March 5, 2014
International Business Times, 3/4/14
President Barack Obama ultimately wants comprehensive immigration reform, but until there’s congressional action, he will not stop detaining and deporting those who are illegally in the country. Focusing on the quality of enforcement actions, the administration proposes a$38.2 billion budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. Within that is a $2.6 billion allocation for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to use to identify, detain and remove undocumented immigrants from the country.
Some $131.6 million is to go towards the apprehension of immigrant fugitives in the country who are considered public safety risks. Another $322.4 million will be used to remove those who are in federal, state and local prisons. But the policy proposal that continues to anger some advocacy groups is the $24 million funding to retain ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local and state law enforcement officials to take part in the immigration process.
March 4, 2014
As immigration reform bogs down once again in the nation’s capital, there is at least one area where both sides should be able to come together for some meaningful, near-term action. That is focusing on the untapped potential of the hundreds of thousands of skilled men and women who have already come to the United States — many of them from Asia, particularly China and India — through legal channels.
Unfortunately, this issue has generally been overlooked amid the focus on the flow of unauthorized, low-skilled immigrants into the United States, and the pleas of some high-tech companies for more visas that would allow them to hire additional employees from overseas with specialized skills. The language of immigration today also is increasingly politicized, adding little to a constructive discussion: Illegal vs. undocumented. Amnesty vs. a path to citizenship.
March 4, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected attempts by towns in Texas and Pennsylvania to revive local laws that cracked down on illegal immigration. The court decided against hearing appeals filed by the towns of Farmers Branch, Texas, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which were seeking to overturn appeals court rulings that said the ordinances were trumped by federal immigration law. In doing so, the court left intact the appeals court rulings and avoided wading into the divisive issue of immigration at a time in which reform efforts have stalled in the U.S. Congress.
Prompted by concerns that the federal government was not adequately enforcing immigration laws, officials in both towns enacted ordinances that, among other things, required tenants to provide identification that could later be verified with immigration authorities and penalized landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. The Hazleton ordinance also penalized employers for knowingly employing unlawful immigrants. Groups of tenants, landlords, employers and workers challenged the laws in court. They won in both cases, prompting the towns to seek Supreme Court review.
February 26, 2014
The Wall Street Journal, 2/26/14
Religious leaders who favor an overhaul of immigration laws are stepping up their pressure on House Republicans, aiming to move the stalled legislation and show that the GOP could pay a political penalty for inaction. This weekend, Hispanic evangelical pastors will preach a “call to action,” asking churchgoers to call members of Congress to demand passage of a broad immigration bill.
The program is being organized by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which encouraged its 34,200 member churches, representing 16 million members, to participate. It is unclear how many will do so. On Wednesday, nearly a dozen Catholic bishops and archbishops representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are sending a letter to House members, urging them to move immigration legislation. The letter is also signed by evangelical leaders.
February 26, 2014
Washington Post, 2/25/14
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is renewing its push for immigration reform, making the economic case for an overhaul of border control laws to pressure House Republicans to act on legislation this year. Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue posted a blog on the organization’s Web site Monday, and 636 business organizations signed onto a letter from the chamber to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday. The businesses included Facebook, Caterpillar, Halliburton and Hewlett-Packard.
“Failure to act is not an option,” the letter stated. “We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy.”
February 24, 2014
The New York Times, 2/23/14
You can find examples of federal detainees held inexplicably for years without criminal charges or bond hearings much closer to home than Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Last April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in California, upheld a lower court’s order requiring the government to grant bond hearings to immigrants who have been held six months without such a hearing. The American Civil Liberties Union, which had brought that class-action lawsuit, said the decision would potentially allow thousands of people to get a day in court across the Ninth Circuit, where an estimated one-fourth of all immigration detainees are held each year.
These rulings reflect the growing understanding — in the federal courts, if not at Immigration and Customs Enforcement — that the constitutional guarantee of due process demands that a detainee have a hearing within a “reasonable” time and that more than six months is not reasonable by any definition.
February 24, 2014
The Washington Post, 2/22/14
If, a handful of years into the future, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has fallen sharply or zeroed out, the president will deserve all the credit. Mexico’s president, that is.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, no stranger to the tough debate over the nation’s immigration laws, thinks recent legislation passed by Mexico’s Congress, a major priority of President Enrique Pena Nieto, may have set in motion a reversal of the flow of undocumented immigrants northward. In a short time, Perry said in an interview Saturday, undocumented immigrants may be streaming back over the U.S.-Mexico border, headed for lucrative energy sector jobs back home.
“The landscape on immigration is fast changing,” Perry said. “My instinct is that immigration and immigration reform are going to be substantially less of a flashpoint than they have been in the last several years.”
February 18, 2014
Around 30 religious leaders, immigrants, and supporters holding signs and singing songs in protest to President Obama’s deportation policy were arrested outside the north gate of the White House Monday. The President’s Day protest was organized by the United Methodist Church and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. The UMC reported on its website Monday afternoon that more than 50 people attended the protest.
More than 2 million people have been deported during President Obama’s five years in office, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. In comparison, the George W. Bush administration deported around 2 million people during Bush’s eight years in office. Congressional Democrats have raised the issue with Obama, with some imploring the president to extend his Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals program to other family members and working immigrants. The program, which Obama enacted by executive action, permits some high-achieving immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to remain working in-country for up to two years.
February 18, 2014
The American public’s priorities have changed on immigration reform to equally emphasize border security and dealing with undocumented workers already in the country, according to a new poll released Monday. The Gallup poll shows that 43 percent of those surveyed say securing the border is “extremely important” while 44 percent attach the same importance to dealing with the the status of undocumented immigrants in the country.
February 18, 2014
Fox News, 2/18/14
An Arizona House panel on Monday gave initial approval to a plan to spend $30 million to install 350 miles of “virtual fence” along the state’s southern border with Mexico. The plan approved by the House Government and Environment Committee would place high-technology radar and video sensors on 300 towers along 350 miles of the border to monitor human and drug-smuggling activity. The sensors would send signals to a publically accessible site and could also be monitored by law enforcement agencies.
The proposal from Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, would use radar sensors about the size of a cereal box that could monitor 250 acres each. Mounting the sensors on towers paired with solar power units and a camera would allow Arizona to implement a “trust but verify” policy as to the federal effort to secure the border, Worsley said.