New Article: Denise L. Gilman & Luis Romero, Detention, Inc., SSRN Mar. 2018. Abstract below:
This paper addresses the influence of economic inequality on immigration detention. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) detains roughly 350,000 migrants each year and maintains more than 30,000 beds each day. This massive detention system raises issues of economic power and powerlessness. This paper connects, for the first time, the influence of economic inequality on system-wide immigration detention policy as well as on individual detention decisions.
The paper begins with a description of the systemic impact that for-profit prisons have had on the federal immigration detention system, by promoting wide-scale detention. The resulting expansion of detention has led to ever-increasing profitability for the private prison sector, which allows the companies to exercise even more influence over policymakers to achieve yet higher levels of detention. The influence of wealthy private prison corporations also affects the very nature of immigration detention, leading to use of jail-like facilities that are the product offered by the private prison industry.
The paper then describes the mechanisms by which economic inequality dictates the likelihood and length of detention in individual cases. The detention or release decisions made by DHS in individual cases must account for the need to keep numerous detention beds full to satisfy the contracts made with powerful private prison companies. DHS regularly sets bond amounts at levels that are not correlated to flight risk or danger but rather to the length of time that the individual must be held in detention to keep the available space full. The article presents data, obtained from immigration authorities regarding detention and bond patterns at a specific detention center that bears out this point. The research finds an inverse relationship between the number of newly arriving immigrants in the detention center and the bond amounts set by ICE. During times when new arrivals were few, the amount required to be released from detention on bond was high; during times when there were many new arrivals, bond amounts were reduced or set at zero.
The article also presents another way in which economic inequality affects the likelihood of detention at the individual level. Release and detention are largely controlled through the use of monetary bond requirements, which must be paid in full. The regular use of financial bonds as the exclusive mechanism for release means that those migrants who are most able to pay are most likely to be released without regard to their likelihood of absconding or endangering the community. Wealth thus determines detention rather than an individualized determination of the necessity of depriving an individual of liberty.
The paper urges that the role of economic inequality in immigration detention raises troubling issues of democratic governance and the commodification of traditional governmental functions. The current system also leads to an unjustifiable redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich.
The paper concludes with recommendations for reform. These reforms would help to sideline the influence of economic inequality in immigration detention decision-making.
New Article: Liz Keyes, Unconventional Refugees, 67 Am. Univ. L. Rev. 1 (2017). Abstract below:
Refugees are a flash point for political divisions in the United States and abroad. The enormous personal, moral, and legal challenges posed by the displacement of refugees around the world reveal the dire inadequacies of our current policies toward refugee protection. Children running to border agents at the U.S. southern border are treated as a security threat to be deterred, instead of a vulnerable population needing some level of protection. The numbers of people seeking safety in the United States, while not objectively high, places further strain on an already under-resourced heavily burdened immigration system, which at the end of the day, offers only partial hope to some of those seeking safety. Simply put, our current laws are simply not designed to offer meaningful protection that fits the contours of new waves of forced migration.
This article breaks open a debate that has been caught between the binaries of protection versus deterrence, and instead asks what framework could effectively serve multiple goals, both short-term protection and long-term deterrence and public safety. To do this, it questions our exclusive focus on the protection afforded by the Refugee Convention, and considers what rights to protection might be owed to “unconventional refugees.”
The Refugee Convention’s principle of non-refoulement (or non-return to the persecuting country) imposes significant duties on receiving nations like the United States, while its implementation requires intensive individualized determinations that create great demands on an overstretched immigration system. Its high value comes from the path it creates for refugees to ultimately access U.S. citizenship, and the value necessarily entails a process of great detail and depth. This article considers whether a complementary form of protection for unconventional refugees is appropriate—protection that is perhaps less valuable, but also less complex to administer and easier for the refugees to access.
The article examines precedents in U.S. immigration laws for such a reimagined form of protection, and examines a series of justifications, both philosophical and pragmatic, for such protection. The world is undeniably experiencing a moment where even the Refugee Convention meets considerable political opposition, so the project of developing a new framework is a long-term one, but it is a project that merits thoughtful consideration starting now. The principle of non-refoulement was once novel, and now constitutes a powerful principle of international law. A new principle for protecting unconventional refugees may also be possible, but only if we begin the task of imagining it.
Nathaniel Weixel, Trump officials allow Puerto Ricans to use food stamps for hot food, The Hill, October 3, 2017. [“The Trump administration has granted a waiver so that Puerto Ricans can use food stamp benefits to purchase prepared food in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.”]
News Article: Bill Quigley, Ten Examples of Resistance to Government Raids, Huffington Post (Feb. 22, 2017).
News Article: Ronald Brownstein, Federal Anti-Poverty Programs Primarily Help the GOP’s Base, The Atlantic (Feb. 16, 2017).
Posted in Economic Mobility, Family, Food, Health, Inequality, Latinos, Measuring Poverty, Politics, Race, Reports, Uncategorized, Wealthy, Welfare
Posted in Family, Food, Gender Issues, Inequality, Latinos, Measuring Poverty, Politics, Race, Reports, Uncategorized, Welfare
Posted in Access to Justice, Articles, Conferences, Criminalization of Poverty, Economic Mobility, Education, Family, Inequality, Latinos, Politics, Public Defenders, Race, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized
New Article: Jennifer J. Lee, “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs,” 28 Stan.L.& Pol’y Rev. (forthcoming).
With immigration reform stalled once again by United States v. Texas, many turn to the expansion of guest worker programs as a solution to our immigration woes. Low-wage foreign guest workers can fill “bad jobs” that no U.S. workers want. This article shows that guest worker programs are harmful to all low-wage workers by challenging this commonly accepted narrative and exploring how such programs create a cycle that fuels both U.S. worker shortages and the necessity for guest workers.
Scholars have amply criticized guest worker programs because they impair the rights of guest workers and contravene liberal egalitarian principles of social membership. These criticisms about how foreign workers are treated on U.S. soil, however, have been insufficient to tip the balance against these programs. What is missing from this debate is an attempt to understand why guest worker programs persist despite their many flaws. The legal framework broadly delegates power to employers to create U.S. worker shortages and the alternative of the highly productive and compliant guest worker. Cultural narratives operate to mask this reality by tying these phenomena to cultural explanations about low-wage workers. Together they create a climate that is favorable to guest worker programs.
This article’s close examination of these problems exposes why guest worker programs should not be a ready solution for immigration reform. It suggests a new approach to challenging such programs by broadening the lens to consider the plight of the U.S. worker. The U.S. worker can help shift the legal and social norms surrounding such programs by revealing how the fate of all low-wage workers is interconnected by government-enabled degradation of low-wage jobs. This approach suggests new advocacy strategies to eliminate guest worker programs in their current format in order to protect the dignity of all low-wage workers.
New Pathways Magazine: “Hispanics in America: A Report Card on Poverty, Mobility, and Assimilation,” Spring 2015 [Pathways is a magazine produced by the Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality].