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Falling through the Cracks

How Gaps in ICE's Prosecutorial Discretion Policy Affect Immigrants Without Legal Representation

By Joan Friedland

While the Obama administration’s has expanded use of prosecutorial discretion in immigration cases, the subject of immigrants without legal representation and their ability to access this discretion remains unresolved. In 2011, nearly half of all immigrants in removal proceedings appeared “pro se,” or without legal representation. While immigration attorneys can explain the effect of these policies to their clients, pro se immigrants may be unaware that new policies are even in effect. Immigrant advocates have thus been rightly concerned about whether pro se immigrants in removal proceedings will benefit from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) prosecutorial discretion policies.

This paper lays out what immigration authorities can do to ensure that pro se immigrants understand what prosecutorial discretion is, how they can seek it, and what they should do after receiving (or not receiving) an offer of it.

 

Published On: Mon, May 14, 2012 | Download File

The Myth of "Self-Deportation"

How Behavioral Economics Reveals the Fallacies behind “Attrition through Enforcement”

By Alexandra Filindra, Ph.D.

The concept of “self-deportation” rests on a deceptively simple premise. According to its supporters, if the federal government invests more in enforcing immigration laws, and if states and localities take on additional immigration control responsibilities, the costs and risks of staying in the United States will increase substantially for undocumented immigrants. Faced with a high risk of being caught and imprisoned, “rational” undocumented residents will “give up and deport themselves” returning to their home countries rather than remain in the U.S.

However, preliminary evidence from studies conducted in states where such enforcement laws have been enacted shows that immigration restrictionists have gotten it wrong. Immigrant population in these states has remained in place and the predicted exodus never materialized. Economic factors, rather than enforcement, have played a far more important role in reducing the rate of undocumented entry into the United States.

This report uses important research findings from cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to explain why restrictionists have gotten it wrong and people do not behave in the “rational” way that restrictionists expect them to.

Published On: Mon, Apr 30, 2012 | Download File

Summary and Analysis of Office of Inspector General Reports on Secure Communities

In April 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released two long-awaited reports on the Secure Communities Program: Operations of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities and Communication Regarding Participation in Secure Communities. The reports were issued at the request of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in April 2011 due to concerns about the implementation of Secure Communities. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Apr 17, 2012

Q&A on Office of Inspector General Reports on Secure Communities Program

In April 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released two long-awaited reports on the Secure Communities Program: Operations of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities and Communication Regarding Participation in Secure Communities.

Why did the DHS OIG issue these reports?
The reports were issued at the request of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in April 2011 due to concerns about the implementation of Secure Communities, as well as concerns that DHS misled the public and local officials regarding whether the program was mandatory or voluntary.
Read more...

Published On: Tue, Apr 17, 2012 | Download File

Aggravated Felonies: An Overview

“Aggravated felony” is a term of art used to describe a category of offenses carrying particularly harsh immigration consequences for non-citizens convicted of such crimes. Regardless of their immigration status, non-citizens who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” are prohibited from receiving most forms of relief that would spare them from deportation, including asylum, and from being readmitted to the United States at any time in the future. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Mar 16, 2012 | Download File

Government Agencies and E-Verify: Erroneous Results and Misuse Cost Workers Their Jobs

Making E-Verify mandatory—even for government agencies and contractors—could threaten the jobs of U.S. citizens because there are errors in the system and because employers misuse it.

E-Verify is inaccurate.Read more...

  • According to an evaluation by Westat commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security, approximately 0.8 percent of work-authorized U.S. citizens and legal immigrants received an erroneous “tentative nonconfirmation” from E-Verify. Approximately 0.3 percent of those workers were able to successfully contest their findings and keep their jobs. The remaining 0.5 percent were not able to correct their records and received an erroneous “final nonconfirmation.”

Published On: Fri, Mar 02, 2012 | Download File

Authority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents: An Overview

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was established in 2003 as an arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It combined agents from the U.S. Customs Service, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and agricultural inspectors, who monitor the ports of entry, and the U.S. Border Patrol, who monitor the area between ports of entry. Today, CBP is the largest law enforcement agency within DHS, with more than 58,000 employees. As federal officers, CBP agents may only exercise the authority granted under federal statutes and regulations. This fact sheet provides a snapshot of search, interrogation, and arrest powers currently authorized under the law. Read more...

Published On: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 | Download File

Discrediting “Self Deportation” as Immigration Policy

Why an Attrition through Enforcement Strategy Makes Life Difficult for Everyone

By Michele Waslin

The day that Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law went into effect in October of 2011, thousands of school children were reported absent from schools across the state, and workers did not show up for their jobs. In recent months, many immigrants living in the state have confined themselves to their homes, fearful of driving their kids to school, getting groceries, or seeking medical attention. The Alabama State Representative behind the law, Mickey Hammon, explicitly stated that this was the law’s intended effect. He said that the law, HB56, “attacks every aspect of an illegal alien’s life” and “is designed to make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves.”

Alabama provides a sterling example of the devastating impact of a strategic and systematic plan being promoted by anti-immigrant groups and lawmakers who have jumped on the bandwagon. The plan is called “attrition through enforcement” (sometimes called “self deportation”) and the groups behind it have created a web of federal and state legislative proposals that seek to reduce illegal immigration by making it difficult, if not impossible, for unauthorized immigrants to live in American society. While individual proposals may appear to be relatively benign, they are part of a larger systematic plan that undermines basic human rights, devastates local economies, and places unnecessary burdens on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Feb 06, 2012 | Download File

The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program: A Fact Sheet

Immigration law is highly complex. Determining which non-citizens are “lawfully” or “unlawfully” present and whether they should be allowed to stay in the United States are complex matters which involve the interpretation of a range of federal laws and regulations, broad policy considerations, and prioritization of existing resources, to name just a few considerations. Read more...

Published On: Thu, Dec 15, 2011 | Download File

The Secure Communities Program: Unanswered Questions and Continuing Concerns

The Secure Communities program, which launched in March 2008, has become a centerpiece of immigration enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Its rapid expansion coupled with serious concerns about the design, goals, and implementation of the program has resulted in a great deal of controversy.

Under Secure Communities, participating jurisdictions submit arrestees’ fingerprints not only to criminal databases, but to immigration databases as well, allowing ICE access to information on individuals held in jails. While state and local law-enforcement officers are not directly enforcing federal immigration law or making arrests for immigration violations, the transmission of fingerprints allows ICE to tap into information about detainees and make determinations about additional ICE enforcement action.

While some may claim that Secure Communities is an improvement over other federal-local partnerships—such as the 287(g) program, which deputizes state and local police officers to enforce immigration laws through agreements with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)DD DD—the Secure Communities program still faces many of the same criticisms. A Task Force appointed by DHS to make recommendations regarding the program concluded that Secure Communities is fundamentally flawed.DD DD While roughly half of the Task Force members favored a suspension or termination of the program and half believed the program must be continued while reforms are being made, all Task Force members agreed that the program must be reformed.
Read more...

Published On: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 | Download File