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  • Author: Bill Frelick
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) became part of the US protection regime in 1990 to expand protection beyond what had been available under the US Refugee Act of 1980, which had limited asylum to those who met the refugee definition from the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention. The TPS statute authorized the attorney general to designate foreign countries for TPS based on armed conflict, environmental disasters, and other extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent designated nationals from returning in safety. While providing blanket protection that very likely has saved lives, TPS has nonetheless proven to be a blunt instrument that has frustrated advocates on both sides of the larger immigration debate. This article evaluates the purpose and effectiveness of the TPS statute and identifies inadequacies in the TPS regime and related protection gaps in the US asylum system. It argues that TPS has not proven to be an effective mechanism for the United States to protect foreigners from generalized conditions of danger in their home countries. It calls for changing the US protection regime to make it more responsive to the risks many asylum seekers actually face by creating a broader “complementary protection” standard and a more effective procedure for assessing individual protection claims, while reserving “temporary protection” for rare situations of mass influx that overwhelm the government’s capacity to process individual asylum claims. The article looks at alternative models for complementary protection from other jurisdictions, and shows how the US asylum and TPS system (in contrast to most other jurisdictions) fails to provide a mechanism for protecting arriving asylum seekers who do not qualify as refugees but who nevertheless would be at real risk of serious harm based on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment or because of situations of violence or other exceptional circumstances, including natural or human-made disasters or other serious events that disturb public order, that would threaten their lives or personal security. The article proposes that the United States adopt an individualized complementary protection standard for arriving asylum seekers who are not able to meet the 1951 Refugee Convention standard but who would face a serious threat to life or physical integrity if returned because of a real risk of (1) cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; (2) violence; or (3) exceptional situations, for which there is no adequate domestic remedy.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article examines the ability of immigrants to integrate and to become full Americans. Naturalization has long been recognized as a fundamental step in that process and one that contributes to the nation’s strength, cohesion, and well-being. To illustrate the continued salience of citizenship, the article compares selected characteristics of native-born citizens, naturalized citizens, legal noncitizens (most of them lawful permanent residents [LPRs]), and undocumented residents. It finds that the integration, success, and contributions of immigrants increase as they advance toward naturalization, and that naturalized citizens match or exceed the native-born by metrics such as a college education, self-employment, average personal income, and homeownership. It finds that: Naturalized citizens enjoy the same or higher levels of education, employment, work in skilled occupations, personal income, and percentage above the poverty level compared to the native-born population. At least 5.2 million current US citizens — 4.5 million children and 730,000 adults — who are living with at least one undocumented parent obtained US citizenship by birth; eliminating birthright citizenship would create a permanent underclass of US-born denizens in the future. Requiring medical insurance would negatively affect immigrants seeking admission and undocumented residents who ultimately qualify for a visa. About 51 percent of US undocumented residents older than age 18 lack health insurance. In 2017, about 1.2 million undocumented residents lived with 1.1 million eligible-to-naturalize relatives. If all the members of the latter group naturalized, they could petition for or expedite the adjustment or immigration (as LPRs) of their undocumented family members, including 890,000 “immediate relatives.” Their naturalization could put 11 percent of the US undocumented population on a path to permanent residency. The article also explores a contradiction: that the administration’s “America first” ideology obscures a set of policies that impede the naturalization process, devalue US citizenship, and prioritize denaturalization. The article documents many of the ways that the Trump administration has sought to revoke legal status, block access to permanent residence and naturalization, and deny the rights, entitlements, and benefits of citizenship to certain groups, particularly US citizen children with undocumented parents. It also offers estimates and profiles of the persons affected by these measures, and it rebuts myths that have buttressed the administration’s policies. For example, the Trump administration and restrictionist legislators have criticized the US immigration system’s emphasis on family reunification for its supposed failure to produce skilled workers. Yet the article finds that: The current immigration system, which prioritizes the admission of the nuclear family members of US citizens and LPRs, yields a legal foreign-born population that has occupational skills equal to those of the native-born population. The legal foreign-born population living in 24 US states and Washington, DC, and those from 94 source countries have higher percentages of skilled workers than the overall population of native-born workers.
  • Topic: Immigration, Citizenship, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This paper presents the results of a study by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) on potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act of 2017 (the “DREAM Act” or “Act”). The study reveals a long-term, highly productive population, with deep ties to the United States. In particular, it finds that: More than 2.2 million US residents would qualify for conditional residence under the DREAM Act. An additional 929,000 — who are now age 18 and over — arrived when they were under 18, but have not graduated from high school and are not enrolled in school and, thus, would not currently qualify for status under the Act. The DREAM Act-eligible can be found in large numbers (5,000 or more) in 41 states and more than 30 counties, metropolitan areas, and cities. Potential DREAM Act recipients have lived in the United States for an average of 14 years. Sixty-five percent (age 16 and above) participate in the labor force, with far higher rates in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Utah, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oregon. This population works heavily in sales and related occupations; food preparation and serving; construction and extracting; office and administrative support; production; transportation and material moving; and building/grounds cleaning and maintenance. Many of the DREAM Act-eligible are highly skilled and credentialed. 70,500 are self-employed. Eighty-eight percent speaks English exclusively, very well, or well. 392,500 have US-citizen children, and more than 100,000 are married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. Twenty-nine percent has attended college or received a college degree. The DREAM Act-eligible include 50,700 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras, 45 percent of whom live in the Miami metro area, Los Angeles County, the Washington, DC area, Houston, New York City, the San Francisco metro area, and the City of Dallas. The study also underscores the immense investment — $150 billion — that states and localities have already made in educating these young Americans. It argues that over time and with a path to citizenship the return on this investment will increase by virtually every indicia of integration — education levels, employment rates, self-employment numbers, US family members, and English language proficiency.
  • Topic: Migration, Border Control, Refugees, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeanne M. Atkinson, Tom Wong
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: This article presents the results of a study that finds that as many as two million unauthorized immigrants in the United States could have a path to permanent legal status. However, these immigrants may not know that they are eligible for legal status, much less be able to afford the costs or take the necessary steps to obtain it. The two million figure is drawn from an analysis of screening data from 4,070 unauthorized immigrants from 12 states. The study highlights the profound impact that a national project to screen for legal status would have on the entire US population, including eligible immigrants, their family members, and the country at large. The need for legal screening has become particularly acute in light of the Trump administration’s focus on apprehension and deportation of unauthorized immigrants without regard to their length of residence in the United States, family relationships to US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or other positive factors. The proposed termination of benefits for many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)1 recipients would add more than one million individuals — approximately 325,000 (Warren and Kerwin 2017), and 700,000 (Krogstad 2017) people, respectively — to the pool of unauthorized immigrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Border Control, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America