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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, March 31, 2011

Federal Immigration Crackdown May Cost California Nursery

Miami Herald: The Department of Homeland Security — stepping up its enforcement against employers who hire undocumented workers — may cost 71 Sacramento, Calif., nursery workers their jobs. The workplace audit came during Matsuda's busiest season. After cold and heavy rains ruined March, the 130-acre wholesale nursery on Florin Road was finally starting to ship hundreds of thousands of pink, magenta and violet azaleas and other spring plants to markets throughout California. Ten of the 71 workers have supplied new papers "and may be OK," said Matsuda's sales manager Tom Wing. "We told everybody to bring forward their documentation by Friday or you can't work here." Though the 12- acre nursery's multimillion-dollar business is being hit hard by an action that could cost them half their workers, "the human toll is the real problem," said an emotional Wing. "Our company's heartsick – we're losing members of our family. Some have been here as long as we have, 22 years or more. They're raising kids, buying homes and cars, paying taxes." The workplace audit reflects the Obama administration's heightened emphasis on employers. In Northern California, 192 worksite enforcement cases were initiated in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. About $900,000 in fines have been levied on the region's employers during the Obama administration. "Our goal in these cases is to determine whether a business is complying with the law," said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The new focus reduces the need for large-scale enforcement actions where employees were rounded up and arrested.

Oregon Senate Approves Immigrant Tuition Bill

NECN reported that: The Oregon Senate voted Tuesday to allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Oregon public universities. The Senate's 18-11 vote sends the measure to the House, where two Republicans and six Democrats have already signed onto it. Supporters cheered the vote, saying the Senate's approval gets them one step closer to a long-sought goal. "It's within reach," said Orlando Lopez, a 22-year-old political science student at Western Oregon University who watched the vote from the Senate gallery. He said he got involved with the issue after seeing high school friends who couldn't afford tuition because they were illegal immigrants. Proponents of the legislation say students shouldn't be punished because their parents brought them to the United States illegally. And, the bill's backers say, the state should help students be productive residents after investing in years of public education. "Have these children broken the law when many were carried into this country in the arms of their mother?" asked Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, a sponsor of the measure. But opponents say illegal activity should never be excused, and the state should not give illegal immigrants a benefit that isn't available to U.S. citizens who live in other states.

Obama's Challenge: Convince Latinos He's More Than the Anti-GOP Vote

CBS NEWS: Hosting town halls with the Hispanic community could help reassure the Latino community that the president is on their side. Polls, not to mention election results, indicate that Democrats have little to worry about when it comes to voter loyalty among Latinos. In the 2010 midterms, strong support from the Hispanic community helped bolster Democrats in tough races, including California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and Washington Sen. Patty Murray. Yet some contend that Hispanics' allegiance to the Democratic party stems more from an aversion to anti-immigration elements of the Republican party. "The turnout in 2010 was an anti-Republican turnout and a pro-Latino turnout," Matt Barreto, pollster and associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, told Hotsheet. Hispanic support in 2012, he said, "is not going to be a given unless Democrats really engage that community." Alternatively, he said, "you might just have low turnout." A February poll from Latino Decisions, the polling organization Barreto founded, suggests that Democratic outreach to the Latino community has so far been negligible. When asked whether the Democratic party has done a good job reaching out to Hispanics, 52 percent of Latino respondents said yes. By comparison, just 18 percent said the Republican party has done a good job, but there is certainly room for improvement within Mr. Obama's party. "There's a learning factor that needs to happen by both parties," Gloria Monta??±o Greene, director of the Washington office for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, told Hotsheet. "How do you talk to this community, how do you include this community in your campaign? The more you isolate them, the more unsuccessful you'll be as a party."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Arizona Senator Endorses Georgia's Immigration Enforcement Bill

Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that: The architect of Arizona’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration has endorsed similar legislation in Georgia. Arizona Republican Senate President Russell Pearce called Georgia’s House Bill 87 a “well-written, well thought-out piece of badly needed state enforcement legislation.” “Having seen the positive effects of enforcement here in Arizona, I can assure all concerned that HB 87 will serve to greatly reduce the illegal population in Georgia, save budget dollars and protect jobs for American workers in that great state,” Pearce said in a statement released Tuesday. Like Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, Georgia’s legislation would empower police to question certain suspects about their immigration status and punish those who harbor or transport illegal immigrants or encourage them to come to the state. A federal judge put some of the most controversial provisions of Arizona’s law on hold last year after the Obama administration argued they are pre-empted by federal law. Arizona is appealing that decision.

Texas Republicans Take Harder Line on Immigration

News Press Release (NPR): In Texas, the Republican Party is changing its tactics on illegal immigration. The relatively welcoming, tolerant attitude embraced by George W. Bush when he was governor is waning. It has been overtaken by a flood of Arizona-style get-tough measures, with nearly 100 immigration bills written or filed. And while legal challenges will surely follow if many of those measures pass, the debate in Texas is clearly shifting. The state is now more than ever in the nation's conservative vanguard. Among its most conservative leaders is state Rep. Leo Berman from northeast Texas. Though Berman's district is far from the Mexico border, he's leading the charge on immigration. One of his bills would "stop giving automatic citizenship to children born in Texas." Most Hispanics right now do vote Democrat; there's no question about it. So what vote are we going after? We're going after a vote that doesn't vote Republican anyway. There's also a voter ID bill; a bill that would require elementary school children to prove their citizenship upon enrolling — data that would then be turned over to state and federal authorities; and another Berman bill that would make English the official state language. "That will shut off the state printing anything in any language but English," he says, "and that's going to save millions of dollars right there." This is a significant change in strategy for the Texas GOP. In the mid '90s, Texas Republicans watched as their counterparts in California went on an anti-illegal immigration crusade and lost control of the state.

Confusion Over Policy on Married Gay Immigrants

New York Times: An announcement by immigration officials in Washington on Monday that they were delaying decisions on some immigration cases involving gay couples led to a surge of expectations among gay advocates that the Obama administration had taken a small but significant step toward recognizing same-sex marriage. But on Tuesday, immigration officials moved swiftly to clarify their position and dampen those hopes, saying they have not made any policy changes that would provide an opening to gay couples. The episode added to the legal confusion that has followed the administration’s determination last month that the law that bars the federal government from recognizing gay marriages, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional. In this case, the misunderstandings and soaring hopes arose from an effort in recent days by officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that awards immigration status, to clarify their policy on granting permanent residency green cards to immigrants legally married to American citizens who are gay. While it is routine for American citizens in heterosexual couples to obtain green cards for their foreign spouses, the Defense of Marriage Act has barred such status for immigrants in same-sex marriages.

Girl, 4, Reunited with Family After Communications Mix-Up

CNN: Four-year-old Emily Ruiz flew first class from Guatemala to the United States on Wednesday for a tearful reunion with her mom and dad and younger brother. Immigration officers treated her like royalty, said her lawyer, David Sperling. After her plane landed in Florida, one officer called her the "princess of Miami," he said. She was hugging her parents before too much longer. "Mission accomplished," Sperling said on Twitter. The royal treatment and happy ending came nearly three weeks after the girl, a U.S. citizen, was unable to re-enter the United States because of a possible communication mix-up. Emily, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants living in New York without documentation, had spent five months recuperating from asthma while visiting with her grandparents in Guatemala, Sperling said. When her grandfather accompanied her on a flight back to the United States on March 11, he was stopped by a customs officer at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia for an immigration violation dating back some 20 years, the lawyer said.

'Silent Raids' Squeeze Illegal Workers

Critics on Right and Left Fault Obama's Pressure on Employers for Fostering Underground Economy.

Wall Street Journal reports: Jaime Lopez used to earn $14 an hour, plus benefits, as a maintenance man for an office building outside Minneapolis. Then his employer was audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mr. Lopez and 1,200 other illegal immigrants in the Twin Cities lost their jobs in October 2009. Today, the 30-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico says he is struggling to bring home $500 a month from odd jobs, often working for less than the state's hourly minimum wage. Critics of U.S. immigration policies on the left and right take issue with such audits by the Obama administration, also known as silent raids. They say that, as a practical matter, the raids shift illegal immigrants with relatively well-paying jobs into the underground economy. Conservatives would rather deport the immigrants; others call for a path to U.S. citizenship. Javier Morillo, president of the Service Employees International Union's local 26 in the Twin Cities, which represented Mr Lopez, said, "You are taking hard-working people in good-paying jobs and moving them to jobs where they are exploited." Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, a leading foe of illegal immigration, said, "Audits are not much of a deterrent" because undocumented workers "just walk down the street and get another job."

Girl, Unable to Enter U. S., Will Try Again

CNN reported that: A 4-year-old U.S. citizen who was unable to enter into the country this month because of a possible communications mix-up will attempt the journey again on Tuesday. "It's a grave injustice that she has been separated from her parents for so long and we're here to rectify that situation," said lawyer David Sperling, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Monday. "Tomorrow, she's going to New York." Emily Ruiz, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants living in New York without documentation, had spent five months recuperating from asthma while visiting with her grandparents in Guatemala, Sperling said. When her grandfather accompanied her on a flight back to the United States on March 11, he was stopped by a customs official at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia for an immigration violation dating back some 20 years, the lawyer said. He was denied entry into the United States, and that placed Emily in the middle of an immigration quagmire. According to her family, immigration officials gave her parents two options: Emily could be sent to Guatemala with her grandfather, or she could be turned over to state custody. She returned to Central America.

Obama Rules Out Back-Door Legalization of Immigrants

Washington Times: President Obama said Monday that he does not have the power to suspend deportations, putting the nail in a plan some administration officials had explored that could have granted de-facto legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. A number of immigrant-rights advocates have called on the president to use executive authority to stop deportations, and memos surfaced last year showing that Homeland Security lawyers had looked into the legal implications. But Mr. Obama, in a town hall hosted by the Spanish-language Univision broadcast network, said that’s not an option. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president,” Mr. Obama said. The immigration issue has dogged Mr. Obama since he took office. On Monday, at the Univision town hall, Mr. Obama said most Democrats supported the Dream Act, but it couldn’t gain enough support within the Republican Party to pass. “I believe that we can still get it done,” he said. “But it’s going to be very important for all the viewers of Univision, all the students who are interested in this issue, we’ve got to keep the pressure up on Congress.” Still, immigrant-rights groups have called for him to go further, and they have led petition drives and a voter education campaign called “No More Deportations” to try to pressure the president to halt deportations.

Barack Obama Still Hopeful on Immigration

Politico: President Barack Obama on Monday told an audience of predominantly Latinos that he’s hopeful an immigration overhaul bill will be able to pass Congress soon, even though he was unable to shepherd legislation for the DREAM Act to his desk before the first half of his first term, when Democrats controlled both houses. Obama made the remarks at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington as part of a forum on Latinos and education. At the town hall, a mother who identified herself as an activist for undocumented young people told the president about students who want to give up in school because they don’t think they’ll be able to stay in the United States. “I think that change in this country sometimes happens in fits and starts,” Obama replied. “It doesn’t happen overnight. If you think of the history of the civil rights struggle, though even after Brown v. Board of Education, there were still struggles to ensure that ultimately everybody was treated with dignity and respect.” Obama then noted that the DREAM Act, which would provide a means to citizenship for young people who stay in school or join the military, was “very close to passage” in Congress last time around. He added young people shouldn’t “be giving up, because if people in the past had given up, we probably wouldn’t have women’s rights; we wouldn’t have civil rights.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Immigration Bills Rile Farmers

Pushes for Arizona-Style Crackdowns Run Into Worries About Impact in Fields

Wall Street Journal: Arizona-style immigration bills are under attack in several states, with some of the strongest opposition to the proposals coming from agricultural interests like the cotton and peach farmers here in central Georgia. Farmers in states from Florida to Indiana are pressuring-and in some cases persuading-state politicians to rethink proposed legislation that would authorize crackdowns on illegal immigration. They argue that the legislation will drive Mexican workers out of their states, and that there aren't enough American workers willing to pick crops. They want legislation at the federal level, which wouldn't favor one state over another. At least 25 states are weighing proposals to crack down on illegal immigration and employers who hire them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona law allows police to check the immigration status of people they stop, and establishes stiff penalties for businesses or individuals who hire illegal immigrants. Farmers in states from Florida to Indiana are pressuring-and in some cases persuading-state politicians to rethink proposed legislation that would authorize crackdowns on illegal immigration. They argue that the legislation will drive Mexican workers out of their states, and that there aren't enough American workers willing to pick crops. They want legislation at the federal level, which wouldn't favor one
state over another. At least 25 states are weighing proposals to crack down on illegal immigration and employers who hire them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona law allows police to check the immigration status of people they stop, and establishes stiff penalties for businesses or individuals who hire illegal immigrants.

Documents Reveal Pressure to Comply With Program to Deport Immigrants

New York Times: Federal immigration officials, frustrated by the refusal of Chicago and Cook County to join a controversial program aimed at deporting immigrants with criminal records, pressed Mayor Richard M. Daley and Sheriff Tom Dart in an aggressive campaign to obtain participation from reluctant police authorities, according to internal documents. Last spring, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials tried to put the program, Secure Communities, in effect in Cook County without clear consent from the sheriff’s office. Their advisers proposed asking Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, to use his Chicago connections to intervene with unresponsive local leaders. Chicago and Cook County were among several localities nationwide that refused to enroll in the program, which involves sharing fingerprints of anyone arrested with the Department of Homeland Security. Chicago and Cook County cited so-called sanctuary ordinances that prohibit local officials from involvement in immigration enforcement.

The Republicans’ Hispanic Problem

Washington Post: If demographics is destiny, then Republicans may have a major political problem on their hands. Why? Because numbers released by the Census Bureau late last week showed massive growth in the nation’s Hispanic population, a community that Republicans have struggled mightily to reach in recent years. The numbers are eye-opening. Hispanics now account for more than 16 percent of the total population, making them the largest minority group in the country. More than half of all population growth in the United States over the past decade came from Hispanics. Perhaps most amazing is that nearly a quarter — 23 percent — of all children age 17 or younger are Latino. That’s a major problem for Republicans, given that in the 2008 presidential election, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — far from the GOP’s most ardent advocate of stricter immigration laws — won just 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit polls.

1 Battle in Arizona Immigration War


Politico
(By SEN. RUSSELL PEARCE): The Arizona Senate on March 18 voted down five immigration bills I supported — most notably, one addressing the issue of birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants. While I was disappointed with last week’s votes, it was not the last word on illegal immigration in Arizona. I am not backing off from in demanding our laws be enforced. I know that the Arizona-led battle to enforce U.S. immigration laws cannot be won overnight. I introduced what is now SB 1070 to no avail every year between 2005 and 2009, before it finally passed and was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last April. While SB 1070 has garnered unprecedented national attention, it was not the law that “started it all.” Prior to SB 1070, I introduced many other measures that addressed illegal immigration — and eventually became law. In 2004, 56 percent of Arizona voters approved Prop 200, which denies certain government benefits to illegal immigrants and prevents voter fraud.

Groups Target States' Illegal-Immigration Bills

USA Today: "After what happened last year, many expected there was going to be an across-the-board wave of these bills and they would be slam-dunks," said Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group. "But legislatures are realizing that it's a risky proposition." Several states are considering bills that would mirror Arizona's S.B. 1070, which would have required all state law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of people stopped, detained or arrested for another offense if there was a "reasonable suspicion" that they were in the U.S. illegally. A federal judge halted the core aspects of the law, and that ruling is on appeal. Different versions of the Arizona law have passed the Mississippi Legislature; similar bills have been passed by the Kentucky and Indiana state senates; and legislators in Utah, Oklahoma and other states continue studying the proposal. Michael Hethmon, general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which helped Arizona defend its law last year and has advised more than 12 states on similar proposals this year, said it was unrealistic to think dozens of those laws could pass this year. He said state laws generally take years to enact.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Some California Cities Embrace Immigration Scrutiny

Businessweek: A city that has taken numerous steps to crack down on illegal immigration is now joining a string of Southern California municipalities that are signing up to tap a federal database aimed at tighter scrutiny of employees' immigration status. Escondido's measure is modest compared to how others have embraced the free E-Verify tool, an online federal database now used voluntarily by employers nationwide. The north San Diego suburb's City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to require all city contractors to use the screening for new hires and earlier this month began doing the same for all new city employees earlier this month. The city will urge -- but not require -- private businesses to perform enhanced checks on new hires. Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, became the first city in Southern California to require private businesses to use E-Verify in January 2010 and was followed by others including Murrieta, Temecula and Lake Elsinore in the economically battered Inland Empire. "We don't really want to be a heavy-handed government," said Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, a Lebanese immigrant and former IBM Corp. employee who has made illegal immigration a signature issue. "It's in their self-interest. We hope businesses will realize the benefit."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birthright Citizenship Ban Could Hamper U.S. Military Recruiting

Arizona Republic (Arizona Central): Hundreds of thousands of children born to illegal immigrants every year would no longer be eligible to join the military if efforts to restrict birthright citizenship are successful. That has some immigration experts concerned that ending birthright citizenship could exacerbate chronic shortages of U.S. troops and hamper national security in the future. "What happens is, if you take all these people out of the (recruiting) pool, it's going to have a huge impact on the military," said Margaret Stock, a retired Army Reserves lieutenant colonel and immigration attorney in Anchorage, Alaska. She specializes in military cases and has testified before Congress on immigration issues related to the military. About 350,000 children born in the U.S. in 2009 had at least one undocumented parent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C. About 8 percent of all children born in the U.S. from March 2009 to March 2010 had undocumented parents, according to the center.

Rarely Used Motion Forces Kansas House to Consider Reviving Arizona-Style Immigration Bill

The Republic: A rarely used motion in the Kansas House is forcing the chamber to consider reviving a bill to implement Arizona-style immigration laws. At the close of Tuesday's session, Rep. Greg Smith, an Overland Park Republican, made a motion to pull the bill out of committee where supporters had been unable to get the measure moving. It will take 70 of the 125 House members to pull the bill from committee. The legislation would require police to check the status of people they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally. It also requires governments and their contractors to run citizenship checks on new hires and require proof of citizenship for anyone seeking public aid.

RAND Says DHS Has No Reliable Estimates for Illegal Immigration

Security Management reported that: Researchers at the RAND Corporation believe they have found four promising methods to estimate the number of illegal immigrants who enter the United States, according to a paper released last week (.pdf). Presently, the researchers argue, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has no reliable way to accurately estimate how many illegal aliens cross U.S. borders between ports of entry. This inability to accurately estimate the total number of illegal alien crossings means DHS has no way of knowing how effective it has been in countering illegal immigration and what strategies are the most cost-effective. "Fundamental to the question of border control effectiveness is the proportion of illicit border crossings that are prevented either through deterrence or apprehension," write RAND researchers Andrew R. Morral, Henry H. Willis, and Peter Brownell. "Estimating these proportions requires knowing the total flow of... border crossings, but compelling methods for producing such estimates do not yet exist." According to the report, current government statistics-such as the number of illegal migrants caught or miles of border under "effective control"-used to determine DHS's ability to control the border are imprecise and thus "unreliable management tools." For instance, the report notes that DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CPA) can spin apprehension numbers either way.

U.S. Returns Young Girl, a Citizen, to Guatemala

New York Times reports: Leonel Ruiz, a landscaper in Brentwood, N.Y., was waiting at Kennedy International Airport on the early morning of March 11 for his 4-year-old daughter, Emily, to arrive home from a trip to Guatemala. The plane arrived hours late, but Emily was not on it, and neither was her grandfather, who was supposed to be escorting her back. It took several hours for Mr. Ruiz to learn what had happened. Emily, a United States citizen, and her grandfather, a Guatemalan traveling with a valid work visa, had been detained by immigration authorities at Dulles International Airport near Washington, where the plane had been diverted because of bad weather. The officials had told Emily's grandfather that because of an immigration infraction two decades ago, he would not be allowed to stay in the country. That has left Emily, a pigtailed native of Long Island, in an unusual limbo. As a citizen, she has the right to re-enter her country. But her parents are illegal immigrants, which has complicated the prospect of a reunion.

Obama Vows Salvadoran Aid, Immigration Reform

Washington Times reported that: Anti-Americanism among leaders in Guatemala and Nicaragua and a 2009 coup in Honduras likely ruled out those countries. And with Mr. Obama bearing no good news on a long-stalled free-trade agreement, Panama would have been an awkward option, while the government of Mr. Funes is seen as more in need of shoring up than that of Costa Rica, another U.S. ally. Some observers were concerned initially that the election in 2009 of Mr. Funes - the first center-left candidate to win office since a truce ended the fighting in 1992 - would spiral the country back into violence. Instead, Mr. Funes, a former TV personality, has been credited with bolstering the nation's democratic credentials. "Thirty years ago, we were shooting bullets [at] each other," said Francisco Altschul, El Salvador's ambassador to the U.S., at a discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation. "Twenty years ago, we were able to find a political solution to our conflict. The past two years, we have been advancing and consolidating our democratic institutions."

Kansas Lawmakers Take Action on Illegal Immigration Bills

Miami Herald: With her two children at her side, Sandra Romero said that aggressive enforcement of immigration laws tore her family apart. Her husband immigrated alone as a young man trying to escape civil war in Guatemala, helped his parents, and built a family. But immigration agents tracked him down after he tried to obtain legal residency after taking some bad legal advice. "We're not the same family that we were before," she said through tears at the front of Our Lady of the New Covenant Chapel at Newman University, one of several immigration vigils held across the state Tuesday. "Even they say they're not the happy children they used to be." In Kansas, it's been a tough year for illegal immigrants and their supporters. The difference has mainly been the election of Kris Kobach, one of the nation's most prominent proponents of tough immigration laws, as Kansas secretary of state. The Legislature has three major bills on the docket based on the belief that illegal immigration is harming the state's economy, burdening its universities and tainting its elections. Kobach, the co-author of Arizona's immigration bill, said Tuesday evening that many of the arguments against the bills are misleading.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Asians Aim for 'Ya Es Hora' - Style Citizenship Push

San Jose Mercury News: Inspired by a highly publicized Latino naturalization drive, Asian Americans are fanning out to help immigrants across California-and eventually the country-become U.S. citizens. Asian American advocates say getting more immigrants to naturalize is crucial to flex the political muscle of the state's fastest-growing ethnic group and give the community a louder voice. And it has become even more pressing since the country ramped up immigration enforcement, making citizenship a requirement to get more government contracts and to avoid deportation if convicted of a crime. The task is daunting. In California-home to a third of the country's Asian population-dozens of languages are spoken, in addition to dozens of dialects, and myriad often-competing Asian-language media outlets reach diverse segments. "Everything we have to do is multiple in terms of the amount of resources and effort," said Karin Wang, vice president of programs at the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which is spearheading the drive. The campaign-which starts next week with a workshop in the San Gabriel Valley's sizable Chinese and Vietnamese communities- is modeled after the "Ya es hora" citizenship campaign launched by a close-knit partnership between community groups, Spanish-language media giant Univision and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Republicans Rip Legislators, Herbert on Guest-Worker

Salt Lake Tribune reports that: The senator stayed after the meeting until 11 p.m. to discuss the issue and said it seemed to allay the "angst" of members. "I know that the general population in my Senate district wanted a comprehensive approach," Niederhauser said. "If you're going to take a polarized view . we'll never have a solution to immigration. People are going to have to come together or there is no solution, and no solution is de facto amnesty." In addition to the guest-worker bill, lawmakers passed and the governor signed bills to allow local police to check legal status of people detained for felonies or serious misdemeanors; to allow Utah residents to personally sponsor immigrants; and to enter Utah into a partnership with the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon to obtain federal visas for workers to come to the Beehive State.

Birthright Limits Would Harm Children, Critics Say

Arizona Republic reported that: In many ways, Norma Jimenez is a typical teenager in America. She tries to never miss an episode of "Grey's Anatomy," she loves spending weekends in front of the TV and she is partial to chicken Caesar salads/ Jimenez, 19, is also a top student. She graduated last year from Carl Hayden High School with a 3.7 GPA and a desire to become a registered nurse. But because she was brought to the U.S. illegally from Mexico when she was 1, she doesn't have a Social Security number, meaning she can't get financial aid for college or legally work in the U.S. "I'm very frustrated," Jimenez said. "At the end, you just see yourself as trapped." Hundreds of thousands of other children would find themselves in that same sort of economic and social limbo should efforts succeed to restrict birthright citizenship. If the interpretation of the 14th Amendment were changed, in the future, the 300,000 to 400,000 children of illegal immigrants born every year in the United States - as Jimenez's brother and sister were - would not be citizens of this country.

Senators Strike a Blow for Arizona

BLOG / Arizona Republic: Republican Party go after the GOP senators who had the nerve (some might call it courage) to vote against at least one of a series of illegal immigration bills last week. Apparently, if a bill in Arizona contains the words "illegal immigration" and you're a Republican, you're supposed to march in lockstep with the right wing or get out of line at your peril. After Thursday's vote, the right-wing blog Sonoran Alliance immediately labeled the 11 senators as "turncoat Republicans" and asked people to demand that they change their votes should the bills come up for reconsideration this week. On Friday, Sen. Ron Gould, sponsor of the bills challenging birthright citizenship, fired this warning shot on Twitter: "I hope that the wayward Republicans are pleased Democrats are happy with them. I wonder what Republican primary voters think?" I do, too. I further wonder what Arizona's one million independents who could vote in primaries but don't - yet - think. I already know what the state's business leaders think. They finally awakened from their too-long slumber last week, hand delivering a letter calling on the Legislature to refrain from throwing yet another stick of dynamite at the state's economy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Republican-Controlled Legislature Wages War on Children

Arizona Republic: The most despised, most disputed, most vehemently denounced liberal cliche about illegal immigrants has been proved true . . . by Arizona's Republican-controlled Legislature. Activists who support a more inclusive, less harsh approach to illegal immigrants have argued for years that most border crossers are not hardened criminals but men and women looking to make a better life for their children. If political actions speak louder than political words then that belief is correct. Because while Arizona Republicans like de facto Gov. and state Sen. Russell Pearce demonize illegal immigrants in their public speech, their legislative actions say just the opposite.

Virginia Police Arrest Illegal Immigrant in Fatal Crash; ICE Struggles to Track Drunken Drivers

Washington Post reported that: This week’s arrest of an illegal immigrant charged in a fatal crash in Fairfax County is again focusing attention on federal efforts to detain aliens accused of drunken driving. Police charged Carlos Sanchez-Ramos, 33, of Springfield with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other counts. Authorities say he lost control of his car on Richmond Highway on Monday, striking a Ford Fusion and pushing it into oncoming traffic. The Fusion was struck head on, killing 54-year-old Paul Krause of Fairfax Station. Police say Sanchez-Ramos fled the scene with a 3-year-old boy. He was arrested a short distance away. Sanchez-Ramos entered the country illegally and was deported to Honduras in 2004, but returned to the U.S. between his deportation and 2007, according to immigration authorities. In November 2007, Sanchez-Ramos was arrested in Fairfax County and charged with drunken driving. At the time, Fairfax authorities did not check to see if those arrested were illegal immigrants and no effort was made by immigration authorities to detain or deport him.

Biblical Exodus’ From Africa Feeds Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Bloomberg: As boats carrying hundreds of Africans set sail for a better life in Europe, they were met on Italy’s Lampedusa island with two words by a 5-foot, 8-inch blonde: go away. “They cannot be allowed on the shore,” Marine Le Pen, the 42-year-old leader of France’s anti-immigration National Front, said in a March 15 interview in Rome after a three-hour visit the previous day to Lampedusa. “Send boats out to feed them. But they must not set foot on land.” The island, a speck in the Mediterranean Sea closer to Tunisia than Sicily, is experiencing first-hand an immigration surge poised to spread to the rest of Europe and drive a deeper wedge in a north-south divide already tested by the sovereign- debt crisis. “It’s evident that Italy has been abandoned by Europe,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in Brussels on March 10 after a meeting with his European Union counterparts. “We can’t be the policeman of Europe.”

Union: Immigration Agents Hurt Workers

UPI reports that: A union representing janitors says U.S. immigration enforcement helps the worst employers by forcing undocumented workers into the underground economy. Javier Morillo, president of Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union, points to Harvard Maintenance, where half the company's workforce in the Minneapolis area could be fired, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday. He said about 240 people lacking proof they are in the country legally are likely to lose their jobs in the next few weeks. "Almost systematically, the federal government has become an employment agency for the worst employers, pushing hardworking people into the underground economy where they face exploitation by bad-actor corporations," Morillo said.

San Jose: Chief Says Local Cops Shouldn't Be Involved in Immigration Enforcement

San Jose Mercury News: As some states such as Utah look to put cops on the front lines of immigration enforcement, San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore and other prominent law enforcement officials warned Wednesday that using their shrinking pool of officers to target illegal immigrants is inefficient, costly and would make their cities more dangerous, not less.
"I am looking at laying off 300 officers, so now more than ever I need to focus on partnerships with communities," Moore said during a national teleconference sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum. "This (the issue of immigration enforcement) has become a wedge in our communities and we need to remove that wedge." The teleconference was part of a larger public effort by some high-profile police executives to communicate to political leaders and the public that the increasing calls for more aggressive and local immigration enforcement efforts could adversely affect them. The officials noted, in particular, immigration crackdowns in Arizona and Utah and other proposals that seek to have local law enforcement enforce immigration laws, primarily a federal function. Looking to reassure its own large and growing Latino community, San Jose has long broadcast that it does not participate in immigration raids. And officers are ordered not to investigate someone's immigration status during arrests.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CEOs urge Arizona to Forgo Immigration Measures

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Dozens of major Arizona employers are urging state lawmakers to not pass additional legislation targeting illegal immigration, saying it would damage the economy and tourism industry. A letter signed by CEOs of major employers and several business and civic groups says Arizona should be pushing for federal action on immigration and border issues. The letter says "unintended consequences" occur when the state "goes it alone" on illegal immigration, including boycotts and other fallout on businesses. Signers in the letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce include heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways. The Senate is poised to considering various bills on illegal immigration, including measures on citizenship, driving, hiring and using public services.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kerry, Lugar Re-Start Start-Up Visa

Wall Street Journal BLOG: Sens. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) this week reintroduced a bill that seeks to ease immigration for foreign entrepreneurs with added provisions for some current visa holders and foreign business owners with a U.S. market presence. The so-called StartUp Visa Act – which we reported on in December, here — would provide a two-year visa to immigrant business owners who raise an initial $100,000 from a U.S. investor and $500,000 over the next two years, while creating five new jobs. Despite broad support, an earlier version of the bill failed to reach a vote before the end of the legislative session last year. The new bill would also extend a visa to immigrant entrepreneurs currently on an employer-sponsored H-1B visa, as well as those with businesses based overseas that have generated $100,000 in U.S. market sales.’

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Immigration Audit Takes Toll

Janitorial Firm Harvard Maintenance to Lose Over Half of Minnesota Work Force

Wall Street Journal: Harvard Maintenance Inc., a national janitorial company, will lose over half its Minnesota work force after an immigration audit, making it the second major business in that state to be hit by an Obama administration crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants. The audit by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will result in about 240 workers losing their jobs, the Service Employees International Union said on Monday. J. Daniel Duffy, an executive vice president of the closely held New York-based janitorial company, declined to comment. Harvard Maintenance began issuing dismissal letters to employees in early March and is in the process of terminating workers, according to the SEIU, which represents the workers. Harvard Maintenance gave workers 90 days to rectify irregularities in their employment-eligibility documents before informing them they could no longer work there, the union said. "You are not legally authorized to hold employment in the United States," said a company dismissal letter to an employee that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The Obama administration has made employers the cornerstone of its immigration crackdown that began in 2009.

Florida Senate Relaxes E-Verify Requirement in Bill

A Senate committee relaxed a proposed bill requirement that all employers use a federal computer system to verify the immigration status of new hires.

Miami Herald: Score one for business in the latest round of debate over proposed immigration reform in the Florida Senate. A committee Monday relaxed a requirement that the state and all private employers check the immigration status of any prospective employee by using the federal government’s e-Verify system. The condition, a favorite among tea-party types who supported Gov. Rick Scott, faced stiff opposition from big business, agricultural interests and immigration advocates who questioned e-Verify’s effectiveness. Under the new version of the bill, sponsored by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, employers would be able to bypass e-Verify by requiring new hires to present identifying documents such as an unexpired U.S. passport or Florida driver’s license, which are not issued to undocumented workers. But that doesn’t mean that the bill, one of several Arizona-style proposals making their way through the Legislature this session, has appeased all of its critics. They fear other provisions on the law would result in racial profiling by law enforcement officers empowered to enforce federal immigration regulations. “This is not the way to do immigration reform,” said Susana Barciela of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. She spoke at a rally held by a broad coalition of religious and immigration leaders outside Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Miami Monday morning. Last week, a group of church leaders from across the state, including Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to reject immigration bills that would “inflict trauma across Florida communities” and “inflame hostile rhetoric in society.”

Arizona Lawmakers Give Early Support Immigration-Related Bills

Arizona Republic reports that: Several immigration-related measures won preliminary approval in the Senate Monday afternoon, including a bill that would require proof of legal status to receive any public benefits - including public housing - from the state or local governments.

- Senate Bill 1222 would require public-housing operators to evict anyone who allows an illegal immigrant to live with them, as well as require proof of legal status to receive any public benefits.

- SB 1012 would allow the Arizona Department of Public Safety to conduct fingerprint-background checks on only individuals who can prove that they are U.S. citizens or legally eligible to work in the state. The state-issued fingerprint-clearance cards are required for a variety of jobs and work permits.

- Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035 would ask voters to change the state Constitution to prohibit any state official or agency from using a language other than English for official communications. Individuals could ask that communications be conducted in a second language, but the state doesn't have to adhere to the request.

Kansas House Committee Votes Against Advancing Illegal Immigration Measure

Kansas House committee votes against advancing illegal immigration measure.

The Republican: A Kansas House committee has voted against a measure that would clamp down on illegal immigration in the state. The House Judiciary Committee on Monday voted against advancing the proposal pushed by Rep. Lance Kinzer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The measure would require police to check the legal status of those they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally. It also would require governments to run citizenship checks on new hires and require proof of citizenship for anyone seeking public aid. State Rep. Pat Colloton of Leawood has been critical of the measure, partly because of its possible effect on charities that don't comply with the law. She told The Kansas City Star the measure could still resurface, but that it needs to be more narrowly written.

Immigration Bills' Foes Turn Up Heat

Deseret News: Opponents of the "Utah solution" on immigration, a comprehensive approach lawmakers recently passed, are pushing back against the proposal. They're ramping up a variety of efforts, including robo-calls, a website, a petition, a boycott and potential legal challenges. Meanwhile, Gov. Gary Herbert has not officially announced whether he'll sign off on the immigration law changes but has said he likes some of the ideas. A group of GOP delegates have launched a robo-call, a website and a petition dubbed "Veto HB116." The bill would establish a guest-worker program in Utah, with a federal waiver, something the group calls "irresponsible" and "amnesty." "As GOP delegates, we support the governor and everything he's done up until now," said Brandon Beckham, an organizer of the petition who is a state and Utah County GOP delegate. "If he signs this bill, I don't think he's going to muster enough delegate support to make it past convention."

Immigration Bill Passes Senate; Negotiations with House to Follow

Atlanta Journal Constitution: An effort to require many private businesses to verify the immigration status of their workers won a crucial vote in the Georgia Senate on Monday, setting up a a showdown with the House over citizenship checks. The 34-21 vote on Senate Bill 40 means separate immigration bills have cleared each legislative chamber, and the sponsors of both said they expected negotiators from both bodies to begin working on a compromise. Launching more than four hours of debate, SB 40's sponsor, Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, said the choice for his colleagues was simple. "The question is, simply, do you want immigration reform or not," he said. For a while, the answer was not clear. Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, spoke in skeptical terms about the proposal. Williams said small businesses need fewer, not more, regulations. "I don't know what the solution is," Williams said. The powerful leader of the Senate was arguing in favor of an amendment that would exempt more businesses from the bill's requirements. The amendment from Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee, would have raised to 25 -- from five -- the number of people a business must employ before it would be forced to use the federal E-Verify program to examine workers' citizenship. But Bulloch's amendment was defeated by three votes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

EDITORIAL: Immigration, State by State

Utah is the latest state to consider a local fix to a federal problem. The federal government needs to step up.

Los Angeles Times: Fueled by frustration, states are striking out and creating their own immigration rules. Utah is the latest state to consider a local fix to a federal problem. Lawmakers this month passed a package of reforms that includes granting police broader powers to check the immigration status of those arrested and creating a state guest-worker program for illegal workers. And more than a dozen other states are pushing immigration legislation that ranges from the benign to the ridiculous. In Oklahoma, for example, lawmakers are seeking to ban motorists from picking up illegal day laborers, while South Carolina's Legislature is considering making it a felony to sell a fake ID to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. So far, none of the proposals go as far as Arizona's draconian anti-immigrant law, known as SB 1070, that requires people to carry identification proving they are authorized to be in the U.S. But like Arizona, other states that adopt immigration enforcement measures will probably face legal challenges over attempts to encroach on the federal government's authority. The flurry of proposals should serve as a wake-up call to Washington. Congress has failed in the last few years to provide a comprehensive solution to the nation's broken immigration system and instead has wasted time sparring over building bigger fences and funding stricter enforcement programs. The White House hasn't done much better. President Obama has spoken eloquently about the need to overhaul immigration but has offered little else.

Will Mexico's Runaway Sheriff Find Asylum in U.S.?

TIME: When 20-year old criminology student Marisol Valles was sworn in as a police chief in the embattled Mexican state of Chihuahua in October, she became an instant celebrity as the bravest woman in Mexico. Pundits and media commentators cheered the slight, bespectacled, innocent-looking young mother who had the guts to stand up to the drug cartels. What made her especially valiant was the fact that her predecessor as police chief of the small farming town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero had been kidnapped and beheaded. The new sheriff said she would not even carry a gun, but would focus instead on community policing to cure the murderous ills. Now, five months later, Valles has hit world news again with more ominous headlines: she has become the latest Mexican to seek political asylum in the United States. In her short-lived career she received reported death threats while many fellow police officers in Chihuahua were killed or fled. Like many asylum seekers, she will likely argue that her government is incapable of offering her protection from murderers. Nechman aruges that the tendency of U.S. judges to deny asylum to Mexicans is rooted in concern that doing otherwise would encourage more applications. With some six million Mexicans in the United States without papers, immigration officials want to be tough to make sure they don't all apply for asylum. "Especially here in Texas, there is a sense that if they grant Mexicans political asylum then the flood gates will open," Nechman says. In contrast, some other nationalities have had far greater success in applications. For example, in 2010 judges granted asylum to 3,795 of China's 10,087 applicants — a ratio some 20 times higher than the Mexicans. Judges also granted asylum to the majority of applicants from Armenia — 206 out of 232 applications.

Utah's New Immigration Outlook

Politico: Utah just made history. While the federal government avoids tackling the immigration issue — and most states seem intent to deal with it through the limited prism of enforcement — Utah, one of the reddest of states, is providing a lesson to the nation by adopting a common-sense, market-based answer to the immigration question. Utah Republicans, who control the state House and Senate by wide margins, just passed legislation that mandates tougher illegal immigration enforcement and employee verification provisions. But, most important, it gives undocumented immigrants a permit to work and live in the state without the fear of being detained and deported. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert had indicated that, if passed, he would sign this work permit bill into law. The Utah legislature did not waste any time since its 45-day session began Jan. 24. They had a civil and broad debate covering many aspects of the immigration issue. Then they produced sensible legislation, which balances immigration enforcement with measures supportive of Utah business needs — and also welcoming to immigrants. State public officials are understandably upset that Washington hasn’t done anything to effectively address the immigration question. They saw that they had to take action to ensure that Utah maintains a pro-business environment, welcoming to the foreign workers who the state needs to strengthen its economy.

Lawsuits Threatened Over Utah Immigration Bills

Businessweek: A controversial immigration package approved by Utah lawmakers last week has groups on both sides of the debate threatening to boycott Utah and sue the state. The package includes an Arizona-style enforcement law and a guest worker program that allows illegal immigrants to live and work in Utah. The enforcement law is not as stringent as Arizona's, but still likely to be litigated. Police would be required to check the immigrant status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor. A person stopped for lesser infractions would be questioned at the discretion of the officer, and only if a person does not have valid identification. The Arizona law approved last year drew nationwide controversy over provisions requiring police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion they're here illegally. That aspect of the law was put on hold by a federal judge. The Utah bills are awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert's approval. He previously said he supports the package generally, but has not committed to signing all of the bills.

The 'Utah Way' Toward Immigration Reform

Washington Post: Utah, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by better than three to one in the state legislature, has passed the nation's most liberal - and most reality-based - policy on illegal immigration. And the Republican governor is expected to sign it. The legislation includes both a watered-down enforcement provision that police say won't make much difference and a guest-worker program that would make all the difference in the world - if it survives constitutional challenge - by granting legal status to undocumented workers and allowing them to live normal lives. In a nutshell, it's a one-state version of the overarching immigration reform package that Congress has repeatedly tried, and failed, to enact. Conservative Republicans here - and Republicans don't get much more conservative than the statehouse variety in Salt Lake - say their bill is a gauntlet thrown down to the feds for their inability to deal with illegal immigration and the nation's demand for unskilled labor. That's one way of looking at it. But the "Utah Way," as some are calling it, is also a fraternal attack on Republicans, in Washington and elsewhere, whose only strategy is to demonize, criminalize and deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

Hispanics Are Surging in Arizona

New York Times: In Arizona, fervor against illegal immigration is so intense that politicians have pushed some of the nation’s toughest laws and citizen activists have patrolled the border themselves. But census data released Thursday show another side of the population story: Arizonans are increasingly becoming Hispanic. Still, the increase in Hispanics, to just under 30 percent of the population last year from 25 percent in 2000, has been slower than some studies predicted. Tough economic times coupled with restrictions on illegal immigrant workers are probably responsible for driving many Hispanics away, analysts say. “The Hispanic population has gone up, but it didn’t go up as much as people thought,” said Tom Rex, associate director of the Center for Competitiveness and Prosperity Research at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “Or maybe it did go up and then dropped when those who got here couldn’t find jobs.” Over all, Arizona’s population has boomed to 6.4 million from 5.1 million over the last decade, at a rate second only to Nevada’s, and much of the growth is a result of a 46 percent increase in the Hispanic population, said Bill Schooling, the state demographer.

New Mexico Rejects Plan to End Immigrant Licenses

Washington Post: The Senate has rejected a Republican-backed proposal to stop New Mexico from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The Senate voted 24-17 Wednesday night against a proposal that would have ended the practice of granting licenses to foreign nationals without a Social Security number. Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, said it's a public safety risk to issue licenses to those living in this country illegally. But Democrats said the move was politically motivated and targeted Mexican immigrants. Under a 2003 law, more than 80,000 driver's licenses have gone to foreign nationals. The state says it doesn't know how many of those went to illegal immigrants because it doesn't ask the immigration status of license applicants.

Report: U.S. Needs Immigration Boost of High-Skilled Workers

CNN: Highly-skilled foreign-born workers contribute more to the economy than they take away and unless the American government enacts immigration reform, the U.S. "risks falling behing in the global race for talent," according to a report released Wednesday. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Wednesday released its 2010 annual report. Attached to the report was an essay authored by two economists who argue that that reform is needed to boost the legal immigration of highly-educated workers to the U.S. "The disproportionate focus on illegal immigration is missing the picture that the legal system of immigration is broken as well," Federal Reserve senior economist Pia Orrenius told CNN. "The cost of ignoring problems with the legal immigration of high-skilled workers in some respects is higher than the costs of illegal immigration." Orrenius and Agnes Scott College economics professor Madeline Zavodny co-authored the essay, "From Brawn to Brains." The essay contains ideas included in a book the two economists co-authored for the American Enterprise Institute in 2010, Zavodny told CNN. The book is entitled "Beside the Golden Door -- U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization."

Nebraska Lawmakers Won't Debate Illegal Immigration

NECN reports: This year's debate over illegal immigration was effectively halted in the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday when a powerful committee voted not to advance any immigration bills. Among the proposals tabled by the Judiciary Committee was a plan that would require police to confirm the residency status of suspected illegal immigrants. Instead of debating the bill, the committee authorized a study of Nebraska immigration issues. The bill's sponsor, Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, said he considered the move a victory because the panel didn't outright kill the legislation. "I feel like all the work I've put into this is starting to pay off," he said, adding that he plans to try again during the next legislative session to address illegal immigration in Nebraska. A message left Wednesday for committee Chairman Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha wasn't immediately returned. Janssen's bill would require local law enforcement, when enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. It also would require non-U.S. citizens to carry documents showing their legal status. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor. The measure also criminalizes harboring, hiding or transporting an illegal immigrant. Violation of that would be a misdemeanor. Janssen's measure was modeled after Arizona's controversial immigration law that was challenged by the U.S. Justice Department. Parts of the law were blocked by a federal judge in July, including provisions calling for police to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and requiring immigrants to prove they were legally in the U.S.

Lawsuits Threatened Over Utah Immigration Bills

Washington Post reported that: A controversial immigration package approved by Utah lawmakers last week has groups on both sides of the debate threatening to boycott and sue the state. Some also are pledging to hold the Mormon church accountable for supporting what they call an amnesty program. The legislation also includes an enforcement law that would require police to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor. William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said Wednesday that the guest worker program included in the legislation violates federal law. Gheen says litigation is planned, as is a public relations campaign denouncing the church's support of the program. Church spokeswoman Kim Farah says it is merely emphasizing concern for keeping families together. The legislation is awaiting Gov. Gary Herbert's approval.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Senate OKs Utahns Sponsoring Immigrants

Salt Lake Tribune: The Senate passed Tuesday a bill to allow Utahns to sponsor immigrants who want to live, work or study here - and bypass the federal immigration process. It voted 19-6 to pass HB469 by Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland. The Senate made a technical amendment to the bill, so it now goes back to the House for further consideration. Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said no one in the county illegally now could qualify for such sponsorship. Also, to be eligible, immigrants must pass a background check, a health check, pay a processing fee and be from a country not at war with the United States or threatening it with terrorism. They must pay state and federal taxes. Their sponsor must accept financial responsibility for them. "The best way to fix illegal immigration is to expand legal immigration," Niederhauser said. Niederhauser was the only senator to speak during a quick debate. Earlier in the House, critics pointed out that the bill had a constitutional note attached to it by legislative attorneys saying it had a high likelihood of being challenged in court because of federal control over immigration. However, Dougall earlier told a House committee that states controlled immigration for the first 100 years of the nation's existence, and said it is time to reassert those rights.

DOMA's Immigration Implication

Metro Weekly: The fallout from the Feb. 23 announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department will no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act - the federal definition of marriage - has quickly moved from questions about existing DOMA challenges to questions about how the new DOJ interpretation could impact immigration law. On Feb. 25, attorney Lavi Soloway announced that he was filing multiple requests on behalf of married, same-sex bi-national couples where one spouse is facing deportation. A day earlier, on Feb. 24, Soloway began the process in a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in which Joshua Vandiver is seeking to sponsor his husband, Henry A. Velandia Ferreira, for immigration purposes. Velandia had come to the U.S. from Venezuela on a work visa, which has since expired. ordinarily, an American spouse would be able to sponsor his spouse for immigration purposes, but DOMA prevents Vandiver from sponsoring Velandia - despite the fact that they were legally married in Connecticut. As soon as Wednesday, March 9, another couple - Edwin Echegoyen and Rodrigo Martinez - face separation, as Martinez is due to surrender in Baltimore for deportation to El Salvador on that day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Texas Immigration Bill Has Big Exception

CNN reports that: Amid a number of bills filed in Texas that address the issue of illegal immigration, one, proposed by Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle, stands out. As proposed, House Bill 2012 would create tough state punishments for those who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. But it is an exception included in the bill that is drawing attention. Those who hire unauthorized immigrants would be in violation of the law -- unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker. It is a tough immigration bill with a soft side that protects those who hire unauthorized immigrants "for the purpose of obtaining labor or other work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence." Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, a Republican, said the exception is a wise one.

GOP: Illegal Immigrants Taking Minorities' Jobs

Associated Press: Black lawmakers accused Republicans on Tuesday of trying to "manufacture tension" between African-Americans and immigrants as GOP House members argued in a hearing that more minorities would be working were it not for illegal immigration.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized the hearing's premise in a statement. Several other Democratic lawmakers echoed that argument, saying Republicans were ignoring their lack of support for job training, affirmative action, college financial aid and other programs more critical to employment of minorities "I am concerned by the majority's attempt to manufacture tension between African-Americans and immigrant communities. It seems as though they would like for our communities to think about immigration in terms of 'us versus them,' and I reject that notion," Cleaver said in his statement Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, issued a warning at the start of the hearing against any attempts to pit blacks against Latino immigrants, a notion that he said he found "so abhorrent and repulsive." The Republican takeover of the House has given the GOP the chance to shape the immigration debate this session. Republicans have been couching their immigration agenda in the context of the slumping economy and consistently high unemployment. Tuesday's hearing by the immigration and enforcement subcommittee was the third focusing on jobs, the economy and immigration enforcement. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., the subcommittee's chairman, argued that the "real victims of the failed immigration policies" are low-skilled legal workers. Gallegly said the topic is often ignored by immigration supporters. "Our focus should be on ensuring every U.S. citizen American who is willing to work has a job instead of (filling) jobs with foreign laborers," Gallegly said. Immigrants often compete for jobs with low-income laborers, he said.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Oklahoma House Panel Passes Illegal Immigrant Bill

NECN reports that: An Oklahoma House committee has approved anti-illegal immigrant legislation that would give Oklahoma law enforcement officials new authority to assess the immigration status of motorists. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill Monday and sent it to the full House for action. Its author, Rep. George Faught of Muskogee, says the measure incorporates language from anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona into Oklahoma's existing anti-immigrant measure that was approved in 2007. Both measures have been challenged legally. Among other things, it gives state and local law enforcement officers the authority to inquire about the immigration status of occupants of vehicles that are pulled over for legal traffic stops. It also prohibits employers from stopping their vehicles in public roadways to hire and transport pedestrians to a worksite elsewhere.

Deal in Works on Immigration Legislation

Salt Lake Tribune reported that: Rep. Stephen Sandstrom has agreed to a deal with legislative leaders in which he will remove the words “reasonable suspicion” from his legislation to have local police check the legal residency of people arrested or pulled over. In exchange, he has assurances of the likely passage of his enforcement-only bill in the Senate, knowledgeable sources confirmed Monday. Senate President Michael Waddoups said he requested a meeting with Sandstrom Friday to voice concerns about the bill’s links to Arizona’s SB1070 — the law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer that has made that state the face of tough, state-based immigration reform bills. “We’re asking him to make it in the format he wants,” Waddoups said. “With all of the objectionable things taken out.” That format could include requiring Sandstrom to request a new bill file be opened on the House floor, giving it a new name and a new title — and, the Senate hopes — a new image that distances the bill from Arizona’s law. Sandstrom said at this point he didn’t know if he would rename and renumber the measure. “I would say possibly,” Sandstrom said. “But right now, no.”

Obama's DOMA Turnaround Prompts New Strategy in Immigration Battle

Huffington Post: Immigration advocates are seizing upon President Obama's decision not the defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and his conclusion that all laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation should be presumed unconstitutional, opening up a new front in the twenty-year battle for immigration equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In three cases involving married, same-sex, binational couples facing deportation proceedings in New York, New Jersey and California, attorney Lavi Soloway will argue that the proceedings should be halted because the only thing standing between each couple and a green card is the Defense Of Marriage Act, which he will argue should not be given effect in light of Wednesday's DOJ announcement. Says Soloway, "The issue is urgent as deportation carries with it a 10-year ban on returning."

Georgia House Panel OKs Tough Immigration Bill

Atlanta Business Journal: All but the smallest Georgia businesses would have to screen new employees’ immigration status under legislation a House committee approved on Monday.

The bill, which passed the House Judiciary Committee (Non-Civil) by a voice vote, would require companies with more than five employees to use the federal website E-Verify to determine whether newly hired workers are in this country legally. The legislation could reach the House floor as early as Wednesday. The measure is an effort to tighten state restrictions on illegal workers enacted by the Georgia General Assembly five years ago. The 2006 law applies only to businesses seeking government contracts.

The comprehensive bill also includes provisions to allow police officers to run immigration status checks on anyone they stop who cannot produce proper identification, make it a crime to obtain employment using a false ID and penalize local governments that extend public benefits to illegal immigrants.

House Passes Amended Bill Repealing Utah College Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

Deseret News: Sniping between the House and Senate over how to approach illegal immigration legislation took center stage at the Capitol again Monday. With passage of a bill aimed at repealing in-state tuition for undocumented college students, the House has now approved four measures on the controversial subject. And the primary movers behind those bills are accusing the Senate of cherry-picking them for a comprehensive proposal they say they can't support. "This bill has been drafted behind closed doors in the waning hours of the session," Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, said at a news conference he and other lawmakers held to denounce Sen. Curt Bramble's SB288. "We believe each bill deserves to stand on its own merit." Bramble's bill, made public Friday, is scheduled for a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon. It includes provisions for enforcement, guest worker cards, employment verification and in-state tuition. There are eight working days left in the session.