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    Published on 09-03-2015 03:38 PM

    The L-1B Visa Then and Now: How the Policy Memorandum on L-1B Adjudications Policy has changed the adjudications of the Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Visa Going Forward.


    Published on 09-03-2015 02:24 PM

    Central American Immigrants in the United States


    Jeanne Batalova

    The majority of Central American immigrants who have obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States did so through family reunification channels. (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock)

    Large-scale Central American migration to the United States, an overwhelmingly post-1980s phenomenon, has been driven mainly by economic hardship and political instability in the region. In 2013, approximately 3.2 million Central American immigrants resided in the United States—the majority from the so-called Northern Triangle formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—representing 7 percent of the country’s 41.3 million immigrants.

    The Central American population in the United States was very small in the 1950s and 1960s, consisting of a mix of privileged individuals and low-skilled workers. Of the total 48,900 Central American immigrants in 1960, Panama was the largest origin country, followed by Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. The Central American immigrant population began its rapid increase in the late 1970s when a series of civil wars broke out in the region. Thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans, many from rural areas with little formal education, fled north in response to the repression and violence of war. In contrast, those who left Nicaragua were mostly well-educated elites. The Reagan administration, as part of its regional foreign policy, actively discouraged Salvadorans and Guatemalans from applying for political asylum: their approval rates were less than 3 percent in 1984, compared to 12 percent for Nicaraguans, and far below the rates for Poles (32 percent) and Iranians (60 percent). However, many whose applications were declined remained in the United States without authorization under the protection of local religious congregations in the sanctuary movement.

    Although migration rates from Central America declined with the end of the conflicts in the early 1990s, the Central American immigrant population has continued to grow. Migrant social networks previously developed to assist those seeking political refuge now facilitate economic migration, with many individuals entering the United States illegally. In the late 1990s, unauthorized Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans became eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—provisional protection against deportation with work authorization—due to a series of natural disasters in those countries. TPS has been renewed for Honduras and Nicaragua until July 2016, and El Salvador until September 2016. In addition, many unauthorized Central Americans have legalized their status through a set of discretionary measures and legislation passed by the U.S. government, including the 1997 Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA). However, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America has continued to rise.

    Since 2011, a growing number of unaccompanied children, largely from the Northern Triangle, have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. From the start of fiscal year (FY) 2014 through July 31, 2015, 72,968, or 74 percent, of the unaccompanied minors apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S.-Mexico border were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

    From 1980 to 2013, the size of the Central American immigrant population grew nine-fold from 354,000 to 3.2 million (see Figure 1). The population more than tripled in the 1980s, almost doubled in the 1990s, and continued to grow more than 56 percent between 2000 and 2013.

    Figure 1. Central American Immigrant Population in the United States, 1980-2013

    Jeanne Batalova

    Sources: Data from U.S. Census Bureau 2006, 2010, and 2013 American Community Surveys (ACS), and Campbell J. Gibson and Kay Jung, "Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-2000" (Working Paper no. 81, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, February 2006), available online.

    Immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and more recently, Honduras accounted for 90 percent of the total growth between 1980 and 2013, while other Central American groups showed moderate increases. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of Costa Rican and Nicaraguan immigrants actually decreased.

    Click here for an interactive chart showing changes in the number of immigrants from Central America in the United States over time. Select individual Central American countries from the dropdown menu.

    In 2013, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were the top three countries of origin for Central American immigrants (see Table 1). Together, they accounted for 85 percent of immigrants from Central America, followed by Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize.

    Table 1. Distribution of Central American Immigrants by Country of Origin, 2013

    Jeanne Batalova

    Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 ACS.

    The majority of Central American immigrants who have obtained lawful permanent residence in the United States (also known as receiving a “green card”) did so through family reunification channels. Compared to the overall foreign- and native-born populations, Central American immigrants on average were significantly less educated, but more likely to be employed. Although Central American countries share similar religious and linguistic backgrounds, there are great variations in socioeconomic characteristics among the different origin countries. Due to the high share of individuals from the Northern Triangle, the indicators for all Central American immigrants are biased towards immigrants from those three countries.

    Of the total 4.2 million Central American immigrants worldwide, the vast majority (80 percent) resided in the United States, with the rest scattered in Central America and Europe, according to mid-2013 estimates by the United Nations Population Division. However, the international settlement pattern of each country’s immigrants is very different. For instance, between 80 percent and 90 percent of immigrants from Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras settled in the United States, compared to only 42 percent of Nicaraguan immigrants (46 percent reside in Costa Rica). Click here to view an interactive map showing where migrants from Central American countries among others have settled worldwide.


    Central America includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

    The U.S. Census Bureau defines the foreign born as individuals who had no U.S. citizenship at birth. The foreign-born population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees, legal nonimmigrants (including those on student, work, or other temporary visas), and persons residing in the country without authorization.

    The terms foreign born and immigrant are used interchangeably and refer to those who were born in another country and later emigrated to the United States. Data collection constraints do not permit inclusion of those who gained citizenship in a Central American country via naturalization and later moved to the United States.

    Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (the most recent 2013 American Community Survey [ACS] and pooled 2009-13 ACS data), the Department of Homeland Security’s Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, and the World Bank's annual remittance data, this Spotlight provides information on the Central American immigrant population in the United States, focusing on its size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.

    Click on the bullet points below for more information:

    • Distribution ...
    Published on 09-02-2015 03:17 PM

    What If the Next President is Donald Trump?


    President Trump? Sounds like a nightmare. Millions of undocumented immigrants will be forcibly deported, tearing apart families and causing untold pain and suffering.

    It’s not going to happen. And not just because, as Univision’s Jorge Ramos pointed out, it will be impossible logistically to deport millions of people.

    During that infamous news conference, everyone knows that Trump at first kicked ...
    Published on 09-02-2015 03:04 PM

    Birthright Citizenship – Why We Don’t Need it in the 21st Century


    I disagree that, the res jolie provision of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, birthright citizenship, is “a cornerstone of our freedom”. I oppose birthright citizenship and the abuses it brings to America’s immigration system.

    The 14th Amendment, which provided for a res jolie system of citizenship, was spawned as a response to the abhorrent 1857 decision of the 1857 US Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, which held that US born children of African slaves were not US citizens, even though born on US soil. That issue need to be defined by a Constitutional Amendment and the only way to do it was to create a res jolie, rather than a res sangre citizenship law by amending the Constitution. Congress immediately acted by ratifying the 14th Amendment in 1858, which at Section 1 states:

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Note that in addition to defining who is a US citizen, Section 1 of the 14th amendment’s main thrust is actually equal protection, the kind the Supreme Court denied in the Dred Scott case. Section 1 goes on to say:,

    “. . . No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Of course, that language grants those rights to all who are present in America, and rightfully so. That’s what “equal protection” is all about, even though until very recently the US government has denied rights to certain classifications of individual, i.e. blacks, browns, yellows, greens, homosexuals, etc. It is ...

    Published on 09-01-2015 12:12 PM

    Sanctuary Cities Come Under Scrutiny, As Does Federal-Local Immigration Relationship


    The killing of a young woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant has sparked a debate over the role of "sanctuary" cities. (Photo: Michelle Prevost)

    The recent fatal shooting of a woman in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant dramatically revived the dormant debate on so-called sanctuary cities. The death of Kathryn Steinle sparked members of Congress, lately quiet on the immigration front, to spring into action and introduce multiple bills to sanction cities that decline to cooperate fully with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Separately, the controversy over San Francisco’s release of the unauthorized immigrant charged in the killing after he had been on track for deportation gave a rocky start to the Obama administration’s rollout of the successor to the controversial Secure Communities program, until recently the primary vehicle for federal-local relations on immigration enforcement.

    The aftermath of the shooting, which propelled illegal immigration to the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign, has also served as a reminder of the fragility of the politics of immigration—that one single event can galvanize a national public response and shift the direction and momentum of the immigration debate. In many ways, the Steinle tragedy is similar to last summer’s short-term surge of Central American unaccompanied children and families arriving at the border, which triggered a renewed debate over border security and hardened public opinion on immigration.

    The Fallout

    On July 1, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was killed as she walked on a San Francisco pier by alleged gunman Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an unauthorized immigrant from Mexico. Lopez-Sanchez had previously been deported five times, served more than 15 years in federal prison on unlawful re-entry charges, and been convicted of four drug-related charges.

    Congress wasted no time in responding to the killing. Republican lawmakers quickly introduced a flurry of bills targeting “sanctuary cities”—at least five in the Senate and eight in the House—and Ms. Steinle’s father testified before House and Senate committees. On July 23, the House passed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, which would prevent cities that limit their cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from receiving certain federal law enforcement grants. In the Senate, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced Kate’s Law, a bill that would fence off additional federal grants from cities that resist cooperation with ICE and establish a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. Other GOP measures in play range from making sanctuary policies illegal, to granting state and local police more authority to enforce immigration law. California’s senators, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have also announced their intention to craft legislation requiring local law enforcement officials to notify ICE when an unauthorized immigrant with a felony conviction is released, if ICE requests such notification. With Congress on summer recess, these measures could become fodder for fall appropriations fights and pave the way for an immigration standoff if lawmakers attempt to link them to must-pass spending bills. The White House has already indicated it would veto such measures.

    In addition to drawing strong congressional reaction, the Steinle killing has complicated the implementation of a new Obama administration initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Coincidentally also launched on July 1, PEP represents an approach to federal-local cooperation on immigration enforcement more tailored to the demands of individual jurisdictions. PEP aims to limit ICE requests for local law enforcement collaboration on high-interest immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes or are seen as a national-security ...

    Published on 08-31-2015 04:26 PM

    Two-Thirds of Americans Oppose Cutting Legal Immigration


    Gallup released today the latest iteration of the longest running survey of the public’s views on immigration in the United States. The poll provides a strong rebuke to voices on and off Capitol Hill agitating for lowering legal immigration on the grounds that Americans are fed up with the current system.

    Since 1965, Gallup has asked Americans whether immigration should be kept at its present level, increased, or decreased. In the 1990s, support for further restriction peaked at 65 percent before falling dramatically (for the full historical trends, see here).

    This year, it reached the lowest level, 34 percent, of any point since 1965.

    Meanwhile, opposition to cuts — support for increasing the level or keeping it the same — hit 65 percent this year, the highest amount of support for at least the current level of immigration since the poll was taken.

    David Bier

    As I described in my recent ...

    Published on 08-31-2015 04:16 PM

    FINRA Rule Regarding Payments to Foreign Agents


    Earlier this week, FINRA Rule 2040 (the “Rule”) went into effect. The Rule requires all FINRA members to disclose to investors all fees and commissions paid to foreign agents and to receive written acknowledgement by investors that they are aware of these fees. This will have an impact on EB-5 projects. As a result ...

    Published on 08-28-2015 02:03 PM

    EB-5 Update


    1. Regional Center Reauthorization Extension
      It is highly likely Congress will pass an extension shortly before or after the regional center program expires on September 30, 2015.
    2. How long will the extension be for? The program will most likely be extended for 3 years; however, as the deadline approaches, the possibility of an extension for only 12 months or even 6 months increases.
    3. Which Bill S1501, HR 3370 or HR 616 will move? S1501, HR 3370,HR 616
      1) Grassley-Leahy Senate Bill S1501, 2) Lofgren-Gutierrez Bill H.R.3370, and 3) Polis-Amodei Bill HR 616. The bill most likely to move will be a new one to be introduced by Rep. Daryl Issa with Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s support.
    4. What will be in the final bill?
      No-one ...
    Published on 08-28-2015 01:58 PM

    Senator Bernie Sanders Takes Positions on Immigration



    Although not initially having a position statement on his campaign website and later suggesting that immigrant workers undercut the wage scale of U.S. workers, Senator Bernie Sanders now has staked out a "A Fair and Humane Immigration Policy" on his campaign website.  Here it is:

    As president, Senator Bernie Sanders will:

    1. Sign comprehensive immigration reform into law to bring over 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows. We cannot continue to run an economy where millions are made so vulnerable because of their undocumented status.
    2. Oppose tying immigration reform to the building of a border fence. Undocumented workers come to the United States to escape economic hardship and political persecution. Tying reform to unrealistic and unwise border patrol proposals renders the promise illusory for millions seeking legal status.
    3. Sign the DREAM Act into law to offer the opportunity of permanent residency and eventual citizenship to young people who were brought to the United States as children. We must recognize the young men and women who comprise the DREAMers for who they are – American kids who deserve the right to legally be in the country they know as home.
    4. Expand President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ...
    Published on 08-27-2015 03:00 PM




    Acknowledging the need of the U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly-skilled foreign-born U.S. workers, especially from India and China, who remain stuck with the same employer for years in order to obtain an employment-based green card, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working on a proposed rule that will allow certain beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and to engage in natural career advancements. DHS is expected to release the proposed rule during the first quarter of its New Fiscal Year starting on October 1, 2015.

    Sources of Prediction.

    A glimpse of this proposed rule was alluded to in the Memorandum released by the DHS Director, Jeh Johnson, to United States and Citizenship Services (USCIS) Director, Leon Rodriguez, following the President Obama’s announcement of executive action on November 20, 2014. Taking into consideration that the employment-based immigration system is afflicted with extremely long wait for green cards due to relatively low green card numerical limits established by Congress 25 years ago, the Memorandum directed the USCIS Director to take several steps to modernize and improve the immigrant visa process.

    Among other things, the Memorandum specifically ...

    Published on 08-27-2015 02:53 PM

    Government Ordered to Promptly Release Children From Family Detention



    In a decision issued Friday, a district court in California ruled yet again that the government is violating a long-standing settlement agreement protecting the rights of children in immigration detention. Advocates for immigrant children went to court in February to argue that the government’s family detention centers violate the Flores v. Reno settlement agreement, which set minimum standards for the detention, release and treatment of children subject to immigration detention. In late July, the district court agreed, finding that the government’s current family detention policy fails to meet these clear standards. The latest ruling, which came after the government received yet another chance to justify its widespread detention of asylum-seeking women and children to the court, reaffirmed that children should generally be released from family detention centers within five days. The government must put this ruling into effect by October 23, 2015.

    The court’s decisions lay out a path forward for the treatment of immigrant families fleeing violence. Under the Flores settlement, ...

    Published on 08-27-2015 02:41 PM

    Newly-Released Government Docs Reveal Dangerous Flaws in Immigration Detention Contracting


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    The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) released government documents this month that expose the severe lack of accountability in the immigration detention system. NIJC’s Immigration Detention Transparency and Human Rights Project publicly posted 90 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts and inspections from 2012 after a four-year legal battle to obtain the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. These documents “provide an unprecedented look into a failed system that lacks accountability, shields DHS from public scrutiny, and allows local governments and private prison companies to brazenly maximize profits at the expense of basic human rights.”

    The newly revealed ICE contracts and inspections expose the lack of transparency, accountability, and consistency that govern the taxpayer-funded system that is responsible for detaining over 400,000 people each year. The U.S. has the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world, comprised of a complex network of more than 250 facilities that maintain an average of 34,000 detention beds every day. The annual cost to taxpayers is consistently more than $2 billion, yet information about how this money is used is incredibly difficult to obtain. The problem stems, in part, from the increasing privatization of immigrant detention, allowing corporations to use their private status to withhold information about funding allocations and detention standards from the public.

    Through analyzing the information obtained under FOIA, NIJC found that the majority of individuals detained in 2012—18,326 per day—were held in facilities operating under “Intergovernmental Service Agreements” (IGSAs), the most confusing and concerning type of contract. Although the facilities generally are owned and operated by local government entities, “many local governments in turn subcontract with private corporations to administer and provide services.”  But it’s not just private corporations that are looking to maximize profits. As the report explains:

    While private corporations have garnered the most attention for warehousing immigrants for profit, NIJC has found that even local governments seek to maximize profits from the detention space they rent to ICE. At some facilities, such profit motives have resulted in cost-cutting on a range of basic needs for immigrants, such as medical care, food, and hygiene products. Other county governments have hired consultants to navigate the obscure process of negotiating higher per diem rates.

    The mounting evidence of the shameful conditions in immigration detention facilities, especially family detention centers, raise further questions about the conditions outlined in these contracts. Only 12 of the contracts NIJC evaluated required facilities to abide by the most recent detention standards, which are themselves insufficient. The report states:

    A large number of contracts cite only the weaker and outdated ICE 2000 National Detention Standards or 2008 PBNDS [Performance-Based National Detention Standards], and several other contracts only generally reference ‘ICE detention standards’ or do not mention any ICE standards at all…The GAO reported that, to avoid opening full IGSA contracts to negotiation, ICE sometimes obtains a facility’s agreement to be inspected according to a more recent set of standards without explicitly incorporating the new standards into the contract. This practice makes it nearly impossible to know which standards apply to specific facilities, or how ICE informs facilities when they are subject to an updated set of detention standards.

    NIJC’s initial findings reveal serious transparency and accountability concerns, both with the contract creation and maintenance process as well as the terms and lengths of the contracts. Unbelievably, forty-five facilities operate with indefinite contracts—meaning there is no date to revisit the cost, required condition standards, or necessity of the facility. Thankfully, not all contracts operate this way: at least 12 contracts will expire before 2018. As NIJC points out, this “provid[es] an opportunity for advocates to raise questions about the efficacy of keeping these facilities open and ensure any modifications or extensions contain robust standards.”

    Photo Courtesy of Seattle Globalist.

    This post originally appeared on Immigration Impact. Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Tory Johnson is the Policy Assistant at the American Immigration Council. Prior to joining the Council, Tory worked as a coordinator at the American Health Lawyers Association and as a Young Fellow at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, focusing on immigration and criminal justice policy. Tory has a B.A. in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College and wrote her thesis on the growth of private prisons in the immigrant detention industry.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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