Original Articles

Original Articles

The Household Financial Losses Triggered by an Immigration Arrest, and How State and Local Government Can Most Effectively Protect Their Constituents

Through a survey of 125 long-term resident households in Pima County, Arizona, this study finds that an immigration arrest costs each household an average of more than $24,000. These costs accumulate through the value of assets seized and not recovered, out-of-pocket costs for hiring an attorney, immigration bond, and other expenses involved in supporting an immediate family member as they navigate the immigration court system. But they also include lost income due to disruptions to employment resulting from the arrest, and a physical inability to work while in detention, appearing in court, and immediately following deportation. In this article, we discuss how, when measured at the scale of the household, these financial costs fail to discriminate according to immigration or citizenship status, and accumulate to affect issues of poverty, education, housing security, health and development, and generational wealth inequality — all matters of sustained interest to state and local government. In the second half of the article, we draw on our research findings to evaluate various policies that states, counties, and municipalities can implement to mitigate these financial burdens while promoting the overall well-being of their constituents. Policies considered include:

  • The “Immigrant Welcoming City” paradigm
  • The limitation of routine cooperation and custody transfer between local and federal law enforcement
  • Expanding access to permissible forms of identification
  • Universal representation for immigration defendants
  • The cultivation of community bond funds
  • The promotion of worker-owned cooperatives

Although these kinds of state or local initiatives cannot replace meaningful federal action on immigration reform, they can do much to provide relief and promote economic security for established immigrant and mixed-status families living in the United States, while contributing to overall community well-being and economic vitality.

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Caught in the Crossfire: Challenges to Migrant Protection in the Yemeni and Libyan Conflicts

In spite of the prevailing security dynamics in Yemen and Libya, both states continue to serve as areas of transit along some of the world’s largest mixed migration routes, leaving migrants caught in the crossfire of the two conflicts. This article examines the legal framework governing the protection of migrants in armed conflict under international humanitarian and human rights law. It also identifies two adverse incentives produced by the conflict situations that impede the exercise of these legal protections: (1) profits derived from migrant smuggling and trafficking, and (2) the use of migrants to support armed groups. In the absence of stable conditions in Yemen and Libya, individuals have little reason to respect international legal protections and discontinue migrant abuse connected with the lucrative businesses of smuggling and trafficking. The intractable nature of the two conflicts has also led to the strategic use of migrants as armed support, and more specifically as combatants, weapons transports, and human shields. Given these realities, the article outlines several recommendations to address the issue of migrant abuse in conflict. It recommends that states, particularly those neighboring Yemen and Libya, strengthen regular migration pathways to help reduce the number of migrants transiting through active conflict zones. It further advises that the international community increase the cost of non-compliance to international humanitarian law through the use of accountability mechanisms and through strategic measures, including grants of reciprocal respect to armed groups that observe protections accorded to migrants in conflict situations.

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US Foreign-Born Workers in the Global Pandemic: Essential and Marginalized

This article provides detailed estimates of foreign-born (immigrant) workers in the United States who are employed in “essential critical infrastructure” sectors, as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the US Department of Homeland Security. Building on earlier work by the Center for Migration Studies, the article offers exhaustive estimates on essential workers on a national level, by state, for large metropolitan statistical areas, and for smaller communities that heavily rely on immigrant labor. It also reports on these workers by job sector; immigration status; eligibility for tax rebates under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); and other characteristics.

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International Migration amid a World in Crisis

This article comprehensively examines international migration trends and policies in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It begins by reviewing migration developments throughout the past 60 years. It then examines pandemic-related migration trends and policies. It concludes with a series of general observations and insights that should guide local, national, regional, and international policymakers, moving forward. In particular, it proposes the following:

  • National measures to combat COVID-19 should include international migrants, irrespective of their legal status, and should complement regional and international responses.
  • Localities, nations, and the international community should prioritize the safe return and reintegration of migrants.
  • States and international agencies should plan for the gradual re-emergence of large-scale migration based on traditional push and pull forces once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
  • States should redouble their efforts to reconcile national border security concerns and the basic human rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
  • States and the international community should accelerate their efforts to address climate-related migration.
  • States of origin, transit, and destination should directly address the challenges of international migration and not minimize them.

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Revisiting the Refugee–Host Relationship in Nakivale Refugee Settlement: A Dialogue with the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre

Uganda has long promoted refugee self-reliance as a sustainable livelihood strategy with progressive land-allocation and free-movement-for-work policies. Framed as a dialogue with Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre (“the Centre”), this article explores sustainable solutions that benefit refugees as well as the host populations that receive them. It explores the self-reliance opportunities that depend on the transnational, national, and local markets in which refugees participate. It acknowledges the Centre’s substantial work and welcomes its focus on economic outcomes. For Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda, however, the discussion of “refugee economies” may not be complete without problematizing the effects on the host populations living alongside the refugees.

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More than a Wall: The Rise and Fall of US Asylum and Refugee Policy

This article uses a multidisciplinary approach — analyzing historical sources, refugee and asylum admissions data, legislative provisions, and public opinion data — to track the rise and fall of the US asylum and refugee policy. It shows that there has always been a political struggle between people who advocate for a generous refugee and asylum system and those who oppose it. Today, the flexible system of protecting refugees and asylees, established in 1980, is giving way to policies that weaponize them.

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Statelessness in the United States: A Study to Estimate and Profile the US Stateless Population

In October 2017, the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) initiated a study to map the stateless population in the United States. This study sought to:

  • Develop a methodology to estimate the US stateless population;
  • Provide provisional estimates and profiles of persons who are potentially stateless or potentially at risk of statelessness in the United States;
  • Create a research methodology that encouraged stateless persons to come forward and join a growing network of persons committed to educating the public on and pursuing solutions to this problem; and
  • Establish an empirical basis for public and private stakeholders to develop services, programs, and policy interventions to prevent and reduce statelessness, and to safeguard the rights of stateless persons.

This report describes a unique methodology to produce estimates and set forth the characteristics of US residents who are potentially stateless or potentially at risk of statelessness.

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Implementation of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration: A Whole-of-Society Approach

This is the third of three JMHS papers on the implementation of different aspects of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). The papers have been produced by three think-tanks – the Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC) in Manila, covering the Asia-Pacific region, the Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA) in Cape Town, and the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). This paper argues that nations are best served by partnering with a wide range of societal actors to implement the objectives of the GCM. Such civil society actors may include non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, the private sector, trade unions, and academia, among other relevant stakeholders. Each of these actors brings unique strengths to the implementation of the GCM, filling gaps in the care and protection of migrants. They perform tasks that governments are unable or unwilling to undertake, especially in the area of irregular migration. A “whole-of-society” approach is the most effective method for managing migration humanely and in concert with the rule of law.

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A Study and Analysis of the Treatment of Mexican Unaccompanied Minors by Customs and Border Protection

The routine human rights abuses and due process violations of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have contributed to a mounting humanitarian and legal crisis along the US–Mexico border. In the United States, the treatment of UAC is governed by laws, policies, and standards drawn from the Flores Settlement, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and CBP procedures and directives, which are intended to ensure UAC’s protection, well-being, and ability to pursue relief from removal, such as asylum. As nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups have documented, however, CBP has repeatedly violated these legal standards and policies, and subjected UAC to abuses and rights violations. This article draws from surveys of 97 recently deported Mexican UAC, which examine their experiences with US immigration authorities. The study finds that Mexican UAC are detained in subpar conditions, are routinely not screened for fear of return to their home countries or for human trafficking, and are not sufficiently informed about the deportation process. The article recommends that CBP should take immediate steps to improve the treatment of UAC, that CBP and other entities responsible for the care of UAC be monitored to ensure their compliance with US law and policy, and that Mexican UAC be afforded the same procedures and protection under the TVPRA as UAC from noncontiguous states.

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