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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, May 26, 2011

Immigration: Lock 'Em Up

Los Angeles Times (Opinion): The House of Representatives has been holding hearings on a variety of immigration issues, including farm labor and ramped-up enforcement. The latest issue to go before the House Immigration subcommittee involves the prolonged detention of immigrants, including asylum-seekers and legal permanent residents who commit crimes and are eligible to be deported. At Tuesday's hearing, the debate focused on HR 1932, a measure that seeks to strip away key parts of a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Zadvydas vs Davis, the court ruled that an immigrant awaiting deportation could not be held in detention longer than six months if "there is no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future." Countries that have poor diplomatic relations with the United States, such as Cuba, generally will not take back deported immigrants. The sponsor of the proposal is Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. A strong proponent of stricter immigration enforcement, he said the Supreme Court's ruling "required dangerous criminal immigrants to be released into our communities. All too often these criminal immigrants have gone on to commit more crimes."

Lawmaker Withdraws Controversial Immigration Bill

NECN reported that: A Republican lawmaker has withdrawn his sweeping immigration enforcement proposal from debate this session, in the face of opposition from Catholic church officials, law enforcement officers and advocates for immigrants' rights. After hearing testimony Wednesday against the bill, Rep. Joe Harrison of Napoleonville deferred his proposal. It's the fourth year in a row that Harrison has failed to pass a similar bill, which he had hoped would spur the federal government to end illegal immigration across the U.S. border with Mexico. "If we're a land of laws, we should abide by those laws and enforce those laws," Harrison told the House Judiciary Committee. He expressed concern about public health and safety problems caused by illegal immigrants, but he also said that undocumented workers are exploited in the U.S. marketplace. The bill would have required police to verify the citizenship of any arrested person before they are released. It would have required certain employers - any state entity or the recipient of a grant totaling more than $50,000 - to verify the citizenship status of their workforce. And it would have required colleges and social service providers to verify the citizenship of all applicants. People seeking public assistance in Louisiana would have had to verify their citizenship by executing an affidavit under penalty of perjury and have the sworn statement notarized. But the state agency providing the benefits would also have to verify the applicant's status through the Department of Homeland Security. At the request of the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, Harrison removed a provision to criminalize the transportation of illegal immigrants, which might have affected charity work. But the conference still opposed the bill, saying the church prefers comprehensive federal reform over enforcement-only state policies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Advocates Ask Judge to Order Full Benefits for Immigrants

Boston Globe: Advocates today asked a single justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to declare the state's exclusion of thousands of legal immigrants from subsidized health coverage unconstitutional. The motion comes two weeks after the full court ruled that the exclusion likely violates the state's constitution. It also comes just days after the state Senate released its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year without including any money for expanding services to the immigrants. In an interview with the Globe after the budget was released, Senator Stephen M. Brewer, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the Senate would reinstate legal immigrants to the full state-subsidized health plan when a court tells lawmakers they have to. Today's legal motion on behalf of the immigrants by Health Law Advocates, a Boston public interest firm, noted Brewer's comments. "Expedited action on this motion is required in light of the fact that the policy branches of state government have indicated that they will take no steps to provide relief to the class unless and until this Court has acted," the motion stated.

En Masse Please Allowed in Immigration Hearings

En Masse Pleas Allowed in Immigration Hearings

Arizona Daily Sun reports that: Federal judges on Monday gave their approval to procedures used in courts to speed up the processing of illegal immigrants. In a unanimous ruling, the judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is nothing inherently wrong about taking guilty pleas from individuals in a large group at a single hearing. More to the point, appellate Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain said nothing in the process used short-circuited the constitutional rights of those involved. Monday's ruling is a major victory for federal prosecutors who defended the process as a practical way to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants who have to be processed every day. It also comes more than a year after another panel of the same appellate court voided a similar process as unconstitutional. But there was a key difference in the way the other cases were handled -- a difference that apparently made this process legal while the others were not. At the heart of the dispute is Operation Streamline. Under that system, a group of up to 70 people accused of misdemeanor violations of illegally entering the United States have their initial appearance, guilty pleas and sentencing in a single hearing. In a 2009 ruling, the 9th Circuit said taking pleas en masse, with all defendants agreeing to plead guilty as a group, violated the constitutional rights of those involved. In this case, the magistrate, speaking to the group -- in some cases, through headphones in Spanish -- informed them collectively of their rights, their charges and the consequences of pleading guilty. After each statement, the magistrate asked them collectively if they understood their rights. The record reflects no negative responses.

Georgia Farmers Brace for New Immigration Law

NPR reported that: Georgia is putting in place a new law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants, and many across the state are nervous. Businesses fear an economic boycott, the Latino community fears police officers will abuse their new powers, and farmers in South Georgia fear the law will hurt them dramatically. Georgia is known for its peaches and Vidalia onions, the state vegetable. The specialty crop is produced in just a few counties in the rural southeast part of the state, where the soil is just right. Aries Haygood with M&T Farms watches a crew of about 50 migrant workers as they hand pick the golden onions in groups of three or four. "Right now they're just coming in through the field," he says. "They're grabbing the onions out and just clipping the tops and roots getting them prepared to bring to the packing house." It's a labor-intensive process that machines just can't do because they'd bruise the delicate crop - a $140 million-a-year industry. This farm has 500 acres of onions with some 80,000 plants per acre, so Haygood relies heavily on migrant workers for help. "Our biggest fear is that because of the way the bill could be structured we won't be able to find enough workers to do the work that we need done in a short amount of time," he says.

Immigration Bills Have Flooded State Capitols

Salt Lake Tribune: State legislatures faced an unprecedented number of immigration bills introduced during the first quarter of the year, with most focusing on areas of law enforcement and employment, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) report released Monday. The study found 1,538 immigration bills were introduced in 50 states and Puerto Rico - up from 1,180 during the first quarter of 2010. And Bill Pound, executive director of the NCSL, expects immigration-related bills will continue to be a steady presence in state capitols. "I don't know if the numbers will be higher, but the action will be constant," Pound said. He also said Utah's comprehensive approach would likely be emulated in other states as they take stock of the image and economic fallout from Arizona's passage of SB1070 - the enforcement-only bill that has had major chunks struck down by the federal courts as unconstitutional.

Immigration Reform Must Find Balance

Politico reports: As Washington fiddles on immigration, the rest of the nation burns. State and local law enforcement are now being charged with immigration enforcement responsibilities, leading in some jurisdictions to roundups and racial profiling. Legal immigrants and U.S. citizens have been caught in the dragnet. States are also attempting to pass immigration laws that are inherently unconstitutional - creating conflict with the federal government and sapping political energy better used on a federal bill. The lack of immigration policy on the federal level has led to a de facto abdication to state and local governments, which are ill-equipped to handle it effectively or humanely. Now, immigration is being carried out by hundreds of governments, not just one. What are the human costs of this federal inaction? Immigrant families - many with U.S.-citizen children - are being separated; the effective working relationships and trust that once existed between immigrant neighborhoods and local law enforcement have been seriously eroded. Should federal reform be shelved indefinitely and state and local enforcement continue unchecked, the nation's social fabric will begin to tear - to the detriment of all Americans. The Obama administration and Congress would be wise to avoid such a legacy and forge an immigration compromise. To his credit, President Barack Obama's recent speech in El Paso, Texas, was an attempt to show leadership and generate some political momentum for immigration reform.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Federal Program Offers Investors Visas, a Lot of Risk

Texas companies that handle the deals have legal problems, other issues


Houston Chronicle: It's been billed as a way to get a green card "via the red carpet." Through the federal government's EB-5 investor visa program, wealthy would-be immigrants can sink $500,000 or $1 million into a U.S. project that generates jobs and in a few short years, emerge as lawful permanent residents of the United States. But the rapidly growing visa program is buyer beware. Some Texas companies sanctioned by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as "regional centers" - businesses approved to handle investments for EB-5 visa holders - have dubious track records or are engaged in questionable practices, a Houston Chronicle investigation found. In one extreme case, a Dallas company - the North Texas EB-5 Regional Center - is actively advertising multi-million dollar development projects on land in Farmers Branch tied up in a civil lawsuit and bankruptcy filing. A company executive and two of its officers are named in a pending $72 million civil lawsuit filed by a major bank in U.S. District Court in Missouri, alleging the businessmen created a separate "straw company" in order to transfer debts and file for bankruptcy. A Houston company is in danger of violating the EB-5 program's rules by offering foreign investors deeds to waterfront property to help secure their investments. The EB-5 program requires that immigrant investor money be "at risk" - meaning it's not a loan and could result in a loss. Experts on the EB-5 program say that the type of "assurance" offered by the Houston company could end up costing would-be immigrants a visa or green card down the line. The program lacks transparency. While the government estimates that EB-5 investments have generated $1.5 billion for the U.S. economy since 1990, USCIS does not publicly disclose how well individual regional centers perform. The agency denied requests from the Chronicle for information on which centers have successfully helped EB-5 applicants to receive visas or to become green card holders.

Texas Senate Panel Revives Immigration Enforcement Bill, Hispanic Lawmakers Promise Fight

Washington Post: Texas state senators have revived a bill that would allow police to question people they detain about their citizenship status. The so-called "sanctuary cities" bill would prohibit local governments and police agencies from adopting polices to ban their officers from asking detained people about their immigration status. The bill was the subject of angry debate before it passed the House. The Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee had slowed down the bill earlier this week, but revived it Friday. The 5-3 vote broke along party lines, with all Republicans supporting the bill. Some Senate Hispanic lawmakers have said they worry the bill would allow police to target Latinos and they consider it racially motivated.

Marco Rubio Takes a Hard Line on Immigration

Politico reported that: Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio is often billed as the answer to the Republicans' Hispanic problem. On his party's shortlist of vice presidential candidates, he is a darling of the tea party, represents the largest swing state - and as the son of Cuban immigrants, could make history as the first Hispanic-American on a national ticket. But since stepping onto the national stage last year, Rubio has taken a hard right turn on immigration that could drive away the very Hispanic voters Republicans need to win the White House in 2012. Hispanic and immigration activists had held out hope that with the election behind him, Rubio might return to some of the more moderate positions he staked out as a state lawmaker. Instead, they're now seething after Rubio hardened his opposition to the DREAM Act and continues to repeat the harsh rhetoric of the right wing, dismissing anything other than border and workplace enforcement as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. The backlash has intensified in recent days after Rubio reiterated his positions on immigration in a national Spanish-language interview, leading some Hispanic leaders to accuse him of placing his political ambitions above the needs of his community. "There's a Benedict Arnold feeling," said Jorge Mursuli, a Cuban immigrant and executive director of Miami-based Democracia, a Hispanic civic engagement group. "Having known him, his political career and knowing where he comes from - a hardworking immigrant family - one has to wonder what it is that he's thinking or how his political ambitions outweigh his life experiences. ... It's not only disappointing; it's disheartening and, frankly, almost unbelievable."

Friday, May 20, 2011

U.S. to Investigate Secure Communities Deportation Program

Homeland Security's inspector general plans a review of the immigration enforcement program that purports to target 'serious convicted felons' but which some accuse of racial profiling.


Los Angeles Times reported that: The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General plans an investigation of an immigration enforcement program that purports to target "serious convicted felons" for deportation but has ensnared many illegal immigrants who were arrested but not subsequently convicted of crimes or who committed minor offenses, a letter obtained Wednesday shows. The letter from acting Inspector General Charles K. Edwards to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), who requested an investigation late last month, said the watchdog agency had already scheduled a review of the program, known as Secure Communities. Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency launched the program in 2008 with plans for mandatory nationwide participation by 2013. The review, Edwards wrote, aims to "determine the extent to which ICE uses the program to identify and remove dangerous criminal aliens from the United States." It will also examine cost, "the accuracy of ICE's data collection," whether the program is being applied equitably across communities, and the way ICE officials portrayed the program to states and counties, which were initially told they could opt out but were later informed that participation has always been mandatory.

Obama Puts Immigration in Congress' Court, But GOP Lawmakers Say Most Efforts Will Likely Fail

Washington Post: With a re-election campaign looming, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration system, but lawmakers seems to have little appetite to take on the issue. In recent speeches at the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, and the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama said his administration has followed through on demands to secure the border, and now it's time for Congress to put revamping immigration back on the agenda and make something happen. "Comprehensive immigration reform is not only an economic imperative or a security imperative, it is also a moral imperative," Obama told the prayer breakfast. But Republicans say any effort to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country or any effort that doesn't address the inadequacies they see in border security is doomed to fail. Although legislation has yet to be introduced, many lawmakers agree the most likely first step toward immigration legislation is a requirement that all businesses use E-Verify. The E-Verify program lets businesses know whether employees have the necessary papers to work in the U.S. Such legislation could give Democrats political cover by addressing immigration requirements that preclude tough crackdowns on immigrants, and give Republicans an opportunity to say they provided a new enforcement tool to stop illegal immigration.

California Still Leads U.S., Including in Inequality

Reuters: Perennial trend-setter California still represents potential aspects of the future of the United States, ranging from wealth and opportunity in Silicon Valley to abject poverty in the agricultural Central Valley. The Golden State has always seen itself as the best, and it still is for some, but a new study of federal census and state data covering longevity, education and income shows the state is also home to arguably the worst-off parts of the nation. Its diversity, continued attraction to immigrants, and a fast-changing economy that is still the world's eighth largest make it a harbinger for the globe as well as the nation, according to the study released this week. "Some Californians are actually enjoying the highest levels of well-being in the world, where the rest of the world won't be for another half-century," said Kristen Lewis, one of the authors of "A Portrait of California." But the report by the American Human Development Project, which uses United Nations-based indicators of health, wealth and education rolled into a Human Development Index score, also sheds light on less fortunate parts of the state. (here) The reputation of the most populous U.S. state as home of the good life has been tarnished as the mortgage crisis stripped families of homes, while the state's financial problems have undermined the education system and sense of opportunity that gave California its glittering

To Stem Illegal Immigration, Cut Labor Demand in U.S.

CNN: News that Mexican authorities found 513 would-be illegal immigrants packed tightly into trucks, with the United States as their destination, should shock Americans into action. They were from Mexico, Japan, China, India and Nepal, and authorities said each had paid $7,000 to gangsters to be smuggled in. Coming only days after President Obama mocked those calling for stronger border and workplace enforcement (by asking if they wanted moats and alligators), the incident highlights the role of organized crime in smuggling people into the United States in defiance of federal immigration law. The debate about immigration reform tends to focus on catching illegal immigrants like those in the smugglers' trucks at the U.S. border, by measures like more fencing or more Border Patrol agents. But the most effective way to reduce illegal immigration is to reduce the demand for the labor of illegal immigrants. The knowledge that American employers will not hire them would have a chilling effect on foreign nationals contemplating breaking U.S. immigration and workplace laws in the future. The importance of the demand side in the flows of illegal immigrant labor has been proven by the Great Recession that began in 2008. According to the Department of Homeland Security, apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the border has dropped considerably in the last few years.

Gringrich Soldiers On, Suggests Immigration Plan

Reuters reported that: Newt Gingrich, whose campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination has gotten off to a rocky start, risked fresh controversy on Thursday by suggesting that some illegal immigrants living in the United States "may have earned the right to become legal." The former speaker of the House of Representatives launched his White House bid on May 11. But he has already drawn the ire of fellow conservatives by criticizing a Republican plan to overhaul the massive Medicare health insurance program and embracing a key element of President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law. Gingrich was asked a question on a different hot-button issue -- immigration -- on Thursday in Iowa, the Midwestern state with a key early contest in the race for his party's presidential nomination. He preceded his response by acknowledging that he risked sparking another controversy. Gingrich recounted how World War Two-era U.S. draft boards chose who would serve in the military, saying a similar system might help deal with the millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. "Because I think we are going to want to find some way to deal with the people who are here to distinguish between those who have no ties to the United States, and therefore you can deport them at minimum human cost, and those who, in fact, may have earned the right to become legal, but not citizens," Gingrich said.

Immigration Crackdown Worries Vidalia Onion County

Associated Press: Signs point to an exodus in Vidalia onion country. Fliers on a Mexican storefront advertise free transportation for workers willing to pick jalapenos and banana peppers in Florida and blueberries in the Carolinas. Buying an outbound bus ticket now requires reservations. Illegal immigrants and their families who harvest southeast Georgia's trademarked sweet onions are considering leaving rather than risk deportation in the wake of a law signed by Gov. Nathan Deal targeting illegal workers. While most states rejected immigration crackdowns this year, conservative Georgia and Utah are the only states where comprehensive bills have passed. With the ink barely dry on Georgia's law, among the toughest in the country, the divisions between suburban voters and those in the countryside are once again laid bare when it comes to immigration, even among people who line up on many other issues. Sandra Almanza, 20, cried behind the counter of her mother's store, La Michoacana, at the thought of leaving to protect her husband, an illegal immigrant from Mexico City and the father of her unborn daughter. The couple was finishing the nursery. "We just finished painting her room, but we don't know how long we'll stay there," said Almanza, a U.S. citizen whose parents originally came to Lyons years ago to work in the onion fields. Their store sells phone cards to migrant laborers and wires their money back home. "We really don't have that many options."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Unfortunate Computer Glitch Puts the 'Visa Lottery' on the Map

multiamerican.scpr.org (Southern California Public Radio) reported that: Last week, a computer glitch dashed the hopes of tens of thousands of immigrants who had hoped to come legally to the United States - and put one of the quirkier programs within the U.S. immigration system on the map. It's called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, a U.S. State Department program often referred to simply as "the visa lottery." The congressionally-mandated program makes up to 55,000 immigrant visas available each year to people who apply for them via random selection, with results selected electronically. It was announced late last week that the results of the 2012 lottery would have to be scratched because of a computer programming error. "The results were not valid because they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law," read an announcement on the State Department website. "If you checked this website during the first week in May and found a notice that you had been selected for further processing or a notice that you had not been selected, that notice has been rescinded and is no longer valid." It's sad news for those who thought they were lottery winners, if good news for those who weren't. New winners will now be drawn from the existing applications. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program program was established in 1990. The idea was to diversify the pool of immigrants coming into the country, bringing in people from underrepresented developing countries and from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Unlike with traditional immigrant visas, for which applicants need to be sponsored then wait in line - often for many years - visa lottery applicants needn't be sponsored by a relative or employer.

House Passes Bill on Indigent Care for Immigrants

Texas Tribune reports that: A contentious measure that would allow Texas counties to consider the income of a legal immigrant's sponsor when determining if the immigrant is eligible for indigent health care passed the House today. Senate Bill 420, by state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, also would allow counties to take into consideration the income of a sponsor's spouse when the applicant requested indigent care. A sponsored alien is one who is admitted into the country legally after an affidavit of support is submitted in his or her favor by a U.S. citizen. The bill passed the House 100 to 37; it passed the Senate last month. The proposed legislation has drawn a flurry of criticism from opponents who allege it is an attempt to use the current fervor over illegal immigration to punish those who have legally migrated to Texas. "We've had a lot of bills [filed] that really try to attack a large segment of our population," said state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, one of 37 Democrats to vote against the measure. But state Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, the House sponsor, said the bill was only meant to keep counties in line with what the federal government already mandates, and pointed to language on federal immigration forms, like the I-134. It requires that a sponsor agree to language that the alien "will not become a public charge in the United States." The form also includes language specifically stating that the sponsor's own income "and assets may be considered in deciding the person's application." Taylor filed an identical bill in the House, HB 655, but it was not heard before last week's deadline.

New York Senator Schumer Chairing Hearing Focusing on Northern Border Security and Commerce Issues

Washington Post: Sen. Charles Schumer is convening a Senate committee hearing to press for updates on security initiatives along the northern border. The New York Democrat is on the subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security. Tuesday's hearing in Washington will include testimony from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, as well as Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Alan Bersin. Schumer says a number of initiatives are in the works that would impact security and improve commerce along the border. Among them is a proposal to use military-grade radar to combat drug trafficking. Schumer also wants to speed commercial traffic from Canada into the United States at the busy Peace Bridge in Buffalo and to create a security task force team in Massena in northern New York.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carlos Santana Slams Immigration Laws at Civil Rights Game

USA Today: ATLANTA -- The stage on the infield grass for the pregames ceremonies at baseball's Civil Rights Game included actor Morgan Freeman and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, but also the Grammy-award winning artist Carlos Santana, a fan of the Oakland Athletics.

Santana caused a stir in Turner Field on an appropriate day to be talking about social issues.

Santana was on stage to receive Major League Baseball's Beacon of Change award. He took the microphone and said Arizona and the city of Atlanta should be "ashamed" for passing immigration bills, that have been criticized widely as racially motivated.

Santana was booed by some fans in Turner Field.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia House Bill 87 on Friday. It will allow law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of some suspects and requires employers to check the immigration status of new hires.

Santana spoke with the media in the press box during the Phillies-Braves game and said there should be a boycott in Georgia by Latin workers.

"I would invite all Latin people to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy," Santana said. "Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits?

"I am here to give voice to the invisible."

Commissioner Bud Selig was sitting on the field next to his close friend, former Milwaukee and Atlanta slugger Hank Aaron. Selig left in the middle of the Braves games with the Phillies and was not available for comment.

It was the fifth civil rights game and included television personality Al Roker as the master of ceremonies and former Dodger great, pitcher Don Newcombe and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"Most people at this point they are either afraid to really say what needs to be said, this is the United States the land of the free," Santana said. "If people want the immigration law to keep passing in every state then everybody should get out and just leave the American Indians here. This is about civil rights."

REGION: Illegal Immigrants Less Than 7 Percent of People Booked Into Jail

North County Times reported that: Just less than 7 percent of people booked into San Diego County jails were identified as illegal immigrants, according to figures released by the federal government covering a 21-month period between May 2009 and February 2011. The figures suggest that illegal immigrants are not committing more crimes than the general population in the region, a North County Times analysis found. Crimes committed by illegal immigrants are often used by anti-illegal-immigration groups to stir up fear and politicize the heated debate over reform. The statistics come from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities program, which helps law enforcement officials identify illegal immigrants booked into county jails. Supporters of the program say it rids communities of dangerous criminals. Bill Flores, a retired assistant sheriff and a member of El Grupo, a North County-based umbrella organization of human rights groups, said the program does not make neighborhoods safer. He said the program and others that link local law enforcement to immigration authorities alienate immigrants, making them less likely to report crime. The program comes at a high cost because it identifies relatively few illegal immigrants, and most of those who are discovered either have no criminal background or have committed relatively minor crimes, such as driving without a license, Flores said.

Draft Boards a Model for Immigration Fix, Gingrich Says

Politico reported that: Newt Gingrich told a Univision interviewer that he believes a "citizen board" could be a better way to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. In the interview on the network's show "Al Punto," which airs Sunday morning, Gingrich explained that during World War II, selective service boards were established so that "every local community could apply common sense to the draft process." "We may want to think about a citizen board that can actually look at things and decide, is this a person that came in two months ago and doesn't nearly have any ties here? Or is this a person who clearly is integrated into the society but unfortunately has been undocumented, therefore, we have to rethink how we are approaching them," he said. Gingrich said he is opposed to creating a pathway to citizenship for people who entered the country illegally, but at the same time he said he doesn't believe in mass deportation. "Somebody who's been here 20 years and is married and has three kids and has been paying taxes and lived a totally peaceful life" but is an undocumented alien might deserve a second chance, he said. "We got to find the way to routinize and get them in the law without necessarily getting them on a path to citizenship. Now there ought to be a way to do that."

Governor Brewer to Obama: Stop the Jokes, Secure the Border

Fox News: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wasn't laughing when President Obama stood at the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday and joked that Republican lawmakers who won't support a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system until the border is secured won't be happy until they get a moat with alligators along the border. "I think he should get back to business being the president of the United States," Brewer told Fox News on Saturday. "I don't think his comic attitude and laughing at a serious issue is being very well received, certainly not here in Arizona, I would imagine not across America," she said. "This is a serious situation. And for him to go to a pep rally and make light of the situation is unbelievable." In a new video created by the Arizona Republican Party and posted to YouTube, Brewer tells Obama to stop the jokes, do his job and secure the border. The video notes that Brewer invited Obama to visit the Arizona border nearly a year ago, but he declined.

OPINION: Gutierrez Has a Better Immigration Solution Than Obama By Juan Williams

The Hill: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has it right on immigration reform. President Obama has it only half right. They agree it is time to flip the script on congressional opponents of legislation to modernize the nation's failed immigration system. The current system amounts to a mindless set of laws that makes it next to impossible to get the world's brightest and most talented people into the country, and punishes employers and hardworking people who fill the nation's need for low-wage workers. But so far only Gutierrez has a plan for how to stand up and call the bluff of the political bullies blocking immigration reform. Gutierrez is urging Obama to sign an executive order halting the deportation of all illegal immigrants who are college age. With that one step the President can shift the political dynamics and force the loudmouths to stop their fear-mongering and get serious about reform. For years, right-wing extremists and bellicose talk show hosts have made it impossible to deal rationally with immigration. The central fact is that there are about 12 million illegal immigrants in the country who are not going anywhere. The U.S. government does not have the manpower, handcuffs or buses to send these illegalsack to Mexico, Ireland and China.

Despite City Crackdown, Immigrants Still Are Often Cheated by Job Agencies

New York Times: Cristina Rivas, 49, an immigrant from El Salvador, thought her one-year search for steady work had finally come to an end. A Queens employment agency that she had paid $120 said it had found her a job as a waitress at an upscale restaurant. She needed only to show up. But when Ms. Rivas arrived at the "restaurant" last year, she encountered an atmosphere far different from what had been promised. Men whistled at female employees. Tips were offered for private dances. Distraught, she asked for a refund from the agency, but it refused. "They exploited me," Ms. Rivas said in Spanish. "They didn't act like human beings. They treated me like a slave." In some of the poorest neighborhoods across the city, immigrants hoping to land jobs through employment agencies have routinely been cheated out of money. They are often charged hundreds of dollars in fees, promised jobs that do not exist, and sent to abusive working environments. Three years ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, responding to an influx of complaints about employment agencies, pledged to root out wrongdoing through undercover inspections and mandatory training for the agencies. "The city is putting a stop to the widespread abuse and fraudulent behavior that for too long has cheated New Yorkers in need," he said at the time. But achieving that goal has proved vexing, complicated by what is often a fly-by-night business culture and by the reluctance of many immigrants to speak up. The city is up against an industry that has multiplied rapidly during the economic downturn - there are officially 350 agencies, but some advocates say the number exceeds 1,000. In the past six years, 36 have been shut down, but about 200 complaints a year come in, only a fraction of the probable violations.

Georgia Governor Signs Immigration Bill Into Law

USA Today: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, calling it "a rather historic moment," on Friday signed a bill that cracks down on illegal immigration in the state by increasing some enforcement powers and requiring many employers to check the immigration status of new hires. "While I believe immigration is an issue that can ideally be identified and addressed - and should be addressed- at the federal level, this legislation I believe is a responsible step forward in the absence of federal action," Deal told reporters who crowded elbow-to-elbow into his office for the signing. The new law - the subject of heated debate in the Legislature - shares some similarities to a controversial law enacted last year in Arizona and another enacted this year in Utah. Part or all of those two laws have been blocked by federal judges, and opponents have said they'll sue to try to block Georgia's law. It authorizes law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of certain suspects and to detain them if they are in the country illegally. It penalizes people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants and makes it a felony to present false documents or information when applying for a job.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Florida Struggle With Arizona's Immigration Plan

New York Times reports that: With no debate, the Florida Senate on Wednesday approved a watered-down bill to curb illegal immigration, an issue that has divided Republicans in the state, pitting pro-business and Hispanic lawmakers against the party's more populist wing. When he ran for office last year, Gov. Rick Scott vowed to bring an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida. The bill would require the police to make "a reasonable effort" to determine the immigration status of people they arrest and jail, a provision that opponents say is an Arizona-style attack on legal and illegal immigrants. The proposal would also require that illegal immigrants who are convicted of nonviolent crimes be referred to federal officials for deportation. The vote was a surprise because lawmakers had presumed the bill was dead after the Senate voted down a pivotal amendment on Tuesday that had been pushed by Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and Tea Party activists. That measure would have essentially required businesses in Florida to check a worker's immigration status in a federal verification database, known as E-Verify, or risk fines if a worker was found to be illegal. "It's easy to talk about this down at the post office, but when you start looking in people's eyes, people who live and breathe like us, we need to think long and hard," said State Senator J. D. Alexander, a Republican who is a citrus grower and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. "We are being put in the middle of the most difficult position."

Illinois Bill Would Create Scholarship for Immigrants

Chicago Tribune: Illinois children with at least one immigrant parent may become eligible for a privately-funded college scholarship even if they are in the state illegally. The Senate passed legislation 45-11 Wednesday that would enable children of immigrants to draw from a new scholarship called the Illinois DREAM Fund. All no votes came from Republicans, although many supported the legislation. The bill now heads to the House. The bill also will allow illegal immigrants to participate in the state college savings program. Currently, people must be United States citizens to qualify for the savings program. Students must already be employed and enrolled in college to qualify for the scholarship. The state would appoint commissioners to raise and distribute private funds for the scholarship. About 95,000 people would currently be eligible for the program.
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Arizona Has Received More Than $3.7M of Contributions to Defend SB1070 Illegal Immigration Law

The Republic: Arizona continues to receive donations to pay for defending the state's SB1070 illegal immigration law, but no longer at a gushing flow. Gov. Jan Brewer's office reports the state has received just under 44,000 contributions adding up to more than $3.7 million as of late Wednesday. That's an increase of fewer than 1,000 additional contributions since the last report in February and only an small increase in the total dollars that previously were reported at under $3.7 million. Brewer's office says it has spent $1.9 million of the contributions, leaving a balance of $1.8 billion. The case now includes a counterclaim filed by Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne against the federal government as part of the state's response to the federal lawsuit challenging parts of the law.

Immigration Bill Cracks Down on Cities

Politico: A bill unveiled today by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) would slash federal funding for cities whose local law enforcement don't enforce immigration laws. The legislation, the "Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act," would crack down on more than a hundred American cities, Barletta said during a press conference today. "Local officials who choose not to enforce immigration laws are aiding illegal immigrants," Barletta said. "My bill makes sure that sanctuary cities no longer get federal money as long as federal officials ignore federal law." The approach is in stark contrast to recent White House efforts to get Congress to take up comprehensive reform. Barletta became a national media figure in the midst of the 2007 immigration debate due to his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration as the mayor of Hazelton, Penn.

Anti-Illegal Immigration Pol to Create New Caucus

Fox News: Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican congressman, who gained national attention in 2006 as the mayor of Hazleton, Pa. when he signed a law that cracked down on illegal immigration, announced the creation of a new congressional caucus that will offer ways to stop illegal immigration. "I'm putting together a group of freshman members to address the problem of illegal immigration in this country," Barletta said in a prepared statement on Wednesday. "I'm optimistic that other new members of Congress who are concerned about our flawed immigration system will join this caucus so we can devise some real solutions." Barletta also announced that he is drafting legislation to punish so-called "sanctuary cities" that refuse to fully enforce immigration measures. "Elected officials of local municipalities cannot pick and choose the federal laws they enforce," Barletta's statement said.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Latinos Not Integrating As Well As Some Immigrants: Study

Reuters reported that: Latinos lag behind other immigrants in weaving themselves into the fabric of American society, according to a study released on Monday. The report by the Migration Policy Institute said the nation's Latinos generally are having a tougher time when compared to Asian, black and non-Hispanic white immigrants. "Progress among the United States' different immigration groups is highly uneven, however, Latinos are not faring as well," author Tomas Jimenez wrote. But the report makes clear that immigrant groups in general are doing "reasonably well" in integrating into American life. The study found that first- and second-generation Latinos are more residentially segregated than Asians, and not as integrated socially and economically as compared to non-Hispanic whites. Latino citizens also were found to have relatively low voter registration numbers and voting rates, according to the report. Immigration has become a hot button issue in recent years in the U.S., with Americans at odds over what to do with the estimated 11 million people already in this country illegally.

Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Leaving U.S.

Most returnees fare better at home than they believe they would do in America

MSNBC: In a speech last week to Facebook employees, President Obama discussed the role immigrant entrepreneurs play in U.S. economic competitiveness. "We want more Andy Groves here in the United States," he told the crowd, touching on the Hungarian-born entrepreneur's startup success. "We don't want them starting Intel in China or starting it in France." Sadly, our President didn't back his words with action. He simply said he would support "comprehensive immigration reform," which is legislation that has no chance of passing. This is because it tries to fix all the problems with immigration at the same time. Most Americans will support legislation to admit more doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, but they are deeply divided on the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants. So we're in a messy stalemate. Our leaders don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation. They fail to recognize how much the world has changed. Entrepreneurs see abundant opportunities in places like India and China now. The world's best and brightest can stay home and achieve as much success as they could in the U.S. Skilled workers who immigrated to the U.S. are optimistic about these opportunities; many are headed back home.

Michigan Governor Embrace Immigration As Way to Repopulate Michigan, Spur Economic Development

Daily Journal reported that: Gov. Rick Snyder says he embraces immigration as a way to repopulate Michigan as part of a larger plan to spur economic development. The Republican governor told The Detroit News in an interview published Tuesday the state should be "encouraging immigration of people with advanced degrees in particular." Snyder earlier has made the case for attracting such legal immigrants. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Detroit should immigrants as a way to overcome the city's severe population loss. Detroit has seen its population fall from 1.8 million in the 1950 U.S. Census to 714,000 in 2010. Its population dropped 26 percent in the last decade. And census figures show Michigan was the only state in the nation to lose population over the past decade.

Obama to Meet with Hispanic Congressional Caucus to Discuss Immigration Reform

Fox News Latino: President Obama plans to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday to discuss the flaws in the immigration system and how to address them. The White use schedule for Tuesday says the meeting will be about "the importance of fixing our nation's broken immigration system to meet our 21st century economic and national security needs so that America can win the future." This would be the third meeting in as many weeks that the president has held with a variety of leaders to talk about immigration, which political experts say could emerge as one of the most divisive topics in the 2012 election campaign. Two weeks ago, Obama met with a group of mainly advocates of an immigration reform plan that would tighten enforcement as well as provide a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria. He told them he remains committed to reforming immigration. Last week Obama summoned Latino celebrities to the White House, where he told them that people with high profiles such as they could elevate the discussion on immigration.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Latino Congressman Says Obama Administration Has Failed on Immigration

San Jose Mercury News: U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., blasted the Obama administration Thursday night for deporting record numbers of people from the country and for breaking promises made to immigrant voters during the 2008 presidential campaign. "He came to our neighborhoods, he came to our communities, he gave speeches," Gutierrez said, interspersing Spanish and English on a visit to an East Oakland school. A predominantly Spanish-speaking crowd of several hundred people packed into the gymnasium of the Cesar Chavez Education Center to hear Gutierrez speak. Some shared stories of how immigration arrests had divided their families. "When I was 15 years old, I felt my life was over," said Richmond resident Bianca Rojo, describing how her parents were deported to Mexico nearly six years ago. Gutierrez, who hails from the president's home city of Chicago, began his speech by quoting directly from Obama's 2008 campaign statements about fixing an unjust immigration system and ending raids that split families apart. Then, Gutierrez explained how he felt those pledges had not been met. Gutierrez said the immigrant community made a mistake when "we attached our fight for rights to a political group." He told listeners to ignore those who say Latinos should prioritize maintaining Democratic loyalty over standing up for human rights.

Texas Senate Pushes Immigration Checks by Cops

Houston Chronicle: The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to run anyone arrested through a federal immigration enforcement program. The Secure Communities program identifies immigrants who could be deported because of their immigration status and is just one of several provisions in the bill approved by the Senate Thursday. The program is already used county jails. The bill by Republican Sen. Tommy Williams would also require proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain or renew a driver's license if the information hasn't been previously provided. Williams said that's because a license no longer just gives permission to drive, but serves as a secure form of ID. The bill contains an additional $8 fee for a driver's license that will go toward improving outdated technology and inadequate staffing.

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Opposes Florida Immigration Bill

Florida Independent reported that: In a letter sent to Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolis, R-Merritt Island, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce voiced its opposition yesterday to the state Senate's proposed immigration-enforcement bill, "for fear of the economic impact such legislation will have on the state of Florida." Senate Bill 2040 would mandate the use of E-Verify, a federal employee eligibility-verification program, as well as require local law enforcement to establish Section 287(g) agreements with the federal government. Section 287(g) is a controversial immigration-enforcement program that authorizes local law officers to enforce federal immigration law. The Hispanic Chamber letter (pdf.) agrees the immigration system is broken and that immigration policy should be developed by the federal government. It adds that Florida residents are right to be concerned about immigration, but that when a state takes on this issue, it sees unintended consequences. The letter points out that when the Arizona passed immigration enforcement law S.B. 1070 the Hispanic Chamber did not boycott the state but took a fact-based and business response. They voiced their oppostion when a Center for American Progress report indicated Arizona's S.B. 1070 resulted in the loss of at least 2,700 jobs in that state. The Center for American Progress report also indicated that the impact of S.B. 1070 on the convention industry resulted in a $400 million loss in economic output and more than $130 million in lost earnings.

Obama Seeks Latino Stars' Help on Immigration

Boston Globe: With his immigration overhaul stalled, President Obama is enlisting an array of voices, including Latino entertainment and media stars, to help jump-start legislation and reassure crucial but restless Hispanic voters that he has not abandoned his campaign pledge to change the law. Obama's political advisers see tremendous potential in a growing Latino electorate. But Obama, who won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008, faces a disenchanted Latino community, angry over a rise in deportations and an impasse on revamping immigration laws and fearful of tough state immigration laws such as those in Arizona. Obama invited to the White House yesterday a dozen influential Spanish-language television anchors and radio personalities along with Latino actresses who have been active in Hispanic causes. Among the high-profile Latinos was Eddie "Piolin'' Sotelo, who in 2006 helped mobilize hundreds of thousands of protesters in Los Angeles and across the nation against enforcement-only immigration proposals. Actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera and television figures Don Francisco of Univision and Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo were also there. Obama wants to overhaul the nation's immigration system to provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Chances of passage are remote on Capitol Hill with Republicans controlling the House.

Obama Appears to Rule out Acting on His Own on Immigration

CNN: President Barack Obama on Thursday appeared to rule out acting on his own to implement some provisions of an immigration reform bill that failed to win congressional approval last year. A White House statement issued after Obama met with "influential Hispanics" from across the country said the president noted that Congress must pass legislation to "fix what's broken about our immigration system, and that he cannot unilaterally change the law." Some immigration reform advocates have argued that Obama could issue an executive order or take other unilateral steps to bring changes intended to help children of illegal immigrants eventually gain U.S. citizenship. For example, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, a leading supporter of immigration reform, told a March 31 news conference that Obama "has a number of avenues available to him under existing law with which he can instruct the U.S. government to prioritize the deportation of criminals and threats to our community and provide relief in pursuing the deportation of the vast majority of immigrants who are assets to our communities."