Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Ronald Mason: US will kick you out

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 5:00 AM

Jamaicans have always been attracted to living in the USA. As a people, we have done so lawfully and legitimately for many decades. However, we have increasingly shown up in the upper rankings of countries with large numbers of illegal aliens, or undocumented migrants.

The most current report speaks to more than 600,000 undocumented aliens holding Jamaican citizenship in the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut alone. The interesting part of this phenomenon is that most of the Jamaicans were lawfully admitted on visitor's visas but subsequently never left.

We do not, as a rule, enter the United States of America without being inspected, processed and subsequently admitted. What we do is secure a visa, sometimes with the intention to travel to the USA, and then not bother to leave.

In 1996, the US government took into account analysis of that problem and passed a law referred to as the Immigration Reform Act. The definition of categories was extensively discussed and set forth in that in that bit of legislation.

Deportation is now replaced by removal as the favoured process to send back undocumented aliens. Removal has now been primarily seen as an administrative procedure being ordered by an immigration judge or his/her designee without any punishment being imposed or contemplated. This procedure came into force on April 1, 1997 and is primarily managed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jamaica is very highly ranked as being among one of the countries whose citizens are the worst offenders. We appear in the top 10 of every negative ranking. We have more persons entering on visas, being inspected, subsequently admitted who never bother to leave. (Removal Population by Citizenship Report, FY2015).

If it is any consolation, the Mexicans, who are the single largest number of undocumented aliens, go across the border without the benefit of inspection.

The United States removed 235,413 persons in FY2015. Jamaica accounted for 738. This is a 14% increase from FY2014. These numbers, generally, have been trending down for Jamaica. In 2009, there were 1,630, and in 2010, it was down to 1,548.

The analysis of these numbers and the implications for Jamaica are to be found in how many persons were removed for criminal activity, not only immigration violations. In 2009, 1,262 criminals were removed to Jamaica. In 2010, there were 1,225. In 2015, the figure was 672.

 

OUR DILEMMA

 

What this does is force Jamaica to accept people with criminal backgrounds into our society in large numbers, people who are not subject to any form of monitoring or control. This is important because, anecdotally, it is apparent that a number of these Jamaicans went to the USA in their formative years. They developed the criminal intent, mastered the sophistication, and practised the implementation in the USA. They are sent 'home' without knowledge of the society, without strong cultural ties, and weak family ties.

Deportees are not monitored, except in special circumstances, by the security forces. We in Jamaica unwittingly form their prey. We must take some comfort, however, that ICE's programme is now placing emphasis at stopping persons from entering the USA in the first place. The screening before a visa is issued is more thorough.

At the points of entry, some 225,342 people were deemed in 2014 to be inadmissible and never allowed entry to the USA. ICE went further. More than 11,600 persons were not permitted to board transportation to travel to the USA. These are worldwide figures; however, Jamaica ranks ninth in the top 20 offending countries in 2015.

Given the extensive problem this represents for Jamaica, it is understandable that local employers are reluctant to hire those who have been removed from the USA. It is also noteworthy that these figures are for the USA only and do not take into consideration figures from Canada, UK and many other countries around the world.

My exposure and experience have led me to believe that the criminal activities that lead to the most frequent removals are based on drugs, domestic violence, and fraud. Selling drugs within 100 yards of a school will lead to an arrest. The physical abuse of persons in your household is hardly likely to result in action by the police.

Beating women and children with objects or otherwise will do you in, and this is compounded by the fact that some 84 per cent of the persons removed from the USA are male. The removal proceeding is equally applied to males and females, but males are the most frequent perpetrators.

Members of our population who hold visas to visit the USA are now on notice. It is harder to gain entry at the port, and infraction, overstay or criminal activity is likely to result in your removal. Be governed accordingly.

- Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.