Category: Customs and Border Protection


What Would Trump’s Immigration Plan Really Cost the U.S.?

March 30th, 2016 — 3:57pm

In the 2016 presidential race, the people of the United States are witnessing campaigns and talking points, along with the sheer number of candidates, like no other race in recent history. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump most often makes headlines for his language, especially toward immigrants, and his support for violence against those who disagree with him.

One of Trump’s most controversial plans involves sending all undocumented immigrants back to their home countries and building a wall on the U.S-Mexico border. Many of Trump’s devotees are just as supportive of the plan as he is.

 Nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the U.S., making up 5.1 percent of the labor force as of 2012. In a Trump administration, they might be rounded up and sent “home,” leaving thousands of jobs open. This does not mean a sudden surge of jobs for native-born American workers — rather, Americans may see fewer jobs and no raises. The service industry as we know it would collapse, as an estimated 35 percent of service industry jobs are made up of undocumented workers, according to Pew Research analyses based on Census data.

The actual process of deporting all 11 million or so undocumented immigrants is a costly plan, besides the blow the economy would take with the open jobs. In the two year timeframe that Trump is proposing, the overall cost would add up to at least $400 billion dollars, along with reducing the U.S. GDP by $1 trillion. Why such a high cost? The process of detaining undocumented immigrants, trying them in court and transporting them to their home countries is not built for a mass deportation; the number of federal agents would need to increase to 90,000, much higher than our current 4,000 agents. Detention facilities would require an increase in beds from 34,000 to nearly 348,831 beds, with 1,300 new courts needed to try all the individuals facing deportation. This, in turn, would require 30,000 more attorneys. The actual deportation itself would require about 87 buses and 47 chartered flights to be sent out every day for two years.

In addition to all the combined setbacks of a mass deportation, one of Trump’s biggest plans — building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. — would only add more to the financial burden the U.S. is facing. Although Trump and his supporters are adamant about making a border wall paid for by Mexico a reality, Mexican Treasury Secretary Luis Videgaray said, “Mexico will under no circumstance pay for the wall Mr. Trump is proposing.” The cost for the wall alone, based on the cost of highway panels, is about $10 billion — not including other factors like surveillance, labor, equipment, and security.

Trump’s plan to “make America great again” fails to acknowledge that much of the greatness that we know today can be credited to immigrants, both documented and undocumented. We’ve seen just fractions of the costs of Trump’s immigration plan, and his plans to cut off federal grants to sanctuary cities and triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers only adds to the underlying economic problems the U.S. faces. What’s more, Trump is calling for a moratorium on green cards for foreign work, and could likely make the already complicated and drawn out process of legal immigration even more difficult.

Even so, immigrants, Mexican or otherwise, will not stop coming to the United States. Turning them away or ramping up security will help neither our economy nor those looking to live in the U.S. Under a Donald Trump presidency, the strides taken toward comprehensive immigration reform will likely be in vain, which we must keep in mind when voting in November. We know the positive impacts immigrants make on the U.S. economy through their entrepreneurship. Deporting undocumented immigrants and putting a hold on H1-B visas will not help the country continue to grow; comprehensive immigration reform will allow us to see America and its people become even greater.

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Executive Action: Using a Band Aid When We Need a Cast

September 15th, 2014 — 2:33pm

For the past 10 years, the debate on immigration reform has only intensified. With Congress repeatedly failing to act on any meaningful legislation for the sake of partisan politics, someone needs to step up and address the problem. And that someone should be President Obama.

With legislative gridlock firmly in place, official policy has been to simply reinforce the same broken laws — to the tune of $18 billion dollars per year. We currently spend over $3.5 billion more on immigration and border enforcement that all other federal law enforcement combined.

But President Obama doesn’t have much room to really make any permanent difference in immigration laws as his options are temporary solutions to a long-term issue. The controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may serve as a model for next steps.

The president has the ability to determine how to enforce the laws, meaning that the Department of Homeland Security — the agency responsible for immigration enforcement — can decide to target higher-risk individuals and focus less on the undocumented parents or other relatives of citizens and the so-called DREAMers.

The president can also create a procedure for these individuals to come forward and seek out temporary relief until Congress can enact permanent reform legislation. This way, undocumented immigrants who are contributing members of our society can remain with family, local economies can stabilize and we can focus on the dangerous individuals trying to make their way into the US.

Since 2001, over 4,000,000 undocumented immigrants have been deported — 2,000,000 during Obama’s administration alone. Expansion of DACA is the first step in the right direction.

It’s important to remember that deferring actions is an administrative decision, meaning that these solutions aren’t the lasting legislation that we so desperately need. The next administration could reverse any decisions made by President Obama. For now though, temporary relief can help ease the burden of a broken immigration system.

 

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration reform

Unaccompanied Minors from Central America: What is Happening on the Ground and Why This is Not a Border Security Crisis But a Crisis Demanding Humanitarian Relief

August 26th, 2014 — 2:39pm

For much of the summer, the immigration news has been dominated by the recent surge of some 60,000 unaccompanied minors and young children with their mothers fleeing the violence and lawlessness in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The Central American humanitarian crisis has resulted in a national debate about how to treat this vulnerable population: send them back to their home countries or grant them humanitarian relief in the United States.  Below is a very brief overview of what the federal government’s response has been thus far, a depiction of conditions on the ground, and a historical perspective on the numbers.

Shortly after the crisis emerged, the Obama Administration marshaled the resources of the numerous federal agencies involved in the apprehension, processing, housing, and repatriation of unaccompanied minor children, and sought emergency funding from Congress. Unfortunately, the Senate and the House of Representatives could not agree before their August 4 recess, and will have to resume negotiations and deliberations when Congress returns after Labor Day. In the meantime, the immigration courts have been instructed to expedite the hearings these immigrants are afforded to determine if their fears are credible, if they are eligible for asylum status, or if they should be deported.

While many of the children have been reunited with other family members who already live in the United States or have been released to sponsors, many others are being detained in detention centers awaiting hearings. One such center is the federal detention center at Artesia, a tiny town in Southeastern New Mexico. Artesia has been thrown into the national spotlight because the federal training center located there was turned into a make-shift detention center for women and children fleeing violence in Central America.

In the wake of the crisis, the immigration bar mounted a massive pro bono effort to ensure that detainees are afforded due process. Teams of experienced immigration lawyers, many of whom are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, are volunteering their time and experience to help these mothers and children. The following dispatches from lawyers who have spent a week at Artesia sheds some light on the conditions in these detention centers:

“I spent last week at the Artesia ‘family detention’ center, a 4-hour drive from both Albuquerque and El Paso. We had a group of roughly ten volunteers (attorneys, translators, and administrative staff) trying to stop the rapid deportations and see that the women and their children get some modicum of due process. This was the first week there has been a full time volunteer attorney presence on site during the month it has been open. 

“The first impression you get . . . is that all the children are sick, with coughs at minimum. They are dehydrated and listless. They are cold — there were two mornings where the temperature was around 60, and there were no jackets or blankets, so mothers and kids walked around with towels wrapped around their shoulders for warmth. Nearly all of them have valid claims for asylum — the majority based on domestic violence or gang issues. An unfortunate number were already deported without the opportunity to even consult with an attorney. Some mothers are giving up and asking to be deported because their kids are so sick.” [Editor’s Note:  Individuals are giving up even though the conditions in their home countries are dire.  For example, five recent Honduran deportees were murdered by gangs upon their arrival in Honduras. NPR, 8/21/2014.]

One pro bono lawyer from Oregon describes her experience in Artesia in this way:

“The lack of justice, due process, and the gross infringement on basic human rights at Artesia is truly staggering. . . . We need to send our members here to see and experience what is happening firsthand, so that they can shed light on this very dark place. . . . These are the most vulnerable people in the world, and our government is using them to send the message that America’s southern border is closed. As advocates, we can’t sit by and allow this voice of hate to be the loudest.”

A third volunteer lawyer reports:

“Women and children detained at length, being refused a chance for a fair hearing and access to counsel, and ultimately being sent back to the danger from which they fled. That’s what we’re seeing at Artesia . . . .

It shouldn’t be like this. But this is what we’ve come to. We need to help these families, to offer them due process and humane conditions, and ultimately address the root cause of this crisis: the conditions in Central America and the smugglers and traffickers who are making money off the misery of others.”

 

The New York Times highlighted a recent lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Council and other groups challenging the governments policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The August 26, 2014 editorial stated:

“But the treatment of hundreds of these migrants in a makeshift detention center in Artesia, N.M., is appalling evidence that this promise was empty, according a lawsuit filed Friday in Federal District Court by a coalition of civil-rights organizations.

The immigrant detention center was supposed to be a safe haven for mothers and young children as their cases go through court. Though the detainees, as unauthorized immigrants, have no legal right to lawyers, advocates and immigration lawyers have made strenuous efforts to provide representation. The migrants have fled countries racked by gang and drug violence, and many have credible claims to asylum.”

 

 

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Elimination of I-94 for Air and Sea Arrivals Commences on April 30

April 27th, 2013 — 11:31am

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will automate Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, for all air and sea arrivals — not land border port of entry arrivals — eliminating the paper Form I-94. The new process goes into effect on April 30, 2013.  The following is a description of the new automated admissions process and some key issues.

Electronic Record

CBP will no longer require international nonimmigrants to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation is designed to streamline the entry process, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs. CBP estimates that it will save over $15 million a year.  Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper Form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

The roll-out will be phased in throughout April and May; thus, nonimmigrants will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their airport or other port of entry.

Passport Stamp

Under the new process, CBP will issue an admission stamp in the passports of arriving nonimmigrants, as is current practice. The admitting CBP officer will make a handwritten notation indicating the status and authorized period of stay, similar to procedures used for travelers under the Visa Waiver Program. An electronic record for the arriving individual will be created upon admission.  This admission (or parole) stamp in a foreign passport will constitute evidence of alien registration as required under regulation. (Individuals without a foreign passport will be sent to CBP’s secondary inspection upon arrival into the U.S., where they will receive their electronic I-94 number. These individuals will be issued a paper I-94 with the pre-printed number crossed out, and the actual electronic I-94 number handwritten upon it.)

Computer Access to Arrival Record

Following automation, arriving nonimmigrants will be given a slip of paper directing them to www.CBP.gov/I94, a new CBP Web page (which is not scheduled to be live until the end of April) where individuals can view and verify the class and term of their admission in its electronic format. In order to access a given individual’s record of admission, seven data points will be needed, including name, passport number, date of admission, and port of admission. The Web portal allows nonimmigrants to print an admission record receipt. This data is expected to be accessible within approximately 24 hours of admission and available at any time. While CBP irons out the wrinkles of this new system, individuals are advised to check their admissions record.

Departing the U.S.

Individuals will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the United States. Those issued a paper Form I-94 would surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. The departure will be recorded electronically with manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP. If the individual did not receive a paper Form I-94, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.

Correcting Errors

If an applicant was admitted incorrectly to the U.S., the applicant should visit a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or port of entry to have his or her admission corrected. A list of Deferred Inspection Sites and ports of entry can be found at www.cbp.gov, under the “Ports” link at the bottom of the page.  If an applicant received an incorrect I-94 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the applicant should refer to Form I-102 available at www.uscis.gov/i-102.

Land Arrivals and Other Exceptions

Nonimmigrants arriving by land and certain classes of foreign nationals, such as refugees, asylum applicants, and parolees, will continue to receive paper Form I-94.  Information gathered by CBP when issuing a Form I-94 at a land border already is automatically uploaded to the CBP database.

Other Considerations

While there appears to be no legal reason compelling a nonimmigrant to print and keep a copy of Form I-94 from the CBP website, nonimmigrants who will need to demonstrate their class and term of admission for any ancillary purpose (e.g., I-9 employment eligibility verification, driver’s license application, Social Security number application) will need to print a copy of their admission record.

At least initially, air- and seaport arrivals will continue to have the option to request a paper Form I-94 to document their class and term of admission.  Both common carriers and CBP are expected to continue making paper forms available upon request. Nonimmigrants who do not have ready access to a computer and printer should avail themselves of this option.  CBP officers may also issue the paper I-94 in their discretion. Information from paper Forms I-94 will be manually entered into the CBP database.

Since the beginning of 2012, when CBP first indicated that it intended to eliminate the paper I-94, stakeholders raised a myriad of concerns associated with the paper I-94’s elimination. Of paramount concern was (and still is) the ability of state motor vehicle bureaus to address the change. Another issue involves foreign nationals seeking to use the automatic visa revalidation process.  Although CBP has advised that it will verify the I-94 electronically to re-validate an expired visa if the traveler meets the conditions of automatic revalidation, there is concern that this will not happen smoothly and without confusion. Another issue relates to the immigration forms themselves. Many USCIS petition and application forms used to request benefits, such as Forms I-129, I-130, and I-539, ask for a Form I-94 number. It appears that USCIS will print out the Form I-94.  Finally, it is unclear at this juncture whether the USCIS “Notice of Action” approving applications for change or extension of status (Form I-797) will continue to be issued with a Form I-94 at the bottom, as is current practice.

At least one benefit for the nonimmigrant is the elimination of the need to file for a replacement I-94 and pay a $330 fee to replace a lost record of admission.

Given the central role of Form I-94 in documenting proper admission and maintenance of status, the impact of its automation on the immigration process and ancillary benefits programs may be profound.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

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Comment » | Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Spends More on Immigration Enforcement than the Combined Funds of All Other Federal Criminal Law Enforcement Agencies

February 23rd, 2013 — 2:37pm

In a January 2013 report, the nonpartisan think-tank Migration Policy Institute (MPI) found that the U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined, with nearly $18 billion spent in fiscal year 2012.  This is approximately 24 percent higher than the collective spending for the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. MPI also found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refer more cases for federal prosecution than all Justice Department law enforcement agencies.

MPI’s comprehensive report offers a detailed analysis of the current immigration enforcement system and traces the evolution of the system, particularly in the post-9/11 era, in terms of budgets, personnel, enforcement actions, and technology. The result is the creation of a complex, interconnected, cross-agency system – in some ways by deliberate design; in others, by happenstance.

Six distinct pillars identify how this modern-day system is organized: border enforcement, visa controls and travel screening, information and interoperability of data systems, workplace enforcement, the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement, and detention and removal of noncitizens. “This modern-day system,” says its authors, “extends well beyond U.S. borders to screen visitors against multiple intelligence and law enforcement databases before they arrive and also reaches into local communities across the country via partnerships with state and local law enforcement, information sharing and other initiatives.”

The following are among the report’s key findings:

  • deportations have reached record highs, with more than 4 million noncitizens deported since 1990, with removals rising from over 30,000 in FY 1990 to almost 400,000 in FY 2011.
  • fewer than half of the noncitizens deported are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge; instead the majority are by DHS via its administrative authority.
  • apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border fell to 40-year lows in 2011.
  • immigration enforcement has evolved to be a key tool in the nation’s counterterrorism strategies.

For the last many years, “enforcement first” was sought by successive congresses and administrations as a precondition for reforming the nation’s immigration laws.  The report makes clear that changes to the system accomplished this goal, having focused almost entirely on building enforcement programs and improving their performance. The findings pave the way for comprehensive immigration reform, given that the country’s enforcement priorities have been met.

Comment » | Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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