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October 2017, Volume 23, Number 4
DHS: Border, ICE, DACA
DHS, with 250,000 employees in seven major agencies, aims to reduce illegal immigration. Trump proposed a 20 percent increase in the budget of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and a 30 percent increase in the budget of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
CBP. Apprehensions of foreigners just inside the US border declined to a low of 11,125 in April 2017, down from 18,755 in February 2017. Apprehensions have since risen, topping 18,000 in July 2017, but remain 40 percent lower in FY17 compared with the same period of FY16.
Over 281,000 foreigners were arrested just inside the Mexico-US border in the first 11 months of FY17. The estimated apprehension rate, the share of foreigners attempting illegal entry who are caught, rose from 70 percent in 2006 to almost 85 percent in 2016.
Since 2015, most of those apprehended just inside the US border were non-Mexicans who pay up to $8,000 each to be smuggled into the US.
A truck with no air conditioning and 100 mostly Mexican migrants was left at a Walmart in San Antonio on July 23, 2017. Ten people died, and the driver was charged with trafficking. In May 2003, 19 migrants died in the trailer of truck abandoned in nearby Victoria.
Researchers say that it is relatively easy to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas, but hard to evade checkpoints on highways that lead north from the border. Some migrants walk around the checkpoints to avoid detection, but most try to be smuggled in cars past the checkpoints. Efforts to smuggle migrants in trailer trucks past checkpoints often involve turning off refrigeration units so that agents do not check inside.
Four firms were selected in August 2017 to build prototypes of the Mexico-US border wall up to 30 feet long and 30 feet high. There are currently about 700 miles of fencing on the Mexico-US border.
The US issued over 10 million visas to foreigners requiring them in 2016; citizens of 38 countries do not need visas to enter the US for travel or business.
ICE. Some 65,000 unauthorized foreigners were arrested inside the US in the first six months of the Trump administration, up 40 percent from the previous year. ICE agents seek specific people, but arrest other unauthorized foreigners they encounter. On most searches, ICE agents find and arrest about half of their targets. About 40 percent of ICE agents are Hispanic, and most of those arrested are Hispanic.
Almost 500 foreigners were arrested by ICE agents during a four-day sweep in September 2017 targeting those in sanctuary cities where law enforcement agencies do not honor requests to hold specific individuals for ICE agents. About 40 percent of the arrests were in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, cities whose law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with ICE because, they say, effective policing requires trust and cooperation from the community.
California became a sanctuary state in October 2017. AB 54 creates immigration safe zones around schools, health facilities, public libraries and courthouses and limits the cooperation of local law enforcement with ICE, while AB 450 requires ICE agents to have a warrant before they can enter California workplaces in search of unauthorized foreigners. Employers are prohibited from giving SSNs and other worker information to ICE unless presented with a warrant.
ICE arrested 27 unauthorized foreigners in 28,000-resident Saratoga, New York in May-June 2017, which led several restaurants to close early and sent 1,100 legal H-2B and unauthorized workers at Saratoga Race Course into hiding. Many of the backstretch workers work two shifts, from 4 to 10am and again from 4 to 8pm.
Asplundh Tree Expert of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania in September 2017 agreed to pay a record $95 million fine for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. Top management developed a decentralized hiring system to remain ignorant as supervisors hired and rehired unauthorized workers. In 2014 the Department of Homeland Security opened 2,022 workplace-enforcement cases and levied fines totaling more than $16 million against employers.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions in July 2017 announced that states and cities would lose federal grants if they did not cooperate with ICE to detect and remove unauthorized foreigners. Sessions said that cities risk loss of DOJ grants unless the sheriffs who operate most local jails give ICE agents access to their jails and provide 48 hours notice before releasing immigrants whom federal authorities want to detain for immigration violations.
Since Trump took office, ICE has been issuing about 11,000 detainers a month that ask sheriffs to hold unauthorized foreigners so ICE can take them into custody. Many sheriffs refuse to honor ICE detainers; they want ICE to obtain court orders asking them to hold particular foreigners. ICE in August 2017 proposed paying sheriffs to hold foreigners until they can be taken into custody, which some sheriffs endorsed. California prohibits sheriffs from cooperating with ICE.
Chicago in August 2017 sued to continue receiving DOJ funds without reporting immigrant offenders to ICE, saying police need community trust to do their job. Sessions says that Chicago must reorder its priorities to reduce its high murder rate.
Some countries refuse to accept the return of their citizens convicted of US crimes. In September 2017, the US imposed visa restrictions on Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone for failure to cooperate in the return of such citizens. DHS said that more than 1,900 Cambodians, including 1,400 convicted of US crimes, have been ordered deported but are still in the US.
USCIS. President Trump requested $132 million for E-Verify in FY18, perhaps paving the way to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers. Some 700,000 employers were using E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires in summer 2017, so that over half of new hires are being screened by E-Verify.
The Legal Workforce Act (HR 3711) would require all employers to use E-Verify to check new hires within 30 months of enactment. A similar bill, S 179, is pending in the Senate.
A Dallas Fed report (www.dallasfed.org/research/pubs/everify) studied the effects of E-Verify in seven states that require almost all employers to submit data on new hires, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Utah, North Carolina and South Carolina. It found that the number of unauthorized fell below what would have been expected in five of the states (not North Carolina or South Carolina).
The research used models to predict how many unauthorized foreigners "should" be in these states based on a variety of factors, and compared expected to actual estimates of unauthorized foreigners. In Michigan, the number of unauthorized workers in 2015 was 80 percent below projections, in Alabama about 55 percent fewer than expected, and in Arizona and Utah a third fewer, suggesting that E-Verify reduced the employment of unauthorized workers.
USCIS is doing more checks of multinationals seeking L-1A visas to transfer managers and executives between their foreign and US subsidiaries, and L-1B visas, which are for workers with specialized knowledge of the firm's operations.
DACA. Under President Trump, DHS continued to enroll and renew two-year work permits for unauthorized foreigners who arrived in the US before age 16 and completed high school. About 690,000 unauthorized foreigners, three-fourths Mexicans, had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status on August 15, 2017, the fifth anniversary of enrollments in the DACA program; about 28 percent of DACA recipients are in California.
On September 5, 2017, facing a deadline from 10 states that threatened to sue to end DACA, the Trump administration announced that DACA would end March 5, 2018. Trump gave Congress six months to enact a bill to legalize the status of unauthorized foreigners brought to the US as children. In response, 15 states announced a suit to preserve DACA, alleging that Trump's animus toward Mexicans led to ending DACA, which violates the equal protection clause of the US constitution.
Some DACA recipients urged Democrats not to agree to stepped-up immigration enforcement in exchange for providing them a secure legal status, saying they did not want security if their relatives faced a greater risk of detection and removal. Congressional Republicans are expected to select from a menu of options that range from the RAISE Act's lowering of legal immigration to mandatory employer use of E-Verify to the Mexico-US border wall in exchange for a DACA fix.
Bills pending in Congress, including the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act (HR 496/S 128), would allow all current DACA recipients and another 750,000 unauthorized foreigners who arrived in the US before age 18 to become immigrants and eventually US citizens. President Trump favors legal status but not a path to citizenship.
President Trump in October 2017 agreed to support a bill to provide protection for DACA recipients if it includes funding for a wall on the Mexico-US border, 10,000 more immigration enforcement agents, and a denial of federal grants to sanctuary cities. Trump also wants all employers to be required to use E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires, and wants penalties on unauthorized Central American parents in the US who pay smugglers to bring their children into the US.
Some 38,500 such unaccompanied Central American children arrived in the US in 2017, and many stay for years as their asylum applications are considered. Trump does not want these children to be considered unaccompanied if they have a parent or guardian in the US.
Some state and local prosecutors are considering the consequences for immigrants who are charged with US crimes. So-called immigration-consequences policies ask what would happen to immigrants who received the usual sentence for their US crimes; some prosecutors charge offenders with lesser or different charges to help them avoid deportation. For example, a DUI conviction can lead to deportation, while reckless driving rarely does.
California and Washington cap misdemeanor penalties at 364 days in prison to help migrants avoid deportation orders that are almost automatic with 365-day penalties.
Temporary Protected Status. Some 325,000 foreigners from 13 countries had TPS in the US in January 2017. TPS, created in 1990, can be granted when a natural or other disaster strikes the countries of origin of foreigners in the US. TPS enables recipients who pay $495 for a permit to live and work legally in the US.
In summer 2017, the largest group of TPS recipients was from El Salvador, 195,000 or 60 percent of all TPS residents, followed by 57,000 or 18 percent Hondurans and 50,000 or 15 percent Haitians. TPS for Haitians was extended through January 2018, but President Trump indicated he would like TPS for Haitians to end.
Some 1,500 Creole-speaking Haitians who believe that Canada is granting immigrant visas to Haitians with TPS in the US went to Canada in July 2017 and applied for asylum; 200 a day were arriving in early August 2017. Canada accepts about half of Haitian asylum claimants.