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About Jack Martin

Jack, who joined FAIR in 1995, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

Special Treatments of Cubans Ended?

cuba-street-rotator-720x480The Obama administration announced the end of the ‘wet-foot-dry-foot’ policy for Cubans on January 12. This executive action repealed the executive action of President Clinton that provided refugee treatment for any Cuban making it onto U.S. soil – including at a legal port of entry. This was a much needed change in policy for a variety of reasons, but it was too late in coming, and it did not go far enough to remove special immigration treatment of Cubans.

The announcement was too late because it allowed additional tens of thousands of Cubans to take advantage of the refugee treatment after the administration announced restoration of diplomatic relations with the island in July 2015. And it did not go far enough because it left in place another questionable executive action of President Clinton that increased the flow of Cuban migrants. That action, adopted as a concession to Fidel Castro’s regime, was to try to lessen the incentive for illegal immigration by Cubans to the United States by establishing a special quota of 20,000 immigrant visas for Cubans to immigrate legally. This action was outside the immigration law and applies to nationals of no other country. Its legality is questionable.

Just as there was no legitimate reason for the now-ended policy accepting illegally arriving Cubans as refugees, there is also no legitimate reason for maintaining the special quota system of immigrant visas for Cubans.

A further change that needs to be adopted is for Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) enacted in 1966 to provide automatic legal residence as refugees for Cubans who had arrived illegally a year earlier. If Cubans now arriving illegally are being deported like other illegal aliens, the CAA will lose much of its meaning. But, because of deportation backlogs and the efforts of immigration lawyers to drag out deportation proceedings, the CCA still represents a flaw in treating Cubans like other nationals and should be withdrawn.

Apprehension and Removal of illegal Aliens: A Revolving Door

Accounts of crimes committed by illegal aliens too often include the fact that the alien had been previously deported: often several times. The Border Patrol has been tasked with evaluating what is the rate of recidivism – the illegal return of those who have been deported.

The Border Patrol calculation of the most recent recidivism rate is 14 percent. But a newly released study by the government’s General Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that this is a woefully low calculation.

The GAO study “Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Post-Apprehension Consequences,” found that a more recent system to evaluate recidivism placed the rate at 29 percent – more than double the Border Patrol’s established estimate. The GAO went on to point out that even this higher estimate is also ridiculously understated for two reasons:

-       First, the system only compared the records of persons apprehended two or more times in a given year. So aliens apprehended reentering illegally are not counted as recidivists if they were last apprehended more than a year earlier.

-       Second, the absence of an illegal reentry does not mean that the illegal alien has decided to stay out of the United States, it very well may mean that the apprehended illegal alien is still be in the country or illegally reentered the country without being apprehended.

The GAO recommended, among other changes, that the recidivism evaluation system exclude from the category of non-recidivists any illegal alien for whom there is no record of their deportation. DHS disagreed with this recommendation, so it remains to be seen if the change is implemented.

It is clear that this obvious recommended change in the method of calculating the rate of recidivism would result in a major jump in the recidivism rate. That rate underscores the falsity of Obama administration’s insistence that the border is under control.

Immigration and Rapid Population Growth

Stewart-rally-crowd-photoThe Census Bureau has come up with a new population clock on its website that provides access to new population estimates. The population clock shows the U.S. population currently growing by one person every 13 seconds. That is the net growth after subtracting deaths and residents moving out of the country.

How many new residents is that a year? It works out to be about 2.43 million population increase a year.

So, how much of that increase is due to immigration? The population clock shows that net immigration causes the population to grow by one person every 29 seconds. That works out to 1.09 million persons per year. And, if the rate of increase from immigration is compared to the overall increase, immigration accounts for 45 percent of the increase.

But that share is misleading. Immigration accounts or a much larger share: more than three quarters of the increase.

How is that? It is because the immigrants’ contribution to population growth also comes from the children born to them after they arrive. The immigrant population has a higher rate of births than the general population because they are more likely to be of child-bearing age and also because the immigrant population in general comes from regions where larger families are the norm.

Why should you care about the rate of population increase? There are many reasons such as traffic congestion and urban sprawl. But the most important reason is because there are finite resources that we extract from the earth. Some of those are energy resources (fossil fuels). Others are precious metals. Some are food resources, and probably the most critical are water resources that we pump out of aquifers. All of those extractions tend to be proportional to population size. So, faster growth means faster approaching scarcity. And the fact that the resources are finite means that they will not last forever.

So, what can we do conserve those resources? Besides adopting policies to conserve and recycle those finite resources, we can reduce the rate of population increase by reducing the share of that growth that comes from immigration. If immigration were scaled back from a net increase of more than a million persons a year to about a third of a million persons, the projected population increase would level off to about zero. That would be an enormous contribution to resource conservation.

Immigration Enforcement under Trump

trumpOne of the greatest changes likely to take place with the incoming Trump administration is that defenders of illegal aliens will no longer have a sympathetic audience among the policymakers. During the Obama administration, pro-amnesty groups not only had one of their own in a key position in the White House – Cecilia Munoz – but also fellow travelers in policymaking positions in the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice.

The influence of the amnesty advocates was magnified by the mainstream media (MSM) and motivated the administration to move into uncharted – and unconstitutional – waters to further their objectives.

Under the Trump administration it may be expected that the advocacy of the pro-amnesty groups will no longer enjoy favored access to the seat of power, and the amplification of their demands by the MSM will not unduly influence the policies of the new administration.

The constant drone of emotional appeals to abandon deportation of illegal aliens, to grant amnesty, and to open our borders wider to immigrants will surely persist, but hope exists that policies that focus on the national interest will prevail.

Divergent Asylum Outcomes

Gavel, scales of justice and law booksThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on November 14 entitled “Asylum: Variation Exists in Outcomes of Applications Across Immigration Courts and Judges.” More than half a million asylum applications were reviewed to arrive at the conclusion in the title, i.e., that grants of asylum varied based on the court and the judge. However, the major factors influencing the outcome of the plea to avoid deportation depended on:

  1.  Whether the plea was affirmative (made by the applicant while not already in deportation proceedings – usually upon arrival in the country) or defensive (made after being in deportation proceedings). Or
  2. Whether the asylum applicant was represented by a lawyer.

If the applicant was making a defensive plea, the likelihood of a favorable decision was lower, and if the applicant had a lawyer, the likelihood of an asylum grant was increased.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has long argued that all aliens in deportation proceedings should have access to a lawyer paid, if need be, by the U.S. taxpayers. Lately the push has been to have lawyers paid by the government for all minors in deportation proceedings. This newly released GAO report will fuel the arguments of AILA and the support groups for illegal aliens. They will argue that the higher success rate of asylum applicants represented by lawyers proves that those without lawyers are unfairly denied justice in the immigration courts.

But, what is lacking in the GAO report is any information on the type of asylum claim. Those making an affirmative claim generally are asserting that they have been or will be subjected to persecution if they are deported to their home country. It may be because of their race or religion or tribal identity or political activism – the type of claims that led to international agreement on standards for granting asylum. Defensive claims, on the other hand, often are based on more personal circumstances, e.g., spousal abuse, or on claims that the deportation would cause extreme hardship to family members in the United States who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. These latter claims are much more based on value judgements and likely to be enhanced by counsel from a lawyer.

While the advocates for illegal aliens will continue to insist that deportation is un-American, unfair or draconian, and cite the GAO report in their efforts to protect the illegal aliens from deportation, there is a very different perspective that needs to be asserted. Instead of the argument that the higher deportation rates in some jurisdictions and by some judges demonstrate an unjust prejudice against the asylum applicants, it is equally – or more likely – that the divergence in approving asylum applications points to judges who are more influenced by the unsubstantiated claims of hardship and circumstances asserted by the illegal aliens whose pleas are honed by immigration attorneys.