Immigration to the United States

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Immigration to the United States is the international movement of non-U.S. nationals in order to reside permanently in the U.S. Because the United States is a settler colonial society, all Americans, with the exception of the small percent of Indigenous Americans, can trace their ancestry to immigrants.

Quotes[edit]

Prosecutors surveyed stated that in prior years, as cooperation between prosecutors and immigrant communities increased, survivors of crime were increasingly willing to come forward and assist law enforcement in prosecuting cases,” the ACLU report said. “However, over the past year, many categories of crimes have become more difficult to prosecute as a result of an increase in fear of immigration consequences. ~ ACLU
The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class. ~ James Truslow Adams
Congress created the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924 and the agency slowly grew in size as its mission changed. At first, the agents sought to keep out Asian immigrants and later worked to stall alcohol trafficking in the Prohibition era. Slowly, it evolved into stalling unwanted migration from Mexico. ~ Russell Contreras
Most immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe, meaning that in religion they were Catholic, Jewish and Orthodox Christians, and some were atheists. The nation's churches recognized that they needed to reach out to these new Americans. ~ Jason S. Lantzer
Foreigners, I esteem foreigners no better than other people, nor any worse. They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. And inasmuch as the continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here, comparatively speaking, than there is there; and if they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming; and I bid them all God speed... ~ Barack Obama
It is unwise to depart from the old American tradition and discriminate for or against any man who desires to come here and become a citizen, save on the ground of that man's fitness for citizenship. ... We can not afford to consider whether he is Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Gentile; whether he is Englishman or Irishman, Frenchman or German, Japanese, Italian, or Scandinavian, or Magyar. What we should desire to find out is the individual quality of the individual man. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
We are African, and we happened to be in America. We're not American. We are people who formerly were Africans who were kidnapped and brought to America. Our forefathers weren't the Pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us. We were brought here against our will. We were not brought here to be made citizens. We were not brought here to enjoy the constitutional gifts that they speak so beautifully about today. ~ Malcolm X
  • The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.
  • On Monday evening, President Trump pressed send on a tweet declaring that in the next week, ICE would begin removing “the millions of illegal aliens” who are in the United States. This, of course, was not true. ICE deports about 7,000 immigrants per month, which is rather short of the roughly 10.5 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. The tweet, coming two days before Trump’s big reelection rally, seemed tailor-made to send Democrats into paroxysms of rage and force us into a law-and-order debate in which we stand on the side of the lawbreakers.
  • I voted for a fence, I voted, unlike most Democrats — and some of you won't like it — I voted for 700 miles of fence,… And the reason why I add that parenthetically, why I believe the fence is needed does not have anything to do with immigration as much as drugs. And let me tell you something folks, people are driving across that border with tons, tons, hear me, tons of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin and it's all coming up through corrupt Mexico.
    • Joe Biden, South Carolina rotary club (November 27, 2006) Andrew Kaczynski, “Joe Biden once said a fence was needed to stop 'tons' of drugs from Mexico,” CNN Politics, May 10, 2019 [1]
  • All Americans… are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens and legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more, by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, . . .[and] by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. …We will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens arrested for crimes. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws.
  • We’ve got to do several things, and I am, adamantly against illegal immigrants. We’ve got to do more at our borders and people need to stop employing illegal immigrants.
    • Hillary Clinton interview on John Grambling radio show (Feb. 2003), PPD staff, “Hillary Was ‘Adamantly Against Illegal Immigrants’, Now Vows To ‘Go Even Further’ Than Obama,” People’sPundit Daily, May 8, 2015, [3]
  • We have to send a clear message that just because your child gets across the border that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.
    • Hillary Clinton, CNN Town Hall—“Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices” (Aired June 17, 2014) [4]
  • “Prosecutors surveyed stated that in prior years, as cooperation between prosecutors and immigrant communities increased, survivors of crime were increasingly willing to come forward and assist law enforcement in prosecuting cases,” the ACLU report said. “However, over the past year, many categories of crimes have become more difficult to prosecute as a result of an increase in fear of immigration consequences.”
    The ACLU study found that 82 percent of prosecutors reported that since President Donald Trump got into the White House, “domestic violence is now underreported and harder to investigate and/or prosecute.”
    Similarly, 70 percent of prosecutors reported the same was true for sexual assault, and 55 percent indicated “the same difficulties for human trafficking and 48 percent for child abuse.”
  • In the United States, minority populations were never an indigestible mass—with the major exceptions of the one ethnic group that did not come here voluntarily (African Americans) and those who were here when Europeans arrived (American Indians). The rest all came, clustered and dispersed, and added new cultural layers to the general society. This has always been the strength of the United States.
  • While religion has a unifying role in American public life, it also has had a divisive role. Before the 1960s, denominational affiliation, especially whether one was Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, played a defining role in American public identities due to the history of American immigration and the relationship between religion and ethnicity (Herberg 1955). Sociologists have long been interested in the “social sources of denominationalism” and divisions in the American religious field, pointing especially to inequality based in race and class (Niebuhr 1929; Herberg 1955; Roof and McKinney 1987; Darnell and Sherkat 1997; Sherkat 2001; Park and Reimer 2002; Smith and Faris 2005). Although these divides of denominationalism in inequality remain today, the salient symbolic boundaries in the religious field are no longer between denominations as they long have been.
  • David is among the estimated 42,000 asylum-seekers who’ve been returned to Mexico in recent months under President Trump’s new asylum policies. The Trump administration calls the policy “Migrant Protection Protocols,” but far from offering protection, the policy has led to a brutal wave of kidnappings in some of Mexico’s most dangerous border cities.
  • VICE News spoke with multiple asylum-seekers who have been kidnapped or narrowly escaped being kidnapped upon being returned to Mexico. All of them said they suspected Mexican immigration officials were working in coordination with the cartels. Often, they were grabbed at the bus station or along the three-mile stretch from the Mexican immigration office to their shelter. The stretch between the border and the shelters may be a few miles, but it is among the most dangerous part of a migrant’s journey.
  • “It’s pretty clear that the Department of Homeland Security is essentially delivering asylum-seekers and migrants into the hands of kidnappers, and people who are attacking the refugees and migrants when they return,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First. She added that in these regions of Mexico, “it’s absolutely pointless to go to the police.”
  • According to a 2010 Gallup study, almost a quarter of the world's adults looking to emigrate list the United States as their ideal destination. And once they arrive, these immigrants make an enormous contribution to innovation and growth in the American economy. A Harvard Business School study found that American immigrants of Chinese and Indian descent accounted for 15% of U.S. domestic patents in 2004, up from just 2% in 1975. The Brookings Institution has estimated that a quarter of technology and engineering businesses started in the United States between 1995 and 2005 had a foreign-born founder. Immigration is thus a great source of America's economic strength.
  • It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely'", The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 25
  • “We created this tracker because there have been so many accounts of horrific attacks on asylum seekers that we needed a tool to assess the scale and scope of these massive human rights abuses,” said Kennji Kizuka, Human Rights First senior researcher and policy analyst for refugee protection. “There have been more than 400 public reports of rape, torture, kidnapping and other violence against asylum seekers and migrants whom the United States is forcing to wait in some of the most dangerous cities in the Western Hemisphere. As the vast majority of asylum seekers have not been interviewed by journalists or human rights monitors, the scale of kidnappings and assaults is clearly much higher than the 400 public reports this year.”
  • “The United States is knowingly sending vulnerable people seeking our protection to be tortured, kidnapped, raped and attacked in Mexico,” said Kizuka. “The Remain in Mexico policy violates U.S. law and treaties, and reflects this administration’s callous disregard for human life. We will continue to collect evidence of the harm caused by this policy, working in collaboration with many other organizations.”
  • The U.S. government is forcing asylum seekers and migrants, including at least 16,000 children and nearly 500 infants under the age of one, to return to Mexico under the “Migrant Protection Protocols”—better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
  • As of December 15, 2020, there are at least 1,314 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults against asylum seekers and migrants forced to return to Mexico by the Trump Administration under this illegal scheme. Among these reported attacks are 318 cases of children returned to Mexico who were kidnapped or nearly kidnapped.
  • Syrian-American Rama Issa, the executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, told news website Quartz in June that the Trump administration was "redefining what a family is".
    She had planned to marry in the autumn, and wants her beloved cousins, aunts, and uncles - who live abroad - to be there. She told the site she had postponed her wedding, after struggling with "the idea that a government can tell me who the members of my family should be".
  • The paradox is that American carbon emissions are partly responsible for wretchedness in Guatemala that drives emigration, yet when those desperate Guatemalans arrive at the U.S. border they are treated as invaders.
    • Nicholas Kristof, "A stark choice for some Guatemalans: watch crops wither, and maybe die with them, or migrate." The New York Times June 5, 2019
  • The immigrants they liked to hire to get work done cheap, then use them for every scapegoat situation possible, forgetting they wouldn’t even be there to blame for what they did and for what they didn’t do, if they weren’t offered the jobs in the first place.
  • Most immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe, meaning that in religion they were Catholic, Jewish and Orthodox Christians, and some were atheists. The nation's churches recognized that they needed to reach out to these new Americans. Some Protestants took direct action, opening mission houses to aid immigrants and help in their Americanization. When it came to immigration, the FCC took a measured approach. On the one hand, the Committee on the Church and the Immigrant Problem believed that the pervading opinion of immigrants by most Americans (one of "disparagement") "ill consists with the spirit and teaching of Jesus concerning human brotherhood." On the other hand, the FCC also believed tat it was imperative that nation's churches look after the "religious care" of the immigrants, which implied bringing them into the Protestant fold.
  • Contrary to public perception, we observe considerably lower felony arrest rates among undocumented immigrants compared to legal immigrants and native-born US citizens and find no evidence that undocumented criminality has increased in recent years. Our findings help us understand why the most aggressive immigrant removal programs have not delivered on their crime reduction promises and are unlikely to do so in the future.
  • We make use of uniquely comprehensive arrest data from the Texas Department of Public Safety to compare the criminality of undocumented immigrants to legal immigrants and native-born US citizens between 2012 and 2018. We find that undocumented immigrants have substantially lower crime rates than native-born citizens and legal immigrants across a range of felony offenses. Relative to undocumented immigrants, US-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes. In addition, the proportion of arrests involving undocumented immigrants in Texas was relatively stable or decreasing over this period. The differences between US-born citizens and undocumented immigrants are robust to using alternative estimates of the broader undocumented population, alternate classifications of those counted as “undocumented” at arrest and substituting misdemeanors or convictions as measures of crime.
    The tripling of the undocumented population in recent decades is one of the most consequential and controversial social trends in the United States. Backlash regarding the criminality of undocumented immigrants is at the fore of this controversy and has led to immigration reforms and public policies intended to reduce the crimes associated with undocumented immigration. As recently as June of 2020, the debate on undocumented criminality made its way to the US Supreme Court, where the US solicitor general sought to invalidate California’s “sanctuary” policies because “[w]hen officers are unable to arrest aliens—often criminal aliens—who are in removal proceedings or have been ordered removed from the United States, those aliens instead return to the community, where criminal aliens are disproportionately likely to commit crimes”.
    Indeed, concerns over illegal immigration have arguably been the government’s chief criminal law enforcement priority for years, to the point where the federal government now spends more on immigration enforcement than all other principle criminal law enforcement agencies combined.
  • Foreigners, I esteem them no better than other people, nor any worse. It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles-the oppression of tyranny-to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke, than to add anything that would tend to crush them. Inasmuch as our country is extensive and new, and the countries of Europe are densely populated, if there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in their way, to prevent them from coming to the United States.
  • Foreigners, I esteem foreigners no better than other people, nor any worse. They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. And inasmuch as the continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here, comparatively speaking, than there is there; and if they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming; and I bid them all God speed...
    • Barack Obama “Obama's 2013 State of the Union Speech: Full Text,” The Atlantic, Feb. 12, 2013 [5]
  • This year the senate passed an immigration reform bill by a wide bipartisan majority… It would strengthen our borders… It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earn citizenship for those who are living in the shadows. A path that includes passing a background check, and learning English, and paying taxes and penalties and in getting in line behind it, everyone trying to come here by the right way. And each of these pieces would go a long way toward fixing our broken immigration system.
    • Barack Obama speech on immigration policy in San Francisco (Nov. 25, 2014) [6]
  • Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws. And I believe they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous.
    • Barack Obama Immigration Reform Speech on Announcing Executive Action (Nov 20, 2014) [7]
  • Before implementation of the Zero Tolerance Policy, when CBP apprehended an alien family unit attempting to enter the United States illegally, it usually placed the adult in civil immigration proceedings without referring him or her for criminal prosecution. CBP only separated apprehended parents from children in limited circumstances — e.g., if the adult had a criminal history or outstanding warrant, or if CBP could not determine whether the adult was the child’s parent or legal guardian. Accordingly, in most instances, family units either remained together in family detention centers operated by ICE while their civil immigration cases were pending, or they were released into the United States with an order to appear in immigration court at a later date.
    The Zero Tolerance Policy, however, fundamentally changed DHS’ approach to immigration enforcement. In early May 2018, DHS determined that the policy would cover alien adults arriving illegally in the United States with minor children. Because minor children cannot be held in criminal custody with an adult, alien adults who entered the United States illegally would have to be separated from any accompanying minor children when the adults were referred for criminal prosecution. The children, who DHS then deemed to be unaccompanied alien children, were held in DHS custody until they could be transferred to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for the long-term custodial care and placement of unaccompanied alien children.
  • Last week, we were chatting here in the shebeen about a remarkable woman named Emily Hobhouse, a British social worker and radical who took upon herself the job of informing the British people and the world of the atrocities the Empire was committing in its South African concentration camps during the Second Boer War. The parallels to the news of the day seemed obvious. It is important now to realize that the camps that so horrified Hobhouse consisted of women and children living in tents. So imagine my non-surprise to discover that, as a solution to the bad publicity it was getting for housing migrant children in terrible conditions, the administration* decided to move some of the kids out of some of the worst conditions and off to another site to live...in tents!.
  • The average temperature in June in El Paso is 98 degrees. In July, it's 97. In August, it's 94. And "temporary" in this context, and with this crowd running things, has developed a very flexible new definition. Of course, if the kids are still in the tents in November, things will have cooled to an average of 66. The great outdoors! Anyway, because this is America, where the enterprise is always free, and because this is 2019, almost a decade after the Supreme Court legalized influence-peddling, our politicians are free to take money from those who make money off facilities like these, because that's what keeps us free. [...] There's the usual yadda-yadda from spokesfolk about how this is really about constituent service; Cuellar's mouthpiece argues that there are so many prisons in Cuellar's district, that Cuellar's getting correction-industry money is like, say, Jay Inslee getting money from yacht manufacturers. [...] There is a historic exercise in human misery being undertaken by the United States government in South Texas right now, and if you take money from people making a pile out of that misery, you're complicit. Sorry, but that's the iron logic of atrocities.
  • If America doesn’t keep out the queer alien mongrelized people of Southern and Eastern Europe, her crop of citizens will eventually be dwarfed and mongrelized in turn.
    • Kenneth Roberts. Quoted in Simon, Rita James (1997). In the Golden Land: A Century of Russian and Soviet Jewish Immigration. pp. 15–16.
  • Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, remarks before the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, D.C. (April 21, 1938), The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1938 (1941), p. 259. FDR is often quoted as having addressed the DAR as "my fellow immigrants." The above words are believed to be the source.
  • Every man has a right to one country. He has a right to love and serve that country and to feel that it is absolutely his country and that he has in it every right possessed by anyone else. It is our duty to require the man of German blood who is an American citizen to give up all allegiance to Germany wholeheartedly and without on his part any mental reservation whatever. If he does this it becomes no less our duty to give him the full rights of an American, including our loyal respect and friendship without on our part any mental reservation whatever. The duties are reciprocal, and from the standpoint of American patriotism one is as important as the other.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, "Every Man Has a Right to One Country," The Kansas City (Missouri) Star (July 15, 1918), p. 2.
  • Family separation is perhaps the most emblematic moment of his presidency thus far. It was cruel, sloppy, needless, racist, and ultimately exactly what we should have expected.
  • Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA's senior director of campaigns, said the initial guidance was "simply heartless," and showed "a cruel indifference to families, some already torn apart by war and horrifying levels of violence".
    She also called it a poor way to label families, noting: "It defines close family relationships in a way that ignores the reality in many cultures, where grandparents, cousins and in-laws are often extremely close."
  • More than 13,000 migrants looking for asylum protections are now waiting just across the border in Mexico, according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security statistics.
    So far, the ad-ministration’s efforts have largely failed to stem the flow of migrants. In May, more than 144,000 surged across the border, a majority of whom were from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. While arrests declined in June by 28 percent, officials estimate that by the end of the year, nearly a million migrants may have crossed the southwestern border, most of them hoping to stay permanently by claiming asylum.
    Under the new rule, migrants would still be allowed to apply for asylum at the southwestern border if they have proof that they applied and were denied the protections in at least one country they traveled through. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, re-leased a statement on Monday that he was “deeply concerned” by the new rule. “It will put vulnerable families at risk,” Mr. Grandi said. “It will undermine efforts by countries across the region to devise the coherent, collective responses that are needed.”
  • Few asylum claims are granted — the Trump administration says only 20 percent are, and immigration advocates say some 40 percent are — but both sides agree that immigrants who are ultimately denied asylum often defy deportation orders and stay in the United States illegally. Previous administrations did not make it a priority to find and deport them and instead focused on illegal immigrants who had committed serious crimes.
    But Mr. Trump and his immigration brain trust — led by Stephen Miller, the chief architect of his border policies — say such a loose policy lures people to the United States. They are determined to break it by any means necessary.
    “Folks are incentivized by the gaps in our legal framework to come to the United States right now,” Kevin McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, said recently in an interview. “That’s a group we don’t think should be coming, don’t think should be crossing unlawfully, don’t think should be in the hands of smugglers and enriching criminal organizations.”
    “That is a flow we think should stop,” he said.
  • Soon after asking for asylum, migrants are usually interviewed by a trained asylum officer to determine whether they have a “credible fear” of persecution in their home country “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” If the officer determines that there is a “significant possibility” that the migrants will be able to prove such persecution, a court date will be set for a final determination about whether they will be granted asylum.
    More than 75 percent of migrants pass the initial screening because of congressionally mandated rules that set a fairly low bar for approval to ensure that persecuted people have the opportunity to apply for refuge in the United States. Trump administration officials argue that the credible-fear screening should be far less generous.
  • People seeking refuge in the United States must show that they have a “well-founded fear” of being persecuted if they were to return to their own country. That is often demonstrated through direct testimony about the situation they expect to face if they return home, as well as other evidence of the situation they faced before coming to the United States.
    Immigration judges typically deny 80 percent of the applications, weeding out fraudulent claims and ineligible applicants. When the process was devised, there was a fairly short period between the initial screening and an appearance in immigration court. But that has changed significantly, and a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases has led to asylum seekers waiting years to appear in court.
  • Since FY2004, Congress has appropriated funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s(DHS’s) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for an Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program to provide supervised release and enhanced monitoring for a subset of foreign nationals subject to removal whom ICE has released into the United States. These aliens are not statutorily mandated to be in DHS custody, are not considered threats to public safety or national security, and have been released either on bond, their own recognizance, or parole pending a decision on whether they should be removed from the United States.
    Congressional interest in ATD has increased in recent years due to a number of factors. One factor is that ICE does not have the capacity to detain all foreign nationals who are apprehended and subject to removal, a total that reached nearly 400,000 in FY2018. (ICE reported an average daily population of 48,006 aliens in detention for FY2019, through June 22, 2019.) Other factors include recent shifts in the countries of origin of apprehended foreign nationals, increased numbers of migrants who are traveling with family members, the large number of aliens requesting asylum, and the growing backlog of cases in the immigration court system.
  • Immigration statistics indicate that while the total number of individuals apprehended at the Southwest border has generally declined over the past two decades, the demographic profile of those apprehended has shifted toward a population more likely to be subject to detention. Historically, most unauthorized aliens apprehended at the Southwest border have been adult Mexican males who are considered to be “economic” migrants because they are primarily motivated by the opportunity to work in the United States, and who can be more easily repatriated without requiring detention. However, over the past five years, apprehensions of aliens from the Northern Triangle countries—many of whom are reportedly fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the United States—have exceeded those from Mexico.
    Since 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a sharp increase in the number of apprehensions at the Southwest border, especially among members of family units and unaccompanied alien children (UAC). Together, persons in family units and UAC currently make up more than two-thirds of apprehensions.
  • The Immigration Court backlog has jumped by 225,846 cases since the end of January 2017 when President Trump took office. This represents an overall growth rate of 49 percent since the beginning of FY 2017. Results compiled from the case-by-case records obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the court reveal that pending cases in the court's active backlog have now reached 768,257—a new historic high.
    In addition, recent decisions by the Attorney General just implemented by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) have ballooned the backlog further. With a stroke of a pen, the court removed 330,211 previously completed cases and put them back on the "pending" rolls. These cases were previously administratively closed and had been considered part of the court's completed caseload.
  • Under the authority of long-standing UN conventions and an extensive body of United States law, tens of thousands of individuals each year seek asylum in the United States. See TRAC report on asylum law and asylum process. Many of these requests are processed by the 200-plus special judges of the immigration court, a wing of the Justice Department with an annual budget of about $200 million. In the last decade, these judges have disposed of "on their merits" somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 requests each year.
  • TRAC's systematic examination of the nearly 300 thousand asylum decisions over more than a decade documents a significant judge-by-judge disparity in the proportion of asylum requests that are granted versus denied. These findings held even after restricting our comparisons to only those asylum seekers who were represented by an attorney, and only comparing judges who had made substantial numbers of decisions.
    The extreme range in asylum denial rates among the 208 judges deciding 100 or more of these matters from FY 2000 through the first months of FY 2005 was summarized above and shown in Figure 1. The median denial rate -- half turned down more, half less -- was 65%. But the data also shows there were eight judges who denied asylum to nine out of ten of their applicants and two who granted asylum to nine out of ten of theirs. Similar variability was found in the denial rate among the 193 judges who made 100 or more of these decisions in the FY 1994-1999 period. See Figure 3.
  • GAO analyzed the outcomes of 595,795 asylum applications completed by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) between fiscal years 1995 and 2014, and identified outcome variation both over time and across immigration courts and judges. From fiscal years 2008 through 2014, annual grant rates for affirmative asylum applications (those filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the initiative of the individual and referred to an EOIR immigration judge) ranged from 21 to 44 percent. In the same period, grant rates for defensive asylum applications (those initiated before an immigration judge) ranged from 15 to 26 percent. Further, EOIR data indicate that asylum grant rates varied by immigration court. For example, from May 2007 through fiscal year 2014, the grant rate was 66 percent (affirmative) and 52 percent (defensive) in the New York, New York, immigration court and less than 5 percent (affirmative and defensive) in the Omaha, Nebraska, and Atlanta, Georgia, immigration courts.
  • The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and previleges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.
    • George Washington, letter to the members of the Volunteer Association and other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland who have lately arrived in the City of New York (December 2, 1783), John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (1938), vol. 27, p. 254.
  • The second economic reality I would want to talk about, is the fact that he spent more time in this State of the Union message demonizing immigrants than on any other topic. Stories of immigrants being bad, stories of invasions coming, wild exaggerations that have no basis in fact. Let me give you the simplest economics with which to understand that: the United States is an economy of three hundred and twenty five million people; the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States is estimated between 10 and 12 million. Okay you don't need rocket science to understand that nothing that you can do to those poor 10 to 12 million of the lowest paid people in our economy is gonna change the economic conditions for 325 million Americans. Focusing on immigrants is pure scapegoating; it's focusing people on something that doesn't matter because you don't want them to focus on what does matter.

American Immigration Council, “Immigrants and Families Appear in Court”, (July 30, 2019)[edit]

  • Studies also show that families are not significantly more likely to miss court than individual adults or unaccompanied children. For example, one study of EOIR data revealed that families released from family detention centers between 2001 and 2016 appeared in court 86 percent of the time, compared to 81 percent for all immigrants released from detention centers over that period. Asylum-seeking families who had representation and were released from detention had even higher appearance rates.
    Studies also show a significant link between representation and appearance in court. Having access to an attorney means immigrants have someone who can help them navigate an unfamiliar system, including helping ensure they appear in court. Once immigrants manage to obtain a lawyer, they show up for all court hearings in the overwhelming majority of cases, with appearance rates of 96 percent or higher for every group (see Figure 1).
  • Given that studies consistently show a high appearance rate for those in removal proceedings, why does the government insist that there is an epidemic of immigrants skipping court and “disappearing” into the United States? Boiled down, the most basic answer is: the government does not measure the percent of immigrants failing to appear in court. Instead, it uses an alternate, “completion-based” method which significantly overstates the prevalence of in absentia orders of removal for failure to appear in court.
  • Given immigrants’ likelihood of appearing in court, there is little evidence for the government’s frequent assertion that detention is necessary to ensure appearance in court.
    Instead, focus should be on ensuring that immigrants who want to appear in immigration court have the opportunity to do so. This could be achieved through initiatives like the Family Case Management Program, an innovative program which achieved a 99 percent compliance rate with immigration court appearances through the use of community support and supervision. The immigration courts could also adopt simple methods to help ensure that people don’t miss court. Studies have shown that sending text messages or email re-minders can have a significant effect on ensuring appearance in court.

American Immigration Council, ”Asylum in the United States”, (June 11, 2020)[edit]

  • Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or arriving at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.
    As a signatory to the 1967 Protocol, and through U.S. immigration law, the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees. The Refugee Act established two paths to obtain refugee status—either from abroad as a resettled refugee or in the United States as an asylum seeker.
  • From 2004 through 2019, DHS subjected almost all noncitizens who were encountered by, or presented themselves to, a U.S. official at a port of entry or near the border to expedited removal, an accelerated process which authorizes DHS to perform rapid removal of certain individuals.
    To help ensure that the United States does not violate international and domestic laws by returning individuals to countries where their life or liberty may be at risk, the credible fear and reasonable fear screening processes are available to asylum seekers in expedited removal processes.
  • To demonstrate a reasonable fear, the individual must show that there is a “reasonable possibility” that he or she will be tortured in the country of removal or persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. While both credible and reasonable fear determinations evaluate the likelihood of an individual’s persecution or torture if removed, the reasonable fear standard is higher.
    If the asylum officer finds that the person has a reasonable fear of persecution or torture, he or she will be referred to immigration court. The person has the opportunity to prove to an immigration judge that he or she is eligible for "withholding of removal" or "deferral of removal"—protection from future persecution or torture. While withholding of removal is similar to asylum, some of the requirements are more difficult to meet and the relief it provides is narrower. Significantly, and unlike asylum, it does not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence or citizen-ship.
  • Detention exacerbates the challenges asylum seekers already face and can negatively impact a person’s asylum application. Children and families who are detained suffer mental and physical health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and frequent infections. Studies have found that detained individuals in removal proceedings are nearly five times less likely to secure legal counsel than those not in detention. This disparity can significantly affect an individual's case, as those with representation are more likely to apply for protection in the first place and successfully obtain the relief sought.

Randy Capps and Michael Fix, “Ten Facts about U.S. Refugee Resettlement”, Migration Policy Institute, (Oct, 2015).[edit]

Of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the United States since September 11, 2001, three have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—two of whom were planning attacks outside the country.
  • As Europe struggles to absorb huge flows of asylum seekers and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and elsewhere, there are calls for the United States, which runs the largest official resettlement program in the world, to welcome more Syrian refugees. Responding to these calls, the Obama administration has announced its intention to raise the annual ceiling on U.S. refugee admissions to 85,000 for the fiscal year that began October 1 and to 100,000 the following year, up from 70,000 for the year that ended September 30. Within that 85,000 cap, the administration has committed to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year1—a substantial increase from the approximately 2,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the United States since civil war broke out in 2011.
    The proposed U.S. refugee ceiling of 85,000 is quite modest when compared to up to 800,000 migrants projected to seek asylum in Germany by the end of 2015.3 And the number of refugees worldwide is at a record high, with millions from Syria alone now housed in makeshift camps and other, often tenuous arrangements in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. The U.S. refugee ceiling has at times been much higher, for instance 231,700 in 1980 and 142,000 in 1993.
    • p.1
  • Fact: The U.S. refugee resettlement system emphasizes self-sufficiency through employment, and most refugees are employed. In fact, refugee men are employed at a higher rate than their U.S.-born peers, with two-thirds of refugee men employed during the 2009-11 period, compared to 60 percent of U.S.-born men. More than half of refugee women were employed during the same period—the same rate as U.S.-born women.5 The high employment of refugees increases their tax payments and other economic contributions, while decreasing their dependency on public assistance and services over the long run.
    • p.2
  • Of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the United States since September 11, 2001, three have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—two of whom were planning attacks outside the country.
    • p.3
  • Fact: Refugees are more likely to have a high school degree than other immigrants, and just as likely as the U.S. born to have graduated from college. Seventy-five percent of refugee adults in the 2009-11 period had at least a high school education—above the 68 percent rate for other immigrants but below the 89 per-cent rate for U.S.-born adults.13 Twenty-eight percent of refugee adults had at least a four-year college degree, roughly equivalent to the 29 percent of U.S.-born adults and 27 percent of other immigrants with degrees.
    • p.3

Ingrid V. Eagley & Steven Shafer, "A National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court", University of Pennsylvania Law Review], Vol.164, (Dec. 2015)[edit]

This Article presents the results of the first national study of access to counsel in United States immigration courts. Drawing on data from over 1.2 million deportation cases decided between 2007 and 2012, we find that only 37% of all immigrants, and a mere 14% of detained immigrants, secured representation. Only 2% of immigrants obtained pro bono representation from nonprofit organizations, law school clinics, or large law firm volunteer programs. Barriers to representation were particularly severe in immigration courts located in rural areas and small cities, where almost one-third of detained cases were adjudicated.
  • This Article presents the results of the first national study of access to counsel in United States immigration courts. Drawing on data from over 1.2 million deportation cases decided between 2007 and 2012, we find that only 37% of all immigrants, and a mere 14% of detained immigrants, secured representation. Only 2% of immigrants obtained pro bono representation from nonprofit organizations, law school clinics, or large law firm volunteer programs. Barriers to representation were particularly severe in immigration courts located in rural areas and small cities, where almost one-third of detained cases were adjudicated. Moreover, we find that immigrants with attorneys fared far better: among similarly situated removal respondents, the odds were fifteen times greater that immigrants with representation, as compared to those without, sought relief, and five-and-a-half times greater that they obtained relief from removal. In addition, we show that involvement of counsel was associated with certain gains in court efficiency: represented respondents brought fewer unmeritorious claims, were more likely to be released from custody, and, once released, were more likely to appear at their future deportation hearings. This research provides an essential data-driven understanding of immigration representation that should inform discussions of expanding access to counsel.
    • p.1
  • In many respects, this study confirms beliefs of those who are familiar with the immigration system: attorneys are scarce and their involvement is linked to asserting a winning defense and helping courts to do their work efficiently. Beyond such insights, this Article also contributes an evidence-based understanding of the severity of the gaps in immigration representation and the complexities of the relationships among representation, deportation, and courts. As we develop further throughout this Article, these findings have immediate implications for the ongoing debate regarding expanding access to counsel for poor immigrants in removal proceedings.
    • p.10
  • Our goal in this Article is largely descriptive—to provide a data-driven context for future discussion of the pivotal issue of access to counsel in United States immigration courts. We reveal that during the time period of our study, 63% of all immigrants went to court without an attorney. Detained immigrants were even less likely to obtain counsel—86% attended their court hearings without an attorney. For immigrants held in remote detention centers, the ability to obtain counsel was even more severely impaired—only 10% of detained immigrants in small cities obtained counsel, yet more than 200,000 immigrants had their cases heard in these far-away detention centers. Furthermore, some cities with active immigration courts did not have a single practicing immigration attorney.
    The bottom line is that the cases of poor immigrants are left to legal services attorneys, law school clinical programs, and pro bono volunteers. Yet, during the six years of our study, we estimate that only 2% of immigrants in removal proceedings obtained counsel from these types of free representation programs. The volume of removal cases is simply too great for existing immigrant aid resources to cover.
    • pp.75-76

Annie Laurie Hines, Giovanni Peri; “Immigrants’ Deportations, Local Crime and Police Effectiveness”, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, (June 2019)[edit]

Despite popular belief, academic studies find little correlation between immigration and crime rates in the US. Most find that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes and less likely to be incarcerated than similar natives (Butcher and Piehl, 2008), while undocumented immigrants have lower conviction and arrest rates (Nowrasteh, 2018). There is evidence that immigration decreases local crime rates (Chalfin, 2015), but no evidence that the presence of undocumented immigrants is associated with more crime (Light and Miller, 2018).
  • Despite popular belief, academic studies find little correlation between immigration and crime rates in the US. Most find that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes and less likely to be incarcerated than similar natives (Butcher and Piehl, 2008), while undocumented immigrants have lower conviction and arrest rates (Nowrasteh, 2018). There is evidence that immigration decreases local crime rates (Chalfin, 2015), but no evidence that the presence of undocumented immigrants is associated with more crime (Light and Miller, 2018). More recent research examines the impact of increased enforcement on local crime. For example, Chalfin and Deza (2018) find that the E-Verify program, allowing employers to check the work eligibility status of their employees, reduced the population of young males in Arizona thus reduced the occurrence of property crime by changing Arizona’s demographic composition. Overall, the literature finds a negative or null association between immigrants and crime.
    • p.2
  • While there is a series of studies by economists, sociologists and demographers on the correlation between immigration and crime, much less is known about the effectiveness of immigration enforcement in reducing crime. The second is a more specific question, but it is of great policy importance. First, policy evaluation is of direct interest to governments. Second, advocates of aggressive immigration enforcement policies often appeal to the need for public safety, hence implying that enforcement reduce crime. Evaluating the evidence of such claims is immediately relevant to forming effective public policy.
    • p.4
  • Butcher and Piehl were the first to show that immigrants are less likely to commit criminal offenses than natives (Butcher and Piehl, 1998a) and that, conditional on demo-graphic characteristics, immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated (Bucther and Piehl 2007). Analyzing a panel of metropolitan areas, they show that there is no correlation be-tween immigrant population share and crime, controlling for city demographic characteristics(Butcher and Piehl, 1998b). More recently Martinez, Stonewell and Lee (2010) find a negative correlation between homicides and immigration across census tracts in the San Diego metropolitan area, while Chalfin (2014) instruments for migration using rainfall shocks in Mexico and finds no correlation between immigration from Mexican and crime in the US. Likewise, Spenkuch (2014) does not find evidence of a correlation between immigration and violent crime in US states over three decades, but he does find a positive, though statistically insignificant, association with property crime. On the other hand Chalfin (2015) find that an increase in Mexican immigration, instrumented by the size of Mexican birth cohort, is associated with lower property crime and higher aggravated assaults.
    Overall, this literature establishes that it is hard to find evidence of a positive relation-ship between immigration and crime in panel data.
    • pp.4-5
  • Using county-level variation in deportation increases due to SC, we analyze the potential effects of deportation on local crime rates and police efficiency. We instrument for deportations using the staggered roll-out of SC interacted with the initial presence of likely undocumented immigrants in a county. If SC was effective at targeting serious criminals and removing them from the US, these deportations should decrease crime. However, we find that higher deportation rates are not associated with lower crime rates. In fact, ac-counting for the potential endogeneity of deportations, we find a very small and positive, though usually non-significant, effect of deportations on crime. In considering the potential mechanisms for a possible effect, or lack of effect, of SC on crime, we document that more enforcement-driven deportations do not increase police efficiency in solving criminal cases, nor they bring more police resources to the local community. Similarly, higher deportation rates do not attract businesses or increase job opportunities for low-skilled workers.
    • p.22

Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Philip G. Schrag; “Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication”, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 60, 2008, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007-12[edit]

Human judgment can never be eliminated from any system of justice. But we believe that the outcome of a refugee’s quest for safety in America should be influenced more by law and less by a spin of the wheel of fate that assigns her case to a particular government official.
Perhaps the most interesting result of our study is that the chance of winning an asylum case varies significantly according to the gender of the immigration judge. Female judges grant asylum at a rate that is 44% higher than that of their male colleagues. The work experience of the judge before joining the bench also matters: The grant rate of judges who once worked for the Department of Homeland Security (or its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service) drops largely in proportion to the length of such prior service. By contrast, an asylum applicant is considerably advantaged, on a statistical basis, if his or her judge once practiced immigration law in a private firm, served on the staff of a nonprofit organization, or had experience as a full-time law teacher.
  • Addressing consistency in the application of the law, former Attorney General Robert Jackson told Congress in 1940: “It is obviously repugnant to one’s sense of justice that the judgment meted out . . . should depend in large part on a purely fortuitous circumstance; namely the personality of the particular judge before whom the case happens to come for disposition.” Yet in asylum cases, which can spell the difference between life and death, the outcome apparently depends in large measure on which government official decides the claim. In many cases, the most important moment in an asylum case is the instant in which a clerk randomly assigns an application to a particular asylum officer or immigration judge.
    • pp.295-296
  • This study analyzes databases of decisions from all four levels of the asylum adjudication process: 133,000 decisions involving nationals from eleven key countries rendered by 884 asylum officers over a seven-year period; 140,000 decisions of 225 immigration judges over a four-and-a-half-year period; 126,000 decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals over a six-year period; and 4215 decisions of the U.S. courts of appeals during 2004 and 2005. The analysis reveals amazing disparities in grant rates, even when different adjudicators in the same office each considered large numbers of applications from nationals of the same country. For example, in one regional asylum office, 60% of the officers decided in favor of Chinese applicants at rates that deviated by more than 50% from that region’s mean grant rate for Chinese applicants, with some officers granting asylum to no Chinese nationals, while other officers granted asylum in as many as 68% of their cases. Similarly, Colombian asylum applicants whose cases were adjudicated in the federal immigration court in Miami had a 5% chance of prevailing with one of that court’s judges and an 88% chance of prevailing before another judge in the same building. Half of the Miami judges deviated by more than 50% from the court’s mean grant rate for Colombian cases. Using cross-tabulations based on public biographies, the paper also explores correlations between sociological characteristics of individual immigration judges and their grant rates. The cross-tabulations show that the chance of winning asylum was strongly affected not only by the random assignment of a case to a particular immigration judge, but also in very large measure by the quality of an applicant’s legal representation, by the gender of the immigration judge, and by the immigration judge’s work experience prior to appointment.
    • pp.296
  • Collectively, asylum officers, immigration judges, members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, and judges of U.S. courts of appeals render about 79,000 asylum decisions annually. Almost all of them involve claims that an applicant for asylum reasonably fears imprisonment, torture, or death if forced to return to her home country. Given our national desire for equal treatment in adjudication, one would expect to find in this system for the mass production of justice many indicators demonstrating a strong degree of uniformity of decision making over place and time. Yet in the very large volume of adjudications involving foreign nationals’ applications for protection from persecution and torture in their home countries, we see a great deal of statistical variation in the outcomes pronounced by decision makers.
    • p.301
  • Human judgment can never be eliminated from any system of justice. But we believe that the outcome of a refugee’s quest for safety in America should be influenced more by law and less by a spin of the wheel of fate that assigns her case to a particular government official.
    • p.305
  • As part of its commitment to human rights, the United States offers asylum to foreign nation-als who flee to its shores and can prove that they are “refugees”—that is, that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their own countries, and that their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group is at least one central reason for the threatened persecution.
    • pp.305-306
  • Asylum decisions, whether by asylum officers or immigration judges, involve both a judg-ment about whether the applicant’s story, if true, would render the applicant eligible for asylum under American law and an assessment as to whether the applicant is telling the truth about his or her personal experiences of actual or threatened persecution. Among similar cases, we would expect some, but relatively little, variation from one experienced adjudicator to another in relationship to the legal assessment of a truthful applicant’s legal eligibility. Assessments of credibility are more difficult and subjective, so we might expect somewhat greater variability from one adjudicator to another with respect to this component of the decision. Nevertheless, a system that endeavors to prevent arbitrary adjudication should attempt to keep even this aspect of variability within a relatively narrow range.
    It is a difficult task indeed that the adjudicators face, as it is not only important to grant genuine claims but also to deny false claims. Successful false asylum claims undermine the integrity of the asylum system and reduce public support for the admission of genuine refugees.
    • p.306
  • Nationals from well over one hundred countries applied for asylum in recent years. Asylum officers have different nationality caseloads in the eight regions since applicants from various countries are concentrated to different degrees in certain regions.
    • pp.311-312
  • As explained in Part I, immigration courts are the “trial-level” administrative bodies responsible for conducting removal hearings—hearings to determine whether non-citizens may remain in the United States. For represented asylum seekers, these hearings are generally conducted like other court hearings, with direct and cross-examination of the asylum seeker, testimony from other supporting witnesses where available, and opening or closing statements by both sides. Approximately one-third of asylum seekers in immigration court are unrepresented; in these cases, the immigration judge must play a more active role in questioning the applicant and building the factual record. Neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Federal Rules of Evidence apply in immigration court.
    • p.325
  • There are fifty-three immigration courts located in twenty-four states, and more than two hundred immigration judges sit on these courts. Asylum cases are assigned to immigration courts according to the asylum seeker’s geographic residence. The administrators in each immigration court assign cases to immigration judges to distribute the workload evenly among them, and without regard to the merits of the cases or the strength of defenses to removal that may be asserted by the respondents.
    For the approximately 65% of asylum seekers whose cases are referred by asylum officers to immigration court, the removal hearing allows them to present their claim de novo. The immigration court presents the last good opportunity for these asylum seekers to prevail. The immigration court also hears claims from individuals who raise an asylum claim after being placed in removal proceedings. For such individuals, the immigration court hearing is the only opportunity they will have to present evidence in support of their case. It is therefore of the utmost importance that immigration court proceedings be predictable and fair, as a loss in immigration court will likely result in removal—a possible death sentence for some asylum seekers whose cases are wrongly denied.
    • pp.326-327
  • The results of the cross-tabulation analysis confirm earlier studies showing that whether an asylum seeker is represented in court is the single most important factor affecting the outcome of her case. Represented asylum seekers were granted asylum at a rate of 45.6%, almost three times as high as the 16.3% grant rate for those without legal counsel. The regression analyses confirmed that, with all other variables in the study held constant, represented asylum seekers were substantially more likely to win their case than those without representation.
    • p.340
  • We found that applicants had a significantly greater chance of winning if their applications included a request for protection of a spouse or minor child in the United States. Perhaps family applications are more persuasive, because judges don’t believe that married applicants would flee from danger and leave a spouse or child behind, or because the judges feel additional sympathy for spouses and children, or because they suspect that unmarried applicants are more likely to commit fraud or be terrorists. The reasons for the increased odds of prevailing if one has dependents in the United States merit further study.
    Perhaps the most interesting result of our study is that the chance of winning an asylum case varies significantly according to the gender of the immigration judge. Female judges grant asylum at a rate that is 44% higher than that of their male colleagues. The work experience of the judge before joining the bench also matters: The grant rate of judges who once worked for the Department of Homeland Security (or its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service) drops largely in proportion to the length of such prior service. By contrast, an asylum applicant is considerably advantaged, on a statistical basis, if his or her judge once practiced immigration law in a private firm, served on the staff of a nonprofit organization, or had experience as a full-time law teacher.
    • p.376-377
  • We are very troubled, however, by the central finding of our study. Whether an asylum applicant is able to live safely in the United States or is deported to a country in which he claims to fear persecution is very seriously influenced by a spin of the wheel of chance; that is, by a clerk’s random assignment of an applicant’s case to one asylum officer rather than another, or one immigration judge rather than another. We think that an adjudicator’s deviation by more than 50% from the mean rate for similar cases in that adjudicator’s own office raises serious questions about whether the adjudicator is imposing his or her own philosophical attitude (or personal level of skepticism about applicants’ testimony) to the cases under consideration.
    • p.378

John Oliver, “Asylum”, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, HBO, (Oct 26, 2020)[edit]

  • If you’re a refugee, first, you apply through the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, which collects documents and performs interviews. Incidentally, less than one percent of refugees worldwide end up being recommended for resettlement. But, if you’re one of them, you might than be referred to the state department to begin the vetting process. At this point, more information is collected. You’ll be put through security screenings by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. And if you’re a Syrian refugee, you’ll get an additional layer of screening called the Syria in-house review, which may include a further check by a special part of Homeland Security, the USCIS Fraud detection, and National Security directors. And don’t relax yet, ‘cause we’ve barely even started. Then, you finally get an interview with USCIS officers and you’ll also be fingerprinted so your prints can be run through the biometric databases of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. And if you make it through all that, you’ll then have health screenings, which let’s face it, may not go too well for you, ‘cause you may have given yourself a stroke getting through this process so far. But if everything comes back clear, you’ll be enrolled in Cultural Orientation classes all while your information continues to be checked recurrently against terrorist databases to make sure that no new information comes in that wasn’t caught before. All of that has to happen before you get near a plane. This process typically takes 18-24 months once you’ve been referred by the U.N. to the United States. This is the most rigorous vetting anyone has to face before entering this country. No terrorist in their right mind would choose this path when the visa process requires far less effort.
  • The Trump administrations attack on asylum has been focused, dedicated, and deeply resourceful. And I now that those aren’t adjectives you’re used to associating with this administration, but in those one area, they’ve been truly disciplined about being truly evil.
  • Invoking Title 42 has basically created a shadow deportation system that moves quickly and is accountable to no one. And they have used this a lot. Since March, there’ve been nearly 200,000 expulsions, in which asylum seekers were sent back without so much as a court hearing.

Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner, ”Trump Executive Order on Refugees and Travel Ban: A Brief Review”, Migrationpolicy.org[edit]

Would-be refugees currently undergo a screening process which lasts from nine to 24 months. The process begins with the UN refugee agency performing an initial assessment based on identity documents, biographic information, and interviews. Fewer than 1 percent of applicants move on to the next steps.
Those considered for admission to the United States are generally victims of torture, female-headed households, or other especially vulnerable cases. U.S. agencies collect identity documents and conduct biographic security checks, including name checks against CLASS, Security Advisory Opinions, and the interagency check. The National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, DHS, and the State Department all screen the candidates. Specially trained refugee officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview the candidates to determine their eligibility under the refugee definition (see below) and whether they are admissible under the terms of U.S. immigration law, and conduct a further biometric check, in which the applicant’s fingerprints are again screened against FBI, DHS, and Defense Department databases. Finally, applicants who have cleared all other checks must undergo a medical screening and participate in cultural orientation programs before traveling to the United States.
  • Before 9/11, consular and immigration officials were prevented from accessing various forms of intelligence through a complex arrangement of constitutional principles, statutes, policies, and practices. This problem was addressed by post-9/11 legislation, which dismantled firewalls between intelligence, consular, and law enforcement agencies, requiring that pertinent information gathered by the intelligence community be shared with consular and immigration officials.
    • p.1
  • Precise numbers of acts of terrorism committed by the foreign born are difficult to determine because there is no universal definition of terrorism. One review of jihadist-related terrorism cases, by the New America Foundation, found that U.S.-born citizens accounted for nearly half of those implicated. The report also found that every individual who conducted a lethal attack was either a citizen or legal resident. None emigrated or came from a family that emigrated from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, the seven countries designated in the executive order.
    A 2016 Cato Institute report analyzed instances of terrorism committed by refugees and found that the chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion a year, based on records from 1975 through 2015.
    • p.1
  • Foreign nationals currently submit their own documentation and information to apply for a visa and/or admission. While foreign governments may have contributed information to the immigration, criminal, and terrorist databases through which every application is run, they do not for the most part submit or confirm information on specific applicants.
    However, the United States has information-sharing agreements with select governments that assist in decision-making for visa applications. All countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program must agree to share information regarding whether their citizens represent a threat to the security or welfare of the United States, as well as to report lost and stolen passports to INTERPOL.4 In addition, the United States has more detailed information-sharing agreements with certain countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, including providing case-by-case biographic and biometric information.
    • p.2
  • Each visitor to the United States must submit biographic data; present secure travel documents; be fingerprinted and photographed; and have their identities checked against immigration, criminal, and terrorist databases. These databases include the Consular Consolidated Database, which is a biometric and biographic database that includes all records, photographs, and fingerprint scans of all U.S. visa applicants worldwide.
    Most applicants are subject to an in-person interview to verify their information and intent to travel. Interviews are required for all applicants for legal permanent residence. These green-card applicants and some nonimmigrant visa applicants must also have physical and mental examinations.
    Anyone flagged for suspicious behavior or information, at any point during the application and admissions process, is referred for more in-depth review by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
    • p.3
  • Would-be refugees currently undergo a screening process which lasts from nine to 24 months. The process begins with the UN refugee agency performing an initial assessment based on identity documents, biographic information, and interviews. Fewer than 1 percent of applicants move on to the next steps.
    Those considered for admission to the United States are generally victims of torture, female-headed households, or other especially vulnerable cases. U.S. agencies collect identity documents and conduct biographic security checks, including name checks against CLASS, Security Advisory Opinions, and the interagency check. The National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, DHS, and the State Department all screen the candidates. Specially trained refugee officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview the candidates to determine their eligibility under the refugee definition (see below) and whether they are admissible under the terms of U.S. immigration law, and conduct a further biometric check, in which the applicant’s fingerprints are again screened against FBI, DHS, and Defense Department databases. Finally, applicants who have cleared all other checks must undergo a medical screening and participate in cultural orientation programs before traveling to the United States.
    • p.3
  • Protection from religious persecution is a central tenet of U.S. refugee policy. To be admitted as a refugee, individuals must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group. There is no preference to admission based on the type of persecution suffered. In fiscal year (FY)16, refugee admissions were almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians: 38,555 and 38,292 respectively.
    • p.3
  • Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the federal government is required to “consult regularly” with state and local jurisdictions concerning the distribution of refugees (8 U.S.C. 1525(c)(1)). In practice, refugee resettlement has occurred with limited input by states, and sizeable numbers of governors have indicated their opposition to resettlement of some or all refugees in their state, especially since terrorist attacks in Paris in December 2015.
    • p.4
  • The INA restricts admission of individuals who have engaged in certain activities related to terrorism, such as having been a member of a political, social, or other group that endorses terrorist activity or provided material support for a terrorist activity. These bars were greatly expanded under the USA PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act.
    The expanded bars resulted in delay or denial of the applications of thousands of bona fide refugees and asylum seekers, even if their barred action was acquiescing to a terrorist group’s demands while under duress, for example. In response, Congress in 2007 expanded DHS authority to issue exemptions. Since then, DHS issued exemptions with designations in the Federal Register or with policy guidance pertaining to specific situations or groups that would otherwise fall under the grounds.
    • p.4
  • [T]he State Department and DHS collect biometric and biographic information at the time applicants file a visa application, as well as biographic and (at times) biometric information when the individual arrives at a U.S. port of entry. DHS receives passenger manifests to establish exit data for individuals leaving by air and sea.Since 1996, Congress has enacted several laws requiring the creation of a biometric entry/exit tracking system to identify visa overstays. A biometric entry system, known as US-VISIT, was established after 9/11, and is operational at U.S. ports of entry and consular offices, now under the name of the Office of Biometric Identity Management. A counterpart exit system has not been built for a combination of reasons, primarily airport space constraints.
    • p.4
  • Regularly reporting charges, convictions, and similar information on foreign-born individuals would require a new reporting system, with involvement required from state and local governments. The current nationally used system is the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which has been in place since 1929. UCR encompasses thousands of state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies that report annually on violent and property crime offenses. It does not include information on criminal charges.
    • p.5

Mica Rosenberg, Reade Levinson and Ryan McNeill;“They fled danger at home to make a high-stakes bet on U.S. immigration courts”, Reuters, (Oct. 17, 2017)[edit]

Immigration judges, appointed by the U.S. attorney general, are not authorized to speak on the record about cases.
Dana Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said each case is like “a 1,000 piece puzzle.” While two cases might look identical on the surface, she said, each judge has to weigh the nuances of immigration law to allow someone to stay in the country, which could lead to different outcomes.
  • An immigrant’s chance of being allowed to stay in the United States depends largely on who hears the case and where it is heard.
    Judge Stuart Couch, who heard Ana’s case in Charlotte, orders immigrants deported 89 percent of the time, according to a Reuters analysis of more than 370,000 cases heard in all 58 U.S. immigration courts over the past 10 years. Judge Dalin Holyoak, who heard Gutierrez’s case in San Francisco, orders deportation in 43 percent of cases.
    In Charlotte, immigrants are ordered deported in 84 percent of cases, more than twice the rate in San Francisco, where 36 percent of cases end in deportation.
    Couch and Holyoak and their courts are not rare outliers, the analysis found. Variations among judges and courts are broad.
    Judge Olivia Cassin in New York City allows immigrants to remain in the country in 93 percent of cases she hears. Judge Monique Harris in Houston allows immigrants to stay in just four percent of cases. In Atlanta, 89 percent of cases result in a deportation order. In New York City, 24 percent do.
  • [I]mmigration judges are bound by precedents established in the federal appeals court that covers their location. Immigration courts in California and the Pacific Northwest fall under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and they rule in favor of immigrants far more often than courts in the 4th Circuit, which includes North and South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, Reuters found.
    Even so, the Reuters analysis determined that after controlling for such factors, who hears a case and where it is heard remain reliable predictors of how a case will be decided. An immigrant was still four times as likely to be granted asylum by Holyoak in San Francisco as by Couch in Charlotte.
    The Reuters analysis also found that an immigration judge’s particular characteristics and situation can affect out-comes. Men are more likely than women to order deportation, as are judges who have worked as ICE prosecutors. The longer a judge has been serving, the more likely that judge is to grant asylum.
  • The findings underscore what academics and government watchdogs have long complained about U.S. immigration courts: Differences among judges and courts can render the system unfair and even inhumane.
    “It is clearly troubling when you have these kinds of gross disparities,” said Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings School of the Law in San Francisco. “These are life or death matters. ... Whether you win or whether you lose shouldn’t depend on the roll of the dice of which judge gets your case.”
  • Immigration judges, appointed by the U.S. attorney general, are not authorized to speak on the record about cases.
    Dana Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said each case is like “a 1,000 piece puzzle.” While two cases might look identical on the surface, she said, each judge has to weigh the nuances of immigration law to allow someone to stay in the country, which could lead to different outcomes.
  • In 2014, an unprecedented 68,000 parents and children, most of them fleeing violence and lawless-ness in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, crossed into the United States from Mexico – a refugee crisis that has contributed to the bloated backlog of asylum petitions. Many of the migrants, including Gutierrez and Ana, convinced initial interviewers that they had a “credible fear” of returning home, the first step in filing an asylum claim.
    Having come from a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world may have helped establish “credible fear.” But the two women were already at a dis-advantage – precisely because they came from Honduras.
    Country of origin is a big factor in de-termining who gets to stay in the United States because immigrants from some countries are afforded special protections. For example, courts ruled in favor of Chinese immigrants 75 percent of the time, the Reuters analysis found. A 1996 law expanded the definition of political refugees to include people who are forced to abort a child or undergo sterilization, allowing Chinese women to claim persecution under Beijing’s coercive birth-control policies.
    Hondurans enjoy no special considerations. They were allowed to stay in the United States in just 16 percent of cases, the Reuters analysis found.

Richard M. Stana, United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters, “Significant Variation Existed in Asylum Outcomes across Immigration Courts and Judges”, (September 2008)[edit]

The likelihood of being granted asylum differed for affirmative and defensive cases and varied depending on the immigration court in which the case was heard. Overall, the grant rate for affirmative cases (37 percent) was significantly higher than the grant rate for defensive cases (26 percent). The affirmative asylum grant rate ranged from 6 percent in Atlanta to 54 percent in New York City. The grant rate for defensive cases ranged from 7 percent in Atlanta to 35 percent in San Francisco and New York City.
Just as the likelihood of being granted asylum varied across immigration courts, it also varied by nationality. The grant rate for affirmative cases exceeded 50 percent for asylum seekers from some countries, including Albania, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Somalia, and Yugoslavia. For other countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, it was lower than 10 percent. Similarly, while about 50 percent of asylum seekers in defensive cases from Iran and Ethiopia were granted asylum and almost 60 percent of such cases from Somalia were granted asylum, the same was true of 13 percent or less defensive asylum cases from El Salvador, Honduras and Indonesia.
  • In the 19 immigration courts that handled almost 90 percent of asylum cases from October 1994 through April 2007, nine factors affected variability in asylum outcomes: (1) filed affirmatively (originally with DHS at his/her own initiative) or defensively (with DOJ, if in removal proceedings); (2) applicant’s nationality; (3) time period of the asylum decision; (4) representation; (5) applied within 1 year of entry to the United States; (6) claimed dependents on the application; (7) had ever been detained (defensive cases only); (8) gender of the immigration judge and (9) length of experience as an immigration judge. After statistically controlling for these factors, disparities across immigration courts and judges existed. For example, affirmative applicants in San Francisco were still 12 times more likely than those in Atlanta to be granted asylum. Further, in 14 of 19 immigration courts for affirmative cases,and 13 of 19 for defensive cases, applicants were at least 4 times more likely to be granted asylum if their cases were decided by the judge with the highest versus the lowest likelihood of granting asylum in that court.
    • Introduction
  • Globally, the total number of refugees reached an estimated 11.4 million people at the end of 2007, of whom tens of thousands from over 100 countries came to the United States to apply for asylum. U.S. immigration law provides that non-citizens who are in this country—regardless of whether they entered legally or illegally—may be granted humanitarian protection in the form of asylum if they demonstrate that they cannot return to their home country because they have a well-founded fear of persecution.
    • p.1
  • The accuracy of an asylum decision is critical because of the decision’s potential impact on the safety of the asylum seeker and the security of our nation. An incorrect denial may result in an applicant being returned to a country where he or she had been persecuted or where future persecution might occur. At the other extreme, an incorrect approval of an asylum application may allow a terrorist to remain in the United States, a concern that was heightened by the attacks of September 11, 2001.
    • p.2
  • The likelihood of being granted asylum differed for affirmative and defensive cases and varied depending on the immigration court in which the case was heard. Overall, the grant rate for affirmative cases (37 percent) was significantly higher than the grant rate for defensive cases (26 percent). The affirmative asylum grant rate ranged from 6 percent in Atlanta to 54 percent in New York City. The grant rate for defensive cases ranged from 7 percent in Atlanta to 35 percent in San Francisco and New York City.
    • p.23
  • Just as the likelihood of being granted asylum varied across immigration courts, it also varied by nationality. The grant rate for affirmative cases exceeded 50 percent for asylum seekers from some countries, including Albania, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Somalia, and Yugoslavia. For other countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, it was lower than 10 percent. Similarly, while about 50 percent of asylum seekers in defensive cases from Iran and Ethiopia were granted asylum and almost 60 percent of such cases from Somalia were granted asylum, the same was true of 13 percent or less defensive asylum cases from El Salvador, Honduras and Indonesia.
    • p.26
  • Differences in the extent to which applicants from various countries are granted or denied asylum in the United States is not surprising in light of the differences that exist among countries’ political climates and human rights records.
    • p.27
  • [W]ith respect to affirmative cases, the immigration judge characteristics that had significant effects on asylum decisions, at least when we considered each characteristic one at a time, were gender, length of service as an immigration judge, veterans preference, prior public immigration experience, and prior experience doing immigration work for a non-profit organization. When all of the immigration judge characteristics were considered in a multivariate model, however, the ones that emerged as significant were gender and length of service as an immigration judge. Net of other factors, male immigration judges were less likely than female immigration judges to grant asylum in affirmative cases, by a factor of 0.6. Immigration judges with 3 ½ to 10 years of service were more likely than less experienced immigration judges to grant asylum, by a factor of 1.25. Immigration judges with more than 10 years of service were also somewhat more likely than the least experienced immigration judges to grant asylum, but here the difference was not statistically significant.
    • p.110

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