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Just the Facts

Immigration Fact Checks provide up-to-date information on the most current issues involving immigration today.

Understanding Initial Legal Challenges to Immigration Accountability Executive Action

On November 20 and 21, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of administrative reforms of immigration policy, collectively referred to as the Immigration Accountability Executive Action. Central to these reforms is a plan to expand eligibility under the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to create a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program for the parents of U.S citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who meet certain criteria. Both DACA and DAPA derive from the executive branch’s inherent authority to exercise discretion in the prosecution and enforcement of immigration cases. In both instances, the President has authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defer for three years the deportation of qualified individuals who pose no threat to the United States in the hope that Congress will finally undertake comprehensive, more permanent immigration reform.

Within hours of the announcement, notorious Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio challenged the President’s plan to defer deportations in a Washington, D.C., federal court. Shortly thereafter, representatives of 17 states filed a similar case in a Brownsville, Texas, federal court. An additional 7 states later joined the case. While these cases are more political diatribe than legal argument, and are unlikely to succeed in the long run, understanding the procedural steps and the nature of the arguments helps to put the cases in perspective.

The LawsuitsRead more...

Published On: Fri, Dec 19, 2014 | Download File

Only the Beginning: The Economic Potential of Executive Action on Immigration

The series of executive actions on immigration which President Obama announced on November 20, 2014, would have a beneficial—if modest—impact on the U.S. economy. Specifically, the president’s actions are likely to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce the federal deficit, and raise both tax revenue and average wages—all without having any appreciable impact on native-born employment. Most, though not all, of these economic gains would flow from two actions in particular: creation of a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which would grant temporary relief from deportation, as well as work authorization, to some unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offers relief from deportation and work authorization to qualified young adults who were brought to the United States as children. However, research suggests that comprehensive immigration reform legislation would yield even greater economic benefits than the programs created through executive action.

Increasing GDP and Reducing the DeficitRead more...

Published On: Thu, Dec 11, 2014 | Download File

Reagan-Bush Family Fairness: A Chronological History

From 1987 to 1990, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. used their executive authority to protect from deportation a group that Congress left out of its 1986 immigration reform legislation—the spouses and children of individuals who were in the process of legalizing. These “Family Fairness” actions were taken to avoid separating families in which one spouse or parent was eligible for legalization, but the other spouse or children living in the United States were not—and thus could be deported, even though they would one day be eligible for legal status when the spouse or parent legalized. Publicly available estimates at the time were that “Family Fairness” could cover as many as 1.5 million family members, which was approximately 40 percent of the then-unauthorized population. After Reagan and Bush acted, Congress later protected the family members. This fact sheet provides a chronological history of the executive actions and legislative debate surrounding Family Fairness.

November 6, 1986:

 

President Reagan signs the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The legislation makes certain immigrants eligible for temporary legal status and eventually green cards, primarily (1) those “continuously” present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 (the general legalization provisions), and (2) special agricultural workers (SAW). At the time, roughly 3 million people are thought to be eligible to legalize, although that number will rise by 1990, due to an unexpectedly large number of SAW applicants, and litigation by several hundred thousand persons who claimed eligibility for the general legalization provisions.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Dec 09, 2014 | Download File

Refugees: A Fact Sheet

The need for international protection of refugees stemmed from the plight of displaced civilians in Europe during World War II. Most refugees are displaced from their country of origin to a neighboring country, and then resettled to a third country through international organizations like the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United States resettles more refugees than any other country, and these refugees go on to contribute to our communities and our economy.  

What is a refugee?

A refugee, as defined by Section 101(a)42 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. This definition is based on the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees, which the United States became a party to in 1968. Following the Vietnam War and the U.S. experience of resettling Indochinese refugees, Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which incorporated the Convention’s definition into U.S. law and provides the legal basis for today’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

How many refugees are there in the world?Read more...

Published On: Wed, Oct 01, 2014 | Download File

Immigrant Women in the United States: A Portrait of Demographic Diversity

There are more than 20 million immigrant women and girls in the United States today, and they are a formidable presence in U.S. society and the U.S. economy. Immigrant women come from every corner of the globe and slightly outnumber immigrant men. Read more...

Published On: Wed, Sep 10, 2014 | Download File

Asylum in the United States

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international definition of a “refugee.” A refugee is defined as a person who has been persecuted or has a well-founded fear of being persecuted “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” This definition derives from the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols (“Convention and Protocols”)—international agreements to which the United States is a signatory. Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980. Also, the Convention and Protocols and U.S. law protect the asylum-seeker from “non-refoulement.” In other words, under international law, a country cannot return or expel people to places where their lives or freedoms could be in jeopardy. Asylum status is granted by asylum officers or immigration judges. In FY 2012, 29,484 individuals were granted asylum.

There are two asylum processes in the United States: the affirmative process and the defensive process.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Aug 27, 2014 | Download File

Unauthorized Immigrants Today: A Demographic Profile

With Congress gridlocked on immigration reform, all eyes have turned to the White House to implement administrative reforms that will address some of the consequences of years of legislative stalemates. While it remains to be seen what those fixes will be, the central question—as always—will be what to do about some or all of the estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants now living in the United States. Tackling this issue effectively involves overcoming a common misperception that unauthorized immigrants consist primarily of barely literate, single young men who have recently crossed the southern border and live solitary lives disconnected from U.S. society. The truth, however, is that unauthorized immigrants include adults and children, mothers and fathers, homeowners and people of faith, most of whom are invested in their communities.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Aug 19, 2014 | Download File

Taking Attendance: New Data Finds Majority of Children Appear in Immigration Court

As the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the United States border has increased, some lawmakers have argued that children frequently fail to appear for proceedings and thus proposed mandatory detention as a solution. Some say as many as 90 percent fail to attend their immigration court hearings. Yet government data recently published by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) indicates the opposite. Not only do a majority of children attend their immigration proceedings, according to TRAC, but 90 percent or more attend when represented by lawyers. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jul 29, 2014 | Download File

Removal Without Recourse: The Growth of Summary Deportations from the United States

The deportation process has been transformed drastically over the last two decades. Today, two-thirds of individuals deported are subject to what are known as “summary removal procedures,” which deprive them of both the right to appear before a judge and the right to apply for status in the United States. In 1996, as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), Congress established streamlined deportation procedures that allow the government to deport (or “remove”) certain noncitizens from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge. Two of these procedures, “expedited removal” and “reinstatement of removal,” allow immigration officers to serve as both prosecutor and judge—often investigating, charging, and making a decision all within the course of one day. These rapid deportation decisions often fail to take into account many critical factors, including whether the individual is eligible to apply for lawful status in the United States, whether he or she has long-standing ties here, or whether he or she has U.S.-citizen family members.

In recent years, summary procedures have eclipsed traditional immigration court proceedings, accounting for the dramatic increase in removals overall. As the chart below demonstrates, since 1996, the number of deportations executed under summary removal procedures—including expedited removal, reinstatement of removal, and stipulated removal (all described below)—has dramatically increased.

 

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, more than 70 percent of all people Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported were subject to summary removal procedures.

Expedited Removal (INA § 235(b)) Read more...

Published On: Mon, Apr 28, 2014 | Download File

The Growth of the U.S. Deportation Machine

More Immigrants are being “Removed” from the United States than Ever Before

Despite some highly public claims to the contrary, there has been no waning of immigration enforcement in the United States. In fact, the U.S. deportation machine has grown larger in recent years, indiscriminately consuming criminals and non-criminals alike, be they unauthorized immigrants or long-time legal permanent residents (LPRs). Deportations under the Obama administration alone are now approaching the two-million mark. But the deportation frenzy began long before this milestone. The federal government has, for nearly two decades, been pursuing an enforcement-first approach to immigration control that favors mandatory detention and deportation over the traditional discretion of a judge to consider the unique circumstances of every case. The end result has been a relentless campaign of imprisonment and expulsion aimed at noncitizens—a campaign authorized by Congress and implemented by the executive branch. While this campaign precedes the Obama administration by many years, it has grown immensely during his tenure in the White House. In part, this is the result of laws which have put the expansion of deportations on automatic. But the continued growth of deportations also reflects the policy choices of the Obama administration. Rather than putting the brakes on this non-stop drive to deport more and more people, the administration chose to add fuel to the fire.

IRCA and the New Era of DeportationsRead more...

Published On: Wed, Apr 09, 2014 | Download File