Original Articles

Original Articles

Statelessness in West Africa: An Assessment of Stateless Populations and Legal, Policy, and Administrative Frameworks in Ghana

Drawing on qualitative interviews that are complemented by the analysis of government policy documents, this study examines statelessness in Ghana. It addresses a range of policy, legal, institutional, administrative, and other politico-socioeconomic matters attendant to the concept. The study defines statelessness in its strict legal sense. It recognizes populations at risk of statelessness that may be restricted from benefiting from the protection and privileges of their host state. Persons identified by the study as stateless or at risk of statelessness include persons from traditionally nomadic migratory communities, former refugees, persons residing in border communities, members of Zongo communities, trafficked persons, and those affected by gaps in previous constitutions. The study also identifies the consequences of statelessness, including lack of access to healthcare, education, justice, and work. The study offers several recommendations to prevent and reduce statelessness in Ghana.

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Empathic Humanitarianism: Understanding the Motivations behind Humanitarian Work with Migrants at the US–Mexico Border

This paper sets forth a typology to better understand the motivations of volunteers working to help migrants at the US-Mexico border who are in need of humanitarian assistance. The typology is centered on empathic concern, differentiating secular/faith-based motivations, and deontological/moral-virtue motivations. It offers four categories of humanitarian volunteers: the Missionary Type, the Good Samaritan Type, the Do Gooder Type, and the Activist Type. And, it sets forth additional self-centered (non-altruistic, or not-other-centered) types: Militant, Crusader, Martyr, and Humanitarian Tourist. This typology can help organizations working with migrants and refugees better understand and channel the enthusiasm of their volunteers and better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations they serve.

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DACA and the Supreme Court: How We Got to This Point, a Statistical Profile of Who Is Affected, and What the Future May Hold for DACA Beneficiaries

In June 2012, the Obama administration announced the establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which sought to provide work authorization and a temporary reprieve from deportation to eligible undocumented young immigrants who had arrived in the United States as minors. Hundreds of thousands of youth applied for the program, which required providing extensive evidence of identity, age, residence, education, and good moral character. The program allowed its recipients to pursue higher education, to access more and better job opportunities, and to deepen their social ties in the United States. This paper provides a statistical portrait of DACA recipients based on administrative data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and estimates drawn from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) Census data. Beyond its statistical portrait, the paper provides testimonies from DACA recipients who recount how the program improved their lives and their concerns over its possible termination. It also recommends passage of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and programs and policies to support and empower young immigrants.

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Putting Americans First: A Statistical Case for Encouraging Rather than Impeding and Devaluing US Citizenship

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.

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Universal Representation: Systemic Benefits and the Path Ahead

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.

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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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Paradoxes of Protection: Compassionate Repression at the Mexico–Guatemala Border

This paper analyzes data from migrant shelters — including 16 qualitative interviews with migrants and shelter staff, and 118 complaints of abuse — in the Mexico-Guatemala border region. It documents and analyzes the nature, location, and perpetrators of these alleged abuses. It uses a framework of “compassionate repression” (Fassin 2012) to examine the obstacles that migrants encounter in denouncing abuses and seeking protection. It argues that while Mexican humanitarian visas can provide protection for abuses committed in Mexico, the visas are limited by their temporary nature, by being nested within a migration system that prioritizes removal, and by recognizing only crimes that occur in Mexico. It finds that the paradox between humanitarian concerns and repressive migration governance in a context of high impunity shapes institutional and practical obstacles to reporting crimes, receiving visas, and accessing justice. The paper recommends that the Mexican government address these problems through: 1) further funding for the special prosecutors’ offices that investigate crimes against migrants; 2) the creation of an independent agency that approves and issues humanitarian visas; 3) work permits for humanitarian visa recipients; and 4) allowing complaints to be filed for crimes committed in countries in transit to Mexico.

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Do Immigrants Threaten US Public Safety?

This paper addresses a prominent issue in the US immigration debate; that is, whether immigrants, particularly those without status, are more likely than US natives to commit crimes and to pose a threat to public safety.  It find that immigrants are less likely than similar US natives to commit violent and property crimes, and that communities with more immigrants have similar or lower rates of violent and property crimes than those with fewer immigrants. The few studies on the criminal behavior of unauthorized immigrants suggest that these immigrants also have a lower propensity to commit crime than their native-born peers, although possibly a higher propensity than legal immigrants. Legalization programs, in turn, have been found to reduce crime rates, while increased border enforcement has mixed effects on crime rates. It concludes that a legalization or similar program have more potential to improve public safety and security than several other policies that have recently been proposed or implemented.

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The Effects of Immigration Enforcement on Faith-Based Organizations: An Analysis of the FEER Survey

This paper analyzes the impact of the Trump administration immigration policies on Catholic organizations, presenting the results of CMS’s Federal Enforcement Effect Research (FEER) Survey. It finds that US policies in the Trump era have significantly increased immigrant demand for the services provided by Catholic institutions and, in general, that these institutions have expanded their services in response. However, 59 percent of respondents – the highest total for this question – identified “fear of apprehension or deportation” as “negatively” impacting immigrants’ access to their services. In addition, 57 percent reported that immigration enforcement has “very negatively” or “somewhat negatively” affected the participation of immigrants in their programs or ministries. The FEER Survey illustrates the need for broad immigration reform. It shows that the status quo prevents immigrants from accessing the services they need and it impedes people of faith from effectively exercising their religious convictions on human dignity, protection, and service to the poor and vulnerable.

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