Animation: Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

Great animation and charts:

https://youtu.be/fiPq7C06zjQ

America is a nation of immigrants, and though the country has seen a lot of new arrivals over the past two centuries, the rate of immigration has been far from steady.

War, famine, economic boom and bust, religious persecution, and government intervention have all caused wild swings in the rate of immigration from countries around the world.

Today’s striking animation, by Max Galka, is a great way to see changes in immigration over time. Inflows from specific countries rise and fall, and the top three countries of origin change numerous times over the years.

Below, is another way to look at the ebb and flow of American immigration since the early 1800s.

U.S. Immigration Charts
An important note. This data excludes forced migration (slavery) and illegal immigration.

Let’s look at the “waves” in more detail.

WAVE ONE: THE OLD IMMIGRATION

From 1820 to 1870, over 7.5 million immigrants made their way over to the United States, effectively doubling the young country’s population in only half a decade.

Ireland, which was in the throes of the Potato Famine, saw half its population set sail for the U.S. during that time. This wave of immigration can still be seen in today’s demographics. There are now more Irish-Americans than there are Irish nationals.

The magnetic pull of the New World was profoundly felt in Germany as well. Growing public unrest in the region, caused by heavy taxation and political censorship, culminated in the German revolutions of 1848-49. Faced with severe hardship at home, millions of Germans made their way to America over the 1800s. It’s estimated that one-third of the total ethnic German population in the world now lives in the United States.

WAVE TWO: GOLD RUSH

Much of America’s early immigration was from various points in Europe, but there was one prominent exception: China.

The discovery of gold in California inspired Chinese workers to seek their fortune in America. After a crop failure in Southern China in 1852, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants flooded into San Francisco.

Although the State of California was making millions of dollars off its Foreign Miners Tax, sentiment towards Chinese workers began to sour. Gold mines were being tapped out and white Californians blamed the Chinese for driving wages down.

Chinamen are getting to be altogether too plentiful in this country.

– John Bigler, Governor of California (1852-1856)

By 1882, the newly enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act had a chilling effect on Chinese immigration. The Exclusion Act has the dubious distinction of being the only American law barring a specific group from immigrating to the United States.

WAVE THREE: THE NEW IMMIGRATION

The wave of immigration leading into the 20th century is referred to as The New Immigration.

In 1890, Ellis Island was designated as the main point of entry for newcomers entering the United States. In 1907 alone, Ellis Island processed a staggering 1,285,349 immigrants. To put this number in perspective, if all of those people settled in one place, they would’ve formed America’s fourth largest city almost overnight.

This massive influx of people into New York had profound implications on the city itself. In 1910, Manhattan’s population density was an astronomical 101,548 humans per square mile.

The immigrants arriving during this period – heavily represented by Italians, Hungarians, and Russians – were seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity. Certain industries, such as steel, meat-packing, and mining, were staffed by many new arrivals to the country.

During this time, one in four American workers were foreign-born.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The National Origins Act’s quota system, which took effect in 1929, essentially slammed the door on most immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Shortly after, the Great Depression further put a damper on immigration that would last well into the 20th century.

WAVE FOUR: MEXICO

After decades of sluggish immigration, the United States’ percentage of foreign-born citizens reached a low of 4.7% in 1970. But that was all about to change.

During the next decade, the number of states where Mexico was the top country of origin doubled in a single decade, and Mexicans became the dominant foreign-born population in the country. This migration was fueled by the Latin American debt crisis and later by NAFTA. The influx of cheap corn into Mexico caused hundreds of thousands of Mexicans from rural areas to search for more favorable economic opportunities. America was the obvious choice, particularly during the economic expansion of the 1990s.

U.S. Hispanic Population Map

This wave of immigration has shifted the country’s demographics considerably. Today, nearly one in five people in the United States are Hispanic.

CURRENT TRENDS

Immigration trends are continually evolving, and America’s newest immigrants are often more likely to come from China or India. In fact, both countries surpassed Mexico as countries of origin for immigrants arriving in the U.S. in 2013. Today, the trend is even more pronounced.

us immigration top 5

Recent immigration numbers indicate that Asian immigrants will continue to shift America’s demographics in a new direction. Perhaps a new wave in the making?

via Animation: Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship : NPR

Nice summary history (spoiler alert: squeezed out given concerns over Census length with addition of consumer and other questions):

Lawmakers are set to question the Justice Department Friday about why it requested the 2020 census to ask about citizenship. The history of using the U.S. census to ask about citizenship has many twists and turns.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Justice Department point person on civil rights heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow for what may be a tough hearing. It is about the 2020 census. The department has requested that the census form include a question about U.S. citizenship. The federal government has used the census to ask people about their citizenship before. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang explains the surprising history.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: This is a story with lots of stops and starts, so we’ll need a tour guide.

MARGO ANDERSON: My name is Margo Anderson.

WANG: She’s a history professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

ANDERSON: Right. And I’m the author of “The American Census: A Social History.”

WANG: And she traces the first time all U.S. households were asked about citizenship all the way back to the census of 1820.

Was this still done on horseback at that time?

ANDERSON: Oh, certainly (laughter) – or walking.

WANG: That was the country’s fourth headcount. And census takers asked…

ANDERSON: Are there any foreigners not naturalized in your household? And if so, how many?

WANG: Anderson says she’s not sure why these questions were included.

ANDERSON: I haven’t found yet any evidence of the use of that information in terms of policies, which I think is why it simply disappeared.

WANG: By 1840, the government stops asking about foreigners who are not citizens. Fifty years pass before the topic comes up again in 1890. By this point, the federal government had been asking for decades about where people were born and where their parents were born. Anderson explains why.

ANDERSON: Well, we have lots of immigrants in the country right now. How are they doing?

WANG: So for the 1890 census, people born outside the U.S. were asked how long they’ve been in the country and whether they’ve become citizens. And census takers kept asking similar questions well into the 20th century.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “IN THE SUBURBS”)

WANG: We’re going to skip ahead to the years just before the 1960 headcount.

ANDERSON: The census officials and Congress begin to sort of say do we really still need to ask this?

WANG: The number of immigrants in the U.S. had been dropping. The list of census questions was long. And as this 1957 short film by Redbook magazine puts it…

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “IN THE SUBURBS”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) It’s a happy go-spending world reflected in the windows of the suburban shopping centers where they go to buy.

WANG: Business leaders and researchers pushed the government to ask about a different set of topics.

ANDERSON: Particularly a lot of questions about consumer goods. Do people have televisions and washing machines?

WANG: This is what squeezes out the citizenship question.

ANDERSON: Yes.

WANG: In 1970, the government starts asking about citizenship on a small survey for a sample of households. Fast-forward to today. The Trump administration has approved a new citizenship question for all households in 2020. The Justice Department says it needs data from it to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. But Anderson says this citizenship question may confuse a lot of people.

ANDERSON: It’s like, why are you asking me this? Of course I’m a citizen. I was born here.

WANG: Critics say those born outside the U.S. may stay away from the census because of the question. More than two dozen states and cities are suing to remove it. Anderson sees this debate as part of the complicated census history of asking about citizenship. It’s been a series of twists and turns over 200 years. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, Washington.

via The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship : NPR

Data disproves the idea that Central American immigrants in the US don’t assimilate

Some good and revealing data:

The Trump administration has cited a variety of reasons to justify its drive to stop illegal immigration. The latest, as explained by White House chief of staff John Kelly in an interview last week: The immigrants who are coming to the US these days are too uneducated and poor to successfully integrate into society.

Kelly, who was speaking to NPR, was referring to Central American immigrants, whose numbers have swelled in recent years as conditions in their home countries have deteriorated. “They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. … They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills,” he said.

Many have pointed out that Kelly could have been speaking about his own ancestors, who came to the US from Ireland and Italy. Like the recent Central American arrivals, members of previous immigrant waves to the US were poor and had low levels of education. Many did not speak English. Kelly is a testament to their eventual assimilation.

Data compiled by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, show that Central Americans, too, have integrated into the US. And they are doing so despite facing harsher immigration restrictions than their predecessors.

“Integration of Central American immigrants is occurring despite the best efforts of the United States government to prevent it,” Cato policy analyst David Bier wrote in a report outlining the data.

“They don’t speak English”

It’s true that most Central American immigrants don’t speak English when they arrive to the US, but they tend to learn over time. The share of immigrants who don’t speak English well shrinks with each passing year in the US, as the chart below shows.

“They don’t have skills”

For people with no skills, Central American immigrants get jobs relatively quickly. In 2016, about half of those who had been in the US for less than a year were working. Those who had been in the US for a year or more were working at nearly the same rate or higher than the country’s overall adult population, according to the Cato report.

“Fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations”

About half of the Central American immigrants in the US in 2016 did not have a high school diploma, supporting Kelly’s claim. But the US-born descendants of Central American immigrants had similar years of schooling as other Americans.

And despite their low education levels, many are able to go up the socioeconomic ladder over time. The poverty rate for Central Americans declines the longer they are in the US.

“They don’t integrate well”

It’s hard to measure “Americanness,” but voluntarily enlisting in the military arguably is a telling sign of a person’s commitment to a country. The Cato report shows that Americans of Central American descent are more than twice as likely to be active duty members than other US-born people.

It’s a commitment that should resonate with Kelly, a retired four-star general.

Source: Data disproves the idea that Central American immigrants in the US don’t assimilate

How Trump is really changing immigration: making it harder for people to come here legally

Good overview:

A Trump supporter named John B. who emailed me recently wrote that, “No one is against legal immigration.” President Trump and his administration are, I replied.

Yes, Trump still wants his big, beautiful wall to stop illegal border crossings. But he’s been railing against all forms of immigration since his campaign. And he’s having a much easier time chipping away at legal immigration than funding his wall. In some cases, the methods are strict quotas or new rules. But paperworkand red tape work, too. For instance, this administration tripled the number of pages in green card applications. Forms for sponsoring a foreign-born spouse are nine times longer than they used to be.

Here’s an overview of key ways Trump has made it more difficult and expensive to come here legally for foreign students, skilled temporary workers, green cards holders, refugees and others.

H1-B visas

The Trump administration has piled new compliance rules, documentation requirements and other regulations on H-1B visas. These changes make it much more costly for employers to use H-1B visas to hire skilled foreign workers, which is a likely reason that applications dropped by 20% from 2016 to 2018.

H4 visas

The Trump administration announced plans to take away work permits from those with H-4 visas — the visa for spouses of H-1B workers. In 2015, the Obama administration allowed H-4s to work, and about 91,000 of these visa holders, many of whom are as skilled as their spouses, leaped at the opportunity.

Foreign students

The number of foreign students at U.S. universities was down about 17% in 2017 and likely will fall further this year. A major draw of studying in the United States is the ability to work here after graduation. Those on student visas can legally work for 12 months after earning their degrees, and STEM graduates can stay for three years under a program called Optional Practical Training. In 2016, about 200,000 students signed up for OPT, which is often a first step toward an H-1B visa.

Foreign students fear that President Trump will restrict OPT or the H-1B visa. Trump hasn’t canceled OPT yet (and his administration even defended it in court) but $63,000 a year (the cost of tuition and living expenses at UCLA) starts to look like a very risky investment if paying for it depends on getting a work visa in a few years.

Refugees

Trump temporarily halted the entire refugee program last year, claiming that terrorists would get into the country masquerading as refugees. It started up again for most countries, but Trump precipitously cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept. If admissions for 2018 continue at their current pace, 75% fewer refugees will arrive this year than in 2016. Trump even canceled a planned pilot program that would have allowed private individuals or charities to sponsor refugees and absorb all welfare costs — the kind of program Canada has had for more than a decade.

Muslim ban

Preventing terrorism was the reason given for Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, an executive order that limits or altogether bars visas for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela. Lower courts keep ruling against it, but the ban and related policies are having a big effect. For instance, while all refugee numbers are down from 2016, the number of Muslim refugees has been cut by 91%. Immigrant visas issued to people from Muslim-majority countries are down 26%, and temporary visitors from Muslim-majority countries by 32%.

‘Extreme vetting’

Last year, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered additional security screenings for all immigrants and visitors seeking visas — a move also presented as a way of keeping out terrorists. Immigration attorney Shabnam Lotfi told me that these new procedures, “are causing significant and expensive delays for visa applicants who have already been vetted under the current effective security procedures.”

Asylum

The administration has directly and indirectly hampered the ability of foreigners to ask for asylum in the U.S. For instance, it cut the number of visas issued to Venezuelans by as much as 74% relative to 2013. That country is in political and economic crisis, but Venezuelans have to get to the U.S. to request asylum — and they can’t get here without a visa. Meantime, the Border Patrol is discouraging asylum-seekers from Central America by breaking up families who arrive at the southern border. The government places parents and children in separate immigration detention cells, sometimes for months.

Temporary Protected Status

In a string of announcements over recent months, Trump has said he’ll end Temporary Protected Status by 2020 for about 437,000 migrants mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti. TPS allowed them to stay here legally after natural disasters struck their home countries. More than 80% of TPS migrants from those countries have jobs here. They have about 273,000 U.S.-born children. Many have been here for decades; they won’t leave now, just as Salvadorans didn’t leave between 1996 and 2001 when their TPS was rescinded.

This is just the low-hanging fruit on the immigration tree. Trump would happily prune more if he could get Congress to go along. He endorsed the RAISE Act, which would cut legal forms of immigration by 50%. He so badly wants to eliminate diversity visas and severely restrict family-based immigration that he seemed willing to trade partial amnesty for some Dreamers (the young people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program). Still, the changes Trump pushed for would have resulted in the largest policy-driven gutting of legal immigration since the 1920s. Thankfully, they didn’t make it through the Senate.

Trump campaigned that he would take steps to grow the economy by 3% per year or more. To that end, he’s cut taxes and slashed regulation. But he needs legal immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and workers to keep expanding economic growth — especially with unemployment now below 4%. He won’t make America great again without letting in more legal immigrants.

Source: How Trump is really changing immigration: making it harder for people to come here legally

Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

The latest numbers (some debate on Twitter for the reasons):

For the first time in five years, the number of Americans who renounced their citizenship fell slightly in 2017 (5,133) from the previous year (5,411), which had been a record. The total for the first quarter of 2018 was 1,099. In recent years there has been a marked upswing in expatriations, and tax considerations are often at least a part of the equation. Moreover, these published numbers are probably lower than the actual number of those who expatriated. How complete these lists are remains unclear. Despite the official list, many leavers are not counted, and both the IRS and FBI track Americans who renounce

The figures for recent years show an important trend. The total for calendar year 2016 was 5,411, up 26% from 2015, which had 4,279 published expatriates. The 2015 total was 58% more than in 2014. The reasons for renouncing can be family, tax and legal complications, and some renouncers write why they gave up their U.S. citizenship. Expats have long clamored for tax relief. One law motivating some is FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA has been ramped up worldwide, and requiring an annual Form 8938 filing if your foreign assets meet a threshold.

FATCA was enacted in 2010, and over five years, was painstakingly implemented worldwide by the U.S. Treasury Department. In now spans the globe with an unparalleled network of reporting. America requires foreign banks and governments to hand over secret bank data about depositors. Non-U.S. banks and financial institutions around the world must reveal American account details or risk big penalties. Some renounce because of global tax reporting and FATCA. Dual citizenship is not always possible, as this infographic  shows. America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws can be a burden, especially for U.S. persons living abroad. Their American status can make them untouchable by many banks.

Americans living and working abroad must generally report and pay tax where they live. But they must also continue to file taxes in the U.S., where reporting is based on their worldwide income. A foreign tax credit often does not eliminate double taxes. Moreover, enforcement fears are palpable for the annual foreign bank account reports called FBARs. They carry big civil and even potential criminal penalties. The civil penalties alone can consume the entire balance of an account.

Ironically, even leaving America can be costly. America charges $2,350 to hand in your passport, a fee that is more than twenty times the average of other high-income countries. The U.S. hiked the fee to renounce by 422%, as previously there was a $450 fee to renounce, and no fee to relinquish. Now, there is a $2,350 fee either way. The State Department said raising the fee was about demand and paperwork, but the number of American expatriations kept increasing. Moreover, to exit, one generally must prove 5 years of IRS tax compliance. And getting into IRS compliance can be expensive and worrisome. For some, a reason to get into compliance is to renounce.

However, if you have a net worth greater than $2 million, or have average annual net income tax for the 5 previous years of $162,000 or more, you can pay an exit tax. It is a capital gain tax, calculated as if you sold your property when you left. A long-term resident giving up a Green Card can be required to pay the exit tax too. Sometimes, planning and valuations can reduce or eliminate the tax, but the tax worry can be real, even for those who will not face it.

Source: Fewer Americans Renounce Citizenship, But Taxes Still Drive Them

When Kelly says these immigrants can’t fit in, historians hear ‘echo of the past’

Great selection of historical quotes:
The similarity was so striking, it made Alan Kraut laugh.

“It’s like an echo from the past,” the American University history professor said after hearing the latest description of undocumented immigrants from a top White House official.

Chief of staff John Kelly told NPR this week that the majority of people who illegally cross into the US are uneducated and don’t have the skills they need to assimilate.

“This is almost a verbatim quotation of what critics of immigration said in the early 20th century,” said Kraut, “often about the Italians and the Poles.”

The professor, who’s writing a book about the long history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, was among a number of scholars who noted that Kelly’s assertion had a familiar ring.

Maria Cristina Garcia, a professor of American studies at Cornell University, said a few parallel quotes from the 1890s to 1930s come to mind.

“Comparable statements can be found throughout U.S. history,” Garcia wrote in an email to CNN, “but some of the most interesting come from the turn of the 20th century, when many Americans were calling for restrictive immigration quotas (or outright bars) on people they considered ‘undesirable’: paupers, political radicals, the illiterate, the physically and mental infirm, and people from certain regions of the world.”

Here’s a look at what Kelly said — and some past critiques of immigrant groups:

2018
“The vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from — 4th, 5th, 6th grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well. They don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws.”
– White House chief of staff John Kelly on undocumented immigrants

1924
“The character of immigration has changed and the newcomers are imbued with lawless, restless sentiments of anarchy and collectivism. They arrive to find their hopes too high, the land almost gone and themselves driven to drown into the cities and struggle for a living. Then anarchy becomes rife among them.”
– Rep. Albert Johnson, one of the architects of the act that placed national origins quotas on immigration

“I would build a wall of steel, a wall as high as Heaven, against the admission of a single one of those Southern Europeans who never thought the thoughts or spoke the language of a democracy in their lives.”
– Georgia Gov. Clifford Walker at a Ku Klux Klan rally

1914
“Observe immigrants not as they come travel-wan up the gang-plank, nor as they issue toil-begrimed from pit’s mouth or mill gate, but in their gatherings, washed, combed, and in their Sunday best. You are struck by the fact that from ten to twenty per cent, are hirsute, low-browed, big-faced persons of obviously low mentality. Not that they suggest evil. They simply look out of place in black clothes and stiff collar, since clearly they belong in skins, in wattled huts at the close of the Great Ice Age. These oxlike men are descendants of those who always stayed behind.”
– Edward Alsworth Ross, “The Old World in the New”

1896
“While the people who for 250 years have been migrating to America have continued to furnish large numbers of immigrants to the United States, other races of totally different race origin, with whom the English-speaking people have never hitherto been assimilated or brought in contact, have suddenly begun to immigrate to the United States in large numbers. Russians, Hungarians, Poles, Bohemians, Italians, Greeks, and even Asiatics, whose immigration to America was almost unknown twenty years ago, have during the last twenty years poured in in steadily increasing numbers, until now they nearly equal the immigration of those races kindred in blood or speech, or both, by whom the United States has hitherto been built up and the American people formed. This momentous fact is the one which confronts us today, and if continued, it carries with it future consequences far deeper than any other event of our times. It involves, in a word, nothing less than the possibility of a great and perilous change in the very fabric of our race.”
– Henry Cabot Lodge speaking before Congress

1753
“Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation. … Few of their children in the Country learn English. … In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon so outnumber us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.”
– Benjamin Franklin on German immigrants

Source: When Kelly says these immigrants can’t fit in, historians hear ‘echo of the past’

USA: Data Points to Wide Gap in Asylum Approval Rates at Nation’s Immigration Courts

Similar to what some of the research by Sean Rehaag has shown in Canada with the IRB:

Years of data from immigration courts around the United States and compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University show that whether or not a person seeking asylum is granted that request depends more on where they live and appear before an immigration court judge than it does on the facts of the case.

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit closely tracked the asylum results at every U.S. immigration court over the past three years and found a wide variation in the number of asylum approvals depending upon the court; in some instances the rate varies as much as 75 percentage points.

From 2016 through the first part of 2018, immigration courts in Los Angeles and San Francisco consistently ranked in the nation’s top 15 courts when it comes to the number of asylum requests granted. Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, New York and Boston were also in the top 15 each year. Court data show each of those courts grants asylum requests more than 50 percent of the time.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, U.S. immigration courts that are vastly less likely to approve asylum petitions include Atlanta, Lumpkin, Georgia, Charlotte, Dallas and Houston. In some of those courts, asylum is granted around 20 percent of the time. In other jurisdictions, like the court in Lumpkin, judges grant asylum only 10 percent of the time.

This disparity has led many observers—from academic researchers, to judges, to the very lawyers appearing before the immigration court judges—to worry that political beliefs could be getting in the way of justice in America’s immigration courts.

“There’s something going on that is very, very troubling,” said Karen Musalo, director at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the UC Hastings School of Law in San Francisco. Musalo spent years studying these inconsistencies in asylum outcomes.

“I think there are a number of factors that contribute to these disparities. They have to do with both the selection process for the individual judges and what their backgrounds are and whether or not they’re qualified (to serve as judges),” Musalo said.

“It has to do with a politicization of the selection process. It has to do with a lack of independence of these immigration judges,” she added.

U.S. Immigration Court judges are not part of the independent judiciary but, rather, are appointed and work for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Congress’s own Government Accountability Office twice issued reports—in 2008 and 2016—that point out a “signification variation” in asylum cases. In its reports, the GAO called on Congress to fix the problem.

But so far, nothing has happened.

…Paul Wickham Schmidt, a retired U.S. immigration judge, says the nation’s immigration court disparity is so wide that it can be explained only by personal bias creeping into judges’ decisions.

“If I were an immigrant, I’d rather be in California than in Atlanta, Georgia, any day,” he said. “Clearly, the attitudes of the judges and how they feel about asylum law has quite a bit to do with it,” Schmidt added.

The EOIR, the agency in charge of the immigration courts, declined NBC Bay Area’s request for an interview on the subject. Kathryn Mattingly, an EOIR spokesperson, emailed a statement:

“Regarding your reference to TRAC data, please note that we do not comment on third-party analysis of EOIR data because the method another party may use to analyze the raw data may be different from the analytical techniques EOIR uses. When looking at this issue, it is important to note that each asylum case is unique, with its own set of facts, evidentiary factors, and circumstances. Asylum cases typically include complex legal and factual issues and EOIR immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals members review each one on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration every factor allowable by law. It is also important to note that immigration courts in detained facilities typically have lower asylum grant rates because detained aliens with criminal convictions are not eligible for many forms of relief from removal. That all said, EOIR takes seriously any claims of unjustified and significant anomalies in immigration judge decision-making and takes steps to evaluate disparities in immigration adjudications. In addition, EOIR monitors immigration judge performance through an official performance work plan and evaluation process, as well as daily supervision of the courts by assistant chief immigration judges.”

Source: Data Points to Wide Gap in Asylum Approval Rates at Nation’s Immigration Courts

Canada in ‘exploratory’ talks with U.S. over border agreement on asylum seekers

Appropriate and needed given that any workable solution requires working with the US:

Canada is in high-level exploratory talks with the United States over a border agreement to manage asylum seekers, but will not say whether Ottawa wants the power to automatically turn away thousands of refugee claimants who walk across the border.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed it is reviewing a Canadian proposal to amend the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), which requires Canada and the United States to refuse entry to asylum seekers who arrive at official ports of entry along the shared border, as both countries are considered safe for refugees. However, senior Canadian cabinet ministers insisted they have not entered into formal negotiations with the United States.

“It’s a discussion that we’re having with the Americans about the various techniques that could be pursued on both sides of the border to ensure security and integrity,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Tuesday. “If and when that conversation matures into a specific negotiation, we’ll have further things to say about it. But this is very exploratory at the moment – scoping issues and potential solutions.”

Concerns over the agreement, which was signed in 2004, surfaced last year when thousands of asylum seekers fled the United States for Canada on foot, fearing deportation under President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. Since the agreement applies only to those who arrive at official ports of entry, asylum seekers can avoid being immediately turned away by crossing between border posts, forcing Canada to process most of their claims.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen did not confirm a Reuters report on Tuesday that the government wants the agreement to apply to the entire Canada-U.S. border. Mr. Hussen said Ottawa is in regular contact with the United States about the agreement, but declined to get into details.

“As you can appreciate, we constantly talk about all aspects of the border, including the Safe Third Country Agreement,” Mr. Hussen said. “Those are discussions that are ongoing, so I can’t take a snapshot in time and give you what was discussed on a particular day.”

The RCMP intercepted more than 20,000 asylum claimants in 2017, 91 per cent of whom crossed in Quebec. Many entered at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle after taking taxis along upstate New York’s Roxham Road.

The Mounties intercepted more than 5,000 asylum claimants in the first three months of 2018 – again, mostly in Quebec.

The Conservatives have urged the government to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows asylum seekers to enter Canada at unofficial border crossings. Last week, the Tories tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the Liberals to table a plan by May 11.

“Last week, Justin Trudeau voted against taking immediate action and tabling a plan to manage our borders and immigration system,” Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said in a statement on Tuesday. “Conservatives will continue to hold the Prime Minister accountable, and call for the entire Canada-U.S. border to be designated as an official port of entry.”

Mr. Goodale said the Conservative proposal is “impractical,” as it would “change the entire concept about what the border means” and “increase insecurity at the border.”

As the Liberals iron out their approach to STCA talks with the United States, they are touting their efforts to prevent more asylum seekers from crossing into Canada. For instance, Mr. Hussen said many of those crossing into Quebec earlier this year were Nigerians carrying valid U.S. visitor visas. Canadian officials raised the issue with their U.S. counterparts, and the number of U.S. visas issued to Nigerians dropped.

via Canada in ‘exploratory’ talks with U.S. over border agreement on asylum seekers – The Globe and Mail

The contrary view, to this being a crisis, can be seen in Senator Omidvar’s op-ed in The Star:

Let’s be honest. The common thread of today’s populism is anti-immigration. This populism legitimizes xenophobia and encourage the separation of people into “us” and “them”. It creates a politics that sees the other not simply as different, but as different and therefor dangerous. Adversaries become enemies.

Populism prevents an energetic engagement with diversity. It erects barriers — whether literally or figuratively — that stand at odds with the reality of an increasingly interconnected — and interdependent — world.

Populism can undermine the basic underpinnings of a democracy. If we have learned anything from south of the border it is how norms that were once considered absolute can quickly become obsolete. How things that were once unimaginable can soon become unexceptional.

So how do we respond? First, words matter. We need to watch how we talk about legitimate issues around asylum seekers and our borders. We can’t whip up fear and division.

Second, we can’t use this as political football. No party should use immigration as a wedge issue. We deserve better than that.

Finally, we need to recognize the fact that when it comes to immigration, we’ve done a lot right. We’ve devised smart policies with high levels of skilled immigrants and we help people that are fleeing some of the most wretched situations around the globe. We do a very good job of integrating them. And while we’re far from perfect, we bring a lot to the table.

However, an area that needs attention is the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Although the recent budget increased funding for the IRB more is needed. Money is needed to process asylum claims efficiently as well as deal with a growing backlog. Continuing to build this “good governance” structure will go a long way to maintaining public trust in the system.

Canada still has work to do, but we have a strong foundation on which to build.

via Asylum seekers are not causing a crisis for Canada | The Star

When Caste Discrimination Comes To The United States : NPR

The challenges of culture and tradition changes. Not aware of any similar studies in Canada (this one has the main methodological flaw that responses are voluntary rather than systematically collected and analyzed):

At over three thousand years old, caste hierarchy is one of the oldest forms of social stratification in the world: the community you’re born into in places like India, Pakistan and Nepal has designated where you can work, who you can marry, and what your reputation is in life. Even today in South Asia, caste conflict and discrimination remain a potent force in everyday life. In the United States, though, caste tends to be a relatively muted topic.

But a new survey, “Caste in the United States,” finds that caste discrimination is playing out in the United States as well — a finding that raises questions around how South Asian Americans understand themselves and their history.

The survey, which is the first of its kind, was commissioned by Equality Labs, a South Asian American human rights startup, and includes the experiences of about 1200 people who volunteered their answers.

The report on the survey’s results said that two-thirds of members of the lowest caste, called Dalits, said they have faced workplace discrimination due to their caste. Forty-one percent have experienced discrimination in education because of it. And a quarter of Dalits say they’ve faced physical assault — all in the United States.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan is the executive director of Equality Labs and co-authored the report. She said increased immigration from South Asia — including more and more people from lower castes — fuel this discrimination.

The South Asian American population was the fastest-growing major ethnic group in the US between 2000 and 2010. Today, India alone routinely attractsthe majority of skilled worker visas the US allots to foreign nationals, accounts for the highest number of undocumented Asians, and is one of the top countrieswhere new immigrants hail from.

This survey provides data for what many in the community already know: any time there’s a dominant population of South Asians — whether they’re living in Silicon Valley or New Jersey, or working at an office or a restaurant — caste biases emerge. It could be anything from refusing to date or marry someone from a lower caste, to being on the receiving end of a casteist slur, to being made to sit separately because of your perceived “untouchability.”

“We have people who responded who were in the assembly lines for a Campbell soup factory in Central Valley, as well as people who work for Google, Facebook and the other big tech companies,” Soundararajan said, naming workplaces that employ large numbers of South Asians.

But because most Americans don’t understand caste dynamics, it’s hard for people to speak up about it, or bring discrimination cases to court. That includes many people living of South Asian ancestry as well.

Anupama Rao is a historian and anthropologist at Barnard College who studies caste. She said for years, many of the so-called “model minority” of South Asians, who have earned the status of being “good immigrants” in the U.S., came from upper-caste families.

“Many of them, once they are upwardly mobile in the United States, tend to be extremely cagey sometimes, but most often I think embarrassed, to think of themselves as the beneficiaries of caste privilege,” she said.

And when being from a privileged caste obscures what this discrimination looks like — because it isn’t a part of you or your family’s experience — caste itself can become invisible. This is especially true in a new country like the U.S., where immigrant groups of all kinds must navigate their place in an American racial and class hierarchy.

What makes caste discrimination even harder to combat in this new context is that some lower caste people hide their identity as well — 52 percent of Dalits surveyed worry about being “outted” as lower caste.

And the issue is polarizing.

Suhag Shukla is the executive director of the advocacy group the Hindu American Foundation. She said it’s important to get rid of caste prejudice, but that this new survey unfairly essentializes and villainizes Hinduism. It’s one of the most complex arguments surrounding caste; as the survey notes, caste first appeared in Hindu scriptures. It now pervades all religions of South Asia.

“The single most problematic issue with this survey is that it traffics in the most dangerous and false tropes about Hinduism,” she said.

“So instead of demanding an honest conversation about caste and privilege, or its contested relevance among South Asian kids of the third and fourth generation who are now coming of age that are all brown regardless of caste, this report kind of alienates Hindus by scapegoating them,” Shukla said. Caste discrimination isn’t on the radar for many South Asian kids of later generations, she added. What they’re worried about is the discrimination they face for being brown in America. Hate crimes against Muslims and South Asians are at their highest levels since the year after 9/11.

Yet others — both Hindu and non-Hindu — see this defense as helping to preserve the caste system itself. It may not be exactly the same as it functions in South Asia, but a denial of accountability, they say, maintains a hierarchy of privilege.

Last month, over a hundred people packed into the auditorium of the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to talk about what the survey found. It was a special kind of Black Lives Matter event: an evening with Dalits.

Dr. Cornel West was part of the panel introducing the topic to the crowd, which included both South Asians and non-South Asians. He emphasized the parallels between the struggles of Black Americans and those of South Asians on the lowest rungs of the caste system.

“We will not be crushed! And we will struggle for love and justice, not hatred and revenge! Love and justice,” West roared to the crowd.

There has been a long history of Dalit and Black leaders finding common ground in their struggles. The Black Panthers in Oakland, for example, inspired the formation of another resistance group, the Dalit Panthers, in Mumbai. And Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, often recognized as the most renowned Dalit leader of the 20th century, and an architect of India’s constitution, exchanged letters with W.E.B. Du Bois in the 1940s, after seeing the similarities between the plight of India’s Dalits and African Americans in the US. This history was front and center at the event that evening in Cambridge.

“Let us never forget Ambedkar!” West insisted, as applause rung through the room. “And the spirit of W.E.B. Du Bois is here as well!”

Thenmozhi Soundararajan pointed out the shared experiences of those in the room.

“Places like this, where oppressed people are starting to build their connections, this is freedom,” she said.

via When Caste Discrimination Comes To The United States : Code Switch : NPR

The responsibilities of citizenship: Pew Research Poll

Another good and detailed poll from Pew Research, showing less of a partisan divide on some basics (i.e., voting, paying taxes, obeying the law) with greater variation on others (e.g., jury duty, following politics, pledge of allegiance):

When it comes to what it takes to be a good citizen, the public has a long list of traits and behaviors that it says are important. And there’s a fair amount of agreement across groups about what it takes to be a good citizen.

Still, there are differences when it comes to which aspects are considered veryimportant (as opposed to somewhat important), and points of emphasis differ by party identification as well as by age.

Overall, 91% say it is either very (74%) or somewhat (17%) important to vote in elections in order to be a good citizen; just 8% say this is not too or not at all important.

Large shares also say it is important to pay all the taxes you owe (92%) and to always follow the law (96%), including about seven-in-ten who say each is very important (71% and 69%, respectively).

For several other traits and behaviors, about nine-in-ten say they are at least somewhat important to good citizenship. However, the share saying each is very important varies significantly. For example, 89% say it’s important to serve jury duty if called, including 61% who say this is very important. While a comparable 90% say it’s important to follow what’s happening in government and politics as part of good citizenship, a smaller share (49%) says this very important.

Protesting government actions you think are wrong and knowing the Pledge of Allegiance are considered important parts of what it means to be a good citizen, though they rank somewhat lower on the public’s list. Displaying the American flag ranks last among the 11 items tested in the survey. Still, a majority says this is either a very (36%) or somewhat (26%) important part of what it means to be a good citizen.

Republicans and Democrats largely agree on the importance of most responsibilities of citizenship.

About three-quarters of Republicans and Republican leaners (76%) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (75%) say it’s very important to vote in elections.

Similarly, comparable majorities of Republicans and Democrats say it’s very important to pay all the taxes you owe, serve jury duty if called, respect the opinions of those you disagree with and participate in the census. There also are no partisan divides over the importance of volunteering to help others and following what’s going on in government and politics.

However, Republicans (79%) are more likely than Democrats (61%) to say it’s very important to always follow the law to be a good citizen.

Knowing the Pledge of Allegiance ranks higher on Republicans’ list (71% say it’s very important) than Democrats’ (just 34% say it’s very important). In addition to placing greater importance on the Pledge of Allegiance, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say it is very important to display the American flag (50% vs. 25%).

By contrast, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think it is very important to protest if government actions are believed to be wrong: About half of Democrats (52%) this is very important to what it means to be a good citizen, compared with just about a third (35%) of Republicans.

Partisans and ‘leaners’ differ over importance of aspects of citizenship

On many items, the views of independents that lean toward one of the two major parties diverge from those of self-identifying Republicans and Democrats. In general, partisan leaners tend to be less likely than straight Republicans and Democrats to view a range of responsibilities as important to what it means to be a good citizen.

Overall, 83% of Republicans say voting in elections is a very important aspect of being a good citizen, compared with a smaller majority of Republican leaners (67%). There is an even wider 28-point gap between the share of Democrats (86%) and Democratic leaners (58%) who say this is very important.

Similarly, roughly two-thirds of both Republicans (64%) and Democrats (68%) say participating in the U.S. census every 10 years is very important to being a good citizen; slightly fewer Republican leaners (55%) and Democratic leaners (53%) say the same.

This pattern is seen across other items as well: Those who identify with a party are more likely than independents who lean to a party to say it is very important to serve jury duty if called, pay all owed taxes and to follow what is happening in government.

While large shares of Republicans (96%) and Republican leaners (87%) say it is important to know the Pledge of Allegiance, Republican identifiers are somewhat more likely than leaners to say this is very important to good citizenship.

By comparison, smaller majorities of Democrats (67%) and Democratic leaners (60%) say it’s important to know the pledge. Self-identifying Democrats (42%) are significantly more likely to say knowing the pledge is a very important part of good citizenship than Democratic leaners (24%).

There is a 22-point gap between the share of Republicans (90%) and Republican leaners (68%) who say displaying the American flag is at least somewhat important to being a good citizen. And 63% of Republicans call this very important, compared with 35% of Republican leaners. About half of Democrats (52%) think this is a very or somewhat important aspect of good citizenship; 43% of Democratic leaners say the same.

In contrast to the patterns seen on many items, Republican leaners (81%) are more likely than Republicans (66%) to say protesting government actions you think are wrong is an important part of being a good citizen. The views of Republican leaners place them closer to those of Democrats and Democratic leaners in terms of the overall importance they place on this aspect of citizenship.

Age differences in views of the responsibilities of citizenship

Young adults place less importance on many aspects of citizenship than older adults, especially when it comes to the share that describes a trait or behavior as very important for being a good citizen.

Majorities of adults across all ages say it is very important to vote in elections in order to be a good citizen. Still, a smaller majority of those under 30 say this (56%), compared with larger shares of those ages 30 to 49 (72%), 50 to 64 (76%) and 65 and older (92%).

And while fully 81% of those 65 and older say that to be a good citizen it is very important to serve jury duty if called, just about half (47%) of those under 30 say the same.

On other items, the pattern is similar. Young adults are less likely to call paying the taxes you owe, following the law, participating in the census, and following government and politics very important. Still, large majorities of young adults say each of these is at least somewhat important to being a good citizen.

There is no meaningful age gap in views of the importance of protesting government actions you think are wrong. Overall, 85% of those ages 18 to 29 say this is either very (45%) or somewhat (40%) important to being a good citizen. Views among those ages 65 and older are similar (50% very important, 36% somewhat important).

Displaying the American flag and knowing the Pledge of Allegiance do not rank particularly highly for young adults on their list of important characteristics for good citizenship. Among those ages 18 to 29, 63% say it is important to know the Pledge of Allegiance (38% very important) and 53% say it is important to display the American flag (19% very important). These items do not top the list of older adults either, though those 65 and older are more likely than the youngest adults to say both are important parts of being a good citizen.

Source: 9. The responsibilities of citizenship