excellency Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés
This CMSOnAir episode features an interview with Her Excellency Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, president of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. President Espinosa Garcés speaks with Kevin Appleby, CMS’s senior director of international migration policy, on global migration issues in advance of the upcoming intergovernmental conference to adopt the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, which will be held in December 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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Andrew Baldwin of Durham University reviews Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-first Century by John Wennersten and Denise Robbins. John Wennersten and Denise Robbins examine the links between global climate change and global refugee crises. The authors argue that climate change...

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