Immigration to the United States
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.
- 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, The Epic of America (2nd Edition, Greenwood Press, p. 405)
- "New York, from her particular situation, is, perhaps more than any other city in the Union, exposed to the evil of thousands of foreign emigrants arriving there ...."
- An Act Regulating Passenger Vessels, ch. 46, 3 Stat. 488 (1819), p.141
- 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.
- We think it as competent and as necessary for a state to provide precautionary measures against the moral pestilence of paupers, vagabonds, and possibly convicts, as it is to guard against the physical pestilence, which may arise from unsound and infectious articles imported, or from a ship, the crew of which may be laboring under an infectious disease.
- Justice Barbour, Mayor of New York v. Miln, 36 U.S. 102 (1837). pp.142-143
- It has yet to be widely recognized that the immigrant population is growing far more slowly than in recent years, and that the unauthorized population has peaked and may even have declined. The makeup of the foreign-born population is also changing: New arrivals in the United States are more likely to be from Asia and less likely to be from than other world regions, and they are on average more educated than previous generations of migrants to the United States. The Mexican immigrant population in the United States has declined by half a million people since the beginning of the decade. And in 2018, the United States ceded its status as the world’s top country for resettling refugees, surpassed by Canada.
- Jeanne Batalova, Brittany Blizzard, and Jessica Bolter; “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States”, ‘’Migrationpolicy.org’’, (Feb 14, 2020)
- The U.S. government first began collecting data on the nativity of the population in the 1850 census. That year, there were 2.2 million immigrants, representing nearly 10 percent of the population.
Between 1860 and 1910, the immigrant share fluctuated between 13 percent and almost 15 percent of the overall population, peaking at 14.8 percent in 1890, largely due to high levels of immigration from Europe.
Restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924—which kept permanent immigration open almost exclusively to northern and western Europeans—coupled with the Great Depression and World War II, led to a sharp drop in new arrivals from the Eastern Hemisphere. The foreign-born share steadily declined, hitting a record low of 4.7 percent in 1970.
- Jeanne Batalova, Brittany Blizzard, and Jessica Bolter; “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States”, ‘’Migrationpolicy.org’’, (Feb 14, 2020)
- The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants resided in the United States in 2016. About half of all unauthorized immigrants resided in three states: California (27 percent), Texas (14 percent), and New York (8 percent). The vast majority (82 percent) lived in 174 counties with 10,000 or more unauthorized immigrants each, of which the top five—Los Angeles County, CA; Harris County, TX; Cook County, IL; Orange County, CA; and Queens County, NY—accounted for 20 percent of all unauthorized immigrants.
- 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.
- Representatives from the resettlement agencies meet frequently to review the biographic information and other case records sent by the Department of State’s overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSC), seeking to match the particular needs of each incoming refugee with the specific resources available in U.S. communities. Through this process, they determine which resettlement agency will sponsor and where each refugee will be initially resettled in the United States.
Many refugees have family or close friends already in the United States, and resettlement agencies make every effort to reunite them. Others are placed where they have the best opportunity for success through employment with the assistance of strong community services. Agencies place refugees through a network of approximately 200 local affiliates operating in communities throughout the United States. Through its local affiliates, each agency monitors the resources that each community offers (e.g., interpreters who speak various languages, the size and special features of available housing, the availability of schools with special services, medical care, English classes, employment services, etc.).
- Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, “Reception and Placement”, USA.gov
- “These regulations are the final nail in the coffin of ever-increasing barriers to access asylum. If enacted, the rule would treat asylum seekers as nothing more than a nuisance unworthy of consideration or care,” said Richard Caldarone, Tahirih Litigation Counsel. “It would complete the transformation of immigration courts into conveyor belts in a deportation machine that rapidly returns people to violence, torture, and death without the slightest regard for their humanity. The Tahirih Justice Center intends to challenge the rule by any and all possible means.”
- Richard Caldarone as quoted by Tahirih in “Tahirih Condemns New Proposed Regulations That Aim to End Asylum”, (June 10th, 2020)
- 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.
- 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.
- Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent National Guard troops to the border when they were in the White House. And throughout the history of the borderlands, the military or armed militias have been dispatched there to keep black slaves from fleeing, remove Native Americans from ancestral lands and suppress Mexican-American revolts stemming from anger over white mob violence.
- 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.
- “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.”
- Jeff Daniels, “Immigrants are afraid of President Trump’s crackdown, making it harder to prosecute crimes, ACLU report says”, CNBC, (May 4 2018)
- The report — “Freezing Out Justice: How Immigration Arrests at Courthouses Are Undermining the Justice System ” — found 67 percent of police officers surveyed reported that immigrants’ fear affected their ability to protect survivors of crime. Sixty-four percent indicated there was “an adverse impact on officer safety.”
- Jeff Daniels, “Immigrants are afraid of President Trump’s crackdown, making it harder to prosecute crimes, ACLU report says”, CNBC, (May 4 2018)
- Immigrants comprise almost 14 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 44 million people out of a total of about 327 million, according to the Census Bureau. Together, immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up about 28 percent of U.S. inhabitants. The figure represents a steady rise from 1970, when there were fewer than ten million immigrants in the United States. But there are proportionally fewer immigrants today than in 1890, when foreign-born residents comprised 15 percent of the population. Mexico is the most common country of origin for U.S. immigrants—constituting 25 percent of the immigrant population—but the proportion of immigrants from South and East Asia—who number about 27 percent—is on the rise.
- Claire Felter, Danielle Renwick, and Amelia Cheatham; “The U.S. Immigration Debate”, (June 23, 2020)
- 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.
- George Friedman, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, pp. 224–225, Doubleday
- 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.
- Sabrina Danielsen, Creating the Litmus Test: Abortion, Mainline Protestants, and the Rise of the Religious Right, “University of Pennsylvania”], (1-1-2014), p.6
- While 53 percent of unauthorized immigrants are from Mexico, the remainder are from a diverse set of countries. The other top countries of origin are El Salvador, Guatemala, China (including Hong Kong), and Honduras. Mexico was the top origin of the unauthorized population in 36 of the 41 states for which more detailed analysis could be done. In Rhode Island, however, Guatemala was the leading country, in Hawaii the Philippines was the leading source, and El Salvador was the top origin in Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.
In most states, the second most common origin was a country from the Northern Triangle of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras (see Figure 1). Several states in the Midwest and Northeast had China or India as the second-most common origin.
- Julia Gelatt and Jie Zong; ”SETTLING IN: A Profile of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population in the United States”, (November 2018), p.1
- 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.
- Emily Green, “Trump's Asylum Policies Sent Him Back to Mexico. He Was Kidnapped 5 Hours Later by a Cartel.”, “VICE”, (September 16, 2020)
- 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.
- Emily Green, “Trump's Asylum Policies Sent Him Back to Mexico. He Was Kidnapped 5 Hours Later by a Cartel.”, “VICE”, (September 16, 2020)
- “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.”
- Human Rights First, “Human Rights First Publishes Running Database of Attacks on Asylum Seekers Under MPP”, (November 21, 2019)
- “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.”
- Human Rights First, “Human Rights First Publishes Running Database of Attacks on Asylum Seekers Under MPP”, (November 21, 2019)
- 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.
- Human Rights First, “Delivered to Danger”, (Last updated Dec. 15)
- 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.
- Human Rights First, “Delivered to Danger”, (Last updated Dec. 15)
- 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".
- Rama Issa as quoted in BBC, “Trump travel ban: Who counts as a 'bona fide' relative?”, (14 July 2017)
- For, whenever the poor immigrant is fleeced by rogues, his judgment is impaired, his energy is diminished, and in general that moral elasticity lost which he needs more than ever to start well in a strange land; and thus a heavy injury is inflicted on his adopted country, which, instead of self-relying, independent men, receives individuals who are broken in spirit, ...useless, [and] ...burdensome to themselves and to others.
- FRIEDRICH KAPP, IMMIGRATION AND THE COMMISSIONERS OF EMIGRATION 85 (Amo Press &N.Y. Times 1969) (1870), p.160
- Though the political movement collapsed, the anti-immigrant nativism of the Know Nothings never really went away. Even during the Civil War, when all other issues were subsumed, the passions stirred by the Know Nothings were never far from the surface. The New York Draft Riots of 1863 were in part an uprising of Irish immigrants after years of discrimination, with African-Americans bearing the brunt of their rage. After the Civil War, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned all immigration for 20 years. Those currents also worked their way into the Populist and Progressive movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, which ultimately became a prominent strain of both parties, the Republicans under Teddy Roosevelt and the Democrats during the Woodrow Wilson years.
- Zachary Karabell, “Here’s What Happens to a Conspiracy-Driven Party”, “Politico”, (01/30/2021)
- 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.
- Immigration has had a long history in the United States. For the most part, however, it was seldom treated dispassionately even when an attempt was made only to ascertain the pertinent facts and their reliability. Books and innumerable articles were written to "prove" that immigration did not contribute to the population growth of this country because immigration depressed the fertility rate of the native population: that immigration, if it continued, would result in race suicide of the Nordic element; that immigration was a threat to "American" institutions, etc. For this reason much of the literature on the subject is almost worthless.
- Simon Kuznets and Ernest Rubin (1954:87)
- 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.
- During the mid-1800s, the nation welcome the first wave of large-scale immigration from Europe since the Revoltuion. Prompted by war, famine, and political disruption, and tied to both cheap land in the West and a growing industrial capability in the Northeast, these immigrants, primarily from Ireland and Germany, were largely Roman Catholic. To many native born Americans, such an influx brought with it societal strain and challenge, and also religious tension. The Reformation divide between Protestants and Catholics was still very much alive, and the early nineteenth century witnessed a wave of anti-Catholicism, which included riots and bloodshed. These events helped bolster both Catholic and Protestant identity, each largely independent of the other.
- Jason S. Lantzer, “Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith”, ch.2 “Building the New Jerusalem: The High Tide of the Seven Sisters”, p. 28
- 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.
- Jason S. Lantzer, “Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith”, ch.2 “Building the New Jerusalem: The High Tide of the Seven Sisters”, p. 36
- 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.
- Michael T. Light, Jingying He, and Jason P. Robey; “Comparing crime rates between undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, and native-born US citizens in Texas”, PNAS, December 22, 2020 117 (51) 32340-32347; first published December 7, 2020
- 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.
- Michael T. Light, Jingying He, and Jason P. Robey; “Comparing crime rates between undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, and native-born US citizens in Texas”, PNAS, December 22, 2020 117 (51) 32340-32347; first published December 7, 2020
- 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.
- Nearly 70,000 foreigners arrive in the United States every day. Most of these travelers are visitors, not settlers. More than 60,000 are tourists, business people, students, or foreign workers who are welcomed at airports and border crossings. About 2,200 daily arrivals are immigrants or refugees who have been invited to become permanent residents of the United States. Finally, about 5,000 foreigners make unauthorized entries each day. About 4,000 of them are apprehended just after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. But nearly 1,000 elude detection, or slip from legal to illegal status by violating the terms of their visas. Many will remain, while others will return to their home countries.
- Philip Martin, Elizabeth Midgley, “Immigration to the United States”, Population Reference Bureau, Population Bulletin, vol. 54, no. 2, (June 1, 1999)
- At the end of the 20th century, immigration is as contentious an issue as it was at the century’s beginning. Opinions about immigration generally lie between two extreme views: “no immigrants” and “open borders.” The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), for example, favors severely reducing U.S. immigration. FAIR charges that immigration contributes to excessive population growth and environmental degradation, displaces low-skilled American workers, depresses average wage levels, and threatens the cultural bonds that hold Americans together. FAIR calls for a stop to most immigration for several years to allow recent arrivals and Americans time to adjust to one another. Minimal immigration of 200,000 to 300,000 a year would be allowed during the adjustment period.
The Wall Street Journal, the leading U.S. newspaper for the business world, exemplifies the other side of the immigration debate. The Journal advocated a five-word constitutional amendment: “there shall be open borders”—in a 1990 editorial. Wall Street Journal editorials often cite the benefits of immigration for the U.S. economy and labor force—more people mean more consumers and more workers, which helps the economy grow.
Groups such as the Organization of Chinese Americans and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center favor immigration from particular countries or regions. The Catholic Church and some other religious organizations oppose immigration controls because they believe that national borders artificially divide humanity. Other people and groups support continued immigration as a defining part of the American national identity.
- Philip Martin, Elizabeth Midgley, “Immigration to the United States”, Population Reference Bureau, Population Bulletin, vol. 54, no. 2, (June 1, 1999)
- The United States is a nation of immigrants, as reflected in its motto e pluribus unum—”from many, one.” U.S. presidents frequently remind native-born Americans that their forebears left another country to begin anew in the United States. Immigration permits individuals to better themselves financially. Many believe that it also strengthens the United States. The Commission on Immigration Reform, established by Congress, reflected a widely shared American opinion when it asserted in 1997 that “a properly regulated system of legal immigration is in the national interest of the United States.”
- "As we have seen time and time again over the last four years, this President is attempting to rewrite our immigration laws in direct contravention of duly enacted statutes and clear congressional intent," Nadler and Lofgren said in statement. "In this historic moment, preserving the rule of law and nation's long tradition of asylum-seeking is crucial. We can and must continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom across the world."
- Jerrold Nadler, and Zoe Lofgren; as quoted in Laurel Wamsley, John Burnett; “Trump Administration Proposes Rules To Sharply Restrict Asylum Claims, NPR, (June 11, 2020)
- Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney who has been representing migrants in the Matamoros camps, said that no one has been allowed to cross the border amid the pandemic, even people who need medical attention and who have health conditions that put them at a high risk of complications from the virus. Even so, most migrants have chosen to continue to wait in Mexico. There have been a small number of people who have returned to their home countries voluntarily, but for many, going back would mean risking their lives.
The vast majority of them come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, collectively known as Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” where rampant crime, violence, and corruption has driven hundreds of thousands to flee in recent years. In those countries, migrants are commonly robbed, kidnapped for ransom, raped, tortured, and killed.
“90 percent of the people we are treating as patients are people who are fleeing the exact same kinds of violence as ISIS,” said Helen Perry, the executive director of Global Response Management, a health care nonprofit administering services in the Matamoros camps. “If the option is you stay here and live in your tent until you have exhausted all hope, or you go home and get your head cut off — the reality is that they don’t want to leave.”
- Nicole Narea, “The US has abandoned asylum seekers in Mexico during the pandemic”, Vox, (May 13, 2020)
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Office of Inspector General , “Special Review: Initial Observations Regarding Family Separation Issues Under the Zero Tolerance Policy”, “Department of Homeland Security”, pp.2-3, (September 27, 2018)
- [U]naccompanied minors are usually kept in shelters, where immigration attorneys can find them and try and help them. But by citing public health concerns, the government’s instead been quietly keeping kids in hotels supervised by private contractors. And the rare glimpses that we’ve gotten of this have been absolutely chilling.
- John Oliver, “Border Patrol”, “Late Night With John Oliver”, (HBO), (Aug 6, 2017)
- Perhaps the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades will be the arrival of future immigrants. The number of working-age immigrants is projected to increase from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035, with new immigrant arrivals accounting for all of that gain. (The number of current immigrants of working age is projected to decline as some will turn 65, while others are projected to leave the country or die.) Without these new arrivals, the number of immigrants of working age would decline by 17.6 million by 2035, as would the total projected U.S. working-age population, which would fall to 165.6 million.
- Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn; “Immigration projected to drive growth in U.S. working-age population through at least 2035”, PEW Research, (March 8, 2017)
- 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.
- “The new regulations aim to end asylum, but the harm does not stop there,” said Archi Pyati, Tahirih Chief of Policy and Communications. “This is part of a targeted attack on immigrant communities and a culmination of racist and xenophobic policies that have built an invisible wall at our borders and sown divisions among us. They have undermined our nation’s obligations to the international community and stripped us of the oneness of our humanity.”
- Archi Pyati as quoted by Tahirih in “Tahirih Condemns New Proposed Regulations That Aim to End Asylum”, (June 10th, 2020)
- 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.
- 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, message to the U.S. Congress (1905). As quoted in The Business of Transatlantic Migration between Europe and the United States, 1900–1914 (2012), by Drew Keeling, p. 161.
- Does the security environment affect immigration and border policies among advanced industrial states? The tragic events of September 11, 2001, made the connection between international migration and security quite clear: all 19 of the terrorists exploited loopholes in existing laws to infiltrate the United States. Less recognized is the fact that international migration has had significant implications for security long before 9/11-a process inherently linked to the multiple facets of security in an age of rapid globalization. Understanding the politics of international migration and border control policies not only is important in terms of national security and economic growth among advanced industrial countries but reveals changing conceptions of sovereignty and the role of the state in policy development.
- Christopher Rudolph, “Security and the Political Economy of International Migration”, “The American Political Science Review”, Vol. 97, No. 4 (Nov., 2003), p.603
- This is a disgrace. No child should go hungry in the United States of America. My first executive orders will be to reverse every single thing President Trump has done to demonize and harm immigrants.
- Bernie Sanders about a report on the immigration policy of Donald Trump, as quoted in If Elected in 2020, Bernie Sanders Vows First Executive Orders Will 'Reverse Every Single Thing President Trump Has Done to Demonize and Harm Immigrants' by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, June 29, 2019.
- What he [Donald Trump] is doing and this is his entire political strategy is to divide the American people... you have a president who gives tax breaks to billionaires... wants to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security... tried to throw 32 million people off health care... gave 83 percent of the tax benefits to the top one percent... So how do you win... What do you say — You see those undocumented people, they are your enemy. 'Stand with me. Hate them. Let's divide this country up.'
- 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.
- John Oliver, “Family Separation”, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, HBO, (Nov 5, 2018)
- The peopling of America considered as a means of relieving pressure of population in Europe. The two grand themes of American history are, properly, the influence of immigration upon American life and institutions, and the influence of the American environment upon the ever changing composite population. The first voyage of Columbus, an Italian, with a crew of Spaniards an Irishman, an Englishman, and an Israelite, prefigured the subsequent movement. Even the people of the thirteen English colonies were a mixture of racial breeds. While the religious motive has been stressed in the history of American colonization, the economic urge sent scores of thousands. Jamestown, the Penn Colony typical, not solitary. Desire to be rid of criminals and paupers accounts for other streams of emigration, perhaps to the extent of one-half the white emigrants during the larger part of the colonial period. Franklin deplored the arrival of Germans in Pennsylvania-“generally the most stupid of their own nation.”
- Arthur Meier Schlesinger, “The Significance of Immigration in American History”, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jul., 1921), pp. 71-85
- 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."
- Naureen Shah, as quoted in BBC, “Trump travel ban: Who counts as a 'bona fide' relative?”, (14 July 2017)
- 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, released 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.”
- Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “Most Migrants at Border With Mexico Would Be Denied Asylum Protections Under New Trump Rule”, New York Times, (July 15, 2019)
- 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.
- Kevin McAleenan as quoted in Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “Most Migrants at Border With Mexico Would Be Denied Asylum Protections Under New Trump Rule”, New York Times, (July 15, 2019)
- We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity today. We exploit variation in the extent of immigration across counties arising from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and the gradual expansion of the railway network across the United States. We find that locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.
- Sandra Sequeira, Nathan Nunn, Nancy Qian; “GRANTS AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA:THE SHORT- AND LONG-RUN EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION DURING THE AGE OF MASS MIGRATION”, National Bureau of Economic Research (March 2017)
- 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.
- Michael D. Shear, Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “What Will Trump’s Tough New Asylum Policy Mean for Migrants on the Border?”, (April 17, 2019)
- 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.
- Michael D. Shear, Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “What Will Trump’s Tough New Asylum Policy Mean for Migrants on the Border?”, (April 17, 2019)
- 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 administration’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, released 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.”
- Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, “Most Migrants at Border With Mexico Would Be Denied Asylum Protections Under New Trump Rule”, “New York Times”, (July 15, 2019)
- 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.
- Audrey Singer, “Immigration: Alternatives to Detention”, Congressional Research Services, (Jul 8, 2019), p.2
- 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.
- Audrey Singer, “Immigration: Alternatives to Detention”, Congressional Research Services, (Jul 8, 2019), p.5
- Today, the administration proposed regulations that aim to overturn U.S. asylum law, making it effectively impossible for people fleeing persecution to obtain protection in the United States. If implemented, the rule would eliminate gender-based asylum—shutting the door to anyone fleeing life-threatening persecution due to their gender, while undoing decades of legal precedent. Women fleeing rape and severe domestic violence, LGBTQ+ individuals facing deadly attacks, and those escaping other fatal gender-based harms will no longer be allowed to seek safety within our borders if the regulations take effect.
- Tahirih, “Tahirih Condemns New Proposed Regulations That Aim to End Asylum”, (June 10th, 2020)
- The administration’s proposed regulations are an assault on the fundamental right to seek asylum. If fully implemented, they will gut years of progress in the U.S. to create bridges to safety for so many whose governments could not and would not protect them from severe harm and even death. Moreover, these regulations specifically endanger and target survivors of gender-based violence and will make it all but impossible for them to achieve justice.
- Tahirih, “Tahirih Condemns New Proposed Regulations That Aim to End Asylum”, (June 10th, 2020)
- Can anything fall more directly within the police power and internal regulation of state, than that which concerns the care and management of paupers or convicts or any other class or description of persons that may be thrown into the country, and likely to endanger its safety, or become chargeable for their maintenance?...[I]f all power to guard against these mischiefs is taken away, the safety and welfare of the community may be very much endangered.
- Justice Thompson, Mayor of New York v. Miln, 36 U.S. 102 (1837). p.147
- 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.
- TRAC Immigration, “Immigration Court Backlog Surpasses One Million Cases”
- 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 Immigration, “Immigration Judges”, (July 31, 2006)
- 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.
- TRAC Immigration, “Immigration Judges”, (July 31, 2006)
- It's our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.
- Donald Trump. Immigration speech (31 August 2016), quoted in "Donald Trump delivers immigration speech after meeting with Mexican president" by CNN Wire, Fox 59.
- Note: While there are no rules prohibiting pregnant visitors from entering the United States, doing so to give birth is prohibited. A CBP officer will consider your pregnancy when deciding on your admission.
- USA.gov, “How to Enter the U.S.“
- 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.
- United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees; “Asylum: Variation Exists in Outcomes of Applications Across Immigration Courts and Judges”, Nov 14, 2016.
- [N]o one can surely be enough of an optimist to contemplate without dread the fast rising flood of immigration now setting in upon our shores. …[T]he immigration of the present time … is tending to bring to us no longer the more alert and enterprising members of their respective communities, but rather the unlucky, the thriftless, the worthless. … There is no reason why every stagnant pool of European population, representing the utterest failures of civilization, the worst defeats in the struggle for existence, the lowest degradation of human nature, should not be completely drained off into the United States. So long as any difference of economic conditions remains in our favor, so long as the least reason appears for the miserable, the broken, the corrupt, the abject, to think that they might be better off here than there, if not in the workshop, then in the workhouse, these Huns, and Poles, and Bohemians, and Russian Jews, and South Italians will continue to come, and to come by millions.
- Francis Walker 1891, as quoted in Handlin, 1959:73–74).
- 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.
- Richard D. Wolff on Donald Trump, Wolff responds to Trump's "State of the Union" address, (6 February 2019)
- 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.
“Immigration in American Economic History” (2017 Dec)
Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan; “Immigration in American Economic History”, J Econ Lit. 2017 Dec; 55(4): 1311–1345.
- Reviewing the historical and contemporary evidence side by side yields a number of insights. First, the nature of migration selection appears to have changed over time. Whereas, in the past, migrant selection patterns were mixed, with some migrants positively and others negatively selected from their home countries on the basis of skill, migrants today are primarily positively selected from source country populations, at least on observable characteristics. The rise in income inequality in the US can help explain the increasingly positive selection of immigrants seeking to take advantage of the high returns to skill in the US. But the fact that recent immigrants are not negatively selected – even from destinations that are more unequal than the US, as would be predicted by the classic Roy model of self-selection – may be explained by the growing selectivity of US immigration policy over time, or by rising costs of (often undocumented) entry due to strict immigration restrictions.
- [B]oth in the past and today, the evidence is not consistent with the common perception of the “American dream,” whereby immigrants arrived penniless and eventually caught up with US natives. Long-term immigrants in both periods have experienced occupational or earnings growth at around the same pace as natives. As a result, immigrants who held lower-paid occupations than natives upon arrival to the US did not catch up with natives over a single generation. The major difference between the past and present is that, circa 1900, typical long-term immigrants held occupations similar to the native born, even upon first arrival, whereas today the average immigrant earns less than natives upon arrival to the US. Smaller earnings gaps in the past are consistent with the fact that immigrants primarily hailed from European countries that, though poorer than the US, were not as dissimilar in development to the US as are sending countries like Mexico and China today. However, there was a substantial degree of heterogeneity in immigrants' skills and earnings across sending countries, including some immigrant groups that out-earn natives from the outset. We also argue that, when evaluating the pace of immigrant assimilation, methods matter. Studies based on cross-sectional data, which are less well-suited to studying assimilation than are panel data, often provide an overly-optimistic sense of immigrant convergence.
- Both then and now, immigrants appear to reduce the wages of some natives, but the evidence does not support the view that, on net, immigrants have negative effects on the US economy. Instead, new arrivals creates winners and losers in the native population and among existing immigrant workers, reducing the wages of low-skilled natives, encouraging some native born to move away from immigrant gateway cities, and spurring capital investment; in the past, these investments took the form of new factories geared toward mass production.
- The history of immigration to the United States has been shaped both by changes in the underlying costs and benefits of migration as well as by substantial shifts in immigration policy. The high cost of crossing the Atlantic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gave rise to a long period of indentured immigration (c. 1600-1800). With revolutions in shipping technology and a growing reliance on a network of migrant finance, migration costs declined in the mid-nineteenth century, ushering in a sustained Age of Mass Migration from Europe (1850-1920). This period ended with the imposition of a literacy test for entry in 1917 and strict immigration quotas in 1921, which were modified (although not eliminated) in 1965. Most recently, the relaxation of immigration quotas has allowed for a period of constrained mass migration, primarily from Asia and Latin America.
The rise of mass migration was associated with the shift from sail to steam technology in the mid-nineteenth century, and a corresponding decline in the time of trans-Atlantic passage. As travel costs fell and migrant networks expanded from 1800 to 1850, the number of unencumbered immigrants entering the US increased substantially. Annual in-migration rose from less than one per 1,000 residents in 1820 to 15 per 1,000 residents by 1850. Throughout the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920), about 55 million immigrants left Europe, with the US absorbing nearly 30 million of these arrivals (Hatton and Williamson, 1998, p. 7). As a result, the foreign-born share of the population rose from 10 percent in 1850 to 14 percent in 1870, where it remained until 1920.
- Alongside this growth in migrant numbers, falling migration costs also facilitated a shift in the typical mix of sending countries towards poorer countries on the European periphery. In 1850, over 90 percent of the migrant stock hailed from Northern and Western Europe, particularly from the Great Britain, Ireland and Germany. The share of migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe began to rise in 1890; by 1920, 45 percent of the migrant stock was from the “old” sending countries, while 41 percent was from the “new” regions. Immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were, on average, younger, more likely to be male and unmarried, and less likely to settle permanently in the US (Hatton and Williamson, 1998, p.11, 101-102). According to official statistics on return migration, first collected in 1908, around 30 percent of European migrants returned to their home country (Gould, 1980; Wyman, 1996); recent work by Bandiera, Rasul, Viarengo (2013) suggests that the return rates from certain countries may have been much higher.
- Rising migrant numbers and, especially, the shift towards new sending countries contributed to the growing political pressure to restrict immigrant inflows. Congress convened the Dillingham Commission in 1907 to study the effect of immigration on the US economy and society. The Commission's report, published in 1911, advocated for a set of additional regulations, including limits on the number of immigrant arrivals, quotas by county-of-origin, and restrictions against immigrants who were illiterate or penurious. All but the wealth requirement were passed over the next decade and the era of open borders came to an end.
A literacy test for entry into the US was passed over President Wilson's veto in 1917. In 1921 (amended in 1924), a set of country-specific immigration quotas were imposed. From over a million annual entrants in the late 1910s, immigrant arrivals were capped at 150,000 by 1924. Allocation of quota slots was based on the size of migrant stocks from each country of origin in 1890 (King, 2000, p. 199-217). This early benchmark favored countries in Northern and Western Europe, especially the UK, over the “new” sending countries from Southern and Eastern Europe. Support for immigration restriction was based on concerns about labor market competition, as well as xenophobia and antipathy toward new immigrant arrivals (Goldin, 1994). A shift in the southern vote away from open immigration was decisive in allowing Congress to override the presidential veto.
- Indeed, as a basic Roy model would predict, historical evidence suggests that migration from Western Europe to the US was neutrally selected. Passenger lists of emigrants leaving the German region of Hesse-Cassel in the 1850s reveal that mid-skill level artisans were overrepresented in the migrant flow, as opposed to poor laborers or rich farmers (Wegge, 2002). British immigrants in the 1860s and 1870s were also more likely to have been raised by a father in a semi-skilled profession, as opposed to by an unskilled or white collar father; Long and Ferrie (2013b) observe this pattern in Census data matched between the US and the UK.
In contrast, migrants to the US from countries in the European periphery (including Ireland, Norway and Italy) appear to have been negatively selected. Irish migrants from the pre-famine and famine periods held lower-paid occupations than men who remained at home and were more likely to report a round-numbered age; such age heaping is often used as a proxy for a lack of numeracy (Mokyr and Ó Gráda, 1982; Cohn, 1995). Norwegian migrants in a linked Census sample were more likely than non-migrants to be raised by fathers who did not own land and who held lower-paid occupations (Abramitzky, Boustan and Eriksson, 2012). Abramitzky, et al. also find a higher return to migration within pairs of brothers than in the population as a whole, suggesting that naïve estimates of the return to migration are biased downward by negative selection for men leaving urban areas. Spitzer and Zimran (2014) compare the stature of Italian migrants entering the US – logged in Ellis Island arrival records – with the stature of Italian males conscripted into the armed forces as a proxy for childhood health conditions. Migrants were negatively selected on the basis of height from the overall Italian population, due entirely to higher migration rates from the poorer southern provinces.
- Unlike in the past, recent empirical evidence on migrant selection to the US appears to be at odds with predictions from the basic Roy model. In particular, migrants to the US from many sending countries appear to be positively selected in their education and other observable skills, regardless of the differentials in returns to skill between destination and source (Jasso, et al., 2004; Feliciano, 2005; Kennedy, et al., 2006; Grogger and Hanson, 2011).
The case of Mexican immigrants has been analyzed most closely. A high level of income inequality in Mexico suggests that the migrant flow out of Mexico should be negatively selected. Instead, early work found that migrants were drawn from the middle of the educational distribution (Chiquiar and Hanson, 2005; Orrenius and Zavodny, 2005). More recent work based on Mexican panel data finds some evidence of negative selection from Mexico, in the sense that migrants earned less than non-migrants in the period before their trip (see Fernandez-Huertas Moraga, 2011; Ambrosini and Peri, 2012; Kaestner and Malamud, 2013). Differences in the two sets of studies could be due to under-enumeration of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the US Census (Ibarraran and Lubotsky, 2007) or to differential selection patterns by observed skill (education) versus labor market productivity (wages).
- The role of migration costs in generating positive selection need not imply that the poor are priced out of migration because of a lack of credit or financing for their trip. Both in the past and the present, there is evidence that immigrant networks can alleviate such financial constraints. Wegge (1998) compares “networked” migrants in 1850s Germany who shared a surname with other migrants from their village with their “non-networked” counterparts. Networked migrants held substantially less wealth at departure, suggesting that migrant networks served as an effective substitute for self-financing. In Norway in 1900, where mass migration was already underway, individual wealth was a deterrent to (rather than a facilitator of) migration (Abramitzky, Boustan and Eriksson, 2013). Men who grew up in households with assets, particularly those who could expect to inherit their family's land by virtue of birth order and sibling composition, were less likely than others to migrate. A similar pattern holds today: Mexican migrants from communities with strong migration networks are less wealthy than are migrants from communities with weak migration networks (McKenzie and Rapoport, 2007, 2010).
- Much of the contemporary literature on immigrant assimilation has been focused on solving methodological issues in order to properly measure changes in immigrant earnings with time spent in the US. In early work on this topic, Chiswick (1978) found that immigrants in the 1970 Census earned less than natives upon first arrival, but rapidly caught up and were able to overtake natives after spending 15-20 years in the US. A declining earnings gap between immigrants and natives with time spent in the US may reflect immigrants' earnings growth, but may also be driven by declining skill levels of immigrants across arrival cohorts and negatively-selected return migration. By following immigrant arrival cohorts across Census waves, Borjas (1985) documents that around half of the convergence observed in a single cross section can be attributed to declining skills across arrival cohorts. The extent of convergence is smaller yet in panel datasets that follow individual immigrants over time, thereby controlling for selective return migration (Lubotsky, 2007).
- Earnings patterns also vary by immigrant country of origin. Mexican immigrants earned less than natives in every year since 1910 and this disparity has increased over time, reaching a 40 percent earnings disadvantage by 1990 (Feliciano, 2001). Some of the decline in relative earnings for Mexican immigrants can be attributed to a widening gap in educational attainment with the native born. Furthermore, Hispanic immigrants experience slower-than-average rates of earnings convergence with natives, suggesting that the earnings gap is likely to persist over at least one generation (Lubotsky, 2007). In contrast, Chinese and Japanese immigrants enjoyed similar labor market outcomes to natives in the 1970 Census (Chiswick, 1983). More recent evidence suggests that first generation Asian immigrants fare worse than comparable whites but that this difference vanishes in the second generation (Duleep and Sanders, 2012; Arabsheibani and Wang, 2010).
Less is known about the earnings assimilation of highly educated immigrants who work in the high-tech industry or pursue graduate degrees and stay in the US upon graduation. Parey, et al. (2015) show that German college graduates who settle in the US relative to other destination areas are positively selected, consistent with predictions from the Roy model. Even among this positively selected pool, the most successful of US-educated foreign PhDs tend to remain in the US (Grogger and Hanson, 2015). Highly-skilled immigrants are more likely to start companies than natives with a similar degree of education, and they tend to earn higher wages, and to patent and publish more (Hunt, 2011), although these outcomes depend on country of origin.
- In the past, immigrant parents appear to have learned English from their children, who are more adept at learning languages, but current immigrants are more likely to rely on their children to navigate the English-speaking world (Kuziemko and Ferrie, 2014; Kuziemko, 2014). School curriculum can influence children's ability to learn English. Some states passed laws in the 1910s and 1920s requiring that public school classes be taught in English only. Lleras-Muney and Shertzer (2015) find that this language policy had modest effects on the literacy of children of non-English speaking parents.
Choosing a labor market or a neighborhood with greater access to employment offers another opportunity for immigrants to increase their earnings potential. Upon first arrival, many immigrants settle in ethnic enclaves. Immigrant-native residential segregation remained stable and modest from 1910 to 1950, with a dissimilarity index of around 40; thereafter, segregation between immigrants and natives rose (dissimilarity = 55 in 2000) (Cutler, Glaeser and Vigdor, 2008). In theory, living in an enclave could enhance employment opportunities if immigrants receive job referrals or other assistance from their compatriots (Munshi, 2003; LaFortune and Tessada, 2012). However, immigrant neighborhoods could also limit employment opportunities if residents are isolated from information about the broader labor market. In that case, moving to a more integrated neighborhood could be a form of labor market investment. To our knowledge, economic historians have not studied how residential segregation affected the labor market outcomes of immigrants in the past. Contemporary data suggest that immigrants who choose to live in immigrant neighborhoods have lower earnings capacity but that, correcting for this selection, living in an enclave can improve labor market performance.
- Investments in US-specific skills may have a limited effect on earnings growth if immigrants face discrimination in the labor market. However, in this case, immigrants may be able to mitigate discrimination by changing their self-presentation to de-emphasize their foreign roots. Immigrants change their own names and choose less foreign names for their children as they spend more time in the US (Carneiro, Lee and Reis, 2015; Abramitzky, Boustan and Eriksson, 2016). Biavaschi, Giulietti and Siddique (2013) find that immigrants who changed their names between filing their first and second papers for naturalization in the 1920s experienced more occupational upgrading, perhaps because Americanized names shielded them from discrimination. Likewise, children of immigrants who received less foreign-sounding names enjoyed better labor market outcomes, even after controlling for other aspects of family background (Abramitzky, Boustan and Eriksson, 2016; Goldstein and Stecklov, 2015).
- A series of early empirical papers found negligible effects of immigration on native wages, in seeming contrast to predictions from a simple model, in which immigration lowers the capital-to-labor ratio in the short run, reducing wages for native workers (Card, 1990; Altonji and Card, 1991; Card, 2001). This unexpectedly small effect of immigration on native wages has generated a long and still unresolved debate in the contemporary literature.
- Early work on the effeodifications to the empirical methodology or adjustments to the underlying economic model. The first studies on this topic relied on variation in the flow of immigrants into metropolitan areas. Geographic variation can understate the true effect of immigration if immigrants choose to settle in areas that experience positive labor demand shocks or if immigrant arrivals encourage similarly-skilled natives to move elsewhere. Borjas (2003) analyzed the effect of immigration on national skill groups instead and found a sizeable negative effect of immigration on native workers. Examples of papers that propose modifications to the standard model include Lewis (2011), which argues that cities with larger inflows of unskilled immigrants were slower to adopt labor-saving technologies, thereby preserving the demand for low-skilled workers; Ottaviano and Peri (NBER version in 2006, published in 2012), which suggests that immigrants and natives are somewhat imperfectly substitutable in production, even within skill categories; and Peri and Sparber (2009), which contends that immigration increases total factor productivity by facilitating specialization across tasks (see also Peri (2012) and Ottaviano, Peri and Wright (2013)). The contemporary literature on the effect of immigration on the US economy is too large for us to cover in full here; for recent surveys, see Hanson (2009) and Kerr and Kerr (2011).
- Given the greater substitutability between immigrants and natives in the past, we would expect to find larger effects of immigrant arrivals on native wages during the Age of Mass Migration. Indeed, historical immigration flows appear to have a larger effect on the wages and employment opportunities of native workers than those found in contemporary geographic studies (subject to the caveat of differences in outcome variables and research design). Using cross-city variation in migrant flows in the 1910s, Goldin (1994) estimates that a one percentage point increase in the foreign-born share of the population reduced the wages of unskilled laborers and artisans by around 1.5 percent, with larger effects in the tradeable sector (clothing manufacturing and foundries). Boustan, Fishback, and Kantor (2010) find that internal in-migration in the 1930s had no effect on the wages of local workers, but did reduce work opportunities and access to relief jobs, a pattern that is consistent with the presence of sticky wages during the Great Depression. They create an instrument for migrant arrivals that relies on “push factors” from sending labor markets, including New Deal generosity and extreme weather events.
- As in the present, immigration to cities encouraged native out-migration in the past, meriting some caution in the use of geographic variation to identify the effect of immigration on native wages. Hatton and Williamson (1998) estimate that over the 1880-1910 period, 40 natives left their state per each additional 100 immigrants, suggesting that immigrants partially crowded out the native labor force. Collins (1997) shows that cities that absorbed large numbers of European migrants had correspondingly low rates of black in-migration from the rural South, which also implies that native location decisions were responsive to the presence of immigrant workers.
- In the long-run, the effect of immigration on native wages is moderated by the pace of new capital investments. Historical immigration flows contributed to the transformation of American manufacturing from small-scale artisanal shops to large factories engaged in mass production (Hirschman and Mogford, 2009). Unskilled immigrants appear to have been complementary with investments in assembly-line machinery (LaFortune, Tessada and Lewis, 2014). Kim (2007) shows that firms in counties with a higher share foreign born in 1920 were larger, more productive, and more likely to be organized as factories; he uses the settlement pattern of immigrants in 1850, as well as distance from the port of New York, as instruments for the later immigrant share of the population. Yet, Hatton and Williamson (2006) argue that land was a more important input in production in the past and hence capital mobility was less effective in dampening the wage effects of migration.
Historical immigration was also associated with higher rates of both trade and innovation, which may have contributed to economic growth. Dunlevy and Hutchinson (1999) find that immigrants increased trade flows between the US and Europe in the early twentieth century, perhaps by providing information about and network connections to their home markets (see also O'Rourke and Williamson, 1999, chapter 13). Moser, Voena and Waldinger (2014) analyze one immigrant flow that would be particularly expected to increase innovation in the US economy: the arrival of Jewish scientists forced to flee from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. US patenting in categories associated with the dismissed scientists increased by 30 percent after 1933.
- US history is characterized by two episodes of mass in-migration, an era of unrestricted migrant arrivals from Europe (1850-1913) and a more recent period of constrained mass migration, primarily from Asia and Latin America (1965-present). Many of the same topics that concern the economics of immigration today – including migrant selection and assimilation and the effect of immigrant arrivals on native workers – were also relevant in the past. We argue that comparing the research findings across these two periods can illuminate contemporary debates.
In particular, our reading of the literature suggests that migrant selection, which is primarily positive today, was decidedly mixed in the past, with cases of negative migrant selection from some European sending countries. Changes in migrant selection over time are consistent with rising bureaucratic costs of migration, which may price out the poor, and with growing income inequality in the US, which would attract a higher-skilled set of immigrants. Upon arrival, the average long-term immigrant in the past held a similar set of occupations to the average native worker, and moved up the occupational ladder at the same pace. The pace of economic convergence between immigrants and natives was relatively slow in both the past and the present, with the notable difference that, today, the average immigrant starts out with a larger earnings gap to overcome (although there is substantial variation in initial earnings by sending country). It appears that historical estimates of the effect of immigrant arrivals on native wages are larger than comparable estimates for today, which may be due to the fact that, in the past, immigrants and natives held a similar set of skills. However, comparisons of these magnitudes over time are complicated by methodological differences, and could be improved with a new round of well-identified historical studies on the effect of immigration on labor markets.
“Immigrants and Families Appear in Court” (July 30, 2019)
American Immigration Council, “Immigrants and Families Appear in Court”, (July 30, 2019)
- 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.
- 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.
”Asylum in the United States” (June 11, 2020)
American Immigration Council, ”Asylum in the United States”, (June 11, 2020)
- 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.
”History of immigration, 1620-1783”, (11-01-2012)
Carl L. Bankston III, ”History of immigration, 1620-1783”, Immigrationtounitedstates.org,(11-01-2012)
- People from the north of England, Scotland, and northern Ireland made up much of the migration to the western frontier regions of the early American colonies, especially to the rugged mountainous areas. The northern Irish migrants were mainly Scotch-Irish, descendants of people from Scotland who had moved to Ireland in earlier centuries. Most of the Irish in America before the nineteenth century were actually Scotch-Irish.
Northern Irish migration peaked between the 1750’s and the early 1770’s, with an estimated 14,200 people from northern Ireland reaching America from 1750 to 1759, 21,200 from 1760 to 1769, and 13,200 in the half-decade leading up to the American Revolution. Most of the Scots migration took place from 1760 to 1775, when about 25,000 new arrivals came to the colonies. The counties of North England, bordering Scotland, experienced a series of crop failures that were especially severe in 1727, 1740, and 1770. Each of these crop failures resulted in famine that sent successive waves of immigrants to America. Together, the Scottish, Scotch-Irish, and North English immigrants probably made up 90 percent of the settlers in the back country of America. Arriving after the lands along the eastern coast had been taken, these hardy individuals made up the original American frontier folk.
- The most significant groups of European immigrants to the colonies of North America before the revolution came from the northern lands of Holland, Germany, and Sweden. The Dutch attempted to found their first colony during the late 1620’s, when Dutch trading interests established the colony of New Netherland, with New Amsterdam as its capital. During the mid-seventeenth century, officials in Holland began actively encouraging migration to their colony, so that the population of New Netherland grew from about 2,000 people in 1648 to about 10,000 in 1660. Only about half of these were actually Dutch, though, and the rest consisted mainly of Belgians. In 1664, the British seized New Netherland and changed its name to New York. People with Dutch names and ancestry continued to make up a small but important part of the New York population, particularly among the elite of the area.
- Swedes arrived on the northeastern coast in 1637 and founded a colony on Delaware Bay in 1638. Peter Minuit, a former director-general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland who had been born in the German state of Westphalia, led this initial Swedish settlement. New Sweden included areas of the modern states of New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware along the Delaware River. Tensions with New Netherland led to a Dutch takeover of New Sweden in 1654, but the Dutch continued to recognize the colony as a selfgoverning settlement of Swedes. In 1681, following the British takeover of all the northeastern lands, William Penn received a charter for Pennsylvania, ending the distinctly Swedish identity of the region.
- By the time the United States won its independence, Germans made up the largest national origin group in the country, aside from the groups stemming from the British Isles. In the year 1683, Dutch and German people in religious minorities purchased land in Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia, and founded Germantown. One of the largest migration waves from the lands of Germany began when Protestants from the Palatine area of Germany fled political disorder and economic hardship in their homeland in 1709. After making their way to Holland and then England, about 2,100 Palatine Germans reached America in 1710, settling mainly in New York.
During the early eighteenth century, other German colonists settled in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania, though, became the main center of German settlement, in part because the Quaker tradition of the state offered religious tolerance to German Lutherans, Mennonites, Amish, and other religious movements. Probably about half the Germans who arrived in Pennsylvania between 1725 and the American Revolution came as redemptioners, who paid for their passage by working for a certain number of years. In all, an estimated 84,500 Germans reached the thirteen American colonies between 1700 and 1775. After the revolution, an estimated 5,000 German mercenary soldiers, mostly from the state of Hesse, who had been fighting for the British and been taken prisoner by the Americans, remained in the new country.
- African immigration to North America dates back to the time of the first European arrivals. During the entire period of American colonial history, involuntary immigrants arrived as slaves from Africa, mainly West Africa. Between 1700 and 1775, an estimated 278,400 Africans reached the original thirteen colonies that became the United States.
Slave importation to the coastal states of the South grew rapidly during the late seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century because of the growth of the tobacco and rice economies. Imports of slaves to tobacco-growing Virginia reached 7,000 per decade for the 1670’s through the 1720’s and then nearly doubled to 13,500 per decade until the 1750’s. South Carolina, where rice had become an important crop, began importing slaves at about the same level as Virginia during the early eighteenth century and then increased to more than 20,000 during the 1720’s. While slave importation began to slow in Virginia during the later eighteenth century, it continued at about 17,000 per decade in South Carolina from the 1750’s to the 1790’s. By the time of the first U.S. Census in 1790, as a result of involuntary immigration and the increase of native-born slaves, people of African ancestry made up one-fifth of the American population.
“History of immigration, 1783-1891” (11-01-2012)
Carl L. Bankston III, “History of immigration, 1783-1891“, Immigrationtounitedstates.org,(11-01-2012)
- Until the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the new federal government was content to leave control over immigration policy to the individual states. The first major federal law to deal specifically with immigration—and not naturalization— was the Steerage Act of 1819.
- Congress did not move to impose federal controls over entry into the country until the second half of the nineteenth century. Several of the earliest federal immigration laws were directed against Chinese immigrants, who had begun arriving in the United States in significant numbers during the 1850’s.
- The first attempt to centralize control of immigration in general in the hands of the federal government came in 1864 with a law that authorized the president to appoint an immigration commissioner under the secretary of state. That law established provisions for contracts in which immigrants could be bound to use their wages to pay off the cost of their transportation to the United States. That law was repealed in 1868.
- In 1875, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws regulating immigration were unconstitutional because they were inconsistent with the exclusive power of the U.S. Congress to regulate foreign commerce. In March of that same year, Congress passed a law prohibiting the entry of classes of undesirable immigrants. Congress also made it illegal to transport Asian workers to the United States without their free consent, forbade contracts to supply Chinese “coolies,” and gave customs officials the duty of inspecting immigrants. This was followed by the Immigration Act of 1882, which set up state boards under the U.S. secretary of the Treasury as a way of controlling immigration. This law also added new categories of excluded undesirable immigrants and set a tax on new arrivals in the United States. The creation of the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration in the Department of the Treasury in 1891 and the designation of New York Harbor’s Ellis Island as the location for the first national immigrant reception center in 1890 began the modern, federally controlled period in American immigration history.
- The earliest decades of the new nation saw relatively little new immigration. During the 1780’s, while the nation was governed under the Articles of Confederation, the loosely joined states went through difficult economic times, and the future of the independent country seemed too insecure to encourage new immigration. However, even as the nation began settling into a more stable form after adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, immigration was still well below the levels it would later reach. Europe’s Napoleonic Wars, which lasted until 1815, and the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States made it difficult for emigrants to leave Europe. During the three-decade period between 1789—when the United States adopted its new Constitution and form of government— and 1820, fewer than 500,000 new immigrants arrived in the United States.
During that same period, the same political conditions that made leaving European more difficult also motivated some Europeans to emigrate. For example, during the 1790’s, English radicals and Irish opposed to English rule fled their homelands to America. The Revolution in France brought new French arrivals at the end of the eighteenth century. Other French-speaking immigrants fled slave uprisings in Haiti and other West Indies colonies around the same time. These French-speaking newcomers settled mainly in coastal cities, notably in Charleston, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, as well as in New Orleans, which became part of the United States in 1803 as a result of the Louisiana Purchase.
The most numerous non-English-speaking immigrants in the United States at the time of independence were Germans. Germans also constituted one of the significant immigrant groups at the opening of the nineteenth century. Many of those Germans came from what is now the southwestern part of Germany, which was then a poor area. Bad German harvests in 1816-1817 set in motion a flood of emigration out of that region. Although many of the emigrants moved east, to Russia, about 20,000 people from southwestern Germany came to America to escape famine.
- The year 1820 is the first year for which detailed immigration statistics for the United States are available, thanks to the Steerage Act of the previous year. During 1820, 8,385 immigrants arrived in the United States. Most, 43 percent, came from Ireland. The second-largest group, 29 percent, came from Great Britain. Hence, almost three-quarters of all immigrants who arrived in the United States during that year came from the British Isles alone. The next-largest groups came from the German states, France, and Canada. During the 1820’s, French immigrants moved ahead of Germans as the second-largest group after people from the British Isles. The second half of that decade also saw a steep rise in overall immigration, with the numbers of arrivals rising from slightly fewer than 8,000 in 1824 to more than 22,500 in 1829.
People from Ireland, who already constituted the greatest single immigrant group during the 1820’s, were drawn to the United States by both continuing poverty in their original homeland and the growing demand for labor in America. For example, New York State’s Erie Canal, which was under construction from 1818 to 1825, drew heavily on immigrant Irish labor. That project began a long history of Irish immigrant labor helping to build the American transportation infrastructure. The rapid commercial success of the Erie Canal stimulated the building of more canals in other parts of the country, increasing the need for immigrant labor.
- The rate of immigration quadrupled during the 1830’s, from a total of 143,439 arrivals between 1821 and 1830 to 599,125 between 1831 and 1840. New immigrants came from a wide variety of European countries, but most of the 1830’s expansion was driven by a dramatic growth in arrivals from Ireland (207,381) and Germany (152,454). New arrivals jumped suddenly from 22,633 in 1831 to 60,482 in 1832 and continued at levels roughly equal to that of 1832 through the rest of the decade.
The 1840’s saw yet another surge in the tide from Europe, with 1,713,251 newcomers reaching U.S. shores from 1841 to 1850. This figure was almost triple that of the 1830’s and twelve times that of the 1820’s. Once again, the most important sources of new immigrants were Ireland (780,719 people) and Germany (434,626). Next highest was the United Kingdom, with 267,044 immigrants. This wave of the 1840’s occurred mostly toward the end of the decade, with overall numbers rising from 78,615 in 1844 to 114,371 the following year, and reaching 297,024 in 1849.
- At the approach of the mid-nineteenth century, some immigrants were drawn by the availability of land in the vast reaches of North America. Economic development also offered opportunities beyond agriculture for newcomers. Industrialization created jobs in mills and as manual laborers in cities. The expansion of railroads was another major force attracting immigrant labor. In 1830, the United States had a total of only 23 miles of railroad tracks. Only one decade later, this figure had grown to 2,818 miles. It rose to 9,021 miles in 1850 and 30,626 miles in 1860. Immigrants from Ireland played a particularly significant role in laying new railroad tracks.
Economic hardships and political disorders in the sending countries also helped stimulate emigration to the United States. The most significant event was the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1851, which was caused by a devastating potato blight. Irish were already the most numerous immigrants, and the famine drove even more of them to leave their homeland in the hope of finding relief in North America. In the various German states—which would not be united under a single government until 1871—a wave of failed revolutions in 1848 created a flood of political refugees who swelled the ranks of German Americans.
- By the middle of the nineteenth century, first generation immigrants made up one-tenth of the total population of the United States. The 1850 U.S. Census showed that the United States— including Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, which were not yet states—was home to 2,240,581 foreign-born people. This figure constituted 10 percent of the total U.S. population, including persons held in slavery.
- Immigration continued to climb through much of the third quarter of the century, with people from Germany and Ireland making up most of the new arrivals. For the first time, though, immigrants from China, pushed by political and economic problems in the home country and by opportunities created by the California gold rush and jobs on a railroad that was expanding across the country, began to enter the United States in significant numbers. From 1841 to 1850, only thirty-five newcomers to the United States came from China. During the 1850’s, this figure shot up to 41,397. The numbers of Chinese immigrants reached 64,301 between 1861 to 1870 and then almost doubled to 123,201 between 1871 and 1880. Chinese immigration began to drop following the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, decreasing to 61,711 between 1881 and 1890 and continuing to drop in the following decades.
- As the nation faced and entered Civil War, overall immigration dipped, reaching low points of fewer than 92,000 immigrants in both 1861 and 1862. Even during the war, however, immigration began to rise again. Immigrants served on both sides during the war, but far more served in the Union army than the Confederate because the North had a much greater immigrant population. The image of the Irish, who had long been subject to suspicion and prejudice in the United States, suffered when poor immigrant workers from Ireland were the most active and violent participants in riots that broke out in cities such as New York and Boston in July, 1863, in reaction to the military draft.
The Civil War was enormously destructive, but it also helped to stimulate the national economy and to push the nation toward more industrialization. In 1869, the railroad tracks connecting the East and West Coasts were finally completed, helping to create a single nation-wide economy. The mining of coal, the primary fuel of the late nineteenth century, drew more workers, as total output of coal in the United States grew from 8.4 million short tons in 1850 to 40 million in 1870. Pennsylvania and Ohio, important areas for coal mining, increased their immigrant communities, notably attracting people from Wales, an area of the United Kingdom with a long mining tradition. By 1870, Ohio had 12,939 inhabitants born in Wales and Pennsylvania had 27,633, so that these two states were home to over half the nation’s Welsh immigrants.
The railroads encouraged settlement of the farmlands of the Midwest and made possible the shipment of crops to the spreading cities. Scandinavians were among the immigrant groups that arrived to plow the newly accessible lands. Minnesota held 35,940 people born in Norway, or close to one third of America’s Norwegian immigrants by 1870. Minnesota was also home to the second-largest population of Swedes in America, with 20,987. Another midwestern state, Illinois, had attracted 29,979 Swedes by 1870. Another 10,796 Swedes had settled in Iowa, adjoining Illinois on the northwest and just south of Minnesota. About two-thirds of America’s Swedish-born population could be found in Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa.
- As the nation entered the 1880’s, it entered into a remarkable period of economic expansion that would make the United States into one of the world’s greatest industrial powers by the time of World War I (1914-1918). It also began a dramatic rise in immigration as part of this economic expansion. Numbers of immigrants increased from 2,812,191 in the decade 1871 to 1880 to 5,246,613 from 1881 to 1890, in spite of the exclusion of Chinese immigrants following 1882. Sources of immigration also began to shift, from the northern and western European countries to southern and eastern European countries, so that immigration from Italy grew from 11,725 during the 1860’s to 307,309 during the 1880’s and immigration from Russia and Poland grew from 4,539 to 265,088. The United States was beginning the great immigration wave of the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.
“History of immigration after 1891” (11-01-2012)
Carl L. Bankston III, “History of immigration after 1891”, Immigrationtounitedstates.org,(11-01-2012)
- Until the end of the nineteenth century, immigration to the United States was under the loose control of the individual states. In 1875, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws regulating immigration were unconstitutional because they were inconsistent with the exclusive power of the U.S. Congress to regulate foreign commerce. This recognition of the exclusive power of Congress over immigration opened the way to immigration policy and therefore to the establishment of procedures and locations for federal control of immigration. The construction of the Ellis Island federal immigration facility during 1891 symbolized the beginning of the modern period in American immigration history.
- The growth of the American population through immigration was primarily a result of the growth of the American economy, which provided new opportunities. That economy had been growing rapidly throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. The U.S. Civil War caused disruption, but it also stimulated production in the North, and it ultimately created a more politically and economically unified nation. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 meant not only that people could travel relatively quickly from the East Coast to the West Coast but also that goods from one part of the country could be shipped and sold to other parts of the country. This completion of the transportation infrastructure spurred rapid industrialization in the decades following the Civil War. By 1890, the United States had outstripped the leading industrial nations of Europe to become the world’s foremost producer of manufactured goods. The quickly developing industrial economy required workers, and the availability of jobs drew immigrants to American shores in unprecedented numbers.
As a result of the flow of new workers into the country, the nation’s new industrial working class rapidly became disproportionately foreign born. The w:Dillingham Commission Dillingham Commission, set up by Congress in 1907 to study the perceived immigration problem, looked at twenty-one industries and found that 58 percent of the workers in these industries were immigrants. The commission found that immigrants were particularly significant in construction work, railroads, textiles, coal mining, and meatpacking.
- During the first decade of the period of federal control of immigration, 1891 to 1900, 350,000 newcomers reached the United States. In the decade after, from 1901 to 1910, this number more than doubled to 800,000 new arrivals. Although the absolute number of foreign-born people was greater at the end of the twentieth century, immigrants made up a larger proportion of the American population during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when 15 percent of Americans were immigrants. Because of continuing immigration, moreover, by 1910 another 15 percent of native-born Americans were children of two immigrant parents and 7 percent of nativeborn Americans had at least one immigrant parent, so that immigrants and children of immigrants made up more than one-third of the U.S. population.
- The large immigrant population of the United States came from places that had sent few people in earlier years. America’s population at its beginning consisted mainly of people from northern and western Europe and people of African heritage, and newcomers in the first century of the nation’s existence continued to come primarily from northern and western Europe. As recently as 1882, 87 percent of immigrants came from the northern and western European countries. By the end of the century, though, economic hardship in southern Europe and political oppression combined with poverty in eastern Europe, together with the improved transportation, led to a geographic shift.
By 1907, 81 percent of immigrants to the United States came from southern and eastern Europe. According to the statistics of the Dillingham Commission, of the 1,285,349 foreign-born people who arrived in the United States in 1907, 285,943 (22 percent) came from the Russian Empire and 338,452 (26 percent) came from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Eastern European Jews, fleeing persecution in the two empires, made up many of these arrivals. Italy alone sent 285,731 people (22 percent of total U.S. immigrants) during that year, most of them coming from impoverished southern Italy.
The southwestern part of the United States had been part of Mexico until the middle of the nineteenth century, and many Spanish-speaking people of the same ethnic backgrounds as Mexicans lived in that part of the country. However, the United States had been attempting to anglicize the Spanish-speaking parts of the country since it took possession of this area. After the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, refugees from south of the Rio Grande began to move northward. Between 1910 and 1920, more than 890,000 legal Mexican immigrants arrived in the United States.
Increasing numbers of immigrants arriving from countries that were alien to many native-born Americans and to English-speaking officials raised concerns in the public and among policy makers. Many of those reaching American shores settled in low-income sections of the growing cities in the traditionally rural nation. Perceptions of immigration as a social problem led to a string of new laws, resulting, by the 1920’s, in highly restrictive immigration policies.
- At the beginning of the federal period in American immigration history, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1891, which enabled federal inspectors to examine people on arrival and to reject entry to those who were diseased, morally objectionable, or whose fares had been paid by others. The year after that, Congress renewed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which had banned new Chinese immigration and Chinese eligibility for citizenship. Thus, federal legislative responses to immigration from the beginning were guided by the idea of keeping out undesirable immigrants and by the idea that some national origin groups were less desirable than others. The Immigration Act of 1903 not only consolidated earlier legislation, it also barred those who were politically objectionable, such as anarchists. Extending this line of action, a new immigration act in 1907 added more categories of people to the list of those to be excluded, and it restricted immigration from Japan. The Immigration Act of 1917 expanded exclusions still more by identifying illiterates, people entering for immoral purposes, alcoholics, and vagrants as classes that would not be allowed into the country.
- Following World War I, Congress enacted laws that would reduce immigration dramatically for three decades. The Immigration Act of 1921, also known as the Emergency Immigration Act, attempted to reduce southern and eastern European immigration by limiting the number of immigrants from any country to 3 percent of the number of people from that country living in the United States in 1910. In 1924, a new immigration act carried the quota concept further by limiting immigrants from any country to 2 percent of the number from that country living in the United States in 1890.
Restrictive legislation brought a drop in immigration. The Great Depression of the 1930’s helped to maintain low immigration, since massive unemployment meant that the United States had fewer jobs to offer. Foreign-born people obtaining legal permanent residence status in the United States decreased from a high of 8,202,388 in the peak years 1909-1919 to 699,375 in 1930-1939.
- Immigration continued to be low during the World War II years, but there were some indications of a loosening of American immigration law. The United States and China, then under the Chinese Nationalist government, were allies against Japan, and this alliance encouraged American lawmakers to pass the Immigration Act of 1943, which repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and allowed Chinese to become naturalized citizens, although only 105 Chinese were actually allowed to immigrate each year. Worker shortages in the United States due to the war led the U.S. government to establish the bracero program in 1942 to bring in Mexican agricultural laborers.
- The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also known as the McCarran-Walter Act, retained the national origin criterion of 1924. It set an overall ceiling for immigrants and within that ceiling gave each country a cap equal to 1 percent of the individuals of that national origin living in the United States in 1920. The new immigration law, enacted at the height of the Cold War, placed new ideological restrictions on immigration, denying admission to foreign communists. The McCarran- Walter Act also added a series of preferences to the national origins system. The preference system became the basis of a major shift in American immigration policy in 1965.
The Hart-Celler Act, also known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, revised the McCarran-Walter Act and turned U.S. immigration policy in a new direction. Acting in the spirit of recent civil rights legislation, Congress removed the national origins quota system and instead emphasized the preference system. Family reunification became the primary basis for admission to the United States, followed by preferences for people with valuable skills.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 went into effect in 1968, and its liberal provisions made possible another great wave of immigration at the end of the twentieth century. Along with those classified as immigrants, the United States also received large numbers of refugees, leading to the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 to accommodate this additional group of arrivals. By the end of the twentieth century, new concerns over immigration, especially growing undocumented immigration, led the nation to attempt to control the flow across the borders.
- The 1965 change in immigration policy helped produce the greatest immigration wave in U.S. history in terms of sheer numbers of immigrants reaching American shores. After decreasing since the 1920’s, the foreign-born population of the United States suddenly began to grow during the 1970’s, increasing from 9,619,000 (4.7 percent of the total population) in 1970 to 14,080,000 (6.2 percent) in 1980, reaching 19,767,000 in 1990 (7.9 percent), and then 31,108,000 (11.1 percent) in 2000. By 2007, the foreign-born population had reached an estimated 38,060,000, or 12.6 percent of all people in the United States.
The places of origin of America’s immigrants also changed. While earlier immigrants had come primarily from Europe, those in the post-1965 immigration wave came mainly from Latin America and Asia. From 1820 to 1970, 79.5 percent of immigrants had arrived from countries in Europe, 7.7 percent from countries in the Americas other than Canada, and only 2.9 percent from Asia. During the period 1971 to 1979, only 18.4 percent of immigrants to the United States were from Europe, while 41 percent came from countries in the Americas and 34.1 percent came from Asia. Latin Americans and Asians continued to make up most of this wave of immigration. As a result, only 13 percent of foreign-born people living in the United States in 2007 had come from Europe, while 27 percent had been born in Asia and 54 percent had been born in Latin America. Mexicans had become by far America’s largest immigrant group, constituting 31 percent of all immigrants in the United States in 2007.
- The heavy immigration from Mexico was a consequence of economic problems in that country, as well as a result of opportunities and relatively liberal immigration policies in the United States. More than 70 percent of Mexico’s export revenues came from oil at the beginning of the 1980’s. As the price of oil declined beginning about 1982, Mexico had less revenue coming in, provoking a debt crisis, and the country’s already existing problems of poverty became worse. Legal immigration from Mexico began to move upward rapidly, from a little over 621,000 in the decade 1970-1979 to over one million during the 1980’s.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 encouraged some undocumented Mexicans in the United States to remain by offering amnesty, and it encouraged others to move into the United States on a long-term basis by intensifying control of the border, making it more difficult to move back and forth. The longer-term orientation led many workers to move further north, away from the border. In 1994, a second economic shock hit Mexico, with the devaluation of the peso, which caused dramatic inflation and a decline in living standards. In response to the economic problems, legal migration grew even more during the 1990’s, with more than 2.75 million Mexicans entering the United States. From 2000 to 2005, the United States received an average of 200,000 legal permanent residents from Mexico every year.
- Undocumented immigration into the United States rose from an estimated 130,000 undocumented immigrants each year during the 1970’s to an estimated 300,000 per year during the 1980’s, and their numbers continued to go up. By January, 2007, the estimated undocumented immigrant population of the United States was 11,780,000. A majority (59 percent) were from Mexico, and 11 percent were from the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, having arrived by way of Mexico.
- The United States classifies “refugees,” or people admitted to the United States because of conflict, natural disaster, or persecution in their homelands, separately from “immigrants,” people admitted to legal residence in the country. Refugees have, however, been a significant part of the immigration wave that began during the late twentieth century. U.S. refugee policies began before the 1965 change in immigration law. In 1948, Congress enacted the Displaced Persons Act to admit people who had been uprooted during World War II. The beginning of the Cold War gave added motivation to the American refugee program, and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 granted admission to people fleeing countries that had fallen under communist domination. The Soviet occupation of Hungary in 1956 resulted in new refugees, and the Refugee Escape Act of 1957 explicitly defined refugees as people fleeing communism. In theory, though, refugees were to be counted under the per-country ceiling established by the McCarran- Walter Act, and the added numbers were charged against future ceilings or admitted under special presidential paroles.
- America’s anticommunist refugee program expanded after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba at the beginning of 1959 and Cubans opposed to Castro, who soon declared himself a communist, began to flee their island nation. President John F. Kennedy’s administration established a program of assistance for Cubans, and this program was institutionalized by the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962. The first wave from Cuba left the island nation between 1959 and 1962. A second wave followed from 1965 to 1974, when the Cuban and U.S. governments agreed to arrange flights between the two countries for Cubans who wished to leave. The Cuban refugee flow slowed substantially after the halting of the flights. In 1980, though, the Cuban government faced internal unrest. This led to a third wave of Cuban refugees. Hoping to ease public unrest on the island, the Cuban government decided to open the port city of Mariel to unrestricted emigration. Vessels from Mariel brought more than 125,000 refugees from Cuba to the United States over a six-month period.
- Following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Southeast Asian refugees began to resettle in the United States. Largely in response to movement of Southeast Asian refugees, the U.S. Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which was the most comprehensive piece of refugee legislation in U.S. history. As a result, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were resettled in North America during the early 1980’s. In 1980, more than 170,000 people from these three countries entered the United States. The flow of refugees continued so that by the year 2007, the United States was home to an estimated 1.5 million people who described their ethnic background as Vietnamese, close to 220,000 people who described themselves as Cambodian, 200,000 people who identified as Laotian, and more than 200,000 who identified as Hmong, a minority group from Laos.
“Key findings about U.S. immigrants” (August 20, 2020)
Abby Budiman, “Key findings about U.S. immigrants”, PEW Research Center, (August 20, 2020)
- The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.
- The U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 44.8 million in 2018. Since 1965, when U.S. immigration laws replaced a national quota system, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has more than quadrupled. Immigrants today account for 13.7% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.8%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.
- Not all lawful permanent residents choose to pursue U.S. citizenship. Those who wish to do so may apply after meeting certain requirements, including having lived in the U.S. for five years. In fiscal year 2019, about 800,000 immigrants applied for naturalization. The number of naturalization applications has climbed in recent years, though the annual totals remain below the 1.4 million applications filed in 2007.
Generally, most immigrants eligible for naturalization apply to become citizens. However, Mexican lawful immigrants have the lowest naturalization rate overall. Language and personal barriers, lack of interest and financial barriers are among the top reasons for choosing not to naturalize cited by Mexican-born green card holders, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.
- Nearly half (45%) of the nation’s immigrants live in just three states: California (24%), Texas (11%) and Florida (10%). California had the largest immigrant population of any state in 2018, at 10.6 million. Texas, Florida and New York had more than 4 million immigrants each.
In terms of regions, about two-thirds of immigrants lived in the West (34%) and South (34%). Roughly one-fifth lived in the Northeast (21%) and 11% were in the Midwest.
In 2018, most immigrants lived in just 20 major metropolitan areas, with the largest populations in the New York, Los Angeles and Miami metro areas. These top 20 metro areas were home to 28.7 million immigrants, or 64% of the nation’s total foreign-born population. Most of the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population lived in these top metro areas as well.
- The longer immigrants have lived in the U.S., the greater the likelihood they are English proficient. Some 47% of immigrants living in the U.S. five years or less are proficient. By contrast, more than half (57%) of immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years or more are proficient English speakers.
- Immigrants convicted of a crime made up the less than half of deportations in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics by criminal status are available. Of the 337,000 immigrants deported in 2018, some 44% had criminal convictions and 56% were not convicted of a crime. From 2001 to 2018, a majority (60%) of immigrants deported have not been convicted of a crime.
“Ten Facts about U.S. Refugee Resettlement (Oct, 2015)
Randy Capps and Michael Fix, “Ten Facts about U.S. Refugee Resettlement”, Migration Policy Institute, (Oct, 2015).
- 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 year—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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
“The Immigration Debate: Studies on the Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration”, (1998)
Susan B. Carter and Richard Sutch, “The Immigration Debate: Studies on the Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration”, ch.8, “Historical Background to Current Immigration Issues”, (1998)
- As background for the work of the Panel on Demographic and Economic Impacts of Immigration, we present a broad overview of the scholarly literature on the impacts of immigration on American life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
We emphasize at the outset that this is a formidable undertaking. There is an enormous literature on the subject ranging over every conceivable genre. These include nineteenth-century political broadsides, serious and masterfully written histories, the 42 volume report of the first Immigration Commission appointed in 1907, focused cliometric studies appearing in scholarly journals, autobiographies that witness the era of high immigration, two forthcoming economic histories of pre-World War I immigration (Ferrie, 1997; Hatton and Williamson, 1998), obscure statistical compendia, and theoretical analyses some of which are highly abstract and mathematically intricate.
The subject is also emotional and controversial. In the past, as today, immigration policy arouses strong feelings and in some cases these have colored the analysis offered. As Kuznets and Rubin suggested, dispassionate inquiry is hard to find. Many authors express their conclusions with a degree of certitude that is difficult to justify from the evidence they offer. Writers on opposite sides often have failed to take account of the evidence and arguments of their opponents. On many aspects of the question a modern consensus of scholarly opinion cannot be found.
- Immigration's impact on American income distribution has been much less emphasized in the scholarship on turn-of-the-century immigration. Income inequality appears to have grown over the period of mass immigration, but it is not clear what role immigration played in this development. Key conclusions in the literature are
*There is no evidence that immigrants permanently lowered the real wage of resident workers overall in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
*There is no evidence that international immigrants increased the rate of unemployment, took jobs from residents, or crowded resident workers into less attractive jobs.
*There is no evidence that the early twentieth-century immigrant community placed a disproportionate burden on public charitable agencies or private philanthropies.
* The turn-of-the-century educational system does not appear to have been an important arena for transferring resources between the foreign and native-born populations. * There is some evidence that immigration may have reduced regional differences in income inequality.
On the other hand, there is no consensus regarding the impact of immigration on racial wage differentials. A number of scholars argue that the flow of European-born workers into the rapidly growing industrial cities of the North may have helped to delay the migration of blacks from the South to the North. If it delayed black migration, then immigration from abroad also would have delayed the convergence of black and white incomes.
- In the 1950s and 1960s, the small number of immigrants, together with the high fertility of the native population, meant that the fraction of the population that was foreign born actually declined. In 1950 the foreign born comprised 6.9 percent of the population; by 1970 their share had dropped to only 4.8 percent. The increasing numbers of immigrants after 1970 led to a reversal of this downward trend. By 1990 the foreign born had surpassed their 1950 share, accounting for 7.9 percent of the population. A recent news release by the Census Bureau puts the 1996 share at 9 percent.
- Because immigrants tend to be young adults, the recent increase in immigration has had a disproportionate impact on the population in the age range of 20 to 40 years. This is shown in Figure 8-3, which plots the fraction of the foreign-born population by age at three post-World War II census dates. In 1950, and even more so in 1970, the foreign born tended to be older than the average American. These people had migrated to the United States in the early decades of the century when they were in their late teens and early twenties. By the post-World War II period, they had aged, but the long period of reduced immigration beginning in the 1920s and lasting through 1970 meant that there were far fewer new recruits at the lower end of the age spectrum. The resumption of heavier immigration in the 1980s and 1990s substantially altered the age structure of the foreign-born population. Because the new immigrants were disproportionately young adults, their arrival increased the foreign-born fraction of the population in the economically active age groups. It is no wonder that the current policy debate over immigration centers on labor market and employment impacts (Borjas, 1995).
- [T]he United States was a much smaller country early in the century. To put the current immigration flows into proper perspective, we deflate the numbers of immigrants by the number of people resident in the United States at the time of the immigrants' arrival and display the result in Figure 8-5. Our calculations reveal that, in proportionate terms, the current inflow of immigrants is rather modest. If we look only at the "regular" immigrants—that is, exclusive of those admitted under the IRCA—then the current inflows approximate those in the very slowest years from the period between 1840 and the onset of World War I. Before the imposition of a literary test for admission in 1917 (overriding President Wilson's veto) and the passage of the Emergency Quota Act in May 1921, only the disruptions of World War I pushed the flow of immigrants relative to the native population to levels below the relatively low levels that we experience today.
- As a consequence of the large and persistent immigrant flows in the 1845–1914 period, the foreign born came to comprise a rather large fraction of the total population. Figure 8-6 shows that, in the years between 1860 and 1920, the number of resident Americans born abroad ranged between 13 and 15 percent of the total population (Bureau of the Census, 1975/1997, series A91). The foreign-born born fraction of the population in that period was approximately three times the level recorded in 1970 and over one and one-half times as high as it is today.
The historical record thus reveals that the numerical impact of immigration flows were once substantially larger than what we have now and were also larger than the levels we are likely to experience in the foreseeable future. Thus we are tempted to suggest that the economic and demographic consequences of immigration in the 1845–1914 period are likely to have been greater than the impact of immigration flows today.
- The literature on the mass migration in the early part of this century emphasizes the role of sojourners who moved to the United States for a temporary period to earn income, accumulate assets, and then returned to their home countries (Baines, 1985, 1991; Wyman, 1993). These temporary migrants in the earlier era bear some similarities with the "guest workers" in today's Europe or the Braceros of the southwestern United States during the early postwar era. Quite possibly, recent illegal immigrants to the United States should be thought of more like these early twentieth-century sojourners than as individuals intending to settle permanently—albeit illegally —in this country (Warren and Kraly, 1985).
- In the recent past, immigration flows have increased in almost every year, showing little sensitivity to year-to-year changes in macroeconomic conditions. This is because immigration is today closely regulated and because more wish to migrate than the number of visa slots available. Most successful immigrants have been waiting for admission for several years. Today, year-to-year changes in the number of immigrants reflect policy changes, particularly regarding the admission of refugees and asylees, not changes in demand for admission. In the early period, by contrast, immigration was extremely sensitive to economic conditions in the United States. Between 1891 and 1895, for example, when the unemployment rate almost doubled from 4.5 to 8.5 percent, the number of immigrants fell by more than half, from 560,000 to 259,000. Even more dramatic is the almost 40 percent reduction in the number of immigrants in a single year, from 1.3 million 1907 to 783,00 in 1908 in response to a sharp jump in the unemployment rate from 3.1 to 7.5 percent between those same years (Bureau of the Census, 1975/1997, series C89; Weir, 1992:341). Jerome (1926:208) concluded that the lag between economic activity and immigration in this period was only one to five months.
- Historians have sometimes asserted or assumed that the bulk of immigrants were unskilled. Handlin (1951/1973:58, 60) in the classic history of immigration to America, The Uprooted, described immigrants as "peasants," people who lacked training for merchandising and the skills to pursue a craft. This view also appears in some surveys of American history. The textbook by Nash et al. (1986:604), for example, reports that "most immigrants" after the Civil War "had few skills." Cliometric investigation suggests a quite different story. Available evidence implies that skill differences between native- and foreign-born workers throughout the period of mass immigration were small or nonexistent and that the relative quality of immigrants did not fall over time.
“The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition” (April 20, 2017)
“The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition”, Center for American Progress, (April 20, 2017)
- Immigration has long supported the growth and dynamism of the U.S. economy. Immigrants and refugees are entrepreneurs, job creators, taxpayers, and consumers. They add trillions of dollars to the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, and their economic importance will only increase in the coming decades as America’s largest generation—the baby boomers—retires en masse, spurring labor demand and placing an unprecedented burden on the social safety net. Still, additional benefits to the U.S. economy and society more broadly could be obtained through legislative reforms designed to modernize the U.S. immigration system and provide unauthorized immigrants in the country today with a path to citizenship.
- Compared with all Americans, U.S.-born children of immigrants are more likely to go to college, less likely to live in poverty, and equally likely to be homeowners. Thirty-six percent of U.S.-born children of immigrants are college graduates—5 percent above the national average. Eleven percent of adult U.S.-born children of immigrants live in poverty—below the national average of 13 percent—and 64 percent are homeowners, 1 percent below the national average.
- Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be incarcerated than the U.S.-born population. A 2017 study by the Cato Institute found that the 2014 incarceration rate for immigrants—both authorized and unauthorized—ages 18 to 54 was considerably lower than that of the U.S.-born population. While the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 11.1 percent to 13.5 percent from 2000 to 2015, FBI data indicate that violent crime rates across the country fell 16 percent, while property crime rates fell 21 percent during the same time period.
- Research shows that immigrants complement, rather than compete with, U.S.-born American workers—even lesser-skilled workers. Researchers such as Ethan Lewis, Will Somerville, and Madeleine Sumption find that U.S.-born workers and immigrants have different skill sets and tend to work in different jobs and industries, even when they have similar educational backgrounds. Immigrants tend to complement the skill sets of American workers, thus enhancing their productivity.
- Immigration also appears to have a minimal impact on average African American wages and employment. The work of scholars such as Lonnie Stevans, Robert LaLonde, Robert Topel, Franklin Wilson, Gerald Jaynes, and David Card suggests that immigration had little effect on the wages and employment of African American men between 1960 and 2010, regardless of their level of education.
- Completing the border wall would be very costly. To date, 653 total miles of fencing has been built along the southern border, including 352 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers. The existing 653 miles of fence cost between $2.8 million and $3.9 million per mile, and construction costs for additional fencing could be even higher in desert areas. Given that the U.S.-Mexico border stretches almost 2,000 miles, completing the fence could cost upwards of $66.9 billion.
- The U.S. government spends more on immigration enforcement than all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined. From 1986 to 2012, the federal government allocated nearly $187 billion for immigration enforcement. In 2012, it spent almost $18 billion on immigration enforcement—24 percent more than its combined spending on the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, Marshals Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
- Detention puts LGBT immigrants at risk of abuse and exploitation. LGBT immigrants are 15 times more likely than other detainees to be sexually assaulted in confinement. At least 200 incidents of abuse against LGBT immigrants in detention facilities were recorded between 2008 and 2014. Despite DHS guidelines directing that most LGBT immigrants not be detained due to their vulnerability to abuse, LGBT persons not subject to mandatory detention were nonetheless detained 88 percent of the time. And though ICE’s risk classification assessment system only recommended that LGBT immigrants be detained 18 percent of the time, ICE opted for detention 90 percent of the time.
- Since 1975, the United States has accepted more than 3 million refugees. Refugee admissions have ebbed and flowed with global conflict, peaking in 1980 with the enactment of the United States Refugee Act. In the 1990s, a large share of refugees originated from the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. Refugee admissions temporarily dropped after September 11, 2001, but have rebounded to near pre-9/11 levels. Since then, the United States has received refugees from countries such as Somalia, Myanmar, Bhutan, and, most recently, Syria.
"A National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court (Dec. 2015)
Ingrid V. Eagley & Steven Shafer, "A National Study of Access to Counsel in Immigration Court", University of Pennsylvania Law Review], Vol.164, (Dec. 2015)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Immigrants’ Deportations, Local Crime and Police Effectiveness” (June 2019)
Annie Laurie Hines, Giovanni Peri; “Immigrants’ Deportations, Local Crime and Police Effectiveness”, IZA Institute of Labor Economics, (June 2019)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Immigration and the American Industrial Revolution From 1880 to 1920” (2009 Dec 1)
Charles Hirschman and Elizabeth Mogford, “Immigration and the American Industrial Revolution From 1880 to 1920”, Soc Sci Res. 2009 Dec 1; 38(4): 897–920.
- In this study, we measure the contribution of immigrants and their descendents to the growth and industrial transformation of the American workforce in the age of mass immigration from 1880 to 1920. The size and selectivity of the immigrant community, as well as their disproportionate residence in large cities, meant they were the mainstay of the American industrial workforce. Immigrants and their children comprised over half of manufacturing workers in 1920, and if the third generation (the grandchildren of immigrants) are included, then more than two-thirds of workers in the manufacturing sector were of recent immigrant stock. Although higher wages and better working conditions might have encouraged more long-resident native-born workers to the industrial economy, the scale and pace of the American industrial revolution might well have slowed. The closing of the door to mass immigration in the 1920s did lead to increased recruitment of native born workers, particularly from the South, to northern industrial cities in the middle decades of the 20th century.
- From 1880 to 1920, the number of foreign born increased from almost 7 million to a little under 14 million (Gibson and Jung 2006: 26). These figures, however, underestimate the economic and demographic contribution of immigration (Kuznets 1971b). Immigrants inevitably lead to a second generation—the children of immigrants—whose social, cultural, and economic characteristics are heavily influenced by their origins. Counting the 23 million children of immigrants, in addition to the 14 million immigrants, means that over one-third of the 105 million Americans in the 1920 population belonged to the “immigrant community,” defined as inclusive of the first and second generations.
- Immigrants, as well as manufacturing enterprises, were concentrated in the rapidly growing cities of the Northeast and Midwest during the age of industrialization (Gibson and Jung 2006: 72). In 1900, about three-quarters of the populations of many large cities were composed of immigrants and their children, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Detroit (Carpenter 1927: 27). Immigration and industrialization were correlated, both spatially and temporally in American history (Taeuber and Taeuber 1971: 117), but is there a causal impact? Addressing this question, the objective of this analysis, requires consideration of the counterfactual of what would have been the course of the industrialization process in the United States if there had not been an immigrant workforce.
The most commonly cited reasons for the rapid American industrial revolution are the abundance of mineral resources, technological innovation, the evolution of the American system of manufacturing, railroads and lowered costs of transportation, education and human resources, and the rise of the managerial firm (Abramovitz and David 2000; Chandler 1977; Denison 1974; Hounshell 1984; Wright 1990). Among the studies that address the relationship between immigration and industrialization, few go beyond a general or abstract discussion. In a classic survey of the literature on the American industrial revolution in the Cambridge Economic History of the United States, the role of immigration is summarized in a single paragraph, which simply notes the overrepresentation of immigrants in the manufacturing labor force (Engerman and Sokoloff 2000: 387). There are some studies that conclude that the flood of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had an adverse impact on the per-capita economic growth, the wages of native workers, and diverted domestic migration away from industrializing cities (Hatton and Williamson 1998: Chapter 8; Goldin 1994). However, other researchers have questioned these conclusions and suggested that immigrants had a generally positive impact on the American economy and facilitated the economic mobility of native born workers during the age of industrialization (Carter and Sutch 1999; Haines 2000: 202; Muller 1993: 83–85; Thomas 1973: 174).
- In this study, we address two specific empirical questions, namely: “What was the role of immigration on changes in the industrial structure of the American economy from 1880 to 1920?”, and “How much did immigrants and their descendents (children and grandchildren) contribute to the manufacturing sector in 1920?” The findings reported here show that recent immigrants and their descendents were the primary workforce in the rapidly expanding manufacturing economy of the early 20th century. Demographic and economic pressures on agricultural households in the late 19th and early 20th century pushed an increasing share of the children of farmers off the land, but only a minority were willing to join “the pool of eastern industrial and commercial labor” (Atack, Bateman, and Parker 2000: 322). When immigrant labor was cutoff in the 1920s, the native poor population, especially poor whites and blacks from the South, began migrating to northern industrial cities in much larger numbers. But in the early 20th century, when manufacturing jobs were dirty, dangerous, and heavily regimented, immigrant workers were the mainstay of industrial employment.
- In an ingenious analysis of the potential impact of the differing age composition of immigrants and the native born populations, Neal and Uselding (1972) estimate the savings received by the United States through immigration from 1790 to 1913 relative to the costs that would have been incurred if all immigrants were replaced by children of the native born population (this counterfactual is posed by the “Walker hypothesis” that posits that native born fertility was depressed by the arrival of immigrants). Assuming these savings had been invested (not consumed by social reproduction), Neal and Uselding (1972: 87) conclude that immigration had contributed from 13 to 42 percent of the capital stock of the United States by 1912. Several analysts have noted that the large number of immigrants in the North in the 1860s provided the manpower surplus that allowed the Union to triumph in the Civil War (Gallman 1977: 31, Muller 1993: 78–79).
- In their study of the impact of immigration on American industrialization and native born workers, Hatton and Williamson (1998: chapter 8) asked whether immigrants accelerated industrialization by solving labor bottlenecks by entering high-wage high-growth occupations faster than native born workers (Hatton and Williamson 1998: 161–164). Based on their findings that immigrants were more likely to be found in less skilled occupations and in slower growth occupations from 1890 to 1900, Hatton and Williamson conclude that immigration did not contribute to economic development and rapid industrialization. However, other analysts report that immigrants were no less skilled than native born workers (Schachter 1972).
- Assuming that second generation immigrants (the children of immigrants) were as numerous as the foreign born, it seems reasonable to conclude that almost all large American cities were predominantly composed of immigrants and their children as early as 1850 (Gibson and Jung: 2006: 82).
- In the middle decades of the 19th century, new immigrants were the ready source of labor to unload ships, to build roads and canals, and to transport goods (Carter 2006: I-590-591). With the growth of factories and the demand for unskilled labor, immigrants, primarily young men in the working years, continued to be the ideal source of labor. Immigrants were generally more willing to accept lower wages and inferior working conditions than native born workers (Zolberg 2006: 69). Great efficiencies in production led to higher profits that could be reinvested in new technology, which led to even more production and eventually higher wages for workers.
Although the demand for manufactured goods gradually grew to encompass the entire country, the initial demand was from the urban population. Unlike farm families that were largely self sufficient in food and made most of their clothing, urban families needed to purchase everything in the market. The large and growing urban populations, primarily fueled by immigration throughout the second half of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century, created a huge demand for the increased production of the emerging industrial sector. Carter and Sutch (1999: 330–331) claim that economies of scale in demand and production also stimulated inventive activity and the diffusion of technological knowledge and innovation. In his analysis of long swings, or Kuznets cycles, Easterlin (1968) found that immigration (and population growth) and subsequent family formation stimulated economic growth through increasing demand for housing, urban development, and other amenities. This association was strongest, Easterlin noted, in the century prior to World War II. In the post World War II era, the federal government assumed more responsibility for maintaining aggregate demand regardless of population dynamics.
“Immigration to the United States: Recent Trends and Future Prospects” (2014)
Charles Hirschman, “Immigration to the United States: Recent Trends and Future Prospects”, Malays J Econ Studies. 2014; 51(1): 69–85.
- The United States is, once again, in the midst of an age of immigration. In 2010, there were 40 million foreign-born persons living in the United States (Grieco et al. 2012). Of the 220 million international migrants in the world in 2010—defined as persons living outside their country of birth—almost one in five were residents in the United States (UN Population Division 2013). An even larger number, upwards of 75 million persons in the United States—almost one quarter of the current resident American population— is part of the immigrant community, defined as foreign born and the children of the foreign born (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2010).
- It is to be noted that the contemporary presence of immigrants is actually less than it was in the early 20th century. For most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the foreign born constituted around 14 to 15 per cent of the American population. Then, during the middle decades of the 20th century, the figure dropped precipitously to below 5 per cent in 1970. With the renewal of mass immigration after 1965, the percent foreign born is currently 13 per cent of the total population. While this figure is high relative to the period from 1950 to 1970, it is slightly below the proportion of foreign born for much of American history.
The ‘Post-1965 Immigration Wave,’ was named for the 1965 immigration law that repealed the ‘national origins quotas’ enacted in the 1920s. These quotas were considered discriminatory by the children and grandchildren of Southern and Eastern European immigrants, and the 1965 immigration legislation was part of the reforms of the Civil Rights era. The advocates of reform in the 1960s were not pushing for a major new wave of immigration; they expected a small increase in the number of arrivals from Italy, Greece, and a few other European countries, as families that were divided by the immigration restrictions of the 1920s were allowed to be reunited (Reimrs 1985: Chap. 3).
Family reunification and scarce occupational skills were the primary criteria for admission under the 1965 Act (Keely 1979). The new preference system allowed highly skilled professionals, primarily doctors, nurses, and engineers from Asian countries, to immigrate and eventually to sponsor their families. About the same time, and largely independently of the 1965 Act, immigration from Latin America began to rise. Legal and undocumented migration from Mexico surged after a temporary farm worker programme, known as the Bracero Programme, ended in 1964 (Massey, Durand and Malone 2002). There have also been major waves of immigration to the United States with the fall of regimes supported by American political and military interventions abroad, including Cuba, Vietnam, and Central America. Each of these streams of immigrant and refugee inflows has spawned secondary waves of immigration as family members have followed.
- Most of the immigrants who arrived from 1880 to 1920 during the Age of Mass Migration were from Southern and Eastern Europe, including Italy, Germany, Poland, and Russia. Many of these ‘new’ immigrants in the early 20th century were considered to be distinctly different from the older stock of white Americans in terms of language, religion, and in their potential for assimilation into American society. Popular opposition to immigration in the early 20th century led to the laws of the 1920s that sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. There were much smaller waves of immigration from China and Japan, but even stronger opposition ended Asian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century.
- In the 1970s and 1980s, most ‘new immigrants’ settled in the West and East coast states, and a few other selected states, including Texas, Florida, and Illinois. About 40 per cent of all immigrants lived in California and New York. In the 1990s and 2000s, immigrants increasingly began settling in new destinations including smaller towns in the Midwest and Southeast. The majority of immigrants still live in California, New York, and other traditional destinations, but industries are attracting immigrant labour to many other regions. In addition to the high tech sectors and universities that attract highly skilled immigrants, less skilled immigrants are drawn to agriculture, food processing, and manufacturing industries that are often shunned by native born workers.
- The distribution of education among recent immigrants to the United States is bimodal. The largest group of immigrants, particularly those from Mexico and Central America, has less education, on average, than the native-born American population. Less education, however, is not equivalent to unskilled labour. Many immigrants without a high school degree are able to work in the skilled construction industry, nursing homes caring for the elderly, and in the service sectors in restaurants, hotels, and gardening.
At the other end of the educational continuum are the highly educated immigrant streams from Taiwan, India, Iran, and many African countries. Almost half of Asian immigrants have a university degree compared to only a third of native born Americans. Many of these highly skilled immigrants fill key niches in the high tech sector, higher education, and many professional fields.
- Neither the presence of large numbers of immigrants nor the exaggerated claims about the negative impact of immigration are new phenomena. In 1751, Benjamin Franklin complained about the Germans in Pennsylvania and their reluctance to learn English (Archdeacon 1983: 20; Jones 1992: 39–40). Based on a campaign of fear about the political dangers of unchecked immigration, primarily Irish Catholics, the ‘Know-Nothing’ Party' elected six governors, dominated several state legislatures, and sent a bloc of representatives to Congress in 1855. During World War I, Americans who wanted to retain their German-American identity were forced to be ‘100 percent Americans’ and to give up their language and culture (Higham 1988: Chap. 8).
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinese and Japanese migrants who worked as railroad and agricultural labourers were targeted by nativist groups who feared that Asian immigrants would harm the economic status of native workers and contaminate the ‘racial purity’ of the nation (Hing 1993: 22). The passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was the first major step toward a closed society. After the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, Japanese migrants became a new source of cheap labour on the West coast and Hawaii. Japanese immigration was targeted by the same groups that opposed Chinese immigrants.
Southern and Eastern European groups also faced an increasingly hostile context of reception as their numbers swelled at the turn of the twentieth century. A number of formal organisations sprang up among old line New England elites to campaign against the continued immigration of ‘undesirables’ from Europe (Higham 1988; Jones 1992: Chap. 9). After a long political struggle, Congress passed restrictive laws in the early 1920s that stopped almost all immigration except from Northwestern Europe.
- In spite of the fears that immigrants are resistant to learning English and refuse to join the American mainstream, there is a large body of social science and historical research which concludes that immigrants have, by and large, assimilated to American society (Alba 1990, Alba and Nee 2003; Duncan and Duncan 1968; Lieberson 1980). This does not mean that assimilation was painless, automatic, or immediate. For the first generation of immigrants who arrived as adults, the processes of linguistic, cultural, and social change were painful and usually incomplete. Immigrants tend to settle in ethnic enclaves, prefer to speak their mother tongue, and gravitate to places of worship and social events that provide cultural continuity with their origins (Handlin 1973; Portes and Rumbaut 2006). Many immigrants do learn English and find employment in the general economy, but few feel completely part of their new society. In the early decades of the 20th century, evidence pointed to the slow and incomplete assimilation of the then ‘new’ immigrants (Pagnini and Morgan 1990).
- With the passage of time, and especially following the emergence of the second generation, there was unmistakable evidence of assimilation among the descendants of early 20th century European immigrants. Acculturated through their attendance at American schools, the children of immigrants did not share the ambivalence of their immigrant parents. The second generation spoke fluent English and was eager to join the American mainstream. By all measures, including socio-economic status, residential mobility, and intermarriage, they left behind the ethnic world of their immigrant parents (Alba and Nee 2003; Lieberson 1980). By the 1950s, patterns of suburbanisation broke down ethnic neighborhoods and intermarriage became more common (Alba and Nee 2003; Lieberson and Waters 1988).
Although it is widely assumed that immigrants in the Post-1965 Immigration Wave are less likely to assimilate than those who arrived in the early 20th century, there is growing evidence that the new immigrants, especially their children, are doing remarkably well (Alba and Nee 2003; Kasinitz et al. 2008). On average, second generation immigrants are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to attend college than the average native born American (Hirschman 2001; White and Glick 2009). Intermarriage is also common: recent research estimates that one-third to one-half of second generation Hispanics and Asians marry outside of their community (Duncan and Trejo 2007; Min and Kim 2009). The children of contemporary immigrants are on track for assimilation and upward mobility at about the same pace as the descendants of earlier waves of immigration from Europe.
- There are widespread popular beliefs, including many influential voices within public policy circles, which argue that immigration is harmful to the economic welfare of the country, especially to native born Americans (Borjas 1994; Bouvier 1992; Briggs 1984; Brimelow 1995). The central claim is that immigrants, because they are willing to work for lower wages, take jobs from native born American workers. Competition from immigrant workers is expected to depress wages, especially in the low-skilled labour market (Borjas 1989). Finally, immigrants are thought to be an economic burden because they disproportionately receive public benefits, such as health care, schooling, and welfare without paying their fair share of taxes. These claims, however, are not supported by empirical evidence.
- The most likely reason for a lack of empirical support for the presumed negative impact of immigration is the questionable assumption that the only impact of additional workers (immigrants) on the labour market is through wage competition. The presence of immigrants has broader effects on economic growth, both locally and nationally, that leads to rising wage levels for native born workers. Among the potential mechanisms are increased national savings, entrepreneurship and small business development, a faster rate of inventive activity and technological innovation, and increasing economies of scale, both in the production and consumer markets (Carter and Sutch 1999). There is a long-standing hypothesis in economic history that high levels of immigration stimulates economic growth by increasing demand for housing, urban development, and other amenities (Easterlin 1968). A recent study found that immigration provided the necessary labour supply for the rapid growth of manufacturing during the American Industrial Revolution from 1880 to 1920 (Hirschman and Mogford 2009).
- The United States has received about 75 million immigrants since record-keeping began in 1820. This relatively open door was due to a confluence of interests, both external and internal. As modernisation spread throughout the Old World during the 18th and 19th centuries, the (relatively) open frontier beckoned the landless and others seeking economic betterment. These patterns culminated in the early 20th century, when more than one million immigrants arrived annually—a level that is only being rivaled by contemporary levels of immigration. American economic and political institutions also gained from immigration. Immigrant settlement helped to secure the frontier as well as to provide labour for nation-building projects, including transportation networks of roads, canals, and railroads. During the era of industrialisation, immigrant labour provided a disproportionate share of workers for the dirty and dangerous jobs in mining and manufacturing (Hirschman and Mogford 2009).
In spite of the national tradition of mass immigration, new arrivals have rarely received a welcome reception. The conservative backlash against immigrants has been a perennial theme of American history. During the Age of Mass Migration, the negative reaction against immigrants was not simply a response from the parochial masses, but also a project led by conservative intellectuals. Long before immigration restrictions were implemented in the 1920s, there was a particularly virulent campaign against the ‘new’ immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Most of these immigrants were Catholics and Jews—religious and cultural traditions that were thought to be in conflict with the traditional ascendancy of white Protestants of English ancestry.
As most Northeastern and Midwestern cities became dominated by immigrants (both first and second generations) in the late 19th century, many elite old-stock American families and communities created barriers to protect their ‘aristocratic’ status and privileges against newcomers (Higham 1988). Residential areas became ‘restricted,’ college fraternities and sororities limited their membership, and many social clubs and societies only allowed those with the right pedigrees and connections to be admitted (Baltzell 1964). Barriers to employment for minorities, especially Jews, were part of the culture of corporate law firms and elite professions (Auerbach 1975: Chap. 2). In the early 20th century, many elite private universities were notorious for their quotas for Jewish students and their refusal to hire Jews and other minorities (Baltzell 1964: 336; Karabel 2006). In some cases, these quotas persisted until the 1960s.
- Contemporary immigration to the United States, upwards of one million new arrivals per year, is not exceptional. In fact, the relative share of immigrants—about 13 per cent—is a bit lower than the 14 to 15 per cent that characterised much of American history prior to the 1920s. Absorbing large numbers of newcomers has costs as well as benefits. The costs are immediately apparent, but some of the benefits take longer to appear. Schools, hospitals, and social service agencies may have to arrange for translation services and other special programmes for immigrants. But most of the costs of these adjustments are paid by immigrants and their families. Immigrants have given up the familiarity of home in their quest for more rewarding careers and greater opportunities for their children. Immigrants must also contend with a receiving society that is ambivalent, and sometimes hostile, to their presence.
- Perhaps the most important contribution of immigrants is their children. Many immigrants have made enormous sacrifices for their children’s welfare, including the decision to settle in the United States. Immigrant parents often have to work in menial jobs, multiple jobs, and in occupations well below the status they would have earned if they had remained at home. These sacrifices have meaning because immigrant parents believe that their children will have better educational and occupational opportunities in the United States than in their homelands. Immigrant parents push their children to excel by reminding them of their own sacrifices.
These high expectations for the children of immigrants generally lead to high motivations for academic and worldly success (Hao and Bonstead-Burns 1998). A large body of research shows that the children of immigrants do remarkably well in American schools. Holding constant their socio-economic status, the second generation obtains higher grades in school and above average results on standardised tests, is less likely to drop out of high school, and is more likely to go to college than the children of native born Americans (Fuligni and Witknow 2004; Perreira, Harris and Lee 2006).
- The fear of cultural conservatives is that immigrants will change American character and identity. Yet, the definition of American identity is elusive. Unlike many other societies, the United States does not have an identity tied to an ancient lineage. Given the two wars against the British in early American history (in 1776 and 1812), the founders of the new American republic did not make English origins the defining trait of American identity; rather it was acceptance of the Enlightenment ideas expressed in the founding documents of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (Gleason 1980; Vecoli 1966). Even though these ideals were belied by the continuing stain of slavery, a civic identity rather than ancestry has been the distinctive feature of American ‘peoplehood’ from the very start. This trait combined with jus soli (birthright citizenship) has slowed, if not stopped, efforts to define Americans solely on the basis of ancestral origins. Another reason for the broad definition of American identity is that the overwhelming majority of the American population, including white Americans, is descended from 19th and 20th century immigrants. Demographic estimates suggest that less than one-third of the American population in the late 20th century were descended from the 18th century American population (Edmonston and Passel 1994: 61, Gibson 1992).
- In an often quoted remark, Oscar Handlin, the famous historian, observed that after searching for the place of immigrants in American history, that immigrants are American history. The American experiment in nation building is, in large part, the story of how immigrants have been absorbed into American society and how immigrants have enlarged and transformed America. Immigrants settled the frontier; they participated in constructing canals, roads and railroads, and contributed significant manpower in many American wars. Immigrants provided much of the manufacturing labour for the American industrial revolution as well as a disproportionate share of the contemporary highly skilled scientists and engineers that are central to the modern electronic and biomedical economy. Most interestingly, immigrants and the children of immigrants have been among the most important creative artists who have shaped the development of the cultural arts, including movies, theatre, dance, and music.
“Immigration, Sovereignty, and the Constitution of Foreignness” (February, 2013)
Matthew Lindsay, “Immigration, Sovereignty, and the Constitution of Foreignness”, Connecticut Law Review, Volume 45, Number 3, (February, 2013)
- It is a central premise of modern American immigration law that immigrants, by virtue of their non-citizenship, are properly subject to an extra-constitutional regulatory authority that is inherent in national sovereignty and buffered against judicial review. The Supreme Court first posited this constitutionally exceptional authority, which is commonly known as the "plenary power doctrine," in the 1889 Chinese Exclusion Case. There, the Court reconstructed the federal immigration power from a form of commercial regulation rooted in Congress's commerce power, to an instrument of national self-defense against invading hordes of economically and racially degraded foreigners.
Today, generations after the United States abandoned overtly racist immigration policies, such as Chinese exclusion and national origins quotas, the Supreme Court continues to reaffirm Congress and the President's virtually unchecked authority over the admission, exclusion, and removal of non-citizens, as though such authority were a logical concomitant of national sovereignty. Accordingly, modern judicial defenders of the plenary power doctrine generally turn a blind eye to the indecorous racial reasoning deployed by its architects. This Article argues that although the language of race and invasion has been purged from the vocabulary, and perhaps worldview, of most modern policy makers and judges, the logic of foreign aggression remains indispensible in accounting for a power unmoored from the Constitution and shielded from judicial scrutiny.
- Throughout the nation's first century, the Supreme Court found nothing constitutionally exceptional about a statute that governed foreigners engaged in the process of immigration. Immigrants' non-citizenship was incidental to the nature of the regulatory authority to which they were subject. Non-citizenship became a trigger for extra-constitutional authority only in the final decades of the nineteenth century, as Chinese and "new" European migrants alike increasingly became understood as fundamentally and permanently alien to the national character. This Article demonstrates that it was precisely this perception of immigrants' essential, indelible foreignness-their racial difference, their inability to assimilate, their corrosive effect on American citizenship-that gave substance to the metaphor of racial invasion, and thus to the Court's analogy between immigration regulation and war. The Court's intemperate defense of American citizenship against invading foreign races cannot, therefore, be swept aside as anachronistic dicta cluttering the otherwise logically sound foundation of immigration exceptionalism; rather, it is the cornerstone of the entire edifice.
- The modem federal immigration power, which is commonly known as the "plenary power doctrine," is defined by two features. First, Congress's authority to regulate immigration derives not from any constitutionally enumerated power, but is rather "an incident of sovereignty belonging to the government of the United States." Second, federal laws or enforcement actions that bear on a non-citizen's right to be present within the country are buffered against judicially enforceable constitutional constraints. The extent to which governmental authority is constitutionally constrained is thus contingent on the citizenship status of the person who is subject to that authority, rather than (as would normally be the case) the subject-matter or purpose of the regulation involved. This is true even when the constitutional protection at issue-be it the First Amendment or the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses-makes no distinction between "persons" and "citizens." Indeed, even as Justice Frankfurter upheld Juan Galvan's deportation, he was struck by "a sense of harsh incongruity" between the principle that "the Due Process Clause[normally] qualifies the scope of [Congress's] political discretion" and the deportation of a long-term resident alien who was innocent of any wrong-doing. Ever since the Supreme Court first adopted the plenary power doctrine in the 1889 Chinese Exclusion Case, so it has justified the "constitutional exceptionalism" " of American immigration law with reference to the purportedly intricate connection between the admission and removal of foreigners and "basic aspects of national sovereignty, more particularly our foreign relations and the national security.,"
- This Article challenges the central orthodoxy of modem constitutional immigration law that the regulatory authority to which an immigrant is subject properly hinges on her citizenship status. It argues that, notwithstanding its aura of naturalness, the legal construction of foreignness that underwrites the inherent sovereignty rationale did not take shape in its recognizably modem form until the 1880s. Throughout the nation's first century, immigrants' non-citizenship was incidental, or at least secondary, to the nature of the regulatory authority to which they, as immigrants, were subject. The reasons for this lie largely outside of the law. Until the decades following the Civil War, most Americans shared abroad confidence both in immigrants' moral natures and in the power of American economic and political institutions to transform them into patriotic republicans. During this era of relative confidence, the individual states reserved significant authority over immigrants and immigration under their traditional police powers. State police authority, in turn, depended not on immigrants' status as foreigners, but rather on the purpose of the particular regulation at issue. As the objects of the state police power-as potential paupers or carriers of disease, for example-immigrants were simply persons, whose effect on the health, morals, and welfare of the community was, like that of all persons, native and foreign alike, subject to regulation. Even after the Supreme Court re-branded immigrants as articles of commerce in the 1870s to accommodate the transfer of regulatory authority from the individual states to Congress, it did not distinguish between human commercial goods transported from a neighboring state and those transported across an ocean. The Commerce Clause, like the police power, was indifferent to citizenship.
- Immigrants were legally reconstructed as foreigners only in the final decades of the nineteenth century, as Europeans and Chinese migrants alike increasingly became understood as fundamentally and permanently alien to the American character. In the 1870s and 1880s, Americans' long-standing confidence in the assimilative power of American institutions came into progressively sharper conflict with the economic and social realities of industrialization, including the triumph of the wage system; the deskilling of labor; and increasingly intense wage competition, often from recent immigrants. As contemporaries grappled with this conflict, they generally focused less on these broad structural economic changes than on the alleged economic pathologies of immigrants themselves-specifically, a disposition toward "uncivilized" standards of life and labor. Without the requisite economic conditions and racial material, critics argued, simply exposing immigrants to republican political culture and institutions afforded little value as a force of assimilation. As post-Civil War Americans re-imagined their polity as a social and political body, the health of which depended on the collective natural endowments of its constituent members, immigrants' foreignness came to signify more than merely the absence of citizenship; it became, instead, a token off fundamental, indelible moral difference.
- In crafting a naturalization law, prudence thus counseled that immigrants undergo a period of probation before being admitted to the American political fellowship, both to provide foreigners sufficient time to absorb republican values, and to afford the nation an opportunity to assess their moral and political character. After a decade of extraordinary fluctuation in the requirements for naturalization, from a mere two-year residency in the Naturalization Act of 1790 to a high of fourteen years in 1798, Congress settled on a residency requirement of five years-longer than some idealistic advocates of the American asylum had preferred, but still remarkably liberal by historical and international standards. A five-year residency "occasioned the safest and surest transmutation," explained Pennsylvanian Republican Michael Leib. It would impart "knowledge and feeling," and furnish an "opportunity for the intercourse that amalgamated the aliens with us, and gave them a common interest."
- If the adoption of the Alien Friends Act represented a dramatic short-term political triumph for the Federalist Party, however, it proved virtually inconsequential as a matter of national policy. The long-term importance of the Act lay instead in the galvanizing effect that it had on Republicans, spurring them to develop competing, and ultimately much more influential, accounts of the constitutional status of immigrants and governmental authority over immigration. Republican House leaders Edward Livingston of New York and Albert Gallatin of Pennsylvania spearheaded the opposition to the Act. They refuted at length the dual Federalist contentions that foreigners lacked constitutional rights, and that the Constitution permitted the federal Congress and President to usurp the authority of the states to regulate immigration. Republicans rejected the argument made by Otis and others that "the Constitutional compact was made between citizens only, and that, therefore, its provisions were not intended to extend to aliens." "[T]he Constitution expressly excludes any.. .distinction between citizen and alien," Livingston maintained, and it was "an acknowledged principle of the common law ... that alien friends...residing among us, are entitled to the protection of our laws." Citizens and aliens alike thus enjoyed "the same equal distribution of justice [and] ... the same humane provision to protect their innocence. "So indistinguishable was the constitutional status of aliens and citizens, Livingston warned, that the same rationale for subjecting "a few unprotected aliens" to the Act's "inquisitorial power" would "apply with equal strength ... in the case of citizens." The same "plea of necessity," he warned, could justify the banishment of both.
- The history of immigration law and politics in the nineteenth century is, in an important respect, a history of repeated and progressively sharper clashes between the regenerative model of assimilation and the seismic social and economic transformations of the industrial era: the concentration of population and industry; the emergence of a permanent, "dependent" wage-earning class; and, finally, the shifting origin of America's immigrants. In the eight decades between the nation's founding and the Civil War, Americans' relative confidence in the transformative power of immigration and in immigrants' capacity for moral and political regeneration directly shaped both the political construction of immigrants and their legal identity as objects of regulation. During that period, the perceived viability of the regenerative theory of immigration served as a referendum on the vitality of American republicanism itself. As went immigration, so went the Republic.
- The narrative of immigration as regeneration imagined the republican system itself, as well the economic arrangements on which that system rested, as a great hopper of assimilation with the capacity to transform the oppressed dregs of the Old World into patriotic republicans. The regeneration narrative evinced a certain optimistic, almost self-congratulatory confidence that the transformative power of geography and political institutions would preserve for all time the core republican values of personal independence and citizenly virtue.
Notwithstanding the hopper's tremendous power, however, its machinery was also remarkably fragile. Its effectiveness depended entirely on the integrity of its various constituent parts: independent, virtuous citizenship rooted in individual economic proprietorship; the immersion of immigrants in social and political institutions that promoted the adoption of republican values; and finally, the moral and political natures of immigrants themselves. These were the essential conditions of the nation's liberal immigration and naturalization policy, and virtually from the beginning they appeared threatened by the same dangers that jeopardized virtuous republican citizenship generally: concentrations of population in great manufacturing centers; the clustering of immigrants into ethnic enclaves where, instead of assimilating, they allegedly formed distinct political identities and interests defined by their shared national origins; and finally, the emergence of a permanent class of "dependent" laborers.
- Over the first half of the nineteenth century, even as Americans developed progressively sharper critiques of immigration, they nevertheless retained a basic faith in the fundamental moral natures of immigrants and in the capacity of American economic and political institutions to transform foreign migrants into patriotic republicans. The problems associated with European immigration were generally considered fatal neither to the nation's historically liberal immigration and naturalization policy, nor to the regeneration narrative that underwrote that liberality. So long as immigrants were properly diffused throughout the nation, contemporaries maintained, the warm bath of economic freedom and republican political fellowship would dissolve away the residue of Old World economic and political oppression, and infuse them with economic and political independence, habits of strenuous labor, and devotion to their adopted nation. It was only in the late 1840s and 1850s that a politically robust nativist movement gained broad support and political influence. There began to take hold a critique of immigrants as fundamentally, irredeemably foreign, animated by a deep suspicion that they either carried no "dormant seed of virtue" as a matter of nature, or, if they once had, that it had atrophied beyond any hope or revival. Although the nativist movement was ultimately unsuccessful in its primary policy demand-the extension of the period of residency required for naturalization-and was soon swallowed up by the Civil War and the increased demand for immigrant labor, it nevertheless represents an important chapter in the legal construction of foreignness.
- Americans' confidence in assimilation suffered its first significant, though by no means fatal, shock during the wave of anti-immigrant nativism that swept the American political scene in the late 1840s and 1850s. The so-called Know Nothings (and their formal organ, the American Party) rode this wave to widespread, albeit relatively brief, electoral success by denouncing Irish immigration, in particular, which had surged to unprecedented levels beginning in the mid-1840s. The nativists of the 1850s were ultimately unsuccessful in their declared political goal of imposing harsh new restrictions on alien suffrage, including lengthy naturalization periods and even post-naturalization limits on the franchise. But their remarkably swift political ascendency signals the moment when a critical mass of Americans began to worry that a substantial proportion of European immigrants were fundamentally, irredeemably alien to the national character.
- To observers with an eye on the nation's burgeoning cities, the confluent problems of increasing economic dependency, intense wage competition from foreign workers, and progressively greater concentrations of both economic production and population, were seismic historical upheavals that threatened to erode the very pillars of republican government. The Jeffersonian republic of economically independent, politically virtuous producer-citizens appeared to be slipping from view, crowded off the historical stage by new, characteristically "European" forms of economic social and economic organization. As Americans' confidence in the great hopper of assimilation wavered, critics of the United States's liberal immigration and naturalization policies typically invoked two intertwined arguments for curbing the nation's traditional generosity. First, they argued that the disappearance in recent decades of vacant lands and the increasing concentration of industry and population had skewed two of the hopper's integral components: immigrants' ready access to individual economic proprietorship, and their immersion in American life and labor. The effect was to radically impair the capacity of American economic and political institutions to transform Europe's outcasts into patriotic republicans.
Second, and most often, however, critics pointed to the poor quality of the raw material that the assimilationist hopper was tasked to digest: the fundamental moral natures of immigrants themselves. A leading contemporary chronicler of the Know-Nothing movement, Frederich Anspach, was representative in blending an account of changing economic organization and settlement patterns with a palpable distain for immigrants' moral constitutions. When the naturalization laws were first formed, Anspach explained, "we were an infant nation . ..with an immense territory . . ..It was an object of paramount importance at the time, to have our lands occupied, our solitudes peopled, our roads opened, and our cities built." Faced with such exigencies, policymakers sought to encourage immigration by permitting foreigners to acquire property and, most importantly, providing for easy access to American citizenship. If former circumstances warranted liberality, however, "[s]uch is not our condition now." In the new, post-agrarian republic, where "[m]uch of our territory is peopled, our wide domain is rapidly filling up, our coasts are protected, [and] our cities built," the time had come to "guard against the evils which do accompany the unparalleled influx of foreigners." In order to prevent hastily enfranchised foreigners from "convert[ing] this asylum . . .into a despotism of oppression," Anspach counseled the erection of substantial new barriers to United States citizenship.
- As much as complaints of unassimilability grew more commonplace in the 1850s, however, the view that a large portion of immigrants were indelibly stamped by nature as alien to the American character had not yet taken hold among a broad swath of the American public, and failed to shape federal immigration and naturalization policy. Indeed, even writers who in one breath condemned immigrants' corrosive effect on the quality of American citizenship could, in the next, affirm their faith in assimilation. The renowned clergyman and author Edward Everett Hale, for example, described with alarm the "Celtic Exodus," and consequent "annual invasion" of the United States by "a horde of discouraged, starved, beaten men and women" whose "inferiority as a race compels them to go to the bottom."' Within a few pages, however, Hale pivoted sharply, adopting a markedly more optimistic vision of assimilation."[T]he country [is] richer for the coming of the foreigner," he declared, and "to attain the full use of this gift, the emigrant must be cared for." Rather than throwing up obstacles to immigration, Hale insisted, the nation "must open its hand to receive the offering of Europe." Once here, the immigrant should be welcomed warmly into the American political fellowship, not as a gesture of national generosity, but as a spur to assimilation. "The stranger cannot serve the country while he is a stranger," Hale counseled, but "must plunge, or be plunged, into his new home." "He must, for the purpose we seek, profit by the measure of its civilization. He must be directed by its intelligence. His children must grow up in its institutions. He must be, not in a clan in a city, surrounded by his own race." Notwithstanding Hale's dark assessment of the Irish "race" pouring in on the republic, his proposed solution was a familiar one: geographical dispersion. In order to "'stimulate the [nation's] absorbents,"' Hale urged, "private action and public policy in this matter should unite ...[so] that each little duct, the country through, may drink its share, of those drops which some do not taste at all, of the perpetual Westward flood."
- In contrast to the immigration restriction movement of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in the 1850s even those critics who were most skeptical of immigrants' capacity for assimilation usually advocated limiting access to American citizenship rather than excluding immigrants from American territory. ' Foreigners' "opinions need to be recast before they [can] intelligently participate in public affairs," wrote the Know Nothing Anspach. "[E]ven a residence of fifteen or more years is absolutely essential in most instances before a man can vote intelligently," he counseled. Indeed, to the extent that leading nativists sought to reduce the number of immigrants entering the country, they proposed to do so not by restricting immigration per se, but rather by removing the "inducements" furnished by "[t]he existing laws of naturalization, by which the meanest serf of Europe could be converted into a voter in five years. "'This exclusive focus on naturalization stands in sharp contrast to the anti-immigrant program of the 1880s and 1890s, in which foreign laborers' very presence on American territory-and particularly their participation in the labor market-threatened to corrode republican institutions.
Despite the intensity of the nativist fervor, it faded from political prominence as rapidly as it had emerged. The nation's enduring, if increasingly cautious, faith in assimilation combined with the surging labor demands of the Civil War to submerge for another generation the immigration illiberalism of the 1850s.
- Before the 1870s, the federal government exercised very little authority over immigration, neither establishing terms of eligibility for foreigners' admission into United States territory nor processing theirentry. Rather, the seaboard states-foremost New York and Massachusetts-administered the landing of immigrants, and each individual state determined the rights and privileges of foreigners residing within its territory. Even in the decade following the Civil War, most Americans continued to view the problems associated with mass immigration as an acceptable burden to bear in exchange for the overwhelming economic benefits reaped from the nation's traditionally liberal immigration and naturalization policy. Because such problems were understood to be local and discrete, the regulation of immigration continued to fit comfortably within the province of state police authority, under which states and municipalities regulated all aspects of public health, safety, morals, and welfare throughout the nineteenth century.' This Section maps the logic of immigration localism that shaped the regulation of non-citizens for the first half of the nineteenth century. That logic rested on two pillars: (1) a broad consensus that the regulatory challenges and political interests implicated by the presence of foreigners-the problem of economic dependency and crime, for example, or the desire to attract laborers or settlers-were fundamentally local in nature; and (2) the lack of any meaningful regulatory competition from the federal government.
- The New York Commissioners of Emigration ("Commissioners")-the state agency that administered the landing of three-quarters of the nation's immigrants from its creation in 1847 until 1891--championed European immigrants as an invaluable economic resource and the embodiment of free, independent labor. Commissioner Freidrich Kapp, one of the nation's leading authorities on immigration, explained in 1870 that the United States "owe[d] its wonderful development mainly to the conflux of the poor and outcast of Europe within it"-to "the sturdy farmer and industrious mechanic," who through their "toils and sufferings ...built up ... the proud structure of this Republic, which in itself is the glorification ...of free and intelligent labor."'" Kapp's sanguine assessment of immigrants' moral and economic character was embedded in his, and the nation's, enduring confidence in the regenerative power of free labor and republican institutions.
“Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication” (12/2007)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Asylum” (Oct 26, 2020)
(John Oliver, “Asylum”, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, HBO, (Oct 26, 2020)
- 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.
”Trump Executive Order on Refugees and Travel Ban: A Brief Review”
Sarah Pierce and Doris Meissner, ”Trump Executive Order on Refugees and Travel Ban: A Brief Review”, Migrationpolicy.org
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- [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.
- 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.
“They fled danger at home to make a high-stakes bet on U.S. immigration courts” (Oct. 17, 2017)
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)
- 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.
“Significant Variation Existed in Asylum Outcomes across Immigration Courts and Judges” (September 2008)
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- [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.
“Changing Sovereignty Games and International Migration Changing Sovereignty Games and International Migration” (Fall 1994)
Aristide R. Zolberg, “Changing Sovereignty Games and International Migration Changing Sovereignty Games and International Migration”, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Volume 2 Issue 1, (Fall 1994)
- [T]here were stirrings in the North American colonies regarding who might be let in. Before the Revolution, grievances arose between the colonials and the Crown over two crucial aspects of immigration: on the negative side, the colonies claimed the right to exclude undesirables-notably Catholics, paupers, and felons; on the positive side, they claimed the right to naturalize desirable settlers who were not British subjects. It is noteworthy that some of these grievances were spelled out in the Declaration of Independence as arguments in support of the quest for sovereignty.
Already incipient in the Colonial period, this situation was fundamentally altered by the formation of the United States-an independent overseas republic controlled by people of European descent which, on the whole, welcomed substantial immigration of putative settlers and workers from Great Britain and select Protestant countries on the continent. Despite some setbacks, the new country acted as a magnet, particularly for members of the "middling classes" of society, because it afforded the possibility of acquiring land at a much lower price than anywhere in Europe. In Europe this precipitated an emigration crisis to which all sovereigns (including the Swiss cantons and German principalities) responded by reinforcing sanctions against unauthorized departure.
- To begin with, the U.S. Constitution established what has been termed a "negative pregnant" regarding the importation of slaves-that is, by specifying that Congress could make no law prohibiting such importation prior to 1808, it in effect affirmed its authority to regulate importation after 1808. It is now understood that this was designed not only to limit slavery, but also to restrict the expansion of the country's non-white population and, in effect, to decidedly shift the balance to the white side. Although this would not prevent voluntary movement from Africa, the possibility was ruled out by prevailing circumstances. In any case the conception of the U.S. body politic as white-only was clearly indicated by the enactment of a naturalization law by the very first Congress restricting candidates to the "free and white."
- Although the fact that the Constitution vests the authority to enact naturalization laws in Congress suggests that sovereignty lay at the congressional level, the concept of "sovereignty" in the United States was made ambiguous by the existence of states and the insistence on the states' right to exercise "police powers" over slavery issues. This, in turn, very much affected the way in which immigration law and policy was carried out in the antebellum period.
- United States
- European colonization of the Americas
- Slavery in the United States
- American imperialism
- Secure Fence Act of 2006
- Illegal immigration to India