Ep. 28: In-Depth on Immigration

Listen to Episode 28 on the White House’s Immigration Plan

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Episode Description

In this episode, I analyze the White House’s immigration plan. We go in-depth on the research and data behind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), family-based migration, catch and release, and more. I cover immigration trends and how removals and detentions have shifted under the Trump Administration. Another important immigration topic is the movement of illicit drugs into the country from Mexico and China.

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Show Notes (abridged script)

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White House Immigration Plan


“End catch-and-release and close legal loopholes that keep our immigration law from being enforced.” 

Catch-and-release is a protocol that releases undocumented immigrants caught for their status are released while they wait for a hearing with an immigration judge. The process is said to have ended in the Bush Administration; however, on November 20, 2014, a memorandum titled Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants limited the ability of ICE agents to detain undocumented immigrants. 

“Due to limited resources, DHS and its Components cannot respond to all immigration violations or remove all persons illegally in the United States…DHS must exercise prosecutorial discretion in the enforcement of the law.” ~ From the Obama Administration Memo

The memorandum set forth three priorities for civil immigration enforcement
  1. Threats to national security, border security, and public safety. This included “aliens engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage; those apprehended at the border ports of entry; those engaging in organized criminal gangs; those convicted of a felony or an aggravated felony.”
  2. Misdemeanants and new immigration violators. This category includes “aliens convicted of 3+ misdemeanor offenses…; significant misdemeanors including domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking, DUIs, or any other offense for which they were sentenced for 90 days or more; aliens apprehended anywhere in the US after unlawfully entering or re-entering the US and who have not been in the US continuously since January 1, 2014.
  3. Other immigration violations.

In 2015, 86% of removals were priority 1, 8% priority 2, and 4% priority 3.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies in 2013, out of the 722,00 ICE encounters with undocumented immigrants, only 195,000 resulted in a charge. 527,000, or 73% were released. However, this number varied significantly. In San Diego, for example, only 5% of encounters resulted in a release. Buffalo, New York, had a 99% release rate; Los Angeles, 82%. Essentially, the closer to the southern-border the lower the release rate. 

Removal of Criminal Aliens

“Ensure the detention and removal of criminal aliens, gang members, violent offenders, and aggravated felons.” 

When ICE agents encounter an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, the release rate is much lower at a national average of 35%. The Obama Administration’s priorities increased number of administrative arrests of a criminal alien, or an alien with a known criminal conviction. However, from 2016 to 2017 there was a 12% increase in these types of arrests.

Visa Overstays

“Deter visa overstays with efficient removal.”

From the DHS website, “Of the more than 21.6 million Visa Waiver Program visitors expected to depart the United States in FY16, 147,282 overstayed the terms of their admission.” That’s a total overstay rate of 1.47%.

Drug Trade

“Ensure synthetic drugs (fentanyl) are prevented from entering the country.”

Synthetic drug overdoses increased dramatically from about 15,200  in 2014 to 19,900 in 2015. Over all, drug overdoses have increased from about 16,950 in 1999 to 52,400 in 2015. A massive, massive increase of American lives lost to drugs.

Fentanyl’s main country of origin isn’t actually Mexico, rather it is China. Reuters reports that illegal shipments of the drug are pouring into the US via the Postal Service. However, fentanyl and heroin still have a major pathway into the US through the Mexican border. 93% of heroin tested in US markets originated in Mexico. 

Trump has already made moves to suppress the drug epidemic. In January, 2018, he signed the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act, put forth by Democrat Senator Ed Markel. The bill appropriated $9 million to ensure that US Customs and Border Protection received the proper resources needed to prevent, detect, and interdict the unlawful importation of illicit substances. 

Reform US Federal Immigration Courts

“Institute immigration court reforms to improve efficiency and prevent fraud and abuse.”

According to the Justice Department‘s 2016 Statistics Yearbook, between 2015 and 2016 there was a 14% increase in the number of cases received by federal immigration courts. There were a total of 287,530 cases in 2015, and 328,112 cases in 2016. 

Only 273,390 cases in 2016 were actually completed. That’s 83% of all the 2016 cases. In 2015, 262,955 cases were completed, a 91.5% completion rate. Thus 2016 represented a proportional drop in the completion rate by about 9%. However, the total number of completions did increase by about 4% from 2015 to 2016.

Federal immigration courts face massive pending caseloads at the end of each year. According to the Justice Department, there has been a 58% increase in the number of pending cases since 2012. As of 2016, there were 518,545 pending cases in the United States. The Washington Post reported that the immigration court backlog as of October 2017 is more than 630,000 cases.

The Post also reports that the Justice Department has started to ask retired judges to fill in the nearly 100 empty courts in the nation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department aim to reduce that backlog to half by 2020.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

“DACA Legalization: Provide legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, adjusting the time-from to encompass a total population of approximately 1.8 million individuals.”

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an Obama era executive action meant to protect immigrants who were brought into the US illegally as minors. The program has given approximately 800,000 young undocumented immigrants work permits and protection from deportation since 2012.

There are multiple requirements to qualify for DACA:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the US before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration for DACA;
  • Had no lawful status on June 25, 2012;
  • Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, and received a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the US; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor nor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

A few quick facts from Pew Research:

  • As of September 4, 2017, 690,000 unauthorized immigrants were enrolled in DACA. 
  • Most popular countries of origin: The country with the most DACA recipients is by far Mexico with 79.4%. Followed by El Salvador with 3.7%, Guatemala with 2.6%, Honduras with 2.3%, and Peru and South Korea both with 1.1%.
  • 45% of DACA recipients live in California or Texas. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area in California has the largest number of enrollees with 89,900. This is followed by New York-Newark-Jersey City with 47,200 enrollees.
  • 66% of enrollees are between the ages of 16 and 25. 83% are single, 15% married, and 1% divorced. 53% are female.
  • 72% of all applicants have lived in the United States for at least 10 years

The CATO Institute reports that the elimination of DACA could cost the economy over $200 billion and the government $60 billion. “Most of this high cost is driven by the fact that the ‘dreamers’ tend to do well in school and as a result do well in the job market after completing their education.”

End Chain-Migration

“Protect the nuclear family: Protect the nuclear family by emphasizing close familial relationships.”

The plan is to limit family sponsorships to spouses and minor children only, ending so-called chain migration. Here are a few interesting statistics regarding chain migration from the Center for Immigration Studies:

  • Out of the 33 million immigrants admitted to the US between 1981 and 2016, around 20 million, or 61%, came via chain migration.
  • Each legal immigrant sponsors 3.45 additional immigrants. However, immigrants from Mexico bring an average of 6.38 additional immigrants due to chain migration, from China bring 6.24 additional immigrants, from India bring 5.11, and from the Philippines bring 5.07. 
  • Current law regarding chain migration has led to an older immigrant population. “In recent years, about 21 percent of family migrants were age 50 or older — a rate that is more than 24 percent higher.”

“Applied prospectively, not retroactively, by processing the ‘backlog.'”

According the USA Today, it will take around 17 years to process the family based green cards already on the books. So those who are already on the list for being legalized, or at least considered, would be able to bring family members based on the previous policy. Once that list was exhausted, then Trump’s policy would kick in.

Bills with Luke Scorziell does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice or recommendations. This material is solely intended for educational purposes based on publicly available information and may change at any time. Additionally, this article’s content is a summary of the Interviewee’s comments and, while rephrased by the Author, are not from the Author himself.

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About Luke Scorziell

Mr. Scorziell created The Edge of Ideas when he was 15 years old. After a few years of blogging he found a passion for podcasting and now regularly has guests on his show, Bills with Luke Scorziell. Find out more about Luke and his unique journey. Feel free to send Luke a message below.

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