The real immigration crisis, viewed from Minnesota, and other immigration news – July 26, 2017

Hundred dollar bills Ervins Strauhmanis

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis, published under Creative Commons license

Twin Cities Business just published two long-form articles analyzing “the real immigration crisis”  – Minnesota and U.S. economic need for immigration, and how our current, broken immigration system fails to meet that need. Immigration is essential to continuing economic growth. Attacking immigrants and preventing immigration hurts everyone.

Other immigration news from Minnesota includes Mila Koumpilova’s description of the criminal court/immigration court Catch 22 and continuing revelations about the Texas tragedy.

The Real Immigration Crisis (Twin Cities Business, 7/25/17)

“The ongoing failure of both Republicans and Democrats to fix the system frustrates Bill Blazar, a longtime executive at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. About a decade ago, the chamber, concerned about looming worker shortages, formed the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition. The alliance, which works with business lobbies, unions, attorneys, religious groups, social service agencies and professional groups—43 organizations in all—continues to press for an overhaul of the immigration system….

“Immigration has been fueling our growth,” says Brower. “We would expect to see increases in immigration to Minnesota, overall, under the projections we have out right now.” But she notes pointedly that if the flow of foreign-born workers tails off, “we’d see no growth, or contraction” in the workforce. Thus, she concludes, the new hard line doesn’t square with the needs of employers or the prospects for the state’s economy….

And it’s not just Minnesota:

“Steve Carlson, a former deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, warns that growing anti-immigrant sentiment could seriously damage the national economy. He points to Congressional Budget Office forecasts that counted on a flow of 1 million immigrants annually for the CBO’s 10-year outlook. Without them, the country’s economy would lose almost a fourth of its growth over this stretch.”

Trepidation in the Heartland (Twin Cities Business, 8/1/17)

“Ag is a big deal in this state, generating $16 billion in economic output and 150,000 direct and indirect jobs. Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation for ag production, including livestock (in turkeys it’s first, hogs third and dairy cows sixth). It ranks first, second and third in production of sugar beets, corn and soybeans, respectively. And on average, an estimated 20 percent or more of the Minnesota workers behind these stats are Mexican or Somali, and mostly recent immigrants.

“One-half of the cows in the United States are now milked by immigrant labor, and it’s primarily by Hispanics,” Lunemann says. “Without that segment of the workforce we’d be in dire straits. It’s more than that if you look at fruit and vegetable production. But if you look just at livestock, across the spectrum and especially with hogs and poultry, there’s a significant part of the labor force that is now immigrants.”

Concern goes beyond farms:

“[Ken Warner, president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce] adds that what’s true on farms in rural Minnesota also is evident in hospitals and clinics. “A lot of people are here on H1-B visas to lend us their expertise in the health care industry, and if somebody all of a sudden decides that policy is not strong enough and starts messing with it, we’re not strong enough in this country to lose these health care workers.”

“Meanwhile, the uncertainty is palpable. “Everyone’s concerned about a clampdown from the current administration,” the hog producer executive says.

Catch-22

Some immigrants face Catch-22 as ICE takes a harder line on detention (Star Tribune, 7/24/17) Catch 22: immigrants here are being picked up by ICE shortly after their Hennepin County arrest – taken away before a public defender is assigned, and then denied bond on immigration case – which means they cannot appear or defend against the criminal charges. And as long as the criminal charges are pending, the immigration court denies bond.

“Immigration inmates can apply for a habeas writ, permission to be transported to court hearings.

“But the process is daunting, and ICE does not have to honor a writ. Detainees can also ask two local immigration judges to review ICE’s decision. But a backlogged court means inmates wait three weeks on average for such a hearing, AILA says, and often miss their criminal court appearances.”

And in other immigration news

A federal judge just halted deportation of 1400 Iraqis (Vox, 7/25/17) Chaldean Christians, Kurds, and Sunni Muslims face danger and persecution if returned to Iraq. They have been targeted by the Trump administration because Iraq has agreed to take them back. A federal judge ordered that they must each have a chance to present their cases in immigration court, rather than facing summary deportation based on years-old orders. The judge wrote: “Each petitioner faces the risk of torture or death on the basis of residence in America and publicized criminal records. Many will also face persecution as a result of a particular religious affiliation.”

Trump’s New Immigration Lockup Draws Local Opposition in Conroe (Texas Observer, 7/25/17) But construction of the 1,000-bed Geo Group private prison is proceeding anyway.

Government Shutdown Odds Grow with GOP Border Wall Funding Bill (Bloomberg, 7/25/17)

“House Republicans this week are increasing the possibility of a government shutdown in October by moving forward with a $788 billion spending bill that complies with President Donald Trump’s demands to boost the military, reduce clean-energy programs and fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Those priorities, especially $1.6 billion in wall funding, guarantee House and Senate Democratic leaders will oppose the bill.”

Opinion: Trump is Winning His War on Immigration (Bloomberg, 7/25/17)

“Polling shows broad and mostly consistent support for immigrants. Gallup regularly shows that more Americans support current levels of immigration or increased immigration than support a decrease. Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, whose status Trump has declined to resolve, are very popular. Most Americans support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. More Americans say immigrants help the economy than say they hurt it.

“The public sentiments reflected in such polls are surely real. But Trump has proved that intensity of feeling may be more important. Americans have not taken to the streets in numbers strong enough to protect otherwise law-abiding mothers and fathers from deportation. Everyday Americans are not stopping the Trump administration roundup.”

A Broader Sweep (New York Times, 7/21/17) The New York Times goes to California, producing video coverage of a day in the field with ICE agents.

The Biometric Frontier: ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Becomes ‘Open Your Eyes’ as Border Sheriffs Expand Iris Surveillance (The Intercept, 7/24/17)

“Thirty-one sheriffs, representing every county along the U.S.-Mexico border, voted unanimously on April 3 to adopt tools that will capture, catalogue, and compare individuals’ iris data, for use both in jails and out on patrol. Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies, the company behind the push, has offered the sheriffs a free three-year trial, citing law enforcement’s difficulties in identifying unauthorized immigrants whose fingerprints can be disfigured through manual labor or self-inflicted wounds.”

Texas Tragedy, continued

Truck Driver Accused of Smuggling Immigrants Could Face the Death Penalty (Time, 7/24/17)

“In outlining their immigrant-smuggling case against James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, federal prosecutors depicted the trailer as pitch-black, crammed with somewhere around 90 people or more by some estimates, and so suffocatingly hot that one passenger said they took turns breathing through a hole and pounding on the walls to get the driver’s attention.”

Criminal record of truck driver in deadly immigrant case dates back 20 years (San Antonio Express-News via Houston Chronicle, 7/24/17)

“Bradley’s criminal record includes arrests since 1997 in multiple states on charges including menacing others, assault, grand theft, escape and several traffic offenses, according to public records.”

Horrific episode of human smuggling fuels both sides of immigration debate (Washington Post, 7/24/17)

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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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