November 19, 2010
September 22, 2010
By SUZANNE GAMBOA (AP) – 19 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The chance for hundreds of thousands of young people to legally remain in the U.S. evaporated Tuesday when Republicans blocked a defense spending bill in the Senate.
Democrats failed to get a single Republican to help them reach the 60 votes needed to move forward on the defense bill and attach the DREAM Act as an amendment. The vote was 56-43. Arkansas Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor voted with Republicans. Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted to block the bill in a procedural move that allows the defense bill to be revived later.
The DREAM Act allows young people to become legal U.S. residents after spending two years in college or the military. It applies to those who were under 16 when they arrived in the U.S., have been in the country at least five years and have a diploma from a U.S. high school or the equivalent.
Several young people who would have benefited from the legislation watched the vote from the gallery, some wearing graduation caps and gowns. Many sat stone-faced when the vote tally was read. A young woman dressed in a gold cap and gown wiped away tears.
Most of the young immigrants knew victory was unlikely, but in the hours before the vote they walked the hallways of a Senate office building trying to drum up support.
"I was kind of speechless. It's something that hurt, but we are not stopping. They only gave us a chance and more time to get even bigger," said Diana Banderas, who graduated from high school in May and plans to go to community college after earning the money she needs to attend.
Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics with the defense bill and the DREAM Act. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has supported legislation legalizing illegal immigrants in the past, said Democrats were trying to galvanize Hispanics and energize their voters by trying to tack the DREAM Act onto the defense bill.
The bill also included a measure to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays.
"I don't think anyone in the country will hold it against us for voting against their way of doing business," Graham said.
Reid, D-Nev., said Republicans were "putting partisan politics ahead of the best interests of the men and women who courageously defend our nation" by blocking the bill, which would have authorized $726 billion in defense spending, including a pay raise for troops.
Sen. Dick Durbin, the majority whip, said repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and passing the DREAM Act were a matter of justice and fairness.
"We do not in this country hold the crimes and misdeeds of parents against their children," Durbin, D-Ill., said in reference to the DREAM Act. He has been trying to pass the legislation for about a decade.
Earlier Tuesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he sent a letter to Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., backing the DREAM Act.
"America is the only country they know ... they deserve every opportunity to go further in life. Our country needs the benefits of their skills, their talent and their passion," Duncan said.
Congress has failed to take up a comprehensive immigration bill the past two years. President Barack Obama has been under fire in the Hispanic community for failing to keep his promise to tackle immigration reform in the first year of his presidency. Some have feared Latino voters will stay home in November because of the inaction.
Graham had been working with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to draft an immigration reform bill but dropped out of the process as he took criticism in his state. Democrats were unable to persuade any other Republicans to take his place.
In April, Obama said Congress lacked the "appetite" to take on immigration, essentially removing it from the legislative agenda.
As the prospects for a sweeping immigration bill looked bleak, young activists began lobbying Democrats to separate the DREAM Act from the immigration reform package and try to pass it on its own.
The students, risking deportation, protested at lawmakers' offices and tangled with immigration reform advocates who did not want the comprehensive immigration bill divided.
The Obama administration has deferred the deportation of some of the young people while the politics of the bill played out, drawing heavy criticism from some Republicans.
Graham said laws should be followed in regard to deportation of the students.
"What am I going to tell people in South Carolina when I legalize 2 million people here, when we haven't secured the border?" he said.
This summer, Obama signed a bill providing $600 million to pay for the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and to beef up other border and immigration enforcement.
Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
September 22, 2010 12:42 PM PDT U.S. socialite Paris Hilton speaks to the media as she leaves the departure lounge of Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. Hilton was denied entrance into Japan and is returning home to the U.S. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)Associated Press
"I'm going back home, and I look forward to coming back to Japan in the future," a smiling Hilton told reporters before departing on her private jet.
The 29-year-old celebrity socialite had arrived at Narita International Airport, outside the Japanese capital, two days after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge in Las Vegas. Japan has strict immigration laws that bar entry to those convicted of drug offenses, although exceptions are occasionally granted.
Hilton was to appear Wednesday at a news conference in Tokyo to promote her fashion and fragrance lines. She arrived Tuesday evening, but was stopped at the airport and spent the night at an airport hotel after being questioned by officials.
"I'm really tired," said Hilton, wearing a black baseball cap and a navy sweat suit.
Hilton also abruptly canceled planned appearances in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Her publicist, Dawn Miller, said Hilton plans to make the trips at a later date.
"Paris is very disappointed and fought hard to keep her business commitments and see her fans, but she is forced to postpone her commitments in Asia," she said in a statement. "Paris understands and respects the rules and laws of the immigration authorities in Japan and fully wishes to cooperate with them."
A Japanese immigration official said she was denied entry Wednesday after a total of about six hours of questioning over the two days.
The country has taken a tough line with famous figures in the past.
Soccer icon Maradona was initially banned from entering the country during the 2002 World Cup finals for past drug offenses, but was eventually given a 30-day visa as a "special delegate."
The Rolling Stones struggled for years to gain entry to Japan and were eventually allowed in despite drug convictions among the group's members. In January 1980, former Beatles member McCartney was arrested for marijuana possession at Narita airport. He was deported without carrying out a planned concert tour by his rock group Wings.
Kazuo Kashihara, an immigration official at Narita International Airport, said if Hilton had applied for an entry permit farther ahead of her arrival, there might have been a chance for Japan's justice minister to consider an exception in her case. "She just showed up the day after (pleading guilty)," he said.
Just before taking off, Hilton tweeted a message to her fans.
"Going home now. So disappointed to miss my fans in Asia. I promise to come back soon. I love you all! Love Paris xoxo."
September 01, 2010
On the Lake Shore Limited
Published: August 31, 2010
To see what immigration hard-liners really have in mind, ride the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York or Boston. It is a daily Amtrak train that is regularly boarded and searched by the Border Patrol, even though it does not cross any international border.
September 01, 2010
The hard way home
by Richard Ruelas - Aug. 31, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
When Oscar Vazquez left the United States as an illegal immigrant a year ago, leaving behind a wife and baby daughter, it was so he could try to do the right thing - become a legal resident of the country he called home.
Even as he crossed into Mexico, the Arizona State University engineering graduate knew it could be years before he could legally be allowed to return.
But on Monday, Vazquez, 24, was visiting his old high school, his wife at his side and legal documents in his pocket. It was an unexpected outcome for the now-legal U.S. resident.
"Even though it took a year, I feel it came out good," said Vazquez, who had lived in the U.S. since the age of 12 when he and his mother crossed the border near Douglas.
The prospects for Vazquez's return were slim, as he initially was denied re-entry, his case deemed not strong enough. But publicity about his struggle and the intervention of a high-ranking U.S. senator spurred the government to allow Vazquez back in.
Vazquez graduated from ASU in 2009. He was one of three graduates whose stories were told before the crowd at Sun Devil Stadium and in front of that year's commencement speaker, President Barack Obama.
But Vazquez knew that his legal status meant he wouldn't be able to use his degree. And he was weary of politicians dragging their feet on the promise of immigration reform.
So he took matters into his own hands. Shortly after his graduation, he deported himself, asking for legal permission to return. His story was told in The Arizona Republic, on CNN and on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Vazquez said he was contacted by the office of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Durbin, the Senate majority whip, supports the DREAM Act, legislation that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants who entered as children and had attended college or joined the military.
With Durbin on board, Vazquez said, "it was fast."
A Durbin aide, who spoke only on the condition his name not be used, confirmed that the office made the Department of Homeland Security aware that the senator was monitoring the case.
Vazquez expects to receive his Social Security card in about two weeks and will start looking for work in the engineering field.
Vazquez was on the Carl Hayden High School team that beat out several colleges, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an underwater-robotics competition in 2007. The triumph of the four undocumented high-school students was featured in Wired magazine. On Monday, Vazquez showed up at the Phoenix high school to talk with his robotics coach, Faridodin Lajvardi. Two other members of that four-person team were there, making for an impromptu reunion of that victorious team.
Lorenzo Santillan, one of the four, said he had tried to gain legal status but found he couldn't. He doesn't have the family ties that Vazquez does.
"He's an example of what can happen," Santillan said of Vazquez, "but it's hard."
It was an unexpected ending to a story that began last summer when Vazquez applied for residency. His application was denied, and he was asked to submit additional evidence of hardship to his wife and daughter, both U.S. citizens. He was told a final decision would come in March.
So Vazquez waited, living in Magdalena del Kino, a dusty town in Sonora, Mexico, working at an auto-parts factory. Karla Vazquez visited regularly with Samantha, 2.
Vazquez's story was told July 4 in The Republic. Durbin got involved soon after.
Senator was key
Without Durbin, Vazquez likely would still be waiting. Because he stayed in the U.S. so long after he turned 18, Vazquez faced a 10-year wait to apply for legal status. Waivers of that bar are difficult to obtain, said Jody Santiago, an immigration lawyer who grew up in Mesa and now practices in San Francisco. Applicants must prove that their absence from the United States causes an extreme hardship to family members who are citizens.
"It's nebulous," she said of the standard. "It's a term of art which no one really has an exact definition of."
Santiago said that "getting the story out in the paper and getting the attention of senators and representatives really helps."
Just 10 days after Oscar's story appeared, Karla Vazquez, received the letter saying her husband's visa waiver had been approved.
Karla was about to head to Mexico for another visit when she checked the mail.
"It just said, 'Your waiver was approved,' " she recalled.
Karla told her husband the good news as soon as she arrived.
"We were just looking at it (the letter)," he said, "just to make sure it was true."
The couple kept the news to themselves; even their Facebook posts made no mention of the government's decision. They didn't want to jinx their good fortune.
Vazquez met with the U.S. Consulate on Thursday and received paperwork Friday that allowed him to cross back into the United States.
It was a much different entrance from Vazquez's first one when, at age 12, he and his mother dashed across the border near Douglas into a van waiting in a Walmart parking lot.
His entry as a legal resident was short on ceremony. Vazquez said a clerk simply stamped his passport and told him that his visa allowed him to live and work in the United States.
Vazquez stepped onto U.S. soil and waited for the bus to Phoenix. In the meantime, he ate at KFC.
His wife met him at the Phoenix bus station.
"It's just hard to describe," Vazquez said about seeing his family, holding documents that mean he no longer has to look over his shoulder. "It's amazing just to be back home."
Vazquez said he realized his was a unique case and that he was aided by political pressure. Had it not been for Durbin's intervention, he thinks his waiver would have been denied.
"A lot of people think that, 'Why don't you do it the right way?' " he said. "But many people can't."
If his waiver had been denied, the Vazquezes had discussed moving to Mexico City, Canada or Europe.
Instead, they spent a weekend together at their home in south Phoenix, the happy reunion starting as soon as Vazquez stepped off the bus early Saturday.
On Monday, Vazquez and his wife went to surprise Lajvardi, the man who got Vazquez started in robotics. Lajvardi gathered his current students around him and introduced Vazquez. His students had seen video of Durbin telling Vazquez's story on the Senate floor.
"All that time, I kept telling you how you need to fight, fight, fight," Lajvardi told the students. "It worked."
The team gave Vazquez a group hug.
July 29, 2010
Even the people who would be charged with enforcing Arizona's controversial new immigration law can't agree on the question of whether it's a good idea.
The law takes effect Thursday — but only after a last-minute judicial ruling that blocks some of its most controversial provisions, including the requirement that officers check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if they have reason to suspect that person is in the country illegally.
According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton today put that part of the law on hold while courts consider challenges to its legality. She also put on hold provisions requiring that immigrants carry their status papers at all times and barring undocumented workers from soliciting work in public places, the AP says.
The Arizona Sheriffs' Association supports the law and the controversial provision about checking a suspect's immigration status, saying it will give deputies needed tools to combat crimes associated with illegal immigration, such as human smuggling.
"If we can remove them from the community with an immigration charge, we'll do the community a favor," says Cochise County Sheriff Larry A. Dever.
But rank-and-file opinion is mixed and many police chiefs — inside the state and around the country — say the law would prove a costly distraction. "It drives a wedge between us and the community, where we have to get our information," says Roberto Villasenor, Tucson's chief of police.
Race As A Factor
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law, known as Senate Bill 1070, in April, saying that the state had been overwhelmed by an influx of illegal immigrants and could no longer wait for Congress to address the issue. That is the argument numerous states have made in recent years in passing dozens, if not hundreds, of laws relating to immigration.
But none has gone so far as Arizona. The Justice Department has sued to block SB 1070, arguing that it infringes on federal authority over immigration matters. Several immigrant and civil rights groups have sued as well, saying it will inevitably lead to abuses such as racial profiling.
Supporters of the law dismiss such concerns, noting that it specifically precludes local law enforcement officers from using race or national origin as a factor in determining whether they suspect someone of being an illegal immigrant.
Police and sheriffs can't stop people to question them based solely on immigration concerns, but once they are investigating other violations they are required, if suspicious, to check.
Dever, the Cochise County sheriff, says the law will aid law enforcement officers in dealing with serious criminals — notably those who cross the border repeatedly with impunity.
"This gives cops tools to get these guys off the streets," says Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports SB 1070 and stricter immigration laws in general. "They may not be able to prove a felony just yet, but if they can get a guy off the street before he commits a crime, that works to the benefit of the community."
Breaking A Bond?
But the potential ill effect on community relations is something many police chiefs are warning about. If people come to fear the approach of law enforcement officers, they say, individuals are less likely to come forward with information about crimes.
"Any beat cop will tell you that the No. 1 asset in preventing crimes or apprehending criminals is cooperation from the community," says Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, which conducts policy research on Latino issues. "When that bond is broken, it's difficult to recover."
The other specter that SB 1070's opponents raise concerns racial profiling. The law's potential for triggering civil rights violations has already provided fodder for lawsuits — and will lead to more once it actually takes effect.
"Without a doubt, we're going to be accused of racial profiling on this, no matter what we do," Villasenor, the Tucson police chief, says in a training video sent to officers throughout the state.
The video, produced by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, seeks to guide officers on ways to avoid racial profiling. But SB 1070's critics say it treads awfully close to the line anyway.
"Even though the law says that racial profiling is not to take place, the reality is that it's going to be very difficult for officers to aggressively enforce the law without crossing the line," says San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon, who previously headed the police department in Mesa, Ariz.
Factors that officers may consider when enforcing the law include inability to speak English; avoiding eye contact; traveling in a crowded vehicle; and wearing layers of clothing in hot weather, which suggests chilly desert crossings at night.
Dever, a sheriff whose county shares borders with Mexico and New Mexico, says that simple demographics will determine who is most likely to be charged under SB 1070. "Most of the people we encounter in the drug smuggling and human smuggling trades are of Mexican nationality. Most of the people we arrest are going to be Mexican," he says. "Is there anything racist about it?"
Does ICE Have The Capacity?
Assuming SB 1070 works as intended and local law enforcement agencies detain more illegal immigrants, that raises the question of what will be done with them. Sheriffs and police already complain that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can barely handle the caseload it now has, leading many illegal immigrants to languish in local jails — or be released.
ICE officials have told local law enforcement officials that, at best, they have the capacity to deport 400,000 individuals a year. Last year, they deported 387,790.
"We don't always take action on every individual that's referred to us," says Gillian M. Brigham, an ICE spokeswoman. "In a world of limited resources, we have to prioritize."
A Rock And A Hard Place
Police chiefs worry not only about how likely the feds will be to take a rising number of illegal immigrants off their hands and out of their facilities, but whether the law will prove a further drain on their resources owing to the need to defend against legal challenges.
Whatever its potential benefits, it's clear that SB 1070 places local law enforcement between a rock and a hard place. The law gives any citizen standing to sue if he or she feels that local police or sheriffs are not enforcing the law with sufficient vigor. On the other hand, strict enforcement will be bait for further lawsuits alleging racial profiling.
The one thing critics and supporters of the law seem to be able to agree upon, in fact, is that it will offer a field day for lawyers.
"Because of the posture of our own Department of Justice," says Dever, the Cochise County sheriff, "with the federal government threatening to file suit against officers for civil rights violations, you know there's going to be a flurry of those complaints."
July 28, 2010
July 27, 2010
July 26, 2010
Arizona's tough new immigration law is slated to take effect Thursday, but the nation's immigration enforcement agency has not indicated whether it will cooperate with police who are trying to enforce it.
Without cooperation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, much of the law would become unenforceable: Police would have no way of determining, from federal authorities, the legal status of suspected illegal immigrants as the state law requires. And that would severely hamper efforts to arrest them for violations of the law.
As a result, local police officers might have to release suspected illegal immigrants if they can't determine their status.
"If the Department of Homeland Security says, 'SB 1070 is unconstitutional, don't cooperate,' . . . then much of what is going on here shuts down. Not necessarily all of it, but a lot of it," said Gabriel Jack Chin, a University of Arizona criminal-law professor who co-authored a legal analysis of the law.
Police officers sometimes contact ICE to check the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants, and if ICE determines the people are in the country illegally, it usually responds to pick them up.
But officials from Homeland Security, which oversees ICE and the Border Patrol, have refused to disclose the agencies' plans for dealing with SB 1070, which is expected to launch a flurry of calls for assistance from local police. They will say only that they are monitoring a federal lawsuit that is seeking to block the law.
The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.
State Rep. John Kavanagh, who sponsored the House version of the law, said ICE's role, as its name implies, is immigration enforcement, so it should assist and take any illegal immigrants apprehended by state and local police enforcing the new law. But he said the Obama administration is trying to block the agency from cooperating for political reasons. The Department of Justice has sued to keep the law from taking effect, saying it usurps federal responsibility.
"ICE is caught between a 'Barack' and hard place, pun intended," said Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. "The Obama administration is clearly putting ICE in the middle of a political battle, and when you do that to law enforcement, that is extremely dangerous and I really object to that."
Kavanagh said lawmakers, when writing the law, did not anticipate that federal authorities might not to cooperate.
"But I will tell you this," Kavanagh said, "every suspected illegal immigrant that we refer to ICE and ICE declines to assist with, we will record the name of that individual if we have to release them, and any crimes, any murders, and rapes they commit will be on Barack Obama's administration's conscience and not ours."
The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23, includes a provision that allows people to sue law-enforcement agencies that refuse to enforce the law. But the provision, Kavanagh said, applies only to state and local agencies, not federal authorities.
ICE officials said they are waiting to see whether the law survives court challenges contending that the law is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling.
"The DOJ has filed a lawsuit in regards to this law and the outcome of that suit will inform the government's action going forward," the immigration agency said in a statement emailed to The Arizona Republic.
The statement also said that the agency's priority is to go after illegal immigrants who pose a danger to communities.
"ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that focuses first on criminal aliens who pose a threat to our communities. ICE uses lawful discretion on a case-by-case basis to en- sure that throughout all our programs we are meeting our priorities," the statement said.
John Morton, the director of ICE, has indicated he doesn't like the law. In May, he told a Chicago newspaper that his agency would not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona police under the law. And earlier this month, Morton said he understood the frustration many communities feel over the issue of illegal immigration, but he did not think it was a good idea for more states to pass similar laws.
"I don't think that 50 different immigration enforcement laws is the answer to our immigration problems," Morton told the Associated Press.
In its written statement, the agency said that ICE works every day with local law enforcement in Arizona and around the country.
The agency has signed so-called 287(g) agreements with nine law-enforcement agencies in Arizona that either allow local officers to enforce federal immigration laws or allow jail officials to identify illegal immigrants booked into jails to be processed for deportation. Only one other state, Virginia, has as many.
ICE also is using a federal database in jails in seven counties in Arizona to identify illegal immigrants previously removed from the United States or wanted for a serious crime in another country. ICE plans to expand the program to jails throughout Arizona by next year, officials said.
In 2006, ICE created a unit to respond to calls for assistance from local police, primarily when they encounter groups being held in drophouses or being transported in smuggling vehicles. The unit, staffed 24 hours a day, was created after former Gov. Janet Napolitano and some law-enforcement agencies complained that police were being forced to release suspected illegal immigrants into the community because ICE often lacked the manpower to respond.
During the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the Law Enforcement Agency Response unit has responded to 892 calls for assistance from local police in the Phoenix area and made 3,528 arrests, according to ICE officials.
The unit, however, mainly responds to calls from law-enforcement agencies in the Phoenix area, and along Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, and Interstate 40, which are well-known human smuggling corridors.
History of cooperation
Officials from several law-enforcement agencies in Arizona said they have a good working relationship with ICE, and they do not expect that to change if the law takes effect.
In general, when police officers encounter suspected illegal immigrants, they can call ICE's 24-hour hotline to check the person's status. Police also transport suspected illegal immigrants to ICE's detention center on Central Avenue near downtown Phoenix. In southern Arizona, police also turn over suspected illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol.
At some jails in Arizona, including Maricopa County's jails, immigration status is checked for every person booked on a state or local charge. Those found to be in the country illegally are held to be processed for possible deportation.
Every person sentenced to state prison in Arizona also has his or her immigration status checked. Illegal immigrants and legal immigrants convicted of deportable offenses are turned over to ICE after completing their sentences.
"I am sure they are going to be overwhelmed with phone calls, but I am sure we will just take it as it comes," said Sgt. Robert Bailey, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said officers frequently contact ICE when they encounter smuggling vehicles loaded with illegal immigrants as part of crime investigations or other situations. Whether calls to ICE will increase under the law "remains to be seen," Thompson said, but he expects ICE will continue to respond.
"We are assuming that if we contact ICE, they will be there," Thompson said.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has conducted a controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants for the past several years, said ICE continues to take custody of immigration violators netted during his crime suppression operations and worksite raids even though they were not charged with any state crimes.
"I'm concerned that they might change their policy and not pick up these people unless they are accused of a violent crime," Arpaio said.
July 21, 2010
The Arizona Anti-Immigration Act is unconstitutional on a number of grounds and should not be adopted by other states, according to a report released by the New York City Bar Association. The report, prepared by the Association’s Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law, examines the principal provisions of the Act and finds that they are pre-empted by federal law and violate the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
The Arizona law creates a scheme to enforce civil immigration statutes that conflicts with the federal enforcement regime. The statute creates state crimes of violating federal immigration laws, including registration by aliens and carrying of registration papers. It requires law enforcement personnel, during any lawful “stop” of an individual, to determine the person’s immigration status if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is an alien unlawfully present in the U.S. As a stop can be for any violation and the law criminalizes not carrying registration papers, any time an officer “reasonably suspects” an individual who should be carrying papers is not doing so the officer can stop the person, inquire, and make a warrantless arrest. The law also bans certain soliciting of people to work, or to harbor undocumented immigrants, and permits any citizen to sue an official he or she believes is limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.
The report finds the Arizona law invades the exclusive province of the federal government to set foreign policy, under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Constitution grants the federal government the power to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” and “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations”. These powers are necessary in order for the U.S. to function within the community of nations. Indeed, according to the report, if a state could regulate immigration, it “would have the authority to raise an international crisis through implementation of its own statutes without the corresponding responsibility to redress the resulting concerns in any meaningful way.”
The report also finds that the federal government has pre-empted the field by establishing a comprehensive system of immigration regulation. The federal government’s establishment of a system, together with “the national government’s interest in promoting uniform laws in the immigration field” should negate Arizona’s attempt to establish a parallel regulatory structure.
The federal pre-emption interest is more pronounced, according to the report, where a state seeks to regulate the civil enforcement of immigration laws. Here, Arizona’s intent is clear. The statute requires agencies to enforce federal civil immigration laws, purports to regulate a substantial range of activity, including registration and employment of aliens, and “requires police agencies to treat administrative violations of the immigration law on the same level as serious felonies.” However, that range of enforcement squarely conflicts with the responsibility of the federal government, as established by its vast regulatory system. Court decisions have made clear that, while there may be some role for states in the criminal enforcement of immigration law, only the federal government can engage in the civil enforcement of immigration. Arizona ignores that distinction and unconstitutionally overreaches its authority.
The report also addresses additional ways in which the Arizona statute violates the federal constitution and law by:
- Exceeding the limits on state enforcement of civil immigration law set by the federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996;
- Violating the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable stops;
- Violating the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process requirements, as the terminology of the law is vague, including permitting stops based on “suspected” violations regarding documentation;
- Violating the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection provisions by posing a serious risk that the law will discriminate on the basis of alienage, which the Supreme Court has said is “inherently suspect and subject to close judicial scrutiny.”
- Raising serious First Amendment concerns, by risking a conflict with the federal harboring statute and conflicting with free speech protection provided to solicitation of work.
The Report notes that defenders of the Arizona law point out the statute’s language that race, color or national origin may not be considered in determining immigration status. However, according to the report, the risk of racial profiling is great:
With the incorporation of failure to register or carry documentation into the state’s criminal jurisdictional base, anyone appearing foreign can arguably be lawfully stopped and asked about his or her registration documents as a pretext for determining immigration status.
In addition, “the vagueness of the term “suspected” documentary evidence raises particular concerns in light of Arizona’s checkered history with respect to making pretextual “stops.”
The full report is available at http://bit.ly/cXpm7w
Under the ruling last month, which echoed decisions by four federal circuit courts, including the one covering New York, legal residents with minor drug convictions are eligible to have an immigration judge weigh their offenses against other factors in their lives and decide whether to let them stay.
But deportees who were denied such a hearing have no means to get one now. The Board of Immigration Appeals says it has no jurisdiction over any case after deportation. Government regulations prohibit any motion to reopen the case of someone who has left the country; judicial circuits are divided over that interpretation of immigration law, and a request that the Supreme Court consider the matter is pending.
The Obama administration, which is on track to deport a record 400,000 people this fiscal year, according to government statistics, has shown no eagerness to open the door. Now two dozen legal rights groups are calling for a process that would let immigrants reopen their cases under the ruling last month.
“American principles of justice — fairness, due process and discretion — require that these immigrants now receive their day in court,” the groups wrote in a June 18 letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security.
The Justice Department referred questions about the letter to the Department of Homeland Security, where a spokesman, Matthew Chandler, declined to comment on the issues it raised.
But Jan Ting, a Temple University Law School professor and a former assistant immigration commissioner, called the idea of letting deportees return for hearings “far-fetched,” adding, “The federal government has already incurred significant costs in executing the removals of these individuals in a procedure that was certainly legal at the time.”
No one knows just how many cases could be affected, but analyses by state and federal public defenders’ associations suggest they could number several thousand. More than 34,000 noncitizens were deported for drug-related offenses in 2008; in New York alone, from 1995 to 2004 more than 258,000 citizens and noncitizens served little or no jail time for misdemeanor possession convictions.
Among the most compelling cases for redress, the advocates say, are those of New Yorkers who were transferred by immigration officials to detention centers in Louisiana and Texas. There, the detainees came under the jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which approved the automatic deportations long after the Second Circuit, which includes New York, had rejected them.
July 19, 2010
Austin, TX – Grassroots Leadership today issued a “green paper” of the report Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars along the Rio Grande. Operation Streamline is a controversial policy that mandates the criminal prosecution of border-crossers in certain areas. Before Streamline, immigration was usually enforced in the civil immigration system. The report analyzes the impact of Streamline on two border districts in Texas.
Key findings include that federal districts along the Texas-Mexico border have spent more than $1.2 billion in government dollars on the criminal detention and incarceration of border-crossers since the onset of Operation Streamline in 2005. More than 135,000 migrants have been criminally prosecuted in these two border districts since 2005 under two sections of the federal code that make unauthorized entry and re-entry a crime.
The vast majority of these costs have been funneled into for-profit private prisons contracted by U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Bureau of Prisons. “The human costs of Operation Streamline fall squarely on immigrant families,” said Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “Meanwhile, private prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group are quietly profiting from this broken system.”
“The criminalization of immigration did not begin with Arizona’s SB1070,” said Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership’s Texas Campaigns Coordinator and a report co-author. “Operation Streamline has subjected undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border to unprecedented rates of detention. It has also overburdened the federal judiciary. It’s time to end this Bush-era policy.”
July 16, 2010
July 14, 2010
What Would the DREAM Act Do?
Who Would Benefit from the DREAM Act?
What are the Economic Benefits of the DREAM Act?
What are the Additional Benefits of the DREAM Act?
The DREAM Act in Congress
Why has the DREAM Act Failed to Become Law?
Who Supports the DREAM Act?
DREAMs Coming True in the States
July 13, 2010
The court sent the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to consider whether Guatemalan women make up a "social group" and should be eligible for asylum based on that. In the ruling, the court ordered the board to determine whether Lesly Yajayra Perdomo has demonstrated a fear of persecution based on her membership in that group.
To obtain asylum, applicants must show that they are unable or unwilling to return home because of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
July 12, 2010
July 08, 2010
Nearly a decade had passed since Zulma Arevalo last laid eyes on the baby boy she left behind in El Salvador. She always knew that someday they would be reunited — and that moment came last year, after Enrique, then 9, was caught crossing illegally into the United States to join her. Because of Enrique's age, authorities summoned Arevalo, who was in Omaha. “It was so strange,” the mom recalled. “I left my son as an infant, and I didn't recognize him. We just stood there staring at each other. “Then we hugged.” Arevalo, who has temporary protected status in the United States, was able to take the boy, pending the federal government's final decision on his deportation. Enrique, who turned 11 this past weekend, easily transitioned into a household of mixed U.S. citizenry. He has lived there since March 2009, the middle of five kids. His family time here could end, however, after a Monday immigration hearing. Cindy Gonzalez, Omaha World-Herald, July 6, 2010.