The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Children Caught Up in the Child Welfare System
One of the many consequences of an aggressive immigration enforcement system is the separation of children, often U.S. citizens, from their unauthorized immigrant parents. Take the case of Felipe Montes, a father who has spent the past two years fighting to reunite with his three young children, who were placed in foster care in North Carolina following Montes’ deportation to Mexico in late 2010. Such cases only scratch at the surface of a growing problem. Our immigration policies often fail to address the needs of millions of children whom they directly impact.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, approximately 5.5 million children in the United States, including 4.5 million U.S.-born citizens, live in mixed-legal status families with at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant. These children are at risk of being separated from a parent at any time. Parents facing removal must frequently make the decision whether to take their children with them or leave their children in the U.S. in the care of another parent, relative, or friend. In many cases, a parent may determine that it is in their child’s best interest to remain in the U.S. However, in some cases, a parent’s ability to make such decisions is compromised when their child enters the child welfare system, which can prompt a series of events leading to the termination of parental rights. The lack of consistent protocols across the different public systems that encounter separated families further exacerbates the problem.Read more...
Under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deputize selected state and local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents. Like employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), so-called “287(g) officers” have access to federal immigration databases, may interrogate and arrest noncitizens believed to have violated federal immigration laws, and may lodge “detainers” against alleged noncitizens held in state or local custody.
The program has attracted a wide range of critics since the first 287(g) agreement was signed more than ten years ago. Among other concerns, opponents say the program lacks proper federal oversight, diverts resources from the investigation of local crimes, and results in profiling of Latino residents—as was documented following the entry of a 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Following the nationwide expansion of the Secure Communities program, which has its own drawbacks but is operated exclusively by federal authorities, critics have also asked whether the 287(g) program continues to serve any law enforcement benefit.
This fact sheet provides an overview of how the 287(g) program works, as well as arguments raised by its critics. Read more...
In June of 2012, the Obama administration announced that it would accept requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an initiative designed to temporarily suspend the deportation of young people residing unlawfully in the U.S who were brought to the United States as children, meet certain education requirements and generally match the criteria established under legislative proposals like the DREAM Act. The implementation of the program is being carefully monitored by the Immigration Policy Center. This resource page collects IPC, government, and other publications relating solely to DACA.
There are roughly 1.8 million immigrants in the United States who might be, or might become, eligible for the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth brought to this country as children. This initiative, announced on June 15, offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military. Within this population of potential beneficiaries, however, are three distinct groups:
1.) Those who are between the ages of 15 and 30 who are either in high school or already have high school diplomas. This group is immediately eligible for deferred action.
2.) Those between the ages of 5 and 14 who will be eligible at some point in the future if the deferred action initiative remains in place.
3.) Those between the ages of 15 and 30 who are not in high school and don’t have high school diplomas. Members of this group might be eligible for deferred action if they get a GED.
A previous IPC analysis described in detail the demographic characteristics of the first two of these groups of potential beneficiaries. This analysis captures the third group as well. More precisely, potential beneficiaries are broken down by age, gender, and nationality at the state and national level. In reviewing these numbers, it is important to keep in mind that they are approximations and not precise figures.Read more...
A wave of restrictive voting laws is sweeping the nation. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law counts “at least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states.” Bills requiring voters “to show photo identification in order to vote” were signed into law in Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Adding insult to injury, Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee went a step further and required voters to present proof of U.S. citizenship in order to vote. In addition, Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico embarked upon ultimately fruitless “purges” of their voter rolls for the ostensible purpose of sweeping away anyone who might be a non-U.S. citizen.
All of these actions have been undertaken in the name of preventing voter fraud, particularly illegal voting by non-citizens. Proponents of harsh voter laws often assert, without a shred of hard evidence, that hordes of immigrants are swaying election results by wheedling their way into the voting booth. However, repeated investigations over the years have found no indication that systematic vote fraud by non-citizens is anything other than the product of overactive imaginations.
Fighting Phantoms: No Evidence of Widespread or Systematic Vote Fraud by Non-CitizensRead more...
For many aspiring immigrants, achieving citizenship means full participation in civic life—and that means the right to vote. Every year, thousands of immigrants become naturalized U.S. citizens and exercise their new right. In the 2010 national elections, naturalized citizens comprised 6.4% of all voters. The voter registration rate among immigrants as a whole has risen since 2000. Just as importantly, a growing number of U.S.-born children of immigrants are now coming of age and becoming voters.
However, the full potential of the immigrant vote has not been reached. There are more than eight million legal immigrants in the United States who are eligible to naturalize but have not yet done so. The latent electoral power of these voters-in-waiting is enormous. In many parts of the country their votes could potentially swing elections. As described in a series of Immigration Impact blog posts by Rob Paral, there are numerous counties across the country where the number of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who have arrived since 1985 exceeds the margin of victory in the Obama-McCain election. Moreover, the voter rolls of many counties would grow dramatically if LPRs who are eligible to naturalize actually did so and registered to vote. Although this could not happen in time for the 2012 election cycle, it could make a difference in future elections.
In many U.S. counties, the number of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who have arrived since 1985 exceeds the Obama-McCain margin of victory.Read more...
A new analysis casts some much-needed light on the question of exactly who might be eligible for the Obama Administration’s “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth who were brought to this country as children. This initiative, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on June 15, offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military. Immigrants who meet these criteria are commonly referred to as “DREAMers” because they comprise most (though not all) of the individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.Read more...
On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced that it will offer “deferred action” to immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and meet other specific requirements. Hailed by immigrant-rights advocates as a bold response to the broken immigration system, the move temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for many youths who would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act—thereby giving Congress the space needed to craft a bipartisan solution that gives permanent residence to qualifying young people. This Q&A guide outlines basic facts about the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) initiative, including eligibility requirements and important information on process and timing.
Additional information may be obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by calling (800) 375-5283 or visiting www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals. Attorneys and other legal representatives may also wish to consult the practice advisory from the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
What is deferred action?
When an immigrant is granted “deferred action,” it means the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deemed the individual a low priority for immigration enforcement and has chosen to exercise its discretion and not deport the individual. Deferred action provides temporary relief from enforcement but may be revoked at any time. Deferred action is not amnesty or immunity. It does not provide lawful immigration status or a path to a green card or citizenship. It does not extend to any family members of the person granted deferred action.
The evidence of non-citizens voting is sparse and appears subject to much exaggeration. Despite this, many states are asking the federal government for access to immigration data in order to determine whether non-citizens are on the voter registration rolls. For instance, in July 2012, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—advised the Florida Secretary of State that states, under limited circumstances, may use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program for verification of the citizenship status of registered voters. This issue, however, goes beyond Florida. Other states have expressed an interest in using SAVE in a similar fashion. This new development has heightened misconceptions about the SAVE program and its purpose.
The Immigration Policy Center’s previously issued fact sheet about the SAVE program focuses on whether SAVE can actually verify whether an individual is in the country lawfully or not. This fact sheet focuses on whether the SAVE program can be used to accurately verify voter eligibility. It explains why SAVE is not a database of all non-citizens, why using SAVE to verify the status of individuals who have registered to vote is a misuse of the program, and how using SAVE for this purpose could lead to denying U.S. citizens the right to vote.
A wave of restrictive voting laws is sweeping the nation. As of May 21, 2012, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law counted “at least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states.” Bills requiring voters “to show photo identification in order to vote” were signed into law in Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Adding insult to injury, Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee went a step further and required voters to present proof of U.S. citizenship in order to vote. In addition, Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico have undertaken purges of their voter rolls to sweep away anyone who might be a non-U.S. citizen. Read more...