Trump’s Worthwhile Canadian Initiative vs New Trump administration policy is eugenics for immigrants

Two very contrasting views of the Trump administration’s immigration proposals, starting with the National Review in favour:

Donald Trump has associated himself with the radical idea that the United States should have a legal-immigration system like that of Canada.

He unveiled an immigration plan on Thursday that would emphasize skills, moving us closer to the Canadian model from our current, foolishly monomaniacal focus on family reunification.

The problem with letting immigrants bring in all sort of relatives is that it makes the immigration system random, and effectively takes control over picking and choosing who will come here out of our hands. The Trump plan would limit family immigration to immediate family — spouses and minor children — and eliminate the visa lottery, which is just as arbitrary as it sounds.

Instead, the emphasis would be on a point system and higher-skilled immigrants with extraordinary talents, professional vocations, and academic accomplishments.

The plan also includes an array of welcome enforcement measures, although it’s not clear yet if it includes the most important of all, an E-Verify system for employers that would do much to turn off the jobs magnet drawing illegal immigrants here.

There is a lot to commend in the plan. It would be a significant step toward making our immigration system more rational. With so many people around the world desperate to come here, it is insane that we aren’t choosing the immigrants who best serve our interests. Under the plan, we would favor the immigrants best-suited to thriving in a 21st-century economy, and English and civics tests would select for immigrants with the best chance of easily assimilating.

It is something of a breakthrough to have an administration that considers the interests of American workers in formulating immigration policy and doesn’t want to continue to flood the lower end of the labor market with greater numbers of low-skilled immigrants, a persistent feature of so-called comprehensive immigration reforms.

Our complaint is that the plan doesn’t call for lower numbers of legal immigrants given the historic wave of immigration that has continued unabated for decades now. But the enforcement measures, especially if they include e-Verify, should reduce the flow of new illegal immigrants and diminish the current illegal population, reducing the level of immigration overall.

Also, it would have been better if Trump had come into office with a plan along these lines ready to be immediately written into legislation when Republicans controlled Congress. If so, with the right horse-trading and a deft touch, it might have been possible to get important reforms written and signed into law.

As it is, this is largely a campaign document, and a commendable one.

Source: Trump’s Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

Michael Sean Winters in the National Catholic Reporter takes a strong stand, excessively so IMO, on “merit-based” approaches. Labelling it as “eugenics” is so over the top that it undermines a more reasonable approach that has a blended approach between economic, family and refugee immigrants (as in Canada):

Last week, the estuary where politics and religion mingle was dominated by discussions about abortion, and I will have more to say on that later this week. But, today, I would like to focus on President Donald Trump’s rollout of a new approach to immigration policy. One of the central objectives of the policy proposal will be to implement a “merit-based” system for admitting immigrants legally, rather than the current system which prioritizes family members of those already here.

Ironically, Trump entrusted the policy rollout on Capitol Hill to a member of his own family, Jared Kushner, who met with Senators May 16 and left them with the impression he is clueless when it comes to the issue. The Washington Post cited an individual “familiar with the meeting” who said: “He’s in his own little world. He didn’t give many details about what was in [his plan]. … And there were a number of instances where people had to step in and answer questions because he couldn’t.” Maybe young Kushner should go back to making peace in the Mideast.

The idea of turning to a “merit-based” system that prioritizes migrants with special skills and high levels of education is already supported by some hardline Republican senators. Sens. Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, David Perdue of Georgia, and Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced the RAISE Act last month. Their proposal also reduced legal immigration over time, something Trump apparently does not want to do at this time. But, the core idea is the same.

“Our current immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of our growing economy,” said Perdue in a press release announcing the introduction of the legislation. “If we want to continue to be the global economic leader, we have to welcome the best and brightest from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves. This will require a skills-based immigration system that is pro-growth and pro-worker. The RAISE Act is proven to work and is still the only plan that responds to the needs of our economy, while preserving quality jobs and wages for American workers.”

See, the needs of the “the economy” are more important than the needs of any families that might wish to be reunited. Or, so say these “pro-family” senators, two of whom garnered a 100 percent rating from the Family Research Council last year. Hawley was not yet a senator, but I would be willing to bet he will earn a 100 percent rating this session.

One of the cornerstones of Catholic social doctrine is that the family and its rights precede the state and its rights. Indeed, all four pillars of Catholic social doctrine — human dignity, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity — rise or fall based on how a society fosters family life.

There is no constitutional requirement that a public policy cohere with Catholic moral teaching, to be sure. But, let’s call this “merit-based” system what it is: Eugenics for immigrants. In its earlier iteration, eugenics aimed to prevent those deemed to lack “merit” from procreating. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thundered Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in 1927, before eugenics got a bad name at Auschwitz.

Now, corporate America gets to play the part of deciding who does and does not get to be treated with that equal human dignity both the Gospel and the Constitution take as their most basic premise. Corporate America tells the government what kind of foreign workers it needs, and the government lets those workers move to the front of the line. Why should the needs of the impersonal “economy,” or the needs of the corporate titans who hide behind economic theories, take precedence over our moral values? Christian moral theology recognizes that the people with the greatest claim on society and government are those in need, not those with special skills. An immigrant is a human person. Is the president and his party saying that the proper assessment of “merit” is an economic assessment, not a moral one? What about an unborn immigrant child? Do they lack the “merit” human dignity confers?

The U.S. bishops were quick to put out a letter, signed by four relevant committee chairmen, voicing their opposition to a bill that would confer equal rights to members of the LGBT community. The statement they did issue is totally inadequate.

“While we appreciate that the President is looking to address problems in our immigration system, we oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the bishops’ conference. “Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system. As Pope Francis notes: ‘Family is the place in which we are formed as persons. Each family is a brick that builds society.’ ”

I do not recall them acknowledging the good faith of those who support the Equality Act. And, really, what is there to “appreciate” about this president’s attempts “to address problems in our immigration system”? After all, it is heavy with racism and, in the event, likely to affect mostly our coreligionists from Central America. Many Catholics come to Washington every January to protest Roe v. Wade. Will they come to Washington in similar numbers to protest this social Darwinism?

One expects this kind of morally asinine behavior from the president, but I confess I am surprised that so many conservative members of Congress support this kind of “merit-based” immigration system. They are not stupid people. They are not immoral people. They are people for whom a commitment to Christian faith, and the values that flow therefrom, has been wildly distorted by its entanglement with the Republican Party. They are equally a threat to what is best about our American experiment and most precious about our Christian heritage. This embrace of eugenics for immigrants is only the latest evidence of how great that threat is.

Source: New Trump administration policy is eugenics for immigrants

USA: White Supremacy Beyond a White Majority

Quite a contrast with Canadian judicial appointments, currently over 50 percent women under the current government, about one-third under the previous Conservative government and the 80 percent males judges appointed under Trump.

Can only foreshadow further divergence between Canadian and US jurisprudence and representation:

The white male racist patriarchy will not be denied. It is having a moment. It has its own president.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of race/ethnicity and sex among validated voters in the 2016 presidential election, white men were the only group in which a majority voted for Donald Trump — 62 percent — although a plurality of white women did also — 47 percent.

We are living through a flagrant display of a white male exertion of power, authority and privilege, a demonstration meant to underscore that they will forcefully fight any momentum toward demographic displacement, no matter how inevitable the math.

The fear of white male displacement is a powerful psychological motivator and keeps Trump’s base animated and active.

It keeps farmers holding out hope and making excuses for him, even as his trade war devastates their operations. It keeps coal country loyal, even as the promises of a revitalized coal industry ring hollow. It keeps white voters in the rust belt on the edge of their seats, waiting for the day that he will magically bring back manufacturing. It keeps white voters in the South heated over the issue of immigration and an “invasion” or “infestation” of Latin Americans.

Trump’s central promise as a politician has been the elevation, protection and promotion of whiteness, particularly white men who fear demographic changes and loss of status and privilege.

As Vox reported in 2017, white people of all ideologies, including liberals, become more conservative when confronted with the reality that a rising minority population means a loss of white dominance.

As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt recently told Vox:

“As multiculturalism is emphasized more and more, there emerges a reaction against it on the right, which is attractive to the authoritarian mind and also appeals to other conservatives. And this, I think, is what has happened, this is what Trump is about — not entirely, of course, but certainly this is a big factor.”

It is about stacking the courts, controlling the bodies of women (look no further than the raft of state abortion restrictions recently passed, including the outrageous new abortion law in Alabama), fighting the redefinition of gender as personified by the advances in liberty among people who are transgender, restricting the voting of nonwhite, less conservative groups, and controlling the flow of migrants into the country who do not bolster the white population.

While much of the country tries to contend with the unending stream of outrages in the White House, the Senate majority leader is pushing through a steady stream of Trump’s far-right federal judges, often breaking precedent and allowing for their confirmations over their home state’s senators’ objection.

The recent confirmation of Joseph Bianco to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York, was Trump’s 38th confirmed circuit court judge, HuffPost reported last week, adding:

“That’s more circuit judges than any president has gotten by this point in a first term, and means that one in every six seats on the nation’s circuit courts is now filled by a Trump nominee.”

These are lifetime appointments. Even if demographics change over one’s lifetime, these judges will not.

As a recent Congressional Research Service report pointed out, 90 percent of Trump’s circuit court nominees have been white and 92 percent of those confirmed have been white. Among recent presidents, only Ronald Reagan — who opposed making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday, but eventually reversed himself, and who vetoedthe Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which, with a congressional override, leveled sanctions against South Africa for its oppressive racist social architecture — appointed and confirmed a higher percentage of white judges.

Eighty percent of Trump’s judicial nominees have been men, and men have been 74 percent of those confirmed.

None of this can fully prevent change, but it can slow it.

The strategy is to find a way to maintain white supremacy, white dominance, without the necessity of a white majority in the U.S. population.

The point is that once white people become a minority in America, the country itself will move from a majority rule ideal to a minority rule one.

US Businesses Wage Two-Front War Against 2020 Census Citizenship Question

Similar to the concerns of Canadian business when the Harper government cancelled the mandatory census in favour of the less accurate voluntary National Household Survey:

Leading U.S. businesses have been pushing back against the White House’s anti-immigrant policies since the weeks following Inauguration Day, and now they have joined the fight to keep a controversial new citizenship question out of the 2020 census.

The legal battle over the new census question has been in the media spotlight as a lawsuit—joined by major U.S. business organizations—inches closer to a Supreme Court hearing.

In the trenches, though, an equally important fight is shaping up. If the courts preserve the new citizenship question, major U.S. businesses are already in position to launch a holistic, boots-on-the-ground outreach campaign to encourage census participation.

Why U.S. businesses need an accurate census

The new census question asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” It further breaks down the question with different boxes to check for persons who are born in the U.S. or Puerto Rico and other territories, born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent, naturalized citizens, and lastly, “No, not a U.S. citizen.”

All things being equal, the question is a straightforward one. However, under the current administration, anything related to immigration is far from innocuous. Critics—and they are numerous—argue that the question appears deliberately designed to discourage counting in urban areas where immigrants congregate.

An inaccurate census may serve political purposes, but it is anathema to the U.S. business community.

Earlier this week, Reuters took a deep dive into the relationship between the business community and the Census Bureau and noted several significant reasons why U.S. businesses depend on accurate data:

“Retailers like Walmart and Target Corp use Census data to decide where to open stores or distribution hubs, and what to stock on shelves,” wrote Reuters reporter Lauren Tara LaCapra. “Big banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co use the information similarly for branch strategy, and real-estate firms scrutinize the statistics to determine where to build homes and shopping centers. TV networks like Univision, meanwhile, rely on the numbers to plan programing in local markets. And the Census is an important input for tech giants like Google when they create myriad data-based products, such as maps.”

To cite just one example, Amazon’s multi-city search for a second headquarters also harvested Census data to aid the company’s decision making, LaCapra explained.

How U.S. businesses can help ensure an accurate census

In this context, a new census question that could discourage millions of U.S. residents from participating—or participating accurately—is a bottom-line bombshell.

Nevertheless, there is an opportunity for businesses to step forward and take the lead, even if the new census question survives in court.

LaCapra of Reuters suggests that U.S. businesses have already amassed experience in encouraging census participation at a grassroots, face-to-face level: “Ahead of the 2010 Census, McDonald’s Corp featured information on restaurant placemats, Walmart greeters handed out flyers, big retailers featured reminders on receipts and utility companies stuck inserts into electric, gas and water bills.”

Intentionally or not, AB-InBev has already taken the lead on the 2020 census. The global company’s Budweiser brand touched off a media firestorm by unveiling a pro-immigrant advertisement at the 2017 Super Bowl.

Partnering with the U.S. census bureau

That could be just a small harbinger of private-sector participation in the 2020 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau itself provides guidance for companies that want to get involved in the 2020 census. It is actively recruiting private-sector partners through its Integrated Partnership and Communicationsprogram, which is tasked with “building ties with more than 300,000 state, local, and tribal governments, community-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations and advocacy groups, and the private sector.”

The IPC program appeals directly to the corporate social responsibility movement, explaining that “you benefit by fulfilling your CSR goals, accessing our personalized data training and information services, networking with other businesses you otherwise wouldn’t encounter, and engaging with your customers and employees around a civic duty.”

IPC is keenly aware of brand reputation, telling companies: “You have invested heavily in understanding how to reach and how to communicate with your customers and employees. You are trusted brands and trusted voices.”

Furthermore, IPC underscores the bottom-line benefits:

“The 2020 Census data will help you create projections of growth to identify prime locations to open new operations or close old ones. You can enhance your hiring practice and identify skilled workers. Our data provide valuable information on your customer base (income level, household size, homeownership status) to inform your pricing and location strategies.”

Helping the Census Bureau help you

As IPC partners, companies receive messaging, branding and guidance on spreading the word. That includes basics like sharing a link to the 2020 census on company websites, providing Internet connections and free call time to underserved households, and hosting community educational events.

IPC also suggests that companies engage in commentary, through op-eds and similar content, to explain why partnering with the Census Bureau is so important to them.

In addition, the IPC guidance aims to build the 2020 census-taker workforce. IPC partners are asked to advertise Census job openings and help applicants with filling out forms. That can include providing transportation to libraries and other locations where help is available, or where training sessions are located.

That’s just for starters. IPC also encourages companies to sign up for Census Bureau news alerts, spread the word by following @uscensusbureau on Twitter, and distribute Census bureau infographicsand other materials. The organization also hosts workshops to develop local solutions to specific challenges in their community and generate commitments to tackle them.

How brands can take stands supporting the census

IPC also asks companies to use text messaging and social media to encourage Census employment and participation. In that regard, IPC has one particularly salient piece of guidance for its partners, and that is to “actively monitor, fact check, and correct misinformation on social networks about the 2020 Census.”

Reportedly, the Census Bureau has received “initial” commitments from Facebook, Google and Twitter to clamp down on misinformation.

It will be especially interesting to see how the commitment plays out for Facebook. The company has a years-long history of alleged civil rights violations to account for and overcome, in addition to an ongoing connection with white nationalism and tolerance of white nationalismthrough one of its controversial board members, along with its alleged facilitation of Russian propaganda during the 2016 election.

Companies that have come forward include Levi Strauss & Co, Uber, Lyftand Univision. Yet Reuters also reported that companies involved in the lawsuit against the new census question have been reluctant to publicize their stand, fearing backlash from the Trump administration.

Source: US Businesses Wage Two-Front War Against 2020 Census Citizenship Question

Canada’s becoming a tech hub thanks to Donald Trump immigration policies

One of the rare benefits to Canada of the Trump administration:

US companies are going to keep hiring foreign tech workers, even as the Trump administration makes doing so more difficult. For a number of US companies that means expanding their operations in Canada, where hiring foreign nationals is much easier.

Demand for international workers remained high this year, according to a new Envoy Global survey of more than 400 US hiring professionals, who represent big and small US companies and have all had experience hiring foreign employees.

Some 80 percent of employers expect their foreign worker headcount to either increase or stay the same in 2019, according to Envoy, which helps US companies navigate immigration laws.

That tracks with US government immigration data, which shows a growing number of applicants for high-skilled tech visas, known as H-1Bs, despite stricter policies toward immigration. H-1B recipients are all backed by US companies that say they are in need of specialized labor that isn’t readily available in the US — which, in practice, includes a lot of tech workers.

Major US tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon, have all been advocating for quicker and more generous high-skilled immigration policies. To do so they’ve increased lobbying spending on immigration.

CompeteAmerica, a pro-immigration coalition of employers whose members include Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, wrote to Homeland Security last fall saying that Trump’s immigration policies were bad for business and their employees.

Business Roundtable, an association of top US CEOs that includes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty, expressed a similar sentiment in a letter to Homeland Security last year.

“Due to a shortage of green cards for workers, many employees find themselves stuck in an immigration process lasting more than a decade. These employees must repeatedly renew their temporary work visas during this lengthy and difficult process,” the group wrote in August. “Out of fairness to these employees — and to avoid unnecessary costs and complications for American businesses — the US government should not change the rules in the middle of the process.”

So far, these efforts haven’t accomplished much.

Recent immigration data shows the US is issuing fewer total visas to these types of workers than in previous years. This is a result of an executive order Trump issued in 2017 to review the H-1B process and make good on his pledge to “Hire American.”

It’s also made the whole process of sourcing these workers much more difficult, which in turn makes the hiring process more expensive. Some 60 percent of applications required additional paperwork in the last quarter of 2018, twice as much as two years earlier.

For the most part, the reason US companies are hiring international tech labor is because there aren’t enough skilled Americans to do that work.

This is a systemic problem that has its roots in a lack of pertinent science, or STEM, education. Indeed, the number of STEM job openings outpaces the number of unemployed STEM workers, according to a report by the New American Economy, a bipartisan business coalition launched by Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. The organization found that 23 percent of all STEM workers in the US are immigrants.

Our loss is Canada’s gain

To get the tech talent they need, US companies are hiring outside the US, with Canada being a common choice.

Sixty-three percent of employers surveyed in the Envoy study are increasing their presence in Canada, either by sending more workers there or by hiring foreign nationals there, according to the Envoy survey. More than half of those did both. Another 65 percent of hiring professionals said Canada’s immigration policies are more favorable to US employers than US policies.

Of those surveyed, 38 percent are thinking about expanding to Canada, while 21 percent already have at least one office there.

And Canada has become a more obvious choice for foreign nationals in the first place.

Kollol Das, a former electronic engineer and gaming startup founder from India who now specializes in machine learning, was offered two high-skilled tech jobs last fall, one based in New York and one based in Toronto.

He immediately chose the latter.

The H-1B process in the US could have taken six months or longer, while the entire process in Canada — from being offered the position to moving to Toronto — took him less than two months. The visa portion of the process took about a week.

“The fact that the whole process is so long made it so that I didn’t even think further ahead,” said Das, who is currently a research lead at Sensibill, a Toronto-based financial services company that uses big data. Had the immigration process been the same? “Then I might have looked more at the kind of role I’d have in each place.”

Canada has weathered similar high-tech worker shortages to the US, but its response has been to welcome immigrants with relatively open arms. Its immigration minister announced last year that Canada would increase the number of immigrants it accepts each year by 40,000, for a total 350,000 in 2021.

Its Global Skills Strategy program — Canada’s equivalent to the H-1B — expedites the immigration process for high-skilled workers to just two weeks or less. Last year, the program brought in more than 12,000 workers, approving 95 percent of applicants. A quarter of those came from India and another quarter came from the US.

Such policies have been a boon for Canadian tech companies.

“I was a serial entrepreneur and I spent most of my career watching a brain drain from Canada,” said Yung Wu, the CEO of MaRS Discovery District, a tech-innovation hub based in Toronto that includes 1,300 entrepreneurial ventures. “This is the first time in my career I’ve seen a brain gain.”

As a result, Wu said MaRS companies saw a more than A 100 percent increase in jobs created in 2017 compared to 2016 — and a nearly 200 percent increase in revenue, for cumulative sales of $3.1 billion. “There’s a really strong correlation between talent and innovation,” Wu said.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that Canada has become a major tech hub. Toronto ranked No. 4 last year on CBRE’s tech talent list. That put it just behind San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC, as a top location for tech workers. It also created more new jobs than those top three cities combined.

Another Canadian city, Ottawa, saw the fastest percentage growth in tech employment of any city in the US or Canada.

CBRE, a real estate firm, does this annual report precisely because the location of tech talent dictates so much of the economy — including where companies locate their offices and invest capital.

Immigrants are an integral part of that talent.

“Immigrants create jobs; they don’t take away jobs,” Wu said. “America’s loss right now is Canada’s gain.”

Source: Canada’s becoming a tech hub thanks to Donald Trump immigration policies

Anti-Immigration Groups See Trump’s Calls for More Legal Immigrants as a Betrayal

Kind of amusing. But one should judge his administrations anti-immigration actions more than this apparent change of language:

For months, President Trump has been railing about the urgent need for a wall to protect against what he calls “an invasion” of illegal immigrants flooding across the southwestern border. But he has also been delivering another message: “We need workers,” he told a group of activists recently.

In other words, he wants more immigrants.

“I want people to come into our country, in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally,” Mr. Trump ad-libbed last month during his State of the Union address.

Comments like those from the president have ignited furious criticism from his hard-line, anti-immigrant supporters who accuse him of caving to demands for cheap foreign labor from corporations, establishment Republicans and big donors while abandoning his election promise to protect his working-class supporters from the effects of globalism.

“This is clearly a betrayal of what immigration hawks hoped the Trump administration would be for,” said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates cutting legal immigration by more than half. He warned that Mr. Trump was in danger of being “not even that different from a conventional Republican.”

Breitbart News, a conservative website that promotes anti-immigrant messaging, published on Thursday the latest in a series of articles attacking Mr. Trump for catering to big business at the expense of the Americans who put him in the Oval Office. “Trump Requests ‘More’ Foreign Workers as Southern Border Gets Overrun,” the site blared on its home page.

“That Mr. Trump would advance the interests of the global elite ahead of our citizens would be a tragic reversal on any day,” Lou Dobbs, the Fox News host, said in a televised rant against the president on Wednesday evening on the Fox Business Channel. “The White House has simply lost its way.”

Corporations and influential corporate conservatives such as Charles G. Koch and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have long urged the president to help them recruit the talent they need by expanding the number of workers who can enter the United States from other countries.

That has become more urgent as the economy has improved and as declining unemployment has made it harder for companies to find workers. To assuage their concerns, Mr. Trump has increasingly tailored his immigration talking points to cater to the needs of business executives like those who attended a business round table on Wednesday at the White House.

“We’re going to have a lot of people coming into the country. We want a lot of people coming in. And we need it,” Mr. Trump said as he sat next to Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, and other executives. “We want to have the companies grow, and the only way they’re going to grow is if we give them the workers, and the only way we’re going to have the workers is to do exactly what we’re doing.”

But that message runs counter to the hard-line immigration image that Mr. Trump has carefully nurtured — most recently by shutting the government down for 35 days in a failed attempt to pressure Congress to fund a wall on the Mexican border.

Mr. Trump won the White House in no small part by embracing anti-immigrant messaging that tapped into the economic fears of blue-collar workers upset about losing their jobs to foreign workers. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, he attacked undocumented immigrants as “rapists and murderers” and called for a “big, beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico.

Since becoming president, Mr. Trump has aggressively sought to crack down on illegal border crossings, increase deportations, cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States and make it harder for migrants to claim asylum. He has complained about drug dealers, gangs and members of Central American caravans pouring across the border. And last summer, his administration separated thousands of migrant children from their parents in an effort to deter Central American families from trying to seek refuge in the United States.

The harsh record — and comments by Mr. Trump that disparaged African nations in vulgar terms and suggested that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” — has earned him the enmity of Democrats and immigration activists, who call him a racist president.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will follow through on his recent, pro-business messaging. Many of the president’s aides — including Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser in the White House — agree with the hard-line activists about the need to lower legal immigration.

In 2017, Mr. Trump endorsed the Raise Act, a Republican Senate bill that would reduce legal immigration by as much as 50 percent. And the administration is currently considering a proposal to cut immigration by denying work authorizations, known as H-4 permits, to almost 100,000 spouses of immigrants who are brought in by companies to work legally in the United States.

But even so, some of the nation’s most hard-line anti-immigration activists have become increasingly nervous that Mr. Trump might waver on their primary concern — the need to shrink the number of immigrants who enter the United States each year, currently 1.1 million.

They argue that tight labor markets make it exactly the wrong time to allow more foreign workers to compete with Americans. Chris Chmielenski, the deputy director of NumbersUSA, which lobbies for lower legal immigration, said companies should be pressured to hire more Americans instead.

“Anything we do now to bring in more foreign workers could actually reverse some of the economic gains over the last four years,” Mr. Chmielenski said. “We’re absolutely concerned. We feel this isn’t how he ran on the issue.”

Last week, in an effort to communicate that message directly to Mr. Trump, NumbersUSA began airing an ad on Fox News Channel in the hopes that the president would get the message that his supporters do not want to let in more than one million immigrants each year.

“The majority of voters say the number should be cut to 500,000 or less,” the ad said. “Americans want less immigration.”

Mr. Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, said that companies that no longer have access to foreign workers would have no choice but to turn to Americans who are still struggling to find work: people with disabilities, teenagers, older people and even former convicts.

He also said that modest increases in wages for workers would evaporate if companies were allowed to simply tap an unlimited pool of lower-paid workers from other countries.

“If you want wages to go up,” Mr. Krikorian said, “you don’t import more foreign labor.”

Business groups dispute that analysis. They argue that immigration expands the amount of business activity in the United States, adding jobs and increasing wages for the vast majority of American workers.

“Our country has benefited tremendously from welcoming people who have contributed to our economy, our communities, across the board,” said James Davis, a spokesman for the Koch network. “We want to welcome in everyone who wants to contribute to our society. We want to see more legal immigration.”

Todd Schulte, the president of FWD.us, a pro-immigration advocacy group that started with backing from Mark Zuckerberg, a founder of Facebook, said that “immigrants and immigration increase economic growth, they increase economic productivity and they increase wages for the overwhelming number of native-born Americans.”

Mr. Schulte, whose group has been highly critical of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant messaging and policies, welcomed the president’s recognition that legal immigration is a positive thing for the United States’ economy.

But he cautioned that Mr. Trump must be measured by his actions, not his words. He called on the president to halt the effort to deny the H-4 work permits to immigrant spouses.

“He should stop trying to revoke the H-4 rule,” Mr. Schulte said. “Increasing legal immigration would help native-born Americans. Unfortunately, the record has been one bent on cutting overall immigration levels.”

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