In a Sacramento Bee opinion piece, policymaker-in-residence and senior analyst Kevin de León wrote that Proposition 187 led to the political awakening of a generation of Latino leaders in California. Passed in 1994, Prop. 187 made undocumented immigrants in the state ineligible for public benefits, including access to public schools and non-emergency healthcare. As the son of a single immigrant mother, de León recalled the feeling of betrayal across the state when the proposition was passed. He helped organize a massive protest march in Boyle Heights before going on to join the State Assembly and then the California Senate. “If it were not for Prop. 187, most of us would never have thought about running for office,” de León said. Prop. 187 was eventually found to be unconstitutional by a federal district court. Twenty-five years after the protests, de León wrote, “California must continue to be a beacon of hope and opportunity in an uncertain world.”
An Intercept article about the upcoming retrial of Scott Warren, a volunteer with the migrant advocacy group No More Deaths, cited the findings of a national survey conducted by Associate Professor of Public Policy Chris Zepeda-Millán and Sophia Jordán Wallace. Warren was indicted on felony harboring and conspiracy charges for giving two undocumented migrants food, water and a place to sleep for three days after they made a dangerous trek across the Sonoran Desert. The survey found that Americans of diverse political affiliations overwhelmingly reject the notion that providing lifesaving care to people in the desert should be criminalized. Strong, bipartisan consensus on immigration-related policy is rare in the era of President Trump, Zepeda-Millán said. “At the moment of life and death that migrants in the desert often find themselves in, Republicans seem to be willing to throw undocumented migrants at least a momentary lifesaver,” he said, but added, “That’s a pretty low bar.”
Amada Armenta, assistant professor of urban planning, penned a post on the role of dignity in the immigration debate for Oxford University’s Border Criminologies blog. “Decriminalizing immigration offenses and creating a path to a legal and permanent immigration status would allow millions of immigrants to live more dignified lives,” Armenta wrote. But she cautioned that deploying arguments that rely on immigrants’ dignity may actually be counterproductive. “To combat stereotypes about immigrants’ criminality, we rely on tropes that highlight immigrants’ best qualities — they work hard, they provide for their families, and they do not commit ‘real’ crimes,” she wrote. “However, in our attempts to legitimize immigrants, to convince people that they ‘deserve’ policies that would be less harmful, we inevitably leave people out. We may champion the most ‘worthy’ and exceptional immigrants at the expense of those for whom it is more difficult to advocate, such as those with criminal convictions or prior deportation orders.”
Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee wrote an op-ed for the Brookings Institution in which he argued that outdated immigration policies increase violence toward immigrant women and children. New research found that increased immigration enforcement has reduced the number of self-petitions for legal permanent residency. Akee argued that this essentially means that abused immigrant women and children have stopped seeking legal permanent resident status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as immigration enforcement has intensified. “In effect, victims of domestic violence are fearful of speaking up or seeking relief from their abusers; they are condemned to endure their abuse for fear of deportation or detention under increased immigration enforcement activities in the U.S.,” he said. Akee is currently a David M. Rubenstein fellow with the economic studies program at Brookings.
Gary Segura, dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and an expert in polling and public opinion, was quoted in a Pacific Standard article dissecting President Trump’s announcement to cancel foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Trump has made multiple threats in the past to cut off the three Central American countries due to his dissatisfaction with their respective governments’ failures to stop people from leaving. After his recent announcement that funds would be withheld from the three nations, experts objected, explaining that the funds help combat crime and violence, ultimately serving U.S. interests. Segura maintained that ulterior motives were behind the policy decision, which would fuel the asylum crisis. He tweeted, “Pay attention folks. This is an INTENTIONAL act to drive MORE asylum seekers to the U.S. border to help [Trump] maintain his crisis. It’s ugly, devastating in impact, and bad policy.”