Can America’s Farms Survive the Threat of Deportations? – Michael Frank 7:00 AM ET


In upstate New York, both workers and the farmers who employ them fear more aggressive immigration enforcement.

Michael Frank / David Litman / Joshua Lott / Jeff Topping / Reuters / The Atlantic
It was one in the morning in late March when Luis, a 43-year-old Mexican man, tiptoed across the floor in his socks. He had just been startled from sleep by the sound of violent knocking on the door of the double-wide trailer where he and a few other farmworkers live. He was terrified; he leaned against the wall and listened.

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Luis is no stranger to violence. Even though he has worked on a relatively tranquil apple farm in upstate New York’s mid-Hudson region for over a decade, he originally came to the United States to flee the violence in Guerrero state on Mexico’s west coast. For years there, vigilante militias have been fighting back against local warlords. The last time he was home, five years ago, Luis wanted to stay. He drove a pickup truck as a form of taxi service for hotel workers, but the warlords held him up at gunpoint, threatening to kill him if he didn’t give them a cut of his fares. (Pseudonyms have been used in several instances throughout this article to protect the identities of undocumented farmworkers and the farmers who employ them.)

“If you don’t pay,” Luis told me, “they kill you.” So he journeyed back to the United States, walking across Mexico every night for a week under the guidance of a “coyote,” or human smuggler. That, too, was frightening. He says he was so thirsty, he thought he might die.

But in March, in the middle of the night in the Hudson Valley, Luis’s fear wasn’t dehydration or gangs—he was afraid that agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement might be outside. He locked the door to his bedroom and waited. Eventually, the knocking stopped, but Luis barely slept that night. The next day, he found out that the hammering on the trailer’s door was an incoming guest worker who had wound up sleeping outside on the stoop of another sprawling double-wide trailer on the farm. During picking season in late summer, the farm houses dozens of seasonal and undocumented workers.

Luis had good cause to be afraid. About a week prior to the late-night knocking, ICE had picked up an undocumented farmworker on this same farm because he’d been convicted of two DUIs. And a few days after that, on a different apple farm just a few miles away, ICE had come before sunup for a 23-year-old man, Diego, who is from Guatemala. He had also been charged with DUIs. Diego is one of four brothers who, one by one over the years, all hitchhiked from Central America, walked across Mexico, and eventually found their way to the Hudson Valley to pick apples. He’s now detained, awaiting deportation proceedings in lower Manhattan. According to his attorney at a local nonprofit public-defense firm, Diego has a less than 5 percent chance of getting bail, much less staying in the United States.

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Why American people are scared of Syrian refugees.


Americans want to shut the door on Syrian refugees. According to one poll, 53 percent of Americans disapprove of allowing them into the country while another 11 percent would admit only Syrians who are Christians. Most governors have said that they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states (though they have no legal authority to block them), and now Congress has gotten into the act. By a vote of 289–137, the House passed a bill that would impose substantial hurdles on further refugee settlement.

The liberal commentariat has gone berserk, accusing opponents of nativism and xenophobia. The criteria used to admit refugees are strict, so the risk that any of them will commit crimes is very low. As Alex Nowrasteh points out, almost 1 million refugees have been admitted into the United States since 2001, and none of them has successfully carried out a terrorist attack. Moreover, given the infinitesimal number of Syrian refugees to be let into the country out of the millions of people who would qualify, it would be crazy for a professional terrorist to try to enter this country by pretending to be a refugee. It would be easier to obtain a tourist visa.

Source: Why American people are scared of Syrian refugees.

Ted Cruz’s immigration plan: tough on legal immigrants, tougher on unauthorized ones


On Friday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released an immigration plan. The plan is arguably more similar to Donald Trump’s plan, released this August (and which Donald Trump himself seems to have forgotten), than to Cruz’s own position from past years.

In 2013, Cruz wanted to expand legal immigration, and proposed an amendment — which Cruz allies now claim didn’t represent his actual position — to legalize unauthorized immigrants currently in the US without allowing them to become US citizens. Presidential candidate Ted Cruz wants to freeze legal immigration, make it much harder to get visas for high-skilled workers, and increase deportations.

And while he doesn’t explicitly say this, his plan includes all the elements of past policy proposals for “attrition through enforcement” — the policy agenda known as self-deportation.

Cruz wants to make it much harder for employers to hire foreign workers

In 2013, Cruz opposed the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill that Marco Rubio helped write. At the time, Cruz made it clear that he opposed unauthorized immigration but supported legal immigration. He voted against amendments from Sen. Jeff Sessions to reduce legal immigration and actuallyintroduced an amendment to make the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers five times bigger. And even during the speech unveiling his immigration plan, Cruz called for the US to focus on skilled workers such as doctors.

But he appears to be worried that the Republican base voters he’s hoping to win away from Donald Trump are just as worried about legal immigrants taking their jobs as they are about unauthorized immigration. (He’s probably right.) So his plan actually calls for a freeze on legal immigration levels — and it specifically targets the H-1B visa program.

Cruz’ plan would “suspend the issuance of all H-1B visas for 180 days” while investigating the program. (Since new batches of H-1B visas get issued twice a year, and they typically run out within hours, this could be timed so that it didn’t actually disrupt any visa issuances — but it would be tricky.) The H-1B visas will only start being issued again after his administration has made “fundamental reforms” to the program.

Cruz justifies the visa freeze by saying the government needs to investigate allegations of abuse in the visa program. There have, in fact, been increased reports that some of the heaviest users of the system are using H-1B workers to replace American workers. But those reports involve employers breaking the existing federal rules for hiring high-skilled immigrant workers. Cruz’s “fundamental reforms” — which aren’t included in his written plan but which he mentioned in his speech — include a requirement that visa holders have a PhD-level degree (preferably from an American university); a ban on firing American workers for a certain amount of time after H-1B workers are hired; and a requirement that employers sign sworn affidavits that they’ve tried to hire American workers first.

Cruz wants a freeze on legal immigration

Cruz also wants to freeze legal immigration levels across the board “as long as work-force participation rates are below historical averages.” How high a bar that sets depends on how you define “historical”: If you go back to the 1950s, the current labor force participation rate is on par with the historical average. Since Cruz doesn’t think that’s the case right now, it appears he’s setting the bar a little higher.

Technically, he wants to prevent legal immigration levels from being “adjusted upward.” That could just mean that he wouldn’t let Congress raise quotas in the law. But if he means he would freeze the number of applications that the federal government could approve to come legally each year, it could have a pretty big impact.

 

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http://www.vox.com/2015/11/13/9731908/ted-cruz-immigration

Court again blocks Obama’s plan to protect undocumented migrants – Reuters in Washington Monday 9 November 2015 22.55 EST


Injunction is upheld against president’s measures that could prevent millions, including people who arrived illegally as children, being thrown out of the US

Demonstrators outside the White House in 2014 calling for an end to the deportation of undocumented children.

Barack Obama’s executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation has suffered a legal setback with an appeal to the supreme court now the administration’s only option.

A 2-1 decision by the fifth US circuit court of appeals in New Orleans has upheld a previous injunction – dealing a blow to Obama’s plan, which is opposed by Republicans and challenged by 26 states.

The states, all led by Republican governors, said the federal government exceeded its authority in demanding whole categories of immigrants be protected.

The Obama administration has said it is within its rights to ask the Department of Homeland Security to use discretion before deporting non-violent migrants with US family ties.

The case has become the focal point of the Democratic president’s efforts to change US immigration policy.

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/10/court-again-blocks-obamas-plan-to-protect-some-undocumented-migrants

 

How the Immigration and Nationality Act transformed America, in one chart – Updated by Dara Lind on October 3, 2015, 4:00 p.m. ET


This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act — the law that created the US immigration system as we know it today.

What the Immigration and Nationality Act did

The INA replaced the overtly racist immigration regime of the mid-20th century, which fully banned immigration from Asia or Africa and set strict national quotas designed to limit immigration from southern and eastern Europe. The quotas were based on the ethnic balance of the 1890 Census — when, in the opinion of the Congress of the time, the United States was still a properly “white” country and wasn’t in danger of being overrun with Italians and Jews.

The Immigration and Nationality Act replaced this with the legal immigration system we still use today. There’s a flat cap on how many immigrants per country can immigrate each year, but individual immigrants aren’t approved or denied based on where they come from. Instead, they’re admitted largely through family members in the US; temporary work permits for specific employers; or refugee status or asylum (along with assorted other, smaller categories).

You can see the results in the chart above, which displays the number and origins of immigrants — naturalized citizens, legal immigrants, and unauthorized immigrants — living in the United States during the 1960 Census (before the INA) and during each decade after.

In 1960, immigrants to the US were overwhelmingly European. Furthermore — at least partly because so few eastern and southern Europeans had been allowed into the country under the quota system — Jewish and Italian Americans had largely assimilated into the US, and were considered white in a way they weren’t in the 1920s. But really, there were relatively few immigrants in the US at all.

 

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/3/9446613/immigration-america-change

Militia Camp Overrun With Disease and Suffering (Excerpt from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade’) – Vice News Published on Oct 2, 2015


In a desperate bid to seek a better life in Europe, thousands of refugees and migrants leave the shores of Libya and cross the perilous Mediterranean Sea every month. Over 2,000 people have died making the journey in 2015 alone.

The routes to and journey through Libya are also dangerous, however, and since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the country has struggled to achieve and maintain stability. Porous desert borders, rival fighters, and weak governance have left much of Libya in complete chaos.

With militias controlling large swathes of land, their attentions have turned to the people that cross their territories. The fighters assert they are bringing order to the country as they detain the refugees, yet these people’s lives have become valuable commodities to the militias as they try to solidify their positions in the country.

In this excerpt from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade,’ VICE News visits a militia-run camp in a suburb of Tripoli, where migrants and refugees endure harsh conditions and suffer from starvation and disease.

Watch “Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1V943t1

How Should The World Deal With Immigration? – The People Speak – Vice News Published on Sep 30, 2015


VICE News traveled around the world, speaking to people about their thoughts on immigration, and how the world should respond to the movement of people through borders.

Find out what people from Los Angeles, California to Istanbul, Turkey had to say about about immigration.

Watch the People Speak on why flags matter – http://bit.ly/1QL98kv