"In 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) described the US border as a 'Constitution-Free Zone,' referring to a 100-mile wide strip of territory around the 'external boundary' of the nation within which Fourth Amendment protections against random and arbitrary stops and searches by law-enforcement officials do not apply. According to the ACLU, the 197.4 million people residing in this zone—roughly two-thirds of the US population—are subject to 'administrative' stops by the Border Patrol or other federal authorities for the purpose of guarding the nation’s borders from security threats (ACLU 2008b). The inland checkpoints where the Border Patrol conducts 'administrative' stops and searches are mostly clustered near the southwest borderlands of California, Arizona, and Texas, but are also found along the northern border in Washington state and could, in principle, appear anywhere else along US land or coastal borders (ACLU 2008a)..."
"What Is Driving Children to Leave Central America?" (February 20, 2015)
"The children who leave behind their homes in Central America and Mexico and undergo the dangerous and sometime fatal journey into the United States are not doing so on a whim. Most are fleeing conditions that are life threatening: violence committed by gangs that act with impunity, violence committed within the home (including physical abuse and rape), conditions of grinding poverty within which food is often scarce, and systematic discrimination and marginalization by government authorities. It is true that many of these child migrants are trying to join family members already in the United States. But this 'pull' factor does not negate the power of the 'push' factors that are at work. The social and economic environment within which many Central American and Mexican families live has deteriorated to the point that a difficult decision is being made, sometimes on behalf of the children alone and sometimes on behalf of the family as a whole: it is time to leave..."
"Six Reasons Why Sen. Jeff Sessions’ New ‘Immigration Handbook’ is a Work of Fiction" (January 29, 2015)
"The newly installed chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), wasted no time in advertising his antipathy towards immigrants. Shortly after assuming his post, Sessions released an 'Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority' that, in only 23 pages, managed to distill just about every fact-free sound bite ever conceived by the nativist imagination. From Tea Party mythology about President Obama’s executive action on immigration to old fables about immigrants on 'welfare,' the Sessions document runs the gamut of anti-immigrant errors, distortions, and fabrications. Rather than lend any credence to the Sessions diatribe, perhaps the most effective way to counteract it is to provide an outline of what might be called an 'Immigration Handbook for People Who Like Evidence'..."
"Can the Border Patrol Change Its Ways?" (January 5, 2015)
"In the year just ended, the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), found themselves subject to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. Crimes committed by Border Patrol agents—ranging from accepting bribes to shooting people in the back—no longer remained shrouded in secrecy. Rather, journalists, advocates, and investigators began to examine these cases in detail. As a result, the agency is facing demands for greater transparency and accountability in the way it operates, particularly in the way it deals with wrongdoing within its own ranks. The key unanswered question, however, is whether or not the Obama administration and Congress have the political will needed to fundamentally reform the way the Border Patrol functions and whether they will discontinue their practice of blindly throwing billions of tax dollars at the agency regardless of the outcomes..."
(with Daniel E. Martínez and Guillermo Cantor, May 2014)
"Data obtained by the American Immigration Council shine a light on the lack of accountability and transparency which afflicts the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The data, which the Immigration Council acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, covers 809 complaints of alleged abuse lodged against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012. These cases run the gamut of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Although it is not possible to determine which cases had merit and which did not, it is astonishing that, among those cases in which a formal decision was issued, 97 percent resulted in 'No Action Taken.' On average, CBP took 122 days to arrive at a decision when one was made. Moreover, among all complaints, 40 percent were still 'pending investigation' when the complaint data were provided to the Immigration Council..."
The Growth of the U.S. Deportation Machine: More Immigrants are being “Removed” from the United States than Ever Before (March 2014)
"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..."