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How immigration policy became 'crimmigration' — and the racial politics behind it – NBC News

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Americans have grown accustomed to reading about arrests, detentions and deportations of undocumented people — and these stories dominate any discussion of U.S. immigration policy, from the issue of border security to immigration reform.

Yet, Americans may be surprised to find this wasn’t always the case: The criminalization of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, and immigration detention were the exception rather than the norm until the 1990s, and in fact is at odds with much of the nation’s history, according César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, an Ohio State University law professor and the author of a new book, “Crimmigration Law.”

Basically, immigration law and criminal law have merged, he says, often to the detriment of the rights of those seeking to migrate to the U.S. This development has a racial component, according to García Hernández.

“It is not a coincidence that immigration law grew more criminalized just as the U.S. closed off more legal pathways for Mexicans to immigrate legally; we can look at crimmigration from a racialized viewpoint in the present context,” he said. “There are people from Canada, Australia and Western Europe who come here legally and then overstay their visas. But when you look at the ICE statistics, the people who are locked up and deported for visa overstays are overwhelmingly Latin American,” he said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The government, he believes, is using its finite immigration resources to target people of Central and Latin American origin. 

So, what is “crimmigration?”

“For me, the concept is one that tries to explain how practices that for a long time were common in enforcing criminal law all of a sudden started appearing in the immigration law context, and vice-versa,” García Hernández said.


César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández.University of Denver College of Law

Traditionally, immigration cases were considered civil matters and were handled in the immigration court system, while criminal cases were the arena for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and state and local judges who oversee criminal prosecutions. This distinction, he writes, “has undeniably become a historical relic.”

The government formerly had a policy of not using detention except in unusual circumstances or near the Mexican border. By contrast, about 429,000 people were detained pending immigration proceedings in Fiscal Year 2011.

Immigration law has likewise increasingly turned to a migrant’s criminal history to decide whether the person is imprisoned or deported. Between 1892 and 1984, for example, about 14,000 people were excluded from the U.S. based on a criminal conviction or narcotics violation, while about 56,000 were deported for those reasons between 1908 and 1980. These numbers, covering nearly a century, pale beside contemporary statistics. In Fiscal Year 2013 alone, ICE deported over 216,000 people with a criminal conviction on their record. 

According to García Hernández, there were three forces at play in the 1980s and the 1990s that drove these trends. The number of people deported due to having committed a crime increased because the number of crimes that could result in deportation increased. Congress increased immigration officials’ detention powers and provided them with the money to exert these powers. And the federal government and some states have come to rely on a criminal justice model to control immigration. 

“Illusion of justice”

García Hernández thinks that, if more people knew how U.S. immigration courts functioned, it would likely offend their notions of justice. “I talk to people all the time, and it shocks them to learn that we have high-stakes legal proceedings happening every single day, one in which judges are making life-altering decisions, for people without a lawyer.”

There are myriad ways in which the structure of our immigration system lends itself to the illusion of justice. “Despite being called “courts” and “judges,” neither the immigration courts nor the immigration judges who oversee hearings there are part of the judicial branch,” he writes. Rather, these are Justice Department trials run by its officials, falling under the purview of the executive branch.

Moreover, several constitutional protections that apply in criminal cases either do not apply or are limited in immigration proceedings. Fourth Amendment protections against arbitrary arrests and unreasonable searches largely don’t apply in removal proceedings. Nor do the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel (including appointed counsel), right to a speedy trial and right to a jury trial. Immigration proceedings can be held en masse, with a judge addressing as many as 100 people at a time. “Hearsay is admissible in immigration court,” García Hernández said. “The federal rules of evidence do not apply at all in immigration court, so illegally-seized evidence can be used to bolster the government’s case in immigration matters.”

Just last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two combined cases which could allow the government to detain immigrants indefinitely, without a bond hearing.

“A fair shot” for everyone under the law

García Hernández remains optimistic about the chances of improving the U.S. immigration system. “I see my role as being able to participate in making the U.S. legal system the best version of itself that it can be. As a teacher, it is an enormous privilege to help train the next generation of lawyers and advocates who can work to reform the system that exists today.”

Born and raised in McAllen, Texas, García Hernández is a former Fulbright scholar. He is also the author of “Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants (2019) and has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.

“If you want the sweet joy of daily victory, immigration law is not the field for you,” he added. “This is work for people who believe that everyone who goes through the legal system deserves a fair shot. This speaks to the legitimacy of our legal system — and the quality of the process is as important as the quality of the outcome.”

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Writ Large: Who says Canadian politics are dull? – iPolitics.ca

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Good morning, iPolitics readers.

Monday’s the big day. Our Elxnometer continues to keep us on the edge of our seat, and a whole lot more can shift over the weekend as Canadians waiting for election day to cast their ballots hem and haw and peruse party platforms in a bid to make an informed decision.

iPolitics’ Janet Silver and Kady O’Malley were joined by the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles and Alex Ballingall on the No Talking Points podcast to dissect the final days of the campaign. Give it a listen.

Here’s the latest:


Elxnometer



Our barometer keeps track of which party seems likely to win — and whether it’s on track to secure a coveted majority. Check in during the campaign as the winds shift, and follow @elxnometre on Twitter.

Today’s takeaways

  • Thursday was a very active day across the country, producing a few interesting developments.
  • The Conservatives are back up in this very close and perpetually back-and-forth race to the finish — they are definitely closing the gap in the seat counts.
  • We’re seeing a lot of movement in ATLANTIC CANADA. On a bad night for the Liberals, the Conservatives moved ahead in as many as eight seats, making important gains particularly in New Brunswick. A lot of these seats are close and could still shift either way, but clearly the strong Liberal grip on on the region is slipping.
  • In QUEBEC, the Bloc Québécois’ surge has stalled. The momentum swing that threatened a few ministers and several incumbent Liberals will probably not pan out. Still, a lot of damage has already been done, and many of the seats the Bloc stole from the Liberals in 2019 will stay pale blue.
  • In Trois-Rivières, one of the hottest races in la belle province, it looks like the Conservatives may pull out a close one. The same goes for Beauport—Limoilou, which the Tories also appear poised to swipe from the Bloc.
  • In ONTARIO, we are seeing a small surge for the NDP, who are close to taking three Liberal seats: Hamilton, Nickel Belt and Thunder Bay.
  • The Liberal lead in Ontario is down to four per cent and the party stands to lose seven seats from 2019, five of them to the NDP.
  • The Liberals have rebounded somewhat in the PRAIRIES, where they are on track to claim five seats in Winnipeg. They are still leading in Edmonton Centre and Calgary Skyview, though both ridings are too close to call.
  • Jason Kenney’s COVID-19 announcements yesterday have upset a lot of people in ALBERTA. Time will tell what impact it will have.
  • The NDP and Conservatives are tied at 29 per cent in BRITISH COLUMBIA, with the Liberals at 22 per cent. That leaves the NDP and the Conservatives to fight over a bunch of close ridings, while the Liberals hope they can keep the 11 seats they won in 2019.
  • In a race that is growing noticeably tighter every day this week, it looks like the People’s Party’s purple wave may just help the Liberals secure re-election. Nobody is opening up a clear lead this late in the campaign, which is a bit unusual. But that will make these last days extremely interesting. Every seat will count.
  • That much sought-after Liberal majority now seems like a distant memory, leaving many Canadians wondering why we are going through this. Who says that Canadian politics are dull!?

How is the election affecting Canadians’ trust in government? Check out the latest instalment of The Governance Monitor.


Hustle in the hustings

It’s Day 34 of campaigning. Do you know where your party leaders are?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh starts his day in Quebec with a morning announcement at the University of Sherbrooke before jetting off to Nova Scotia, where he’ll make a 2:30 p.m. stop at the Futures Cafe in Sackville and a 3:30 p.m. meet-up with supporters by the Halifax Common pavilion.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will drop by the power plant in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès this morning to make an announcement on Muskrat Falls and GST. This afternoon, he’ll chat with the press at the Davie shipyard in Lévis.

You’ll find Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole at London’s Bellamere Winery and Event Centre this afternoon. He’ll attend an event with supporters in St. Catharines at 7:30 p.m.

Also in Ontario is Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He’s in Windsor, Ont. this morning to make an announcement.

Finally, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is holding a rally this evening in Strathmore, Alberta.

Details of Green Party Leader Annamie Paul‘s scheduled haven’t been confirmed.

ICYMI from iPolitics


Ridings in the spotlight

Running in Trois-Rivières, Bloc Québécois candidate René Villemure (left) and Conservative candidate Yves Lévesque participate in a debate on Sept. 9, 2021. (Twitter/@PDepatie)

TROIS—RIVIÈRES (Quebec)

Who’s running?

  • Martin Francoeur (Liberal)
  • Andrew Holman (Green)
  • Jean Landry (PPC)
  • Yves Lévesque (CPC)
  • Adis Simidzija (NDP)
  • René Villemure (BQ)

What’s the buzz?

Several of Quebec’s 78 seats are in play as we count down to election day. One seat we’ll continue watching like a hawk this weekend is Trois-Rivières on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

According to Mainstreet Research’s latest polling from the riding, the Conservatives would win the riding with 34 per cent of the vote from decided and leaning voters if the election were held today. Another 31 per cent would pick the Bloc, and 30 per cent would favour the Liberals.

Louise Charbonneau won the seat for the Bloc with 28.48 per cent of the vote in 2019, but she announced in June she wouldn’t seek re-election, leaving Trois-Rivières up for grabs. The Tories are running Yves Lévesque, who served as mayor of Trois-Rivières from 2001 until his retirement for medical reasons in 2018. He also ran for the CPC in 2019, finishing in third place, 2000 seats behind Charbonneau.

The riding has been held predominantly by the Bloc over the past 30 years, save for an eight-year orange streak from 2011 to 2019.

Janet Silver has more on this red hot riding.


THÉRÈSE—DE BLAINVILLE (Quebec)

Who’s running?

  • Vincent Aubé (PPC)
  • Ramez Ayoub (Liberal)
  • Marc Bissonnette (CPC)
  • Louise Chabot (BQ) — incumbent
  • Simon Paré-Poupart (Green)
  • Julienne Soumaoro (NDP)

What’s the buzz?

Another of Quebec’s tight races is playing out in Thérèse—De Blainville, where Bloc Québécois incumbent Louise Chabot is hoping to hold her seat. Her top opponent is Liberal candidate Ramez Ayoub, who represented the riding north of Laval from its establishment in 2015 until Chabot’s win in 2019.

Polling conducted in the riding by Mainstreet Research on Sept. 13 suggests that 41 per cent of decided and leaning voters would re-elect Chabot if an election were held that day. 39 per cent would vote for Ayoub and the Conservative candidate would come in a distant third, with 11 per cent of the vote.

The tables are turned when all voters are factored in. In that scenario, the Liberals would win the riding with 37 per cent of the vote, with the Bloc hot on their heels with 36 per cent. The Conservatives would remain in third place with 11 per cent.

Check out our election dashboard for the latest from ridings across the country.


iPredict

Thursday’s iPredict Results

The majority of Writ Large readers would disagree with Liberal candidate and hype man Dominic LeBlanc about his party’s chances of snagging a majority government. Responding to Thursday’s iPredict poll, 59 per cent of you said “heck no” the Liberal’s don’t have a shot at a majority, while 26 per cent said it could “maybe” happen and 12 per cent share LeBlanc’s confidence in Team Trudeau. We’ll know soon enough whose prediction comes to pass.

App user? Access the iPredict poll in your browser.


Want to get Writ Large right in your inbox during the election? Sign up here.

Thanks for reading. You can reach iPolitics’ briefs team at [email protected].

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Canada's elections: How the climate crisis is reshaping politics – Open Democracy

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Singh’s NDP has one of the boldest climate policies of the major parties. The party platform includes reducing carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, and stresses that it “will put workers front and centre of their climate action plan”, and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Avi Lewis, the longtime documentary filmmaker and climate activist running as the NDP candidate for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country district, told openDemocracy that “there is no party on Earth that is currently addressing the climate movement in the way it needs to be”. For Lewis, the climate emergency isn’t just a climate emergency, “it’s also a housing emergency, transit emergency, inequality emergency”.

However, Lewis decided to run as an NDP nominee because he “sees a sense of urgency in the platform”. “All these emergencies are linked,” he says, “but so are the solutions.”

According to Maggie Chao, campaign director at Leadnow, an independent progressive campaigning organisation, the parties are “moving in the right direction” and recognise that “climate change is a pressing issue”. However, Chao insisted that “we’re nowhere on the scale and pace we need to be”.

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Obama endorsement of his 'friend' Trudeau might not prove helpful, politics professor say – National Post

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The endorsement from the past president might help with ‘buzz’ but it’s hard to say how many votes it will deliver: expert

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama endorsed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau Thursday, calling him an “effective leader and a strong voice for democratic values.”

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Obama said in a Twitter post Thursday that he wishes his friend Trudeau “the best in Canada’s upcoming election,” and that he is “proud of the work we did together.”

The high-profile tweet comes as the Liberals remain locked in a neck-and-neck battle with the Conservatives in the polls, just days away from the vote, on Monday.

The former Democratic president’s endorsement could help sway some progressive voters to cast their ballots for the Liberals instead of the NDP, given that Obama is a “progressive icon” who remains popular across Canada, said Daniel Béland, a professor of political science at McGill University.

“The NDP is a threat to the Liberals and the Liberals want the NDP to stay where it is or even decline in the polls, so they will want to frame this as a major endorsement that could sway progressives,” Béland said.

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But it’s unclear whether it will actually make a difference.

“Will this actually generate any significant shifts in the polls? You know, I’m a bit skeptical. I will have to look over the next few days,” he said, adding it “can’t hurt” the Liberal chances.

“I think it favours the Liberals, probably to the annoyance of the NDP,” said University of Ottawa professor Errol Mendes. To what extent depends on the amount of attention the endorsement gets in the news media, he said, adding “it will have an impact if it’s played up a lot.”

Obama, for many Canadians, is still a major world figure, Mendes noted.

Obama voiced his support for Trudeau in the 2019 election. The endorsement from the first Black president of the U.S. came at a critical time for Trudeau, who was facing a scandal after old photos of him in blackface and brownface emerged during the campaign. A campaign staffer told the National Post at the time that Obama’s tweet “recharged the base” after the embarrassment of the blackface photos, providing reassurance that Trudeau was “not a racist.”

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Because the context isn’t the same in 2021, and because we’re now further away from Obama’s presidency, the endorsement this time around may have less impact, said Béland.

It could also have a negative effect, according to Mendes. “On one level, it could backfire where people would say, we should not have a foreign person intervening in our election,” he said.

It could also have the side effect of boosting the People’s Party of Canada, the conservative party started by former MP Maxime Bernier. Obama is the “antithesis of what they believe in. They seem to be very much following the Trump type of politics,” Mendes said.

Melissa Haussman, a professor of political science at Carleton University, pointed out the endorsement can only reach individuals who haven’t yet voted. Elections Canada said Wednesday an estimated 5.8 million Canadians have already cast their ballot in advanced polling. That’s nearly a third of the total number of Canadians who voted in 2019.

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She said that Obama’s support is the “next best thing” to getting an endorsement from current U.S. president Joe Biden. “It’s sort of Biden by proxy,” given that Biden served as Obama’s vice-president, Haussman noted.

While she agreed the endorsement “absolutely” helps the Liberals with buzz and momentum, Haussman said it’s hard to say how many votes it will actually deliver.

Mendes pointed out the Obama tweet is part of a pattern for the former president, who has publicly mused about other countries where the progressive vote was divided, allowing right-wing parties to gain a footing.

“Because he has this global perspective, I think he’s probably seeing that is happening here in Canada, where if the progressive vote between the Liberals and the NDP is divided it will allow not only the Conservatives to come through, but potentially even increase the voting for Maxime Bernier’s party. So I think that’s one of the reasons why I think he’s intervened.”

The Obama endorsement comes the same week Trudeau held an event with former prime minister Jean Chretien, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole received an endorsement from former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

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