About Me

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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


Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Leaving the U.S.

Skilled immigrants are returning to their native countries to start businesses. The author of a new study examines the motivations of Chinese and Indian returnees—and urges the U.S. to fix immigration policy to get them back.

: 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.

Alabama Senate Committee Considers Illegal Immigration Bill

The Republic: A state Senate committee is taking its first look at a bill passed by the Alabama House to crack down on illegal immigration. The Senate Job Creation and Economic Development Committee has put the bill by Republican Rep. Micky Hammon on its agenda for Thursday morning. Hammon's bill is similar to one already passed by the Senate, except it requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm that new employees are legal. The committee is also scheduled to consider another bill passed by the House to give a break on state income taxes for new and expanding industries in Alabama. The bill is part of Gov. Robert Bentley's plan to lower the state unemployment rate.

Utah Relationship with Mexican State Called Key to Immigration Reform

Deseret News: Lost in all the talk about the so-called Utah Solution to illegal immigration is a proposed partnership with the state of Nuevo Leon in Mexico. And when HB466 has come up, a Utah entrepreneur who worked behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for it says the legislation has been largely misunderstood. Paul Ahlstrom, co-founder of vSpring Capital, said the often cited provision for a migrant worker program isn't what the bill is all about. And he said it angers him when people say all it will do is bring more immigrant labor to the state and displace local workers. The key component, Ahlstrom said, is the creation of a commission to study the economic, legal, cultural and educational impact of illegal immigration on Utah. The yet-to-be-organized 27-member panel also is charged with drafting a plan addressing the use of migrant workers and integration of immigrants. "The mechanism for the Utah way is HB466," he said. "Rather than say here's a solution, here's a way to get to the right answers." Having a relationship with Nuevo Leon, Ahlstrom said, will help Utah better see the issues that need addressing.

Report Faults Border Screeners

New York Times: Immigration authorities are failing to screen unaccompanied Mexican children who cross the border illegally to determine if they are victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking, according to a report based on two years of research by Appleseed, a nonprofit justice organization. The report examined how Mexican children have been handled by the Customs and Border Protection agency after Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring that minors be questioned to determine if they agreed to be returned to Mexico voluntarily. “On the whole, that law is not being followed,” said David Nachman, a lawyer who helped conduct the research. More than 30,000 Mexican children traveling alone have been apprehended at the border in the last two years, according to the report.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hundreds Rally to Protest Two Florida Immigration Bills

Businessweek: Hundreds of immigrant activists and supporters are organizing protests this week across Florida to protest two tough immigration bills being debated in the Legislature. A House bill allows local police to check a person's immigration status if they suspect the person is in the country illegally and requires they check the status of anyone under investigation -- though not necessarily arrested -- for a crime. Courts have blocked similar provisions in Arizona's new immigration law. The bill also makes being in the country illegally a criminal misdemeanor. Under federal law, it is a less serious civil infraction. The House bill also mandates employers use a federal database called E-Verify to check whether new employees are eligible to work in the U.S. The final Senate version is more limited in scope and it allows employers to use driver licenses to check work eligibility. Still, immigrants and business still oppose it. At a rally at dusk in Miami's Little Havana, Democrats called out State House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera and State Senator Anitere Flores, both Republicans, for not taking a stronger stand against the bills. Lopez-Cantera opposes the House bill but has not used his powerful position to publicly influence colleagues. Flores chairs the committee that presented the Senate version and said the final bill is better because she worked on it rather than simply opposing it.

Deportation Halted for Some Students as Lawmakers Seek New Policy

New York Times: Olga Zanella, a Mexican-born college student in Texas, should have started months ago trying to figure out how she could make a life in Mexico, since American immigration authorities were working resolutely to deport her there. But Ms. Zanella, 20, could not bring herself to make plans. She was paralyzed by fear of a violent country she could not remember, where she had no close family. Ms. Zanella, who has been living illegally in the United States since her parents brought her here when she was 5, had been trying to fight her deportation for more than two years. She was pulled over by the local police in February 2009 as she was driving in her hometown, Irving, Tex., and did not have a driver’s license. The police handed her over to immigration agents. Her case looked bleak, but in recent days everything changed. Last Thursday, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Dallas summoned Ms. Zanella and told her she could remain in this country, under the agency’s supervision, if she stayed in school and out of trouble. Encouraged by the surprising turnaround, Ms. Zanella’s parents and two siblings, who also had been living in the United States illegally, presented papers late Monday to ICE, as the agency is known, turning themselves in and requesting some form of legal immigration status. The about-face by ICE in Ms. Zanella’s case is an example of the kind of action Democratic lawmakers and Latino and immigrant groups have been demanding from the Obama administration to slow deportations of illegal immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes. In particular, pressure is increasing on President Obama to offer protection from deportation to illegal immigrant college students who might have been eligible for legal status under a bill in Congress known as the Dream Act.

Obama Criticizes New Georgia Immigration Law

Reuters: President Barack Obama on Tuesday criticized an immigration bill passed by Georgia's Legislature that would give police authority to question suspects about their immigration status. Obama also defended his administration's record on securing U.S. borders and repeated his call for comprehensive immigration reform. The Georgia bill is similar to one passed by Arizona last year that sparked a national debate on state attempts to crack down on illegal immigration. Arizona's law criminalizes illegal immigration by defining it as trespass and allows local law enforcement agencies to question anyone they suspect lacks correct immigration papers. Asked about the Georgia bill, Obama said: "It is a mistake for states to try to do this piecemeal. We can't have 50 different immigration laws around the country. Arizona tried this and a federal court already struck them down." "The truth of the matter is that we've done more on enforcement than any previous administration. We have more border patrols. We have been engaging in serious crackdowns on employers who are hiring undocumented workers," Obama said in an interview with WSB-TV, which is based in Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Slowing Illegals Could Produce Money Drain

E News Courier reports: While Republican lawmakers believe a measured approved Thursday by the state Senate will curb illegal immigration, at least one law enforcement official sees trouble ahead.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said he understands the state has a problem with immigration, but Senate Bill 256 — sponsored by State Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale — could cause problems for his department. The bill cleared the Senate 26-6 and now goes to the House for consideration. The sheriff said the combination of increased man-hours and rising fuel costs associated with taking illegal immigrants from Limestone County to a federal detention facility in Atlanta could cripple the county financially. Despite his objections to the bill, he said his department would do what the law requires. “I understand and support immigration reform, but the bill in its present form is going to be an extreme burden to local governments and county jails,” Blakely said. “It’s going to mean us running a taxi service back and forth to Atlanta and an overcrowded jail.” The bill requires police to verify a person’s immigration status if they are stopped for a traffic offense and can’t produce any documents, such as a driver’s license or passport. Those suspected of being in the country illegally can be detained. Many opponents of the bill have expressed fears it would lead to racial profiling and harassment from police officers, but Blakely said that wasn’t a concern of his. “People talk about racial profiling, but I don’t get too excited about that,” he said. “A good police officer is going to profile. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

Advocates Plan Campaign on Immigrants' Health Care

Boston Globe: Immigrant advocates in Massachusetts say they are preparing an “intense’’ lobbying effort to help about 20,000 legal immigrants who are at risk of losing their state-sponsored health care coverage under a proposal to slash state spending. The Massachusetts Immigrants and Refugee Advocacy Coalition said immigrants and their advocates plan in the coming days to make phone calls, send letters, and meet with state legislators in an attempt to save funding for the Commonwealth Care Bridge program. The program provides basic health care for about 20,000 immigrants classified as “aliens with special status.’’ Early this month, the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee voted to eliminate funding for the program — about $50 million — as state lawmakers try to reduce overall spending to close an estimated $1.9 billion budget gap.

Connecticut Governor Fights for Undocumented Immigrant

CBS News: Connecticut's Governor Dan Malloy has joined a grass-roots campaign to stop federal officials from deporting an undocumented immigrant. Malloy says the young man can contribute to the country, and he's proven it. CBS News correspondent, Elaine Quijano, reports that when Mariano Cardoso Jr.'s parents brought their then-22-month-old son to America from Mexico, all they wanted was a better life for him. Now, living outside Hartford, Conn., the 23-year-old is about to graduate with an associate's degree in liberal arts. "It hasn't been easy at any step," Cardoso Jr. said. It's taken him five years to pay for that two-year degree, and he says he's done it without financial aid or tuition assistance. His dream is to become a math professor or civil engineer. "It has taken me 5 years and every part of it has been because I worked for it and my father worked for it," Cardoso Jr. said. Now, however, he's in danger of losing it all, because his parents immigrated to the United States illegally. In 2008, federal immigration officials discovered his undocumented status. Now he's due to be deported within 60 days. In his fight to stay, Cordoso Jr. has gained a powerful ally. "We've made a substantial investment in our society of this young man. I'd like to see that pay off for us," said Gov. Dan Malloy.

Pushing Obama to Keep Promises

San Jose Mercury News: Reflecting growing liberal frustration with President Barack Obama's lack of progress on immigration reform, a Democratic congressman from his home state of Illinois is barnstorming through the Bay Area this week to demand the administration slow down its record-high number of deportations. "He's our champion," said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who lands in the Bay Area on Tuesday. "He's the one we want to support. But there's a community of people he made a promise and commitment to, and we want him to keep it." Obama continues to get high popularity ratings from Latinos and most immigrant groups, but Gutierrez is among a growing chorus of immigrant advocates who have expressed waning enthusiasm as the president launches his re-election campaign. Gutierrez will visit Redwood City, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco and St. Helena on a three-day tour of the region, part of a national campaign called "Change Takes Courage" that is aimed at pressuring Obama to act urgently on immigration matters. With little chance of immigrant-friendly legislation getting through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Gutierrez said Obama should use his executive power to provide the relief he promised immigrant families during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Newt Gingrich's 2012 Immigration Dance

Politico reported that: Newt Gingrich has come a long way since criticizing Latinos a few years ago for continuing to speak “the language of living in a ghetto.” He’s taking Spanish lessons, reaching out to Hispanic community leaders, and supports “finding a way for residency” for some illegal immigrants. But mounting a successful presidential bid means winning over GOP primary activists — many of whom favor a hard-line immigration crackdown — and that means Gingrich’s moderate positions could spell big trouble for him in the early-voting states, strategists say. Of the top Republican prospects for 2012, Gingrich leads in Latino outreach. The immigration-reduction group NumbersUSA, which waged war on John McCain in 2008, has already set its sights on Gingrich. The group, which advocates stricter controls on both legal and illegal immigration, has given his immigration agenda a D- grade — the worst of its ranking of the GOP presidential contenders.

Alaska Police Officer Accused of Being Illegal Immigrant

CNN: A veteran police officer in Alaska was behind bars Monday after authorities accused him of passport fraud, using a fake identity and being an illegal immigrant. Federal prosecutors allege that Rafael Mora-Lopez, a Mexican citizen, was working as a police officer under the false name of Rafael Espinoza. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Bradley said authorities discovered the assumed identity after he applied to renew his U.S. passport in January. Mora-Lopez pleaded not guilty to a charge of passport fraud in federal court Friday. The Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and Anchorage Police are still investigating the case, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Investigators found "documents confirming Mora-Lopez's true identity" during a search of his home last week, a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Passport fraud carries a maximum 10-year sentence, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Authorities said Mora-Lopez was in the country illegally and could face additional charges, the KTVA television station reported.

Hispanic Population Growth Could Realign South's Politics

Miami Herald reported that: Huge surges among Hispanic populations in the Deep South could mean a political sea change over the next two decades, as immigrants become naturalized and they and their American-born children register to vote, political and demographics experts say. The states with some of the largest percentages in Hispanic population growth make up a large swath of the Southeast: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to an analysis of the most recent census figures by the Pew Hispanic Center. In all those Republican-dominated states, the percentage of Hispanics nearly doubled. In Georgia, that population grew by 96 percent over the past decade, according to the Pew study. Only 23 percent of Georgia's Latino population is eligible to vote, compared with 42 percent nationwide, figures that reflect the state's high numbers of young Hispanics and new immigrants, said Mark Hugo Lopez, the associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center. However, in Georgia, as in many parts of the country, "there are a number of campaigns to continue to focus on people who are here legally to become citizens," Lopez said. "There continue to be efforts to get them naturalized and registered to vote."

Janet Napolitano Clarifies Immigration Program

San Francisco Chronicle: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday acknowledged a storm of criticism from lawmakers and immigration-rights supporters over a federal effort targeting criminal immigrants, saying there has been confusion over whether local communities can choose not to participate in the program known as Secure Communities. But she added that local governments cannot decide on their own to "exclude themselves" from its fingerprint-checking database. "This whole opt-in, opt-out thing was a misunderstanding from the get-go ... and we have tried to correct that," Napolitano said during a visit to The Chronicle's editorial board. She said communications from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division - known as ICE - were "subject to misinterpretation."

The Status Quo on Immigration Puts Both Parties in a Bind

TIME: Last week, President Obama dashed out West to court donors in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Surely, he couldn’t help but notice the throng of protesters outside the $2,500-a-plate dinner at Sony Pictures’ Culver City, Calif., studios carrying signs that read, “Stop Deporting Dreams.” Against the backdrop of monumental demographic shifts, the protesters’ presence confronts the President, and both political parties, with a key question: How much longer will the immigration debate be viewed as an easily dismissed problem rather than an opportunity to be seized? Since Obama’s arrival at the White House in 2009, nearly 1 million illegal immigrants have been deported –- almost as many as in George W. Bush’s entire second term. In wake of 9/11, the federal government built a massive, $17 billion apparatus to identify and expel illegal resident criminals, and the number of deportations soared from 117,000 in 2001 to nearly 400,000 last year. But only 196,000 of those deported in 2010 were individuals convicted of crimes in their home countries or the U.S. Much of the balance of those deported were relatives of American citizens born in this country.

Immigration Supporters Rally at State Capitol

Immigration supporters from throughout Florida descended on the state capitol to urge lawmaker not to approve Arizona-style immigration laws.

Miami Herald: A swarm of protesters bused in Monday from the Tampa Bay area called on God to prevent lawmakers from rolling ahead with an immigration crackdown, warning it will divide their families and lead to racial profiling. At the end of the day, the protesters had a spontaneous and friendly meeting with Sen. J.D. Alexander, whose panel could hear one of the proposals this week. The events started around noon when hundreds of children, their families and religious leaders chanted “We are Florida” as they snaked across the Capitol courtyard and waved signs targeting SB 2040 and HB 7089. Eventually they crowded the steps of the Old Capitol, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, emphasizing the closing lines of “justice for all,” and singing the Star-Spangled Banner.

“How many of you have faith in God that this law will not pass?” asked Cecilia Perez, a 16-year-old Largo High School sophomore, to an eruption of cheers. “I am here to represent millions of children here in the state of Florida that do no want this law to pass,” she said. “Why? Well, we do not want our families to be separated, first of all, and also we do not want anybody to have racial profiling around the state of Florida.” The protests, organized by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, are planned throughout the week. Protesters from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Orange counties, among other areas, planned to meet with their local delegations and urge against Arizona-style reforms.

Monday, April 25, 2011

8 New York Counties Join Immigration Fingerprint Program

Wall Street Journal: Federal immigration authorities have signed on eight more New York counties to the Secure Communities program. The 2½-year-old program red flags potential criminal illegal immigrants by running the fingerprints of people arrested by state or local authorities against federal government databases. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Thursday that Chautauqua, Niagara, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Seneca, Steuben and Yates counties are now part of the program. From now on, when someone's booked there for a crime, their fingerprints will be sent not only to the Justice Department to check for criminal history, but to Homeland Security's biometric system to check against immigration law enforcement records. There are now 22 counties in New York using Secure Communities and 1,211 jurisdictions in 41 states. The goal is for complete coverage by 2013.

Police in Limbo After Money, Time Spent on SB 1070 Enforcement Training

East Valley Tribune: Law enforcement officers are ready to enforce SB 1070 — if they have to enforce it at all. After thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on training materials for officers and hundreds of hours went toward enforcement training, agencies now are waiting for the courts to decide whether the law is constitutional. After Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the controversial immigration bill into law, a year ago Saturday, she ordered the Arizona Peace Officers Standard and Training Board to create a training program and guidelines for enforcing it. AZPOST had its work finished by the May 21 deadline, but later shut down the process as the law was fine-tuned. And although individual police departments throughout the state, including those in the East Valley, spent more than AZPOST did to train officers, the board’s executive director said he believes the training was done efficiently and prepared officers to effectively enforce the law. AZPOST spent slightly more than $26,000 to implement enforcement training for the law — or $3.75 per officer, Lyle Mann said. “We did what we were tasked to do, and I believe we did it well,” he said. “When the court makes its decision, we’ll ensure that the officers are prepared to do what they’re supposed to do or allowed to do.

Alabama Senate Passes Immigration Bill

Birmingham News: The Alabama Senate on Thursday night approved an Arizona-style immigration bill that would allow law enforcement officers to detain people they suspect of being in the country illegally. Bill sponsor Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said the state needs to address illegal immigration because the federal government has been unwilling or unable to do so. "I think the state is just letting people know we are going to do our best to aid in enforcement and try to begin to deal with the issue of illegal immigration," Beason said. "With thousands of illegal immigrants in the state working, that's thousands of jobs Alabamians could be holding," Beason said. Beason and other supporters of the bill said the state needs to send a clear message that it will address illegal immigration. But opponents questioned the legality of the bill and said it would lead to racial profiling. The bill would make it illegal to employ, harbor, rent to or give a ride to an illegal immigrant with reckless disregard of the fact the person is in the country illegally. The bill would require police officers to verify a person's immigration status from anyone they stop for a traffic violation or other infraction if there is "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the United States unlawfully. The officer would have to make a reasonable attempt to verify a person's immigration status, and suspected illegal immigrants could be detained.

Indiana House OKs Watered-Down Immigration Bill

Indiana Business Journal: Businesses that hire illegal immigrants could have some state tax credits revoked under a proposal that has cleared the Indiana House. The Republican-led House voted 64-32 Thursday for the bill, which is a watered-down version of a proposal that originally would have allowed police officers to ask people for proof that they are in the country legally. Supporters say the state must act on immigration because Congress hasn't. But some opponents say the bill could hurt businesses, and others say immigration should remain a federal issue. The watered-down version is in line with what Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels wants. Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel says he hopes to hash out a compromise between the original bill and the latest version next week.

Immigration Legislation Praised, Vilified

Deseret News reports that: In the month since Utah passed a controversial package of immigration reform legislation the country's been buzzing with praise and criticism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday reiterated its appreciation for the legislation. On the same day, Bishop John C. Wester, of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake, visited with President Barack Obama to discuss Utah's approach to immigration reform. In the meantime, the chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee called on the U.S. government this week to sue Utah over the laws. Republicans in Utah are gathering support in hopes of getting some of the legislation repealed. Gov. Gary Herbert signed four bills into law March 15. The laws, among other things, would establish local enforcement of federal immigration laws and give undocumented immigrants already living in Utah a legal avenue to work. The laws will not go into effect until July 2013 and would require a waiver from the federal government. The LDS Church published a short affirmation on its website of its support of the immigration legislation. A spokesman said the post was meant to "reiterate" what the Church has already said, not to serve as a new statement.

Obama Denies Blame on Immigration Reform

Washington Examiner reported that: President Obama sought to deflect any blame for stalled immigration reform away from the White House this week, telling supporters that if it fails it will be because congressional Republicans didn't want to address the problem. White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama is now trying to "re-energize and reinvigorate" the debate on comprehensive immigration reform, which could include proposals to increase security along the U.S.-Mexican border and provide a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States. The White House blames Congress for the lack of action on immigration reform and says the president supports broad changes in immigration. But unlike President Bush, he hasn't issued his own plan.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Latinos and Democrats Press Obama to Curb Deportations

New York Times reported that: With prospects for an immigration overhaul looking dim, President Obama is facing increasing pressure from Latinos, Democratic lawmakers and immigrant groups to use his executive powers to offer relief from deportation to broad groups of illegal immigrants. Demands for immediate action by Mr. Obama to slow the pace of the immigration crackdown in Latino communities have not eased since a White House meeting on Tuesday in which the president gathered political, business and religious leaders to brainstorm about how to revive the overhaul legislation, which is stalled in Congress. Latinos and Democrats praised Mr. Obama for trying to jump-start efforts to pass the bill, which would grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. But with many leaders of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives strongly opposed to the measure, the bill’s supporters remain skeptical that it will go anywhere before the presidential election next year. They are calling on Mr. Obama to use authorities they say he already has under current immigration law to defer deportations of illegal immigrant students who would be eligible for legal status under a bill known as the Dream Act. “At the end of the day, the president cannot fix administratively what is broken in the immigration system,” said a senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The official said the White House had made a strategic decision to focus all its efforts on passing the overhaul rather than acting unilaterally to make smaller changes.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Probably Doomed

CBS News: President Barack Obama revisited a key campaign promise when he hosted a White House meeting of elected officials and experts on immigration. But if a major overhaul of the nation's immigration policy is his goal, Republicans in Congress say he shouldn't hold his breath. They say any bill that even hints at amnesty or legalization for millions of illegal immigrants already living and working in the United States is dead before it ever makes an appearance in a congressional committee. A path to citizenship is "what has doomed all immigration legislation in the last two administrations," California Republican Dan Lungren said during a recent House hearing on immigrant agricultural workers. The agricultural workers' bill discussed during that hearing, which first was proposed in the last Congress, isn't likely to be revived. "It's not going to pass," Lungren said matter-of-factly while taking testimony on the visa program that helps supply temporary workers to agricultural businesses. "And it's not going to pass because it has, frankly ... a path to citizenship." Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said immigration reform proposals that offer a path to legal status are tantamount to amnesty. "I think most members of Congress and most Americans don't want to reward lawbreakers and don't want to give them amnesty," Smith said Tuesday as Obama held his White House meeting. The failure of the DREAM Act is a key example. The bill would have provided a path to legal status for law-abiding young people brought to the United States as children who either plan to attend college or join the military.

State Immigration Bills Meet Mixed Fates

USA Today: When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state’s historic immigration law into effect a year ago this week, lawmakers in dozens of states quickly promised a flood of similar legislation. But as states wind down their 2011 legislative sessions, the results appear as muddled as the immigration debate itself. The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill last week designed to crack down on illegal immigration. The same week, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that goes the other direction and provides in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants. And the Utah Legislature recently passed a bill that lies somewhere in between. “It just speaks to the complexity of the issues and of the folly of single states thinking they can take it on alone,” said Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, a group that opposes Arizona-style laws. State legislators say they are being forced to tackle the issue because the federal government has not done its part.

A Year Later, Arizona Still Split Over Immigration

NPR reports: It's been a year since Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the tough immigration bill known as SB 1070. The law made it a state crime to be in the country illegally, and it mandated that local police question the immigration status of anyone they stopped for a crime. Demonstrations, boycotts and court cases ensued in the aftermath of enactment. A year later, SB 1070's supporters call it a success. Opponents say it's a disaster. Either way, it's changed the state. "We're not going to retreat. We will do what we have to do and I personally will do what I have to do until this invasion is stopped," Pearce says. A year in, Pearce says SB 1070 is a success. Federal courts have blocked Arizona from enforcing key parts of the law but allowed other portions to take effect. The law, which helped create an unwelcoming atmosphere for illegal immigrants in the state, caused an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people to leave Arizona in the past year, he says.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poll: Voters Oppose Birthright Citizenship

UPI reported that: Six out of 10 U.S. voters say children born in the country to illegal immigrants should not be guaranteed citizenship, a poll released Tuesday indicated. Rasmussen Reports said the 61 percent who agree is the highest figure on the question in five years. Fewer than three out of 10, 28 percent, support birthright citizenship for everyone, down 6 percentage points since August. The Constitution was amended after the Civil War to guarantee citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, independent of their parents' status. That means a change would require another constitutional amendment. Republicans, at 77 percent, and independents, at 63 percent, are more likely to oppose birthright citizenship than Democrats, who are evenly divided on the issue. The poll found overwhelming support for requiring anyone seeking federal or state benefits to prove citizenship, with 84 percent agreeing.

Immigration Is Lead Topic as Leaders Are Gathered

New York Times reports that: President Obama told a gathering of business, labor, religious and political leaders at the White House on Tuesday that he remains committed to an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and wants to try again in the coming months to push Congress to pass a bill. With his re-election campaign launched this month and Latino communities growing increasingly frustrated with his immigration policies, Mr. Obama summoned more than 60 high-profile supporters of the stalled overhaul legislation to a strategy session, looking for ways to revive it. Among those attending were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, an independent; Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, a Democrat; and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican. Two big-city police chiefs, Raymond W. Kelly of New York and Charles Ramsey of Philadelphia, were there, as was Sheryl Sandberg, a top executive at Facebook, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest group of evangelical Christians. Prospects for the proposed policy, which would grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and revamp the immigration system, seem bleak in this Congress, with staunch Republican opponents of the bill controlling pivotal committee positions in the House of Representatives. Recently Latino leaders have stepped up their criticism of Mr. Obama, as deportations have reached record numbers under his administration and he has offered no relief from the crackdown on immigrant communities.

LDS Church Clarifies Its Stance on Immigration

Daily Herald: “The church's position has been distorted," Bramble said. The following is the full LDS Church statement that appeared on its website Tuesday. It was headlined "Immigration Response," with a dateline of Salt Lake City: "Members of the public who contact the Church Public Affairs Department asking for the Church's position on immigration have been given the following response: "The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration. Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact, and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as 'a responsible approach' to the difficult question of immigration reform. "The Church's position is based on three basic principles: 1. The commandment to 'Love thy neighbor.' 2. The importance of keeping families intact. 3. The federal government's obligation to secure its borders. "The Church appreciates the package of bills that the Legislature had passed, including House Bill 116. The Church feels that this package was a responsible attempt to address the principles outlined above. "The February 28th Deseret News editorial, 'A Model For The Nation' also accurately reflects the position of the Church regarding immigration reform, including measures that will allow those who are now here illegally to work legally, provide for their families, and become better contributing members of our community -- but without establishing a path to citizenship or granting amnesty. "The Church may speak further on this subject if it is necessary to refute any misunderstandings or correct distortions of its views that have found their way into the discussion taking place on this important topic."

GOP Gained Huge Benefit from SB 1070, But Could Face Backlash

East Valley Tribune: As observers evaluate the impact of SB 1070 in the year since it was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, these is one arena in which little analysis is needed: It was a blockbuster bill that benefited the immediate political fortunes of the Republican Party. But will illegal immigration continue to be a winning political issue for the GOP, or is the party headed for the kind of long-term backlash experienced by California Republicans who sought to deny social services to illegal immigrants with Proposition 187 in 1994 — especially with the Latino population in Arizona and the U.S. growing even faster than was believed? “The issue kind of exploded on the scene last year,” said Jim Haynes, president of Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, a marketing and public-opinion research firm. “My guess is that the impact has probably reached a high point and will stay there. The public memory can be short, and typically by the next election, the public has moved on to the next issue.” Republicans perhaps won’t not mind if the level of illegal immigration fervor stays put. Less than six months after Brewer signed the immigration law, a state that some analysts suggested was turning purple returned to solid red. On election day 2010, Republicans swept all six statewide offices for the first time in 16 years and tightened their grip on the state Legislature. A 5-3 Congressional delegation in favor of Democrats flipped to 5-3 for the GOP. “When it came down to state politics, the bill had a big impact on getting out the vote,” said Tom Morrissey, Arizona Republican Party chairman. “It is such a passionate issue and a very big dynamic in our turnout.”

Franken Sponsors Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Minnesota Independent: Sen. Al Franken is the sponsor of legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would give binational same-sex couples the same rights as married couples for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act is authored by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and is sponsored by 18 other Democrats. Even though same-sex marriage is legal in seven jurisdictions in the United States, couples in which one partner is not a citizen do not have any right under current federal law. The bill would make immigration laws equal for same-sex couples, including allowing same-sex partners of refugees and asylum seekers to immigrate to the United States. It also provides for the same penalties for same-sex couples who misrepresent their relationships for immigration purposes as current law does for married couples. The bill makes provisions for same-sex couples to provide documentation of their partnership.

France Blocks Italian Train Carrying Tunisian Migrants

The train is stopped at a border town. French officials say they feared a disruptive protest and that Italian authorities should handle the migrants.

Los Angeles Times: French authorities barred an Italian train loaded with Tunisian migrants and European activists from entering its territory, angering Italian officials who on Monday formally protested what they saw as un-European behavior. "I realize that every country has its own domestic policy concerns, but the EU requires open borders, and if we start to put up walls the union will go nowhere," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said. The so-called train of dignity left Genoa on Sunday, headed for Marseilles with 60 Tunisian migrants holding recent Italian-issued travel permits, along with about 150 mostly Italian and French activists. But the group never made it to its destination. French authorities ordered the train stopped at the Italian border town of Ventimiglia for fear of an unauthorized protest that might disturb the peace, according to the French Interior Ministry. All trains departing the station toward France were temporarily canceled. Italy has borne the brunt of the more than 20,000 Tunisian and other migrants arriving in Europe since January after waves of rebellion in North Africa.

10 Lawmakers Named to Immigration Group's 'Hall of Shame'

The Hill reports that: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who once suggested handling illegal immigrants in a way similar to how farmers handle livesock, took first place in a "Hall of Shame" list compiled by the Immigrants' List political action committee. The group named eight other Republicans and one Democrat Tuesday, claiming they are "the biggest obstacles" to overhauling the nation's immigration laws. In its biannual "Hall of Shame" list, obtained first by The Hill, the PAC took aim at Steve King, eight other Republicans and lone Democrat Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.)for "spreading misinformation, preying on fear, and blocking the reform America wants and needs." The PAC also names Reps. Lamar Smith (Texas), Ed Royce(Calif.), Peter King (N.Y.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Brian Bilbray (Calif.), Candice Miller (Mich.), Ben Quayle (Ariz.), and Sen. John Boozman (Ark.).

Obama to Hold Meeting on Immigration Reform

Associated Press: President Barack Obama has marshaled the likes of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayors of New York and San Antonio and Philadelphia's police commissioner in an attempt to show wide and varied support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. The invitees are among a bipartisan group expected to meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday afternoon to discuss revamping the immigration system. Besides Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who also served as Washington, D.C., police chief, are among those invited. In a statement issued late Monday, the White House said the president is holding the meeting to discuss the importance of fixing the nation's "broken immigration system" to meet the country's 21st century economic and national security needs. The White House said business and religious leaders, as well as current and former public officials from across the political spectrum were to be invited. The statement was attributed to a White House senior official who was not further identified. In a Monday afternoon interview with Dallas television station WFAA, Obama underscored the need for bilateral support to set new immigration policy. "The question is going to be, are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all instead of using it as a political football," he said.

Trump Slams Immigrants Who 'Never Ever Achieved Anything'

wonkroom.thinkprogress.org reported that: Over the past month, real estate mogul Donald Trump has made quite a name for himself as a right-wing birther. Birtherism and nativism usually go hand in hand, so it doesn't come as a surprise that Trump was recently caught railing on immigrants at a Tea Party rally in Florida this past weekend. Yet, Trump doesn't have a problem with well-educated foreigners coming to the United States. He takes issue with the poor undocumented immigrants who "have never ever achieved anything." The majority of undocumented immigrants aren't criminals. Most of them, however, could not afford to go to "the best colleges." And as the U.S. gets older and better educated, they make up the labor population that the U.S. most depends upon. The construction and service industry that Trump has made billions off of is largely dependent on immigrant labor and it's hard to imagine that Trump's own success in the real estate and hotel business hasn't been built in part on the backs of undocumented immigrants.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Undocumented Paying Taxes Hoping to Ease Into Legality

San Jose Mercury News reported that: Isaias Aguilar filed his income tax returns for the first time this year and took a financial hit for it. He owed $579 to the Internal Revenue Service for some of the work he did last year, including as a part-time taekwondo instructor. The 29-year-old Mexican immigrant is not authorized to live and work in the United States, but he is one of millions of illegal immigrants known to use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, to file their taxes because they do not have Social Security numbers. Parting with the $579 might hurt him in a tough economy, but the Oakland resident hopes his fiduciary responsibility will help him in the long run. If Congress ever creates a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, those who tried to play by the rules might have a better chance of getting a green card, he said. "I don't know what's going to happen in the future," Aguilar said. "If something good will happen for immigrants, an amnesty, they're probably going to ask if I'm reporting my tax forms." The IRS reported 3.8 million tax returns filed with ITIN numbers for the 2009 tax year. Undocumented immigrants are not the only people using ITIN numbers. Foreign investors are among those who might file taxes without a Social Security number. But most accountants and tax officials say the majority of ITIN holders are illegal immigrants. The tax agency is prohibited from sharing information about.

Business Groups Can't Stop Florida Immigration Bills

Businessweek: Neither tears, nor prayer nor opposition from influential business groups could sway a House committee that voted largely along party lines Thursday for a Republican-sponsored bill that would follow Arizona's lead and make illegal immigration a state crime in Florida. That legislation and a similar Senate bill also would require employers to use a federal database to verify the immigration status of new hires. While other opponents, some identifying themselves as undocumented immigrants, knelt in prayer and two young girls burst into tears, business lobbyists argued the legislation would hurt Florida's tourism and agriculture industries while reducing tax revenues. "Just the mere consideration of this bill is causing the image of the state of Florida to be tarnished not only nationally but internationally," said Florida Chamber of Chamber Vice President Adam Babington. He said that "will have economic consequences." It would scare off tourists from Latin American and the Caribbean who contribute billions to Florida's economy and millions to state coffers, Babington argued. "Please do not make Florida employers immigration officials," pleaded Tom Stahl, executive director of Florida United Businesses Association. "We view it as regulation, which is somewhat ironic given the tenor of the Legislature this year."

The Anti-Immigration Crusader

New York Times reported that: Three decades ago, a middle-aged doctor sat outside his northern Michigan home and saw a patch of endangered paradise. A beekeeper and amateur naturalist of prodigious energy, John Tanton had spent two decades planting trees, cleaning creeks and suing developers, but population growth put ever more pressure on the land. Though fertility rates had fallen, he saw a new threat emerging: soaring rates of immigration. Time and again, Dr. Tanton urged liberal colleagues in groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club to seek immigration restraints, only to meet blank looks and awkward silences. "I finally concluded that if anything was going to happen, I would have to do it myself," he said. Improbably, he did. From the resort town of Petoskey, Mich., Dr. Tanton helped start all three major national groups fighting to reduce immigration, legal and illegal, and molded one of the most powerful grass-roots forces in politics. The immigration-control movement surged to new influence in last fall's elections and now holds near veto power over efforts to legalize any of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Man Recruited Fake Army in Immigration Scam, Prosecutors Say

David Deng is accused of running a fraudulent military recruitment center in Temple City, where he charged Chinese nationals a fee to join a "special forces reserve" unit that he said would help their chances of becoming U.S. citizens.

Los Angeles Times: He called himself the "supreme commander." From a storefront in Temple City decorated to look like a military recruiting center, David Deng raised an army of more than 100 Chinese nationals and claimed they were members of an elite U.S. special forces unit, authorities said. Together, they marched in local Chinese New Year parades and even received a special military tour in uniform at the USS Midway museum in San Diego. Chinese-language newspapers ran photos of the troops with prominent community leaders. But prosecutors on Tuesday charged that Deng's "U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve" was actually a huge immigration scam that preyed on Chinese immigrants in the San Gabriel Valley desperate to become citizens. Authorities allege that Deng charged members of his "army" $300 to $450 to join plus an annual $120 renewal fee. He told them that joining the group would increase their chances of becoming U.S. citizens, according to court papers. The more money they donated to the organization, he allegedly told them, the better their chances of becoming citizens.

Fears About Immigrants Deepen Divisions in Europe

The New York Times reported that: Since the global financial crisis, the European Union has been deeply divided over economic policy. With the Libya intervention, it has split over foreign policy. But today few issues are proving more divisive within the bloc than immigration. That much was clear this week, when the fractious 27-member European Union rejected Italy’s idea to make it easier for immigrants who first land in Italy to travel elsewhere in Europe. At a time when a wave of immigrants fleeing the unrest in North Africa shows no signs of abating, the rejection raised the possibility of tightened intra-European border controls for the first time since visa-free travel was introduced in the 1990s. Frustrations have been building here for weeks, and over the weekend Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi finally said enough was enough. Visiting the Italian island of Lampedusa, the point of entry for thousands of North African immigrants to Europe, he said: “Either Europe is something that’s real and concrete or it isn’t. And in that case, it’s better to go back to each going our own way and letting everyone follow his own policies and egotism.”

Meg Whitman Says the GOP Must Change Its Approach on Immigration

The former gubernatorial candidate, speaking at a conference in Dallas, said the party's rhetoric on immigration is not helpful in California, with its large Latino population.

Los Angeles Times: Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said Tuesday that her party must change its approach on immigration if it wants to be successful in California. "My view is that the immigration discussion, the rhetoric the Republican Party uses, is not helpful; it's not helpful in a state with the Latino population we have," Whitman said during a brief interview following a speech at a George W. Bush Institute conference on the economy. "We as a party are going to have to make some changes, how we think about immigration, and how we talk about immigration." In her remarks, among the first made by the former EBay chief since she spent $144 million of her fortune on her campaign loss to Democrat Jerry Brown, Whitman did not offer specific prescriptions. During the 2010 campaign, Whitman made an unprecedented multimillion-dollar effort to woo Latinos, who made up about one-fifth of the electorate. She aired ads during the soccer World Cup and set up offices in heavily Latino communities such as East Los Angeles.

Georgia Lawmakers Pass Immigration Control Bill

Reuters: The Georgia House of Representatives passed an Arizona-style bill to limit immigration on Tuesday, one day after the state Senate approved a similar proposal. The legislation would give police the authority to question suspects about their immigration status. But state senators stripped out a requirement for many private employers to check the immigration status of newly-hired employees on a federal database called E-Verify. The Georgia House voted to restore the E-Verify requirement. The bill will now go back to the Senate and likely end up in a joint House-Senate conference committee, said Phil Kent, spokesman for the Virginia-based nonprofit Americans for Immigration Control. Kent predicted that a final bill will clear the legislature later this week. "We think the prospects are good," he said on Tuesday. Although Georgia's Republican Governor Nathan Deal has not said whether he would sign the legislation, Kent is optimistic.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Haitian Asylum Seeker Gets Tangled in Paperwork Mix-Up, Wins Bid to Stay in U.S.

Washington Post: Kesnel Sineus thought he was following all the rules in his bid for asylum. The Haitian native filed an application, wrote letters to nudge his case along, had an interview, then waited for the next step.It turned out to an unexpected one: Federal agents came knocking on his door. He was being ordered out of the country - his life derailed, in part, by a paperwork mix-up. Sineus' fight began in 2000, he says, after he paid a smuggler to get him to Miami by boat. An acquaintance in the Haitian community later helped him file for political asylum. Sineus spoke only Creole and was a stranger to the U.S. legal system. "I know only one thing," he says. "When I'm here, I'm safe." When a friend urged him to move to Arizona, Sineus, now 43, notified immigration officials of his new address. He started cleaning houses and offices in Phoenix.

America's 'National Suicide'

The U.S. needs this man. But it won't let him in. The Orwellian tale of an immigration ordeal.

Newsweek: Lakshminarayana Ganti reached out to me in the spring of 2009, long after he had exhausted every other option. Sixteen months earlier he had been a young man on the rise, living in a waterfront Boston apartment, driving a new BMW, and working long hours for a startup bond-trading firm. By the time he contacted me, he was sleeping in the spare bedroom of his sister's house in a New Delhi suburb, trying to fill his time with cricket and odd consulting jobs. He had found my name through a Facebook group set up by young Indian and Chinese scientists and engineers who had built their lives in America only to find themselves involuntarily exiled in their home countries. I had joined the Facebook group in connection with research into visa delays in the aftermath of 9/11. Hi Ted, he wrote. My case has been pending since Dec 18 '07. Nope that's not a typing error. For a few months I was ok with the delay, and in my mind justified it as-greater good-national security/safety procedures, but 15+ months of background checks on someone who has a clean record? Impossible to rationalise. Regards, Ganti.

Arizona Cities Struggle to Implement New Immigration Laws

Arizona Central: In Arizona, no city has declared itself an official "city of refuge" or begun to issue municipal identification cards. But some cities have been informally labeled sanctuary cities because of their illegal-immigrant-reporting practices. Shortly after Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law in April 2010, Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said he believed that Chandler, Mesa and Phoenix all had policies that violated the new law. He warned that municipalities that are not in compliance could face state sanctions and fines. Although a federal judge halted several parts of SB 1070 from going into effect, the portion of the law that forbids any state or local official or agency from limiting or restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws is in effect. Chandler and Mesa have responded by making subtle alterations to the way they deal with illegal residents. In Chandler, Police Chief Sherry Kiyler had long ordered her officers not to inquire about the citizenship of crime victims, witnesses, civil-traffic violators or juveniles convicted of non-violent crimes. The policy was recently changed to allow - but not require - officers to investigate the legal status of any detainee.

Helping Immigrant Navigate Government

New York Times: The forums are part of a new program, run by the mayor's office, that is intended to improve the relationship between city government and immigrants who are often wary of local authorities or unaware of city services available to them. One N.Y.C., One Nation, as the program is called, is in some ways an acknowledgment that despite Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's vocal support for the city's immigrants, too many of them remain cut off from the mainstream. The first forums have found many immigrants distrustful of the local police, unengaged with their elected officials and unable to find reliable legal help for their immigration problems. "How do we fundamentally engage our immigrant communities to help them understand that their voice matters?" asked Fatima A. Shama, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, which is coordinating the program. The initiative, which began in February, also represents a shift of emphasis for the Bloomberg administration, which has spent significant energy rallying mayors and business leaders to lobby for a broad overhaul of federal immigration policy - only to see its campaign stall in Congress. Instead of looking toward Washington, the new program focuses on government at its most humble: police precinct councils, community board meetings, zoning laws. While local officials and agencies directly affect immigrants' quality of life and sense of empowerment and security, Ms. Shama said immigrants rarely connect with them.

Latino Population Surge Poses Challenge to GOP

Wall Street Journal: The explosive growth of the Hispanic population reflected in the 2010 census will remake the electoral map-and could present Republicans with a challenge. Republicans have broadly benefited from the nation's continued population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to right-leaning Sun Belt states in recent decades, and those states are again expected to add seats in Congress in the next election. But to take full advantage, Republicans will have to win over Latinos, who have fueled much of the population growth, and who lean Democratic in their voting. They accounted for 65% of the population growth in Texas over the past decade, 55% of the growth in Florida and nearly half of the population increase in Arizona and Nevada, census figures show. Those four states alone are due to add a combined eight congressional seats in the next election. But some GOP leaders say Hispanic voters like the party's message of low taxes and family values. They also note that a new cadre of rising Hispanic stars, among them freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, has the potential to draw more Hispanics to the party.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Latinos Rise in Numbers, Not Influence

New York Times reported that: Over the last decade, Florida’s Hispanic population has exploded, especially in central Florida, where the number of Hispanic residents in Orange County jumped 84 percent. They are now 308,244 of 1.2 million residents, about one in four. But some here are raising questions about why Hispanics’ representation on influential political boards has not kept pace with their increase in numbers in this county, of which Orlando is the seat. Last month, only days after the fresh census data reflecting the surge in the Hispanic population, county commissioners and the mayor appointed a 15-member panel to redraw the boundaries of political districts with data culled from the 2010 census. Just two of the board members are Hispanic. The appointing of two non-Hispanic whites by County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson (who, like all the commissioners, had the power to name two panelists) drew particular criticism because she represents a district that is 38.4 percent Hispanic. “It just breaks my heart to see that we are here 40 years, and we should be moving forward and included in every segment of the community, and that is just not happening,” said Trini Quiroz, 62, a community leader who raised her concerns at a recent County Commission meeting. “How do you ignore one-third of the entire population? It’s not right.”

Indiana House Speaker Questions Immigration Crackdown

Businessweek: Indiana's Republican House speaker said Thursday he had concerns about aspects of a proposal calling for an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration moving through the Legislature. Speaker Brian Bosma said that House leaders were talking with business leaders and looking closely at the bill approved by the Senate and awaiting action by the House. That bill contains tax penalties for businesses that hire illegal immigrants and allows police officers to seek proof of immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion a person is in the country illegally. Bosma said he was uncomfortable with the prospect of foreign citizens in the state on work or education visas being frequently questioned.

Obama's Moral Obligation to Detainees Regardless of Immigration Status

A Southern California case in which federal officials agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle a wrongful death suit points up the need for the Obama administration to make authorities responsible for their charges' basic health needs, no matter their immigration status.

Los Angeles Times: Francisco Castaneda spent nearly a year locked up in Southern California immigration detention centers while fighting his deportation case. During that time, the Salvadoran national pleaded with the medical staff to treat painful lesions on his penis. He filed grievances about the quality of care and even sought outside help. Department of Homeland Security health officials responded by giving him Ibuprofen and denying his request for a biopsy because it was considered "an elective procedure." He was released in 2007, and within days was diagnosed with penile cancer. If Castaneda had been an inmate assigned to a "supermax" prison instead of an immigrant held in a detention center, he would have been likely to receive treatment quickly. Instead, he died a year after he was released, at age 36. On Thursday, federal officials agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle a wrongful death suit brought by Castaneda's family. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted in court that its negligence led to his death.

LDS Conference Silent on Immigration

Salt Lake Tribune reported that: The LDS Church endorsed the Utah Compact, spelling out a set of principles supporting a humane approach to immigration reform. Its newspaper, the Deseret News, editorialized about immigration reform on the front page. Its lobbyists worked behind the scenes at the Legislature to push bills that would allow, among other reforms, Utah's undocumented immigrants to pay a fine and continue working in the state. Presiding Bishop H. David Burton showed up at the bills' signing and announced that his presence “testifies to the fact that we are appreciative of what has happened in the Legislature this session." Yet, at the church's 181st Annual General Conference, nary a word was uttered on the topic. At last fall's conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf at least hinted at the issue in a sermon condemning the sin of pride, which, he said, makes people feel superior to others. Speaking of sports fans, Uchtdorf, second counselor to LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, asked, “How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?" Uchtdorf then directed the same critique to the broader arena, saying, "we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity and religion.” Even without a nod from LDS leaders over the pulpit, the issue among Mormons is not going away.

The Real Price of Sealing the Border

Immigration authorities will never have the money to stop all illegal immigrants, as Sen. John McCain and others demand. What's needed are laws that are in line with labor market realities.

Wall Street Journal reported that: It took a budget crisis of unprecedented proportions, but the U.S. Congress is finally starting to ask some tough questions about what it's getting for the billions of dollars that have been spent on securing the borders against illegal entry. The immigration enforcement budget has more than tripled over the past decade, but only recently have some in Congress finally begun to demand a better accounting of the results. In a series of hearings, both Republicans and Democrats who oversee homeland security have sharply criticized the administration over its failure to state clear objectives and measure the outcomes. The effort is long overdue. Congress and the administration have never defined "border security," have never spelled out how much immigration enforcement is "enough," and have not tried to bring immigration laws into line with the resources available for enforcement and the needs of our economy. Here's a place to start. The U.S. government already has a rough idea what it would take to meet all the immigration mandates established by Congress, and the numbers are staggering. In 2002, one of us (Mr. Ziglar) initiated an unprecedented analysis of the massive, inconsistent patchwork of mandates imposed on the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by Congress. Mr. Ziglar testified publicly on the conclusions of that study before the 9/11 Commission, but its findings have never been widely disseminated.

Former Illegal Immigrant Follows Path to Military Service

Arizona Republic reported that: Oscar Vazquez, a former illegal immigrant who returned to Mexico and successfully applied to re-enter legally, has joined the Army. The move can lead him to the front lines as well as to U.S. citizenship. Vazquez, 24, who graduated from Arizona State University with an engineering degree, had long talked of joining the military. He discussed it last summer as he sat in a tiny duplex apartment in Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, waiting for the government to decide whether he was worthy to live legally in the United States. Vazquez visited a Phoenix recruiter in January, his wife, Karla Vazquez, said. Even the recruiters were surprised that the newly minted resident wanted to join. "It was like, 'And the first thing you want to do is join the Army? OK.' " she said. Upon getting his visa and returning to the United States in August, Oscar looked for an engineering job, his wife said, but found little success. Companies were not hiring, she said. Frustrated, Oscar decided it was time to enlist. Karla said she always knew her husband would join the armed forces.

Maryland House Panel Approves Immigrant Tuition Bill, Adds Selective Service Requirement

Washington Post: House lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to grant in-state tuition rates at Maryland colleges to illegal immigrants if they complete two years at a community college and can show their parents paid state taxes for the three years before they enrolled. The House Ways and Means Committee added a requirement that immigrants sign up for the Selective Service to receive the reduced tuition. It also changed the definition of an immigrant receiving the reduced tuition rate to count as a part of a school’s out-of-state student pool, so in-state slots for Maryland residents are unaffected. Delegate Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s, recounted visiting Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, while trying to decide whether he would support the tuition proposal. He told lawmakers that Jefferson supported education for everyone, even his slaves.

Life After Deportation: Young Citizens Left Behind When Mom and Dad Leave Country

Children try to carry on with American lifestyles as best as they can.

Chicago Tribune: In the two years since her father was deported, 13-year-old Elisabeth and her three younger siblings have settled into an after-school routine while their mother, Maria Lourdes, works long hours at a beauty salon. The family shares a cramped bedroom in a Waukegan apartment. When school friends wonder why her father is no longer in the picture, Elisabeth has learned to change the subject. "I don't answer," she said. "It's such a long story." After Elisabeth's father was deported, the family moved briefly to Mexico. But domestic discord led Maria Lourdes to return to Waukegan with her children, who were born here and are U.S. citizens. She, like her husband, is undocumented, but has applied for a visa to remain in the country. Now, the four children carry on in America as best as they can, just like a growing number of young people who were born in this country and have seen one or both parents deported.

Pearce Bids Anew to Curb Illegal Immigrants

Arizona Daily Star: Unwilling to accept defeat, Senate President Russell Pearce is going to make one last bid to persuade Republican colleagues to approve new state laws aimed at illegal immigrants. But he is scaling back the scope of his effort. Pearce said he will not pursue the more controversial elements of the five measures that failed last month. These include a bid to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants and a proposal to require parents to provide proof the children they are enrolling in school are in this country legally. Also gone, he said, will be a requirement for hospitals to report when people show up for treatment and cannot prove legal presence in this country. But Pearce said there are "enforcement provisions" in his SB 1611, one of the defeated bills, he believes can be approved. One section, for example, would require public-housing authorities to evict any family if any member is an illegal immigrant. Other provisions would make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to drive a vehicle in Arizona and restrict the ability of those not here legally to register a vehicle. There also is another bid to deny illegal immigrants admission into any state university or community college. Pearce wants a new vote by the end of the month.

California Anti-Illegal Immigration Bills Die

OC Register: A state Legislative committee struck down a pair of bills targeting illegal immigration in California, according to news reports. Tuesday, the committee rejected Secure Immigration Act – AB26 – and shorter bill AB1018, The Associated Press reported. AB26 would have allowed citizens to launch lawsuits against any local government that operates as a sanctuary for people who are in the country illegally. The bill also would have made it mandatory for every California employer to use E-Verify – a federal Internet-based program that allows employers to check the eligibility of employees to work in the country. AB1018 would have required all state agencies to use a federal verification program to ensure that the person was eligible for state-funded benefits. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Claremont, introduced the bills, which some experts said faced a hard battle in an Assembly dominated by Democrats. The bills were inspired by Arizona's recent anti-illegal immigration law SB1070, according to KPBS.com. The bill was defeated along party lines in 7-3 vote by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, according to The Associated Press.

Italy Bears Brunt of EU's Immigration Crisis

Globe and Mail reports: In what could be one of the worst tragedies since the exodus began in January, a boat carrying as many as 300 migrants from Libya capsized early Wednesday in rough seas about 65 kilometres off Lampedusa. Rescuers picked up about 50 people; 250 more remained unaccounted for as night fell. Under European law, the country in which the migrants arrive is responsible for determining their legal status. That means Italy has born the brunt of what Mr. Berlusconi has called a “human tsunami.” One member of the migrant wave was Rezene Kifle, a 30-year-old Eritrean with thick curly hair and a friendly manner who has spent much of his adult life looking for a new home. His first stop was Sudan. Then he crossed the Libyan border, only, he said, to be imprisoned for six months. A payment of $1,000 (U.S.) to the guards secured his freedom. For three years, he did odd jobs in Libya and was miserable. “The Libyans, they don’t like black people,” he said. “They robbed you in your house at night. Sometimes we couldn’t get food. Even bread was hard to get.”

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Immigration Court: Troubled System, Long Waits

Associated Press: Every morning, they don their black robes, take their seats and listen to the pleas of a long line of immigrants desperate to stay in America. The pace is fast, the pressure intense, the stories sometimes haunting. The work, these judges say, is exhausting: "The volume is constant and unrelenting.' ... `There is not enough time to think.' ... `Nobody gives a damn about us!' ... `I know I couldn't do this job if I were not on medication for depression or did not have access to competent psychological care myself.' ... `I cannot take this place anymore. What a dismal job this is!'" These are the voices of immigration judges who determine the fate of tens of thousands of people every year — illegal border crossers, visa violators, refugees who flee China, El Salvador, Iran and other countries, each making a case to remain here. These judges are at the heart of a bloated immigration court system saddled by explosive growth, a troubled reputation and a record backlog, according to one estimate, of nearly 268,000 cases. The problems are drawing increased scrutiny of a little-seen world where justice can seem arbitrary, lives can remain in limbo for years — and blame seems to be in abundance.

Legislature Becomes Party in Immigration Case

NECN reports that: A judge granted a request by the Arizona Legislature to let lawmakers help defend the state's immigration enforcement law from a challenge by the federal government. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton says in a ruling Tuesday that the Legislature's participation won't delay the U.S. Justice of Department's lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the law. Attorneys representing the Legislature argued lawmakers should be made a party to the case because they have unique insight into the law's creation. Justice Department lawyers contended that the Legislature's participation would prolong the case and that lawyers for Gov. Jan Brewer and the state Attorney General's Office were already adequately representing the state's interest. The most controversial parts of the law were put on hold by Bolton in July. Brewer is appealing that ruling.

Studies of Immigrant Success Skewed?

UPI reported that: Descendants of Mexican immigrants in the United States may be making better socioeconomic progress than many studies indicate, researchers say. Some recent studies have raised red flags about the economic progress of Mexican-Americans, saying third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans are no more likely to graduate high school than second-generation Mexican-Americans, with wages stagnating after the second generation as well. However, two U.S. economists, writing in The Journal of Labor Economics, say these studies all share a common problem that is skewing the results. "Almost without exception, studies of later-generation Mexican-Americans rely on ethnic self-identification to identify the population of interest," Brian Duncan of the University of Colorado and Stephen Trejo of the University of Texas said. That's a problem in the studies, the researchers say, because many immigrant descendants may not identify themselves as Mexican-American on surveys or census forms.

Alabama Lawmakers Approve Immigration Crackdown

Reuters: The Alabama state House of Representative passed an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration on Tuesday, despite opposition from Democrats and civil rights groups. The measure, which passed by 73 votes to 28 on Tuesday evening, would give state and local police broad powers to check the immigration status of people detained on other charges. It also would require businesses in the state to run checks on new employees through a federal computer database, dubbed an "E-verify," and use a state verification program to deny public services to illegal immigrants. The bill will now go to the Alabama Senate for a vote. "We cannot allow Alabama to become a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants," Rep. Micky Hammon, a Republican who sponsored the bill, told the House. The law is similar to the controversial anti-immigration measure passed by Arizona last year that sparked a legal fight and a confrontation with the federal government. During a vigorous debate, legislators voiced concerns over the additional cost the crackdown would place on already strained state and civic budgets.

Ban Sparks Immigration Protest

UPI: Georgia's move to ban illegal immigrants from attending certain state colleges and universities sparked a protest that resulted in arrests, Atlanta police said. Police apprehended at least seven of the more than 100 demonstrators who blocked traffic on a downtown street Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The group included college students, civil rights activists and others who marched around the Georgia State University Campus before sitting down in the middle of Courtland Street. Several of the activists declared they were in the United States illegally and criticized restrictions illegal students face. Effective next fall, illegal immigrants are barred from admittance to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia College & State University and the Medical College of Georgia.

Arizona Migrant Households Use Welfare at High Rate, Report Says

Arizona Republic: A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that wants to restrict immigration, says that immigrant households with children in Arizona use welfare programs at a higher rate than in any other state. Sixty-two percent of immigrant households with children in Arizona use at least one welfare program, edging out Texas, California and New York, all with about 61 percent, said the report, based on census data for 2009. In comparison, nearly 39 percent of native households with children in Arizona use at least one welfare program, said the report, which drew criticism from some immigrant-and children's-advocacy organizations for making what they said were unequal comparisons. Nationwide, the report found that immigrant households with children use welfare programs much more often than native households with children, 57 percent compared with 39 percent. The report also found that households headed by illegal immigrants used welfare programs more often than households headed by legal immigrants, 71 percent compared with 52 percent.

Tea Party Senators Target Birthright Citizenship for Immigrant Children

Republican Senators Draft Bill to Clarify Interpretation of 14th Amendment

ABC News reported that: A posse of Tea Party Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week opened a new front in the crusade against birthright citizenship with draft legislation that would bar children of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens. Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas say their bill requires the federal government to limit automatic citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, legal resident, or member of the military. The senators say a misinterpretation of the Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment, has led to tens of thousands of "anchor babies" -- children of illegal immigrants or foreign tourists, born in the U.S., who can in turn sponsor legal residency for their parents and extended families.

1/8 Florida Senate Committee OK's Immigration Bill

Miami Herald: Legislators seeking to discourage the hiring of illegal immigrants are one step closer to overhauling Florida's employment law. The State Senate's judiciary committee on Monday approved a bill requiring companies use the federal government's electronic verification program for new hires or to request those employees show state-issued identification cards. The bill also encourages local enforcement agencies to train officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Unlike previous drafts, though, the bill does not require such training due to budget constraints. The proposal passed along party lines with Republicans in favor, Democrats against. Lawmakers declined to hear comments from the more than 100 immigrants and their supporters attending the hearing. The bill must now go through two more committees before it reaches the Senate floor.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

As Minority Populations Grow

New York Times: In 1970, when I was 3, there were 170 million non-Hispanic white Americans, and they represented 83 percent of America's population. Today, there are 197 million non-Hispanic whites in this country, and they represent less than 64 percent of America's population. If current trends continue at the same pace - and if my life isn't cut short by overconsumption of oysters or cigars - I will live to see the 2050 Census measure an even more wonderfully diverse America, where my own demographic subgroup has become a minority. Without this increasing diversity, America's population would have been largely stagnant. Over the last 40 years, our country's population has increased by 106 million people. Seventy-four percent of that increase, 78 million people, came from the growth of the minority population. Over the last decade, the non-Hispanic white population increased by a paltry 2.26 million, less than a tenth of the overall population increase of 27 million. The different patterns of growth across the United States are also driven largely by growth in Hispanic and nonwhite populations. The chart below shows the relationship between the growth of a state's population and the share of that growth accounted for by growth in the state's minority population. (I excluded Michigan, which lost people, and Rhode Island, where growth in the minority population was 14 times greater than its tiny overall population growth.)

Wrestler Henry Cejudo Seeks Immigration Law Change, Another Gold Medal

USA Today: Henry Cejudo could have stayed away. He already left his signature on one of America's hottest hot-button issues. The son of illegal immigrants from Mexico, he held an American flag high while celebrating his wrestling gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. fterward, he spoke openly about his mom naively crossing the border in high heels, his drug-abusing dad dying impoverished in Mexico, his itinerant childhood spent evading rent collectors. He put the details in a book titled American Victory. He settled back in his home state of Arizona. He didn't stay settled for long "We're living in the damn '60s, the '50s in Arizona," he says. A state law passed last year requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain or arrest that they suspect is in the country illegally. A federal judge's decision to block the law is being appealed. Another proposed law would deny state citizenship to children born in the USA if neither parent has legal status. "They've done a lot of articles on this whole 'anchor baby' law," Cejudo says, using the pejorative description that refers to U.S.-born children "anchoring" their illegal parents here. "I feel like I'm a figurehead to that."

California Lawmaker Promotes Arizona-Like Immigration Bill

San Francisco Chronicle: A tea party member promoted an anti-illegal immigration bill Monday that is loosely modeled after one that drew attention to Arizona last year. The bill by Republican state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County would go after so-called sanctuary cities and employers who hire illegal immigrants. The Assembly Judiciary Committee was expected to consider the bill Tuesday. It has little chance of surviving the Democratic-controlled Legislature. AB26 does not include language similar to the most high-profile provision of the Arizona law, which directed law enforcement officers to check the citizenship status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Critics said that provision encourages racial profiling. The sponsor of the Arizona bill, state Senate President Russell Pearce, said at a rally Monday with Donnelly that his proposal was not divisive and merely enforces the law. "Controversial with who? Those who support the law versus those who don't?" said Pearce, a Republican. Most portions of the Arizona law are on hold as it is being contested in federal court. Donnelly, a state Minuteman founder who has been shown on TV constructing a border fence, said he is not anti-immigrant.

White House Resists Push to Stop Deportations, Members of Congress Say

Bloomberg: The White House is urging lawmakers to back away from a campaign led by Hispanic Democrats to block deportations involving U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, a move that risks antagonizing Latino voters crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election. Several members of Congress who were scheduled to attend a March 31 news conference on the issue said administration officials contacted them to voice concern about their participation. Until U.S. immigration law is overhauled, the lawmakers say, Obama should use his executive power to protect families facing deportation or separation because at least one parent is an illegal immigrant. "The staffers that are attached to us, the liaisons, they transmitted some concern," said Representative Mike Honda of California, a former chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, referring to the White House legislative affairs office. "They would have loved us not to have gone to the press conference." Honda, a Japanese-American, attended with other officials, including Asian and black lawmakers, even after getting a call, because it's "not only about Hispanics," he said. "I want to broaden that so people don't think just brown." At least three Democrats -- Representatives Honda, Judy Chu of California and Keith Ellison of Minnesota -- said they were contacted about the event. Representatives Yvette Clarke of New York and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who, like Ellison, are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, were scheduled to attend and didn't, according to their offices. Neither Clarke nor Lee could be reached for comment.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Arizona Demonstrates the Lunacy of Mass Deportations

Washington Post: When Arizona lawmakers enactedlegislation last year inflating the power of police officers to check immigration status when they make even routine stops, they staked out a reputation for the state as a citadel of intolerance. That was by design, for their explicit purpose was to drive away the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who, lured by jobs and a booming economy, had arrived in the state in the preceding 10 or 15 years. The law, hung up by constitutional challenges, has never taken full effect. But it has had an important unintended consequence - as a wake-up call to the nation's business community, for which a policy aimed at deporting millions of undocumented workers is economic lunacy. Thanks largely to a backlash from business, state legislatures elsewhere have balked at adopting Arizona-style laws, though a few, particularly in the South, have passed bills designed to deny opportunities to illegal immigrants and keep them in the shadows. The business backlash is motivated partly by fears that other states could suffer Arizona's fate: boycotts and cancellations that have meant tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue for hotels, restaurants and other businesses that rely on visitors. But businesses also fear the potential economic damage from mass deportation. A new report by the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center, groups that are sympathetic to illegal immigrants but intellectually serious, examines those costs in detail and concludes that they would be staggering.

Other States Not Following Arizona's Lead

Arizona Republic: Other states may have learned from Arizona's mistake: The expected copy-at immigration laws have not - so far - materialized. But opponents of one-dimensional non-solutions such as Arizona's SB 1070 cannot take too much comfort in the fact that enforcement-heavy state laws have not made much progress. For one thing, there's still time for bad ideas to be resurrected.For another, the federal government has not done anything to ease the public's frustration over illegal immigration. That means those who peddle SB 1070-type legislation at the state level still have a shot at enacting more mischief. The need for a functional immigration policy did not disappear in 2006 when Congress failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform. It is not eased by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's pronouncements that the border is more secure than ever. SB 1070 was more the product of what the federal government didn't do than what Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce did to get it passed and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

Political Will Doesn't Exist for Major Migrant Reform

Arizona Republic (Opinions): I've never been one to shy away from lost causes. Over the years, some of my so-called lost causes, like earmark reform, have even become cause celebres. It just takes a little persistence and a lot of patience. However, border security is an issue too important to Arizona for us to continue to insist on tying it to immigration reforms that may not come for years, if at all. I've long felt that the best way to secure our southern border is to increase border security while creating a legal framework for foreign workers to work in the U.S. and return home. While there are already a number of worker-visa programs in operation, these programs are insufficient to meet the demand for workers, particularly when the U.S. economy is thriving.

Immigrants Demand That Obama Act on Promises of Reform Latin American

Latin American Herald Tribune: Groups of immigrants along with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Thursday presented the Change Takes Courage Campaign, in accord with which they will tour the United States to ask President Barack Obama for "justice" for the undocumented. The initiative is aimed at getting Obama to fulfill the promises for change and reform he made when he was a presidential candidate and called the deportations and practices of the George W. Bush administration vis-a-vis illegal immigrants cruel. Two years later, more than 1 million people have been deported during the new administration and 4 million U.S.-born children of immigrants are facing the possibility that one or both of their parents might be deported "We're not asking for TPS (Temporary Protected Status), we understand that that is inappropriate in relation to this community. We're not asking for an executive order, it's unnecessary for the president to create new laws," Gutierrez said Thursday on Capitol Hill. "What we're asking for is for (Obama) to use the broad powers he already has in his hands within the law to provide relief and justice to these families," he said in the remarks unveiling the new initiative in Congress.

Activists Fight Immigrant Roundups

Prod Obama to Reduce Numbers Being Deported

Washington Times: With deportations up under President Obama, immigration rights advocates on Thursday called on him to use executive authority to reduce the number of illegal immigrants being deported, and vowed a city-by-city campaign to press the issue. With Congress unlikely to act this year on a bill to legalize such immigrants, the advocates are appealing to the president to step in and halt deportations in the meantime. They said many illegal immigrants are the victims of a broken system and deserve to stay - particularly if they have children who were born here, thus are U.S. citizens who could be separated from their deported parents. "In this climate, we cannot expect Congress to take action to right these wrongs, but change can still happen if President Obama can find the courage of his convictions," said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. The activists said Mr. Obama promised action on immigration in his campaign, and feel slighted that he used his political capital to push other issues during his first two years in office. Mr. Obama has said he wants Congress to act, but didn't put legislative muscle behind the cause until the lame-duck session last year, when his belated efforts to legalize illegal-immigrant students and young adults fell short.