This Week in Immigration

Budget Cuts Led ICE To Release Immigrants From Detention 

Along with every other government agency, on March 1, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials had to begin making mandatory cuts to their budget as a result of sequestration.  ICE’s choice to shift some of its detainees from expensive detention facilities to non-detention alternatives was questioned yesterday by Members of Congress, but more importantly the decision demonstrates that alternatives to detention are a feasible choice—regardless of sequestration.

The Promise and Challenges of Family-Based Immigration 

Today the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary is hosting a hearing on “The Separation of Nuclear Families under U.S. Immigration Law”. The issue to be addressed relates specifically to the obstacles that many legal permanent residents (LPR) currently living in the United Statesface when they try to bring their immediate relatives to the country. While there are neither country nor yearly caps for immediate relatives of U.S.citizens who want to immigrate to the United States, there are only 87,900 immigrant visas available each year for spouses and minor children of LPRs.

Groups File Legal Claims Against Border Patrol In Abuse Cases 

While the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration officers have broad authority to detain and ultimately deport noncitizens, they are generally not authorized to detainU.S.citizens and certainly cannot deport them. Yet, that is essentially what happened to a four-year-oldU.S.citizen.  In March 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of DHS, detained a young girl when she arrived atDullesAirportinVirginia, deprived her of any contact with her parents, and then sent her back toGuatemala. Last Friday, her father fought back, filing a lawsuit on his daughter’s behalf to seek redress for the harm she suffered and to shed light on an agency that all too often acts outside the law.

Including LGBT Immigrants in Immigration Reform Helps Protect Vulnerable Individuals 

Roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants live in theUnited States, and their backgrounds and stories are incredibly diverse. DREAM activists helped to change the picture of the 11 million by shining light on young people affected by our broken immigration system, while grassroots movements are highlighting the stories of families.  But a new report from the Williams Institute adds another facet to this picture: an estimated 267,000 undocumented adults identify as LGBT. Even more compelling, the report highlights the other struggles LGBT individuals face when dealing with the legal immigration system.

Cato Report Finds Poor Immigrants Use Fewer Public Benefits than Natives 

Among the most contentious debates surrounding national immigration reform concerns immigrant use of welfare programs. Opponents of immigration routinely assert low-skilled immigrants consume more public resources than natives, thereby imposing an unfair fiscal burden on U.S.taxpayers.  Such claims, however, have little basis in fact. A new report from the Cato Institute shows that, in reality, non-citizens use public welfare programs at a lower rate than similar low-income native-born citizens.  When immigrant children and adults do receive assistance, moreover, the average benefits value per recipient is almost always lower than for natives.

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