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July 2014, Volume 21, Number 3

DHS: Children, Deportations

Children. Over 52,000 children under 18 were apprehended on the Mexico-US border in the first nine months of FY14, double the 25,000 for the entire year of FY13. Most are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and most were detected in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas soon after they entered the US from Mexico. Most are 15 to 18, but a quarter are less than 15 and a quarter are female.

Some 90,000 children under the age of 18 are expected to arrive in the US in FY14.

Border patrol agents can hold minor children for up to 72 hours before they are turned over to an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that operates shelters and then sends them to parents or relatives in the US. Most of the children are placed in deportation proceedings, but over 85 percent are released to their parents (55 percent) or relatives (30 percent) in the US for the several years typically involved in deportation hearings.

The Border Patrol said that many of the children apprehended said that they were told the US government is giving "permisos" that allow youth to live and work. Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in June 2014 that "the increase may be in response to the perception that children would be allowed to stay or that immigration reform would in some way benefit these children."

The US deports relatively few unaccompanied children. In most cases, children living with their (unauthorized) parents in the US apply for asylum and are given court dates a year or more in the future. Meanwhile, they enroll in US schools and, six months after filing an asylum application, they can apply for a work permit.

There are over 300,000 Salvadorans and Hondurans in the US with Temporary Protected Status as a result of hurricanes and earthquakes a decade ago. Central American leaders, some of whom trace the gang violence in their countries to US drug consumption, asked the US government to give TPS to mothers and children arriving in summer 2014.

Apprehended youth know what is likely to happen. One said: "If you make it, they take you to a shelter and take care of you and let you have permission to stay?While you appeal your case, if you say you want to study, they support you." The combination of poverty and crime in Central America and the perception that the US government "goes easy" on unauthorized children is likely to sustain the influx.

Another 39,000 adults with children were apprehended just inside the US, often mothers with young children. Many were given bus tickets to places where they had relatives and ordered to appear before immigration judges within 30 days, but a third of those released and ordered to appear in FY13 did not report to immigration courts. ICE does not monitor most of the unauthorized foreigners it releases.

Parents or relatives in the US typically pay $5,000 to $7,500 to have children smuggled into the US. Smugglers tell adult men to avoid the Border Patrol, while they instruct children and women with children to seek out Border Patrol agents. Some Republicans asserted that the Obama administration encouraged the influx of Central Americans by releasing unauthorized foreigners. One DHS document acknowledged that releasing women is an "incentive for additional individuals to follow the same path."

President Obama in July 2014 asked Congress to provide $3.7 billion to deal with the influx of Central Americans and promised to step up enforcement and open more shelters for families and children. HHS has about 100 shelters to house about 6,600 children, and $1.8 billion of the new money requested by Obama would go to HHS to expand facilities for children. Obama ordered DHS to move enforcement staff from inside the US to the Mexico-US border to deter entries, even though most women and children walk up to Border Patrol agents and request asylum.

Obama was criticized by migrant advocates, who said he was placing too much emphasis on control and not enough on protection of Central American women and youth. Restrictionists asserted that the failure to deport unauthorized foreigners encouraged more to enter. Several Republicans called on Obama to cancel DACA, the program that gives unauthorized youth renewable legal status for two years, while migrant advocates want DACA extended from youth to their parents.

In Murrieta, California, a city of 100,000 about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, protestors blocked busloads of Central American women and children that the Border Patrol had brought to its local station for processing. The buses were diverted elsewhere.

The Wall Street Journal reported on June 14, 2014 that Latin Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are increasingly seeking and receiving asylum in the US because they are "members of a particular social group" that suffers persecution that their own governments fail to stop.

The US government protects sexual orientation as a basic human right. The leading countries of origin of asylum seekers applying on the basis of sexual orientation are Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Haiti.

Border. The US Border Patrol fingerprints all persons apprehended just inside the US border so that it can identify persons who were caught before. In FY13, 16 percent of those apprehended just inside the Mexico-US border were caught before, continuing a downward recidivism rate, compared to 17 percent in FY12, 20 percent in FY11, and 24 percent in FY10.

Under the Alien Transfer Exit Program, some Mexicans apprehended just inside the US border are returned to Mexico at a different place, as when those apprehended in Arizona are returned to Mexico in Texas. The intent of the ATEF is to persuade migrants to give up and return to their homes, but it appears that many ATEF returnees try to get back to their smuggler and try to enter the US again. The recidivism rate for ATEF returnees was 25 percent in FY13, 24 percent in FY12, 28 percent in FY 11, and 33 percent in FY10.

Despite high recidivism, the ATEF was deemed successful by the Border Patrol, which said it aimed "to create displacement and increase time between entry attempts."

Deportations. Migrant advocates called President Obama "deporter in chief" after the number of foreigners removed from the US surpassed two million in April 2014, five years after Obama took office. In recent years, over three-fourths of the foreigners that the US deported or removed had been apprehended by US border patrol agents just inside the Mexico-US border rather than further inside the US.

The US removed 369,000 foreigners in FY13, including 105,064 who were ordered removed by the 250 immigration judges who serve in 58 immigration courts around the US. About 50,000 or almost half of the foreigners ordered removed by immigration judges had been convicted of serious US crimes.

DHS has been asking immigration judges to remove fewer foreigners, and these judges ruled against government efforts to remove foreigners in a third of cases in 2013, up from a fifth in 2009. One reason for fewer judge-ordered removals is that 60 percent of the cases heard by immigration judges in 2013 involved migrants with lawyers, up from 35 percent in 2009.

Until 1996, the US distinguished between exclusions just inside US borders and deportations from inside the US. Since 1996, foreigners "removed" from the US include those who are "returned" to Mexico after being apprehended just inside the US border. By accepting "return" rather than going through formal removal procedures, Mexicans may return legally to the US.

If the return and removal numbers are combined, then two million foreigners were "deported" between January 2009 and April 2014.

Work. The US detains an average of over 32,000 unauthorized foreigners a day. The New York Times reported on May 25, 2014 that an average of 1,500 detained unauthorized foreigners work for very low wages, $1 a day, in 55 of the 250 the ICE-detention centers in which they are held. The average person detained by ICE is held for a month.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that the work program is voluntary, but critics allege that foreigners are induced to work. The American Civil Liberties Union says that having detained foreigners work makes the US government one of the largest US employers of unauthorized foreigners.

USCIS. USCIS reported that 530,000 employers with 1.6 million work sites were enrolled in E-Verify in June 2014, and that 1,500 employers were joining E-Verify each week. Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas have the greatest number of employers in the program. Over 80 percent of employers enrolled in E-Verify have fewer than 100 employees.

Employers submitted data on 18.8 million new hires to E-Verify in the first eight months of FY14, and almost 99 percent were deemed work-authorized within seconds by the E-Verify system. The 1.2 percent who generated a tentative non-confirmation were investigated, and 0.2 percent of them were later found to be work-authorized.

Citizens. Some 3,000 US citizens and legal immigrants renounced their US status in 2013, and more are expected to do so, largely to avoid the IRS, which is searching for funds held abroad by US citizens and immigrants that was not declared to tax authorities. Over the past five years, over 8,000 taxpayers have cut ties to the US. During this same period, the IRS collected $6 billion in taxes, interest and penalties from more than 43,000 US citizens and legal immigrants who were found to owe additional US taxes.

The US Department of State says that 7.6 million US citizens live outside the US.

The US levies taxes on income earned by US citizens and legal immigrants worldwide, and extends tax liabilities to children born to US citizens abroad, who are US citizens. Taxpayers are supposed to file a Foreign Bank Account Report if they held one or more foreign accounts totaling more than $10,000 over the course of a year. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires foreign financial institutions to report income of their US customers to the IRS, much as US banks and brokers file 1099 forms, beginning in 2015.