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October 2018, Volume 24, Number 4

DHS: Border, Removals, Asylum

Border. DHS apprehended 31,300 foreigners just inside the US border in July 2018, about the same as in June 2018 but down from 40,000 in May 2018. The number of family units and unaccompanied youth apprehended just inside US borders did not fall despite DHS's family separation policy in May-June 2018; some 12,800 family units (adults and children) were apprehended in August 2018.

Most adults with children and solo children are from Central America's Northern Triangle countries, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The US Customs and Border Protection agency says that US policies that prohibit children from being detained more than 20 days means that most adults with children are released, fueling the smuggling industry.

Smugglers in Guatemala's poor western highlands who charge $10,000 per person promise residents that the US will welcome them if they arrive with children. US ads that warn of the dangers of the journey and say that unauthorized migrants will not get legal status are belied by the homes built by those who receive remittances and relatively few returns. Less than two percent of the adults with children who arrived in FY17 were returned that year.

The US has 328 ports of entry, and the Customs and Border Protection officers have considerable authority to check people and their baggage without warrants. Several suits charge that CBP officers conducted invasive checks of women, especially after drug-sniffing dogs alerted authorities to the possible presence of drugs. CBP mistakes have led to suits and settlements.

Removals. ICE removed 191,000 foreigners during the first nine months of FY18; some 226,200 were deported in FY17. ICE arrested 120,000 foreigners in the first nine months of FY18, including 55 percent convicted of US crimes.

The US deported or removed 5.4 million foreigners between 1996 and 2015, including 2.4 million or 40 percent convicted of US felony crimes.

An unauthorized Mexican kidnapped and killed an Iowa college student who was jogging in July 2018, drawing comment from President Trump, who also publicized the death of a 32-year old woman in Sam Francisco in 2015 by an unauthorized Mexican. The worker used another person's ID and Social Security number to get hired at Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa, which ensured that the name and Social Security number matched via the Social Security Number Verification Service. Yarrabee did not submit the information to E-Verify.

Asylum. Many Central Americans arrive in the US and apply for asylum, which requires them to prove that they face persecution at home due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The most elastic of these five factors is membership in a particular social group.

USCIS asylum officers routinely found that those fleeing domestic or gang violence from which their Central American governments did not protect them faced a credible fear of persecution and could qualify for refugee status in a hearing before an immigration judge; by passing this credible fear tests, the asylum seekers were allowed into the US. There is a backlog of over 700,000 cases for immigration judges, so foreigners who pass credible fear tests can remain in the US for several years.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has authority over immigration judges, reversed a 2016 grant of asylum to an El Salvadoran woman who was a victim of domestic violence. Sessions in July 2018 said that domestic or gang violence is generally not grounds for asylum in the US unless the government in the applicant's country condoned the violence or was powerless to stop it. Sessions explicitly held that violence against people committed by those who are not associated with the government is not a basis for being recognized as a refugee in the US.

The ACLU sued to block implementation of the new Sessions guidance, citing a sharp spike in denials at the first stage of the process, where applicants must demonstrate to an asylum officer that they have a "credible fear" of persecution at home. About 20 percent of asylum seekers are recognized as refugees.

Central Americans seeking asylum can enter the US at ports of entry or between ports of entry. Between May 5 and June 20, 2018, all adults who entered illegally between ports of entry were prosecuted for illegal entry and, since children under 18 cannot be jailed, over 2,500 children were separated from their parents.

About 9,500 family units a month, at least one parent and child under 18, entered the US illegally in 2018. A federal judge ordered DHS to reunite these children with their parents by July 26, 2018. DHS reported that all eligible children were united with qualifying parents by the deadline, with some moving into family detention centers with their parents.

Some of the parents were deported while separated from their children. Their children who are still in the US can apply for asylum on their own or return to their parents abroad.

The 1997 Flores settlement, modified in 2001, limits the detention of unauthorized children to 20 days, and requires that children be held in licensed child-care facilities. In September 2018, DHS moved to lengthen the time that children can remain in detention by keeping them with their parents who are seeking asylum.

DHS says that, because children cannot be separated from their parents, and because children must be in licensed child-care facilities, Flores effectively allows unauthorized parents with children to be released into the US, providing a "magnet" for illegal immigration.

USCIS. DHS in July 2018 announced that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would be extended for Somalians in the US.

When Trump took office, some 320,000 foreigners from 10 countries had TPS. The TPS status of foreigners from several countries was cancelled by DHS, but a federal judge in October 2018 temporarily blocked the withdrawal of TPS from 263,000 Salvadorans, 59,000 Haitians, 5,000 Nicaraguans and 1,000 Sudanese, citing President Trump?s "animus against nonwhite, non-European immigrants" that led the judge to believe that race may have been "a motivating factor" for DHS withdrawing TPS from nationals of these four countries.

The suit challenging the end of TPS was filed by migrants who had been in the US two decades or more. One of their arguments is that their US-born children have the right to be raised by their parents in the US.

Arizona was the first state to require private employers to use E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires. In 2011 more states followed suit, and Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi require all employers to submit data on new hires to E-Verify, while five others require most employers to participate in E-Verify. However, no employer in these nine states has lost its state business license for failing to use E-Verify.

There are several reasons for no penalties from state sanctions, including the fact that the Georgia office to audit employer compliance with E-Verify was never funded. Georgia has 102,000 employers enrolled in E-Verify, but 23 percent did not submit any new hire data to USCIS in the past year.

The Obama Administration stopped sending Social Security mis-match letters to employers in 2012, when DACA was launched. Between 2012 and 2016, there were 39 million cases of Social Security mismatches, which could range from an unauthorized worker using another persons SSN to a woman marrying and changing her name.

When names and SSNs do not match, Social Security taxes paid by employers and employees are put into a suspense file, which had $1.5 trillion in 2016. When workers contact SSA, they can receive appropriate Social Security credit.