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


Monday, April 30, 2012

Your Papers, Please: Arizona, Immigration and the Welfare State

Baltimore Sun (Opinion by Jonah Goldberg): With the Supreme Court taking up Arizona's "show me your papers" immigration law, we're once again thrust into a useful debate over the role of the government and the obligations of the citizen -- and non-citizen. Rather than come at it from the usual angle, I thought I'd try something different.

If there were one thing I could impress upon people about the nature of the state, it's that governments by their very nature want to make their citizens "legible."

I borrow that word from James C. Scott, whose book "Seeing Like a State" left a lasting impression on me. Mr. Scott studied why the state has always seen "people who move around" to be the enemy. Around the world, according to Mr. Scott, states have historically seen nomadic peoples, herdsmen, slash-and-burn hill people, Gypsies, hunter-gatherers, vagrants, runaway slaves and serfs as problems to be solved. States have tried to make these people stay in one place.

But as Mr. Scott examined "sedentarization" (making mobile people settle down), he realized this practice was simply part of a more fundamental drive of the state: to make the whole population legible to the state. The premodern state was "blind" to its subjects. But the modern state was determined first to see them, and then organize them. This is why so many rulers pushed for the universal usage of last names starting around 1600 (aristocrats had been using family or clan names for centuries already). The same goes with the push for more accurate addresses, the standardization of weights and measures, and of course the use of censuses and surveys. It's much easier to collect taxes, conscript soldiers, fight crime and put down rebellions if you know who people are and where they live.

Perhaps the most obvious means of making the populace legible is the identity card or internal passport. The history of the identity card is a fascinating and shockingly complex one. For instance, did you know that identity cards were seen as a war on bigamy in many countries?

Opponents of the Arizona immigration law like to conjure scenes from Nazi Germany, with the Gestapo asking, "Ihre papiere, bitte" ("Your papers, please"). And it's indisputably true that police states, from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union to Castro's Cuba and the North Korea of the Kims, have a deep relationship with the identity card for obvious reasons. But German officials were saying "Ihre papiere, bitte" long before anyone heard of the Nazis.

The United Kingdom has debated the merits of identity cards several times over the generations. During World War I, Britain's National Registration was hugely controversial because it was seen as too "Prussian." A generation earlier, the Prussians, under Otto von Bismarck, had famously created the first modern administrative state, which included the precursor to America's Social Security system and what today might be called "jobs programs." The Prussians also pioneered the public school system in order to make the people more legible to the state -- imposing common language, political indoctrination and the like.

A system of reliable ID was necessary for conscription and internal security -- government's top concerns -- but it was also necessary to properly allocate the benefits and jobs the state doled out in order to buy popular support, and to enforce school attendance.

And this brings me to our current debate over Arizona's immigration laws. Opponents like to conjure the police-state association of "Ihre papiere, bitte." I think that's wildly exaggerated (and so do several Supreme Court justices, apparently). But as someone who's against a national ID card, I'm sympathetic to the concern nonetheless. The Constitution lists three federal crimes -- treason, piracy and counterfeiting -- but today we have more than 4,500 federal crimes, all because the government in Washington wants to make the American people more legible. I don't want to make that easier with a national ID card.

But what I wish liberal opponents would understand is that in a society where the government "gives" so much to its citizens, it's inevitable that the state will pursue ways to more clearly demarcate the lines between the citizen and the non-citizen.

Most (but by no means all) conservatives I know would have few problems with large-scale immigration if we didn't have a welfare state that bequeaths so many benefits on citizens and non-citizens alike. I myself am a huge fan of legal immigration. But if you try to see things like a state for a second, it's simply unsustainable to have a libertarian immigration policy and a liberal welfare state. Ultimately, if you don't want cops asking for your papers, you need to get rid of one or the other.

Jonah Goldberg is the author of the forthcoming book "The Tyranny of Clich├ęs."

Alabama May Have to Address Immigration Law Again

The Gadsden Times (by Dana Beyerle): A state senator said the Legislature should wait to revise Alabama's anti-illegal immigration law until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the federal government's challenge of a similar law in Arizona.

Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, last week said that while he favors state immigration control, he agrees with Attorney General Luther Strange that the Legislature should wait on the Supreme Court's interpretation of Arizona's law that was a blueprint for Alabama's.

"I do think that it's premature," Allen said of possible Senate action this week. "My thought has always been let's wait and see what the Supreme Court rules on and have the governor call us into special session to deal with those issues that have been brought up."

Allen said the Supreme Court will "give us some guidelines to go by."

"There may be some parts of the bill that need to be tweaked," Allen said. "I do think they're going to be very clear on what we need to do."

The bill the Senate could take up this week, House Bill 658 by Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, attempts to revise the 2011 anti-illegal immigration law sponsored by Hammon and Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale. HB 658 has passed the House and a Senate committee.

The Supreme Court last week heard arguments in the Arizona challenge, but a decision isn't expected until later this spring or summer.

"If the court has a decision that causes us to want to change parts of the bill, we can," Hammon said.

A federal judge in Alabama stayed parts of the 2011 law and the decision is on appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hammon said it's no big deal to address the 2011 law a second time.

"We have changed parts of those that have been stayed," Hammon said. "We hope they will release the stayed portions so we can start enforcing it."

Victor Spezzini, an organizer for Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama who attended an Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice rally at the State House last week, said the Legislature ought to repeal the 2011 law.

"With the exception of e-verify, it pretty much is unconstitutional and bad for Alabama," Spezzini said. "We believe all these proposals create new and unintended consequences."

Spezzini said many undocumented immigrants originally come with documents but overstay. "For most people, there is no way to come here with papers," he said.

Support for and opposition to the immigration bill pretty much falls along party lines. Hammon's bill passed last year due to Republicans holding a majority of House and Senate seats.

The conference committee report passed the House 67-25 and the Senate 25-7. Three Democrats voted for the bill in the House and four in the Senate. Not one Republican voted against it.

Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, opposes the law itself.

"I think there is no fixing the immigration bill," Singleton said. "We believe all these proposals create new and unintended consequences."

He said he supports a bill by Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, that simply repeals the 2011 law.

"It's a federal issue, and we need to continue to let the federal government do that," said Singleton. "We aren't equipped to do that."

Singleton said he believes the anti-illegal immigration law backed by Republican legislators is all about opposing President Barack Obama. "It's very political," he said.

"We as Democrats said to Republicans who are trying to push this that you're going to have some legal consequences, and our attorney general is going to end up in court again," Singleton said.

Strange in December suggested several revisions to bring the 2011 law in line with federal court questions. After attending oral arguments at the Supreme Court, he said that the Legislature ought to wait until the court rules before proceeding with revisions.

"The court, in this landmark case, will provide guidance on the validity of Arizona's immigration law which will impact Alabama's immigration law along with those of several other states," Strange said.

Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, said he opposes a delay because he believes questions by Supreme Court justices at Wednesday's oral arguments indicate support for the portion of Arizona's law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop.

"Based on indications from the court, I don't think we'll have to do anything different on our bill," Williams said. "The states are being left to defend themselves and guard their own citizens from the lack of the feds following procedures and laws."

Spezzini countered Williams' contention.

"As far as enforcement, the Obama administration has shattered every deportation record of any administration," he said. "(The 2011) law has interfered with that rather than help it."

Whether Senate action on his bill is successful, Hammon said the 2011 law has had a desired effect, at least in his mind -- illegal immigrants fearing Alabama's law are leaving or simply not coming to the state.

It's called self-deportation.

"I was surprised that happened." Hammon said. "We've had a lot of that and will continue to."

Nevada Governor Backs Away from Strict Immigration Reform

Associated Press: Gov. Brian Sandoval, who as a candidate angered Hispanics two years ago when he supported Arizona's tough immigration laws, repeated his stance that a similar law is unnecessary in Nevada, regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Arizona case.

Although a favorable ruling from the high court in the Arizona immigration case could embolden efforts to tighten Nevada's laws, success is unlikely.

"I don't know if there's an appetite in the Legislature to do anything like Arizona did," said Robert Uithoven, a Republican strategist. "Any kind of immigration reform the Republicans want to push would have a tough time."

The Supreme Court justices hinted during arguments this week that they may allow Arizona to enforce its requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.

Sandoval "supports Arizona's right to respond and adopt laws to protect the safety and welfare of its citizens," Mary-Sarah Kinner, the governor's press secretary, said in an email.

And while he "supports some of the provisions that the Supreme Court discussed this week," Kinner said the governor "has heard from law enforcement officials across Nevada who believe they don't need a new law here."

State Sen. Mo Denis, leader of the Democratic caucus, said he doesn't expect it to be an issue during the 2013 legislative session.

"Those types of laws try to discriminate against people," he said. "When you're a tourism-based economy, you want everyone to come here and not feel discriminated against."

Because Democrats maintain control of at least one chamber, Republican-backed immigration bills are essentially dead on arrival.

"It's truly a waste of time," Denis said.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, introduced a bill in the 2011 Legislature that mirrored the Arizona law but that legislation died without fanfare in the Assembly and Senate, both controlled by Democrats.

The control of the Senate is very much in play going into the November elections. But unless Republicans take command of the Assembly in 2013 -- an unlikely scenario -- Hansen said any effort to revive the issue would meet a similar fate as last year.

"There will absolutely be some momentum" if the Supreme Court upholds key components of Arizona's immigration enforcement measures, said Hansen, who is running unopposed for re-election in November.

"Whether it's enough to overcome the inertia in the Legislature is another question."

Immigration laws were a hot campaign issue in 2010 after the Arizona law passed. The support of many Republicans spurred rallied in opposition and Democrats tried to take advantage with voter registration drives targeting Latinos.

Hansen thinks there is strong public support for tighter immigration laws in Nevada, and said a ballot measure may be the only way to enact it.

"If you can put it on the ballot, I think it would pass overwhelmingly," he said.

Chad Christensen, a former state Assemblyman who lost to Sharron Angle in Nevada's crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary, tried that approach two years ago but had to abandon the effort after a series of legal challenges forced delays that made it impossible to meet a signature deadline.

The issue so far this year hasn't generated that kind of intensity, though Fernando Romero of Hispanics in Politics said there remains a lot of angst among Latino communities who want resolution to the immigration reform debate.

"It doesn't get any better with time," Romero. "It's not like wine that gets better with time. It's like vinegar. It gets bitter."

While the issue unites the Hispanic community, Romero is saddened by the drawn out controversy.

"Why should we expend so much time and energy speaking about something that is so vile?" he said.

Supreme Court approval of the Arizona law, Romero fears, is going to be a divisive issue.

"It's something we don't need in this country," he said.

Supreme Court Stance On Arizona Immigration Law Could Spur Similar Measures

Associated Press (by David Crary): Emboldened by signals that the U.S. Supreme Court may uphold parts of Arizona's immigration law, legislators and activists across the country say they are gearing up to push for similar get-tough measures in their states.

"We're getting our national network ready to run with the ball, and saturate state legislatures with versions of the law," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration. "We believe we can pass it in most states."

That goal may be a stretch, but lawmakers in about a dozen states told The Associated Press they were interested in proposing Arizona-style laws if its key components are upheld by the Supreme Court. A ruling is expected in June on the Department of Justice's appeal that the law conflicts with federal immigration policy.

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said he was encouraged that several justices suggested during Wednesday's oral arguments that they are ready to let Arizona enforce the most controversial part of its law -- a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. Another provision allows suspected illegal immigrants to be arrested without warrants

"The justices sent a clear signal that there's a huge zone for state action in this area," Stein said. "There will be an enormous amount of energy spent in next few months examining the full range of possibilities."

For starters, a ruling in favor of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 would likely enable Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah to put move forward with comparable measures that were enacted but have been on hold pending the high court's decision.

"If Arizona does very well, we'll do very well," said Alabama Sen. Scott Beason, sponsor of a law that in some respects is tougher than Arizona's. In addition to requiring police to determine citizenship status during traffic stops, it directs government offices to verify legal residency for transactions like obtaining a car license, enrolling a child in school and getting a job.

Lawmakers in such diverse states as Mississippi and Pennsylvania said they would be eager to follow the Arizona/Alabama model if the Supreme Court gives a green light.

"You look at poll after poll after poll, whether they're a business owner or employee or small business owner or executive, the majority of Americans support bills like 1070," said Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican who chairs the House State Government Committee.

Metcalfe has already introduced a bill that incorporates Arizona's law and is waiting for a favorable Supreme Court ruling to bring it up in his committee.

In Mississippi, a get-tough immigration bill passed the House earlier this year but died in a Senate committee. Its backers plan to try again next year, and hope for a Supreme Court ruling that gives them guidance.

"This just ensures to the taxpayers of Mississippi that when we pass the law, we won't end up in a long court battle," said Republican Rep. Becky Currie.

As in Mississippi, South Dakota lawmakers also have rejected a measure based on the Arizona law, but its sponsor, Republican Rep. Manny Steele of Sioux Falls, says he's ready to try again.

"I would be excited to get another bill going back in there, according to what the Supreme Court decision is," Steele said.

In Rhode Island, Rep. Peter Palumbo said he was pleased by the Supreme Court's apparent support for allowing states to enforce immigration law.

"It's tremendous," said Palumbo, a Democrat who would like to empower the state police to help federal authorities with immigration enforcement.

In several states where neither major party has a monopoly on power -- Iowa, Colorado, Montana and Kentucky, among them -- lawmakers said the fate of any hardline immigration bill likely will depend on the outcome of state elections in November.

One of Kentucky's leading critics of illegal immigration, Republican Rep. Stan Lee, said an Arizona-style bill has little chance of overcoming staunch opposition from the Democratic majority in the House.

"Even if the Supreme Court upholds all or virtually all of that, I don't expect to pursue any of that type of legislation unless there's a significant change in the makeup of the House," Lee said. "The votes, as I've discovered, just aren't there."

In Minnesota, Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski said he'll consider proposing a bill modeled in part on the Arizona law but acknowledged that it could well be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, whose term runs until 2014.

In Kansas, where Republicans dominate, GOP legislators are split over immigration, preventing action both on proposals to crack down on illegal immigration and a business-backed program to place some immigrants in hard-to-fill jobs in farming and other sectors.

Among the leaders of the get-tough faction in Kansas is Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a former law professor who helped write the Arizona and Alabama laws. Kobach said the Supreme Court arguments bolstered his view that the most controversial part of the Arizona law -- the "show your papers" provision -- would withstand a legal challenge.

If the Supreme Court upholds key parts of the law, "it will be a huge green light," he said. "All of the other states will have a blueprint that they can copy."

In Virginia, which already has numerous restrictive immigration laws, Republican Delegate David Albo said there may not be room for many more.

"We're already bumping up against the legal limits of what we're allowed to do," said Albo, author of a law that denies adult illegal immigrants non-emergency public benefits such as food stamps and welfare benefits.

In many states, there is little or no prospect for adopting Arizona-style laws anytime soon. In some cases, such as in Idaho, it's because the agriculture industry worries about losing needed workers; elsewhere it's a question of immigrant-friendly politics.

"I can't envision the state adopting the position that we should be enforcing immigrant laws," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, noting that his state has ample law enforcement challenges on its plate already.

In Illinois, which has some of the most immigrant-friendly laws in the nation, Republican Rep. Randy Ramey has tried four times to propose an Arizona-style law but failed to get a measure out of committee. Heartened by the Supreme Court arguments, Ramey said he may try again despite the odds.

"It encourages me, but doesn't mean anything will move here as long as Democrats are in charge," he said. "They'll just laugh at it."

Stands on the issue don't always follow predictable party lines. Republican Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada -- both Hispanics -- say Arizona-style laws aren't needed in their states. Hispanics account for 46 percent of the population in New Mexico, the highest proportion of any state.

"Gov. Martinez fully believes that any policies addressing illegal immigration have to begin at the federal level," said her spokesman, Greg Blair.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Of that total, roughly 6.1 million are from Mexico, down from nearly 7 million in 2007, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday. That decline has coincided with a cooling-off of the immigration debate in some states, such as Tennessee.

"It doesn't seem to have the same numbers that were here a couple of years ago," said state Sen. Bill Ketron, a Republican who has sponsored a number of bills targeting illegal immigrants.

Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, predicted that most states -- regardless of the Supreme Court's decision -- would stay away from Arizona-type laws out of self-interest.

"For most of them, the balance sheets do not add up," she said, referring to the Alabama law that has created burdens for some business and caused farmers to complain about lack of workers to pick their crops.

Vermont, where a growing number of Hispanic migrants work in the dairy industry, is among a handful of states overtly welcoming immigrants regardless of their legal status. Last fall, Gov. Peter Shumlin urged police to "look the other way" when the only legal problem might be an immigration violation.

"Vermont is the antithesis of Arizona," said Rep. Suzi Wizowaty of Burlington, who has backed a bill to require police to follow such policies. "Our goal in Vermont is to be the kind of place that welcomes all kinds of people."

The welcome mat is out in Alaska, also.

"We want more immigrants," said Republican Rep. Paul Seaton. "There just aren't people from here to do the work."

Fewer Illegal Immigrants Stopped for Traffic Violations Will Face Deportation

New York Times (by Julia Preston): Fewer illegal immigrants stopped by police for minor traffic violations would be held for deportation under changes announced Friday to a federal fingerprinting program, Department of Homeland Security officials said.

The policy change on how federal agents will handle illegal immigrants arrested by state and local police for offenses like driving without a license came in the department's response to a report by a task force on the federal program.

One of the task force's central recommendations was that the program, called Secure Communities, should avoid deportations of traffic violators.

The sharply critical task force report, issued last September, argued that such deportations were inconsistent with the department's stated priorities of removing foreigners with serious criminal records. The increase in deportations of minor offenders under Secure Communities, the task force concluded, was undermining vital ties of trust between local police and immigrant neighborhoods.

In a 19-page response released Friday, Homeland Security officials forcefully reasserted their support for the program, which has been the center of fierce controversy since it began in October 2008. The program has put President Obama at odds with governors in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, who are his political allies, and eroded support for him in Latino communities. Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that Latinos will be crucial voters in the presidential election.

Homeland Security officials also accepted almost all of the task force's recommendations, acknowledging that poor communications by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the administering agency, had caused major confusion about the program's goals and how it works.

The Obama administration's changes came after a hearing at the Supreme Court on Wednesday where government lawyers argued against an Arizona law that would expand the powers of the police to enforce immigration laws. Administration officials say Secure Communities is an example of the aggressive federal enforcement that makes action by state police unnecessary and counterproductive.

In its response on Friday, the department said the program remains "the single best tool" for focusing deportation resources on immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, pose a threat to public safety or repeatedly violate immigration law.

Under the program, fingerprints of anyone booked by the police are checked against F.B.I. criminal databases -- long a routine procedure -- and also against databases of the Department of Homeland Security, which include immigration violations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, has been rapidly extending the program with the goal of reaching all 3,181 jurisdictions in the country by next year.

Homeland Security officials contended that the new policy on traffic violators could bring a major change in the program's impact.

As the program spread, more local arrests resulted in immigration holds, and illegal immigrants who did not have criminal convictions found themselves facing deportation because of tickets for speeding, burned-out tail lights or driving without a license.

In all but a handful of states, immigrants here illegally cannot obtain driver's licenses.

Under the refinement, when illegal immigrants are arrested solely for traffic offenses and do not have a prior criminal record, federal agents will only consider placing a hold -- known as a detainer -- after they are convicted.

"ICE agrees that enforcement action based solely on a charge for a minor traffic offense is generally not an efficient use of government resources," the department response says.

Immigrants arrested for drunken driving would not benefit from the new policy, officials said.

In practice, most traffic violators are released well before they are convicted, and now immigrants stopped by traffic police will not remain in custody to be picked up by federal agents.

Detainers are only in effect as long as the immigrant is in local police custody, homeland security officials said.

ICE also reported that it held more than 700 meetings last year with law enforcement agencies and immigrant advocates to explain the program.

In February, ICE created a public advocate to hear concerns of immigrants facing deportation, and has stepped up training for its staff.

The task force chairman, Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, praised the department's response.

"It is encouraging in that they are not defensive and they recognize the issues we raised and appear to be committed to dealing with them," Mr. Wexler said. His group conducts research on crime for police chiefs.

But dissension arose among task force members. Benjamin E. Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration group in Washington, said that ICE had not actually accepted the task force's key recommendation, which was that no traffic offenders should be detained under Secure Communities.

Mr. Johnson said ICE would only further confuse local police by issuing immigration holds after traffic convictions.

"In a traffic setting, we were very clear that ICE should just get out of the business of issuing detainers," Mr. Johnson said.

Immigration Eases Up On Minor Traffic Cases

Associated Press: Immigration officials say they will no longer immediately detain suspected illegal immigrants who are arrested only on minor traffic violations and have no criminal history.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said Friday that immigration agents will now consider detaining people arrested on minor traffic offenses -- provided they have no criminal history -- only if they are convicted of these offenses.

The change responds to recommendations from a task force that reviewed a federal program that checks arrestees' fingerprints against immigration records.

Immigrant advocates say the modifications are too minor to revamp a program they say leads to racial profiling and lands too many people without criminal records in detention.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, criticized the government's decision to weaken the so-called Secure Communities program.

NM Gov.'s Grandfather Was US Citizen

Associated Press: Ever since taking office last year as the nation's first Hispanic female governor, New Mexico's Susana Martinez found her family tree scrutinized over whether her Mexican-born paternal grandfather was an illegal immigrant.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press, however, show that he was lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident in 1918 and became a U.S. citizen in 1942, something not even Martinez knew and a discovery that removes a potential trouble spot for someone mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney.

Martinez was surprised at the news, but maintained that his status, citizen or not, didn't affect her political views. "I embrace lawful immigration," she said. "I think it's what makes America wonderful."

The first-term governor insists she's not interested in and wouldn't accept a spot on the GOP ticket. But resolving the questions lifts a "hot potato off her plate," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

"It's been a controversy and it's always mentioned when her name comes up in connection with the vice presidency," he said. "Does it help her? Sure, if Romney has any interest in her and if she has any interest in accepting, if offered."

The questions arose after the former prosecutor advocated early last year the repeal of a 2003 law that allowed foreign nationals without Social Security numbers, including illegal immigrants, to get driver's licenses.

News accounts about a 1930 census initially fueled the idea that Martinez's paternal grandparents had illegally entered the country. The census used an "AL" to designate that her grandparents were "aliens."

That designation wasn't an indication of whether they lawfully entered the U.S. It only meant they were not citizens and hadn't filed papers declaring their intent to become one, according to historians and immigration experts.

Critics who opposed Martinez's proposal seized on the reports, arguing that her family offered an example of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. for a better life and that a repeal of the law would deny others the same chance.

When the questions arose, she couldn't turn to her parents. Her father has Alzheimer's disease and her mother died in 2006. The grandfather died in 1976.

So she initially accepted media accounts and acknowledged that it appeared her grandparents had come to the U.S. without immigration documents. Meanwhile, her proposal died in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

To try to deal with lingering questions, her political organization last fall found documents that indicated her grandfather, Adolfo R. Martinez, had crossed the border several times in the early 1900s.

The immigration documents showed her paternal grandparents followed common practices in crossing what was essentially an open border at the time. The documents weren't clear that he had been lawfully admitted for permanent residency.

The AP obtained a "certificate of naturalization," dated April 6, 1942, from the National Archives Southwest Region center in Fort Worth, Texas. When shown the document, Martinez said she was unaware that her grandfather had become a citizen.

Martinez said the citizenship information appears to resolve the immigration questions about her grandfather, but wasn't relevant to her political future or her continuing efforts to stop driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

"I don't see its importance because of this," the governor said. "I've always known that my father's father and grandfather and grandmother were from Mexico. I've never denied it. I've always said it."

"Let's just say they did come here illegally. I don't see how I am responsible for that," she said. "I am an American citizen. I am a lawyer. I think it's important to always understand that we are a nation of laws."

The grandfather's "certificate of arrival" lists March 16, 1918, as the official date he was lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residency. He arrived in El Paso, Texas, by traveling on the "El Paso Electric Railway," according to the document.

His "petition for naturalization" contains personal and family information, including the date and place of his marriage and that he had a scar on his right "first finger."

In El Paso, he worked as a taxi driver. The governor said he was estranged from his family of five children, who were born in the city. His wife died in 1934 at age 31, and the children were raised by the wife's mother — Martinez's maternal great-grandmother.

Historians say immigration between the U.S. and Mexico was largely free of restrictions in the early 20th century. Mexicans could easily declare at checkpoints whether their stay was temporary or whether they intended to become permanent U.S. residents.

The grandfather and his wife paid a "head tax" in July 1918, which was required of immigrants. He obtained a border-crossing card in 1921, making travel easier during World War I, said Marian Smith, a historian at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

He was 48 when he became a citizen. It's unclear why the grandfather waited for more than two decades before becoming a citizen.

Smith said many longtime immigrant residents decided to complete the naturalization process after a 1940 law that required the fingerprinting and registration of non-citizens living in the U.S. Another possibility was his marriage in 1941 to a U.S. citizen.

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr., a history professor at the University of Houston and scholar of Mexican-American history, considers it unfair that a Hispanic elected official like Martinez is subject to scrutiny and possible criticism for the immigrant roots of her family.

"It is definitely an anti-Mexican immigrant strain of thought that is being applied to her," he said.

Sabato said questions about a candidate or elected official's family history are fair game in politics, and doubts that she would suffer much damage even if her family had entered the country illegally.

"Maybe it would be more fair if everybody were subjected to the same scrutiny," he said.

Republicans Seek Lift from Key Voting Bloc: Latinos

Denver Post: As President Barack Obama's re-election campaign launched what it calls the "largest-ever national effort" to engage Latino voters, Republicans in Colorado and across the country signaled they will fight to gain ground among the traditionally Democratic and critical voting bloc.

They know it's an uphill battle. In 2008, Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote, compared with 31 percent for Sen. John McCain. Recent polls show Obama with an advantage of between 67 percent and 70 percent over the presumptive Republican nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"We will work to do much better," Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call said.

Typically, Call said, the party's heaviest push to attract Latino voters comes later in the election cycle.

This year, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus announced a "dramatic expansion" in January of Latino outreach activities, including new staffers and a social-media strategy.

And just before the Democrats launched Spanish-language radio and TV ads as part of the Latinos for Obama effort, the RNC deployed state directors for Latino outreach in three states, including Colorado.

It plans to add directors in Virginia, North Carolina and New Mexico by the end of the month.

"We aren't waiting," Call said. "We know how important this constituency is."

The Obama ads that began running last week focus on education, particularly the growth in funding for HeadStart and Pell grants -- programs that benefit large numbers of Latinos. One features a campaign organizer from Denver who graduated from Harvard University. She talks about how financial aid helped her become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

At hundreds of "house parties" and other events across the nation geared toward Latinos, the campaign also is touting the consecutive months of job growth under Obama, and a health care bill that provides coverage even for people with pre-existing conditions.

And campaign officials point often to two statements Romney made this primary season that could be particularly damaging with Latinos: that as president he would veto the DREAM Act -- which would give illegal-immigrant children who graduate from high school a chance at legal residency, making it easier for them to attend college -- and that Arizona's approach to immigration, seen by some as discriminatory and anti-immigrant, is "a model" for the country.

"In this election, what the president has done and will do versus what Gov. Romney has done and will do is a clear choice for Latinos in this county, and that choice is overwhelmingly for Barack Obama," U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of Florida, a co-chairman of the Obama campaign, said last week.

Alexandra Franceschi, a Latino press secretary for the RNC, said that while it's important to address the issue of immigration, the topic that's foremost on voters' minds is the economy. That's particularly true for Latinos, who have been hit hard by the economic crisis.

"At the end of the day, Latinos, just like everyone else, are going to vote for the nominee who is going to make it so I have economic security, so I have a job," she said. "The Republican message is economic security, small businesses and lower taxes -- things that are really going to resonate in the Latino community."

"We do think we can do a great job this cycle," she said.

But as 20-year-old Dominique Barrera walks neighborhoods and makes phone calls for Obama -- as he has done four to five hours a day, three or four days a week since January -- he's hearing a different sentiment. Given a choice between the president and Romney, he said, the people with whom he's speaking don't equivocate.

Obama, he said, "is for Latinos."

L. A. Mayor Villaraigosa: Rubio's Dream Act Would Create "Second Class Status"

CBS News (by Leigh Ann Caldwell): On "Face the Nation," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said a version of the Dream Act for undocumented students proposed by Republican Senator Marco Rubio would not work.

"I think that Sen. Rubio's version of the Dream Act would create a second class status for folks," Villaraigosa said, referring to a framework by the Florida Senator.

Rubio, who is also considered a potential vice presidential pick for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, has said he is considering his own version of the Dream Act. His unwritten version is reported to give young undocumented immigrants legal status - not citizenship - for joining the military or receiving a higher education.

Villaraigosa criticized Romney's opposition to the Dream Act, which has become an issue this campaign season as Hispanic voters make up 11 percent of the electorate (and an even larger percentage in some states, including in the Southwest).

"[Romney] said the Dream Act would be a handout and he's campaigned with Kris Kobach who authored the Arizona and the Alabama laws," Villaraigosa said, referring to the tough immigration laws in two states. Kobach is the current Kansas Secretary of State and an unpaid adviser to the Romney campaign.

Meanwhile, former Governor Haley Barbour, R-Miss., insisted that Hispanic voters are most concerned about the economy and are "in play" for Republican office-seekers because of the economy. "There's no question the Hispanic vote is a very important vote, and it's a very important vote in some states," he said.

"Unemployment among Hispanics is higher than among others in the United States, particularly among young Latinos. They are being hurt worse by the policies of this administration, and don't think that doesn't enter heavily into their and their families' thinking," Barbour said.

Villaraigosa, however, told Schieffer that Democrats' immigration proposals are good for the economy.

"I agree with Gov. Barbour that the biggest issue is going to be the economy, but [immigration] is going to be a big issue, and if you look at the Dream Act as an example, if we were to give kids pathway to citizenship, or the military, it would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy," Villaraigosa said.

Barbour said the Democrats are not serious about passing immigration legislation.

"They never brought it up the first two years when they had 60 Democrats in the Senate, huge majority in the House. They don't bring it up until after the 2010 elections. I mean, how serious is that?" Barbour rhetorically asked.

The Guest-Worker Approach

Wall Street Journal (Opinion by Jason Riley): Judging from the oral arguments this week, the Supreme Court is likely to uphold at least part of Arizona's controversial immigration law, which is being challenged by the Obama administration. But aside from whether the law is constitutional, there the question of whether additional enforcement measures are the best way to reduce illegal immigration.

Five other states subsequently have adopted laws similar to Arizona's, and the reaction has been mixed. "When Georgia passed certain measures, it really harmed the agriculture industry," says Stuart Anderson, who follows immigration issues at the National Foundation for American Policy. Mr. Anderson, a former INS official, says that there's even been talk among businesses of moving their operations elsewhere to find workers. "In the end, what employers really want is a legal workforce, but our visa system doesn't allow that for the types of jobs that most illegal immigrants fill." Guest-worker programs that allow the free-market to determine the level of immigration would reduce the size of the illegal population, help businesses meet their labor needs and be less disruptive to the local economy.

A new Pew study says that net migration from Mexico has been declining since 2000 and is now zero. Given the state of the U.S. economy, and the fact that most illegal aliens are economic migrants in search of work, the finding isn't surprising. But as our economy improves, pressure on the border is likely to increase. Now would be a good time to consider immigration reform that makes more visas available to foreign workers.

Immigrants Find More Jobs at Home

The Leaf Chronicle (Opinion by Ruben Navarrette): How long before the smugglers who have made millions helping Mexicans enter the United States illegally figure out that the next big idea is to help them return home?

Researchers at the Pew Hispanic Center report that net migration from Mexico to the United States has slowed to a trickle, and that one of the big reasons is that would-be immigrants have decided their job prospects are better at home.

It's only a matter of time before the 6.1 million Mexicans who are already living without documents in the United States decide that opportunity is knocking - south of the border.

According to the report, the Mexican-born population in the United States, which had been increasing since 1970, is headed in the other direction.

Peaking at 12.6 million in 2007, it has dropped to 12 million since then.

This is uncharted territory and it makes for interesting times in the age-old and co-dependent relationship between the United States and Mexico.

We got a glimpse of just how interesting back in 2009 when The New York Times reported that more and more Mexican parents were sending money north to help support their children in the United States. Just like their parents and grandparents before them, this generation had trekked across mountains and deserts for the promise of better-paying jobs in the United States that would allow them to send money to their families.

But now, they were unemployed and hit hard by the recession, and they were the ones who needed help.

When the story appeared, I wrote that it might be time for those who were struggling in the United States to head home rather than continue to be a strain on their relatives in Mexico.

Now, here we are again with another reason to pack -- or, if you're still in Mexico, to stay put.

In the last three years, the Mexican economy has shown signs of improvement thanks in part to increased foreign investment from China and other countries and the growth in the manufacturing industry.

Mexico had grown much too comfortable depending on billions of dollars in remittances from expatriates in El Norte. This is a good thing. Such dependence killed initiative and hampered the Mexican economy.

When the financial crisis hit the U.S. economy, Mexicans were forced to come up with a plan B and create their own jobs. It worked.

A more robust Mexican economy and a lack of jobs in the United States are just two reasons that Mexican migration has tapered off.

As the Pew report notes, there is also greater demand for workers in Mexico because of declining birthrates over the last few decades. In 1960, a Mexican woman typically had more than seven children. Five decades later, with more family planning, the number is just over two. Fewer people means less competition for jobs in Mexico, but it also means that the Mexican economy can no longer spare the workers it once did.

Finally, the aggressive immigration enforcement policy of the Obama administration is also a contributing factor. In the last three years, the Department of Homeland Security has deported more than 1.2 million illegal immigrants -- the vast majority of them Mexican. You can be sure that some of those people came right back, but not all. And those who gave up on the United States and stayed in Mexico probably warned others not to bother uprooting and seeking opportunity in the U.S.

Besides, what many people don't understand is that, for most Mexican immigrants, the preferred model isn't a total and permanent relocation.

It's a revolving door where they can come and go across the border to work, but they always have the option of returning home. Every time we build walls and otherwise fortify the border, it discourages this movement.

For those people already in the United States, the idea of leaving -- even when it makes sense economically -- isn't always an attractive option. After all, if they change their minds, they'll find it difficult to come back.

And for those who are thinking about heading to the United States, many will conclude it's not worth the trouble if they're only going to be rounded up and deported when they get here or wind up trapped and unable to go home.

Rattled by changing demographics, Americans have complained for decades that they want less immigration from Mexico.

In a few years, as chores go undone and prices go up, they'll be complaining that they want more.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Immigration Turnaround Offers Chance for Real Solutions

Washington Post (Opinion) by Eugene Robinson: Now that the immigration "crisis" has solved itself, this is the perfect time for Congress and the president to agree on a package of sensible, real-world reforms.

Yeah, right, and it's also the perfect time for pigs to grow wings and take flight.

Perhaps this week's most significant news was a report from the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center showing that net migration from Mexico to the United States has slowed to a halt and may actually have reversed. That's right: There may be more people leaving this country to live in Mexico than leaving Mexico to live here.

End of the "crisis" -- which wasn't really a crisis at all, except in overwhelmed border-state cities such as Phoenix. There's no longer the slightest excuse for histrionics about the alleged threat to our way of life from invading hordes intent on -- shudder -- working hard and raising their families.

Why the turnaround? The report cites "many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico's birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico."

To me, all of that makes perfect sense. Whether they have papers or not, immigrants are rational. As a general rule, they don't come here to commit crimes; they could do that at home if they wanted. They don't come here to laze around and enjoy government benefits because, well, what benefits would those be? They come to work.

But the U.S. economy fell off a cliff, meaning there is less work to be had. Mexico's economy, while not unscathed, is improving. And the Obama administration has dramatically stepped up border enforcement while carrying out a record number of deportations. Suddenly, both for Mexicans who considered immigrating legally and those who might have been tempted to come without documents, the risk-reward equation has changed.

According to the Pew report, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States; six out of 10 are Mexican. The number of immigrants without papers has actually been falling. Wouldn't this be a perfect time to take a deep breath and start talking about reasonable ways to engineer a more rational immigration policy?

Yes it would, but don't hold your breath. Apparently, we're going to have a lot of shouting without actually trying to find a solution. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's "driving while brown" law, which instructs police to challenge and, if necessary, apprehend anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. The law forbids racial profiling, but the truth is that it effectively guarantees profiling.

The administration argues that the state law usurps the federal government's prerogative to set immigration policy. The court is expected to decide the case this summer, and the ruling's impact may be less practical -- since illegal immigration, I repeat, is already on the decline -- than political.

Democrats will react with thunderous outrage if the court upholds the Arizona law -- but if you stand outside the back room where the pollsters and campaign strategists work, you might hear the slapping of high-fives. Anything that draws attention to the Republican Party's extremist position on immigration will only reinforce a tendency that Mitt Romney recently characterized as "doom" -- the headlong rush of Latino voters into a waiting Democratic embrace.

Barack Obama won a remarkable two-thirds of the Latino vote in 2008. This year, according to the polls, he's running even stronger among the biggest minority group in the country. If Republicans don't find a way to win more Latino support, Obama will be hard to beat. In the long term, if Latinos become a more or less permanent Democratic constituency like African Americans have, the GOP will inexorably go the way of the Whigs.

So that is what this year's immigration "debate" will be about: how to reap political gain and avoid political loss.

What should our elected officials be talking about? I'd suggest they start with the obvious solution.

We don't need to build a giant wall along the Rio Grande; Obama has already "hardened" the border. We need a Reagan-style amnesty that would allow the great majority of undocumented immigrants to stay, along with reforms that give Mexicans and others a realistic hope of being able to come here someday.

Assuming they want to.

Why Wave of Mexican Immigration Stopped

CNN (Opinion) By Jeffrey Passel and D'Vera Cohn: To those of us who have studied the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States -- the four-decade-long influx of millions of Mexicans -- it seemed inconceivable that it would ever come to a halt. Yet, as our new Pew Hispanic Center report has shown, it has.

Our analysis of Mexican and U.S. data sources indicates that at least as many Mexicans and their families are leaving the United States as are arriving in the United States from Mexico. As a result, the Mexican-born population in the United States decreased from 12.6 million in 2007 to 12 million in 2011. This appears to be the first sustained decline in the number of Mexican immigrants since the Great Depression, and it is entirely because of a reduction in illegal immigration -- more going home and fewer coming. Today, we estimate that 51% of all Mexican immigrants living in the United States are unauthorized. In 2007, that figure was 56%.

Even with the recent decline, Mexicans are still by far the largest single immigrant group in the United States, accounting for 30% of the foreign-born. The population of Mexican immigrants in the United States is larger than that of most countries or states: 10% of Mexican-born people worldwide live in the United States. No other nation in the world has as many of its people living abroad as does Mexico.

What caused the big immigration wave to stop? We think that many factors were at work, on both sides of the border. We cannot say how much of a role each of them played in tamping down migration to the United States and setting up the large reverse flows, but they all seem to have had an impact.

The sharp decline began about five years ago, around the time the U.S. housing market collapsed. Many construction jobs held by Mexican immigrants vanished. The continued weakness in the overall U.S. economy made it harder to find other jobs as well. Although the Great Recession has officially ended, the job market is not back to what it was.

During these same years, U.S. officials have heightened enforcement of immigration laws along the border and elsewhere. Unauthorized border-crossers have faced harsher penalties, and deportations have risen. We estimate that anywhere from 5% to 35% of the Mexicans who went home over the past five years did so involuntarily.

Six states, including Arizona, have passed laws intended to reduce unauthorized immigration. For these and other reasons, it has become more dangerous to try to cross the border from Mexico.

Developments on the Mexican side of the border also could be affecting migration flows. Mexico's economy, like that in the United States, fell into a deep recession from 2007 to 2009. But in 2010 and 2011, the Gross Domestic Product there grew at higher rates than the U.S. GDP, so Mexicans enjoyed a somewhat stronger recovery that may have encouraged some to stay home and others to return.

Another change in Mexico that is just beginning to affect migration streams is a steep decline in birth rates. In 1960, the fertility rate in Mexico was 7.3 -- meaning, on average, a Mexican woman could expect to have seven children in her lifetime. In 2009, it had dropped to 2.4. Declining birth rates have pushed up the median age of the Mexican population. This has meant that the age group in the prime years for emigration, 15- to 39-year-olds, is a shrinking share of Mexico's population.

Will the net standstill in migration from Mexico continue? We do not know, in part because of uncertainties about economic trends in both nations and future trends in enforcement policies. The decline in Mexican birth rates, however, does appear to be a long-term change that will limit the size of the pool of young people who are the most likely to emigrate.

But even if Mexican immigration does begin to rise again, consider how far it has fallen. From 1995 through 2000, we estimate that 3 million Mexicans moved to the United States, and nearly 700,000, including family members born in the United States, went home. From 2005 through 2010, we estimate that about 1.4 million Mexicans arrived, and the same number, including U.S.-born children, left. Considering everything, a return to the migration levels of the late 1990s now seems inconceivable.

Editor's note: Jeffrey S. Passel is a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and a nationally known expert on immigration to the United States and the demography of racial and ethnic groups. D'Vera Cohn is a senior writer at the Pew Research Center. From 1985 to 2006, she was a reporter at The Washington Post, writing chiefly about demographic trends and immigration.

With G.O.P.'s Ear, Rubio Pushes Dream Act Proposal

New York Times (by Lizette Alvarez): When Senator Marco Rubio first floated his compromise version of the Dream Act -- the bill, now stalled, that would grant some students in the United States illegally a path to citizenship -- the chances of reviving the politically charged issue in Congress seemed as dim as the chances of snuffing out attack ads on the campaign trail.

On Thursday, Speaker John A. Boehner said as much, calling it "difficult at best" to take up the issue in the House, where Republicans are pushing for greater border security, not more forgiving laws. But Mr. Boehner did not close the door, saying "there is always hope" and adding that Mr. Rubio had spoken to him about his proposal.

"I found it of interest," Mr. Boehner said. "But the problem with this issue is that we are operating in a very hostile political environment."

"Recognizing that his proposal was never going to be an easy sell for either Republicans or Democrats," Mr. Rubio said in an interview this week that he was moving forward with his plan to give students a chance to study and work here legally, albeit temporarily. The senator said he and his staff had been speaking with Democrats, conservative Republicans in and out of Congress, immigration advocates and the students themselves.

The plan seeks to assuage concerns on all sides, Mr. Rubio added; it cannot serve as a lure to illegal immigrants but must offer eligible students genuine relief.

"I don't want to be unrealistically optimistic about it," he said, but added, "I have not been discouraged by anybody in my party."

The compromise would grant students who are the children of illegal immigrants a new kind of nonimmigrant visa that would let them live in this country legally for a period of time. They could work, drive and pay taxes. He would also grant nonimmigrant visas to the graduates of colleges and trade schools, enabling them to stay here and work.

The proposal would not grant them green cards, giving them permanent residency, which sets it apart from the original Dream Act. With their nonimmigrant visas, they could seek green cards in the traditional way, either through marriage, family or an employer. But they could remain in this country legally during that process.

Left with few options, many students and activists said that they were open to Mr. Rubio's compromise but that they would wait to see the complete bill.

Gaby Pacheco, an immigrant activist for United We Dream, who recently met with Senator Rubio, said the students were tired of waiting for Congress and wanted to break the logjam. She said Mr. Rubio was taking a serious approach to the problem.

"We need a starting point," she said "Right now with the way the country is so polarized and anti-immigrant, if a Republican starts talking about it and is able to bring his party into the dialogue, we need to listen to that and give them the opportunity."

Mr. Rubio said that he was still working on the details and that he hoped to introduce a bill once he had lined up enough support.

The Dream Act passed the House in 2010 but failed in the Senate. Last year, Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who sponsored the bill, modified it to address some Republican concerns, but it has not attracted much party support.

Most Republicans view the bill as a form of "amnesty" to people who have broken the law and as a lure to undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Rubio, a potential vice-presidential contender and a Florida Cuban-American, said he was working to garner support from fellow conservatives. The issue is important to many Hispanics in the country, a group of swing voters that has largely decried Mitt Romney's position on how to handle illegal immigrants.

"I am cautiously optimistic that we are going to have very significant support among Republicans," Mr. Rubio said.

Senator Durbin has expressed a willingness to consider the senator's proposal. Most Democrats said they were waiting to see the details and whether Republicans would back the plan.

Cheryl Little, a prominent immigration advocate and lawyer in Miami, said she was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Rubio called her a few weeks ago to seek her opinion.

Ms. Little would prefer something permanent for the dreamers, and not a succession of temporary visas, but she said Mr. Rubio was the lone Republican in Congress trying to address the issue.

"It's hard to believe they will budge," she said of Republicans, given the election year. "But we are pushing everybody we can to try to do something to move this forward. I don't care if it's a Republican, a Democrat or an independent. If they have a good idea, and it's got legs, we are going to support it."

Meanwhile, Ms. Little and other activists are pressuring President Obama to expand a discretionary provision already granted to the Department of Homeland Security that delays deportation of these students and allows them to work. That permission is currently given on a case by case basis.

"The administration should do what they have the authority to do, and do so now," Ms. Little said.

A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said President Obama "is using all the administrative tools he has" and that he supported the Dream Act.

But the official added, "There is no magic wand. This requires action by Congress."

Senator Rubio shrugged off criticism that his plan is a political ploy to attract Hispanics and not a serious legislative effort to help students here illegally.

"Taking something like this on politically has just as many pitfalls as it has advantages," he said.

America's Other Immigration Problem

Slate Magazine (by Jacqueline Stevens and Dalton Conley): This week's U.S. Supreme Court argument about the constitutionality of the Arizona immigration law is a classic showdown on states' rights. Arizona argues that it has the right to impose identification checks and other measures within its sovereign borders, while the federal government argues that immigration policy ought not to be patchwork. But immigration policy is not merely patchwork across U.S. states' with so-called immigration havens in New York and draconian laws in Arizona and Alabama -- it is patchwork with respect to countries as well.

Many countries sending immigrants to the United States -- and asking that America welcome those immigrants -- themselves have policies that discourage Americans from moving there. This is a profound unfairness at the heart of our immigration policy, and one that almost no one acknowledges. The first step to domestic immigration reform may be overturning the restrictions that other nations, including Mexico, place on American immigration to their countries.

Mexico, while pressing for its citizens to work and conduct business in the United States, poses Kafka-esque obstacles to foreigners wanting to acquire legal residence and buy desirable property there. For instance, Article 27 of the Mexican constitution states: "Foreign citizens cannot own land within 100 km of the borders or 50 km of the sea; however, foreigners can have a beneficial interest in such land through a trust (fideicomiso), where the legal ownership of the land is held by a Mexican financial institution." Of course Mexican immigrants to the United States can own land outright.

Hurdles to citizenship are higher in Europe than in the United States. For instance, Austria, Italy, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Spain require most applicants to have a decade of legal residency (PDF) before being able to naturalize, versus the five years or less required of those seeking to naturalize in the United States. Contrast the $2,500 fees for naturalization charged by Switzerland with the $680 application fee charged here .

Many other countries, including China, Egypt, and Haiti, make it tougher for children of U.S. citizens born there to become citizens than vice versa. Bilateral agreements for citizenship would be fair, mutually enhance the respective economies, and reduce the xenophobia and antagonisms between nation-states so linked.

Of course, most U.S. citizens would not want to emigrate to Mexico, a country where the average wage is about one-sixth of what it is here. But some Americans might and some do. Even with the current legal impediments to resettling, one estimate puts the number of Americans seeking to settle in Mexico at 1 million. Think retirees who depend only on their monthly Social Security checks. Or entrepreneurs who want lower taxes. Or poor families in Minnesota who might prefer the climate and lifestyle of Baja, or Alabamans seeking relief from tornadoes.

While a citizenship policy change may not mean an immediate queue of U.S.-Americans at the Mexican border, over the long term such a policy would chip away at parochialism and leave U.S. citizens, known for high rates of domestic migration, weighing a move to Miami against one to Cancun. This may seem unlikely, but who, during the early years of the Clinton administration would have predicted that more Americans would immigrate to Ireland in the next 15 years than Irish would immigrate to America? This tide to Dublin was driven by U.S. citizens of Irish descent favored by Irish citizenship laws. A policy shift that made it easy for Americans to become Mexican might prompt a similar flow.

Most consequential would be the long-term effects from the mobility of Mexican natives, whose ability to move legally between the two countries would change Mexico's demographics and investment patterns. More of its own citizens would remain or return, as occurred in the European Union when, for instance, Portugal and Greece joined: Greeks and Portuguese who had been residing in wealthier countries such as France came home to reap the benefits of the foreign investments the EU incentivized.

The United States should sign bilateral treaties agreeing to naturalize citizens from other countries on the same terms as the partner countries naturalize Americans. The point is not that most Americans would pursue a tarjeta verde, but that just knowing this is possible would make Mexico and its citizens less alien.

Ultimately, a bilateral citizenship treaty with Mexico would further blend the two countries. It's been almost two decades since salsa passed ketchup as the top condiment in the U.S. Meanwhile, Coca Cola and Pepsi drinks dominate the Mexican beverage market. Eventually, Spanglish may become the primary spoken language in some parts of North America, a phenomenon that for many of course evokes fears of cultural extinction. We should not give into these collective fears but look at a map of North America from 1700 and recognize that today's nations and nationalities are historical flukes: Spain, France, England, the Chickasaw and hundreds of other settled nations then prevalent in today's borders no longer populate our landscape. Why raise a ruckus about keeping people out of a place that was not ours to begin with when instead we could be snorkeling in Cozumel?

Utah Immigration Law Could Hinge on Arizona's Fate

Salt Lake Tribune (by David Montero): So now the two sides wait while eight judges sort through the immigration time bomb known simply known as SB1070.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff read the transcripts of Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Arizona's enforcement-only law and said, based on the questioning from the justices, it was difficult to imagine how they wouldn't uphold provisions of SB1070.

By doing that, he said, it would seem all but certain Utah's version " HB497 " would also stand. "It seems it was a pretty harsh day for the federal government," Shurtleff said.

But nothing is certain until as late as June, when the Supreme Court issues a decision on the highly charged provision that turned Arizona into the bull's-eye of the immigration debate. That law led to a domino-effect among several other states -- including Utah -- to pass similar enforcement-only measures aimed at illegal immigrants.

But Arizona's law differed from Utah's in four key ways -- though all of SB1070's provisions were in effect when Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Provo, first made his proposal public in 2010. But Sandstrom, who met with key critics of the bill on a statewide tour pitching his measure's goals, allowed for HB497 to be altered.

Sandstrom eventually said he didn't want to do what Arizona did as pressure mounted from the business community, leaders in Utah's Republican Party and religious groups to avoid passing a copycat of SB1070. "For example, I don't think it's practical to check status on every single person on, say, a traffic stop," Sandstrom said. "That's one of the things we negotiated on that bill that I think turned out better than the original language."

So instead of requiring local police to check legal status of people during a lawful stop, Sandstrom's version only required it be checked on a felony or Class A misdemeanor stop. On other misdemeanors, the check is left to the officer's discretion.

Instead of requiring people to have papers on them verifying their right to be in the country as Arizona's law does, Sandstrom's version required papers only when a suspect is being questioned in a crime.

And, there is no provision to allow people to sue local police for not enforcing HB497.

Despite those differences, HB497 had a federal court hearing that lasted more than six hours in February as attorneys with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the American Civil Liberties Union argued the Utah law would lead to racial profiling and violations of the Fourth Amendment -- warrantless search and seizure along with unlawful detentions.

U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups delayed a decision in the Utah case until the Supreme Court rules on SB1070.

Karen Tumlin, managing attorney with NILC, said HB497 would be unconstitutional because it would require a person to wait while local police verified legal status -- even after the original reason for a stop had been resolved by either issuing a citation or not finding enough evidence to detain the person. That, she said, would amount to a warrantless arrest.

"We see concern with the police-check provision on SB1070 and HB497, which would lead to unlawful detention," she said.

But even if the Supreme Court upholds SB1070, both that law and Utah's law will still be subject to court hearings as lawsuits filed by civil liberties groups would then go forward.

If the court rules in favor of Arizona and Waddoups believes HB497 should be upheld, the law would take effect despite ongoing civil litigation. Tumlin could attempt to file a temporary restraining order again to block it taking effect.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a named defendant in the HB497 lawsuit, said he was confident it would stand as law. "I've always believed that the Utah immigration law ... is a better law than Arizona's so I just think it was stronger," Herbert said. "If they uphold the Arizona law, I expect they will uphold the Utah law."

Arizona Immigration Law Backlash: Hundreds March Against SB 1070

Reuters (by Tim Gaynor): A few hundred protesters, some toting placards reading "no to racial profiling," marched through downtown Phoenix on Wednesday to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to block Arizona's two-year-old crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

"My message to the Supreme Court is 'don't single out the Hispanic race,'" said Melanie Renteria, 38, who was among 200-300 mostly Hispanic protesters rallying in a park ahead of the march.

"I hope they overturn SB 1070. I think it's wrong for local police to try to do what the government is supposed to do, which is immigration," she added

Protesters, some chanting "no justice, no peace, no racist police," set off on a three-mile route passing by city hall, a hardline local sheriff's office and the headquarters of the federal immigration police in the city.

Police made nine arrests for obstructing the road and disorderly conduct, although most protesters "behaved themselves well ... Those that got arrested wanted to be arrested," Phoenix police department spokesman James Holmes said.

Signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer in April 2010, the state law sought to drive undocumented immigrants out of Arizona and includes a measure requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone detained and suspected of being in the country without documents.

Parts were blocked by a federal judge before it came into effect, and the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the state's appeal on Wednesday.

Among protesters gathering for the march was Vee Newton, 42, a Navajo tribal member who carried a placard reading "SB 1070 Targets Brown People."

"One thing that is confusing to me is how does one distinguish who an immigrant is and who is not?" he said.

"Brown-skinned people are usually the first people to be targeted ... as immigrants in this state because Mexico is so close," he added.

Conservative justices, who hold a majority on the high court, appeared to endorse Arizona's immigration crackdown on Wednesday, rejecting the Obama administration stance that the federal government has sole power over those who illegally enter the United States.

The court is likely to rule at the end of June as the political campaign season heats up.

Carlos Garcia, of grassroots community organization Puente in Phoenix, said the law had already led to racial profiling in Arizona. If the law is upheld by the court he said he believed profiling would increase.

"What SB 1070 will do is simply multiply that. It will make things worse in Arizona," he said.

Brewer says the law is needed to safeguard Arizonans, and accuses the Obama administration of failing to secure the porous Mexico border. She said this week she had a "duty and obligation to defend the people of Arizona - especially when the federal government has fallen down on the job."

Earlier on Wednesday a smaller rally of around 25 conservative Tea Party activists gathered outside the state capitol in Phoenix, according to news reports.

Arizona Immigration: SB 1070 Took Toll on State's Reputation

Los Angeles Times: On the day the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of Arizona's law to combat illegal immigration, Arizonans reflected on what the controversy over the law had meant for the state.

"It makes me sad," said Brittny Mejia, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "I don't like what's happening in the state."

Kathleen Hertenstein, who teaches English as a second language at the university and has lived in Tucson for 20 years, said the law certainly had tarnished the state's reputation in the eyes of many. "People view Arizonans as the backward, uneducated, racist people of the country," she said in an interview.

A boycott of the state in protest of the law also hit hard.

One study by the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress said that conventions canceled after SB 1070 cost the state more than $23 million in lost tax revenue and at least $350 million in direct spending by conventions' would-be attendees.

But the state has also won considerable praise, and other states, notably Alabama and Georgia, patterned legislation after Arizona's law.

Melissa Watson, 27, and Angela Creamer, 23, of Tucson both support the law and acknowledged in an interview that Arizona's reputation had taken a beating because of it. They've both seen a lot of bumper stickers in the Tucson area denouncing it. One popular sticker says, "I could be illegal."

"There are a lot more bumper stickers," Creamer said.

"We've been called racist," Watson said of the state. "But, yeah, lots of bumper stickers."

Both view the law as valuable. "I think Arizona should be putting in a lot more resources in protecting our border," Watson said.

Yahya Nomaam, 20, a junior at the University of Arizona, was born and raised in Tucson and is of Pakistani descent.

"I think it's a sad attack on civil liberties. I seem really Latino and I'm not," he said, adding that his uncles had received extra scrutiny from police during traffic stops presumably because of their appearance.

Nomaam noted how some people outside of Arizona had mocked the state because of the law.

"According to Jon Stewart, we're the most racist state in the nation," he said. The comedian and host of "The Daily Show" has often chastised Arizona. In one routine, he noted that Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called states the "laboratories" of democracy. Arizona, Stewart said, was the "meth lab of democracy."

In Arizona, however, polls show that the law remains popular across the state -- and beyond. As the Supreme Court heard arguments about the law Wednesday, one of the many protesters outside held a sign reading, "Thank you, Arizona!"

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday noted the support the state had received for the legislation.

"Today, more than two years after I signed SB 1070 into law, the state of Arizona had its opportunity to defend this measure before the United States Supreme Court," Brewer said in a statement. "Many people never gave us a chance to get this far, and it is only due to the continuing support and encouragement of the American people that it was possible."

Brewer added: "Of course, we likely will not know the court's decision for weeks. But I am filled with optimism -- the kind that comes with knowing that Arizona's cause is just and its course is true."

The Supreme Court isn't expected to rule until summer, but in remarks made from the bench Wednesday, most of the justices suggested they had no problem with a provision in the law that requires police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped for other reasons.

Other parts of the law appeared less secure. The justices expressed uneasiness about provisions that made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work or to not carry documents.

Arizona Immigration Law Case Could Lead To Sweeping Enforcement Changes

Associated Press (by Jacques Billeaud): The United States could see an official about-face in the coming months in how it confronts illegal immigration if the Supreme Court follows through on its suggestion that it would let local police enforce the most controversial part of Arizona's immigration law.

Over the last several years, states frustrated with America's porous borders have rejected the long held notion that Washington is responsible for confronting illegal immigration and have passed a flurry of laws to let local police confront illegal immigration. The Supreme Court is poised in the coming months to let the states know whether they haven't crossed the line.

The justices strongly suggested Wednesday that they are ready to let Arizona enforce the most controversial part of its law, a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country without documents. Such a ruling could codify the type of local enforcement that some local authorities in Arizona have carried out over the last six years and open the door to such enforcement in states with similar laws, such as Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.

"I think you'll see more involvement by local police in immigration enforcement, an involvement that hadn't previously been seen," Kevin Johnson, law school dean at the University of California-Davis and an expert in immigration law, said of the possibility of Arizona's law being upheld.

The most controversial parts of the Arizona law were put on hold by a federal judge shortly before they were to take effect in late July 2010, but the statute has encouraged other states to take up similar legislation and -- combined with other state immigration laws and an ailing economy -- played a part in 170,000 undocumented immigrants leaving Arizona since 2007.

"If you want to turn around this invasion, then (you should) do attrition through enforcement," said former state Sen. Russell Pearce, architect of the 2010 law and the driving force behind other Arizona immigration laws, echoing the stated purpose of the 2010 state law.

Arizona has argued it pays a disproportionate price for illegal immigration because of its 370-mile border with Mexico and its role as the busiest illegal entry point into the country.

The Obama administration, which challenged the law, said the law conflicts with a more nuanced federal immigration policy that seeks to balance national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, human rights and the rights of law-abiding citizens and immigrants. Civil rights groups that back the administration say Arizona's and the other states' measures encourage racial profiling and ethnic stereotyping.

A decision in the case is expected in late June.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, whose office has helped defend the law, predicted the Supreme Court will uphold the law because many of its provisions mirror existing federal laws and that a year from now the state will see even less illegal immigration. "You won't see anything that noticeable as far as law enforcement goes," Horne said. "But you will see less people sneaking across the border."

The Supreme Court's comments on the most controversial requirement in Arizona's law surprised state officials who had supported the law and had thus far lost all major court battles over the law. "I think we'll win. It's just how big we win," Pearce said.

Immigrant rights advocates, who believed the courts would reject attempts by states to grab more law enforcement power, also were surprised and said a validation of the law by the Supreme Court would frighten immigrants further and cause Latinos who are here legally to be asked about their immigration status.

"The crisis here in Arizona would only multiply," said Carlos Garcia, organizer of an immigration march that drew several hundred people in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday. Authorities said at least nine people were arrested for blocking a street and refusing to move. "It would mean that anyone, as they are leaving their home -- whether they are going to work, to church, wherever they are going -- could be asked for their documents."

During arguments Wednesday over the Arizona law, liberal and conservative justices reacted skeptically to the Obama administration's argument that the state exceeded its authority when it made the records check, and another provision allowing suspected undocumented immigrants to be arrested without a warrant, part of the Arizona law aimed at driving undocumented immigrants elsewhere.

It was unclear what the court would do with other aspects of the law that have been put on hold by lower federal courts. The other blocked provisions make it a state crime for immigrants not to have immigration registration papers and for undocumented immigrants to seek work or hold a job.

Peter Spiro, a Tempe University law professor who specializes in immigration law, predicted the court would uphold the police check of immigration status in Arizona's law, but said he wouldn't be surprised if the court threw out a provision making it a crime to be without immigration documents.

Such a ruling would let police question people about their immigration status if they have good reason to do so, but police would have to call federal authorities to see if they would want to pick up anyone found to be in the country without documents. If federal agents decline, officers would have to release the people, unless they were suspected of committing crimes, Spiro said.

If that happened, the law would be mostly symbolic, but would still carry some significance for immigrants, Spiro said.

"It would make it clear that Arizona is unfriendly to undocumented aliens," Spiro said.

An Immigrant-Friendly Republican Dares to Dream

Wall Street Pit: Successful politicians, by definition, look for opportunities to advance themselves and their parties. Occasionally, the right thing to do and the politically expedient thing to do are one and the same.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week proposed a compromise on the Dream Act that promises to serve both as a means of partially repairing the relationship between the Republican Party and Hispanic voters and as a way for young people who are American by experience, if not a birth, to legally stay in the country they know as home.

The Dream Act was first drafted in 2001, and was designed to offer individuals who came to the United States illegally as children a path to citizenship if they attended college or joined the military. Since then, it has attracted some bipartisan support, but has fallen short of passage. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., reintroduced the current version but, for the first time in the bill's history, no Republican has stepped up as a cosponsor.

Rubio's newly proposed version of the bill, which he plans to unveil in the next few weeks, would eliminate the specific path to citizenship for these young people outlined in former versions. But it would still grant them non-immigrant visas, allowing them to live, study and work in the United States while following existing routes toward naturalization. The visas would be available only to high school graduates with no criminal record who were brought into the U.S. before a still-to-be-established cutoff date.

Both those who support and those who oppose the Dream Act have accused their opponents of using the issue for self-serving political purposes. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, suggested that Democrats' interest in providing more immigrants with pathways to citizenship stems solely from a desire for votes. Democrats "see people in this country illegally as undocumented Democrats," he said.

Meanwhile, some immigration reform advocates have criticized Rubio's proposal as a hollow gesture, intended to make the Republican Party seem kinder and gentler to the growing bloc of Hispanic voters without providing any meaningful benefit for immigrants. Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an organization that advocates immigration reform, asked: "Is this really a legislative initiative or a political ploy? If it's about a political ploy, it's about throwing a lifeline to Romney, rather than throwing a lifeline to the dreamers."

I agree that Rubio's proposal is likely to offer Republicans a political benefit. For years, a loud and angry subset of the party's base has demanded that the GOP espouse strongly anti-immigrant positions. While a minority of the party, notably including former President George W. Bush and his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has continued to press for moderation, they have been unable to stop a rising tide of anti-foreign sentiment.

After all, we could eliminate most illegal immigration by making it much easier for foreigners, particularly in neighboring Latin America, to obtain permission to live and work here legally. However, there is no significant support in either party for this course. Democrats are too beholden to their union base, while Republicans who demand that illegal immigrants go home seem to be in no hurry to authorize their legal return.

In seeking to appease their party's anti-immigrant base during the presidential primary season, Republican candidates pushed each other toward increasingly unpalatable positions. Mitt Romney grabbed a spot near the far right end of the spectrum. He promised to veto the Dream Act; suggested that Arizona, known for its draconian approach to immigration, might serve as a model for the nation on the issue; and attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for providing in-state tuition to young illegal immigrants in Texas.

Such statements will not serve Romney well in the general election, and he knows it. At a recent closed-door fund-raiser in Florida, reporters overheard Romney telling supporters, "We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party." He warned that recent polling of the Spanish-speaking electorate "spells doom for us."

Around 21 million eligible voters currently identify themselves as Hispanic. Among registered Hispanic voters, Obama leads Romney 67 percent to 27 percent, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. For Romney, that margin could indeed spell doom. An overly abrupt change of heart on immigration, however, could put Romney at odds with conservative Republicans who already are lukewarm about him.

Enter Rubio. The Cuban-American senator has long urged his party to tone down anti-immigrant rhetoric. This allows him to propose a compromise such as the revised Dream Act without appearing to flip-flop. Despite his insistence that he has no interest in the vice presidency, Rubio's name has become a favorite in the speculative games of the punditry. Romney has so far taken a cautious approach toward Rubio's proposed Dream Act revision. "Governor Romney will study and consider any proposals on immigration from his Republican partners," a campaign spokeswoman said, according to The New York Times.

But just because the proposal may be politically advantageous for Rubio and his party doesn't mean it cannot also be the right thing to do.

Some version of the Dream Act is necessary. Rubio's compromise may be the best hope for now of a bill that can pass, though I would bet against anything happening before the election. As I have written many times, I believe immigration is vital to maintaining America's place as a country of constant innovation and progress. It is particularly easy to support legislation for the benefit of young people who grew up here, attended school here, and are "illegal" through absolutely no fault of their own.

Ideally, I would like a clear route for these young people to become citizens. But they cannot be expected to wait until the political landscape changes enough for such a law to be possible. They deserve the best that we can offer them right now, which is what Rubio's proposal would deliver.

"We have these very talented young people in America who find themselves in limbo through no fault of their own," Rubio said. It's time we offer them a bridge out of that limbo.

And if the Republican Party can build a bridge from its primary-fueled anti-immigration hard line to a more general-election-friendly position at the same time, all the better.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arizona Immigration Law Draws Crowds at High Court

USA Today (by Erin Kelly): As attorneys inside the U.S. Supreme Court argued the legal complexities of Arizona's immigration law and whether it interfered with federal responsibilities, a man stood outside the courthouse holding a sign reading simply, "Thank you Arizona."

A few feet away, a group opposed to Arizona's law, known as Senate Bill 1070, chanted, "Hey ho, 1070 has got to go!"

On the day that Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments to decide the law's fate, supporters and opponents gathered outside the Supreme Court and in different locations throughout Arizona to express their feelings.

Jim Shee, 73, was among a group of Arizonans who traveled to Washington to voice his opposition. Shee, a U.S. citizen and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against SB 1070, said he was stopped twice by law enforcement officers in Arizona in April 2010. He said he was asked for his papers and told he was stopped for looking suspicious.

"Unless SB 1070 is struck down, I fear I will continue to face racial profiling and discrimination by the state of Arizona simply because of my race and the way I look," he said.

Cochise County (Ariz.) Sheriff Larry Dever came out of the Supreme Court building upbeat. He said the law provides critical tools for his deputies to combat illegal immigration, and he was pleased by what he heard on Wednesday.

"It's hard to read the justices, but I think we outshone the opposition quite a bit," the sheriff said.

The two groups mingled on the sidewalk in front of the court, with police standing guard all around. There were no confrontations between the groups.
The fact that Arizona's law had drawn such national attention came as no surprise to Arizonans.

"It seems to be the nature of Arizona as a newer and more innovative state," said U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who supports the law.

In Phoenix, about 500 opponents of the immigration law attended an afternoon rally and marched along a downtown route that passed police headquarters, the federal courthouse and the Maricopa County Jail — all places that illegal immigrants arrested under the law could end up.

At least six protesters were arrested after they blocked a street during rush hour.

A separate rally earlier outside the state Capitol featured several supporters of the law, including legislators who had voted for it.

"We believe the U.S. Supreme Court is going to uphold the tenets of the bill by a 5-3 vote, and we are ecstatic about that, and we are happy to lead the nation in standing by the rule of law," said Republican state Rep. Jack Harper.

The rallies Wednesday show just how divisive the law has been.

"I think what's at stake is whether (the Supreme Court) is going to tear this country apart," Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change who opposes Arizona's law, said outside the Supreme Court. "This is a high-stakes moment for who we are as a country."

Demonstrators Protest Arizona Immigration Law Outside Supreme Court

Los Angeles Times: Imitating the biblical battle of Jericho, a small group marched around the United States Supreme Court to protest Arizona’s restrictive immigration law, which was being debated inside.

With a clutch of white-robed clergy at their head, the 75 marchers moved in silence around the court building, their arrival at each corner announced by blasts from a trumpet. Organizers had hoped for a bigger crowd, but they said busloads of activists were held up in traffic.

Before the march the protesters gathered in silent prayer, their hands raised, while the lyrics of a country song played by supporters of the law, a group of 16 of who were also rallying at the front of the court, wafted over.

Arizona’s law requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally, and makes it illegal for undocumented people to seek work. Enforcement of the law has been placed on hold pending the Supreme Court ruling. The Obama administration is challenging the law on the grounds that immigration policy cannot be handled by states.

The crowd protesting the law was a mix of white, black and Hispanic and chanted in English and Spanish. Early in the morning, as the sun rose from behind the marble Supreme Court building, activists prayed and heard stories from people affected by the law.

Dulce Matuz, a 27-year-old illegal immigrant, described how she lost her real estate license when the law was passed. She said she had had a successful business and had sold about 50 houses.

“Some us went deeper into the shadows,” when the law passed, Matuz said, others stood up and said they were “undocumented and unafraid.

Time magazine recently named Matuz one of the 100 most influential people of 2012 for her work campaigning for the Dream Act, which would give legal residency to certain high school graduates who came to this country illegally.

Jim Shee, a retiree from Tucson, Ariz., who is one of the plaintiffs in the case, addressed opponents of the law, telling them he had been stopped twice by police since it was enacted on the grounds that he “looked suspicious.”

In an interview, Shee, who is 72, said he has been taken for Thai, Vietnamese, Native American and Hispanic. In fact, he said, he was born in the United States and has both Chinese and Spanish genes.

“The thing everyone has to realize is this is not just a Hispanic or Latino issue,” he said. “Anyone of color can be affected.”

Twisting that sentiment, Bob Shoemaker, a supporter of the law from northern Virginia, held a banner urging Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to drop a bill that would give amnesty to illegal Irish immigrants.

“We don’t care where you’re from, if you’re here illegally, go home,” he said. “We cannot afford to be the dumping ground of the Third World.”