Presentation on theme: "April 25, 2011 Objectives: To develop a better understanding of immigration in the U.S. Question: what do you think should be done about immigration policies."— Presentation transcript:
April 25, 2011 Objectives: To develop a better understanding of immigration in the U.S. Question: what do you think should be done about immigration policies in the U.S. today? Why?
Overview of US Immigration Policy
US immigration law is complex, with many different categories for different kinds of people.
How does a non-citizen legally enter the US? There are two distinct paths into the country: Permanent (immigrant): As a lawful permanent resident (LPR), one receives a permanent resident card (a “green card”), is eligible to work, and may later apply for US citizenship. Temporary: diplomats, tourists, temporary agricultural workers, students, intracompany business personnel. They are not eligible to get citizenship, may not work or work only for a particular place, and are required to leave the country when their visas expire.
You are not allowed into the country if: You are convicted of a felony. You have a history of drug abuse. You have a infectious disease (syphilis, HIV, tuberculosis). You may become a public charge. These characteristics are also grounds for deportation once you have come in.
Some Statistics The US admits approximately 900,000 legal immigrants (permanent residents) every year (900,000 is.3% of the US population). The State Department issues 5 million visas authorizing temporary admission to the US. The criteria for admission for permanent residence is much more stringent than for temporary visitors.
The goals of current immigration policy To reunite families by admitting immigrants who already have family members living in the US To admit workers in occupations with a strong demand for labor To provide a refuge for people who face the risk of political, racial, or religious persecution in their home countries To provide admission to people from a diverse set of countries
Category #1: Immediate Relatives of US Citizens (43% of total LPRs) Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years) of US citizens Parents of US citizens aged 21 and older
Category #2: Family-Sponsored Immigration (23%) In order of preference: 1) Unmarried sons and daughters (aged 21 and older) of US citizens 2) Spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents 3) Married sons and daughters of US citizens 4) Brothers and sisters of US citizens aged 21 and over
Category #3: Employment-Based Immigrants (16%) (write down red on this slide) Up to 155,000 visas in 5 preference categories: 1) “Priority workers” with extraordinary ability in the arts, athletics, business, education or science; 2) Professionals with advanced degrees; 3) Skilled and unskilled workers in occupations deemed to be experiencing shortages; 4) “Special immigrants” such as ministers of religion; 5) People willing to invest at least $1 million in a business that create at least 10 new jobs in the US.
Category #4: Refugees and Asylum Seekers (8%) (Red on this slide too) Refugees and asylum seekers are persons who are outside the country and are unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a well-founded fear that they will be persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. In 2007, President Bush authorized the admission of 70,000 refugees annually into the country (.02%).
Category #5: Diversity Immigrants (5%) Up to 50,000 green cards are given away through a lottery system to promote immigration from those countries that are not currently the principal sources of immigration to the US. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent or at least two years of training or experience in an occupation and are selected through a lottery.
Top Sending Countries for LPRs Within all these categories, there are either regional (continental) or national caps on the numbers of LPRs. Top three source countries of LPRs are 1) Mexico, 2) India 3) Philippines which together make up a third of all LPRs in the US.
April 26, 2011 Objectives: To develop a better understanding of immigration laws in the U.S. Question: from which countries do most legal immigrants come?
Significant Dates in U.S. Immigration Policy 1790 Naturalization Act Stipulated the first rules for granting national citizenship to immigrants. "Any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States." The law also stipulated that naturalized citizens must be of “good moral character” and have lived in the United States for at least two years prior to being granted citizenship. Courts were given jurisdiction to grant citizenship. It also noted that children of United States citizens born abroad were automatically citizens of the United States Alien and Sedition Acts Increased the period someone had to have been in the U.S. to 14 years. President had unlimited authority to deport any “enemy” alien.
Some History of Immigration Law First law limiting immigration was in 1875: no criminals, prostitutes, or Chinese contract laborers After World War I, new restrictions: Quota law in 1921: each nationality had a quota based on its representation in past US census figures, with immediate relatives of US citizens exempt from the quotas.
1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States over the next 10 years. The law specifically mentioned “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining.” The law also required that Chinese immigrants already in the United States who left had to apply for recertification to re-enter. In 1892 the law was extended for another 10 years and in 1902 “made permanent.” The law remained in effect until passage of a broader immigration act in The law’s unintended effect: encouraged Japanese immigration to the U.S. and its territories.
1924 Immigration Act This important law created a permanent quota system, based on nation of origin. It lowered the 1921 quota from 354,000 to 164,000. Quotas were allocated based on 2 percent of each foreign-born group living in the United States counted in the 1890 Census. This choice meant the quotas for the newest group of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe would be low compared to their numbers in the general population.
Finally, the act provided for a future reduction of the quota to 154,000 and expanded the restriction on immigration to all Asians, including Japanese, stating that no person of Asian ancestry could become a naturalized citizen. The quota system did not apply to countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Some History of Immigration Law The quota system was abolished in 1965 and replaced with categorical preferences for relatives of US citizens and LPRs and for immigrants with job skills deemed useful to the US. This system is largely still in place. Immigration Act of 1990 added a category of admission based on diversity (countries that were not historically sending countries to the US).
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), 1986 Enhanced enforcement through sanctions on employers who knowingly hired or recruited unauthorized non-citizens. Two amnesty programs for unauthorized non-citizens to legalize their status: Seasonal Agricultural Workers (who had worked for 90 days) and Legally Authorized Workers (who lived in the US since 1982).
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, 1996 Doubled the number of border patrols and approved a fence along the most used areas of the US-Mexico border; Reduced government benefits available to immigrants. Legal immigrants lost benefits to food stamps and SSI; illegal immigrants became ineligible for all government benefits except emergency medical care, immunization, and disaster relief; Instituted program so that employers could verify electronically or by telephone a potential worker’s eligibility to work
Becoming a US citizen: Naturalization Any lawful permanent resident who has maintained a period of continuous residence and presence in the US for 3-5 years can apply for citizenship. He or she must have good moral character, knowledge of US history and government and the English language, and a willingness to support and defend the US and the Constitution. About 500,000 LPRs became citizens in 2004.
Illegal Immigration An estimated 300,000 people come to the US illegally every year. Why are they here? How did they get here?
Two Main Ways Into the Country for Illegal Immigrants Entering the country without going through a checkpoint (at airport, port, or border crossing) Overstaying a temporary visa
Why is there Illegal Immigration? Pathways of legal immigration are slow and costly: significant backlogs at USCIS. Non-citizens with LPR petitions are denied temporary admission to the US. Under the category of unskilled workers in shortage areas, there is a cap of only 10,000 green cards annually.
Illegal and Legal Immigrants are not so different as they seem Illegal immigrants pursue legality through papers (driver’s licenses, SS cards). Many of those who are illegal have children or spouses who are legal residents or citizens. Many illegal immigrants fall through the legal cracks in terms of paperwork.
Everyone Agrees the System is Broken As is…. But What to Do to Fix It? Congress is currently debating more than a dozen proposals to alter or overhaul US immigration policy
Current Proposed Legislation Enforcement: Increased surveillance at the US-Mexico border through the National Guard and Border Patrol Construction of 700 miles of fence at the border (2100 miles long).
The Proposed US-Mexico Border Fence
US-Mexico Border at Nogales (Arizona and Sonora)
The Unintended Consequences of this Approach It has not resulted in less movement across the border. Rather, movement happens in more deserted areas; the crossing routes are more dangerous (more isolated) and more expensive in terms of smuggling fees.
Current Proposed Legislation Employer and Employee Sanctions Raids on illegal workers, as in Fall 2006, who are then detained and deported. Sanctions (fines) or criminalization of employers or other people who give employment or other assistance to illegal workers.
Current Proposed Legislation Legalization: More legal routes of entry, whether a guestworker program or more green cards Amnesty programs: allowing illegal immigrants a pathway to legalization, provided they pay a fine
Final 5 What does it take to become a U.S. citizen?