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Economy and Immigration in the United States
Anonymous, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
America would not be the same without the diversity of the people it has to offer. The cause for such diversity is the opportunity or “American dream” we as a country have to offer. Not every person who is here is legally allowed to be—our economy is already influenced by "illegal" immigration.
According to University of California-San Diego Professor of Economics, Gordon Hanson, “illegal immigration’s overall impact on the U.S. economy is small.” Yet, much research finds that unauthorized immigrants create net gains for the U.S. economy. Those who view illegal immigration as an issue for our economy most likely will support the idea of deportation.
Immigrants who come to this country will want to work especially if their situation from before was troubled. Here, I refer to poverty and social problems faced by the individual such as war going on, for example: Iraqi refugees. There is a group of highly educated people who will migrate to the United States to put their college degrees to use. In countries that are poor or in the middle of ongoing political struggles, there is not a strong economy even if you work smart in school, having a degree is useless. If you look at statistics a large group of immigrants (compared to native population with similar skills) will be young, highly educated workers, mainly scientists and engineers. Another large group consists of young workers with little education but employed in highly manual-intensive occupations. An example of this would be a housekeeper or farm laborer.
When immigrants start working in the United States, it increases the productive capacity of the economy and raises gross domestic product. The “immigration surplus” is when natives in the country gain from immigration.The income of natives rise as immigrants rise all together. It amounts to $36 to $72 billion per year. Immigrants will move more than native-born Americans. In my own experience growing up as an immigrant in the U.S., we moved from California to Michigan. Moving to where the jobs are, such as the Ford Factory in Dearborn from a minimum wage job in Los Angeles, can lead to better financial opportunities. This type of movement is seen in American history and increases the speed of economic growth.
Migration causes expansion of the labour supply. Each year, up to a million illegal immigrate from other countries, mostly from Latin American nations. There are now more than 11.5 million of them living in the US. Over 2.5 million are based in California and over 1.4 million are in Texas. Careers such as agriculture, construction, health services, computing industries, and state education is what is mainly benefited.
Letting people immigrate to support economic growth is a solution that is debatable, but does work. If the government issued more work visas, fewer immigrants would attempt to enter the country illegally. If we increase legal immigration which they tend to be younger adults, there are more working-age people who are contributing to economic growth.
1. Anon. n.d. “US Immigration Policy: Can It Fix Worrisome Economic Trends?” Retrieved April 19, 2021 (https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/us-immigration-policy/).
2. Bray, Ilona. 2012. “What Is Marriage Fraud under U.s. Immigration Law?” Nolo.Com. Retrieved April 16, 2021 (https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/fiance-marriage-visa-book/chapter1-6.html).
3. Wharton, P. P. I. 2016. “The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy — Penn Wharton Budget Model.” Upenn.Edu. Retrieved April 19, 2021 (https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/issues/2016/1/27/the-effects-of-immigration-on-the-united-states-economy).
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The Ups and Downs of Obtaining a Green Card
Anonymous, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
Is it worth it to do anything for a green card? I was once offered $20,000 in exchange for marrying someone and helping them obtain a “green card.” I believe it is a crime, but that makes me realize how difficult the immigration process is in the United States. As an immigrant, myself, I have experienced many different situations such as the process of receiving a green card, which is sensitive depending on the situation. I know of men and women from Mexico who will ask American citizens to marry them for the chance to reside in the United States. Marriage for legal citizenship is a problem. Obtaining a green card should not be so difficult to the point that people are willing to pay a large amount of money to illegally get one.
A green card gives its holder the legal right to live and work in the U.S. permanently. Every year, the United States government grants green cards to thousands of immigrants that meet strict rules and characteristics. Based on the situation, many people who have family in the U.S., such as children who are citizens, obtain a green card to be with them. Employers also sponsor green cards. Still, many immigrants simply do not qualify for a green card.
Let’s look at the case of Mexican immigration, for example. There is a long history of labor migration between the United States and Mexico as wages in Mexico tend to be much lower than in the United States. According to Labor Economics, “estimates indicate that intermarried Mexicans earn a 40 percent wage premium.” There is a significant opportunity to make more money working in the United States than in Mexico--especially with work authorization. People have a need or want to come to the U.S. and earn a living. Earning money with less fear of deportation highly suggests people to have the right documentation. U.S. officials argue that 30% of marriages between aliens and U.S. citizens are suspect. To detect frauds, U.S. immigration authorities require a lot of proof that a marriage is real, including demanding more documentation than they do from other family-based immigrant visa applicants. Applicants must prove that they share their lives by providing copies of such documents as rental agreements, bank account statements, and children’s birth certificates.
A green card can always be lost if a person commits a crime or violates a law. Section
237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act states what makes a person deportable such as not
reporting a change of address can get you in trouble. If a green card holder leaves the United
States and tries to return, the person can become subject to the even broader grounds of
inadmissibility found in Section 212 of the I.N.A. This is especially a problem if one spends six
months or more outside the U.S. or commits a crime while out. If an immigrant continues living and working in the U.S. without a you are to lose the green card we go into our class readings and learn that the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, strengthened U.S. immigration laws, they may face additional penalties for undocumented immigrants who commit crimes while in the United States or who stay in the U.S. for statutorily defined periods of time.
I believe that in order to prevent marriages just for the sake of a green card, we should have an immigration system that provides more legal opportunities for single individuals to study and work in the U.S. We are harsh on unmarried immigrants and our immigration system does not currently provide enough viable pathways for immigrants who want to study and work hard in the U.S. to come here legally. As such, our policies have the unintended consequences of creating conditions that facilitate and encourage people to engage in marriage fraud in order to come here. Background checks should be strict, but we should not be so strict on people who are not married.
1. Chi, Miao. 2014. “How Much Is a Green Card Worth? Evidence from Mexican Men Who Marry Women Born in the U.S." Labour Economics, 31.
2. Ilona Bray, J. D. 2019. “What Does a Green Card Get You?” Retrieved February 12, 2021 (https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/us-immigration/what-green-card-get-you.html).
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The Best Solution to Hate and Violence Among Americans?
Lena, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
The post-9/11 United States setting saw portrayals of Arab Americans represented as violent and “other” increase in spaces such as everyday media, creating a culture of fear surrounding Arab Americans from non-Arab Americans. The fear towards Arab Americans has resulted in hate-based crimes on an everyday scale, such as verbal and physical harassment. In fact, harassment of Arab Americans climbed so high in the post-9/11 world that in 2011 the Department of Justice held a summit addressing Arab and Muslim American harassment and acknowledging the violence towards the group.
Many Arab and Muslim American citizens and communities live in constant fear due to the harassment they face (Hendricks 2014). The fear has caused these communities to redirect their daily lives in order to stay safe in the public sphere. The anxiety of non-Arab Americans towards Arab Americans, and the anxiety of Arab Americans towards strangers that may harass them, has created a divide between the groups so that even if they live within the same communities, they do not engage with one another. By continually allowing both groups to fear each other, we allow hatred and subsequent crime and violence to grow.
Politico reports that the United States government has utilized a large part of our national budget and efforts to keep Americans safe. However, Arab Americans are still facing threats as evidenced by the 2011 Department of Justice report, stemming from non-Arab Americans responding to negative imagery of Arab Americans seen in the media. To truly combat fear, hatred, and subsequent violence towards Arab Americans, and the American population as a whole, the United States should allocate part of its protection funds and efforts to promoting community dialogue. By spending money on creating spaces within communities across the United States that encourage dialogue and community engagement, hatred, fear, and subsequent violence can diminish towards our fellow citizens, to be replaced by understanding, trust, and peace.
Imagine that part of our funds and efforts went to actively create spaces within communities around the United States for citizens of different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to come together and discuss the fears and misunderstandings we are having of each other. Research by Hendricks et al. in “Beyond the Numbers...” find that increased dialogue among community members of different and similar backgrounds and experiences can alleviate fear towards other groups besides the immediate ones citizens are engaged in. Hendricks et al. highlight that communication among the public can educate both “communities and law enforcement” (Hendricks 2014) about “hate” (Hendricks) but also about where “anxiety and fear” (Hendricks 2014) stem from.
Aligning with this solution, one of the recommendations the Department of Justice has proposed to combat fear and hate crimes towards Arab and Muslim Americans, and towards Americans as a whole, is promoting engagement between American communities. That the United States recognizes that active community dialogue is a significant and effective method to reducing violence in the country is an important step towards building dialogue and meeting spaces that can promote peace. I hope the next step is actively using our efforts and funds to make these spaces a concrete reality present within every community across the nation. In doing so, Americans would be able to utilize their thoughts, feelings, and voices in a positive and communal manner to address and mitigate their fears.
1. Department of Justice. n.d. “Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era: Challenges and
Opportunities Ten Years Later.” Retrieved (https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2012/04/16/post911summit_report_ 2012-04.pdf).
2. Gerhauser, Patricia Tanner. 2014. “Framing Arab-Americans and Muslims in U.S. Media.” Sociological Viewpoints 30(1):7–35.
3. Hagee, Michael W. and James M. Loy. 2012. “What It Takes to Keep U.S. Safe Today.” POLITICO. Retrieved
4. Hendricks, Nicole J., Christopher W. Ortiz, Naomi Sugie, and Joel Miller. 2007. “Beyond the
Numbers: Hate Crimes and Cultural Trauma Within Arab American Immigrant Communities.” International Review of Victimology 14:95–113.
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No Better Time than Now to Abolish ICE and Defund Local Police
Zaineb-Stalene, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
The smallest traffic ticket has led to the inhumane deportations of thousands of immigrants in the US. ICE has time and time again scanned the database of many local police officers accounts to pick out any innocent person to deport. The real basis behind ICE is racism and it’s a reflection of our government. There is no better time to finally abolish ICE and defund our local police officers.
ICE has single handedly ruined the lives of millions of innocent people with the help of our government. The US government has passed countless policies to only insure ICE of their job and protect them. History has shown politicians that promised to make immigration more humane in fact did not help with and only made it worse.
With the help of the government, migrants are being torn from their homes because of things as simple as traffic tickets. For example in January, President Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security opposed defunding ICE, and said he needed to study if it was “efficient and effective.” The administration that promised to “reform immigration policies” has clearly shown their support for the unjust acts of ICE.
Our government has failed us. Our country is no longer the country of opportunities or “land of the free” it is a country that picks and chooses which race or ethnicity they want in their country. In the 1930s and 40s, for example, the Border Patrol sent “Special Mexican Deportation Parties” to cities throughout the United States. This was a clear agenda against Mexicans. Today, we find that Mexican and other Latin American immigrant communities are subject to frequent ICE raids, often with the support of local police.
“We don’t arrest many German people,” an ICE official says on Immigration Nation, a Netflix documentary released last year. This government agency is outwardly racist and it is only a reflection of the systematic racism in the government. The US government has shown no favor to those migrants that are minorities. “White” German immigrants, like other European immigrants, rarely get deported even though they, too, may wind up in the U.S. without authorization or violate the terms of their visas.
To defund the local police would be a big step in the abolishment of ICE. This agency relies on the support of our local police officers. While George Bush was in office ICE launched Secure Communities, this was a program that lets immigration authorities scour police databases searching for people who might be deportable, including those who’ve committed minor traffic violations. Defunding police would mean limiting their reach. This agency does not only arrest those individuals with the traffic ticket, but also supports ICE raids and investigations.
The counterargument that many people may have would be that these immigrants are causing crime and drug dealing is big in those communities. Something people that make those claims don't understand is that that is immigrants, in general, exhibit lower crime rates than native-born Americans.
To remove the support of local police officers by defunding them would be a significant blow to ICE. Beyond this, ICE should be defunded and, subsequently, abolished. ICE is costly, ineffective, and harmful. Money and other resources should be spent on making the green card process free and creating attainable pathways to citizenships. Abolish ICE. Defund our local Police.
Issues Within ICERead Now
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Issues Within ICE
Abigale, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
By now it is clear to see that the criminal justice and immigration systems in America needs to be reformed. The systemic racism flows from the government into law enforcement and more specifically, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Border patrol and ICE officers are poorly trained and lack transparency in their work. The process of how they detain and deport people is unlawful and goes against what America’s values are. Constitutional rights are ignored and officers are not being held accountable. The United State’s immigration enforcement system is outdated. It is time for a new system with integrity that respects the law.
The poor treatment of people by immigration enforcement is heightened by the absence of transparency and outdated training in the departments. Detainees and inmates also cannot hold officers accountable because of the deficient complaint systems. The right to file a complaint about negligent behavior is “largely unknown to jail inmates, is not confidential, and does not protect them from retaliation" (National Immigration Law Center 2019). Inmates are not going to complain and change will not be made if the system is not confidential and they can be harmed by doing so. Being unaware that you can complain about abuse causes a toxic environment where detainees constantly have to live in fear.
It is also common for officers to lose track of undocumented immigrants because of their need for additional training. A long-time Immigration attorney says that “Training is an issue in the agency. Deportation policies and procedures are outdated and unclear. Per ICE staff, deportation officers don't get enough training to help them supervise and deport non-detained undocumented immigrants" (Iliopoulos 2017). It should be unacceptable for there to be a lack of training for personnel responsible for the lives of other humans. Especially in times where people still discriminate on the basis of skin color and national origin.
On a constitutional level, ICE does not follow the law of the land. Undocumented people’s human rights are infringed on on a regular basis and the ICE agency refuses congressional oversight “In the instances where Congress has attempted to intervene and provide some much-needed oversight of ICE’s detention operations, ICE has been largely non-compliant or evasive" (Mary Small and Heidi Altman, 2018). It is suspicious that ICE will not comply with oversight. If they were confident that they were not doing anything wrong, they would have no problem with it.
Undocumented people stuck in the system are not guaranteed due process of law or any constitutional rights they should have access to. Unchecked departments that are not held accountable for their actions cause an environment of human rights violations and abuse. Most detainees do not have the right to a fair hearing or due process protections. Another issue is that undocumented people do not have equal protection from discrimination based on race and national origin. The void of equal protection produces racial profiling and the use of excessive force against immigrants.
Knowing that the immigration system in America is so outdated and unlawful, there have been many opportunities and reasons for policy change. The Trump administration failed to make any positive changes to the system in their four years. Congress should immediately increase oversight of detention centers and mandate regular inspections. Training should be updated and increased to match the current immigration demand. Officers should be held accountable for their actions and complaint systems should be created to make sure of this. There is a lot of work to be done so congress should start as soon as possible to make conditions better for immigrants.
1. Anon. 2019. “How ICE Uses Local Criminal Justice Systems to Funnel People Into the Detention and Deportation System.” National Immigration Law Center. Retrieved March 18, 2021 (https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-enforcement/localjusticeandice/).
2. Iliopoulos, Mike. 2017. “Audit: ICE Officers Lack Training, Lose Track of Undocumented Immigrants.” Denver News. Retrieved March 18, 2021 (https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/audit-ice-officers-lack-training-lose-t rack-of-undocumented-immigrants).
3. Small, Mary and Heidi Altman. 2018. “ICE Lies: Public Deception, Private Profit.” Detention Watch Network. Retrieved March 19, 2021 (https://immigrantjustice.org/sites/default/files/content-type/research-item/documents/2018 -02/IceLies_DWN_NIJC_Feb2018.pdf).
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Deportation as Double Jeopardy?
Malvina, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
The term ‘Double Jeopardy” is when a person is tried twice for the same case in the criminal world. Would anyone consider a person who is tried, charged and served the consequence for the crime, but is now also going through an immigration removal hearing due to the criminal charge as double jeopardy? The answer is no, double jeopardy is not applied to immigration hearings for non-citizens facing an immigration removal for the same crime they were criminally charged with. People may argue and say that the person deserves getting deported for committing a crime they knew was wrong while being a guest in the US. Others may argue and say that people make mistakes, yes, even immigrants. What should be done here?
Imagine having to constantly fear being taken away from the life you built from the ground up, being taken away from your family and community for a mistake you made. This is the reality for the lives of immigrants. Many immigrants are so cautious to ensure they do not do anything that could possibly harm their immigration status. For US citizens, many of us do not think twice about a traffic ticket, or police stop. The average speeding ticket has different consequences for someone going through the immigration process. Regarding the double jeopardy comparison, technically, the immigrant is not being charged twice, but is paying the consequence twice where a US citizen receives less of a punishment. The US citizen can receive a charge as simple as probation time, where an immigrant is sent back to a country they left to build a new life.
Mentioned in the American Immigration Council, The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States “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.” This proves the unfortunate news we witness which is, when a foreign national commits a crime, the news articles are blasting exposing their ethnicity / nationality, whereas if the average American person committed the same crime or worse, the news article would not expose they are an American citizen as the headline, and at that point in time, their personal details are left out. Immigrants face a much harsher sentence than compared to citizens and a difficult reality with more news and society hatred as well.
In addition to all the negative impacts, the non-citizen can also be tried at an immigration hearing. At immigration hearings, a person is tried for committing specific types of violations or crimes. This also includes minor civil infractions, simple mistakes such as overstaying on a visa, not filing a form on time, etc. An example includes a current Indonesia family from New Jersey that has lived in the US for over two decades is now facing deportation for missing the one-year deadline to seek asylum. Asylum is when people escape from their home country due to being afraid and living in fear of persecution or harm. Many US born citizens are fortunate enough to not have experienced that pain, we can be sympathetic to those that have experienced the fear and are now trying to recreate a new life.
Ways to fix this issue is to have the court system treat immigrants in a similar manner US citizens are treated for the same crime. It is proven that immigrants receive much harsher charges for the same crimes many Americans commit. It is also proven that non-citizens do not commit as much crime as citizens. It is shown that a foreign born national is negatively associated with crime, and does not commit property or violent crimes, as stated, if a non-citizen is arrested for a crime, it is generally for a minor offense such as a misdemeanor charge or bureaucratic errors/mistakes. Finally, news channels should be held to a higher standard of less biases and should not negatively engage in the bad news caused by one person, therefore an entire group of people suffer for the action of one person. Many immigrants do not migrate to the US to commit crimes and should not be under removal procedures for specific offenses/crimes an American would receive a slap on the wrist for.
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(Mis)Representations of Immigrants, Crime, and Public Safety
Ali, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
Former President Donald Trump has raised concerns about increasing crime and immigration in the United States. He sought to justify restrictive immigration policies--such as increasing deportations and detentions, building a southern border wall, and dismantling sanctuary cities--as public safety measures to reduce crime. The issue I would like to raise here is the fact that immigration policies which are aimed at crime-control are ineffective because immigrants don't actually impact public safety nearly as much as native-born citizens who already reside in the U.S.
It is extremely crucial to survey key research methods about immigration and crime to help enable the public and policymakers engage in a more meaningful policy debate that is rooted in facts. It is statistically demonstrated that foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime far less often than native-born citizens. Therefore, policies that further restrict immigration are not effective crime-control strategies.
Scholars have found that immigrants, regardless of legal status, do not have higher crime rates than native-born citizens. In fact, the prevalence of foreign-born individuals among the Latino population helps to explain the differences in violent crimes rates between Whites and Latinos. Research has shown that the influx of immigrants in recent decades has coincided with a significant decline in reported crime rates, which may have been influenced by the growing immigrant population. At the neighborhood level, communities with larger immigrant populations have lower crime rates. Immigrants help lower the crime rate in their communities because of their strong familial ties, their orientation to the justice system, their political participation, and their economic impact.
We must eliminate the policies that restrict immigration in the name of crime-control. Notably, we could use statistics and research to prove how the spur of immigration settlement revitalizes the economy due to the increase in economic activity and thus creating jobs. This economic boost makes all residents less likely to engage in criminal activities, further demonstrating to policymakers that restrictions on immigration do not necessarily reduce or stop crime on U.S. soil.
1. Ghandnoosh, N., and K. Ghandnoosh. 2020. "Immigration and Public Safety." Sentencing Project (https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/immigration-public-safety/).
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The Relationship Between Immigration Status and Victimization
Dania, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
Although many immigrants in the United States are capable of achieving the “American dream,” the life of an immigrant can be tedious and challenging. As an immigrant, in other words, a minority, one is unable to seek the “freedom” America claims to provide to all residents or citizens. In fact, immigration status is highly correlated with victimization where many people are being persecuted over situations and events they are not affiliated with in the society and in the workplace.
Research shows how immigration status can have an effect on one’s personal life. Many racial minorities are more fearful of crime than Whites, which is possibly due to minorities living in dangerous neighborhoods with higher crime rates (e.g. property criminal victimization). Wu et al. (2017) specifically demonstrated how Arab Americans experienced significantly more fear of crime than other ethnic groups due to the political and economic events that happened post 9/11 attacks.
Furthermore, Hendricks et al. (2007) explained how only 10-30% of hate crimes were reported by Arab Americans, and this low number was largely due to fear of their cases not being taken seriously. After 9/11, Arabs were harassed and threatened in the workplace, their homes and places of worship were vandalized, yet, they were still being associated with severe hate crimes related to shootings and murders (Hendricks et al. 2007).
These experiences attests to their significant fearfulness of crime, as well as deportation. They are being victimized by both the authorities and citizens that causes them to behave differently and be cautious of what is said and not being said. For example, one’s physical features (e.g. long beard) and religious affiliation are indirect factors that influence prejudice and victimization against the Arab community. Thus, it is not only citizenship leading to victimization, but also stereotypes too.
Immigration status can also lead to victimization in the workplace. Nir (2015) described how Asian manicurists were treated unfairly and not paid minimum wage due to inexperience or qualification. She explained how nail business owners preferred a certain group of people for work because of variability in intelligence level and eagerness to learn new techniques. She also mentioned how people take advantage of immigrant workers by having them perform jobs that others preferred not to do.
Overall, immigrants of varying statuses are more susceptible to certain types of victimization. This all depends on the political, social, and economic aspects of the society that influences the behavior and the outcome of a situation. Authorities should endorse laws to provide security and protection to immigrants to allow them to feel more comfortable to gain support from them, such as the report of hate crimes. Moreover, immigrants should make an effort to make great connections with people including neighbors in case they are needed to support them in times of need. These are some ways to combat these issues.
Ultimately, there is a strong correlation between immigration status and victimization. Although it can be difficult to manage the stress behind the ways in which they are treated, people need to stay strong and speak their voice to ensure they are heard to gain the justice they deserve.
1. Hendricks, Nicole J., Christopher W. Ortiz, Noami Sugie, and Joel Miller. 2007. “Beyond the Numbers: Hate Crimes and Cultural Trauma Within Arab American Immigrant Communities.” International Review of Victimology 14(1): 95-113.
2. Nir, Sarah Maslin. 2015. “The Price of Nice Nails,” The New York Times, May 7th. (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html).
3. Wu, Yuning, Charles F. Klahm, and Nada Atoui. 2017. “Fear of Crime among Arab Americans in a Culture of Fear.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 40(14): 2481-2500.
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Rethinking Crimes of Moral Turpitude
Jada, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
“Detained immigrants therefore often find themselves without sufficient legal defense and enter a system geared to imprison and punish not simply to contain,” say Ackerman and Furman in The Criminalization of Immigration. The immigration system is very similar to the criminal justice system accept immigrants wind up deported versus receiving a lengthy prison sentence. Thousands of immigrants are being deported for minor offenses because the government has made the smallest infractions a deportable offense—after all, this system is built to punish immigrants.
According to ICE, 350,000 immigrants are deported from the United States every year. Immigrants have little chance combatting a system that's rigged against them, and once ordered deported the only way to stay in this country is to file for an appeal.
But that very difficult even if the deportee has legal representation. As Ackerman and Furman explain, “the vast majority of deportable aliens have no legal representation, do not fully understand the laws arraigned against them and do not have sufficient cultural capital to digest complex volumes of law and legal cases.” Unfortunately, short of demonstrating that, if deported, an immigrant will face torture or violence, there is little that can stop a deportation. So even if a deportee gets a lawyer and their lawyer files for an appeal, there’s not much they can do due to the current laws against them.
As Margaret H. Taylor and Ronald F. Wright stress in The Sentencing Judge as Immigration Judge, “the increase in criminal deportations over the past two decades is partly a by-product of the steep rise in criminal enforcement and incarceration rates during this period. But it also results from a flurry of new legislation enacted to make it easier to deport noncitizen criminal offenders.” This statement emphasizes the fact that “a moral turpitude conviction is now a deportable offense when committed within five years after the date of admission if a sentence of more than a year may be imposed.” In sum, the government makes it very easy for noncitizens to be deported even for the slightest offense, such as petty theft.
How do we fix this? How can we stop immigrants and permanent residence from being deported for nonviolent offenses? The only way this can change is by changing the current laws and policies. Specifically, the laws that allow minor crimes to become deportable offenses. The only crime that should be a deportable offense is rape and murder period. As Lindsay M. Kornegay and Evan Tsen Lee stress in Why Deporting Immigrants for ‘Crimes of Moral Turpitude” is now Unconstitutional, “In the best of times, immigrants should only be deported according to the rule of law and not by the whim of executive branch officials.”
1. Ackerman, Alissa R., and Rich Furman. 2014. The Criminalization of Immigration: Contexts and Consequences. NC: Carolina Academic Press.
2. Kornegay, L. M., & Lee, E. T. 2017. "Why Deporting Immigrants for 'Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude" is Now Unconstitutional. " Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy 13(1), 48.
3. Taylor, M. H., & Wright, R. F. 2002. "The Sentencing Judge as Immigration Judge." Emory Law Journal 51(3), 1131.
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Driver's Licenses and Unauthorized Immigrants
Hayley, Undergraduate Student (UM-Dearborn)
There are currently just 13 states that allow undocumented immigrants to legally acquire a driver’s license including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Along with these 13 states, the country’s capitol, Washington D.C., also allows unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses (Motion Law Immigration, 2020). Allowing unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses federally is necessary in order to ensure public safety, prevent crime, and to provide unauthorized immigrants with necessary opportunities.
Unauthorized immigration is one of the most divisive issues in the United States of America. There are an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country, and around 8 million of which are working in America (Waters, 2017). Due to the lack of efficient public transportation in America, the majority of those 8 million unauthorized immigrants need to drive to get to work. Just because someone doesn’t have a driver’s license does not mean that they’re not going to drive. However, the problem is that this means that there are a lot of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road. Many policy makers believe that granting unauthorized immigrants with driver’s licenses is in the best interest of public safety. It is important to know who is driving on the roads and making sure that drivers are operating vehicles that are registered and insured in case accidents or other traffic violations occur.
According to studies based in California, allowing unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses improves public safety. For example, allowing unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s license would prevent crimes like hit-and-run car accidents because they wouldn’t be inclined to abandon the scene out of fear of their immigration status being exposed.
The Federal Government is aware that the driver’s license is vital to success and survival in the United States. In 2005, the Federal Government signed the Real ID Act into law which required people to prove their identity in order to receive a valid driver’s license. Requirements in order to receive a government issued Real ID include proof of address, a birth certificate, a social security card, and federal scan capability. Unauthorized immigrants that are unable to legally obtain a driver’s license are left with no option other than to operate motor vehicles without any kind of driver’s license or to create counterfeit driver’s licenses that they can use to drive and apply for jobs and housing. Therefore, along with lessening the amount of hit-and-run accidents, allowing unauthorized immigrants to legally secure a driver’s license would also prevent people from committing the crime of creating fraudulent driver’s licenses.
Not only would allowing unauthorized immigrants to acquire driver’s licenses ensure public safety and prevent crime, it would also provide immigrants with vital opportunities necessary to surviving in America in addition to simply being able to operate a motor vehicle legally. Government issued photo identification such as a driver’s license is necessary in order to obtain employment, secure housing, apply for benefits including health care, and open a bank account.
Those who oppose allowing unauthorized immigrants to legally attain driver’s licenses argue that doing so endorses and encourages people to break the law but it’s important to note that immigrants don’t come to the United States for a driver’s license, and being ineligible for a driver’s license isn’t going to cause undocumented immigrants to leave the United States, nor is it going to stop people from driving. Due to this, it’s important to ensure public safety, prevent crime, and to provide immigrants with necessary opportunities by legally allowing undocumented immigrants to attain driver’s licenses federally.
1. Lueders, Hans, et al. 29 Mar. 2017. “Providing Driver's Licenses to Unauthorized Immigrants in California Improves Traffic Safety.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences. (www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/03/28/1618991114).
2. Motion Law Immigration. 27 Feb. 2020. “Can Undocumented Immigrants Obtain a Driver's License in the US?”
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