Category: Department of Homeland Security


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

Applicants Under Age 14 or Over Age 79 Do Not Need to Appear for Biometrics for Reentry Permit (or Refugee Travel Document)

October 19th, 2012 — 5:43pm

When a lawful permanent resident plans to depart the U.S. temporarily and does not expect to return to the United States for a year, often he or she is advised to obtain (before departing the U.S.) a Reentry Permit. A Reentry Permit is a travel document that helps to protect an individual from inadvertently abandoning permanent resident status. To obtain the Reentry Permit travel document, the individual must apply while in the U.S. and obtain biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photograph) prior to departing the U.S. Once the biometrics have been taken, the individual can leave the U.S. and the travel document can be mailed to him or her abroad.  The rules regarding fingerprints and photographs have been confusing for those under age 14 or over 79 because these individuals are not required to pay a biometrics fee or have their fingerprints taken. They are, however, being notified by USCIS that they are to appear at application support centers for biometrics. Just recently, however, USCIS has advised that such individuals are not required to attend a biometrics appointment. Instead, applicants under the age of 14 or over 79 can submit two passport-style photographs when applying for the Reentry Permit (in addition to all other required documentation), and USCIS will issue the travel document without requiring the applicant to attend an appointment.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Lawful permanent resident

Relief for DREAMers

July 16th, 2012 — 11:08am
On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that certain undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as young children and who meet several eligibility criteria may receive “deferred action” and work authorization for a period of two years.  Deferred action means that the government will not seek to remove these individuals. 

In order to be considered for deferred action, the individual:

  • Must have been under the age of 31 and present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  • Must have been under the age of 16 when brought to this country;
  • Must have continuously resided in the U.S, for at least five years before June 15, 2012;
  • Must be currently in school or have graduated from high school (or have received a GED), or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Must have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  • Must be at least 15 years of age at the time of application;
  • Must complete a background check.

Applications are not yet being accepted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but  guidance on the process is expected no later than August 15, 2012.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, Immigration reform

Further Guidance on Failure to Register for NSEERS

June 22nd, 2012 — 10:20am

Although DHS finally ended the NSEERS registration program last year, it recently issued guidance on the limited circumstances under which negative immigration consequences, such as a denial of a benefit, finding of inadmissibility, or commencement of removal proceedings, will result from a foreign national’s prior failure to comply with NSEERS requirements. NSEERS, or the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, was a special registration process for male foreign nationals from certain countries who were over the age of 16 and who entered the U.S. as nonimmigrants prior to September 10, 2001. Implemented in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it sought to record the arrival and departure of individuals mostly from Middle Eastern countries. The program failed as a counterterrorism policy and was discriminatory and relied on racial profiling.  While in its latest memo DHS clarifies that only noncompliance, in and of itself, is not a sufficient basis for such consequences to adhere, DHS has not completely eliminated the lingering consequences of NSEERS: a determination of a willful NSEERS violations may still apply and have negative immigration consequences.  We think this is wrong.  DHS should, once and for all, remove the residual penalties associated with NSEERS.

 

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security

H-1B Cap Reached

June 22nd, 2012 — 10:13am

On June 11, 2012, USCIS received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the statutory H-1B cap for FY 2013. On June 7, 2012, it received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will now reject petitions subject to the cap for H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2013. Employers wishing to hire first-time, cap subject H-1B workers will have to wait until April 1, 2013 to file their cases for work that will begin no earlier than October 1, 2013, the first day of FY 2014. USCIS continues to accept petitions exempted from the cap and DOD cooperative research worker H-1B petitions as well as Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013.

Comment » | Department of Homeland Security, H-1B

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