Reintegration of deportees: The challenge of a Guyanese immigration experience

A receiving country perspective:

What to do about the immigrants who are sent back to their respective home countries due to judicial violations is a new, potentially contentious issue and untenable proposition. There has been an increase in the number of deportees, most from the USA and Canada to the Caribbean over the past few years. In essence, deportees are immigrants who are exiled from their adopted home; some for clear violation of sundry laws, some very serious, while others may be victims of immigration policies that are arbitrarily applied, particularly if the accused is not adequately represented legally to assist with due process. Among the typical reasons for deportation are: overstay, illegal entry and illegal re-entry. These immigrants are subject to the realities of a forced re-migratory experience. Furthermore, their deportation is speciously viewed by observers including locals, as emblematic of failure in the diaspora. The latter perception tends to obliterate any meaningful past achievements of these individuals and exhibits a  lack of understanding of the hardships experienced by some families in the diaspora. For some deportees, their actions that lead to deportation may have been the failure of acculturation into the host society, especially in school. Consequently, they become vulnerable to influences that can be attributed to financial and social constraints encountered in many instances by the structural difficulties facing single parents.

There is a need for deportees to be re-socialized into the local home community, particularly the nations’ cultural value system, customs and practices. Others need to be introduced to a social environment they may hardly know, particularly if they left the home country as children. They also often return to countries where the unemployment rate is relatively high and with no organized system to help them readjust to their new home. In some cases, even their own family members refuse to acknowledge and support them or are financially unable to do so. Some deportees reportedly have been exploited for political purposes. In such instances opposition groups will denigrate ‘deportees’ and attribute nefarious acts to them for political gain.

Furthermore, the seeming lack of concern by the government about their welfare leads to the feelings by the populace that these persons are unwanted and are a ‘problem’ to society. Unfortunately, deportees, particularly males, tend to be labelled a deviant group, regardless of the nature of the violation that led to their deportation, and they are often accused of being responsible for the increase in the home country societal crime. There is also a tendency to stereotype deportees as having certain perceived negative attributes. In some cases they are blacklisted by public officials, both in the host country and country of origin. However, they do not fit any one profile in terms of occupation, ethnicity, gender or reason for being deported.  Many who have been detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and subject to deportation are non-violent offenders.

The number of deportations to the Caribbean has increased under the last two United States government administrations. Notably, figures from the 2017 US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removals Operations Report for the Caribbean region are quite revealing: Guyana 142; Jamaicans 782; Trinidad and Tobagonians 128; Haitians 5, 578. These numbers are likely to increase with continued draconian US immigration laws. What appears to be unrelenting deportations to the Caribbean has continued under the current US government administration.

When immigrants are uprooted and sent back to their country of origin, not only is family life disrupted, but children in particular, whose parents are deported face social dislocation and mental health consequences. As observed by several researchers, this is true for those who remain in the U.S. separated from deported relatives, as well as those who leave the country in order to preserve the family’s unity. The increase in deportation and suppression of family reunification because of changed policy are traumatizing for immigrant families, causing fear, anxiety, vulnerability and victimization. The social and emotional costs could be devastating.

In the throes of significant economic and social transformation, vulnerable groups such as the homeless, mentally ill, elderly and increasingly deportees, are likely not to be adequately nor proportionately represented. Advocacy measures for the deportees must be sustained. Owing to the growing magnitude and novelty of dealing with this population, there should be a reintegration programme. Effectively planning for their reintegration is not only strongly recommended but should be based on knowledge of this phenomenon, from both a human development and socio-economic perspective. Understanding the social, political and psychological dynamics of the process of deportation and resettlement is essential for their adjustment. This includes unambiguous policy, an effective programme and capacity to deal with any residual tensions that may emerge between the local population and deportees.

The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Citizenship, and Social Protection should have a profile of these individuals that includes information not only about who they are and the reason(s) for deportation, but also on family contacts in the diaspora and home country, accomplishments and skills acquired both at home and while overseas.

The role of Diaspora Voluntary Organizations

Apart from the reputation of  “giving back” by sending remittances, a growing number of diasporans have expressed concern about the fate of deportees and other underserved groups. Deportee reintegration programmes in other Caribbean nations have been implemented by diaspora organizations. The Family Unification and Resettlement Initiative (FURI) is a New York-based Jamaican Diaspora Organization. Working with the government and funded by donor agencies including the National Organization of Deported Migrants (NODM), the British High Commission, and public tax deductible contributions, this organization has instituted a programme to address the problem of deportee reintegration. FURI’s objective is to offer alternatives that “foster faith, hope and confidence that life can be worthwhile”. The organization aims to decrease the stigma and assist in the reintegration of deported persons by collaborating with other service agencies and help them adjust to the new home environment. Founding member Carmen Albarus-Lindo suggests that it is important to help “displaced persons adjust positively to deportation….and the important role they can have on development and improve their own lives.” Since many deportees do not have close relatives in the home country, FURI initially arranged accommodation to assist them in the early stages of their return. Sustained financial and other needed help, including the provision of and for commercial farming with the use of greenhouse technology are provided. The components of the programme are: Accommodation/Shelter referrals; Employment/Vocational counseling training referrals; Drug/Alcohol abuse rehab referrals; Health care Referrals; and Counseling; Reconnecting with families; Help in obtaining National Identification and other important documents.

Guyana and other Caribbean countries could benefit by replicating such a programme, which should be viewed as an investment. Assessment for rehabilitation services should also be a part of such a programme. Some deportees can be considered for the same rehabilitation programmes expected for persons who violate the laws in their home countries and after a period of incarceration can expect to be reintegrated into society. A well-structured reintegration programme and educating the public will help mitigate the concerns of civil society about deportees. It is imperative for deportees to be reintegrated into society since the overt or covert expressed desires of ‘local’ persons that they should again emigrate, albeit ‘illegally’ is wishful thinking and should be discouraged. This is rendered moot since there is normally an immigration stipulation barring possible return to the host country for a specified number of years (USA -10 years for each deportation order).

In light of the anticipated wealth elevation in Guyana, (1) Will there be the provision of needed resources for an effective reintegration programme? (2) Would this be considered as part of the promise of “maximum benefit” to all Guyanese, as well as the pledge of “social protection and other social services?”  How Caribbean governments respond to this problem will determine their legacy in the realm of humanitarian response to birthright citizenship.

Source: Reintegration of deportees: The challenge of a Guyanese immigration experience

Deportation flight leaves UK for Jamaica despite court ruling

More questionable UK government practice:

A planned deportation flight to Jamaica has taken off but with only around half of those due to have been on board after a court last night upheld a legal challenge.

As the government came under fire for proceeding with the flight, it was defended on Tuesday by the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, who said those onboard were not members of the Windrush generation but offenders who posed a risk to the public.

“These are all foreign national offenders – they have all received custodial sentences of 12 months or more. They are responsible for crimes like manslaughter, rape, dealing in class A drugs,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

Asked how many people were onboard, he said he did not know the exact number but believed it was “around 20 – or above 20.” Around 56 people were originally thought to have been due to be deported.

Human Rights Watch: More Than 200 Salvadorans Were Abused, Killed After Deportation

A reminder of the impact of the Trump administration policies:

After living in the U.S. for five years, cousins Walter T. and Gaspar T. were deported to their home country of El Salvador in 2019, where they were ripped from their beds one night and beaten by police, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

“They began beating us until we arrived at the police barracks,” Gaspar said in interviews.

The thrashings went on there for three days, according to the men. Despite threats from authorities that they’d be charged with gang membership, they were eventually released. No charges were filed.

Walter and Gaspar, who say they had initially fled El Salvador to escape forcible gang recruitment, had hoped to gain asylum in the U.S. But their applications were denied.

The pair’s experience is one of more than 200 cases uncovered by Human Rights Watch in which Salvadorans are put in harm’s way — at risk of violence at the hands of gangs, law enforcement or security forces — as a result of tightening asylum and immigration policies in the U.S.

“Salvadorans are facing murder, rape, and other violence after deportation in shockingly high numbers, while the US government narrows Salvadorans’ access to asylum and turns a blind eye to the deadly results of its callous policies,” said Alison Parker managing director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch and coauthor of the report.

The 117-page report was compiled over a year and a half using court records, press reports and first-hand interviews with surviving family members and nongovernmental agency workers.

In all, researchers found 138 cases of repatriated Salvadorans killed since 2013. More than 70 others were beaten, sexually assaulted, extorted, tortured or went missing, according to the study. But, the reports says, the deaths “represent the tip of the iceberg—as … people deported to El Salvador encounter a wide range of human rights abuses that fall short of death.”

Until now, no government, U.N. or nongovernmental organization has monitored what happens to people when they’re returned to El Salvador, according to HRW.

“This report begins to fill that gap,” the study says.

Source: Human Rights Watch: More Than 200 Salvadorans Were Abused, Killed After Deportation

CBSA has increased deportations, though removals of irregular asylum seekers remain low

Some useful numbers in this update:

The Canada Border Services Agency has ramped up deportations of failed refugee claimants and other foreign nationals and permanent residents who have lost the right to stay in Canada, amid concerns about the ability of Canada’s asylum system to respond quickly to spikes in refugee claims.

Removals from Canada have dropped significantly in the last several years, from more than 19,000 people in 2012-13 to around 8,000 in recent years. But that number climbed to roughly 9,500 people in 2018-19, following an internal effort to speed up the pace of deportations.

Despite the overall increase, the numbers remain low for removals of failed irregular asylum seekers — those who enter Canada from the U.S. between official border crossings, but who are unsuccessful in claiming refugee status — even though Ottawa has said it is prioritizing their removal.

A spokesperson for Border Security Minister Bill Blair told the National Post that anyone to be deported from Canada is given due process. “But once legal avenues have been exhausted, individuals are expected to respect our laws and leave Canada, or as per our commitments, be removed,” said Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux in an email. “We are re-investing in the agency to ensure that processing continues to happen in a manner that is fair, fast and final.”

Last fall, the CBSA confirmed it had set a target of 10,000 removals for the 2018-19 fiscal year, a notable increase over the previous three years, when removals ranged from 7,900 to 8,600. At the time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the agency needed to “pick up the pace” of removals, and pointed to $7.5 million in funding allocated to the CBSA in Budget 2018. “We’ve provided some extra resources for CBSA to do the work that’s necessary,” Goodale said. The agency has now confirmed it removed a total of 9,584 people last year.

Backlogs in Canada’s immigration system have been the subject of increased scrutiny since an influx of asylum seekers began crossing the Canada-U.S. border between official ports of entry after the 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump. Since January 2017, about 45,000 people have entered Canada in this way, using a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement that generally requires asylum seekers to make a refugee claim in whichever country they get to first.

In May, the auditor general found that Canada’s asylum system is unable to cope with such surges, with refugee claimants waiting two years for decisions on their claims. The backlog of asylum seekers numbered about 75,000 at the time and will likely continue to grow. However, the number of people entering Canada illegally has dropped considerably, and is currently only half what it was at this time last year.

The government is taking steps to speed up the entire system, from claim hearings to removals. Budget 2019 earmarked $1.18 billion over five years for border security and processing of asylum claims.

The CBSA also says it is now prioritizing the removal of irregular asylum seekers whose claims have been denied, as it does people who are deemed threats to national security or who are involved in organized crime, crimes against humanity or other types of criminal activity. However, Canada has still deported only a small minority of the tens of thousands of irregular asylum seekers who’ve entered the country in the last two years. According to figures the CBSA provided to the Post, the agency removed just 723 irregular migrants with failed refugee claims between April 1, 2017 and June 21, 2019.

This is largely because asylum seekers must exhaust all legal avenues of appeal before they can be removed, which takes time. The agency also pointed to a number of other factors that can delay removals, including the fact that Canada temporarily halts removals to countries in armed conflict or experiencing environmental disasters — such measures are currently in place for Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq. A lack of valid travel documents and medical issues can also delay removals.

“The CBSA is firmly committed to meeting its mandate under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to conduct removals as soon as possible,” a spokesperson told the Post in an email, adding that the agency has increased staffing levels and improved co-ordination with other branches of the immigration system to speed up removals. The agency said there are currently just under 3,000 people with an “actionable removal order” in Canada, meaning with no barrier to deportation.

Still, Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said setting quotas for deportations like the CBSA’s target of 10,000 removals can be problematic. “One of the concerns is who ends up being a priority for removal,” she said. When border officers are given targets they need to meet, there’s an incentive to prioritize families over criminals because officials can remove a number of people at once, often with less effort, she said.

Dench said the removal process can often feel arbitrary, with some people getting calls from the CBSA almost immediately, while others wait years before being asked to leave.

Source: CBSA has increased deportations, though removals of irregular asylum seekers remain low

Proposed federal tool to ‘blacklist a country,’ stop visa processing alarms immigration lawyers

Of note, a further sign of tightening immigration policies (and the ongoing expansive use of budget omnibus legislation). Questions regarding the numbers involved are legitimate and necessary as part of evidence-based policy making, where transparency is important:

The Liberals’ omnibus budget bill gives the government a political tool to stop issuing some visas or permits to people from countries it deems difficult to deal with in deportation proceedings, a measure some immigration lawyers are calling “overly broad” and a “blunt instrument” without the necessary checks and balances.

One of the measures in the almost 400-page budget implementation bill, C-97, would change the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to give cabinet the ability to make orders about processing applications for temporary resident visas, work permits, and study permits from nationals of a country where its government is “unreasonably refusing to issue or unreasonably delaying the issuance of travel documents” for its citizens or nationals “who are in Canada.” Such travel documents are necessary for deportations. The person being deported needs to be able to travel back home.

Lawyers see it as a political tool to apply pressure to countries delaying that process, and are divided on whether the proposed provision would be misused—because the power could simply be in the threat—but many agree the potential is there.

The tool would allow the Canadian government to retaliate by stopping visas or permits “to whatever extent it wants,” said lawyer Raoul Boulakia, who said he found it especially worrying that there are no checks and balances on what he called a “very radical” measure.

“I think it’s making a very big hammer to hit what might be a straight nail. The wording is overly broad. It can have impacts that have nothing to do with the probable policy intent and it allows for a situation that becomes unmeasured relative to the original problem,” said Mr. Boulakia, president of the Refugee Lawyers Association.

“There’s no mechanism for testing the argument that [another] government has been unreasonable,” he said.

Chantal Desloges, a lawyer who specializes in immigration and refugee law, called it a “blunt instrument” allowing the government to “blacklist a country” for certain types of visas or permits. That would mark a shift in approach, she said, and while there are restrictions in Canada’s immigration system through lottery systems or quotas, Canada still looks at those applications. If cabinet makes an order, it would mean Canada could “refuse to even entertain the application.”

The new tool is a “catch-all provision” that’s likely going to lead to legal challenges and “where it lands could be problematic for a number of reasons,” said Mario Bellissimo, a former chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) national immigration law section. The current CBA national chair, Marina Sedai, said the group is studying the section and still developing a position.

The provision has “far-reaching potential,” said Mr. Bellissimo, who said it’s concerning that it could be retroactive in that it could apply to people who already submitted applications, for example.

“It alters rights that were previously held,” he said of the section of the bill that says that applications would be “suspended during the period or periods set out” in the government order and that the processing of any applications “that are pending on the coming into force of the order” may be “terminated.”

For him and Ms. Desloges, it raises a number of questions: how serious is the problem? What’s the current number of would-be deportees stuck in Canada who need travel documents? Where and how would the application being applied? What would be the criteria for its use?

“I assume [the government] will have to develop criteria otherwise they’re opening themselves up to issues of bias or discrimination,” said Ms. Desloges. “It’s such a sweeping thing.”

The CBC reported last fall that Canada’s border agency was boosting efforts to deport failed refugee claimants and others unwelcome in Canada, having 18,000 cases in its deportation inventory. Delays can happen not only due to a lack of valid travel documents, but also medical issues, appeals and other legal proceedings, a temporary suspension of removals, and other factors.

Canada has faced a wave of asylum seekers entering from the United States at unofficial entry points in recent years. The CBC reported that last spring officials said that of the 68,000 asylum claimants who had come to Canada since the start of 2017, less than one per cent had been removed, despite the fact that many had been deemed ineligible to stay.

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux, press secretary to Border Security Minister Bill Blair, said Canada “always looks to co-operate with countries when attempting to remove inadmissible persons, but there are instances when others countries refuse to give needed travel documents to their own nationals that Canada.”

“In instances when delays by such countries are unreasonable, our proposed legislative changes would also allow Canada to respond by‎ stopping the processing of certain visa and permit applications from that country.”

Asked at what point Canada would make such an order, if there are parameters to inform that decision, and whether it could be applied to address a single case or would require a pattern of delay, Ms. Cadieux said that it is “a targeted measure that will address certain visa and permit applications. Decisions will be made case-by-case.” She did not respond to queries about the number of people in Canada who have been flagged for removal, and lack travel documents, and the top countries with outstanding travel documents.

Measure ‘less problematic than other ‘earth-shaking’ changes to immigration system: lawyer

This measure is “less problematic” than the other “earth-shaking” changes to the immigration system proposed in the Liberals’ budget bill, said immigration lawyer Sarah Boyd.

Most refugee and immigration lawyers are focused on proposed changes to asylum laws that would prevent applicants from making refugee claims in Canada if they have made such claims in some other countries, including the United States. Ms. Cadieux said the changes are meant to “better manage, discourage, and prevent irregular migration,” while Mr. Blair (Scarborough Southwest, Ont.) said the intent is to prevent “asylum shopping.”

The Liberals campaigned on a promise to stop making legislative changes in this manner, Ms. Boyd noted, calling the omnibus bill a broken promise and a “really problematic” parliamentary development due to the last few governments.

It also means the House Finance Committee is most likely to study the provisions, when lawyers say they really should be before the House Immigration Committee, which is more likely to pick up on unintended consequences.

On April 29, Speaker Geoff Regan (Halifax West, N.S.) ruled against an NDP motion to split the bill, saying “all of the measures…appear to arise out of” budget commitments, including the immigration measures under the section saying the government would enhance the integrity of Canada’s borders and asylum system.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, B.C.) had argued the omnibus bill includes “many unrelated measures” to the budget, highlighting the immigration changes as especially disheartening, saying the measures would “significantly transform the Canadian immigration system.”

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers has been focused on these provisions and said by email it doesn’t have a comment on the provision dealing with travel documents.

The bill shows the government is “changing gears,” said immigration lawyer Ravi Jean, pivoting from the infamous 2017 tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) saying Canada welcomed those fleeing persecution, war, and terror.

“Those moves around restricting the ability of refugees to make claims and trying to tighten up Safe Third Country [Agreement with the U.S.] show that the government feels vulnerable with respect to refugees,” said Mr. Jain, who is vice-chair of the CBA immigration law section.

The change to travel documents likely comes from frustration, he said, noting the government gets a “bad rap” for detaining people too long, but also for people staying too long in Canada who have been told they must leave.

Lawyers weren’t sure which countries the government had in mind when creating the provision, and Mr. Blair’s office didn’t answer which countries were the most unresponsive to requests for travel documents, but in the past some observers said China, Iran, and India, and some African nations have been problematic.

Use of the measure raises the prospect of pushback from within Canada too, from postsecondary institutions if the government targets educational visas, from businesses if it targets work permits, from trade and tourism industries if visitor visas are affected, and so on.

“That’s the balance they’re going to have a strike. Maybe the threat will be enough,” said Mr. Jain.

Ms. Boyd said it’s not an unusual legislative tool for countries and would “make sense” to deploy when a country generally refuses to accept deportation of its nationals.

“It would really depend on whether government misuses this,” she said, like in a case where countries may not have the resources to conduct full investigations on their own, or when identity documents simply don’t exist.

“I don’t know what good it would do, to put political pressure on that country,” she said, calling it a “strong-arm tactic,” to “bully” an outcome.

Anything that moves away from individualization and becomes country-based will “run right into potential constitutional challenges,” said Mr. Bellissimo, “because then you’re not dealing with individuals, you’re dealing with pre-determined countries of origin.”

He said the law should be more explicit, noting lawyers will often look at parliamentary debates to understand legislative intent because that can be brought to court. Such discussions are less likely with the time constraint and limited study for omnibus bills.

“It sets a pattern of lawmaking,” that he and CBA has said “ violates the rule of law and does not lead for ultimately good decision making down the road.”

Source: Proposed federal tool to ‘blacklist a country,’ stop visa processing alarms immigration lawyers

Dozens More Cambodian Immigrants to Be Deported From U.S., Officials Say


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The Trump administration is preparing to deport the largest group yet of legal Cambodian immigrants to the United States over the next few days, according to human rights groups and an American official, continuing a wave of deportation that has fallen heavily on refugees who fled the upheaval surrounding the Vietnam War.

The new deportations include an expected 46 people who are scheduled to arrive in Cambodia on Dec. 19, the American official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of deportations that had not been officially announced.

Many of those being deported have few or no memories of Cambodia, as they were part of an exodus fleeing Khmer Rouge massacres and were granted refugee status in the United States. Some actually have green cards and have been convicted of a felony while in the United States, though often from many years ago.

“We are expecting more than 40 later this month,” Bill Herod, the founder of the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization, a Phnom Penh-based group that works to integrate Cambodian deportees into the country, said in an interview. Mr. Herod said that the exact number and arrival date of deportees often changes due to variables including last-minute legal challenges and weather complications.

Reached for comment, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh referred The Times to the Department of Homeland Security, whose officials did not respond to requests for comment. The Cambodian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

President Trump has continued to place harsh limits on immigration and asylum at the center of his national policy, and over the past year, the White House has pushed to greatly expand the number of foreign residents of the United States who are eligible for deportation.

That effort has included what American officials describe as a renewed push by the White House this month to negotiate with Vietnam to take back a category of refugees in the United States — those who immigrated before 1995 — who had been considered protected under an earlier agreement.

In the case of Cambodians living in the United States, some deportations began in 2002 under a bilateral agreement signed by both countries. But the Trump White House has greatly stepped up the process, widening the numbers of Cambodians it considers deportable.

Rights groups have criticized the new deportation push because many of those designated for deportation will be separated from families who remain in the United States. Others are the children of Cambodians who fled torture and massacre by the Khmer Rouge regime and are being returned to a developing country in which they have never lived or of which they have little memory.

During the Vietnam War, the United States secretly bombarded Cambodia and dropped 2.7 million tons of explosives on the country in operations that some credit with partially enabling the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power.

“Virtually all are the children of Khmer Rouge refugees,” Mr. Herod said of those being deported from the United States. “Virtually all have a difficult time adjusting.”

Cambodia’s government began resisting the push for more deportations in 2017, citing human rights concerns and expressing an interest in negotiating a new agreement.

The Trump administration responded by classifying Cambodia as “recalcitrant” and imposing visa sanctions on some high-ranking government officials and their families. The American and Cambodian governments reached an agreement to resume deportations in February, and Cambodia has since accepted its nationals in increased numbers.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, Brendan Raedy, declined to confirm the new deportations set for Dec. 19, citing security concerns. He did, however, say that as of Sept. 17, “there were 56 Cambodian nationals in I.C.E. detention with a final order of removal, and 1,799 non-detained Cambodians with a final order of removal.”

Mr. Herod, of the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization, said that American officials alerted him in December 2017 “to prepare to receive 200 new arrivals each year for the next several years.”

Only 74 and 29 Cambodians were deported in 2016 and 2017, respectively, according to I.C.E. reports. Mr. Herod said he was aware of 94 Cambodians who had already been deported this year.

President Trump Isn’t Breaking Immigration Arrest Records

Cato Institute does some of the better analysis of US immigration policies and practices:

President Trump has made no secret about his intentions to deport illegal immigrants. His statements as well as administrative actions to remove certain guidelines that focused enforcement efforts on criminals has understandably caused a lot of concern among illegal immigrants, their American families, and those concerned with their plight. They should take comfort that the Trump administration’s efforts to boost arrests, the necessary precursor to a deportation, are stymied by limited local and state law enforcement cooperation with the federal government when it comes to identifying illegal immigrants.

Recently released data on the number of arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows that they are arresting many fewer illegal immigrants under Trump’s administration than under President Obama’s, at least through June of 2018.  During the first full 17 months of the Obama administration, from February 2009 through June 2010, ICE arrested 437,671 illegal immigrants.  For the same first full 17 months of the Trump administration, ICE arrested 226,138 illegal immigrants, about half the number arrested during the same period in Obama’s administration.

Relative to the last full month of the previous administrations, the number of ICE arrests under Trump is up by a whopping 37 percent (Figure 1).  Over the same time, President Obama’s ICE was arresting 25 percent more people than under the last full month of the Bush administration, quite a significant increase on its own.  The increase under Trump is larger as a percentage because it started from a low base, but the increase in the number of arrests under Obama was larger.  For instance, the number of arrests under Obama was 5,803 greater in June 2010 than in December of 2008.  At the same point in the Trump administration in June of 2018, the number of arrests was up 8,965 over December 2016.

There are two broad categories of arrests by the ICE.  The first is called custodial arrests, which is when ICE picks up an illegal immigrant arrested by another law enforcement agency such as state or local police departments.  The second is called ICE arrests, which is when ICE itself arrests illegal immigrants on the streets.  Figure 2 shows that the number of custodial arrests have fallen dramatically since October 2008 while the number of ICE arrests has stayed relatively constant.  This means that local and state non-cooperation with ICE works to reduce the number of ICE arrests as between 70 percent and 90 percent of those arrests are custodial over the entire time.

Some states, like Texas, are fully cooperating with ICE when it comes to immigration enforcement while others like California are resisting mightily.  In Texas, there were 3,963 ICE arrests in May 2018 compared to 2,584 in December 2016, a 53 percent increase.  In California, there were 1,587 ICE arrests in May 2018 compared to 1,356 in December 2016, a 17 percent increase.  ICE is more active everywhere in the country, in sanctuary states and non-sanctuary states, but the difference is stark across such jurisdictions.

The federal government under Presidents Bush and Obama convinced virtually every locality in the United States to sign up for the Secure Communities program that essentially turned over the vast majority of the arrested illegal immigrants to ICE for deportation.  Since President Obama was a Democrat, there was little initial political opposition to the massive increase in states and localities cooperating with the feds via Secure Communities – especially in Democratically controlled states with large numbers of illegal immigrants.  However, political reluctance to cooperate via Secure Communities built rapidly.  In 2011 Massachusetts, Illinois and New York requested to opt out of the program.  States like California then limited statewide cooperation with ICE and then President Obama replaced Secure Communities with a less punitive version called the Priority Enforcement Program that targeted criminals, which was in effect from 2015 to 2017.  Today, most states and localities with large numbers of illegal immigrants are not cooperating with President Trump’s ICE nearly as much as they cooperated with President Obama’s ICE – which is preventing Trump from arresting and, eventually, deporting large numbers of illegal immigrants.

There are other, lesser reasons why the Trump administration is unlikely to reach President Obama’s deportation record.  One is bureaucratic incompetence in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and other executive branch chaos that has so far prevented an orderly and organized deployment of law enforcement resources.  As a partial result of those administrative problems, they are incapable of convincing states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws.  Another reason is that illegal immigrants in 2018 are savvier than they were in the past, are better able to avoid law enforcement, and the few who were criminals were deported over the years, fewer new illegal immigrants have taken their place, and those remaining are less likely to come into contact with law enforcement.

State and local government reluctance to enforce federal immigration laws and cooperate with the Trump administration has limited its ability to arrest and, eventually, deport large numbers of illegal immigrants.  At the current rate, ICE under the Trump administration will be able to arrest about half a million fewer illegal immigrants relative to the Obama administration even if President Trump serves two full terms.  Those who are dispirited by the Trump administration’s efforts to deport large numbers of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants should take some solace that their efforts to block full local and state cooperation with ICE is bearing fruit.

Source: President Trump Isn’t Breaking Immigration Arrest Records

Britain’s immigration detention: how many people are locked up?

Some interesting background and numbers:

Immigrants can be detained at any time. The Home Office casts its net widely: anyone deemed not to have the right to reside in the UK can be detained and deported. Those who do not have legal representation, who do not speak English and who are newly arrived in the UK are least able to challenge a Home Office decision to detain them.

More than 27,000 people were detained in 2017, according to the most recent figures. Detention is now a significant part of the UK’s immigration enforcement efforts, but locking up immigrants without a time limit is a relatively recent phenomenon.

The power to detain was created in the 1971 Immigration Act – however, it was not until the Labour government under Tony Blair that the detention estate expanded to become what it is today.

In 2000, detention centres could hold 475 people, with another 200 or so held under immigration powers in prisons. Capacity has now expanded to about 3,500 spaces.

How does it happen?

Some people are detained as soon as they arrive by Home Office officials stationed at airports and ports. Others can be detained after living in Britain for many years when they try to renew work, family or study visas.

The Guardian survey found 15% were detained at a Home Office reporting centre, where immigrants must attend regular appointments while their applications are processed. They can find themselves starting the day queuing to see a bureaucrat and ending the day in a small cell with a stranger.

Others were apprehended during dawn raids at their home addresses, after rough sleeping, found working illegally or while making applications for leave to remain.

The 2007 UK Borders Act introduced “automatic deportation” for some ex-offenders, which has been an important factor in the expansion of the detention population. Guardian research found more than half of respondents were detained at the end of a prison sentence.

Where does this happen?

Detainees are held in eight detention centres and two ‘short-term holding facilities’, where they can stay for up to a week. One is run by Her Majesty’s Prison service, but the rest are contracted out to outsourcing firms G4S, Mitie, Serco and US-owned GEO Group.

Most are exclusively for men, while Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire is the only centre designed to hold women.

Foreign national offenders can also be detained in mainstream prisons, typically after serving their criminal sentence. In 2017, 1,691 people were held under immigration powers in prisons.

Less than a quarter of those held in prison have access to legal representation, according to research by Bail for Immigration Detainees, a charity which assists with detainees’ bail applications.

A spokesperson from BiD said: “If any British citizen, anywhere in the world, was kept – without warning – in prison after they had finished serving a criminal sentence there would, rightly, be uproar. Yet the British government routinely holds foreign nationals in exactly that manner.”

Who are the detainees?

The nationality of those held in detention changes over time, depending on global migration flows. The Guardian survey found Nigeria and Algeria were most commonly represented among our responses, while Home Office open data for the second quarter of 2018 showed that South Asian countries made up the largest proportion of detainees.

Detainees are overwhelmingly male – women made up just 15% of the total detention population in 2017.

The government announced it would end indefinite detention of immigrant families with children in 2010, while detaining unaccompanied children for more than a day was banned in 2014. As a result, the number of children in the system fell from 240 at the start of 2010 to just 22 in the most recent Home Office figures.

However, unaccompanied children may still be detained during criminal cases and escorted during returns. Families are still detained together in “exceptional circumstances”. The Guardian survey uncovered multiple examples of children being detained in adult facilities.

How long do they stay locked up?

The UK is the only country in Europe with no statutory time limit on detention. While most are held for days or weeks, the Guardian survey uncovered several cases where a detainee was held in excess of two years.

Indefinite detention has been a key criticism of UK immigration policy. In 2015, the first ever parliamentary inquiry called for a 28-day time limit on detention. The Guardian survey found the vast majority of detainees are not told how long they will be held for or when they will be deported.

The Shaw report found that more than half of detainees were ultimately released back into the community, posing questions about the use of taxpayers’ money to pursue lengthy periods of detention.

How much does it all cost?

The Home Office has paid a handful of private contractors hundreds of millions of pounds to run the UK’s immigration removal centres, but no one knows for certain just how profitable the industry is.

The Home Office’s annual report and accounts for 2017-18 states detention costs of £108 million in the year ending 31 March 2018, while the Shaw report says it costs £85.92 per day to hold someone in detention.

Commercial confidentiality agreements mean the Home Office and outsourcing companies are not obliged to publish detailed financial information about immigration detention centres in the UK.

Earlier this year Mitie won what is believed to be the largest immigration detention contract ever awarded, valued at more than half a billion pounds. The contract will cover a range of services and it is not known how much of this is for management of removal centres.

The profitability of detention facilities has proved to be a contentious issue for the contractors.

A Guardian investigation last year pointed to a 20.7% profit margin at G4S-owned Brook House in 2016, while at Tinsley House, the margin was 41.5%.

Source: Britain’s immigration detention: how many people are locked up?

Canadian border agency has deported 398 ‘illegal migrants’ out of 32,000

The latest numbers:

Nearly 400 people who crossed the U.S. border illegally for asylum in Canada have been deported since authorities began tracking irregular migration in April of last year.

That number is a small fraction of the 32,173 so-called “irregular migrants” who came through unguarded land borders from the United States during the period ending in late August. Most are still waiting for their asylum claims to be heard.

Of the 398 failed refugee claimants Canada has deported, 146 were sent back to the U.S., where 116 of them have citizenship, according to data provided to the Star by the Canada Border Services Agency. The rest were deported to 53 countries, with most sent to Haiti (53), Colombia (24), Turkey (19) or Iraq (15).

The deportees, 48 of whom were under the age of 17, included 238 males and 160 females, said the border enforcement agency.

“What happens is people come to the U.S., establish themselves and have children while they try to regularize their immigration status,” said Ottawa immigration lawyer Betsy Kane.

“The number of deportees captures these American-born children who accompanied their parents to Canada for asylum.”

The Canadian border agency said the decision on where an individual is deported depends on from where they came into Canada, their last permanent residence, their citizenship and country of birth. All deportees have seen their asylum claims rejected by the refugee board and exhausted all legal avenues of appeal and due process.

All 32,173 irregular migrants have been declared inadmissable simply for crossing the Canadian border illegally, including six who failed the criminal checks, said border agency spokesperson Nicholas Dorion.

Queen’s University immigration law professor Sharry Aiken said she was not surprised by the low number of deportations as the majority of asylum claims by border-crossers are still to be determined by the refugee board. That board has long been underfunded and only recently got the money from Ottawa to hire additional decision-makers.

Of the 12,190 overall claims processed in the first six months of this year, 64 per cent were granted asylum.

“When removal orders become effective and are not enforced, it undermines the integrity of the system and the confidence in the system,” said Aiken. “But due process does take time with other legal remedies when a claim is refused. We shouldn’t say something must have gone awry because only 400 people have been removed.”

The latest refugee board statistics show it still had 55,567 new claims in the backlog by the end of June after 13,687 had been processed and finalized — 7,831 claims being accepted, 4,359 rejected, and the rest either abandoned or withdrawn. The backlog includes claimants from other countries who didn’t come through unguarded land borders via the U.S.

Source: Canadian border agency has deported 398 ‘illegal migrants’ out of 32,000

Why are so many Hungarians deported? A look at Canada’s ‘Unwelcome Index’ 

The Globe continues to impress me with some of its serious evidence-based reporting (e.g., unfounded sexual assault cases by police department) with this being another good example of reporting by obtaining and analyzing data and explaining what it means:

The U.S. government’s determined efforts to restrict immigration and the number of refugees entering the country has invited comparisons with Canada, heralded by some (including The Economist) as a last bastion of openness among Western countries. But Canada has its own apparatus for ejecting the unwelcome; the Canada Border Services Agency is charged with removing people who don’t meet entry requirements.

To understand who Canada deports, and why, The Globe and Mail requested data from CBSA showing total removals by year, broken out by citizenship, the destination to which the person was sent and justifications for these removals. The data shows Canada removed Hungarian citizens in disproportionate numbers over the past few years. The story of those thousands of unwelcome people contrasts with international perceptions of Canada’s warm embrace of foreigners.

The unwelcome

The CBSA ejects thousands of people annually. However, the data doesn’t reveal much about why those people were removed: By far the most common official justification was “non-compliance,” a sweeping category. Fewer than 10 per cent of removals cited criminality, the second most common justification.

A clearer picture emerges when one examines the citizenship of removed persons: Hungarians topped the removals list during the five-year period from 2012 to 2016.

It is perhaps unsurprising to discover large numbers of Americans and Chinese on the list: Both countries rank among the world’s most populous, and the United States and Canada share the world’s longest border between two countries. Mexico has been a major source of immigrants, and also refugee claimants: The government of prime minister Stephen Harper responded in the late 2000s by imposing new visa requirements on Mexican visitors; removals surged.

Hungary is less populous than those countries, and distant to boot. What gives?

Hungary stands out even more when one compares numbers of removals with numbers of people of the same citizenship accepted as permanent residents. The result is a crude sort of “Unwelcome Index.” Between 2011 and 2015, more than three removal orders were issued for every Hungarian granted permanent-resident status.

Backstory of an exodus

Most Hungarians removed during this period were Roma, explained Sean Rehaag, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto who specializes in immigration law. Studying a random sample of 96 decisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board between 2008 and 2012 involving Hungarian claimants, Mr. Rehaag and his colleagues found 85 per cent involved Roma.

Roma comprise Hungary’s largest ethnic minority. There, they encounter “discrimination and exclusion on a regular basis” concerning education, employment, housing, health and much else, according to a 2014 report by Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. The late 2000s witnessed the rise of right-wing political parties and paramilitaries, accompanied by increasing rhetoric, rallies and attacks directed at Roma. Many Roma sought asylum abroad; thousands arrived in Canada after it lifted visa requirements on Hungarians in 2008.

Gina Csanyi-Robah, a teacher and human-rights activist with Hungarian Roma roots met many applicants in her capacity as executive director of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto, and also at Toronto schools. They fled Hungary because they were “scared that their home was going to be burned down,” Ms. Csanyi-Robah said. “Tired of their children getting beaten up at school and put into segregated classes. Tired of being subjected to verbal, psychological, physical violence when they left their homes.”

 Source: Why are so many Hungarians deported? A look at Canada’s ‘Unwelcome Index’ – The Globe and Mail