"From Anecdotes to Evidence: Immigration, Crime, and Terrorism," in Debates on U.S. Immigration (2012)
"Anti-immigrant activists are fond of telling scary stories. When it comes to the subject of immigration, crime, and terrorism, these stories are typically about individual immigrants—especially unauthorized, or 'illegal,' immigrants—who planned or committed heinous crimes or terrorist acts. Such stories are presented as proof that we should restrict immigration and 'get tough' on all immigrants to save the lives of U.S. citizens. These kinds of anecdotes may be emotionally powerful, but they are highly misleading. Obviously, dangerous criminals and terrorists must be punished, and immigrants who are dangerous criminals or terrorists should be locked up. But harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime or terrorism because the overwhelming majority of immigrants are neither criminals nor terrorists..."
"As the Obama administration struggles to fashion a humane yet practical response to the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America, the president’s request for $3.7 billion to deal with the situation is becoming entangled with the fate of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. More precisely, a number of lawmakers—including some Democrats—are demanding that, in exchange for allocating additional funding, they should amend the TVPRA so that children from Central America are treated the same way as children from Mexico. That change would mean the Central American children would be removed from the United States and returned to their home countries much faster. While this call for parity in the treatment of children from different countries might seem reasonable as a matter of principle, it is undermined by an inconvenient fact: our treatment of children from Mexico is not something we should emulate with the children of any other country..."
"Child Refugees from Central America Need Protection, Not Deportation" (June 23, 2014)
"The reasons why so many unaccompanied children from Central American nations are trying to make their way to the United States are not simple. There are the abysmally high murder rates, escalating gang violence, and grinding poverty which prevail in some Central American countries. There are the family ties which some Central American families already have to the United States. And there are the rumors these families have heard (some true, some not) about the relatively generous policies of the United States when dealing with unaccompanied migrant children. In sorting through the sometimes shrill rhetoric which surrounds this politically volatile issue, it is important to keep in mind that these 'push' and 'pull' factors are not mutually exclusive..."
"Complaints of Abuse by Border Agents Rarely Lead to Action" (May 6, 2014)
"In a new report, the American Immigration Council shines 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 report, titled No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse, analyzes data on the way in which CBP handles complaints about abuse which people have allegedly suffered at the hands of Border Patrol agents. Although it is not possible to determine which of the cases covered by the data had merit and which did not, it is clear that the majority of complaints ended the same way: with 'no action taken' against the Border Patrol agents accused of the abuse. Given the Border Patrol’s track record when it comes to abuse, it is highly unlikely that so many of these cases were truly without merit..."
"The Growth of the U.S. Deportation Machine and Its Misplaced Priorities" (March 10, 2014)
"No one can say with certainty when the Obama administration will reach the grim milestone of having deported two million people since the President took office in 2008. Regardless of the exact date this symbolic threshold is reached, however, it is important to keep in mind a much more important fact: most of the people being deported are not dangerous criminals. Despite claims by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it prioritizes the apprehension of terrorists, violent criminals, and gang members, the agency’s own deportation statistics do not bear this out. Rather, most of the individuals being swept up by ICE and dropped into the U.S. deportation machine committed relatively minor, non-violent crimes or have no criminal histories at all. Ironically, many of the immigrants being deported would likely have been able to remain in the country had the immigration reform legislation favored by the administration become law..."
(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..."
The Fallacy of "Enforcement First": Immigration Enforcement Without Immigration Reform Has Been Failing for Decades (May 2013)
"Opponents of a new legalization program for unauthorized immigrants living and working in the United States frequently claim that we must try 'enforcement first.' That is to say, we must adequately enforce the laws on the books before we can contemplate the formulation of more reasonable laws. This stance is nonsensical for two reasons. First of all, it ignores the fact that the unworkable nature of our immigration laws is itself facilitating unauthorized immigration; so it is illogical to hope that stronger enforcement of those unworkable laws will somehow lessen unauthorized immigration. Secondly, the 'enforcement first' perspective conveniently overlooks the fact that the United States has been pursuing an 'enforcement first' approach to immigration control for more than two-and-a-half decades—and it has yet to work..."