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Donald Kerwin
Donald M. Kerwin, Jr. is the Executive Director for the Center for Migration Studies.

Prior to joining CMS, Mr. Kerwin served as Vice-President for Programs at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where he coordinated MPI’s national and international programs, and wrote on diverse U.S. immigration and refugee policy issues. Before joining MPI, Mr. Kerwin worked for 16 years at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), serving as that agency’s executive director for 15 years. CLINIC, a subsidiary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is a public interest legal corporation that supports a national network of 200 charitable legal programs for immigrants. Upon his arrival at CLINIC in 1992, Mr. Kerwin coordinated the agency’s political asylum project for Haitians.

CMS is a New York-based educational institute devoted to the study of migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers. CMS was established in 1969 by the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, Scalabrinians. It is a member of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN), which consists of more than 270 organizations involved in different, migration-related activities and services throughout the world.

As Executive Director of CMS, Mr. Kerwin will remain a non-resident senior fellow at MPI. He also serves as an associate fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, where he co-directs Woodstock’s Theology of Migration Project; on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration; and on the board of directors for the Border Network for Human Rights. He previously served on the Council on Foreign Relations’ Immigration Task Force; on the board of directors of Jesuit Refugee Services-USA; and on the founding board of the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. Mr. Kerwin writes and speaks extensively on immigration policy issues. He is co-author of And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching (Lexington Press, 2009),

“We are delighted to have a person of Mr. Kerwin’s experience, commitment and integrity taking over CMS,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Chairman of CMS’s Board of Trustees. “Don’s appointment will significantly expand CMS’s expertise and reach, and will build on the Center’s long history of independent research and scholarship at a time of unprecedented need for public understanding of these issues.”

Entries by Donald Kerwin

Obama Administration Tries to Walk the Immigration Reform/Enforcement Line, But Deportation Statistics Are Not Misleading

(3) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 6:46 PM

In its first five years, the Obama administration's attempt to reconcile its support for immigration reform legislation with harsh enforcement policies has been strained, but not incoherent or without integrity. It has opted to target employers that hire unauthorized workers, rather than conduct high-profile, work-site raids that mostly net exploited...

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A Bipartisan Attempt to Restore Credibility to the U.S. Border Enforcement System

(3) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 3:33 PM

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has immense responsibilities and a vital mission: "to protect the United States against terrorist threats and prevent the illegal entry of inadmissible persons and contraband, while facilitating lawful travel, trade, and immigration." To that end, most CBP officers -- the Border Patrol agents who...

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The Promise and Pitfalls of the House Republican Standards for Immigration Reform

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 11:05 AM

The House Republican "Standards for Immigration Reform," released late last week, have been widely touted as an important breakthrough on the road to immigration reform, and this may well prove to be the case. If so, they deserve careful parsing, rather than wishful thinking. The standards start from the premise...

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Legalization of U.S. Unauthorized Residents: A Rule of Law or Access to Justice Issue?

(42) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 7:22 PM

Advocates for legalization often argue that U.S. unauthorized residents have not so much broken the law, as the law has broken them. By this, they typically mean that the unauthorized would prefer to enter and remain legally, but U.S. law does not offer sufficient visas for the close family members...

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What the U.S. Can Learn From the U.N. on Migration and Development

(4) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 1:35 PM

The United Nations second High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development took place on October 3 and 4 during the first week of the federal government shutdown. It included a heavy dose of the familiar diplomatic statements of high principle. Participants widely agreed on the need to respect migrant rights, fight...

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Wage Theft and the Senate's Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)

(5) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 4:15 PM

The Corker-Hoeven amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) received widespread attention for its plan to militarize (unnecessarily) a 2,000 mile stretch of the United States at an additional cost of $46 billion. It received less attention for an equally troubling measure that would prevent...

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The Senate's Border Security Agreement: A Damaging Exercise in Political Expediency

(2) Comments | Posted June 23, 2013 | 1:59 PM

The Senate debate on immigration reform is at risk of becoming an exercise in political expediency, untethered to the national interest or the facts on the ground. Based on the political calculation that a resounding victory on S. 744 will pressure the House to pass comprehensive reform legislation, the Senate...

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Lessons From IRCA for the House Judiciary Committee

(1) Comments | Posted May 20, 2013 | 1:38 PM

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a May 22nd hearing on the Gang of 8's Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744). The hearing has been inauspiciously titled "S. 744 and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: Lessons Learned or Mistakes Repeated?" Judging from the...

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The Gang of 8 and Accountable Border Enforcement

(4) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 1:58 PM

The Border Patrol has long lived a charmed existence. For years, its only publicly-reported measure of success has been "apprehensions," a flexible tool used to tout its success in years of high and low apprehensions. Meanwhile, Congress has contented itself with setting only symbolic standards for border security (no illegal...

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The Freedom Riders and the Dreamers: High Noon in the Immigration Debate

(3) Comments | Posted April 3, 2013 | 4:06 PM

The setting was the iconic Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had served as pastor from 1954 to 1960. Founded in 1877 in a slave trader's pen, the church had been the locus of the Montgomery bus boycott. On stage were...

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Public Opinion, Values and Demographic Trends Align in Support of Immigration Reform

(2) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 11:04 AM

A recently released report by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution offers the latest evidence of broad public receptivity to comprehensive immigration reform. The report, titled "Citizenship, Values and Cultural Concerns: What Americans Want from Immigration Reform," summarizes the results of an extensive survey of...

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Border Security: Building a Bridge, Not a Wall to Legal Status

(2) Comments | Posted February 27, 2013 | 10:58 AM

The Gang of 8's framework for immigration reform mostly deserves praise. It seeks to fill gaps in immigration enforcement, make the legal immigration system more responsive to U.S. economic and labor needs, and create a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for unauthorized immigrants. As a first step in...

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Immigration Policy and New Estimates of the U.S. Unauthorized Population

(8) Comments | Posted February 19, 2013 | 1:50 PM

A recently released report on the U.S. unauthorized population comes at a politically charged moment, as Congress begins in earnest to consider immigration reform and a possible path to citizenship for the nation's unauthorized residents. The report, co-authored by Robert Warren, former demographer of the U.S. Immigration and...

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Fix the Immigration Detention System

(3) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 5:22 PM

The immigration detention system does not seem to be on any legislator's short-list of immigration reforms, but it should be. To its credit, the Obama administration made detention reform one of its early, administrative priorities, and with cause. For years, human rights and government oversight agencies had documented detention conditions...

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The Immigrant Vote and the Republican Party: Language Is Not the Issue

(10) Comments | Posted November 30, 2012 | 8:43 AM

The Obama Administration has "removed" over 1.4 million non-citizens in four years, compared to 2.3 million over the last 20 years of Republican administrations. Removals divide and impoverish families, traumatize children, and lead to the legal termination of parent-child relationships. The administration has also presided over four years...

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The First Step President Romney or Re-elected President Obama Should Take to Reform the U.S. Immigration System

(15) Comments | Posted October 16, 2012 | 9:44 PM

On Jan. 22, 2013, President Romney or President Obama should take a dramatic step to stabilize, strengthen and promote the integration of hundreds of thousands of American families. The president should issue an Executive Order that would allow persons who have passed the first hurdle in qualifying for a family-based...

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A View From the Border on the U.S. Immigration Debate

(21) Comments | Posted August 8, 2012 | 4:44 PM

Nativists favor devolution when it comes to state laws like Arizona's SB 1070, but they are not so open to the collective wisdom of border communities on immigration. A recent gathering in El Paso, Texas served as a reminder of how outlandish the national immigration debate looks from the perspective...

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Immigration Reform and the Strange Case of Amnesty: What's the Matter With Forgiveness Anyway?

(161) Comments | Posted April 16, 2012 | 9:09 AM

It is difficult to say how the term "amnesty" became anathema in the U.S. immigration debate. It may be due in part to the damaged reputation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That law legalized nearly 3 million persons, but its "three-legged" strategy -- legalization, employer sanctions...

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Restoring the Rule of Law to the U.S. Immigration System

(36) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 5:14 PM

In a 2010 report, the Urban Institute documented in excruciating detail the psychological, emotional and financial impact on children of a parent's deportation. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 4.5 million U.S. citizen children have an out-of-status parent. More enforcement, without broader reform, would damage countless children. Yet...

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Immigration Reform for U.S. Families: Not a Special Pathway, Just a Better One

(35) Comments | Posted December 6, 2011 | 1:34 PM

The question of what to do about the 11 million U.S. unauthorized immigrants flared up again in one of last month's Republican presidential candidates' debates. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich initiated the fireworks by arguing that it would run afoul of U.S. values, as well as the pro-family aspirations of...

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