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April 2012 Volume 19 Number 2
DHS: Border, Interior, USCIS
President Obama requested $59 billion for DHS in FY13, including $39 billion in federal funds; the balance of the DHS budget comes from fees paid by those seeking immigration services. Obama requested $12 billion for border security and $6 billion for interior enforcement.<< back
Border. The number of foreigners apprehended just inside the Mexico-US border, over 90 percent Mexicans, fell from 1.1 million or 3,000 a day in FY05 to fewer than 340,000 or 1,000 a day in FY11. The number of apprehensions, 328,000 in FY11, is down 80 percent from 1.6 million in FY00, when there were fewer than 10,000 agents.
The US Border Patrol, with over 21,000 agents in 2012, is ending the practice of simply returning apprehended Mexicans to Mexico. Under the Consequence Delivery System introduced in 2012, apprehended Mexicans are placed into one of seven categories, from those apprehended for the first-time to those with criminal records in the US, and deterred from trying to re-enter by new measures. For example, those apprehended in Arizona are often returned to Mexico in Texas. Foreigners apprehended five or more times may be prosecuted and imprisoned.
Interior. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are checking the 300,000 foreigners scheduled for deportation to determine whether they can be released. In a test of this new prosecutorial discretion policy in the Denver area, 1,300 or a sixth of the 7,900 foreigners to be deported had their cases administratively closed; in Baltimore, the cases of 366 were closed. Those whose deportation cases were suspended included adults brought illegally to the US as children who were detected via routine traffic stops.
If an eighth of the other 300,000 removal cases result in administrative closures, up to 40,000 foreigners could continue living illegally in the US after prosecutors determine they are not threats. However, these foreigners will not receive legal status or work authorization.
Preliminary FY12 data suggest that deportations are down sharply. ICE began about 12,000 deportation cases a month in FY12, down from 20,000 a month in FY11. In April 2012, the review of deportation cases shifted to Detroit, New Orleans, Orlando and Seattle.
ICE has a $2 billion budget to detain 34,000 foreigners a day at an average cost of $122, often in county or privately run jails (about half of immigration detainees were held in 25 private facilities in 2011). An additional 23,000 foreigners are not detained but monitored via electronic ankle bracelets and similar devices. Those who advocate detaining the 300,000 foreigners that ICE is trying to deport say that 40 percent of those who are not detained become fugitives.
In an effort to separate asylum seekers and other foreigners deemed non-threatening from criminals, ICE opened the $32 million, 600-bed Karnes County Civil Detention Center southeast of San Antonio Texas in March 2011. Karnes has free internet and allows free or low-cost phone calls and does not have guards with guns. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration held a hearing about Karnes on March 28, 2012 with the title "Holiday on ICE," suggesting that Karnes offered those detained too many services.
The US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in February 2012 that underreporting income significantly for tax purposes can be considered an "aggravated felony" that subjects immigrants to deportation. A Japanese couple with several restaurants in southern California pleaded guilty in 1997 to filing a false corporate tax return, and the husband was given a four-month prison sentence followed by deportation. A 1994 law defined aggravated felonies to include crimes of "fraud or deceit" that cost the victims more than $200,000, a threshold later lowered to $10,000.
ICE agents continue to make arrests of unauthorized foreigners in the US, targeting foreigners convicted of US crimes but arresting other unauthorized foreigners they encounter. In late March 2012, ICE agents reported arresting almost 3,200 foreigners, including almost half who had served prison terms for US felony convictions.
Attorneys for employers say that I-9 audits are prompting questions about what identification employers can request from new hires. To protect themselves from charges that they knowingly hired unauthorized workers, some employers are requesting specific documents, which can lead to charges that the employer violated the Immigration Reform and Control Act's ban on requesting specific documents to prove identity and right to work.
Many employers are outsourcing low-skill work such as janitorial services to contractors in order to avoid completing I-9 forms. Liability generally stops with the contractor, but Wal-Mart in 2005 paid $11 million to settle claims arising from allegations that Wal-Mart knowingly hired unauthorized workers through contractors to provide janitorial services because it had "constructive knowledge" that the janitors were unauthorized.
Almost 600 unauthorized workers were arrested at Howard Industries in Laurel, Mississippi in 2008, leading to a $2.5 million fine. In February 2012, Howard agreed to settle a discrimination suit filed by four Black women whose suit alleged that Howard preferred "hard-working Latinos" to them.
USCIS. President Obama requested $3 billion for DHS's US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, including $112 million for E-Verify, which processed 17 million requests from 294,000 employers who had 960,000 hiring sites in FY11. USCIS says that an average of 1,000 employers were enrolling in E-Verify each week in winter 2012.
Seven states required most of their employers to use E-Verify to check new hires in spring 2012, and 12 other states required this of state agencies and contractors.
Admissions of nonimmigrant foreign visitors topped 45 million in FY10, the year that DHS introduced a method that resulted in a more complete count of entries from Canada and Mexico. If an individual enters the US several times, she is counted each time in DHS admissions data.
DHS for the first time also reported unique individuals admitted; 25 million in FY10, that is, there were almost two admissions for each unique individual who arrived. (www.dhs.gov/files/statistics/publications/impact-changes-nonimmigrant-admissions.shtm)
The ratio between admissions and unique individuals varies by type of temporary visitor, but the gap widened significantly in recent years. An extreme case involves NAFTA-TN visas. For most of the past decade, admissions and unique individuals were about 100,000 a year, as mostly Canadians arrived in the US. However, in FY10, admissions spiked to over 600,000 while unique individuals fell to less than 100,000, suggesting that DHS may be counting people who live in Canada and commute frequently to US jobs with TN visas.
Similarly, admissions and unique individuals were about 140,000 a year for H-2A and H-2B workers until 2005, when admissions increased sharply before falling slightly in 2009-10. One reason for the spike in admissions may be because employers of H-2A workers in Arizona for the winter vegetable harvest provide housing in Yuma and other border cities to their H-2A workers, but some H-2A visa holders prefer to live in Mexico and commute daily to US jobs. Counting each daily admission of such workers ensures that admissions are significantly higher than unique individuals.