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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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Friday, October 29, 2010

Green-Card Blues

A Backlash Against Foreign Workers Dims Business Hopes for Immigration Reform

The Economist: Bad as relations are between business and the Democrats, immigration was supposed to be an exception. On that topic the two have long had a marriage of convenience, with business backing comprehensive reform in order to obtain more skilled foreign workers. That, at least, was what was meant to happen. In March Chuck Schumer, a Democratic senator, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican, proposed a multi-faceted reform that would toughen border controls and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants while granting two longstanding goals of business: automatic green cards (that is, permanent residence) for students who earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or maths in America, and an elimination of country quotas on green cards. The quotas bear no relationship to demand, leaving backlogs of eight to ten years for applicants from China and India. Barack Obama immediately announced his support.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Federal Court Overturns Part of Arizona Voting ID Law

CNN: A federal appeals court has ruled against an Arizona law that requires residents to prove their U.S. citizenship to register to vote, but upheld a part of the same law that mandates residents to show identification before voting. The decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday was part of an ongoing court battle surrounding Arizona's Proposition 200. Arizona passed the law in 2004, prompting legal challenges. Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett blasted the court's decision Tuesday in a joint statement. "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a simple, common sense protection approved by Arizona voters requiring that all individuals provide evidence of U.S. citizenship prior to registering to vote. This decision is an outrage and a slap in the face to all Arizonans who care about the integrity of their elections," the statement said. A federal appeals court has ruled against an Arizona law that requires residents to prove their U.S. citizenship to register to vote, but upheld a part of the same law that mandates residents to show identification before voting. The decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday was part of an ongoing court battle surrounding Arizona's Proposition 200.
Arizona passed the law in 2004, prompting legal challenges. Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett blasted the court's decision Tuesday in a joint statement. "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a simple, common sense protection approved by Arizona voters requiring that all individuals provide evidence of U.S. citizenship prior to registering to vote. This decision is an outrage and a slap in the face to all Arizonans who care about the integrity of their elections," the statement said.

Californians Open to Letting Some Illegal Immigrants Stay

Wall Street Journal reported that: In California, home to the country’s largest population of illegal immigrants, voters appear open to accommodating them. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll found that 59% of voters likely to cast a ballot next Tuesday believe an illegal immigrant who has lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years should be allowed to stay if discovered. More than two out of every five voters said they felt strongly that this alternative should be available. By contrast, 30% of the likely voters said illegal immigrants should be deported, with 19% supporting that option strongly, according to the poll, released over the weekend. Illegal immigration has taken center stage in the California gubernatorial race since it was discovered that Republican candidate Meg Whitman employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper and then fired her. In Arizona, a law cracking down on illegal immigration has attracted more than $3.6 million of donations in its defense from across the country and has propelled the issue to the forefront of the midterm election campaign.

Donors Send Millions to Defend Arizona Law

Wall Street Journal: Arizona has attracted more than $3.6 million of donations to help defend its law to crack down on illegal immigration, with one whopping contribution—and thousands of smaller ones—from out of state. Timothy Mellon, an heir to a Pittsburgh steel and banking dynasty, has donated $1.5 million to a legal-defense fund established by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, according to the governor's office. Mr. Mellon, who is identified on a donor list as a Wyoming resident, is among more than 42,000 people who have contributed to the border state's legal battle for the right to enforce the law, which Arizona's legislature passed earlier this year. The law makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect they are in the state unlawfully. Mr. Mellon's contribution is an anomaly. Through Sept. 9, the latest date for which information is available, most of the donations have been small, many between $20 and $100. Sympathizers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have contributed to the fund. Most of the individual online contributions have come from Arizona, followed by California, Texas, Florida and New York. Since Ms. Brewer signed Arizona Senate Bill 1070 in April, her popularity has soared, bolstering the Republican's chances in next Tuesday's gubernatorial election. Polls show her with a lead of more than 10 percentage points over state Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Arizona Draws Difficult Panel for Immigration Appeal

Politico reports: It looks like the state of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer could be facing an uphill battle in their effort to overturn a judge's ruling that the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration, SB 1070, is unconstitutional. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced the three judges assigned to the state's appeal, which is to be argued on Monday. They are: John Noonan, Richard Paez and Carlos Bea. Courtwatchers say the panel, which will convene at the court's headquarters in San Francisco, could be a tough one for Arizona. The state's law has been blasted as anti-Latino and likely to lead to racial profiling. Two of the three judges are of Hispanic descent: Paez was born in Utah of Mexican immigrant parents; Bea was born in Spain but grew up in Cuba before coming to the U.S. with his family. Paez, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, is considered part of the 9th Circuit's liberal wing. Paez is a former legal aid lawyer and district court judge who spent a record four years awaiting confirmation to the appeals court. Bea, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is viewed as a conservative on the appeals court. Bush's father also tried to nominate Bea to a district court judgeship in 1991, but he never came to a vote. Bea represented business and sometimes immigration clients in private practice before becoming a state court judge. "To my knowledge, I am the only circuit judge to have been ordered deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service," Bea declared during a 2006 Senate hearing. The judge said he got the INS's order overturned on appeal.

Immigration Hard-Liners To Lead Judiciary?

Politico: Immigration reform would not only be dead in a Republican House; the policy debate would take a decidedly rightward turn in the House Judiciary Committee, which could become a hotbed of conservative activism on one of the most volatile issues in U.S. politics. Chairman-in-waiting Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has been an advocate of national Arizona-type immigration laws, implementing a mandatory verification program and revisiting the birthright citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Smith’s wingman on the Judiciary Committee would be Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the fiercest critics of illegal immigration, who would chair the immigration subcommittee. Smith has been on the leading edge of conservative immigration policy since the mid-1990s, but he would have a much larger megaphone as chairman of Judiciary, even if his ideas never get a vote on the floor, because GOP leaders might hesitate to open the chamber to a full-blown immigration debate. Reform advocates, frustrated by the inability of a Democratic Congress to push serious immigration reform, worry that the debate in the House may swing the opposite way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Senators Say Napolitano Has ‘Lax Approach’ to Immigration Enforcement

CQ reported that: Senate Republicans accused Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday of adopting a “lax approach” to immigration enforcement, citing media reports indicating that dismissals of deportation cases in Texas have surged in recent months. “It appears that your Department is enforcing the law based on criteria it arbitrarily chose, with complete disregard for the enforcement laws created by Congress,” read a letter from Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and five other GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter illustrates the ongoing feud between Republicans and the Obama administration over enforcement of immigration laws. Republicans alleged that DHS has eased off enforcement, citing a Houston Chronicle article earlier this month that said Houston immigration courts dismissed 217 cases in August and 174 in September, up from 27 in July. That reported increase in dismissals came after Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton issued a directive in August that the agency would drop removal cases against illegal immigrants who had pending applications to remain in the United States, did not have criminal convictions and did not pose public safety or national security threats, but would move ahead to deport suspects in more serious cases. The administration touts figures showing it has deported a record number of illegal immigrants. Earlier this month, Napolitano and Morton said that more than 392,000 illegal immigrants had been removed in fiscal year 2010. About half of them were convicted criminals. DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler said the charge that DHS is selectively enforcing immigration laws “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Immigration Dismissals Draw Senate Scrutiny

7 Republicans On Judicial Panel Demand Inquiry

Houston Chronicle: The seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday called for an investigation into the dismissal of hundreds of immigration cases in Houston, accusing Homeland Security officials of selectively enforcing the law. Texas Sen. John Cornyn and six GOP colleagues on the powerful panel wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano demanding a full report on the dismissals by Nov. 15. In early August, Homeland Security trial attorneys started filing unsolicited motions to dismiss hundreds of cases on Houston's immigration court docket involving suspected illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than two years without committing serious crimes. News of the dismissals, first reported in the Houston Chronicle in late August, caused a national controversy amid allegations that the Obama administration was implementing a kind of "backdoor amnesty" — a charge officials strongly denied.
"It appears that your department is enforcing the law based on criteria it arbitrarily chose, with complete disregard for the enforcement laws created by Congress," the senators wrote. "The repercussions of this decision extend beyond removal proceedings, because it discourages officers from even initiating new removal proceedings if they believe the case ultimately will be dismissed." According to data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which administers the nation's immigration court system, the number of dismissals in Houston courts shot up from 27 in July to 271 in August, an increase of more than 700 percent. In September, judges dismissed 174 pending cases.

Panel Is Facing Deadline on Immigrants' Pardons

New York Times: In May, as the federal government increased deportations and some states sought to tighten immigration enforcement, Gov. David A. Paterson caused a national stir by announcing a push in the opposite direction: a state effort to speed the granting of pardons to immigrants facing deportation for old or minor criminal convictions. Nearly six months later, that initiative is finally coming to fruition — with little time to spare. Hundreds of petitions from legal permanent residents for pardons have swamped the New York governor’s office, and a special clemency panel is rushing to sift through them and make recommendations to Mr. Paterson before his term and the program end on Dec. 31. The vast majority of the requests were mailed just before an Oct. 1 deadline, compelling the panel to double the frequency of its meetings. “The expectation is that when all is said and done, there will be well over 1,000” petitions, said Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Mr. Paterson. “We literally have boxes of them sitting in the hallway.” Some of the petitions are elaborate, bound documents numbering scores of pages, with color photographs and affidavits from relatives, employers and others testifying to the petitioners’ worthiness for clemency. “To some extent this is a competition,” said Manoj Viswanathon, a lawyer who filed a petition on behalf of a Frenchman who holds a green card and served three years in prison in the early 1990s for narcotics and firearm convictions. “It’s like applying to college: there’s so much competition, you want to make your packet stand out.” But unlike many college applicants, these petitioners are almost completely in the dark about their chances for success. The Paterson administration will say little about the decision-making process or how many pardons the governor expects to issue.

Coming Out Illegal

New York Times: Leslie, a history major at the University of California at Los Angeles and an aspiring marathon runner with three part-time jobs and plans for grad school, keeps a neatly folded dark blue T-shirt in her closet among her jeans and her U.C.L.A. Bruins sweatshirt. Like an intimate detail, she reveals it cautiously, wearing it to campus events but not on the streets of Orange County; to a rally with a group of friends, but not alone on a crosstown bus. A senior at U.C.L.A. and the only child of a single working mother, Leslie is brave but not reckless: in the wrong place under the wrong circumstances, the T-shirt’s two words across the chest — “I’m Undocumented” — are provocative enough to upend her life. Some 825,000 immigrants are likely to become legal residents if the Dream Act passes, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a research group. But Steven A. Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors strict enforcement of immigration laws and opposes the Dream Act, argues that the legislation would create another avenue for immigration fraud and added incentive for immigrants to come to the United States. He noted that it rewards illegal behavior and takes college spots and financial aid from students who are legal residents. Nonetheless, the Dream Act has some bipartisan support, and in this political climate, it’s one of the only immigration bills with any shot of passing.

Whitman Accuses Brown of Lying to Latinos About Her

The GOP Candidate Says Her Democratic Foe and Unions Have Spread falsehoods About Her View on Illegal Immigration

Los Angeles Times: Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman lashed out at rival Jerry Brown on Thursday, accusing the Democrat and his labor allies of spreading lies among Latinos about her position on immigration as her poll numbers have plummeted among that key sector of the electorate. "It makes me mad that he's just out there telling lies," Whitman said after touring a small Latino-owned Los Angeles business that imports and manufactures decorative metal pieces for homes. "He accuses me of not being truthful. He is the one just not telling the truth on this, and it makes me mad and I'm not going to let it stand." She accused Brown and unions of running inaccurate ads and distributing mailers that say that she supported Arizona's recent crackdown on illegal immigrants and Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot measure intended to deny undocumented residents taxpayer-funded services. Whitman has consistently said she was against both measures, a stance that cost her support in the GOP primary campaign. But the arguments advanced in ads and mailers are grounded in shards of truth: While she said she opposed a law such as Arizona's for California, she said states have the right to make such decisions. And although she has consistently said she opposed Proposition 187, she has said undocumented students should be barred from attending publicly funded universities, one of the initiative's planks. The Brown campaign responded that Whitman has consistently lied during this race.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cut Deportation Business Ties, Protesters Tell Mayor Bloomberg

New York Daily News: New York - few would dispute - is a city of immigrants. That's what makes it so difficult to understand the city's collaboration with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport thousands of innocent people and cruelly divide families. More than 1,000 Latino immigrant workers and students joined Tuesday with clergy and City Council members for a massive march over the Brooklyn Bridge to a rally at City Hall Park. The demonstrators had a strong message for Mayor Bloomberg: We want the city out of the deportation business. "The mayor has spoken forcefully about how broken our immigration system is and we wanted to ask him to live up to his words," said Andrew Friedman, executive director of Make the Road NY, the organizer of the event.

Merkel Walks a Tightrope on German Immigration

TIME reported that: Chancellor Angela Merkel's pronouncement last weekend that attempts to build a "multicultural" Germany had "failed, absolutely failed" was hardly the first such tirade against immigrants. In August, Thilo Sarrazin, a former board member of Germany's central bank, caused a stir by writing in his bestselling book, Germany Does Away With Itself, that Muslim immigrants are "dumbing down" Germany and the rapid growth of the immigrant population was contributing to the country's decline. But while Merkel's comments during an address to the youth wing of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on October 16 came as an unusually emotional outburst, she may nonetheless have had a political motive for weighing in on the fraught topic of immigration. The Chancellor's comments appear directed at Germany's 3 million Turkish immigrants, who began to arrive as "guest workers" ("Gastarbeiter") to fill labor shortages during the 1960s and '70s. And they were received with a standing ovation, clearly pleasing her party's hardline conservatives, who have long argued that Muslim immigrants are poorly integrated. With her conservative bloc trailing in the polls ahead of a key state election next March, commentators seized on Merkel's speech as evidence of a rightward populist shift designed to tap into German fears about the economy and immigration.

Don't 'Don't Vote'

Many Latinos Are Angry That Immigration Reform Has Not Materialized. But A 'Don't Vote' Ad In Nevada Is A Cynical Ploy To Help Republican Candidates.

Los Angeles Times: Latinos who are frustrated with Congress' failure to adopt comprehensive immigration reform are being targeted with a lie: that the best strategy to achieve their goal is to stop participating in the democratic process. Don't vote. Be silent. Go uncounted to teach the politicians a lesson. But that approach cannot and will not work. No group in the United States has ever forwarded its political agenda by auto-disenfranchisement. Last year there was a don't-fill-out-the-census campaign. This latest effort to marginalize Latinos has taken the form of a "Don't Vote" ad drive in Nevada, sponsored by an organization cynically misnamed Latinos for Reform. The group, led by conservative pundit and former Republican Party official Robert de Posada, is asking Latinos to punish Democrats for failing to pass immigration reform by staying home Nov. 2. If Latinos follow that advice, they will harm the reelection chances of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is locked in a tight race in Nevada. But the ads cleverly do not encourage Latinos to vote for Reid's Republican rival, Sharron Angle — a request that might backfire given that Angle has run ads demonizing illegal immigrants and supports SB 1070, Arizona's draconian anti-immigrant law.

Dems: Missouri GOP Senate Pick Illegally Employed Woman

Associated Press: The Missouri Democratic Party on Tuesday accused Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Blunt of illegally employing an immigrant 20 years ago who was applying for political asylum. Blunt's campaign denied the assertion and said Democrats were distorting a kind gesture. Democrats based their claim on Aug. 21, 1990, letter from then-Secretary of State Blunt to an immigration commissioner requesting assistance for a Nicaraguan immigrant who was seeking political asylum in the U.S. In the letter, Blunt says the woman "has done some work for Roseann," who was his wife at the time. The Democratic Party said the letter suggests the Blunts employed the woman before she got official approval to work in the U.S. Democrats said they obtained the letter through an open-records request to the secretary of state's office, which now is led by Blunt's Senate rival, Democrat Robin Carnahan. "Congressman Blunt hired an illegal worker and used his official office and Washington connections" to try to assist her immigration process, Corey Platt, a senior adviser at the Missouri Democratic Party said in a conference call with reporters. Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer called the assertion "just plain crazy."
"This person never worked for the Blunts," Chrismer said. "She simply helped out at a couple of church events.

GOP Group Challenges Outright Citizenship Birthright

USA Today: Republican lawmakers in 15 states Tuesday announced a nationwide effort to change the way the 14th Amendment is interpreted and stop granting citizenship to babies born in the USA to illegal immigrants. A national coalition called State Legislators for Legal Immigration is coordinating the effort. Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce said Kansas lawyer Kris Kobach, who helped draft Arizona's tough immigration law now on appeal in the federal courts, is working with him and Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh to draft a bill that all the states could use as a model on the citizenship issue. Pearce said a bill draft is written and will be ready for consideration when the Arizona legislative session starts in January. He would not say exactly how they will propose denying citizenship but said the legislation would not be retroactive. Previous attempts in Arizona have focused on tinkering with state-issued birth certificates. When asked how the state would prove citizenship in a delivery room, Pearce said delayed birth certificates could be given to allow parents time to gather proof of citizenship. States issue birth certificates but citizenship is a federal issue.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sharron Angle Tells Hispanic Students They Look Asian; Argues Immigration Ad Not About Southern Border

CBS News: In a meeting with Hispanic high school students on Friday, Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle downplayed her campaign's use of generic pictures of Latinos to present a negative image of illegal immigrants. Angle has run a series of ads slamming her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for being soft on illegal immigration. Questioned about the ads, which feature somber-looking, dark-skinned men and phrases like "illegal aliens," Angle told a Hispanic group from Rancho High School that the ads do not necessarily portray Latinos. Furthermore, she told the students confronting her that they themselves do not necessarily look Latino. In the meeting, first reported on by the Associated Press, a student asked Angle, "Why is it that in all of your commercials you have the image of Latinos? What do you see when you hear, and I quote, 'illegal aliens?'" Angle responds: "I think that you're misinterpreting those commercials. I'm not sure that those are Latinos in that commercial. What it is, is a fence and there are people coming across that fence. What we know is that our northern border is where the terrorists came through. That's the most porous border that we have. We cannot allow terrorists; we cannot allow anyone to come across our border if we don't know why they're coming. So we have to secure all of our borders and that's what that was about, is border security. Not just our southern border, but our coastal border and our northern border."

Marriott, Hilton Seek Permission to Hire More Legal Immigrants

USA Today: As the economy rebounds and hotel giants expect to hire more employees, Marriott and Hilton Worldwide are among the large companies seeking to boost the number of legal immigrant workers they're allowed to hire, according to a Bloomberg News piece that also looks at campaign contribution patterns. The hotel companies want increases in worker visas and more employment-based "green cards" - proof of permanent residency in the U.S. that can allow for a lifetime career, the story says. Jonas Neihardt, a lobbyist for McLean, Virginia-based Hilton, tells Bloomberg News that Hilton hopes to see changes - including a simpler system to verify a worker's legal status - before the economy improves and travel further rebounds. "We're anticipating when things get better, we'll need more of those types of workers," Neihardt told Bloomberg News. By more than a 5-to-1 margin, campaign contributions from Marriott International CEO J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. are flowing toward Republicans this year, Bloomberg news says. Marriott's donations include $53,100 to Republican Party committees and candidates, vs. $9,600 to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Nazi Accusations Roil Arizona

Politico reported that: Democrats are accusing Arizona GOP congressional candidate Jesse Kelly of “Nazi ties” because he accepted an endorsement from a controversial anti-immigration group — and Kelly’s campaign is responding with equal fury, saying there is a “special place in hell” for people who make allegations of anti-Semitism. “The media is now attempting to portray Jesse Kelly as an anti-Semite. These lies are being joined by a rumor mill all too quick to spread in the political world we live in. As a practicing Jew, I am absolutely disgusted,” Kelly campaign manager Adam Kwasman told POLITICO. Kelly is running against two-term Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona’s 8th District. “There is a special place in hell for those who propagate terrible lies in order to clench to power and subject this nation to ever-growing governmental control over our lives and liberties. There is a special place in hell for those who would slander combat veterans who would have gladly been mutilated, subjected to chemical weapons and killed in defense of our freedom,” Kwasman said. Kwasman posted his full statement to his Facebook page shortly after speaking with POLITICO. At issue is an endorsement from the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC, an anti-immigration group that Arizona Sen. John McCain’s spokesman condemned as “backed by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites” after it endorsed McCain’s primary opponent, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. A Monday story in The Hill newspaper pointed out the ties.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Immigration Reform in U.S. Caught in Political Quagmire

As reported by Arizona Republic: There has been no shortage of talk about comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. But years of promises, good intentions and even all-out efforts to pass legislation so far have led nowhere. And with Congress in recess, time has run out - again - to tackle reform before the midterm elections, which could change the balance of power in Washington. It's enough for frustrated advocates to wonder if Congress' continued lack of action is deliberate. So far it hasn't mattered whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House or which party is controlling Congress. President George W. Bush failed to get reform through in 2006 when his party was in charge and failed again in 2007 after the Democrats took over. President Barack Obama campaigned on immigration reform in 2008 but even with his vocal support and commanding Democratic majorities, a long-anticipated bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate. Partisan divisions are so steep that compromises have been impossible on any issue, let alone one as complicated and bulky as comprehensive immigration reform.

Deportation Program Grows

TEXAS FULLY ADOPTS MUCH-DEBATED FEDERAL PLAN AIMED AT ALL COUNTIES BY 2013

Wall Street Journal: A federal program that scans local jails for illegal immigrants is being expanded across the state, the latest front in the nation's battle over immigration policy. In the past two weeks, Texas became the first border state to fully deploy the Department of Homeland Security program, which is scheduled to be rolled out to all U.S. counties by 2013. The program automatically routes prisoners' fingerprints to the department, which tries to determine whether they are allowed to be in the U.S. Known as Secure Communities, the program is designed to intercept and remove illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes such as homicide, rape and kidnapping, immigration officials say. But immigrant groups and lawyers argue it is also singling out immigrants with no serious criminal record, clogging up the courts. Political analysts say Secure Communities and related programs are alienating Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters from the Obama administration. "Why are we wasting funds to deport people who aren't even supposed to be targets of the program?" said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which provides legal assistance to low-income people. Proponents of stricter immigration controls contend Secure Communities is a step in the right direction to protect the nation from dangerous illegal immigrants

Arizona City Joins Immigration Challenge

UPI reported that: A small city in Arizona has joined the U.S. Justice Department's suit against the state's immigration law. Tolleson, outside Phoenix, has filed an amicus brief in the Justice lawsuit, which will go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 1, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday. The city made the move after a federal judge in August dismissed a lawsuit by a Tucson police officer who charged Senate Bill 1070 was unconstitutional. Tolleson joined that suit. Phoenix attorney Jose de Jesus Rivera told the city council last week that Tucson, Tolleson and the other cities he represents are not sanctuary cities but that SB 1070 seeks to make cities an arm of immigration enforcement. "In fact, it takes your resources away from other crimes," Rivera told the council, adding that under SB 1070, anyone who believes the city isn't following the law can sue the city.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Arizona Ads Target Hispanic Vote

Politico: A liberal group’s new radio ads are betting that a mention of Gov. Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is all it takes to convince Arizona Hispanics to vote. The Spanish-language ads that NDN, formerly the New Democrat Network, is airing in the Phoenix media market play on the Hispanic community’s anger at the two politicians, both of whom have made tough tactics against illegal immigrants their political trademark. NDN also plans to air ads urging Hispanics to vote in the Las Vegas and Denver markets, standard-issue get-out-the-vote spots that don’t mention the two controversial pols. “Since Arpaio started with his raids, and since Brewer took over the governorship, each morning I look in the mirror and see myself as their Mr. Scapegoat,” a man says in one of the Arizona ads. “That’s what they have done for you and me. Even though we are Americans!”

CBP Chief: Immigration Overhaul a Critical Next Step for Security, Trade

CQ reported that: Congress will need to get serious about a post-election immigration overhaul if the nation is to deal with the duality of enforcing border security while facilitating trade, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan D. Bersin says. “We know the debate about immigration reform in recent years has been contentious,” Bersin said. “But heated debates aren’t an excuse for inaction.” Republicans and Democrats can agree on the need to mend the unsustainably broken immigration system, Bersin said during a speech Thursday at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan immigration think tank. Legislation such as the proposed overhaul in 2006, which would have created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and a new guest-worker permit, can happen again if lawmakers can move past false debates, Bersin said. In truth, neither mass amnesty nor mass deportations will solve a problem that’s rooted in labor markets, which is why President Obama has shown a “fierce determination to stop kicking the can down the road” and supported a bipartisan proposal presented by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., last spring, as well as legislation (S 3932) Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced shortly before the pre-election recess. These legislative proposals would take immigration to a place it failed to go after the 1986 overhaul (PL 99-603), which provided a path to citizenship but failed to confront illegal immigration, Bersin said. Since then, the immigration debate has centered on control and enforcement — a focus that magnified exponentially after Sept. 11, Bersin said. But, he added, enforcement and normalization cannot succeed without appropriate coordination with other policy.

Sharron Angle -- Harry Reid Debate: Even More Immigration

Los Angeles Times: Sharon Angle took on Harry Reid’s record on immigration. Reid has said he supports a path to legalization for illegal immigrants. She said the solution to immigration is to secure the border. She also touted the Arizona sheriff who has developed a reputation for a hard-line stand on immigration. "I think every state should have a sheriff life Joe Arpaio," she said. Angle denounced Reid and the Obama administration for speaking out again Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. The administration sued to block the law from taking effect. Later in the debate, Reid was asked if he supported a law that would make English the official language of the nation. "English already is the offical language," he said.

Cities, Counties Can't Stop Federal Immigration Checks

MSNBC reported that: Cities and counties can't stop federal officials from sifting through local police records to root out illegal immigrants, even though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has characterized the program in place as voluntary since it started up two years ago, federal documents show. When a local law authority arrests someone, it submits his or her fingerprints to the FBI to confirm identity and check for a previous criminal record. That's been a standard part of the booking process in every police agency in America for decades. But under the disputed program, called Secure Communities, the FBI automatically shares those fingerprints with ICE, which checks to see whether the person is in its database for any reason. If not, ICE steps out of the picture. But if so, ICE then looks more closely to determine whether the person is "eligible for deportation" — either by being in the country illegally or by holding a green card that's been invalidated by a previous conviction. If that's the case, ICE can begin proceedings to take the person into federal custody for possible deportation. While the Secure Communities standard operating procedures (PDF) say ICE "normally" won't remove a "criminal alien" until the local case is resolved, they specify that the agency can begin the process to do so "at the time of booking" so it can move quickly once the case is concluded.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jerry Brown - Meg Whitman Debate: Immigration

Los Angeles Times: Meg Whitman was asked again about her employment of an undocumented immigrant for more than nine years. "If you couldn't find someone in your home was undocumented or illegal, how do you expect businesses to do it?" asked moderator Tom Brokaw. Whitman called for an "e-verify system" to make sure the documents presented by immigrants are valid. She said she wants to give more resources to secure the nation's border and restart a guest-worker program. She also talked about her opposition to Arizona's controversial immigration law. Jerry Brown said it was a federal responsibility and that asking local police officers to raid businesses was a waste of time. "The biggest problem here is we have millions of people who are here illegally. They're in the shadows," Brown said, calling for comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for workers who are in the country illegally but otherwise play by the rules. Brown said Whitman's firing of Niccandra Diaz Santillan was "kind of a sorry tale," noting that "after nine years, she didn't even get her a lawyer."

L.A. County Extends Project To Identify Illegal Immigrants In Its Jails

Sheriff's custody assistants will continue to interview suspected undocumented inmates and pass their findings on to federal immigration officials for possible deportation under a program that began in 2006.

Los Angeles Times: Despite protests from immigrant rights advocates, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended a collaboration Tuesday with federal officials to identify illegal immigrants who wind up in county jails. Several dozen protesters attended the meeting to oppose a program in which non-sworn Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employees interview suspected undocumented inmates and pass on their findings to immigration officials for possible deportation. Many said the Sheriff's Department risks isolating the county's immigrant communities by continuing the 4-year-old program. But sheriff's officials touted the collaboration as a way to remove criminals from immigrant communities. The department resisted an initial proposal from federal officials that would have forced sheriff's employees to take on even more responsibility in processing illegal immigrants for possible deportation, including interviewing inmates before they were convicted. That practice, sheriff's officials and activists alike agreed, could have resulted in the deportation of undocumented inmates who had been jailed for crimes they did not commit. "The sheriff does not want local law enforcement to enforce federal law," department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Housekeeper Issue Casts Whitman as Hypocrite

Los Angeles Times: Turns out I was wrong about last week's gubernatorial debate. I gave the edge to Jerry Brown but wrote that Meg Whitman didn't make any mistakes. I was only half right. Whitman really goofed, adhering to a campaign script that now has cast her in the role of hypocrite. Words do matter. What's indisputable is that Whitman knew at least 15 months ago that she had employed an illegal immigrant for nine years, yet publicly continued to bash the employment of illegal immigrants. Her strategists explain that Whitman has only castigated those who knowingly hire the undocumented. But that's not the way the rhetoric has sounded. During the primary, the campaign ran a TV ad featuring former Gov. Pete Wilson, the champion of Proposition 187, assuring Republicans that Whitman would be "tough as nails on illegal immigration."

Obama Likely to Scale Back Legislative Plans

In New Political Landscape, Incremental Approach Is in Works to Get Support for Some Proposals on Energy, Immigration

Washington Post reported that: President Barack Obama, facing at best narrower Democratic majorities in Congress next year, is likely to break up his remaining legislative priorities into smaller bites in hope of securing at least some piecemeal proposals on energy, climate change, immigration and terrorism policy, White House officials say. White House officials have begun revamping their legislative strategies. They are talking about a new, more incremental approach, championed by former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to fulfilling campaign promises on energy, immigration and on closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The new White House chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is far more steeped than Mr. Emanuel in the culture of the Senate, where comprehensive approaches to some of these issues have fared poorly. White House officials hope Mr. Rouse's expertise will help navigate smaller measures through the chamber. A senior Democratic Senate aide said White House officials have indicated a willingness to push through piecemeal changes to immigration law, instead of a comprehensive bill that combines border controls and immigration law enforcement with a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Under the incremental scenario, the White House would embrace Republican proposals to step up immigration law enforcement and border and port security in exchange for measures such as the DREAM Act, which would give illegal immigrant children a path to citizenship through military or public service. White House officials could add an agricultural-workers program to that bill but put off dealing with the bulk of illegal immigrants until later.

Feds Fine Abercrombie $1M Over Immigration Issue

Associated Press: A federal agency is issuing a $1 million fine against Abercrombie & Fitch over the way the clothing retailer kept track of the employment eligibility of its workers. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office said Tuesday that the fine stems from an inspection of Abercrombie's stores in Michigan. The agency says it found nothing to indicate that the New Albany, Ohio-based company knowingly hired any illegal immigrants. Investigators say Abercrombie has taken steps to correct its immigration compliance program. Both sides agreed to the amount of the fine. An Abercrombie spokesman declined to comment.

France Weighs Immigration Bill

Washington Post: The French government introduced tough new immigration legislation Tuesday that would make it easier to expel illegal residents and strip recently naturalized citizens of their French passports. The bill would translate into law a July 30 announcement by President Nicolas Sarkozy that in a bid to curb crime, he had authorized a crackdown on illegal immigrants, in particular Roma from Eastern Europe, who officials say commit up to 20 percent of the robberies in the Paris region. Since then, about 1,000 Roma, or Gypsy, immigrants have been shipped back to Bulgaria and Romania, and about half of their estimated 150 unauthorized camps across the country have been dismantled. Sarkozy's campaign, denounced as demagoguery by his opponents, reflects swelling concern in West European countries over large numbers of immigrants pouring in to seek work, political freedom and generous social services. Several governments have taken new steps to limit the flow, and anti-immigrant political parties scored electoral gains this year even in such normally liberal bastions as Sweden and the Netherlands.

UPDATED: Arlington Opts Out of Federal Immigration Enforcement Program

Washington Post: The Arlington County Board has unanimously passed a resolution to opt out of the federal Secure Communities program, which uses the fingerprints of people in custody for other reasons to identify illegal immigrants. "It is not the role of Arlington County law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws," the resolution states. Last spring, Virginia officials signed up for the program, which shares any arrested individuals' fingerprints with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, without asking Arlington law enforcement's opinion, said board member Walter Tejada, the resolution's sponsor. "We are not defending criminals," Tejada said at Tuesday's board meeting. However, he continued, "People who have not committed serious crimes...are finding themselves in this web" leading to deportation. The resolution states that Arlington strives to be a diverse and inclusive community, with more than one-third of the population belonging to a minority group and one-quarter being born outside of the country.

Obama: Immigration Issue is Being 'Demagogued'

USA Today reported that: President Obama is holding a backyard discussion with residents in Albuquerque -- including a discussion of the tricky political issue of immigration. Some play-by-play: Question time: The first comes from a woman who asks about changes in the immigration system, a big issue in New Mexico. Obama again endorses "comprehensive immigration reform," which tightens the borders and creates a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the USA. He expresses skepticism about legislation any time soon because "unfortunately, right now, this is getting demagogued." But he says a new immigration policy remains a priority.

Despite Economy, Americans Don't Want Farm Work

Associated Press: As the economy tanked during the past two years, a debate has raged over whether immigrants are taking jobs that Americans want. Here, amid the sweltering vineyards of the largest farm state, the answer is no. Most Americans simply don't apply for jobs harvesting fruits and vegetables in California, where one of every eight people is out of work, according to government data for a federal seasonal farmworker program analyzed by The Associated Press. And the few unemployed Americans who apply through official channels usually don't stay on in the fields, a point comedian Stephen Colbert — dressed as a field hand — has alluded to in recent broadcasts on Comedy Central. "It's just not something that most Americans are going to pack up their bags and move here to do," said farmer Steve Fortin, who pays $10.25 an hour to foreign workers to trim strawberry plants for six weeks each summer at his nursery near the Nevada border. He has spent $3,000 this year ensuring domestic workers have first dibs on his jobs in the sparsely populated stretch of the state, advertising in newspapers and on an electronic job registry.
But he hasn't had any takers, and only one farmer in the state hired anyone using a little-known, little-used program to hire foreign farmworkers the legal way — by applying for guest worker visas. Since January, California farmers have posted ads for 1,160 farmworker positions open to U.S. citizens and legal residents seeking work.