United States

United States

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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Dominican University, a private Catholic university located in River Forest, Illinois, has been operating since 1901 with an eye toward educating poor and marginalized students, including immigrant students, in the Midwest. Founded by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in Wisconsin and later moved to Illinois, the school has an enrollment of about 3,000 students—a small college—but its influence reaches far beyond its campus 10 miles west of downtown Chicago.

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CMSOnAir | Leading a Sanctuary Campus through Multiple Pandemics

Dominican University is unique among Catholic colleges for its commitment to immigrants. About 10 percent of the students at Dominican University are undocumented or have temporary legal status, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. This episode features an interview with Donna Carroll, president of Dominican University. She reflects on the challenges facing undocumented college students, including: lack of federal financial aid funding, the difficulty of career planning, and integrating into campus life. She also talks about the leadership of undocumented and “DACAmented” students and why the university adopted a Sanctuary Campus Covenant in 2017. Carroll describes the university’s efforts to support immigrant students during the “triple pandemics” of COVID-19, racism, and economic injustice — all of which have been exacerbated by restrictionist immigration policies.

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Charting a Course to Rebuild and Strengthen the US Refugee Admissions Program

This report analyzes the US refugee resettlement program – known as “USRAP” (the US Refugee Admissions Program) – leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. The survey’s design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.

This report finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because USRAP’s infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the Biden administration’s main challenges will be to rebuild and revitalize the program, educate the public on it, and try to regain broad, bi-partisan support for it. The report also points to specific ways in which USRAP’s programs and services should be strengthened.

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CMSONAIR | Staying Connected to Urban Students and Their Parents

Partnership Schools, a network of nine elementary and middle schools in urban areas of New York and Cleveland, is trying to stem the tide of Catholic school closings. Their network is taking a unique approach to funding, relying heavily on philanthropic support and keeping costs down, while maintaining high-quality education.

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Panel III • The 2020 Election: An Administrative Agenda for Immigration and Refugee Reform

The US Presidential and Congressional election could have as profound an effect on the course of US immigration and refugee policy as any election in memory. This panel examined the potential immigration and refugee agenda of the Biden administration, with a particular focus on what the new administration should seek to achieve through administrative action in its first year. It also explored the challenges the new administration will face in enacting its agenda, and whether multiple national crises – public health, racial, economic, and immigration – will provide an opening and momentum for more generous and inclusive policies.

Daniela Alulema

Director of Programs
Center for Migration Studies

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

University Professor
Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility
The New School

Donald Kerwin
Executive Director
Center for Migration Studies

Charles Wheeler
Director of Training and Legal Support
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Wendy Young
Kids in Need of Defense

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Panel II • Migration Policy in the Midst of Multiple Pandemics

This panel examined trends in international migration and migration-related policies in the context of pandemics of disease, racism, and violence. It examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies on migrants and refugees, drawing on a growing body of research on how pandemics affect marginalized communities. The intersection of the health pandemic and the pandemics of racism and violence also disproportionately affect persons of color, including migrants and refugees. This panel lifted up promising international, national, and local approaches to the immense challenges facing immigrants, refugees, and their communities of origin and destination. Panelists also discussed the role of immigrants and refugees in economic and social recovery.

Susan Martin

Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emeritus School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University

Anne Richard

Former Assistant Secretary
Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. State Department

Eskinder Negash
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Former Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

Paul Spiegel
Professor of the Practice and Director
Center for Humanitarian Health
Johns Hopkins University

Joseph Chamie
Former Research Director
Center for Migration Studies
Former Director
UN Population Division

Philip Martin
Professor Emeritus
University of California, Davis

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