August 2000 Volume 7 Number 8
INS: Border, Cuba
Border. The INS has 8,000 Border Patrol agents; 300 are on the 4,000-mile Canadian border, and 7,700 are on the 2,000-mile Mexican border. In July 2000, the Inspector General of the Justice Department criticized the INS for not adding agents on the Canadian border.
The INS moved seven planes and pilots from other parts of the country to Arizona for 90 days to slow illegal immigration to Arizona, where dozens of migrant deaths have occurred. Members of Congress from the state of Washington, where two of the planes came from, are protesting the move and demanding that they be returned to duty on the northern border.
According to a Mexican humanitarian organization, Sin Frontera, 112 illegal immigrants have died trying to enter the US since October 1999, a 40 percent increase from last year.
Five of the 94 US federal judicial districts handled 26 percent of all federal criminal filings in the United States- the five were along the US-Mexican border, and handled 14,517 criminal cases in 1998, up from 6,460 in 1994. Immigration cases are federal cases. Drug cases, on the other hand, can be prosecuted by local district attorneys, since most drug seizures violate state law as well as federal law, and this is encouraged by US attorneys.
Seven 14- to 17-year olds from an affluent neighborhood used BB guns to rob several elderly migrants employed by the 200-employee Evergreen Nursery on July 5, 2000 in their labor camp in San Diego county; the seven will be prosecuted as adults. Owner Mark Collins said the migrants attacked were legal residents who earned $6 to $10 an hour, and elected to live in lean-to shacks to maximize their remittances. A $30,000 reward for help in identifying the assailants was offered, and federal authorities joined the investigation, indicating that prosecutors are aiming for a maximum penalty involving civil rights violations.
Cuba. After seven months, the case of Elian Gonzalez finally was resolved under long-standing rules on parents' rights and immigration law in June 2000. But the Elian case is expected to have repercussions for both US-Cuba policy and for INS policies toward unaccompanied minors.
Some 1,205 Cubans arrived in the US in the first six months of 2000; most are smuggled into the US, and then released and permitted to become immigrants after one year. The Cuban government requested the names of the minors among them; a State Department official said that Cuba assumes that one of the at least 22 minors has a parent or guardian in Cuba willing to demand their return.
In July 2000, Cuba again condemned the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to remain and apply for legal immigrant status after one year, Cuba says that this US policy permits criminals who never could have gotten visas to migrate to the US, and encourages the smuggling of Cubans to the U.S. mainland. Under a 1994 agreement, the United States provides at least 20,000 visas annually to Cubans for legal migration.
One expert said that Elian's case showed that parents have the right to speak for their children "irrespective of the parent's nationality, ideology or economic status." Attorney General Janet Reno said that the INS will review whether the Elian Gonzalez case demonstrates a need for new procedures or regulations, such as a minimum age for children seeking asylum on their own.
A pilot program is providing counselors to children apprehended alone in Florence, Arizona. The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project will provide child-welfare professionals to look out for the best interests of the children. The INS apprehended 4,600 unaccompanied children in 1999, and most must appear before an immigration judge to explain why they should not be removed from the US.
Naturalization. Between FY93 and FY99, some 6.4 million immigrants applied for naturalization, more than in the previous 35 years. However, about 80 percent of Hispanic immigrants in the US are not US citizens, and a survey found that 40 percent of Hispanics who are eligible but have not naturalized cited the "cumbersome naturalization process," with the requirement that applicants demonstrate they can read and write "simple words and phrases" in English the major obstacle; other surveys have also concluded that the English requirement is a major obstacle to naturalization. By comparison, 20 percent said they did not naturalize because they intended to return home.
At the beginning of the 20th century, political machines actively promoted naturalization, and often paid the fees for immigrants who naturalized at local government offices. Today, only the INS can naturalize foreigners, who complete a four-page application, pay a $225 fee and are fingerprinted ($25). Among Hispanics who applied for naturalization, 61 percent had an unfavorable view of the INS. The INS says that, by September 2000, the wait between application and naturalization will be reduced to six months.
On July 4, the anniversary of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence, there were several mass swearing-in ceremonies of newly naturalized citizens, including 900 who took the oath in Detroit. President Clinton, speaking in New York City on July 4, said: "We must resolve never to close the golden door behind us, and always not only to welcome people to our borders, but to welcome people into our hearts."
The Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act was signed into law in June 2000. Designed to identify overstayers, it requires the INS to computerize the information it already collects from foreigners at ports of entry by December 31, 2003 for all airports and seaports and by December 31, 2004 at the 50 land-border ports of entry with the highest number of arrivals and departures.
The President announced in July 2000 that 80,000 refugees will be admitted in FY01.
Expedited Removal. A civil lawsuit filed in July 2000 may cast a spotlight on INS expedited removal procedures that permit the INS to remove foreigners from the US in accelerated proceedings if they have no, or false, documents. A mentally disabled New York woman was detained overnight in New York on her return from Jamaica by INS inspectors who mistakenly thought that her US passport and birth certificate were false; she was handcuffed to a chair overnight, and then returned to Jamaica. It took eight days to get her back into the US.
A three-year old Thai boy used by a couple attempting to enter with false passports will remain in the US indefinitely. A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled in July 2000 that the boy, who has HIV, should stay in the US to ensure he will receive proper health care, and that his court-appointed guardian could file a request for the boy to be granted asylum. The boy's mother apparently lent or sold him to smugglers, and some Thais in the US opposed his return to Thailand, using the same arguments that were raise in the Elian Gonzalez case.
The Expedited Removal Study based at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law released its 2000 report in July. For more information: http://www.uchastings.edu/ers/
Religious R-visas. On June 28, 2000, the House Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on fraud in the religious worker visa program, which is scheduled to expire September 30, 2000. In FY99, the Department of State issued 8,518 "R" nonimmigrant visas and 2,713 immigrant "R" visas to foreigners- 83 percent of those who received immigrant visas were already in the US and adjusted their status. Department of State noted that, especially for the R-nonimmigrant visa, once a US religious organization asks for the admission of a foreigner, the only requirement is proof of membership in the religious organization and proof that the foreigner intends to engage in a religious occupation.
Agriculture. The Boston Globe on July 1, 2000 reported that some European farmers are immigrating to Canada and the US to find cheaper land and fewer regulations. The article profiled several Dutch farmers who sold operations in the Netherlands for $2 to $4 million, getting $100,000 to $200,000 an acre for their land, and then launched new dairies in North America. The number of farmer-immigrants was put at hundreds to thousands a year.
There are about 100,000 farmers in the Netherlands, and 25 percent are reportedly considering emigration. In the Netherlands, dairy farmers who have an average of 50 cows must pay an $18,000 impact fee per additional cow.
"Smuggled Thai Boy to Stay in US," Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2000. Carlos Batista, "Cuban dissidents oppose Castro's campaign to end US embargo," Agence France Presse, July 16, 2000. Andres Viglucci, "Cuba raises specter of hunt for a 'new Elian,'" Miami Herald, July 15, 2000. Kelly Thornton, "Officials offer reward for tips about identity of assailants," San Diego Union-Tribune, July 14, 2000. Raul Llamas, "Heat Sabotages Border Crossings," AP, July 13, 2000. Scott Sunde, Davi Barnes, "Dutch Dairy Farmers Seek Opportunity in America," Chicago Tribune, July 13, 2000. "Lawmakers chastise INS over Border Patrol switch," Seattle Post, July 12, 2000. John Moreno Gonsales, "INS sued in deportation," Newsday, July 12, 2000. Philip P. Pan, "Naturalization: An Unnatural Process for Many Latinos," Washington Post, July 4, 2000. Colin Nickerson, "Fleeing Rising Land Prices, Europe's Farmers Plow New Ground in America," Boston Globe, July 1, 2000. GAO. 1999. Visa Issuance: Issues Concerning the Religious Worker Visa