What do the numbers tell us? and other immigration articles – April 18, 2017

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Syracuse University analyzes federal data in its TRAC project.

What Does New Immigration Data (or Lack of It) Tell Us About Trump’s First Three Months in Office? asks Latino USA.

The short answer: not much.

The Latino USA article begins by summarizing a report by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, which has a long record of providing detailed and reliable data. TRAC’s “Immigration Court Post-Trump Cases: Latest Data” finds a pattern “not dissimilar” to Obama’s record, though it notes “a shift away from illegal entry as the grounds for seeking deportation and a rise in other immigration offenses, such as not currently having a valid immigrant visa which can occur if the person entered legally and then stayed beyond the period permitted under their visa.”

The real news from TRAC is that its analysis has just become more difficult:

“Unfortunately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has started withholding other more comprehensive information that ICE previously released to TRAC in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. ICE does not claim the withheld information is exempt from disclosure, it simply claims past releases were discretionary and it is no longer willing to make many of these details available to the public.

“Because of these ICE refusals, TRAC is unable to update its online free web query tools that allow the public to view ICE activities under both the previous Bush and Obama Administrations.”

The Latino USA article also includes Scribd documents with the two reports on “non-cooperating jurisdictions” that were issued before the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suspended this reporting. The reports were widely criticized by law enforcement as inaccurate as well as focused on the wrong issues.

Finally, the Latino USA article critiques articles in the Washington Post and New York Times in recent days. The Washington Post article said

“While [the Washington Post] reported that 2017 has seen a 32.6 increase in arrests when compared to 2016, readers don’t find out until the end of the article that the Obama 2014 arrested more immigrants in 2014, even though the Post added a data graphic earlier in the article to reflect this fact:

WaPo graphic in Latino USA

The point of the Washington Post article seems to be that the focus of enforcement is shifting to include virtually any undocumented individual, including more noncriminals. The TRAC numbers show this, too – but is 60 days a long enough period to provide any concrete evidence of change?

The New York Times article focuses more on the real but intangible effect of changes in policy and rhetoric, both in the United States and in Mexico:

“High-profile arrests, including those of parents handcuffed and driven away in front of their children, have provoked terror in immigrant communities, and the Mexican news media has closely followed the cases.”

Immigration policy is only one factor affecting immigration outcomes, whether those outcomes are measured as grants of visas, deportations, or detentions. Push factors – such as violence, natural disasters, wars, and poverty – have a great impact on immigration flows. So do pull factors, such as safety, available employment, or reconnecting with family.

Bottom line: it’s tough to measure the impact of Trump’s immigration policies by the numbers – especially by the numbers for the first few weeks.

What Does New Immigration Data (or Lack of It) Tell Us About Trump’s First Three Months in Office?  (Latino USA, 4/17/17)

Immigration Court Post-Trump Cases: Latest Data (Syracuse University TRAC, 3/21/17)

Suits Challenging Confinement of Non-Citizens Jump (Syracuse University TRAC, 2/21/17)

U.S. Deportation Proceedings in Immigration Courts (Syracuse University TRAC, 2/28/17))

ICE immigration arrests of noncriminals double under Trump (Washington Post, 4/16/17)

Mexican Deportees, Once Ignored Back Home, Now Find ‘Open Arms’ (New York Times, 4/15/17)

And in other news:

U.S. top court leaves intact ruling against Central American asylum seekers (Reuters, 4/17/17) Back in February, SCOTUS Blog summarized the issues before the court in Castro v. Department of Homeland Security. Today the Supreme Court denied certiorari, meaning that it will not review the lower court decision.

“The families, 28 women and 33 children ages 2 to 17 from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, had hoped the justices would overturn a lower court’s ruling preventing them from having their expedited removal orders reviewed by a federal judge.

“That Philadelphia-based court said the status of the families, all apprehended in Texas and later held in Pennsylvania, was akin to non-citizens who are denied entry at the border and they were not entitled to a court hearing to challenge that decision.”

Undocumented and Upper Class: A House in Bay Park, But No Hope of a Green Card (Voice of San Diego, 4/6/17)

“But despite the financial security, Jose can’t use his real name or show his face in a story about him. Neither can his wife. That’s because Jose has been living in the United States illegally for 23 years….

“Starting [in 1996], undocumented immigrants couldn’t change their status if they were already living in the United States for more than six months. …

“For Jose, that means that despite the fact he has no criminal record and is married to a U.S. citizen, he’ll never be allowed to change his status and live in the United States legally.

“That’s why the ‘get in line’ argument makes us want to pull our hair out. There is no line. Don’t you think if there was my husband would already be in it?” Linda said.”

Tax Filings Seen Dipping Amid Trump Crackdown on Illegal Immigration (NPR, 4/17/17)

“But it’s generally understood that most tax filers using an ITIN are in this country illegally — like 36-year-old Axel, who asked that we not use his last name because of his immigration status. He came to the U.S. from Guatemala several years ago. In his native Spanish, he said he has no hesitation about filing his tax returns.”

Other immigrants may be hesitating this year.

“Sending in a tax return with your current address and information is very unnerving to a population that wants to comply with the law and is actually leaving significant refunds on the table by not filing tax returns,” [Clarissa Johnson, who directs a free tax preparation clinic] says.”

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2018 (USCIS, 4/17/17)

“USCIS announced on April 7, 2017, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.”

Trump to seek changes in visa program to encourage hiring Americans (Reuters, 4/17/17)

“The order will call on those four federal departments to propose reforms to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicant.

“H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in “specialty” occupations that generally require higher education, which according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.”

The H-1b visa program is not ‘much-abused’ (Washington Post letter to the editor, 4/17/17) The national treasurer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association defends H-1b.


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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