April 22, 2019

Weekly Brief: Three Migration Takeaways



#1: This week on the Niskanen blog, I explored the recently terminated Family Case Management Program (FCMP) and the role it should play in providing an affordable, humane, and scalable alternative to immigrant detention. It’s clear that vulnerable asylum seekers should not be subject to the trauma that comes with detention — families with minor children, trafficking and torture survivors, pregnant women, and the mentally and physically disabled should automatically be exempted from detention. FCMP ensured compliance with immigration proceedings while asylum seekers remained in their communities and with their families. It’s exactly the type of program that should be expanded as U.S. authorities struggle with immigration detention capacity.

In the past, the FCMP achieved 99 percent compliance for check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 100 percent compliance for court hearings by relying on case managers and providing various community services. Just 23 out of 954 participants — 2 percent — absconded.

Nonetheless, the Trump administration terminated the program in June 2017, claiming that asylum petitioners are sent back to their home country “at a much higher rate” when not participating in FCMP. The administration’s metric for program evaluation is not affordability, accuracy, or scalability, but rates of removal.

The measurement the administration should be pursuing is compliance with prescribed judicial procedures and fair outcomes, not churning out negative asylum decisions.

Takeaway: Vulnerable asylum seekers deserve the opportunity to make their claim and wait beyond the confines of detention — family case management can provide just that.

#2: Writing for The Hill, John Dearie of the Center for American Entrepreneurship, notes, “the United States is one of only a few industrialized nations that does not have a visa category specifically designated for foreign-born entrepreneurs.” The U.S. remains an outlier as China, Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Italy, the U.K., Singapore, and others all offer specific visa programs to entice international entrepreneurs to grow their business in their countries.

Congress’s inability to legislate a startup or entrepreneur visa eventually led the Obama administration to propose the International Entrepreneur rule that paroled certain foreign entrepreneurs into the U.S. to grow their business. The Trump administration eventually rescinded that rule despite the protest of many—including Niskanen’s Jeremy L. Neufeld — that argued the rule contributes to innovation, economic growth, and job creation.

The U.S. must keep pace with other countries that are finding new and innovative ways to roll out the red carpet for international talent and their families. An entrepreneur visa would go a long way in solidifying the U.S. as the premier destination for global talent.

Takeaway: Per Dearie, “Foreign-born entrepreneurs have created many of America’s largest and most successful companies; we want the next generation of great companies launched in America too.”

#3: The Partnership for a New American Economy highlighted some fascinating did-you-know American history this week. On April 17, 1907 — more than 110 years ago — Ellis Island processed 11,747 immigrants in one day; more than any other single-day in its history. Ellis Island — and the Statue of Liberty a short boat ride away — continue to be our nation’s most enduring monuments to our immigrant traditions.

Takeaway: Much has changed about our immigration system since Ellis Island closed its doors to immigrant processing back in the 1950s, but the same desire rings true for immigrants of all decades: to make their life better for themselves and their families.

Recommended Weekend Reading:

Jennifer Medina: Anyone Speak K’iche’ or Mam? Immigration Courts Overwhelmed by Indigenous Languages

Representatives Peter King & Tom Suozzi: A Grand Compromise on Immigration

Ali Noorani :10 Ways to Resolve the Border Crisis 

John Washington: ‘I Don’t Want to Stay in a Country That Doesn’t Want Me As Badly as I Want It’

Christina Staats: When National Refugee Policies Come Home to Akron