Amid the current debate on immigration reform, much attention is on House members and how their vote for or against reform will play in their home districts. But many congressional districts have a huge number of naturalized immigrants and young Asians and Latinos who are entering the electorate, and who deeply support immigration reform.
Political analysts frequently discuss the changing demographics of voters but no analysis to date has quantified a key aspect of this change for each congressional district. Thus, we have no way of knowing what portion of newly eligible voters in the 2014 elections come from either Asian and Latino citizen teenagers who will vote for the first time in 2014, or from legal immigrants who will naturalize by 2014.
Young Asians and Latinos will have a major impact on the composition of newly eligible voters in upcoming elections. These groups are highly represented among the population of teenage citizens that become able to vote for the first time with each election. About 1.8 million U.S. citizen Asians and Latinos become eligible to vote in each two-year election cycle.
Immigrants who become U.S. citizens through naturalization will also be a significant contributor to the evolving electorate. Each election cycle, about 1.4 million of these new citizens become eligible to vote nationally.
Together, these groups will constitute 34 percent of all newly eligible voters in the 2014 elections.Read more...
Throughout 2013, immigration reform has captured public attention. Millions of people followed S. 744 as it worked its way through committee and watched as the Senate voted 68 to 32 to pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan. In the next few months, immigration reform will be high on the list of priorities in the House of Representatives. Despite significant public support for immigration reform among members of the public in both parties, many of the most basic facts about immigrants and immigration remain misunderstood. Debunking the myths about immigration and providing short, concise answers to the often complex issues raised by the immigration debate is a challenge. Smart, thoughtful answers often take longer than the sound bites and quick retorts that the media demands today. The staff of the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has prepared this Q&A Guide to help you get to the heart of the toughest questions on immigration. While we’ve included succinct answers to many immigration questions, more in-depth analysis, fact sheets, and data can be found on our website, www.immigrationpolicy.org.
This special report by Cecilia Menjívar and Olivia Salcido for the Immigration Policy Center looks at immigration law, which on its face appears gender neutral, but actually contains gender biases that create barriers for many women trying to gain legalization within the current immigration system. These inequalities appear across immigration law, and even as new laws are put into place, stereotypes and assumptions remain unchallenged. Ironically, even laws written specifically to protect women, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), continue to play out in practice along gender-biased lines.
As immigration reform is being debated, our findings point to the need that any pathway to citizenship and integration be open, affordable, and accessible to all immigrant women, including those whose work is unpaid, and those employed in the informal economy. In order for this to occur, there should be more and stronger open channels for women to access the legalization process without having to rely on a principal visa holder to petition on their behalf.
There is a growing consensus that our immigration system is broken. Severe visa backlogs hurt U.S. businesses, undocumented workers are frequently exploited, and record levels of deportations tear families apart. While much energy is now focused on addressing these problems, one issue that is frequently overlooked is the structure and quality of justice accorded immigrants who are caught in the enforcement net. In reforming our immigration system, we must not forget that the immigration removal system—from arrest to hearing to deportation and beyond—does not reflect American values of due process and fundamental fairness.
The failure to provide a fair process to those facing expulsion from the United States is all the more disturbing given the increasing “criminalization” of the immigration enforcement system. Although immigration law is formally termed “civil,” Congress has progressively expanded the number of crimes that may render an individual deportable, and immigration law violations often lead to criminal prosecutions. Further, local police now play an increasingly active role in immigration enforcement. Consequently, even relatively minor offenses can result in a person being detained in immigration custody and deported, often with no hope of ever returning to the United States.
This special report is a product of the Immigration Policy Center and the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council. It lays out the the incongruency of America's criminal justice system and its immigration justice system, and provides recommendations for how these problems could be fixed.
The data analyzed in IPC's latest Special Report, Economic Progress via Legalization, indicates that unauthorized immigrants who gained legal status in the 1980s through the legalization provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) experienced clear improvement in their socioeconomic situation. Between 1990 and 2006, the educational attainment of IRCA immigrants increased substantially, their poverty rates fell dramatically, and their home ownership rates improved tremendously. Moreover, their real wages rose, many of them moved into managerial positions, and the vast majority did not depend upon public assistance. The findings presented in this report support the notion that legalization of unauthorized immigrants can play a role in promoting economic growth and lessening socioeconomic disparities. Reforming our immigration system is not an obstacle to getting our economy back on track—it is part of the solution.
Advocates along the Northern Border report a recent, sharp increase in the use of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents to provide interpretation services to state and local law enforcement officers and emergency responders. This most often occurs when an officer or responder encounters an individual who does not speak English and proactively reaches out to USBP for assistance. But it has also occurred when USBP agents respond to an incident report in lieu of, or in addition to, local law enforcement officers. In other cases, USBP agents have reportedly begun responding to 911 emergency assistance calls, especially if the caller is known or perceived not to speak English. Much of this activity appears to have been precipitated by the fact that the U.S.-Canada border has undergone a dramatic transformation, including an influx of newly assigned USBP agents.
Immigrants, their advocates, and community members are reporting—and official statistics confirm—that there are simply too many USBP agents on the ground, apparently with too much time on their hands, who lack adherence to stated priorities.
This special report by Lisa Graybill for the Immigration Policy Center lays out the problems with border patrol agents serving as translators and make recommendations intended to promote Title VI compliance, maintain the integrity of the USBP mission on the Northern Border, and protect the rights of immigrants and their families who call the Northern Border home.
How the Supreme Court Ruled and What It Means for Other States
By Ben Winograd
On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Arizona v. United States, striking down three provisions of the immigration law known as “SB 1070” and leaving a fourth open to future legal challenges. More than any matter in recent history, the case settled a range of important questions regarding the role that states may play in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The Court’s decision will affect not only the future of SB 1070, but the fate of other state immigration laws being challenged in court and the odds of similar laws being passed around the country.
This guide provides brief answers to common questions about Arizona v. United States, including how the Supreme Court decided the case and what the ruling means for immigration laws in other states. Read more...
The collection of biometrics—including fingerprints, DNA, and face-recognition ready photographs—is becoming more and more a part of society. Both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are in the process of expanding their biometrics databases to collect even more information, like face prints and iris scans. The expansion of biometric data collection, however, is uniquely affecting undocumented immigrants and immigrant communities. Under DHS’s Secure Communities program, for example, states are required to share their fingerprint data with DHS, thus subjecting undocumented and even documented immigrants in the United States to heightened fears of deportation should they have any interaction with law enforcement.
In this report, co-sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), author Jennifer Lynch explains the different technologies for collecting biometrics, as well as how that data is collected, stored and used. She raises concerns about data-sharing, legal protection, technological problems, then proposes changes to control and limit the storage of biometrics to benefit not only immigrants, but all people in the U.S. Read more...
Discretion takes many forms throughout the immigration enforcement process. Every removal of a noncitizen from the United States, for example, reflects a series of complex choices which reflect discretion.
To understand the role of discretion fully, however, we need to examine the entire range of opportunities to exercise discretion in immigration enforcement and the cast of decision makers who make discretionary decisions, such as members of Congress who enact laws, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers who make arrests, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) trial attorneys who represent the government in removal proceedings, and immigration judges who preside over those proceedings.
This Special Report traces the role of discretion throughout the immigration enforcement process. Understanding these roles is important not only in individual cases, but also in how policymakers write regulations and draft laws. Knowing how the enforcement system anticipates and incorporates discretion is key to understanding how our immigration laws work.