Another Report About U.S. Need for More Immigrants

A New York Times article uses the need for employees in Miami’s restaurants to illustrate the U.S. need for more immigrants.[1]

“More immigrants have streamed into South Florida than to most American cities, and for decades, employers have relied on them to wash dishes, put up drywall and care for grandmothers. Still, there are not enough to fill Miami’s relentless boomtown demand for [restaurant] workers.”

“As unemployment rates nationwide have sunk to record lows, filching workers — from kitchens and construction sites, warehouses and Walmarts, truck cabs and nursing homes — has become routine. In cities like Miami that are magnets for immigrants, newcomers have filled some job openings, but employers across several industries and states insist that many more are needed for their businesses to function, let alone grow.”

“[M]ost economists say . . . that there is plenty of room [for immigrants]. Immigrants make the country richer, they argue. For example, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office who has advised Republican presidential candidates and now leads the conservative American Action Forum, says, “Without immigration, we shrink as a nation. . . .That’s because growth is driven by two ingredients: the size of the work force and how efficiently those workers produce things. And both are creeping well behind the postwar average.”

A key reason in this analysis is “Americans are having fewer babies. Birth rates fell last year to a three-decade low, ensuring that the next generation of native-born Americans will be smaller than the current one.”

Moreover, “using census data, the investment company the Blackstone Group estimates that without immigration, the working-age population between 25 and 64 years old would drop by 17 million by 2035. [Its Vice chairman of Private Wealth Solutions says,]“We really need immigrants. If we have a shrinking population, it’s going to be tough to have rising G.D.P.,” or gross domestic product.”

“At the moment, there are 7.3 million job openings nationwide and six million people unemployed. That gap is expected to widen as the number of retirees grows faster than the number of new workers.”

While some immigrants may take jobs from U.S. citizens, “they also help create jobs — by generating demand for goods and services like groceries, haircuts and homes.” In addition, “immigrants complement American workers. More educated women, for example, may decide to work if the availability of immigrants makes child care more affordable.”

This positive economic impact is seen in Dallas, Texas where 32.2% of all businesses are owned by immigrants while generating 55,000 jobs and nearly $495 million of business income. A study concluded that “immigrants tend to be more able, ambitious, aggressive and entrepreneurial than those who chose to stay in their place of origin.” [2]

Overhanging businesses, especially restaurants, in finding and hiring more workers is the legal risk of hiring undocumented individuals. In March and April of this year “the Social Security Administration sent letters to hundreds of thousands of business owners, notifying them that the names of some employees did not match the Social Security numbers on their tax forms.” In response some employers are planning to fire their undocumented workers or adopt more stringent hiring procedures such as using the E-Verify program to check the new hires’ documents. If, however, the employers ignore these “no-match” letters, a subsequent immigration audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could conclude that they had “constructive knowledge” of their employees’ immigration status and thereby expose the employer to hefty fines and possible criminal charges. [3]

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[1] Cohen, Is Immigration at Its Limit? Not for Employers, N.Y.Times (Aug. 22, 2019). This blog consistently has argued that the U.S. needs more immigrants. See, for example, these 2019 posts to dwkcommentaries.com: More Warnings of the Problems Facing U.S. Aging, Declining Population (Aug. 14, 2019); Additional Support for U.S. Needing More Immigrants (May 18, 2019); Trump Erroneously Says U.S. Is “Full,” (April 9, 2019); U.S. Construction Industry Needs More Immigrants (April 3, 2019); Businesses Need More Immigrants (Mar. 24, 2019);“America’s Farms Need Immigrants” (Mar. 22, 2019).

[2] Vizcaino, ‘What do you lose if you don’t have anything?–Why 1 in 3 Dallas businesses are owned by immigrants, Dallas Morning News (Aug. 16, 2019)

[3] Yaffe-Bellany, Hiring Is Very Hard for Restaurants These Days. Now They May Have to Fire, N.Y. Times (Aug. 23, 2019).

Developments in Using U.S. Immigration Law To Enforce International Human Rights

As noted in a prior post, U.S. immigration law provides at least two means of enforcing international human rights.

Removal or Deportation from the U.S. 

Foreigners can be deported or removed from the U.S. if they “ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide . . . or . . . any act of torture . . . or . . . any extrajudicial killing.” (Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 sec. 5501, 118 Stat. 3638, 3740 (2004).

Responsibility for enforcing these provisions lies in the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) within the National Security Investigations Division (NSID) of the Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) Directorate of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security.

This unit conducts investigations focused on foreign human rights violations by individuals in the U.S. in an effort to prevent the U.S. from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 250 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE has denied more than 117 individuals from obtaining entry visas to the United States and created more than 20,000 subject records, which prevented identified human-rights violators from attempting to enter the United States. In addition, ICE successfully obtained deportation orders to physically remove more than 590 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.

Currently, ICE is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases that involve suspected human rights violators from nearly 96 different countries.

Illustrating such cases are two former Salvadoran military officers, Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia,[1] and a former Guatemalan military officer, Pedro Pimentel Rios.

In 2012, an immigration judge ruled that Casanova could be deported for his role in multiple acts of killings and torture committed by the Salvadoran military, including the 1980 slayings of the four American churchwomen.

On February 6, 2014, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) heard Casanova’s appeal from this decision. The main issue was his argument that the removal order was unjustified because the U.S. tacitly had approved the aggressive tactics of the Salvadoran military. In response the ICE attorney argued that U.S. support for the Salvadoran military did not excuse Casanova’s actions and that the U.S. repeatedly had demanded that the Salvadoran military clean up its human rights record. One of the three BIA judges asked whether Casanova was “too far up the chain [of command] to control those units?” The ICE attorney said “no” as Casanova himself testified at his own trial that he kept tight control of the unit. Once the BIA issues its decision, the losing party has the right to appeal to a federal court of appeals.

On February 26, 2014, an immigration judge ordered Garcia to be removed or deported from the U.S. after a trial had determined that he had helped conceal the involvement of soldiers who killed four American churchwomen in 1980 and that he “knew or should have known” that army troops had slaughtered the villagers, including women and children, in the hamlet of El Mozote in 1981. Garcia plans to appeal to the BIA.

In July 2010, ICE charged Guatemalan Pedro Pimentel Rios with being deportable for having assisted or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings during the Dos Erres massacre in that country. In May 2011 an immigration judge, after trial, determined that he had in fact participated in extrajudicial killings in that massacre and ordered his removal to his home country. That removal occurred in July 2011.

After his return to Guatemala, he was tried by a three-judge court and found guilty of participation in the massacre and sentenced to imprisonment of 6,060 years (30 years for each of the 201 victims). This sentence was largely symbolic since Guatemalan law does not permit prison terms longer than 50 years.

U.S. Conviction and Imprisonment

Foreigners who had gained legal entry or presence in the U.S. can be criminally prosecuted for committing fraud in obtaining a U.S. visa or other immigration benefit (18 U.S.C. § 1546(a)) or committing perjury in statements to U.S. immigration officials (18 U.S.C. § 1621(2)) for failure to disclose their involvement in foreign human rights violations.

Responsibility for enforcing these provisions lies in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, which “primarily investigates and prosecutes cases against human rights violators and other international criminals . . . for genocide, torture, war crimes, and recruitment or use of child soldiers, and for immigration and naturalization fraud arising out of efforts to hide their involvement in such crimes.”

Examples of such cases are those involving former Salvadoran military officer, Innocente Orlando Montano, and two former Guatemalan military officers, Gilberto Jordan and Jorge Sosa Orantes.

Montano allegedly was involved in various human rights violations in his country, including the November 1989 murder of the six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter.[5] Based on his guilty plea, on August 27, 2013, the federal court in Boston, Massachusetts sentenced Inocente Orlando Montano to 21 months in prison for violating U.S. immigration laws.

In 2010, Guatemalan Gilberto Jordan was arrested in Florida for allegedly lying on naturalization forms that allowed him to become a U.S. citizen. He pleaded guilty to failing to disclose on those forms that he had participated in the 1982 killings of at least 162 countrymen in the village of Dos Erres. In September 2010 a federal judge sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment

On October 1, 2013, Jorge Sosa Orantes, a Guatemalan military officer who lead a massacre of a village in his home country, was convicted by a federal jury for making false statements and unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship when he applied for U.S. residency in 1997 and when he obtained citizenship a decade later. On February 10, 2014, the presiding judge sentenced Sosa with a revocation of his U.S. citizenship and imprisonment for 10 years.

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[1] Garcia and Casanova jointly had been held civilly liable for torture in their country by U.S. federal courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but who jointly had escaped similar civil liability under the TVPA for the torture and murder of the four American churchwomen in El Salvador.