Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
National Immigration Forum on the Expansion of 287(g) Programs: "We need to do more than tweak and expand enforcement programs; we need to change the laws"
Earlier today, Bill Hing blogged on the Department of Homeland Security's expansion of the 287(g) program enlisting state and local police assistance in enforcing the federal immigration laws. The Secretary of Homeland Security announced the results of a long-awaited review of the 287(g) program by which state aand local law enforcement and corrections authorities work with federal immigration authorities to identify and remove immigrants. The Secretary also announced ICE would be expanding the program to an aadditional eleven jurisdictions. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan, non-profit pro-immigrant advocacy organization in Washington:
"Up to this point, 287(g) has been the worst thing to happen to law enforcement since John Dillinger. It has been an utter failure, spawned widespread racial profiling, sparked law suits and civil rights investigations, and literally let loose local cowboys to round people up in immigrant communities. Moreover, police chiefs and law-enforcement officials like the Police Foundation have been shouting to Washington to please stop making it harder for them to keep their communities safe by turning local police into immigration agents.
Reviewing every single agreement that ICE has entered into with local cops and jailers is long overdue, but extending the program to new jurisdictions at the same time is unwise. If the new emphasis on serious criminals is real and the federal oversight on local implementation has teeth, then we expect those who have been abusing their power under the program - Sherriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona comes immediately to mind - will be terminated. Unless the oversight is real, broadening a failed program with a new promise of good intentions is not going to be received well in local communities. And more importantly, it is not nearly as helpful in solving our immigration problems as actually addressing comprehensive immigration reform head-on as police chiefs and others recommend.
We have been critical of 287(g) as it currently stands because the reality on the ground has been a program that encourages police to go after immigrants who have not committed serious crimes. Any enforcement regime that targets that population is a waste of time and money and a band-aid on an open wound, at best.
We need to insist that immigrants come here through legal channels and that the immigrants already here get into the legal system - and create the mechanisms for both of those things to happen. That is what comprehensive immigration reform is about and it makes much more sense than holding out for the fantasy that we can deport 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants, that they will leave on their own because of enforcement, or that no more will come. We need to do more than tweak and expand enforcement programs; we need to change the laws."
Immigration Impact reports that In a new report released the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) regurgitates an old and deeply flawed argument: that immigration causes pollution. Specifically, the report claims that, because immigration increases the size of the U.S. population, it also increases U.S. energy consumption, which increases U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to global warming. Click the link above for a response to the greenobobia.
El Paso, Texas, is a relatively poor, Hispanic, gun-friendly city and home to many undocumented immigrants. Yet although El Paso is adjacent to a violence-riddled Mexican city, it's actually counted among the safest big cities in the US. Many Americans believe that immigrants--especially illegal immigrants--are associated with high levels of crime. However, according to criminologist Jack Levin, El Paso is safe because of its immigrant population. See this report from the Immigration Policy Center.
Below is a DHS press release announcing the expansion of the 287(g) program that involves federal partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. I'm disappointed in this, because these partnerships have led to so much abuse in the past few years, exacerbating many of the more infamous ICE raids that took place during the Bush ICE Age. A 287(g) partnership also has led to the tyranny of folks like Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The UFCW recently issued a report calling for the termination of these 287(g) partnerships.
SECRETARY NAPOLITANO ANNOUNCES NEW AGREEMENT FOR STATE AND LOCAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PARTNERSHIPS & ADDS 11 NEW AGREEMENTS
What's the old saying? He can dish it out, but he can't take it?
Andrea Nill writes on Sheriff Joe:
When the Department of Justice (DOJ) beganinvestigating Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) following racial-profiling allegations, Arpaio said “bring it on.” Now, four months later, he has announced that he will no longer cooperate with DOJ officials. Instead, Arpaio, with the help of attorney Robert Driscoll, has filed atit-for-tat request with the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the DOJ’s investigation of him.
Arpaio thinks the DOJ’s actions are politically-motivated and thus refuses to open up his doors so that the DOJ can “come in and find something.” At a press conference hosted yesterday, Arpaio complained that the DOJ is being a bully, Click here for the rest of the piece.
Sheriff Joe has got to go!
From Cynthia Dizikes of Minn.Post.com:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just because Minnesota now has two Democratic senators doesn’t mean that they are always going to see eye-to-eye, especially -- it would seem -- when it comes to immigration reform.
In two votes today on the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010, Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken ended up on opposite sides despite their shared caucus, with Franken allying himself with the Democratic leadership and Klobuchar largely bucking the party.
The first amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and championed by the GOP, would make the E-Verify system mandatory for all federal contractors. The original Senate version of the bill would have reauthorized E-Verify for three years, but would not have made it mandatory. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows employers to electronically check the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
Klobuchar voted in favor of this amendment, which passed. Senate Republicans and a handful of more conservative Democrats joined her in supporting the mandatory use of E-Verify. Meanwhile, Franken and the Democratic leadership voted against the measure.
“I had supported E-Verify in the past and I think that it needs to be refined and actually made a little tougher,” said Klobuchar on Wednesday.
“I support some comprehensive immigration reform, but to really do it, people have to have faith that our government can handle this and that means, first of all, order at the border so that we can allow people in legally and not illegally. It means having a good employer verification process so that employers aren’t hiring people that shouldn’t be in our country. And that is the only way you are going to get to step three, which is comprehensive immigration reform.”
Franken and the Democratic leadership, however, voted against the measure.
Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh argued that since the bill already would have extended E-Verify for three years, the amendment “would just diminish the rigor of oversight for the program” by making it permanent.
The second amendment, offered by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., would require the completion of at least 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the southwest border of the United States by Dec. 31, 2010.
This Republican-supported measure also passed with the help of Klobuchar, conservative Democrats and some Democrats from southwest-border states like California and Arizona.
Franken again sided with the Democratic leadership in voting against the measure.
“On the border fence vote, none of the relevant effective law enforcement agencies were indicating this was something they needed or wanted,” said McIntosh.
But Klobuchar countered that there were ways to make the fence work and reiterated that strengthening the border was a necessary step toward comprehensive immigration reform.
“If people have worked in this country, if they pay their taxes and abide by the laws, basically they should be able to earn citizenship in this country,” Klobuchar said. “But I don’t believe we are going to be able to have the political will to get there until the government is able to show we have made a very good effort, and some changes here, to make it harder to come in illegally.”
Creating Second Class Citizenship for the U.S. Citizen Children of Undocumented Immigrants? Look Out for a California Initiative!
Anna Gorman and Teresa Watanabe of the L.A.Times report on a troubling development that would likely end up in the courts and, presumably like Proposition 187, be struck down: "[A]ctivists opposed to illegal immigration have launched a campaign for an initiative that would, among other things, cut off welfare payments to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Those children are eligible for welfare benefits because they are U.S. citizens."
Are we willing to create a group of second class citizens in an attempt to balance the California budget? It is one thing to reduce benefits to undocumente immigrants. It is quite another to target U.S. citizen children because of the immigration status of their parents. Hopefully, the proposed initiative will never qualify for the ballot. However, given the antipathy that many have for undocumented immigrants and public benefits, one has to worry.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Suzanne Gamboa writes for the Associated Press:
The lead Democrat steering an immigration overhaul through the Senate said Wednesday he expects to have a bill ready by Labor Day that is more generous to highly skilled immigrant workers than those who are lower skilled and is tough on future waves of illegal immigration.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer said an immigration bill can be done by the end of the year or early next year that works out disagreements between labor and business interests on the flow of legal foreign workers.
"I think we'll have a good bill by Labor Day," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "I think the fundamental building blocks are in place to do comprehensive immigration reform." Click here for the rest of the piece.
From USA Today:
Please Join us Monday, July 13, at 3:45 p.m. ET for a live video discussion on the language of immigration. We will talk about the words journalists use to describe illegal immigrants, and why they use them.
The panel discussion, hosted by the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., will be led by USA TODAY immigration reporter Emily Bazar. It will include journalists and experts from around the country. To link to the discussion, click here.
The event will stream into the video player, and you can participate by posting or e-mailing questions ahead of time, or by clicking on the Chat button during the discussion.
From the Border Action Network:
US Senate Disdains Border Communities and Votes to Continue Dysfunctional Border Wall
Concerns Expressed by Border Sector Were Ignored by Majority of Senators
El Paso, Texas, July 8th, 2009. The Border Network laments the lack of seriousness showed by the US Senate when a majority of the Senators, Republicans and Democrats, passed an amendment to keep building a border wall at the expense and against the will of border communities.
“It seems that senators have decided to ignore the basic mandate expressed in the last elections, which was to change ill-conceived immigration policies,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights, a community organization based in El Paso and Southern New Mexico. “Instead of working hard to find comprehensive, practical and efficient solutions for our broken immigration system, senators have decided to continue with dysfunctional and fiscally irresponsible border enforcement policies,” added Garcia.
The Bush administration initiated the construction of the Border Wall as a result of a political decision, sacrificing elemental security procedures and alienating border communities which have continually mounted legal challenges to the wall’s construction. Based on conservative estimates, when the wall is complete, it will have cost tax-payers more than $9 million dollars per mile. The Senate amendment calls for an additional 700 miles of double-layer border wall to be constructed by December 31, 2010.
“A minority of anti-immigrant senators have hijacked national security policy. It appears that rhetoric, hate, and fear are still driving the immigration policy and that nothing has changed from the previous administration and Congress that scape-goated border residents and immigrant communities at a huge cost to the American taxpayer,” concluded Garcia.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
From America's Voice:
Senate Antics Underscore Need for a Real Debate On Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Washington, DC - Today, the Senate is considering the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill and predictably, Republican Senators who blocked comprehensive immigration reform in the past are trying to weigh the bill down with a litany of piecemeal, deportation-only measures. Amendments by Senators Sessions, DeMint, Grassley, and Kyl offer the false promise of control and order, when they would actually cause chaos in U.S. workplaces and take us further from an immigration system that works for America. So far, a Sessions amendment expanding employment eligibility verification and a DeMint amendment requiring further construction of the border fence have passed, with some bipartisan support.
“I’m disappointed to see that it’s politics as usual for Senators Sessions and his crew when it comes to the issue of immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Instead of coming to the table to work on practical solutions to the nation’s broken immigration system, these politicians are hijacking the appropriations process to try to appear tough on immigration. But poll after poll has shown that the American people want policymakers to solve illegal immigration with comprehensive reform, not piecemeal measures and empty promises.”
While the Senate was debating (and in some cases approving) these measures, the Administration was also sending mixed messages on the issue of effective immigration enforcement. On the one hand, the Department of Homeland Security took a huge step forward by deciding to rescind the Bush era “no match” letter rule that would have forced hundreds of Americans to prove yet again that they are legally authorized to work. On the other, the Administration recommitted to expanding the flawed work authorization verification program known as E-Verify.
Meanwhile, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Independent Task Force on Immigration issued a groundbreaking report that offers a serious way forward on the issue. In recommending a robust overhaul of immigration enforcement and visa programs, as well as a program that requires undocumented immigrants to legalize their status, the task force highlights the security imperatives behind comprehensive reform and why it is in the national interest. In a prescient comment on today’s antics in the Senate, the task force’s report states: “No enforcement effort will succeed properly unless the legal channels for coming to the United States can be made to work better.”
“The need for comprehensive immigration reform could not be clearer,” continued Sharry. “The American people want the immigration system fixed, bi-partisan commissions are recommending that it be fixed, and our economic recovery demands that we get all workers and all employers onto the tax rolls through comprehensive immigration reform. The House, Senate, and Administration must move forward on common sense immigration reform this year as promised, because America needs a real solution to this important issue, not more fiery floor speeches,” said Sharry.
A bipartisan task force will recommend today that the United States overhaul its immigration system in response to national security concerns, saying that the country should end strict quotas on work-based immigrant visas to maintain its scientific, technological and military edge. For the full story, click here.
The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall. For the full story, click here.
The Department of Homeland Security said it would implement a regulation requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to ensure that their employees are legally authorized to work inside the U.S. The Obama administration had delayed implementation of that program, saying it was under review. For the full story, click here.