Trump’s battle against H-4 visa holders

Spousal employment, another Canadian immigration advantage compared to the USA:

When Molika Gupta immigrated to the U.S. in 2013, after marrying her husband who was already working in the states, she had no idea she would be unable to work. In India, she had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and worked in patent licensing—but once she came to the U.S., she found she could not work on the H-4 visa, which is given to immediate family members of an H-1B worker. (The H-1B is a temporary visa awarded to highly skilled foreign workers, to fill specialized jobs for which there aren’t enough qualified American workers. An H-4 visa allows immediate family members to legally accompany H-1B holders to the U.S. and study here, but it does not authorize them to work.) She decided to get a second master’s degree, which put her on a student visa, but two years later, she was forced to switch back to the H-4 after striking out with the H-1B lottery. (There’s a cap of 85,000 H-1B visas per year—a lottery system is now used to determine which petitions will be approved.)

“That’s when the darkness and depression and loneliness started,” she says. “I was not expecting something like this would happen to me.” When her H-4 work authorization was finally granted in 2017, employers were wary of hiring someone with a gap in their employment history. “Hiring managers couldn’t understand what happened because they’re not really aware of the immigration process,” she says. Now, she works as a freelancer—and advocates for other H-1B spouses in her situation.

“IT’S JUST FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG”

Gupta is one of about 100,000 women who could lose the ability to work if the Trump administration follows through on yet another anti-immigration measure, which would revoke work permits for H-1B spouses—more formally known as the employment authorization document (EAD). Since 2015, when President Obama introduced EAD, H-4 visa holders have had the ability to work without a green card. At the moment, the green card wait time for highly skilled Indian immigrants—who account for more than 75% of H-1B holders—is decades long, which means that without being granted work authorization, their spouses could be barred from working for the foreseeable future.

An overwhelming majority of those spouses are women, for whom the ability to work secures their economic independence—and helps bolster the U.S. economy. In a survey of 2,411 H-4 holders, the advocacy group Gupta works with (which started as a Facebook page, “Save H4EAD“) found that 94% of respondents were women. Nearly 60% of the people surveyed have postgraduate or professional degrees, and about 57% have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have U.S.-born children. The women who could be affected don’t just work in the tech industry; they are teachers and nurses and architects.

“These are people who are on a path to becoming permanent citizens,” says Todd Schulte, the president of immigration advocacy group FWD.us. “It’s just fundamentally wrong.”

The Trump administration already cracked down on the H-1B visa last year, when he issued an executive order that led to a more stringent review of H-1B petitions as well as increased scrutiny of compensation and why the job in question requires a foreign worker. Immigration lawyers have reported a higher rate of denials and delays issuing visas. But the decision on H-4 work authorization—which was first proposed over a year ago—has been delayed for months, leaving H-4 holders in a state of fearful anticipation. The EAD work authorization was initially introduced through an executive order by Obama, and Trump could similarly revoke it by executive order, although it could potentially be challenged in court.

According to Schulte, the White House has not made a move to revoke H-4 work permits in part because they don’t have a good reason to do so. “Take a step back and think about how unprecedented this move is,” he says. “This is a successful program. There is nobody saying this is somehow bad for the economy and country who can back it up with economic stats. They don’t actually have economic justification for it.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR U.S. TECH JOBS

For tech companies, which have historically employed tens of thousands of H-1B workers, a decision to revoke work permits for spouses could compromise their ability to attract talent from countries like India and China. (Microsoft president Brad Smith has cautioned that the decision could force them to move jobs out of the U.S.) In Congress, there is bipartisan support for H-4 work authorization: Earlier this year, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mia Love (R-UT) penned a letter with the support of 130 bipartisan members of Congress, imploring Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to preserve the current regulation. Jayapal also has legislation drafted that can be introduced in the event of a decision.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to welcome one person to contribute their considerable skills to our economy, but tell their spouse that they have to stay home,” she says. “Everyone—regardless of gender—deserves to be able to use and enhance their skills, be financially self-sufficient, thrive mentally and physically, and pursue their dreams. Moreover, it hurts our ability to attract and retain workers. Many of our peers, like Canada and Australia, provide work authorization for accompanying spouses. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

Congressman Ro Khanna, whose district falls within Silicon Valley, says that while people in his town halls sometimes express concerns over the H-1B visa, nobody ever speaks out against the H-4 work permit. “I’ve never had a single constituent in my two years of Congress say that the spouses of H-1B visa holders should not be able to work,” he says. “I think people view that as inhumane or cruel.” That economic independence is particularly important, he says, given there is higher incidence of domestic abuse or violence when a spouse can’t work. And in places with a high cost of living—such as the Bay Area—Khanna says the loss of a second income could significantly impact the livelihood of many families.

The one upside of Trump’s rhetoric is that it has raised awareness and shed light on the plight of H-1B spouses, many of whom only realize they can’t work without the EAD aftercoming to the U.S. And some people have a “distorted” image of the women who carry the H-4 visa, according to Gupta. “It’s not like I was waiting for someone to appear as a knight in shining armor and take me to the U.S.,” Gupta says. “That’s not the case for many women out there.”

Gupta and other advocates—the Save H4-EAD group is led by a group of about 20 people—have drawn more attention to their cause by meeting with lawmakers to share their stories. Raising awareness in the U.S. has also enlightened many women in India who may have to move to the U.S. (Though Gupta adds, “Nobody should be forced to choose between their freedom to work and marriage.”) The group is also preparing for a commenting period if and when the Trump administration makes a decision on work permits.

But Gupta says there is little she can do to brace herself for what could be her new reality. “Nobody can prepare for a situation that they don’t deserve to be in,” Gupta says. “Fighting for your work rights in a country that is the most developed in the world is ironic. I don’t know what should be my next action.”

Source: Trump’s battle against H-4 visa holders

Trump administration seeks to strip more people of citizenship

Appears little distinction between material and significant fraud, or misrepresentation and inadvertent mistakes, as the criteria have expanded:

U.S. government officials are making a coordinated effort to find evidence of immigration fraud by reexamining the files of immigrants who became U.S. citizens.

They are searching for cases where individuals used more than one identity or concealed prior deportation orders before filing for citizenship. Such evidence may provide grounds to strip citizenship from those who allegedly gained it unlawfully.

While the program is not new — it began under the Obama administration — the Trump administration has announced an intention to significantly expand it. More than 700,000 casesin which individuals were granted citizenship are under review.

The Department of Justice announced in January 2018 that it expects to file actions to revoke citizenship against approximately 1,600 people. Six months later, the United States announced plans to hire “several dozen lawyers and immigration officers” to staff a new office focused on this work.

Over the past 30 years, the government has sought to revoke citizenship only on a case-by-case basis after becoming aware of individual wrongdoing. As a result, prosecutors filed around a dozen cases each year to revoke citizenship – a process called denaturalization.

The Trump administration has sharply increased the number of denaturalization attempts already, filing 25 cases in 2017 and another 20 during the first half of 2018.

We are law professors who have studied the court records in the most recent cases. Our review of the court filings suggests that the government’s litigation procedures carry a disturbingly high risk of mistakenly taking away citizenship from someone who committed neither crime nor fraud.

Looking for fraud, finding errors

The original purpose of the program, which the Obama administration initiated in 2016 and called Operation Janus, was to identify people who might create a risk to national security.

It narrowly targeted individuals who “naturalized using false identities to hide their criminal past.” In other words, anyone who immigrated honestly had no reason to worry about losing citizenship.

However, the Trump administration’s tougher stance on immigration means enforcement has expanded beyond cases involving serious crimes or terrorist threats. This tougher enforcement risks sweeping in mere clerical errors.

Cases are being filed against individuals with no criminal history or connections to terror groups. The first Operation Janus case that resulted in an order to revoke citizenship demonstrates this expansion.

Here’s the story: In 1991, a 17-year-old Punjabi male with no travel documentation arrived in California seeking asylum. He was taken into custody, and a translator recorded his name as Davinder Singh. At his request, he was released to friends in New Jersey and ordered to appear in court in January 1992. When he didn’t show up to court on the day he was directed to appear, the court issued a deportation order. We don’t know if he left the country.

Less than a month later, someone with the same set of fingerprints but the name Baljinder Singh filed for asylum in the same New Jersey court. The court found that the case had enough merit to proceed. Eventually, Baljinder Singh became a citizen.

More than 25 years later, the government, under Operation Janus, matched the two sets of fingerprints and alleged that Singh intentionally used a fraudulent identity to get a second chance to seek asylum and get citizenship. In January 2018, the government officially revoked his citizenship.

At first glance, this case may seem straightforward.

But in an article forthcoming in the New York University Law Review, we explain how the discrepancy in name could have easily resulted from a translator’s error rather than from intentional fraud.

We don’t know exactly what happened to Singh. We have not been able to locate him, and no news articles about his case include interviews with him.

However, the evidence shows that the way denaturalization cases are being litigated makes it difficult for the justice system to distinguish between fraud and bureaucratic error.

Citizenship vulnerabilities

For example, Singh lost his citizenship without ever appearing in court to defend himself, either personally or through an attorney. Our review of the 2017-18 court records reveals it’s possible he didn’t know a denaturalization case had been filed against him.

Even when defendants learn that an action has been filed, other hurdles remain. A defendant may have moved far away — even out of the country — and not be able to afford to travel to court. Defendants with enough money can hire an attorney to appear on their behalf. But hiring legal representation can be expensive, and there is no right to an appointed attorney in such cases. Failing to show up means that the court will hear from only the government’s side — and will likely accept the allegations as true.

In Singh’s case, the court concluded that his failure to report earlier proceedings under a different name arose from an intent to deceive — and not from a mere transcription error or misunderstanding.

Singh’s case is the first of many that the government plans to pursue. We do not believe that the underlying evidence in Singh’s case clearly shows fraud, criminality or any national security risk. It also wasn’t clear that he had notice of the hearing or an opportunity to defend himself.

Combined, these factors undermine confidence in the system.

More broadly, they create fear among naturalized citizens. People justifiably worry their own citizenship could be vulnerable in future cases.

We argue that the Constitution’s guarantee of due process requires heightened procedural protections when citizenship is at risk. That means requiring personal notice, a right to counsel for indigent defendants and a time limit for bringing cases, which would increase confidence that citizenship would not be revoked for minor errors or bureaucratic mistakes.

Citizenship is more than just a personal interest. In the words of the Supreme Court, confidence in the stability of citizenship affects the “very nature of our free government.”

If future Operation Janus cases follow the same trajectory as the Singh case, they risk undermining the very idea of equality of citizenship in our democracy.

 

Source: Trump administration seeks to strip more people of citizenship

A Conservative Judge Torched Donald Trump’s Latest Illegal Assault on Immigrants

Canadian conservatives advocating simplistic solutions to asylum seekers should take note:

If there were any lingering doubt that Donald Trump’s latest plan to curb asylum is flatly unlawful, Judge Jay Bybee quashed it on Friday.

In a meticulous 65-page opinion, Bybee—a conservative George W. Bush appointee—explained that the president cannot rewrite a federal statute to deny asylum to immigrants who enter the country without authorization. His decision for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a twofold rebuke to Trump, halting the president’s legal assault on asylum-seekers and undermining his claim that any judge who blocked the order is a Democratic hack. The reality is that anyone who understands the English language should recognize that Trump’s new rule is illegal. Like so many of Trump’s attention-grabbing proposals, this doomed policy should never have been treated as legitimate in the first place.

Friday’s ruling involves a proclamation that Trump signed on Nov. 9, ostensibly to address the “continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border.” The order alluded darkly to the caravan of asylum-seekers then approaching the border, which Trump tried and failed to exploit as a campaign issue. To remedy this “crisis” and protect “the integrity of our borders,” he directed the federal government to deny asylum to any immigrant who enters the United States unlawfully.

Ten days later, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar halted the new rule, holding that it likely exceeded the president’s authority. Trump responded by dismissing Tigar, a Barack Obama appointee, as an “Obama judge.” The comment led to a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts, who told the AP: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

As Trump escalated his feud with Roberts, his Department of Justice appealed Tigar’s ruling to the 9th Circuit. It faced a seemingly propitious panel: Bybee, Judge Edward Leavy, and Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz. Bybee is a very conservative jurist who authored the original “torture memo,” justifying the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation of detainees. Leavy is a staunchly conservative Reagan appointee; only Hurwitz, an Obama appointee, leans to the left. Under Trump’s partisan vision of the judiciary, the DOJ would seem to have a good shot at reviving the asylum rule.

But Bybee didn’t bite. In a crisp and rigorous opinion for the court, he wrote that Tigar was correct to conclude that the policy almost certainly violates the law. The problem, Bybee explained, is that Congress expressly provided asylum-seekers with the right that Trump now seeks to revoke: an ability to apply for asylum regardless of how they came into the country. The Immigration and Nationality Act states that “[a]ny alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival …), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section.” This provision implements the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which the United States has ratified. It directs signatories not to “impose penalties [on refugees] on account of their illegal entry or presence.”

The plain text of the law couldn’t be clearer: Immigrants in the U.S. are eligible for asylum whether they arrived legally (through a “designated port of arrival”) or illegally. If the president wants to change that fact, he’ll have to convince Congress to break its treaty obligations and alter the law.

Obviously, the Trump administration has not persuaded Congress to overhaul asylum law. So it tried to work around the existing statute by allowing unauthorized immigrants to request asylum—then directing the government to deny their application. Bybee easily disposed of this semantical workaround. “It is the hollowest of rights,” he wrote, “that an alien must be allowed to apply for asylum regardless of whether she arrived through a port of entry if another rule makes her categorically ineligible for asylum based on precisely that fact. … The technical differences between applying for and eligibility for asylum are of no consequence to a refugee when the bottom line—no possibility of asylum—is the same.”

In light of the proclamation’s fundamental illegality, Bybee, joined by Hurwitz, affirmed Tigar’s nationwide restraining order. Leavy dissented in a curious five-page opinion insisting that the INA grants the executive branch power “to bring safety and fairness to the conditions at the southern border.” His anemic analysis is no match for Bybee’s thorough demolition of the DOJ’s illogical position. It seems quite likely that a lopsided majority of the Supreme Court will eventually agree with Bybee’s majority opinion.

It is satisfying to see a “Bush judge” (in Trumpian parlance) hand the president such a stinging legal defeat. Roberts overstated the case in totally dismissing the role of partisanship in the judiciary; of course some judges are political. But for now, a majority of the federal judiciary remains willing to stand up to the president, at least when he issues blatantly illegal orders. Judges like Roberts and Bybee may let Trump manipulate ambiguous laws to do some very bad things to immigrants. But they are not willing to let the president ignore a clear and constitutional directive from Congress.

The next time Trump floats a flagrantly lawless idea, then, it’s worth remembering that nativist bluster cannot transmogrify an illegitimate command into a permissible executive order. Just because the president considers ending citizenship for the children of unauthorized immigrants, for instance, does not mean he can actually get away with it. Like the INA, the Constitution grants certain rights that the president cannot unilaterally rescind—including birthright citizenship. Bybee felt no compunction to pretend that Trump’s illicit scheme has any legitimacy. Neither should the rest of us.

Source: A Conservative Judge Torched Donald Trump’s Latest Illegal Assault on Immigrants

Trump Cut Muslim Refugees 91%, Immigrants 30%, Visitors by 18%

Stats are revealing:

On December 7, 2015, President Trump called for a Muslim ban. This ban later turned into “extreme vetting” policies, which—according to Trump—had the same goal. Now nearing the 2-year mark of his administration, an accurate assessment of these policies is now possible. All the major categories of entries to the United States—refugees, immigrants, and visitors—are significantly down under the Trump administration for Muslims or applicants from Muslim majority countries.

91% fewer Muslim refugees

President Trump has dramatically reduced the number of Muslim refugees. According to data from the U.S. Department of State—which records the religions of refugees—Muslim refugees peaked at 38,555 in fiscal year (FY) 2016, fell to 22,629 in FY 2017, and reached just 3,312 in FY 2018—a 91 percent decline from 2016 to 2018. Refugees of other faiths have also seen their numbers cut, though not to the same extent as Muslims. The share of refugees who were Muslims dropped from 45 percent in FY 2016 to 44 percent in FY 2017, and then again to 15 percent in FY 2018. President Trump has reversed the earlier trend under President Obama, where Muslim refugee admissions increased.

30% fewer immigrants from majority Muslim countries

Approvals for immigrant visas—that is, for permanent residents—for nationals of the 48 majority Muslim countries have fallen from 117,444 in FY 2016 to 104,228 in FY 2017 to 82,260 in FY 2018—a 30 percent drop overall. The share of new immigrants entering from abroad from majority Muslim countries has fallen as well, from 19 percent in FY 2016 to 18 percent in FY 2017 to 15 percent in FY 2018. This also reflects a change in the prior trend. From 2009 to 2016, immigrants from Muslim majority countries increased from 80,435 to 117,444.

The decline in immigrant visas occurred primarily in the family reunification categories, which President Trump refers to as “chain migrants.” From FY 2016 to FY 2018, the number of family-sponsored immigrants declined by 29,607—a 36 percent decline. Special immigrants—interpreters and other partners of the U.S. military mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan—accounted for the rest of the reduction. In FY 2018, there were 45 percent fewer immigrant visas for special immigrants than in FY 2016.

18% fewer visitors from majority Muslim countries

Though they were already relatively low to begin with, nonimmigrant visa approvals—temporary visas for workers, students, and tourists—from Muslim majority have also declined 18 percent from 2016 to 2018. In 2016, the Obama administration issued 856,886 nonimmigrant visas to nationals of Muslim majority countries. In 2017, this number fell to 718,535. By 2018, it had dropped to 702,375—154,511 fewer than 2016. The declines occurred among both tourist visas and other visa categories.

Explanations for the Decline in Visas and Refugees

Since President Trump establishes the refugee quotas for each region of the world and for each fiscal year, his decision to cut the quota and distribute the cap away from the Muslim world explains the drop in Muslim refugee issuances. For FY 2017, President Trump established the lowest refugee quota in the history of the refugee program.

The primary cause of the decline in the immigrant visa approvals is the travel ban that has singled out for exclusion eight majority Muslim countries since January 2017: Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Chad and Sudan have been completely removed from the list, and while Iraq is not officially designated, the latest proclamation from September 2017 singles Iraqis out for additional scrutiny.

The eight travel ban countries explain 65 percent of the decline in immigrant visa issuances for Muslim majority countries. Immigrant visa issuances for these countries have fallen 72 percent from FY 2016 to FY 2018. The travel ban explains only 28 percent of the decline in nonimmigrant visa issuances from Muslim majority countries. Nationals of the travel ban countries received 62 percent fewer nonimmigrant visas in 2018 than in 2016.

Beyond the travel ban, President Trump has imposed “extreme vetting” policies that make immigrating more bureaucratic and costly for everyone. He has massively increased the length of immigration forms, adding new subjective “security” questions. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, more applications for Muslims are disappearing into an “administrative processing” hole, where applications are held up for security screening. Undoubtedly, some Muslims simply want to avoid the United States where storiesof profiling and discrimination abound.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the Trump administration is leading a major overhaul in the types of travelers, immigrants, and visitors who are coming to the United States. His administration reduced Muslim refugees by 91 percent and has overseen a 30 percent cut to immigrant visas for majority Muslim countries and an 18 percent cut to temporary visas. These policies lack a valid national security justification, but they are nonetheless having a significant effect. President Trump is certainly following through on his promise to limit Muslim immigration, even if a “total and complete shutdown” has not happened.

Source: Trump Cut Muslim Refugees 91%, Immigrants 30%, Visitors by 18%

Asylum denials hit record-high in 2018 as Trump administration tightens immigration policy

Good data confirming other reports:

Immigration judges rejected a record-high number of asylum cases this year, refusing 65 percent of immigrants seeking the refugee status, according to a recent report published by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). More than 42,000 asylum cases were decided in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2018, the most since the group began tracking the data in 2001.

The rise marks the sixth consecutive year that the denial rate has increased, according to TRAC’s data. In 2012, the refusal rate was 42 percent; 2018’s rejection rate is nearly 50 percent larger, according to TRAC’s data. The group obtained data from the Department of Homeland Security through Freedom of Information Act requests.

TRAC pointed out the increase “largely reflects asylum applicants who had arrived well before President Trump assumed office.”

asylum-denials-fy2018-trac-syracuse-university-figure01.jpg

Immigration court asylum decisions, between fiscal years 2001 and 2018, shown in a graph provided by Syracuse University.

Immigration judges have been busier than ever before. Courts decided on 42,224 asylum cases this fiscal year, an 89 percent increase from two years ago, according to TRAC’s data. There is little relief in sight: as of Sept. 30, there were more than 1 million backlogged immigration cases, including those seeking asylum.

“I worry that people’s due process is at risk and that’s at play in the rise of denial rates,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, in a telephone interview with CBS News. “People’s claims are getting denied not because it wasn’t valid, but because there just wasn’t enough time to collect evidence and representation in an environment that’s seeking speed.”

Mr. Trump made immigration a key issue of the midterms, often tweeting about a migrant caravan traveling through Central America and Mexico and deploying thousands of troops to the southern border ahead of Election Day on Nov. 6. Days later, Mr. Trump signed an executive order barring asylum from anyone who illegally entered the country, a decree later blocked by a federal judge.

Asylum is a specific immigration process reserved for people of any nation fleeing persecution. Asylum seekers must establish they face “credible fear” in their home country, and – in a majority of cases – are allowed to live on U.S. soil while a judge determines the validity of their claim. Mr. Trump and other proponents of stricter immigration laws say the system has been abused by migrants, calling the practice “catch and release” and have made attempts to limit the system.

A change in immigration language from former Attorney General Jeff Sessionsearlier this year severely limited the ability for asylum seekers to establish persecution based domestic and gang-related violence, two forms of persecution that disproportionately impact migrants from Central America.

asylum-denials-fy2018-trac-syracuse-university-figure02.jpg

Change in representation rates compared with fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2018 (average).

Nearly 80 percent of last year’s asylum decisions were for immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, countries with already historically low asylum grant rates, according to Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migrant Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

“You’re dealing with an administration that’s putting a lot of pressure on immigration judges while looking skeptically at asylum and humanitarianism,” Pierce said in a telephone interview Monday evening with CBS News.

Immigration judge selection continued to play a major role in asylum decisions, according to TRAC. Asylum law can have wide-ranging interpretation, leaving immigration judges with more discretion than some other areas of law, said Reichlin-Melnick. For example in San Francisco’s immigration court, depending on the judge, asylum denial rates ranged from 10 percent to 97 percent.

“It’s refugee roulette,” Reichlin-Melnick said. “The single biggest factor on whether you win your case is just who you end up in front of.”

Source: Asylum denials hit record-high in 2018 as Trump administration tightens immigration policy

Jennifer Rubin: The illegal immigration ‘crisis’ is Trump-made

Good column by Rubin:

Those in the reality-based discussion about immigration have pointed out for years that the “crisis” of illegal immigration isn’t a crisis at all and, in fact, that the outflow of people along the southern border has topped the inflow. Pew Research has released a new study confirming exactly this — and demonstrating that the progress in thwarting illegal entries was made under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations (which did not resort to child separations):

“The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on 2016 government data. The decline is due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country without authorization. … The total is the lowest since 2004. It is tied to a decline of 1.5 million people in the number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants from 2007 to 2016.”

Illegal immigration from Central America remains an issue (“Central America was the only birth region accounting for more U.S. unauthorized immigrants in 2016 than in 2007”), but the total number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States hasn’t been this low in 14 years.

The biggest deporter was — ready? — President Barack Obama. (“Deportations rose during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations — from 211,000 in 2003 to a record 433,000 in 2013, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics.”)

The composition of the population of illegal immigrants is increasingly made up of longtime residents (i.e., people connected to the workforce and in their communities) and those with children who are American-born U.S. citizens. “Today’s unauthorized immigrant population includes a smaller share of recent arrivals, especially from Mexico, than a decade earlier,” Pew reports. “Increasingly unauthorized immigrants are likely to be long-term U.S. residents: Two-thirds of adult unauthorized immigrants have lived in the country for more than 10 years. … As their typical span of U.S. residence has grown, a rising share of unauthorized immigrant adults — 43% in 2016 compared with 32% in 2007 — live in households with U.S.-born children.”

Anti-immigrant zealots have maintained that with enforcement the numbers of illegal immigrants could be greatly reduced, leaving just those who really are part of American society and the American workforce. Well, they’re right — and we’re at that point now! Of course, instead of recognizing that we’ve made huge progress in controlling illegal immigration and moving on to consider how to legalize those with substantial ties to the United States, the anti-immigrant crowd paints a dire picture, invents a crime wave (for which they hold immigrants responsible) and wants to cut the number of legal immigrants and/or repeal birthright citizenship.

This is precisely the kind of issue of which the Trump GOP cares not one wit about the facts. Tell them (truthfully) that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens, are catching up with native-born Americans on homeownership rates and are overrepresented among high-tech entrepreneurs, and they’ll scoff, dig up some worker who says “an illegal” took his job (more likely automation eliminated his position) and falsely insist that immigrants are a drag on the economy and responsible for high crime in Chicago because it is a “sanctuary city.”

It’s not possible to have a reasoned debate unless immigration opponents are ready to admit to facts. Like climate-change deniers, the anti-immigrant crowd resents elites who tell them they are wrong or uninformed. Well, sometimes reality isn’t what you’d like it to be. Nevertheless, the rest of us shouldn’t turn our economy inside out, engage in inhumane practices, waste billions on a wall, misuse our military and fan bigotry to preserve these people’s fantastical view of immigration, essentially a fictional creation that allows President Trump and his ilk to whip up their base.

It’s time to engage in good faith with those who demonstrate good faith — and that means agreement on a set of indisputable facts.

Source: Jennifer Rubin: The illegal immigration ‘crisis’ is Trump-made

Trump Is Reshaping The Judiciary. A Breakdown By Race, Gender And Qualification

Good analysis with significant longer-term impact. Sharp contrast with Canadian judicial appointments under the current government where by my count, 56 percent are women, 9 percent visible minority and 3 percent Indigenous peoples:

The Trump administration has already written the opening chapters of what could be its most enduring legacy: the makeup of the federal courts.

In partnership with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Trump White House has secured lifetime appointments for 29 appeals court judges and 53 district court judges. That’s not to mention two Supreme Court nominees.

“He came into office with a mandate to nominate judges in the mold of Justice [Antonin] Scalia and Justice [Clarence] Thomas,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the Judicial Crisis Network, which advocates for conservative judges. “That was a key reason he won the presidency.”

Supporters will celebrate that record this week at the annual convention of the Federalist Society, whose primary mission is to place conservatives on the courts.

The effort is so important to the Republican legal community and the party’s voting base that lawmakers have been holding hearings for nominees while the Senate was in recess, aiming to confirm those candidates in the lame-duck session scheduled before the end of the year.

Critics call this an abuse of the system and point out that all the Trump picks for the appeals courts and the Supreme Court tend to have something in common: most of them are white men.

“Of his 43 appellate nominations, none are African-American,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“None are Latino. Only nine are women. Our nation’s great diversity should be reflected in its government institutions, especially the federal judiciary, which serves as the guardian of our rights and liberties.”

Also notable, said Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is that the Republican-controlled Senate limited President Obama to two circuit court judge confirmations and 22 district court nominations during his final two years in office.

Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, never got a hearing.

NPR aggregated these data from public sources and inquiries to judicial nominees. This presentation reflects the state of nominations formally sent to the Senate as of Nov. 14, 2018. View the full spreadsheet here.

Source: Trump Is Reshaping The Judiciary. A Breakdown By Race, Gender And Qualification

Trump Suspends Some Asylum Rights, Calling Illegal Immigration ‘a Crisis’

For the Conservatives arguing for closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that does not return asylum seekers entering outside regular border crossings (i.e., Roxham Road) to the U.S., the constraints on the U.S. government doing the same for its Southern border may be instructive:

President Trump proclaimed on Friday that the illegal entry of immigrants across the southern border of the United States was detrimental to the national interest, spurring tough changes that will deny asylum to all migrants who do not enter through official border crossings.

The proclamation, issued just moments before Mr. Trump left the White House for a weekend trip to Paris, suspends asylum rights for all immigrants who try to cross into the United States illegally, though officials said it was aimed primarily at several thousand migrants traveling north through Mexico in caravans.

“The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders,” Mr. Trump wrote in the proclamation.

As he left the White House for the overseas trip, Mr. Trump said, “We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Friday within hours of the president’s proclamation, urging a federal judge to prohibit Mr. Trump from moving ahead with his plans to deny asylum to thousands of migrants who may cross the border.

In a legal filing in United States District Court in San Francisco, the A.C.L.U. said that the president’s move was “in direct violation of Congress’s clear command that manner of entry cannot constitute a categorical asylum bar.” The lawsuit also alleges that the administration enacted the rule “without the required procedural steps and without good cause for immediately putting the rule into effect.”

The lawsuit could set in motion another clash between Mr. Trump and the judicial system over the power of the presidency to control the nation’s borders. Officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit.

Administration officials said on Friday that the suspension of asylum rights would be in effect for at least 90 days, but could end sooner if Mexico’s government would sign an agreement allowing the United States to return those who illegally cross the border from Mexico, regardless of their home country — a proposal that Mexico has long rejected.

For decades, immigration law in the United States has required that officials allow migrants who fear persecution in their home countries to seek asylum regardless of whether they entered the United States legally or illegally.

Mr. Trump’s proclamation is a radical departure from that tradition. With the exception of children arriving without parents, officials said that all migrants who cross illegally would automatically be denied asylum. Advocates for migrants condemned the policy shift as meanspirited and unconstitutional.

“Issuing a presidential proclamation effectively denying vulnerable families protection from violence is contrary to our laws and values,” said Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies. “In the long run, it will not deter asylum seekers who are fleeing for their lives. On this one, the emperor has no clothes.”

Across the world, nations have for years agreed to consider asylum protections for those fleeing violence and persecution, even if they cross borders illegally. Human rights advocates said on Friday that the United States should be a leader in supporting that idea.

“One thing that unites a majority of Americans is a belief in the principle of asylum,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “Eroding that principle means eroding a defining value of our nation.”

Administration officials insisted that the new rules would remain consistent with United States obligations to the rest of the world because seeking asylum is not the only way for someone fleeing persecution to receive protection.

Officials said migrants would be allowed to seek other protections if they could prove a risk of being tortured in their home countries. However, they conceded that those claims were purposely much harder to prove and that fewer people were likely to qualify to stay in the United States than would have by receiving asylum. The only way to seek asylum will be to arrive at an official border crossing.

But officials conceded that many of the crossings from Mexico into the United States — known as ports of entry — were over capacity and already had trouble processing the number of asylum claims being made by migrants there. Under the new policy, many more are expected to arrive at the crossings.

In the proclamation, Mr. Trump acknowledged the problem and directed his administration “to commit additional resources to support our ports of entry at the southern border to assist in processing those aliens.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation drew on the same powers to control the nation’s borders that he cited when he banned travel from several predominantly Muslim nations shortly after becoming president. The Supreme Court upheld a later version of that ban after a nearly year-and-a-half legal fight.

The new proclamation is certain to ignite a similar legal battle.

For months before the midterm elections, Mr. Trump cast the group of migrants as a threat to national security, claiming — without evidence— that among them are criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners.”

Mr. Trump’s proclamation puts into effect regulatory changes announced Thursday afternoon that effectively overhaul deep-rooted asylum laws that sought to provide a safer life in America for people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Officials said the changes would take effect early Saturday morning.

Most of the migrants in the caravan come from Honduras and other Central American nations, where they say they fear for their lives because of continuing violence.

Mr. Trump has been seething for months about the increase of immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico and the caravan of several thousand migrants whose travels have drawn news media attention. The president ordered more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the border to prevent the migrants from crossing.

By early this week, that caravan still had about 4,000 or 5,000 people and had made it to Mexico City.

ICYMI: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

Worth reading:

Hunched forward in his chair, his fingertips and thumbs forming a familiar diamond shape, Donald Trump seemed to anticipate the question that Axios’s Jonathan Swan was about to ask him. “On immigration, some legal scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution—” Swan began, before Trump cut him off gingerly. “With an executive order,” he interjected. “Exactly,” Swan replied. “Have you thought about that?” The president didn’t miss a beat. “Yes.”

The video teaser of the interview, which will appear in Axios’s forthcoming documentary news series on HBO, erupted in the middle of a news cycle driven by Trump’s inflammatory comments regarding immigration—his decision to dispatch the military to the U.S.-Mexico border, relentless fear-mongering over a migrant caravan of Central American “invaders,” and a white-supremacist terror attack inspired by Jewish aid for refugees. Trump, who is presiding over a midterm election next week that could determine control of the House, has been betting that a hard-line message on immigration will drive G.O.P. turnout. Yet even for a party that has largely aligned itself with the president’s nationalist rhetoric, what Trump proposed was radical and largely without precedent. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” the president continued in his conversation with Swan. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.” His subsequent claim—that the U.S. is the only country that bestows citizenship upon anyone born within its jurisdiction—was false, but the racial anxiety he was tapping into is real. “[A] person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States . . . with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

The idea of revoking birthright citizenship has wended its way through Washington for years. Democrat Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, proposed revoking birthright citizenship in 1993, before repeatedly apologizing for it. (“I didn’t understand the issue. I’m embarrassed that I made such a proposal,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.) On the right, fear of “anchor babies” has been exploited politically by even moderates such as Jeb Bush, who invoked the issue in 2015. But Trump’s decisive claim that he could get end birthright citizenship with the stroke of a pen caused critics to drop their jaws. “He obviously cannot do that,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, noting the intractable reality: birthright citizenship has been enshrined in the 14th Amendment for 150 years and would require no less than an act of Congress or a Supreme Court challenge to knock it down, an endeavor the vast majority of legal scholars consider impossible.

Regardless of whether it is a midterm stunt, Trump’s fever dream has very real origins in the scholarship of the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank based in Southern California—the front line, incidentally, of illegal border crossings. The current legal argument for revoking birthright citizenship, which had percolated on the left and right in the 90s, began gaining traction in 2006, when John C. Eastman, a Claremont Institute affiliate who is a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, published an article for the Heritage Foundation laying out a three-point argument to challenge the authority of birthright citizenship. First, according to Eastman, at the time of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, children born to foreigners were “not entitled to claim the birthright citizenship” provided by the act. Since the Act eventually became the backbone of the 14th Amendment, therefore, the original interpretation of citizenship should take precedence. Second, he argued the reading of the 14th Amendment—that birthright citizenship can be bestowed upon anyone who is “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States—was overbroad; in Eastman’s reading, citizenship can only be bestowed upon people with “total and exclusive allegiance” to the country. If a child’s parents had not pledged fealty to America, either by becoming full citizens or establishing permanent residence, their loyalty to the Constitution would, by all definitions, be as temporary as that of their parents. (The common legal interpretation of ”subject to the jurisdiction” is that anyone who enters the country, no matter how briefly, are subject to U.S. laws.) Finally, he wrote, the policy was a medieval remnant inconsistent with the Founding and the notion that Americans need consent to be governed: “This consent must be present, either explicitly or tacitly, not just in the formation of the government, but also in the ongoing decision whether to embrace others within the social compact of the particular people.”

The next year, Edward J. Erler, a Claremont scholar and one of the original thinkers on birthright issues, published a bookwith two colleagues examining what reviewer and Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson deemed the problem of “massive illegal immigration from Mexico” for the American identity: “How did the founders and their successors deal with problems of being an American, and what are the effects of massive noncompliance with the laws of the United States?” Apart from several additional treatises they published, however, the idea never caught on with the rest of the conservative legal community. “It’s certainly in the idea of originalism, in that it relies that you understand the text at the time it was written, [but] there are a lot of people, even in that broadly conservative camp, that just reject it,” said Corey Brettschneider,professor of political science and public policy at Brown University, and the recent author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents. “There are a couple of scholars that are pushing it, but it’s not a mainstream view even in conservative circles. That’s because it’s kind of wacky.”

Over time, Eastman and Erler’s legal arguments were adopted in Washington as part of various efforts to curb illegal immigration. In 2010, a small group of Republican senators, including Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain, floated the idea of holding hearings on the issue; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a similar plan in 2015. Most conservative figures in Congress, to say nothing of the pro-immigration donor class, balked. But when Trump launched his unconventional, nativist-pandering campaign, legal birthrightists held out hope that he could indeed become their political vessel to revoke the law. “Political pundits believe that Trump should not press such divisive issues as immigration and citizenship. It is clear, however, that he has struck a popular chord—and touched an important issue that should be debated no matter how divisive,” Erler wrote in National Review in August 2015. At the same time, Erler acknowledged foreseeable roadblocks. “Republicans want cheap and exploitable labor and Democrats want future voters,” he said.

By early 2016, Stephen Miller was forcefully pushing for an end to the birthright privilege, calling it the linchpin in the administration’s immigration policies. “Birthright citizenship really is the ultimate magnet for illegal immigration,” he told the Daily Caller that February, outlining the traditional conservative fears of chain migration, anchor children, and the decreased likelihood of deportation. “[It’s] an open, worldwide invitation to ignore America’s immigration laws and an absolute perversion, misinterpretation, misapplication of the 14th Amendment.” Miller then suggested that Trump could do it more easily than the media or legal scholars imagined: “You could do it through a variety of different means, whether it be legislatively, whether it be through potential guidance that’s issued.”

According to Axios, the Trump administration had been quietly working on this policy for months, and Trump himself was surprised that Swan brought it up in their interview. (“I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one.”) But the revelation of the plan—only weeks away from the midterm election, and in the middle of Trump’s furious posturing on the migrant caravan winding its way to the southern border—immediately won plaudits among several of Trump’s allies, with Lindsey Graham announcing that he was completely on board. More sober-minded Republicans told Politico that they opposed Trump taking action via executive order, and would perhaps try to tailor the breadth of the amendment’s application in Congress. Nevertheless, ending birthright citizenship unilaterally, they concurred, was a bad idea. “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process,” said Ryan. “But where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.”

The Talmudic ponderings of Congress, however, may be less important than the energy this will automatically inject into the election—not just for Democrats enraged about Trump’s treatment of illegal immigrants, but also for conservatives prioritizing border control. Indeed, if a talk Erler delivered in April at Hillsdale College is any indication, birthright citizenship is only one facet of the great threat of political correctness, progressive equalization, and the horrors of plurality looming over the American experiment. “Greater diversity means inevitably that we have less in common, and the more we encourage diversity the less we honor the common good,” he said at the time, calling multiculturalism “a solvent that dissolves the unity and cohesiveness of a nation.” He condemned Republicans for caving so quickly to any accusations of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. “Only President Trump seems undeterred by the tyrannous threat that rests at the core of political correctness,” he explained.

Source: The Intellectual Origins of Trump’s Chilling Immigration Plan

Editorial: Trump’s cruel rule to strip H-1B spouses of the right to work

The Trump administration is moving forward with its much-criticized plan to strip working rights from about 100,000 foreign citizens in the U.S., many of whom live in the Bay Area.The Department of Homeland Security has announced that its new rule to ban the spouses of H-1B visa holders from working will be issued next month.

“Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold,” the department said in the notice, as way of explanation for its actions.

In other words, this move is part of President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which was signed in 2017.

The Trump administration has already slowed the flow of H-1B visas,which are a linchpin of the Bay Area’s technology industry.

Trump himself has made it clear that he wants to make major changes to the controversial visa program. But it’s particularly cruel for his administration to launch a broadside against H-1B visa holders by banning their spouses from working.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee have estimated that 93 percent of H-4 visa holders are women from India.

Many of these women are highly educated; most are in their prime working years. By stripping H-4 visa holders of their right to work, the Trump administration is effectively denying a discrete group of women the opportunity to have economic independence and to provide for their families.

The rule change will also have an outsize impact on the Bay Area.

Many Bay Area residents who hold H-4 visas have told news organizations that, should the Trump administration go forward with this rule change, they and their families will probably have to leave the area or even the U.S.

That’s a brain drain this dynamic region can ill afford.

The Trump administration must leave the H-4 visa program alone.

Source: Editorial: Trump’s cruel rule to strip H-1B spouses of the…