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The Immigrant Journey

Issue 24, May 26, 2019

As we continue along the Immigrant Journey, here is a selection of what caught my attention this week.

POLITICS

Trump’s Immigration Utopia. Imagine 2050. It’s 30 years after the Trumpian Immigration Utopia plan went into effect. The change to a skills-based, merits-based policy reduced the number of new immigrants who entered under a family relationship to less than 10% of the overall total.  Chain migration is dead.

It’s a xenophobic fantasy. Or is it?

The conversion to a skills-based program has led to a future America where immigrant-born families are better educated, more upwardly mobile, and earn higher wages than U.S. born families. The president, not a scholarly fellow, failed to grasp history is often the product of unintended consequences.

Looking backward, Donald Jr. and Kushner, now in their 70’s, realize the trade-off for the end of family immigration was the birth of a new economic and educational pecking order, with American home boys at the bottom.

Facebook Warrior. Kudos to David Beem, a member of a Facebook group, Fair Unity (Families Advocating Immigration Reform & Unity), who shared recent interactions with immigration opponents on the topic.

At a public event in New Mexico, a woman was arguing that current immigration policy doesn’t prioritize U.S. citizens, unlike the president’s new plan. David reminded her that under the disavowed approach, U.S. citizens are allowed to sponsor relatives. He’s on point. In a merits-based system, corporations and big business, not citizens, will rule the president’s plan.

Another person asserted that Trump’s plan will ensure that immigrants contribute and be forced to compete for jobs.  David asked, in response, “Who will such immigrants compete with?”  After all, it might be rumor but I’ve heard from more than one source, immigrants work harder than U.S. born employees and are paid lower wages. So what happens when immigrants also have better skills?

The world needs more immigration warriors like Mr. Beem.

IMMIGRATION POLICY

The Three Percent Problem. Earlier this month, the 15th Annual PEN Voices Festival, a week-long series of events with over 200 authors from more than 50 countries across the globe, was held in New York City. The Festival was founded in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the United States and the world.

Book publisher Chad Post kicked-off the PEN Festival by sharing his thoughts about the challenge of getting Americans to read books from other places.  Statistics illustrate the failure to embrace international writers.  Only 3% of books sold in the U.S. are works in translation (as opposed to 30-60% typical in European countries).

The 3% problem reflects more than a publishing quandary.  There are consequences of American intellectual insularity. As Post pointed out, even though the U.S. public is aware internet filter bubbles stifle independent thought, they are unattuned to their self-imposed linguistic barrier locking them out of global culture. The worst part? Cultural isolation in our politics.

In other words, America First is not merely a presidential illness.

By the way, PEN stands for Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists. Formed on April 19, 1922, the organization’s purpose is to stand at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide.

BORDER AFFAIRS

Just The Numbers. The Department of Homeland Security released updated statistics for Southwest Border apprehensions. In April 2019, the Border Patrol apprehended 109,144 individuals.  In March 2019, 103,719 were apprehended.

If these numbers seem surprising, you’re not alone. A new Harvard/Harris poll found 87%  of respondents thought the number of border apprehensions was lower than 100,000 per month. A clueless majority (52%) estimated the rate was less than 100,000 per year.

Divorce Court, The Model?

The vast numbers of asylum seekers have led to a staggering backlog of immigration court cases. It’s not uncommon for 12 months to transpire between hearings.  There is a formula for fixture.

A few decades ago, faced with an increasing load of divorce cases, the Superior Court of California found a simple two-part solution. A separate division was created to handle child support matters.  In addition, referring husbands and wives to court counselors became an essential component of evaluating child custody claims prior to full court hearings.

A similar approach might bring a semblance of sanity to immigration courts.

First, create an asylum cases division. Judges and support staff assigned to this division would be specially trained to adjudicate asylum claims. If there are other types of issues remaining at the end of these hearings, immigrants will return to the regular immigration court for further proceedings.

Second, create a credible fear screening component. Instead of placing this burden on rushed and short-staffed border personnel, these officers could gather testimony and review evidence, in a thorough manner, and provide immigration judges with in-depth evaluations of applicants’ claims. This would help eliminate the filing of frivolous claims, heighten fairness for legitimate cases, and reduce long waiting times for hearings without keeping folks locked up in callous detention centers.

HUMAN INTEREST

Macho Immigration. I close this week with the proposition that bad law can be overcome. Take the Expatriation Act, passed in 1907. If a U.S. citizen female married an immigrant, she would lose her citizenship. According to Congress, she would take on her husband’s nationality – even though only that country had the right to grant such privilege within its borders.

Many females became stateless and subject to deportation. If their husbands later became naturalized citizens, they could go through the naturalization process to regain citizenship status.  These rules did not apply to American born males when they married a foreign-born spouse. Over time, the legislation was defeated.  Of course, women first had to win the right to vote.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading!

Until next week, stay focused, committed, and compassionate.

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P.S. Ready to take a serious and honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your immigration case? Let’s get started with a personalized strategy and planning consultation . . .

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