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Saturday, July 19, 2014

New resources for understanding the crisis of unaccompanied minors on the border

Several outlets have developed background materials for understanding the factors that have led to the current crisis of refugees/migrants on the border from Central America.

The first link is a blog post from an immigration lawyer detailing the hurdles lawyers face in trying to represent families in detention centers:

The Artesia Experience

The Wilson Quarterly has put together an interactive set of maps and graphs which detail the underlying factors which lead people to leave places like Honduras and El Salvador:

Wilson Quarterly Interactive Map

Huff Post Latino Voices has also examined the U.S. influences that have helped lead to the current crisis:

Here's How The U.S. Sparked A Refugee Crisis On The Border, In 8 Simple Steps

Protests against the influx were set for this weekend, although turn-outs tended to be small, it is an illustration of the divides in public opinion created by the crisis:

tipo gritando.jpg

from the Austin American-Statesman:
Seeking Asylum in the United States: Fleeing gang brutality in El Salvador, Jose has made the dangerous trek to the United States to seek asylum. Casa Marianella in Austin has been his home for the past three months.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Focus on unaccompanied minors continues

The situation for unaccompanied minors at the border continues to create headlines. Protests are continuing and have spread to Arizona where many are calling for the children to be deported immediately, but this would be against current law, and due process.

Growing protests over where to shelter immigrant children hits Arizona

The Catholic church has already taken an active role in helping the children and families and Pope Francis has taken a strong position in support of the child migrants:

I recently learned of a new resource called TRAC immigration (h/t Karen Crawford):
"TRAC's Immigration Project is a unique new multi-year effort to systematically go after very detailed information from the government, check it for accuracy and completeness and then make it available in an understandable way to the American people, Congress, immigration groups and others."

They just posted data on unaccompanied children and how they fare in court:
The ACLU has also posted a commentary on children in immigration court and how they fare without a lawyer:
New Republic has posted an article that focuses on the TRAC data on children in immigration court:

Migrants and lawyers

A recent Gallup poll shows that concern about immigration has grown dramatically:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Border issues dominate Obama visit to Texas

Immigration ended up high on the agenda for President Obama's trip to Texas, that was planned to focus on economic growth and support for the middle class. Earlier this week, President Obama proposed a $3.7 billion emergency budget measure that would in part address housing issues for the large number of unaccompanied minors who have entered the country from Central America in the last few months.

After some back and forth over if and when a meeting would occur, Governor Rick Perry agreed to join President Obama in Dallas at a round-table discussion about the border.


Obama Presses Perry to Rally Support for Border Funds

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas greeted President Obama on Wednesday in Dallas, where the two attended a meeting on immigration. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times


President Obama came out of the meeting urging Congress to approve funds to deal with the crisis.

The roots of the crisis in Central America are still being discussed, with a variety of factors being considered, some argue that President Obama's executive order allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is encouraging children from Central America to come to the U.S. or that criminal gangs are telling people in these countries that there children won't be deported:

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating: ‘Lax enforcement’ is not the culprit—U.S. trade and immigration policies are.
There is at least one House Republican who thinks that immigration reform needs to move forward, but he was told this week that his bill is dead:

Monday, July 7, 2014

The public response to the influx of refugees from Central America

Beyond the political posturing of Republicans and Democrats on the issue of immigration, there has been the on the ground response of citizens in cities that have been affected by the influx.  As noted in our previous post, the number of children, particularly unaccompanied minors is unprecendented in recent times.  It harkens back to the 1960s exodus of Cuban children known as Operation Pedro Pan

The media has focused attention on the protest by citizens of Murrieta, California who blocked busloads of migrants begin brought to the town for processing -- as in this report from NBC news:

Murrieta Mayor: Undocumented Immigrant Bus Protests Are Free Speech

 "'What people need to understand is that they [protesters] are showing their emotion and passion about a federal policy that isn’t working,' Murrieta Mayor Alan Long said Wednesday, speaking in support of crowds that blocked buses full of undocumented immigrants trying to enter the town a day earlier."


However, the protests in Murrieta are an outlier - in most border cities, organizations like Catholic Charities are reaching out to help house and feed the migrants as noted in this report from NBC news:

In Some Towns, Immigrants Met With Aid Instead of Anger

"'Right now it’s not about politics. It’s about a humanitarian crisis,' said Ofelia de los Santos of Catholic Charities, whose group helps about 200 people a day. McAllen and the other small towns in the Rio Grande Valley were described as a region where most are first-, second- or third-generation Mexican-Americans."

Meanwhile, militia groups are heading onto the scene, raising concerns about armed civilians encountering immigrants as they come across the border:

Texas militia leader's video on border patrols draws fire                      


Unaccompanied minors and refugees from Central America

This will be the first of several posts on the crisis of unaccompanied minors coming from Central America. Described as a "humanitarian crisis" by some and an "illegal immigration crisis" by others, the current situation with refugees/undocumented immigrants from Central America has shifted the agenda of the politics of immigration in the last month. In particular, the number of unaccompanied minors has increased dramatically from 26,000 last year, to 52,000 since October. This is a multi-faceted issues, that raises many issues, but it is not necessarily an issue of border enforcement. Most of the minors crossing the border are surrendering to the Border Patrol, and are not necessarily trying to sneak into the U.S.  It is a humanitarian crisis because our own laws require these children to be processed and the system is not equipped to handle these numbers.


Here is more on the issue from back in June:
Many of the children and families coming to the U.S. are fleeing violence in Central America, as shown in this report from the Department of Homeland Security, and posted by the Pew Research Center:
DHS map of where unaccompanied children are coming from in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador
Another factor is Mexico's southern border:
NBC News has a subject page on the "Immigration Border Crisis" which follows the many facets of this story: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/immigration-border-crisis 

More to come soon!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Europe and the World: The Role of Cities in Immigrant Integration

Check out my latest post on my Europe blog that deals with immigration:  Europe and the World: The Role of Cities in Immigrant Integration: My week in Berlin continues, as I was walking around the Alexanderplatz I happened to run into a protest of some refugees and recorded a bit...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Antidiscrimination Policy in Europe: Equality Bodies in the fiscal crisis

Today's post is drawn from the new book Legislating Equality: The Politics of Antidiscrimination Policy in Europe by Terri E. Givens and Rhonda Evans Case (Oxford University Press, May 2014). You can download the first chapter at Oxford University Press - UK

In October of 1999 politicians around the European Union (EU) were stunned by the success of Jörg Haider’s far right Freedom Party. When Haider’s party became part of the Austrian government in early 2000, the other EU countries responded with diplomatic sanctions and within a few months would pass the Racial Equality Directive (RED), a measure which would require all 15 member states (and future members) to pass antidiscrimination policy into national law. Ten years later, despite some initial success with the development of national level equality bodies, many EU governments were slashing funding and moving once-independent entities into larger human rights bodies, thereby diluting their influence. The institutions created by the RED were under fire partially because of the ongoing fiscal crisis, but also due to political pressure. The RED and consequent Equal employment and Gender equality directives were a set of policies which developed along with European integration in the 1990s, but ran into the integration slowdown after enlargement in the mid-2000s, a fiscal crisis, and a lack of prioritization by mostly conservative governments.

In our book, Legislating Equality: The Politics of Antidiscrimination Policy in Europe, we examine the development and implementation of the RED in Europe. Two factors played an important role for the development of antidiscrimination policy in the EU. The first is racist anti-immigrant sentiment, and the second is Left vs. Right politics, i.e. the rise of the radical right as a catalyst for the passage of legislation and Left support for antidiscrimination policy. However, these policy developments were also dependent upon the process of Europeanization – as the European Union developed, political opportunities developed which allowed the issue of racism and antidiscrimination policy to move forward as a policy issue.

The RED’s most visible accomplishment was the creation of national equality bodies tasked with combating discrimination. The equality bodies have three principal goals: to assist and support victims to pursue complaints, to conduct independent surveys, and to publish independent reports on discrimination. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) delineated the following competencies as central to a body’s success:

  • Providing aid and assistance to victims, including legal aid, and (where appropriate) to ensure victims have recourse to the courts or other judicial authorities. 
  • Monitoring the content and impact of legislation intended to combat racial discrimination, and recommending, where necessary, improvements to this legislation. 
  • Advising policymakers on how to improve regulations and practices. 
  • Hearing complaints concerning specific cases of discrimination and seeking resolutions either through mediation or through binding and enforceable decisions. 
  • Sharing information with other national and European institutions tasked with promoting equality. 
  • Issuing advice on best practices of anti-discriminatory practice. 
  • Promoting public awareness of discrimination and disseminating pertinent information (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, 1997). 
By 2008 most countries in the EU, including those that had recently joined, had passed laws implementing the EU’s equality directives. In the first few years after the transposition of the Equal Treatment Directives there was growth in both the number and staffing of the equality bodies and in some cases success in “naming and shaming” corporations and other entities for discrimination. The equality bodies were also somewhat successful in bringing awareness to the issues around discrimination. However, by the ten year anniversary of the passage of the RED in 2010 it was clear that both politics and the European fiscal crisis were having a negative impact on the equality bodies.

By 2010, antidiscrimination policy enforcement was put on the backburner in most countries.  Britain’s Labour government decided to merge the long-standing Commission for Race Equality into the Equality and Human Rights Commission, potentially blunting its impact in the area of racial discrimination. In France, the Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour L’Egalité (HALDE) became an important contact point for those who felt discrimination. However, in 2011, the French Assembly passed a law that folded the HALDE into a larger human rights entity, the Defenseur des Droits. Both staff from the HALDE and academic commentators expected this change to reduce the visibility, effectiveness and power of the HALDE, particularly in the area of racial discrimination.

The global economic downturn has been perceived to be a “trigger” for increased intolerance and discrimination against migrants and members of minority groups, exacerbated by budget cuts and waning political will to combat it. However, this is likely a temporary spike that does not yet point to an increase in institutional discrimination. This does point to a need for governments to act quickly: the right measures need to be put in place during countries’ recovery period from the crisis to stave off a worsening of the situation of migrants and minorities—groups already at risk.

In light of these challenges, the European Union’s antidiscrimination priority for the next decade should not be to create more legislation or more institutions; instead, the EU needs to strengthen the ones it already has. European governments, EU institutions, and civil society partners will continue to evaluate what is working and what is not, and reinforce the existing structures.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Immigration enforcement tops news, reform remains unlikely before election

Homeland Security's new Secretary, Jeh Johnson hit the Sunday morning talk shows to defend the Obama administration's record on immigration enforcement:


"This Week" Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Chief Stresses Families in Immigration


Many were surprised by Congressman John Boehner's comments about his Republican colleagues in the House and their unwillingness to address immigration reform:
But concerns about enforcement remain: