Immigrant Experiences

Immigrant Experiences: Why Immigrants Come to the United States and What They Find When They Get Here

“It’s not easy to leave the country in which you were born and raised. It’s home. But sometimes you don’t have much of a choice. You may find yourself forced into the position of a refugee—fleeing the violence of a military invasion, civil war, gang war, or government persecution. Perhaps conditions aren’t quite that dire, but you find yourself in a losing battle to stay above the poverty line in a country where most people are poor; so you take your chances in another nation with more plentiful jobs and higher wages than you can find at home. If you’re one of the luckier migrants of the world, you live a relatively comfortable life in your home country, but want to pursue bigger and better opportunities in a nation that occupies a more privileged place in the global economy. And whether you’re rich or poor, you may simply want to be with family members who have already moved abroad…”

Rowman & Littlefield (August 2018)

Immigration Impact

Federal Investigation Finds ICE Fails to Address Sexual Assault, Abuse in Immigrant Detention Centers” (July 10, 2018)

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) consistently fails to conduct adequate inspections of its detention facilities or to follow up on recommended corrections at facilities that are found not to meet agency standards. As a result, many immigrant detainees are held in conditions that threaten their health and safety, or which fail to respect their basic rights…”

American Immigration Council

The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States

(with Daniel E. Martínez and Rubén G. Rumbaut, July 2015)

“For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not ‘criminals’ by any commonly accepted definition of the term. For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime…”

Journal on Migration and Human Security

‘Enemy Territory’: Immigration Enforcement in the US-Mexico Borderlands” (August 2014)

“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)…”

SAGE

From Anecdotes to Evidence: Immigration, Crime, and Terrorism,” in Debates on U.S. Immigration (Sage, 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…”

Society

The Many Facets of Effective Immigration Reform” (2010)

“The United States needs a new immigration policy that is based less on wishful thinking and more on realism. Spending vast sums of money trying to enforce arbitrary numerical limits on immigration that bear no relationship to economic reality is a fool’s errand. We need flexible limits on immigration that rise and fall with U.S. labor demand, coupled with strict enforcement of tough wage and labor laws that protect all workers, regardless of where they were born. We need to respect the natural human desire for family reunification, while recognizing that even family-based immigrants are unlikely to come here if jobs are not available. And we need to create a pathway to legal status for unauthorized immigrants who are already here so that they can no longer be exploited by unscrupulous employers who hang the threat of deportation over their heads…”

Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy

Beyond Border Enforcement: Enhancing National Security Through Immigration Reform” (2007)

“Since 9/11 the watchword in the debate over immigration reform has been ‘security.’ As a result, most policymakers and pundits now approach the subject of immigration largely from a law-enforcement perspective. That is, the focus is how best to fortify U.S. borders so as to prevent the illicit entry into the country of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction. This concern has been especially acute in the case of the U.S.-Mexico border, across which hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants enter the United States undetected each year. However, the current border-enforcement strategy, which tends to lump together terrorists and undocumented jobseekers from abroad as groups to be kept out, ignores the causes of undocumented immigration and fuels the expansion of the people-smuggling networks through which a foreign terrorist might enter the country. As a decade and a half of failed border-control initiatives have illustrated, law-enforcement efforts alone are not sufficient to achieve security. As long as U.S. immigration policies remain unresponsive to the economic forces which drive immigration, U.S. national security will be continually undermined by a system that sends the dual messages ‘Keep Out’ and ‘Help Wanted’ to the immigrant workers upon whom large sectors of the U.S. economy depends…”

Stanford Law & Policy Review

From Denial to Acceptance: Effectively Regulating Immigration to the United States” (2005)

“U.S. immigration policy is based on denial. Most lawmakers in the United States have largely embraced the process of economic ‘globalization,’ yet stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that increased migration, especially from developing nations to developed nations, is an integral and inevitable part of this process. Instead, they continue an impossible quest that began shortly after World War II: the creation of a transnational market in goods and services without a corresponding transnational market for the workers who make those goods and provide those services. In defiance of economic logic, U.S. lawmakers formulate immigration policies to regulate the entry of foreign workers into the country that are largely unrelated to the economic policies they formulate to regulate international commerce. Even in the case of Mexico—with which the United States shares a two-thousand-mile border, a hundred-year history of labor migration, and two decades of purposeful economic integration—the U.S. government tries to impose the same arbitrary limits on immigration as it does on a country as remote as Mongolia. Moreover, while the global trade of goods, services, and capital is regulated through multilateral institutions and agreements, U.S. policymakers persist in viewing immigration as primarily a matter of domestic law enforcement…”