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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Border Governors Call for U.S. Immigration Reform

Associated Press reported that: U.S. and Mexican border governors called Monday for reform of U.S. immigration policies, but New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said it's unrealistic to expect Congress to act on the hot-button political issue before the November general election. Richardson made his comments at the close of a border governors meeting, which was held in New Mexico after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer canceled the event in Phoenix because of a planned boycott by Mexican governors over Arizona's new immigration law. Richardson was the only U.S. governor to participate along with the governors of six Mexican states. California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado filled in for ailing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governors of Texas and Arizona did not attend. A joint statement by the governors said they "recognize the need for comprehensive immigration reform" in the United States and for a deportation process "based on the fundamental premise of respecting the human dignity and human rights of individuals being repatriated." Richardson said he hoped that immigration reform would become a major priority for Congress next year and that the groundwork could be laid for legislation after the general election.

Brown Critical of Democratic Plans for Immigration Bill

Boston Globe: Senator Scott Brown this afternoon criticized Democrats for bringing up a proposal that would allow illegal immigrants with a quicker pathway to citizenship through college or military service, calling the plan “amnesty” and politically motivated. “I am opposed to illegal immigration, and I am deeply disappointed that Washington politicians are playing politics with military funding in order to extend a form of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants,” the Massachusetts Republican said in a statement. The Senate could vote as early as tomorrow on whether to add the so-called Dream Act to a defense appropriations bill. Brown’s statement came as a group of undocumented immigrants started an around-the-clock vigil outside of Brown’s Boston office to try and press him to support the proposal. The legislation would create a path to legal residency for youths who arrived before they turned 16; have lived in the United States for five consecutive years; and have no criminal record. In order to become citizens, they would have to graduate from high school or obtain a GED, complete two years in college or the military, and be under 35 years old. Critics say that it would reward immigrant families who came to the country illegally, and say it lacks the comprehensive provisions to crack down on illegal immigration.

Senate to Look at Dream Act for Illegal Immigrants

Washington Post: The Senate will consider Tuesday whether hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children should be placed on a path to citizenship. The prospects for the legislation to pass are considered slim, particularly given the public's embrace of tough immigration laws in Arizona and other states. Several versions of the Dream Act have been debated in Congress over the past decade, but none of the measures has succeeded.The controversial measure is being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who bypassed usual Senate procedures by including it in a defense reauthorization bill. The maneuvering in the Senate comes as Reid is locked in a tight reelection battle against Republican Sharron Angle, a favorite of the "tea party" movement. Polls show that Reid is in a dead heat with Angle or narrowly ahead. Hispanic voters, who constitute as much as a quarter of voters in the state, are expected to strongly back passage of the Dream Act. For the moment, both the Reid and Angle campaigns are betting the issue will help them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birthright Citizenship Is Settled Law

Repealing Part of the 14th Amendment Won't Fix Our Immigration Problem; Giving the Undocumented a Pathway to Citizenship Will.


Los Angeles Times (Opinion): As an attorney and supporter of immigrant rights, I tried to read with an open mind Charlotte Allen's Sept. 20 Times Op-Ed article, "A birthright that shouldn't be." Allen argued against the 14th Amendment's provision of birthright citizenship, warned of the costs associated with U.S.-born children of undocumented workers and castigated the Obama administration for failing to secure our borders. The most meaningful part of her essay was what she did not say. Out of more than 1,000 words, she devoted exactly two sentences to offering a solution to our immigration problems. Allen began by noting that if we ended birthright citizenship, "it would bring America's citizenship policies into line with those of most of the rest of the world." Sorry, but my mother never bought the "all the other kids are doing it" argument, and neither do I. The U.S. is the gold standard for the rest of the world, not the other way around. I'd prefer to keep things that way.

Senators Say DHS Allows Backdoor Amnesty

Washington Times reported that: A series of new internal rules has effectively created a possible backdoor amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, Senate Republicans charged on Tuesday in a letter demanding that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explain the new policies. Ms. Napolitano has said her department is trying to focus resources on illegal immigrants with long criminal records, but the letter, signed by all seven Republicans on the committee that oversees immigration, said it appears the administration instead is trying to carve out categories of illegal immigrants that won't be deported at all. Indeed, the latest statistics show deportations are, in fact, down slightly compared with the similar period last year. The administration has dramatically stepped up removals of convicted criminal immigrants, deporting 51,981 more than last year, an increase of 42 percent. But deportation of other immigrants is down even more, dropping by 53,934 through August. "It is increasingly clear that this administration is following the spirit of these proposals by dramatically narrowing its efforts to remove whole classes of illegal immigrants," the senators said.

Senate Republicans Hold Up Dream Act for Children of Immigrants

Washington Post: Republican lawmakers on Tuesday stalled a Senate measure to allow children of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to citizenship, and accused the Obama administration of seeking amnesty for illegal immigrants through administrative changes within the Department of Homeland Security. The Dream Act, which would grant permanent residency to immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who have completed some time in college or in the armed forces has been a sought-after goal for Democrats, who attached the measure to an important defense spending bill. Republicans used a procedural vote to block the bill. Immigration advocates accused Republicans of sacrificing the well-being of thousands of young people to cater to nativist sentiment. Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said the vote showed that the Republican party had "once again proven that when Latinos need support, they support a different constituency even when the constituency they are supporting does not have a dog in the fight. If my kids are legal and they are going to college, why would I want to stick it to my neighbor's kids?"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EDITORIAL: Dream Time

New York Times: Congress may soon have a chance to repair, in a powerful way, the shambles it has made of immigration. It can pass an amendment to the defense authorization bill due to come before the Senate on Tuesday. The amendment is the Dream Act, an inspired bit of carving from the hugely ambitious, chronically unsuccessful comprehensive immigration reform. The Dream Act opens the door to military service and higher education for young people whose parents brought them to this country as children without proper documentation. If they finish high school, show good moral character and serve at least two years in the military or earn a college degree, they can earn citizenship. In a poisoned climate for legislation of any kind, and with the immigration debate more wretched than ever, the Dream Act’s chances are uncertain. That is a shame, because the act was written for exactly the kind of people America should be embracing: young soldiers, scholars, strivers, future leaders.

Giving Immigrant Laborers An Online Voice

A New Program Teaches Workers To Use Cellphones To Tell Their Own Stories And To Document Their Lives and Work.
Los Angeles Times reported that: The idea is to give immigrants, mainly day laborers, an online space to speak their minds and share their stories. They are also encouraged to document their work as a form of self-protection. Organizers rolled out the program last month with a mix of grants from various foundations, including $40,000 worth of cellphones to train laborers. They fanned out to local job centers to teach workers how to upload text, photos and videos. So far about half a dozen laborers have launched their own blogs. Others are experimenting, transferring bits of broken audio and blurry images onto the Web. The contributions to vozmob.net are varied. In one post, a worker named Adolfo features a video clip of day laborers at a Hollywood center singing with an accordion player and guitarist as they wait for work. In another, a Long Beach laborer named Ranferi displays a photo of a cream-colored snake he found on the sidewalk and warns others to be cautious. A man named Marcos likes to upload samples of his handiwork: light fixtures he has installed, bathtubs he has tiled and water-thrifty gardens he has planted. Politics often takes center stage, with posts featuring photos of immigrants rights marches and short, heated paragraphs blasting Arizona's new immigration law.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grounding Foreign Drivers in Virginia, by Gubernatorial Order

Washington Post: With the stroke of a pen, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has thrown up a roadblock in the path of thousands of law-abiding foreign nationals who seek to obtain a driver's license in the state. He did so despite the fact that they are legally authorized to live and work in Virginia, and in many cases have been for years. Mr. McDonnell's order disallows federal work permit cards as a basis for securing driver's licenses or ID cards in Virginia, even though they are accepted for that purpose in a majority of states. One group likely to be particularly hurt are the many thousands of Salvadorans in Virginia who have been authorized to work here since the federal government granted them legal status in 2001, following two devastating earthquakes in their native country. The Salvadorans frequently rely on the federal work permits to get driver's licenses; in many cases, they have no other proof of legal presence.

Birthright Citizenship Joins Part Of Overall Conversation

National Journal: Ending the Constitution's birthright citizenship won't stop illegal immigrants from crossing the border and it could cause major logistical problems for American parents in U.S. delivery rooms. But lawmakers and analysts agree that the Constitution's citizenship guarantee for all babies born inside U.S. borders now will be part of any conversation about changing the immigration system. "I've been asked by a lot of constituents, 'Why do we have this practice?' And I don't have a good answer to that. I just don't think it makes sense to continue," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has championed legislation to help illegal immigrants earn green cards and toughen security at the border. Recently, Graham said policymakers should consider changing the automatic citizenship given to all babies born in the United States, a move that some immigrant advocates viewed as a radical shift in his thinking. Graham insisted on Tuesday that nothing has changed. "It has to be looked at in terms of an overall solution to immigration. I'm not saying, 'Change the Constitution. That fixes the problem,' " he said.

Democrats Plan to Add Immigration Amendment to Defense Bill

THE LEGISLATION WOULD HELP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT STUDENTS BECOME CITIZENS IF THEY SERVE IN THE MILITARY OR GO TO COLLEGE. REPUBLICANS ARE EXPECTED TO FIGHT IT.

Los Angeles Times: Democrats will try to add legislation creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant students who serve in the military or go to college to a broader defense bill in the Senate as early as next week, leaders said Tuesday. The $725-billion defense authorization bill already faces Republican opposition for including a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military. Tacking the immigration measure onto the usually popular defense bill is a nod to the importance of Latino voters in the midterm election. "We're going to address two issues that are long overdue," Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, said Tuesday in announcing the legislative lineup. Republicans indicated their intent to fight both issues. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell expects the defense bill to include "a number of extraneous measures in it that have nothing to do with defense, making it needlessly controversial." Immigrant rights groups welcomed a possible vote on the so-called DREAM Act, which would allow minors who entered this country illegally a path to legal status and eventually citizenship if they go to college or join the military.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Illegal Immigrants Held in Isolated Jails Struggle for Legal Help, Survey Finds

THE MAJORITY ARE IN FACILITIES BEYOND THE REACH OF LEGAL AID GROUPS, RESULTING IN CASELOADS OF 100 DETAINEES PER ATTORNEY, A RIGHTS GROUP REPORTS. AN ADDITIONAL 10% HAVE NO ACCESS TO ANY LEGAL AID.

Los Angeles Times: Even as the Obama administration seeks to create a more humane system of detention for illegal immigrants, most continue to be held in rural jails without ready access to legal representation, a human rights group says in a report to be released today. In a survey of immigration detention facilities nationwide, the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center found that more than half did not offer detainees information about their rights, and 78% prohibited private phone calls with lawyers. More than 80% of detainees were in facilities that were isolated and beyond the reach of legal aid organizations, resulting in heavy caseloads of 100 detainees per immigration attorney, the survey found. Ten percent of detainees were held in facilities in which they had no access at all to legal aid groups.

Nearly Half of U.S. Wants End to Citizenship for Illegal Kids

Associated Press: Nearly half of Americans oppose giving automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born on US soil, which is a constitutional right, a Quinnipiac University poll said on Monday. With 48 percent against the practice, 45 percent said they remained in favor of granting birthright citizenship according to the survey of 1,905 adults that took place August 13-September 7. President Barack Obama has vowed to find a solution to more than 11 million illegal aliens living in the country, as amnesty proposals in Congress face fierce opposition, chiefly from Republicans, and states like Arizona issue hardline policies of their own. The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut, which is most active in the months prior to US elections such as the upcoming November legislative polls, said the opinions for and against tended to gather along party lines. For instance, Democratic electors were 62 percent in favor of granting citizenship to children of illegal aliens.

Midterms Imperil Immigration Bill

Politico: A Republican rout in November would usher in a class of Senate freshmen who ran on pledges of no amnesty for illegal immigrants — a changing of the guard that could doom President Barack Obama’s already faint chances of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill in his first term. Immigration reform advocates could see turnover in 17 seats held by Democrats and Republicans who, at one point, voted for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to a POLITICO analysis of the Senate campaign field. In all cases, the Republicans running for those seats have vowed to never support a legalization program or at least not consider it until the border has been certified secure. This means the Democratic vision of immigration reform, which couples tough border enforcement and a crackdown on employers with plans to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants, would need to shift much further to the right to stand any chance in a closely divided Senate. “The prospects for victory of comprehensive immigration reform are slim,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pennsylvania Ruling Could Shape Arizona Immigration's Fate

KGUN9 reported that: A court ruling in Pennsylvania may have a major impact on how Arizona does business. A 3rd Circuit Court judge struck down their employer sanctions law, a law similar to Arizona's controversial Legal Workers Act. In Arizona, businesses must verify employees through a data-base, E-Verify. If workers are found to be illegal immigrants, that means big punishments. Multiple violations mean 3 years without a business license, which usually means out-of-business. The state law enforcing these regulations has been in place for two years, despite previous challenges. The Pennsylvania ruling struck down their state's immigration crack-down, and Attorney John Messing says it will most likely be ammunition for a Supreme Court Review happening here. "The attorneys for the government will have to bring up what happened in the 3rd circuit because it's such a strong opinion in their favor," he said.

Answer to Immigration Problem Should Transcend Party Lines

USA Today (OPINION): The immigration debate touches everyone differently. When the subject comes up, I'm surprised at the range of stances taken by people I know and love. I also know that I probably shouldn't be so shocked, because this issue has roots that far outreach those of simple political partisanship. To get in touch with my own true feelings on the subject, all I have to do is spend an afternoon with my 92-year-old mother, Vickie, and listen to stories of her experiences. She was born in Italy and came to our shores with the type of enthusiasm befitting the storybook view we cling to when we think of the traditional immigrant experience. Mom learned English with a fervor fueled by her desire to "fit in" with a citizenry she admired and dreamed to be a part of. She, and others just like her, joined the Army to serve this same nation without hesitation because of her love of America. I write all this not to glorify my mom — many other immigrants of that time did what she did. And many people are currently working through the complex maze that is our present immigration policy with the same fervor Mom had then.

Facts Can't Trump Politics In Immigration Debate

NPR reported that: A major national survey has found that the flow of unauthorized immigrants into the U.S. has slowed dramatically over the past five years, leading to the "first significant reversal" of growth in their population in two decades. Border security has benefited from an infusion of federal money. Deportations of those in the country illegally are up. FBI statistics point to a consistent drop in violent crime rates in U.S.-Mexico border towns. And Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer — the high-profile Republican proponent of the state's controversial immigration law — has acknowledged that her incendiary and debunked claim that headless bodies had been found along the border in her state was "an error." Could it be that the country is moving toward what immigration expert Audrey Singer of the Brookings Institution has hopefully noted could be a "moment of reflection" in the emotional and often fact-free national discussion on illegal border crossings?

Friday, September 10, 2010

U.S. Shifts Approach to Deporting Illegal Immigrants

USA Today reported that: The Obama administration is changing the federal immigration enforcement strategy in ways that reduce the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants, even as states such as Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio and Texas are pushing to accelerate deportations. The changes focus enforcement on immigrants who have committed serious crimes, an effort to unclog immigration courts and detention centers. A record backlog of deportation cases has forced immigrants to wait an average 459 days for their hearings, according to an Aug. 12 report by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which analyzes government data.

Angle Courts Wary Hispanics in Nevada Senate Race

Associated Press reported that: Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle's conservative views on illegal immigration and her limited outreach to Hispanics have done little to endear her to Nevada's largest minority group. The tea party favorite is challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a swing state that borders Arizona, where a recent effort to enact a strict immigration law has polarized voters nationwide. Angle supports the law, which is generally unpopular with Hispanics, who make up 26 percent of Nevada's population and could decide the narrow Senate race. Reid does not. "For me, she is scary," said Esperanza Montelongo, a Reid supporter who hosts a Spanish-language political radio show in Las Vegas. "She is anti-anything Latino." Angle, a former state assemblywoman, boasted during her Republican primary race of opposing a state scholarship because it benefited students who were legal residents, but not citizens. She supports Arizona's Joe Arpaio, a conservative sheriff under federal investigation for potential civil rights violations. She has said Congress needs to define the 14th Amendment, which establishes birthright citizenship.

L.A. Residents: Police Harassment Spawned Outrage

Associated Press: A city all too familiar with civil unrest was caught by surprise with the level of outrage over the fatal police shooting of an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who was menacing officers with a knife. The officers were also Hispanic, and witnesses backed up their claims that Manuel Jaminez threatened them. And yet, protesters hurled eggs, bottles and rocks at a police station over the past several days, jeered the police chief when he tried to explain in front of a raucous community meeting and pushed long-simmering tensions to the forefront. For many in the gritty Westlake neighborhood, the shooting was the last straw. Amid the poverty and chronic joblessness here, some residents say, officers mistreated them and were overly harsh in their enforcement of city ordinances. "They are messing with people all the time," said Juan Lorenzo, a day laborer who knew Jaminez. Lorenzo claimed that Officer Frank Hernandez, who the mayor hailed as a hero for shooting Jaminez, was disliked by many in the community because he would often ticket people for selling food on the street and would sometimes throw the food in the trash.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Virginia Rejects Work Permit Cards as Proof of Legal Status to Get License or ID

Washington Post: Virginia said Tuesday that federal work permit cards can no longer be used to prove someone's legal status when obtaining driver's licenses or identification cards in the state after a fatal crash involving a Benedictine nun and a Bolivian man, accused of drunk driving, who immigrated here illegally. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles changed its policy to remove the federal government's I-766 permit from the list of documents that can be used to demonstrate "proof of legal presence." Melanie Stokes, a spokeswoman for the department, called the Aug. 1 death of Sister Denise Mosier, 66, the "catalyst" for the change. Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, 23, is accused of swerving into the path of a vehicle carrying Mosier and two other nuns on their way to a retreat in Prince William County.

Immigration Crackdown Steps Into the Kitchen

New York Times: FOR a man facing the possibility of up to 30 years in prison, almost $4 million in fines and the government seizure of his small French restaurant here, Michel Malecot has an unusually jovial and serene air. During lunch recently, he walked around the French Gourmet, his 45-seat restaurant, bakery and catering company in the city’s Pacific Beach neighborhood, hugging his regular customers and planting a kiss on each cheek, before meandering back into the sprawling kitchen to make himself a herring baguette with butter. “Serve this with warm potatoes,” Mr. Malecot said, “and c’est bon.” An immigrant from the South of France, he came here in 1972, settling in San Diego because he said the climate reminded him of home. And now it is the knotty issue of immigration that has made him a local cause célèbre, thrust him into one of the nation’s most contentious debates, jeopardized his future and sent a current of fear through the $550-billion-plus restaurant industry. In April, Mr. Malecot, 58, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of illegally hiring 12 undocumented immigrants and, in what prosecutors portray as a brazen deception, continuing to employ them after learning that they were in the country illegally. He pleaded not guilty. Now, if convicted, he faces the possibility of forfeiture of the restaurant building, along with an adjacent rental property, Froggy’s Bar. Legal experts say it would be an exceptionally stiff punishment, but one that could be a sign of things to come for an industry that is one of the nation’s largest employers of immigrants.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prince William Chief Questions Federal Immigration Policy

Washington Post: Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane has sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security questioning a policy that allows illegal immigrants waiting for deportation proceedings to get a permit to work. The Aug. 30 letter sent to John T. Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security, was sparked by a recent drunk-driving accident in which a Bolivian man, Carlos A Martinelly-Montano, crashed into another vehicle, killing one nun and injuring two others. Martinelly-Montano, who entered the United States illegally when he was 8, was awaiting a deportation hearing after two convictions for drunken driving. Deane said Martinelly-Mantano was granted an Employment Authorization Card on Jan. 14, 2009, just months after being placed in deportation proceedings. In the letter, Deane said he has concerns with a policy that allows an EAC to be issued to someone waiting to be deported. "I ask that this glaring gap in DHS policy be ended," he said. Deane said investigations show Martinelly-Mantano used his EAC to show legal presence and obtain a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles identification card.

Business Should Speak Up for Immigration

Financial Times: Immigration does strange things to politicians. One-time US presidential candidate John McCain abandoned his previous moderate position on immigration in a successful attempt to retain the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona last month. Meg Whitman, former chief executive of Ebay, also adopted a hard line on immigration as she set out to become governor of California. Having won the Republican primary, she has changed tack, appealing to immigrants and Hispanic voters in her drive to win the election itself. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has not changed but he too grasps the electoral sensitivity to the issue. He linked riots in Grenoble to insufficiently controlled immigration. He followed up by clearing illegal Roma encampments and threatening to strip some criminals of foreign origin of their citizenship. Politicians usually win public support for their attacks on newcomers. In her book, Talking to a Brick Wall, Deborah Mattinson, a pollster to Gordon Brown when he was UK prime minister, wrote that nothing got her focus groups more agitated than immigration. The governing Conservatives promised to cap it, a policy they are now carrying out in their coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Monitor: 'Border Wars' Looks At Illegal Immigration And Efforts To Stop It

FEDS AND CIVILIAN GROUPS PATROL THE INTERNATIONAL BORDER ON THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SHOW

Los Angeles Times: From both sides, the stretch of the Rio Grande that paints the border between southeast Texas and northern Mexico doesn't look that wide. To those trying to make it to the United States, either in search of opportunity or to sell illegal goods, it's a hop worth attempting, even if it takes multiple times to achieve success. To those trying to keep those crossers at bay, it's barely an obstacle at all, not even wide enough to obscure the activities of those on the other side. The docuseries "Border Wars" (National Geographic, 8 p.m. Wednesdays) focuses on the perspective of the latter group. It's "COPS" with an added dose of geopolitics: Each episode focuses on a handful of efforts undertaken by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to bring order to a porous border, not always successfully. But accidentally or not, "Border Wars" plays like advocacy work masking as law enforcement propaganda. First there is the imbalance in scale between the officers and their targets. The show highlights not only the organization required to track illegal activity, but also the depth and organization of the illegal systems themselves. In one scene, an agent tears open a trash bag filled with all the provisions a border crosser would need for a long journey, provided by the people who steer the grueling trips. It's as thought-through as any of the agent's high-tech tools.

Friday, September 03, 2010

How Illegal Immigrants are Helping Social Security

Washington Post: The contributions by unauthorized immigrants to Social Security -- essentially, to the retirement income of everyday Americans -- are much larger than previously known, raising questions about the efforts in many states and among Republicans in Congress to force these workers out. In response to a research inquiry for a book I am writing on the economics of immigration, Stephen C. Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration and someone who enjoys bipartisan support for his straightforwardness, said that by 2007, the Social Security trust fund had received a net benefit of somewhere between $120 billion and $240 billion from unauthorized immigrants. That represented an astounding 5.4 percent to 10.7 percent of the trust fund's total assets of $2.24 trillion that year. The cumulative contribution is surely higher now. Unauthorized immigrants paid a net contribution of $12 billion in 2007 alone, Goss said. Previous estimates circulating publicly and in Congress had placed the annual contributions at roughly half of Goss's 2007 figure and listed the cumulative benefit on the order of $50 billion.

'Birth Tourism' a Tiny Portion of Immigrant Babies

Associated Press reported that: When Ruth Garcia's twins are born in two months, they'll have all the rights of U.S. citizens. They and their six brothers and sisters will be able to vote, apply for federal student loans and even run for president. Garcia is an illegal immigrant who crossed into the country about 14 years ago, and the citizenship granted to her children and millions others like them is at the center of a divisive national debate. Republicans are pushing for congressional hearings to consider changing the nation's 14th Amendment to deny such children the automatic citizenship the Constitution guarantees. They say women like Garcia are taking advantage of a constitutional amendment meant to guarantee the rights of freed slaves, and paint a picture of pregnant women rushing across the border to give birth. A closer examination of the issue shows that the trend is not as dramatic as some immigration opponents have claimed. Most illegal immigrants are born to parents like Garcia who have made the United States their home for years.

A Window for Immigration Reform

Illegal Immigration Has Ebbed with the Faltering Economy. It's a Lull Congress Should Use to Fix the Broken Immigration System in the U.S.

Los Angeles Times: The number of immigrants entering the United States illegally has plummeted in tandem with the economy, with the greatest slowdown occurring between 2007 and 2009, according to a report issued Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center. Also, the number of people apprehended at the border is down dramatically, and furthermore, an estimated 1 million illegal immigrants have left the country. But the report, coming as the immigration reform debate turns increasingly ugly, is a timely reminder of how perception lags reality. Even as Arizona passes draconian anti-immigrant laws and prominent Republicans seek to disenfranchise American-born children of illegal immigrants, the truth is that illegal immigration has not been this low since the middle of the decade. Congress should be using this period to negotiate a fix for the broken immigration system. Despite fewer arrivals, 11 million illegal immigrants remain in the United States, and reform is crucial. But instead of addressing current conditions, the country is awash in political rhetoric more suited to conditions in years past. It is a missed opportunity. Because as soon as the economy rebounds, so will illegal immigration.

Carly Fiorina Supports DREAM Act, but Says She's Against "Amnesty"

CBS reported that: California's Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina said last night that she would support the DREAM Act, an immigration measure that aims to help undocumented students. Her remarks set her apart from more conservative Republican candidates this year who are taking a hard line on immigration. They also highlighted the limited bipartisan support the DREAM Act has received, even as comprehensive immigration reform appears out of reach. In her first debate last night against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Fiorina said, "I would support the DREAM Act because I do not believe that we can punish children who through no fault of their own are here trying to live the American dream."

Justice Department Sues Sheriff Over Bias Investigation

New York Times: The Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County for not cooperating with an investigation into whether his department was systematically violating the rights of Hispanics. Obama administration officials called the suit the first time in 30 years that the federal government had to sue to compel a law enforcement agency to cooperate with an investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division, said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities.”

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

ACLU: Raided California Firm Mistreated Illegal Workers

Businessweek reported that: Civil rights lawyers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against a government contractor that was the target of an immigration raid this summer, accusing the company of bilking illegal workers out of pay and violating their rights. The suit accuses Terra Universal Inc. and its owner, George Sadaghiani, of denying illegal immigrant workers overtime and sick pay and discriminating against them because of their visa status. "Our employment laws provide everyone equal workplace rights regardless of what country you came from, how you got here and your immigration status," said Jennie Pasquarella, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union-Southern California, which is participating in the suit. "A fair day's pay for a fair day's work is a basic American rule, with no exceptions." Immigration agents seized 43 workers in June at Terra Universal's Fullerton factory, where lawyers say the company manufactures laboratory equipment for the U.S. military and other government clients.

New York Asks Schools to Avoid Pupil Immigration Status

New York Times: The State Education Department has sent school districts a memorandum strongly recommending that they not ask for information that might reveal the immigration status of enrolling students, after a civil liberties group complained that scores of districts were requesting such information in possible violation of federal law. The memo, which was sent on Monday, explained that a 1982 Supreme Court decision had recognized the right of all children, regardless of immigration status, to attend public school as long as they met the age and residency requirements established by state law. “Accordingly, at the time of registration,” the memo said, “schools should avoid asking questions related to immigration status or that may reveal a child’s immigration status, such as asking for a Social Security number.” The memo, titled “Student Registration Guidance,” followed months of pressure from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had discovered that some 139 districts — about 20 percent of the total — were requiring children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants could provide. The group repeatedly asked the Education Department to stop those practices.

Gov. McDonnell Shoots Down Immigration Request

NBC reported that: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is turning a deaf ear to requests that his administration not pursue civil immigration law-enforcement powers. Instead, he wants to give state and local police the green light to check an immigrant’s citizenship status when making an arrest. That would entail being able to question and detain illegal immigrants suspected in crimes. The Virginia Alliance for Sensible Community Policing Efforts sent the governor a letter Monday highlighting its opposition. "We are particularly concerned about the severe chilling effect that descends on immigrant communities, and especially on immigrant crime victims and witnesses, if they perceive that law enforcement is to be feared rather than trusted," the alliance wrote.

Donations to Defend Arizona Immigration Law Top $2M

Associated Press: Gov. Jan Brewer's office says Arizona has received more than $2 million in donations to help pay for the legal defense of the state's controversial law targeting illegal immigration. Seven lawsuits were filed to challenge the law. Two have been dismissed, but a judge ruled on a suit filed by the U.S. Justice Department by blocking key provisions of the law from taking effect July 29. Brewer is appealing that ruling.

Judge Dismisses Arizona Policeman's Suit Against Immigration Law

She Cites Prior Rulings That Public Officials Cannot Sue to Block Laws They Don't Want to Enforce. Key Provisions of SB1070 Remain on Hold, with Arguments Scheduled for November.

Los Angeles Times: The federal judge who halted most of a controversial Arizona immigration law dismissed a separate lawsuit Tuesday that had been filed by a Tucson police officer. The complaint by Martin Escobar was one of seven lawsuits filed in an attempt to nullify SB1070, which requires police officers to determine the status of people they have legally detained whom they suspect of being in the country illegally. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Obama administration in late July, found that the key provisions of the law appear to violate the U.S. Constitution. She placed them on hold until the state could convince her otherwise in a trial. Arizona has appealed Bolton's ruling. Arguments are scheduled before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in November. The case is expected to ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.