Federal Immigration and Legislation Related News
Who's Leading Immigration Reform in the House?
Article by: TIM ALBERTA, National Journal, 8/5/13
The push for immigration reform in the House is decidedly decentralized—some would argue disorganized—with two committees, six bills, and upward of 10 lawmakers responsible for the fate of a legislative push that could define the 113th Congress. And, according to House Republicans, that's just the way they want it.
It can be difficult for any congressional initiative to survive without strong, central leadership and a clear chain of command. But on any given day, pro-reform Republicans seem to have a different spokesman, ranging from the speaker to a backbench sophomore.
In this case, pro-reform Republicans are embracing the decidedly fragmented approach, and for the same reason that opponents of immigration reform are fearful of it: The more members involved in different aspects of the policymaking process, the likelier the House is to produce legislation that has been exhaustively vetted and enjoys majority support within the conference.
"On this issue, because there are so many diverse opinions, it works to our advantage to have different people bringing ideas forward—from security issues to workforce laws to legal status, all that," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
Brady, one of the Republicans who wants legalization for undocumented immigrants to be tied to improvement in border security, added: "It may be counterintuitive, but I believe the more people on the Republican side we have engaged in this, the better our chances of finding and passing a solution this year."
While Speaker John Boehner bristled recently at the suggestion that he has been hands-off with immigration reform efforts, it's clear from conversations with Republican lawmakers and top House aides that Boehner has made a concerted effort to contract out the policymaking process to a group of trusted lieutenants. They are:
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Boehner said from the outset that reform efforts will go through "regular order," with bills being considered in committee before hitting the House floor. This meant most immigration bills would go through the House Judiciary Committee, with Chairman Goodlatte running the show. For months Goodlatte's panel has held hearings on various aspects of the immigration debate, and he has exercised plenty of authority over the process. (Goodlatte has introduced a bill aimed overhauling the guest worker program for agriculture-specific jobs.)
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. Goodlatte, who opposes the concept of a comprehensive bill, has often left the heavy legislative lifting to Gowdy, who chairs the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee. Gowdy, another opponent of the Senate's comprehensive approach, is perhaps the leader of the House's "border-first" coalition—those lawmakers like Brady who want a border-security bill passed before any legalization measures are considered. (Gowdy earlier this year authored the Safe Act, which allows states to enforce federal immigration laws.)
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. At the same time, another panel chairman—McCaul of the House Homeland Security Committee—is another central player in the border-security debate. McCaul has introduced legislation, which enjoys widespread support within the House GOP, aimed at strengthening border security and installing enforcement triggers that could ultimately determine the potential legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. On that front, Cantor is spearheading an initiative to deal with legalizing a specific segment of the undocumented community. Having recently floated a trial balloon to test the support of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Cantor is writing a bill that is known as the "Kids Act"—legislation that would put young illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship. Cantor's bill, expected early this fall, will be the sixth single-issue immigration measure.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Pushing citizenship for children is one thing—and if last week's Immigration Subcommittee hearing was any indication, it enjoys significant support among House Republicans. But some members of the House majority think legal status should eventually be bestowed upon the entire undocumented community. At a town hall in his native Wisconsin last weekend, Ryan outlined a plan in which illegal immigrants would receive a "probationary visa" that brings them out of the shadows while they wait—at the back of the line—for citizenship. Ryan, who commands the respect of his colleagues in the GOP conference, has been campaigning privately and publicly to convince skeptical conservatives of the case for comprehensive reform.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. Still, not everyone thinks citizenship should be the goal. Labrador, perhaps the most influential player in the debate because of his background in immigration law and his standing among conservatives, has said repeatedly that citizenship is not the only solution. Another advocate of the border-first approach, Labrador nodded in agreement last week as his colleague, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, told of how many illegal immigrants he meets aren't seeking citizenship--just legal status. Labrador, a bilingual member of the Judiciary Committee, has warned that Democrats will be responsible for the failure of immigration reform if they insist on a "citizenship or nothing" approach. Once a member of the House's "Gang of Eight," Labrador left the group earlier this year over disputes about health care for illegal immigrants.
"The Gang of Seven." That group, now made up of seven members (three Republicans and four Democrats), has been working for years on a comprehensive bill. A finished product was expected several months ago, but a series of setbacks and delays the group has encountered call into question whether it will ever release a bill. The Republicans still involved in the group are Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Sam Johnson and John Carter of Texas.
Boehner. Goodlatte. Gowdy. McCaul. Cantor. Ryan. Labrador. Two more members—Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Lamar Smith, R-Texas—authored immigration bills. Another three are in the "Gang of Seven."
Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?
"I think it's a positive, actually," said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who testified at last week's hearing in favor of offering citizenship to "Dreamers," as the children brought to the country illegally are known. "We need many voices reflected in this debate. The House is going to have a task before it trying to get to 218 votes; I think we can do it with [a majority of] Republicans. But there's got to be voices of many people involved to get it done."
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said the House must delegate responsibilities if Republicans are going to remain true to their preferred piecemeal approach.
"It's a complex issue that's got a lot of moving parts," Scalise said, noting that six different members are sponsoring bills. "It's healthy to have a debate with all the people who are leaders on a number of different fronts."
Of course, not everyone wants to see immigration reform achieved. There are plenty of conservative members—and several supportive outside groups—who oppose any form of "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, and they aren't interested in much beyond enhanced border security.
Many among that group are convinced that this decentralized movement is far more dangerous than any single, concentrated campaign. Without a primary advocate or single piece of legislation to rally against, opponents say, they are reduced to playing legislative whack-a-mole, swinging wildly to stop one issue but watching helplessly as another springs up.
ICE to expand immigrant monitor program
Article by: JULIA PRESTON, New York Times, May 11/2012
Fingerprint program to identify illegal immigrants will be extended in New York and Massachusetts.
Obama administration officials have announced that a contentious fingerprinting program to identify illegal immigrants will be extended across Massachusetts and New York next week, expanding federal enforcement efforts despite opposition from the governors and immigrant groups in those states.
In blunt e-mails to officials and the police in the two states, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials advised that the program, Secure Communities, would be activated "in all remaining jurisdictions" this Tuesday.
In June, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts declined to sign an agreement with the immigration agency to expand Secure Communities beyond a pilot program in the Boston area since 2006. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he wanted to suspend the program, which had been initiated in a number of counties.
Opponents argued that it was an overly wide dragnet that was deporting many illegal immigrants with no criminal histories who were arrested for minor offenses. They said the program encouraged racial profiling by the police and eroded trust in law enforcement among immigrants.
Under Secure Communities, fingerprints of anyone booked by the local or state police are sent through the FBI to be checked in databases of the Department of Homeland Security, which include immigration records. If there is a match, officials at the immigration agency decide whether to issue a detainer, asking the police to hold the person to be picked up by federal agents.
ICE officials said that they made changes to respond to state officials' concerns and to focus the program on deporting serious criminals. They said they revised the detainers to clarify that suspected illegal immigrants could be held for only 48 hours. They provided civil rights training for the police, officials said.
A recent change in arrest procedures would decrease detentions of illegal immigrants stopped for speeding or driving without a license, the officials said.
Both governors had measured reactions. A spokesman for Cuomo said he remained opposed to the program. And Patrick said changes had addressed some of his concerns. But, he added, "It is very important to me that people not see this as a license to profile."
Homeland Security names border czar' to oversee issues relating to illegal immigration
ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer, April 15, 2009
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano named a former federal prosecutor Wednesday to the new post of "border czar" to oversee efforts to end drug-cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and slow the tide of people crossing illegally into the United States.
Napolitano named Alan Bersin, a former Justice Department official who was charged with cracking down on illegal immigration in the 1990s, to fill the post at the Homeland Security Department.
State seeks more federal aid for cost of keeping illegal immigrant inmates - A federal program pays less than 12% of the cost for noncitizen criminals. As California renews its bid for funding, some lawmakers are optimistic.
By Richard Simon, April 11, 2009 for the LA Times
Reporting from Washington -- Fifteen years after Congress promised that Washington would help states pick up the tab for imprisoning illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, California is receiving but a fraction -- less than 12 cents on the dollar -- of its nearly $1-billion annual cost.
Border Patrol stats show jump in migrant deaths despite apparent dip in illegal crossings
ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN | Associated Press Writer, April 8, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Illegal immigrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border have risen in the past six months despite a nearly 25 percent drop in arrests by the Border Patrol, according to patrol statistics.
The number of migrant deaths along the roughly 2,000-mile border increased by nearly 7 percent between Oct. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, though apprehensions of people crossing illegally from Mexico into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California decreased in the same period from a year ago, the patrol said.
Drug cartels raise the stakes on human smuggling
By Josh Meyer, March 23, 2009 for the Los Angeles Times
Exploitation of illegal immigrants has become worse, officials say, and the failure of U.S. agencies to work together has hindered efforts to stop the organizations.
Reporting from Washington -- Mexican drug cartels and their vast network of associates have branched out from their traditional business of narcotics trafficking and are now playing a central role in the multibillion-dollar-a-year business of illegal immigrant smuggling, U.S. law enforcement officials and other experts say.
The business of smuggling humans across the Mexican border has always been brisk, with many thousands coming across every year.
Focus shifts to flow of cash, arms into Mexico
Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau, March 18, 2009
Washington - -- California lawmakers and the Obama administration have begun to shift U.S. border policy with Mexico, abruptly changing focus from illegal immigration to the flow of cash and weapons from the United States that is fueling a savage war between the Mexican government and powerful drug cartels.
Criminal offenders in federal courts more likely Hispanic due to immigration, enforcement
AFP, July 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hispanics outnumber other ethnic groups among criminal offenders in the federal courts due in part to the crackdown on illegal immigration, according to a study released Wednesday.
The Pew Hispanic Center, which analyzed federal sentencing data, found that in 2007, 40 percent of the offenders were Hispanic, compared with 27 percent white, 23 percent black and 10 percent from other groups. In 1991, whites comprised 43 percent of those sentenced in federal courts and 24 percent were Hispanic.
McCain denies immigration flip-flop at Hispanic conference
AFP, July 14, 2008
SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain denied Monday he had flip-flopped on immigration reform to appease conservatives in an address to an influential Hispanic grouping.
Speaking to the National Council of La Raza, McCain insisted he remained committed to comprehensive immigration reform, rejecting suggestions by Democratic rival Barack Obama that he had backed away from his plans.
"I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform, I mean it," McCain told his audience at the San Diego Convention Center.
Obama told La Raza on Sunday that McCain had changed his position on immigration to win votes from conservatives during the Republican primaries. Obama had made similar claims before other Latino groups recently.
However, McCain hit back at Obama's jibes in his address on Monday.
Obama woos Hispanics with vow of immigration reform
NDTV, July 14, 2008
Barack Obama promised Hispanic Americans, a key voting bloc, to press for immigration reform and improved access to health care in his first year if elected to the White House.
"The system isn't working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year," Obama told the 40th annual National Council of La Raza convention, an influential Latino group.
"I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform, and I will make it a top priority in my first year as president," he said on Sunday.
Obama laid out his stance on health care, status of illegal migrants and small businesses, and acknowledged that the Hispanic population in the United States, numbering some 44 million in all, will be key to his bid to defeat Republican John McCain.
Dying in Detention
New York Times, June 11, 2008
The government has a duty to provide decent, effective, timely medical care to people in its custody. That should be beyond debate, but not when the government in question is the Bush administration and the people in custody are illegal immigrants.
Recent news reports from The Times, The Washington Post and CBS News have shone a harsh light on the immigration detention system, finding alarming evidence of shoddy care, inadequate staffing, lax standards, secrecy and chronic ineptitude.
Mixed messages on both sides as Republicans and Democrats straddle thorny immigration politics
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS , Associated Press , June 8, 2008
WASHINGTON - The tricky politics of immigration, an issue once seen as a driving force of the 2008 election, have relegated it to a back but hot burner in the presidential campaign debate and paralyzed Congress on the topic.
Both John McCain and Barack Obama support giving legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, a position that strategists see as crucial to winning over Hispanics. But Republican and Democratic candidates are also wary of alienating white conservatives and blacks who oppose granting legal status or benefits to people who broke the law to come to the United States.
The searing rhetoric from opponents who brand that idea as "amnesty" has made the topic virtually untouchable, according to strategists and lawmakers.
Gonzalez says House will OK immigration reform
By David Hendricks for The San Antonio Express-News, May 30, 2008
Sweeping immigration reform legislation will be approved by the U.S. House by this time next year, no matter who is elected president in November, U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, predicted here Friday.
Final passage will depend on the extent that corporations become involved for reforms that include better border security, a broader guest worker program and a solution to the issue of unauthorized workers already in the U.S., Gonzalez told about 200 people attending the ninth annual Free Trade Forum.
Illegal immigration bill would require Social Security verification for all jobs
By ROB HOTAKAINEN for The Kansas City Star, May 19, 2008
WASHINGTON | For critics, it’s an Orwellian nightmare: the government signing off on every single hiring decision made in the United States.
For backers, it’s the only logical way to discourage illegal immigrants, one using the nation’s only existing, all-encompassing — and currently flawed — database to block unlawful employment entering the country.
Under it, 55 million new hires each year in the U.S. would be scrutinized for fraudulent Social Security numbers. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Kansas Democrat and one of 32 co-sponsors of the New Employee Verification Act, on Monday noted: “Everyone agrees that illegal immigration is a major problem that the federal government must address. In addition to strengthening our border security, we need an employment verification system that works. We also need to crack down on employers that knowingly exploit these illegal immigrants.”
Immigration will heat up in Congress next week
By Eunice Moscoso for the Borderline, May 16, 2008
The issue of immigration will heat up in Congress next week as the Senate debates an amendment that would give five year visas to agricultural workers who are in the United States illegally.
Groups seeking a crack down on illegal immigration say the measure amounts to an amnesty for lawbreakers.
The amendment — by Sen. Dianne Feinstein — was passed Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee as an amendment to a large spending bill to fund the Iraq War.
“This amendment provides a consistent, stable workforce for an industry that depends almost exclusively on undocumented labor - agriculture,” Feinstein said. “And it provides temporary status for those who have worked in agriculture and who will continue to work in agriculture for a number of years.”
In addition, she said: “This is not amnesty. It is an emergency agricultural worker bill, which will give protected status to those workers who have worked in agriculture within the last 48 months.”
Lawmakers want better treatment for detainees
By EILEEN SULLIVAN for the AP, May 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding more information from the Homeland Security Department about medical treatment provided to illegal immigrants detained in the U.S.
Recent news reports have detailed insufficient — and in some cases negligent — medical treatment for immigrant detainees over the past five years. The reports have sparked renewed interest in an issue that has been raised for years by human rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who has held one hearing on the topic, said details she has heard about detainees' treatment are "horrifying." It "fails to meet international standards, and it makes me quite ashamed," Lofgren said Wednesday. She is the chairwoman of the Judiciary's immigration subcommittee.
Congress is considering several bills that call for improvements in detainee conditions and would require more accountability from the Homeland Security Department. For instance, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, reintroduced a bill this week that he proposed in 2006.
Barack Obama Crusades for Driver's Licenses for Illegal Aliens
May 12, 2008
by Jim Kouri - Calif. -- Barack Obama is easily winning the African American vote, but to woo Latinos, where he is running 3-to-1 behind rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he is taking a giant risk: spotlighting his support for the red-hot issue of granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
It's a huge issue for Latinos, who want them. It's also a huge issue for the general electorate, which most vehemently does not. Obama's stand could come back to haunt him not only in a general election, but with other voters in states such as California, where driver's licenses for illegal immigrants helped undo former Gov. Gray Davis.
Clinton stumbled into that minefield in a debate last fall and quickly backed off. First she suggested a New York proposal for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants might be reasonable. Then she denied endorsing the idea, and later came out against them.
Asked directly about the issue now, her California campaign spokesman said Clinton "believes the solution is to pass comprehensive immigration reform."
Congress weighs more funding for jailing of illegal immigrants
by Dan Genz, The Examiner, May 9, 2008
Legislation moving through Congress would increase federal reimbursements for the millions of dollars state and local governments spend jailing illegal immigrants each year as more communities pursue aggressive enforcement.
The House this week approved a measure that would consider far more state and local inmates eligible for federal reimbursement, while the Senate has approved legislation more than doubling spending for the program from $417 million to $950 million.
More communities throughout the U.S. are pursuing aggressive enforcement policies against illegal immigrants as they claim the federal government is not doing the job; locally, Prince William County this year established a much-publicized crackdown on illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
Immigration Hardliners Pushing Pointless SAVE Act Through Congress
Joshua Holland for the AlterNet, May 6, 2008
There’s nothing like a lot of well-organized noise to get lawmakers crackin’ on some truly brain-dead public policy. When people scream, ‘do something, anything!!’ legislators usually do, and the results are almost always ugly.
A good example is the SAVE Act, an enforcement-only immigration bill being hashed out in hearings this week on The Hill. It would cause abundant problems for employers and workers — citizens and legal immigrants as much as unauthorized workers — and would do absolutely nothing to fix our broken immigration system.
The bill would require employers to verify 130 million workers against a Social Security database over the next four years. So far, one percent of employers have been participating in a pilot program, and the error rate — the rate of false “no-match” findings — is around 8 percent. The overall number of incorrect records in the database is estimated to be around 17 million.
A creaky federal bureaucracy would be flooded with false no-matches, and they’d have to resolve each case within ten days or the employee — legal, illegal immigrants and citizens alike — would be fired if they failed to do so. If you have faith in the government’s ability to expedite those investigations in just ten days, then I have a lovely bridge you might consider as an investment property.
Immigration Agency’s List of Deaths in Custody
New York Times, May 5, 2008
The document that follows, “Detainee Deaths 2004-November 2007,” is the government’s fullest account to date of deaths in immigration detention. Compiled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, it lists the names of 66 people who died, their dates of birth and death, where they were last held, where they died and the cause of death.
Times Topics: In-Custody DeathsBut errors and omissions on the list made it difficult for The Times to confirm the identities of many whose deaths had not previously come to public attention, to find out why they died, or to locate relatives.
Along with 13 deaths cited as suicides, 14 as the result of various cardiac ailments and 9 related to H.I.V. and AIDS, the list includes cryptic causes of death like “unresponsive” and “undetermined.” The list does not mention the immigrants’ nationalities or where they lived in the United States. Some names and birth dates appear garbled.
McCain wrong to embrace immigration hawks
By ANDRES OPPENHEIMER for the Miami Herald, May 4, 2008
When I interviewed likely Republican candidate Sen. John McCain last week, I was left with the distinct impression that he is moving steadily backward from his once progressive stand on immigration.
In a 15-minute telephone interview during his April 28 visit to Florida, I asked McCain whether, if elected, he would launch a new immigration reform plan providing for an earned path to legalization to many of the 12 million undocumented workers who could prove they have paid taxes and would be willing to learn English.
McCain indicated he would propose that only at the end of a three-step process.
''I would first of all make sure that our borders are secure,'' he said. ``That's the lesson that we got from this last campaign, that Americans want secure borders. We can do that in a relatively short period of time.''
''I would have the border state governors certify that the borders are secure, and then I would move on with a temporary worker program that has biometric, tamper-proof documents,'' McCain went on. ``And then, I would address the issue of the 12 million people who are in this country illegally.''
Immigrants Challenge U.S. System of Detention
By NINA BERNSTEIN for the New York Times, May 1, 2008
Immigrants who spent time in detention while fighting deportation filed a federal suit on Wednesday against Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, demanding that the agency issue legally enforceable regulations for its detention centers.
No enforceable standards now exist for the immigrant detention system, a rapidly growing conglomeration of county jails, federal centers and privately run prisons across the country.
The lawsuit, filed by the immigrants and their advocates in United States District Court in Manhattan, contends that the lack of such regulations puts hundreds of thousands of people a year in substandard and inconsistent conditions while the government decides whether to deport them, leaving them subject to inadequate medical care and abuse.
The suit is based on the Administrative Procedures Act, which allows courts to force agencies to respond to rulemaking petitions. In January 2007, the plaintiffs filed a petition requesting that Homeland Security make its detention standards enforceable, but have received no response.
Homeland Security is one of the largest jailers in the world, “but it behaves like a lawless local sheriff,” said Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
Other plaintiffs include Families for Freedom, a New York-based advocacy group for immigrant detainees; Rafiu Abimbola, a Nigerian who was detained for more than six years while seeking asylum; and Camal Marchabeyoglu, now a legal permanent resident living in Corona, Calif.
Bush, Guatemala's Colom discuss immigration, drugs
AFP, April 28, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom met Monday and discussed trade, cooperation to fight illegal drugs and efforts to modify US immigration policies.
"We discussed bilateral relations between Guatemala and the United States, which are very strong. We're friends. We treat each other with respect," Bush told his guest during a brief public appearance in the Oval Office.
The two leaders said they had discussed the issue of granting temporary protected status (TPS) to Guatemalan citizens, a step that can give immigrants temporary work permits in the United States.
Congressional Hispanics knock Democratic leaders
By Patricia Zapor for the Catholic News Service, April 24, 2008
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- States have considered more than 1,100 bills that deal with aspects of immigration this year, while a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus April 23 called the Democratic leadership "spineless" for not taking up comprehensive immigration reform.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill to extend a visa program for religious workers, and the governors in three border states asked Congress to extend an operation that has placed National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexican border.
And Catholic organizations and religious orders joined with other church groups in signing a letter protesting a bill introduced in Congress that would force immigrant families to live in a detention center until their immigration cases are resolved.
The National Conference of State Legislatures in a report released April 24 said that, as of the end of March, 26 states had enacted 44 laws and adopted 38 resolutions on immigration topics.
In 35 states, 198 pieces of legislation were introduced dealing with law enforcement. They included bills authorizing local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws; penalizing those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants; and requiring agencies to determine the immigration status of arrested or jailed noncitizens.
Congressional Hispanics knock Democratic leaders
By ERICA WERNER for the AP, April 23, 2008
ICE Raids Poultry Plants
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Congressional Hispanic Caucus denounced House Democratic leaders Wednesday as "spineless" and little better than Republicans for failing to take on comprehensive immigration reform.
Leaders of the all-Democratic caucus, which numbers two dozen, criticized their party leadership at a news conference for instead scheduling hearings on enforcement legislation and specific visa issues.
They also complained that they are being blamed for opposing bills strongly supported by other Democrats that would add more visas for certain classes of immigrants, such as high-tech or seasonal workers. Instead, the Hispanic Caucus insists on a comprehensive approach that would provide a path for citizenship for some 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S.
Such legislation collapsed in the Senate last year and Democratic House leaders have shown little appetite for trying to revive the highly contentious issue in an election year.
Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona called the Democratic caucus "spineless."
"Today my party wants to do what is easy, not exactly what is right," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. "The leaders in our party who are arguing for consideration of helping just a few immigrants are risking the future of all immigrants."
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, said the visa and other bills under consideration were "nothing more than a Band-Aid being used to cover up a gaping wound."
The lawmakers were particularly incensed because hearings have been scheduled on a bill by moderate first-term Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., that focuses on enforcement and would add border patrol agents.
If a Democratic majority can allow such a hearing, "then we are no better than the Republican majority we replaced," Gutierrez said.
Access Washington - Weekly Immigration UpdateAccess Washington - Weekly Immigration Update
New America Media, April 21, 2008
ICE Raids Poultry Plants
After recent immigration raids at Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plants in five states, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents processed more than 300 foreign workers who they allege committed identity theft and other criminal violations in order to obtain their jobs. ICE has established a toll-free number for family members to get their relative's detention status and removal process. The toll-free hotline number is 1-866-341-3858.
Naturalization Interviews to be Conducted on Evenings and Weekends
Due to the high number of naturalization applications (Form N-400), USCIS is expanding its hours in order to complete the filings. Therefore, if you receive a notice from USCIS that your naturalization interview has been scheduled for a Saturday, Sunday, or after regular business hours, the notice is correct and you should appear at the scheduled time.
New Immigration Related Bills Introduced in Congress
H.R. 5750, “The Senior Citizenship Act of 2008” would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act and exempt some elderly persons from taking the test on history, principles and form of government, as well as English language requirements, in order to naturalize. It allows other elderly persons to take the history and government examination in their native languages.
H.R. 5761 is a companion bill to the “The Accountability in Immigrant Repatriation Act of 2008” S. 2720, which was introduced by Senator Arlen Specter, R-Penn., in the Senate in March. The legislation punishes countries who do not take back their nationals once the U.S. has decided to deport them. The bill would make countries ineligible to receive any federal financial assistance from the United States, as well as suspend visa issuances.
H.R. 5732, “The Securing the Homeland Through Agency Reporting Enhancement Act” would establish procedures for Social Security to send "no match" letters normally sent just to employers, to the Department of Homeland Security.
H.R. 5728, “Border Fence Trust Fund Act of 2008” introduced by six congressmen including Tom Tancredo, amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individual taxpayers to designate a portion of income taxes to fund the improvement of barriers at the United States border, and for other purposes.
Justice Dept. Details Program for Collecting DNA From People in Federal Custody
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD for The New York Times, April 19, 2008
The Bush administration moved forward on Friday with a program to expand collecting DNA samples from people in federal custody.
But it was unclear how federal laboratories would be able to handle the added work.
The Justice Department formally proposed regulations for collecting the samples, a technique that essentially mirrors taking the fingerprints of people arrested for federal offenses, as well as illegal immigrants detained by federal authorities.
The government now collects DNA just from felons. DNA, the genetic marker found in hair and blood and other body fluids, can provide a more concrete link to a crime than fingerprints, which often are not left at a crime scene or are difficult to collect.
For the new effort to succeed, the samples, most collected by swabbing an inside cheek, have to be entered into the DNA database of the F.B.I.
Immigration, Off the Books
The New York Times, April 17, 2008
Every American who has a job or wants one should be following the debates in Congress over bills to crack down on illegal hiring. Employment verification is one of the few ideas still lurching around the Capitol after last year’s Senate shootout mowed down a forest of immigration reforms. It’s boring and complicated — it’s about databases — but unlike other immigration fixes, it affects every worker and employer in America, native-born or not.
Immigration reform is always tricky, but employment verification is where the details get demonic.
It starts with a flawed database that everyone would have to rely on to get work or change jobs. Think of the “no-fly” list, the database of murky origins with mysterious flaws that you, the passenger, must fix if you are on it and want to fly. These immigration bills seek to take small, badly flawed “no-work” lists and explode them rapidly to a national scale. With an error rate of about 4 percent, millions of citizens could be flagged as ineligible to work, too.
Illegal immigrants pay billions in taxes
AP, April 15, 2008
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- The tax system collects its due, even from a class of workers with little likelihood of claiming a refund and no hope of drawing a Social Security check.
Illegal immigrants are paying taxes to Uncle Sam, experts agree. Just how much they pay is hard to determine because the federal government doesn't fully tally it.
But the latest figures available indicate it will amount to billions of dollars in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes this year. One rough estimate puts the amount of Social Security taxes alone at around $9 billion per year.
Paycheck withholding collects much of the federal tax from illegal workers, just as it does for legal workers.
The Internal Revenue Service doesn't track a worker's immigration status, yet many illegal immigrants fearful of deportation won't risk the government attention that will come from filing a return even if they might qualify for a refund. Economist William Ford of Middle Tennessee State University says there are no firm figures on how many taxpayers are in that situation.
"The real question is how many of them pay more than they owe. There are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of people in that situation," Ford said.
But some illegal immigrants choose to file taxes and write a check come April 15, using an alternative to the Social Security number offered by the IRS so it can collect income tax from foreign workers.
New York Times, April 15, 2008
Not content to botch immigration policy all by itself, Congress has handed large parts of the job to others to mishandle. It gave the homeland security czar the czarist powers to overturn any law and ignore any court to seal the border. Now Michael Chertoff is clear-cutting a forest of regulations to wall out Mexico by the end of the year. And through the program known as 287(g), his agency is parceling out duties to a growing number of local police and sheriff’s departments, raising an army of junior deputies in the war on illegal immigrants.
To see how unhinged things have become, it pays to zero in on the squalid doings in Maricopa County, Ariz. It is home to Phoenix, the country’s fifth-largest city, and the largest 287(g) program anywhere.
Access Washington - Weekly Immigration Update
New America Media, News Digest, Wendy Sefsaf, April 14, 2008
SAVE Act Would Cost $40 Billion
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued an analysis of what the costs would be to implement a nationwide employment verification system. The cost is estimated at $40 billion, in addition to the losses the US Government would experience as more workers are paid outside of the tax system. The report was developed to analyze the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act of 2007, a bill introduced by Reps. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). The bill would mandate the businesses use that employment verification system known as "E-Verify.” It is anticipated that the CBO report will slow support for the new law. The analysis can be found here.
Commission, including Senator Kerry, Holds Hearing on ICE Raids
A U.S. commission heard complaints last week that federal agents violated illegal immigrants' constitutional rights and treated them inhumanely during recent immigration raids. The union-backed commission hearing on ICE Misconduct and Violations of Fourth Amendment Rights, met in Boston. Representatives from ICE refused to testify. Immigrant advocates complained that federal officials mistreated undocumented workers when raiding New England businesses. "We all understand that ICE does important work," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "But the way that they conduct workplace raids and detain people does not meet the standards of the United States of America." Kerry has filed legislation mandating that detained immigrants have adequate medical care and legal counsel, as well as childcare. A commission report is due in the summer of 2008.
Congressmen take DHS's waiver authority to Supreme Court
Three years after Congress granted the federal government waiver authority, 14 congressmen are challenging how it is being used to construct a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., leads a group filing a brief in U.S. Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the DHS waivers. Waivers filed by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would suspend more than 30 laws, which Chertoff said interfere with "the expeditious construction of barriers." The brief challenges DHS’ plans to suspend important environmental laws. At the same time, eight landowners in Hidalgo and Starr counties, Texas, remain engaged in federal court battles to try to stall government efforts to survey and cease their properties.
The immigration line to the U.S. is really a black hole
The Free Lance-Star, April 13, 2008
Enough of the anti-immigrant rhetoric already.
It's bad enough that radio shock jocks and cable TV personalities demonize undocumented immigrants. But what bothers me even more is the reflexive response by well-meaning Americans that undocumented immigrants ought to "get in line and wait their turn."
What they don't realize is that our immigration system is so broken that there is no line.
When my parents and I immigrated to the United States back in 1965, it was simple. My father, an architect, went to the consulate in our hometown in Colombia and inquired about a student visa that would allow him to work part time while going to graduate school, and have my mother and me accompany him. After a brief conversation, the consulate officer gave him the paperwork for a resident visa. My father filled out the application and paid the fees, we all got medical checkups, and six months later we were being welcomed by Mother's Cuban family in Miami.
Since then the "line" has become a black hole. Around 1979, my father petitioned to have his elderly parents join him in America. He believed it would be a speedy process. How wrong he was. My grandfather died in 1985 waiting his "turn in line." My 83-year-old grandmother had to wait three more years, living alone, before her turn came up.
Chertoff defends immigration enforcement
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press, April 12, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO - Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he feels the pain of employers pinched by intensified efforts to control illegal immigration, but adds that until Congress enacts broad immigration reforms they shouldn't expect any changes in enforcement.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Chertoff said this week that the rising complaints from businesses offer some evidence the Bush administration's approach is working.
"This is harsh but accurate proof positive that, for the first time in decades, we've succeeded in changing the dynamic and (are) actually beginning to reduce illegal immigration," Chertoff said. "Unfortunately, unless you counterbalance that with a robust system to allow people to come in temporarily and legally, you're going to wind up with an economic problem."
Chertoff defended the actions of his agency, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration Battle on Capitol Hill
by James R. Edwards Jr. for Human Events, April 10, 2008
Immigration has become a thorny issue for congressional Democrats, with a Democrat-sponsored enforcement bill competing for the party leadership’s blessing with an amnesty proposal by the leader of the Hispanic Caucus.
House Democratic leaders face a bitter civil war over immigration issues. Blue Dog Democrats, who tend to be more conservative, stand behind H.R. 4088, the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE), but the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.), and open-borders Democrats favor some form of amnesty for the 12 million illegal aliens. The SAVE Act is sponsored by Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler, (D-N.C). It takes an enforcement-only approach to illegal immigration and shutting off the “jobs magnet.”
The centerpiece of H.R. 4088 is phasing in the E-Verify program. Over four years, all employers would eventually use this web-based system. The Shuler bill adds 8,000 Border Patrol officers, border security technology, federal judge slots, and 1,200 interior enforcement agents.
Halt sought in local efforts to enforce immigration laws
BY SCOTT F. DAVIS Northwest Arkansas Times, April 6, 2008
A national Latino advocacy group is citing the fourday detainment of Adriana Torres-Flores as evidence that local police should not be allowed to enforce federal immigration laws.
Torres-Flores, 38, of Springdale spent four days without food or water in a secure holding area of the Washington County Courthouse last month after a court bailiff apparently forgot about her.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF ) sent letters on April 1 to top Bush administration officials asking for suspension of local enforcement of Section 287 (g ) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Local officials say the two issues are completely unrelated. A minority rights activ- ists says the 287 (g ) program creates a "tense climate"that has dehumanized illegal immigrants.
The MALDEF letter to U. S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey also calls for an investigation into the Torres-Flores incident by the Department of Justice's Special Litigation section.
Primary voters unaware of candidate’s immigration stance
By Eunice Moscoso for the Border Line Blog, April 3, 2008
A poll released this week by the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates lower levels of immigration, shows that many primary and caucus voters have little knowledge of the immigration stance of the three leading presidential candidates.
About 34 percent of voters for Sen. John McCain, 42 percent of voters for Sen. Hillary Clinton, and 52 percent of voters for Sen. Barack Obama correctly identified their candidate as favoring eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements.
McCain sponsored a bill that would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, but now says the bill’s demise made him realize that border security must come first, before any legalization programs.
The poll also showed that 35 percent of McCain voters mistakenly thought he favored enforcement that would cause illegal immigrants to return home and another 10 percent thought he wanted mass deportations.
Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Officers Sued for Constitutional Violations in Pre-Dawn Home Raids Practice
Fox Business, April 3, 2008
NEWARK, N.J., April 3, 2008, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Seton Hall Law School's Center for Social Justice and Lowenstein Sandler PC, filed suit today in federal court, alleging that federal law enforcement officials violated the ten victims' constitutional privacy and due process rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by entering their homes without consent or a judicial warrant during pre-dawn "raids." The plaintiffs include two U.S. citizens, a permanent resident, and a lawful protection-status grantee.
The complaint is based on eight home raids across the state of New Jersey between August 2006 and January 2008. The raids all follow a similar pattern, in which immigration agents forced their way into each plaintiff's home in the early hours of the morning without a judicial warrant or the occupants' consent. Most of the plaintiffs were awakened by loud pounding on their doors and answered the door, fearing an emergency. ICE agents subsequently either lied about their identity or purpose to gain entry, or simply shoved their way into the home. During each raid the agents swept through the house and, displaying guns, rounded up all the residents for questioning. In some cases they ordered children out of their beds, shouted obscenities, shoved guns into residents' chests, and forbade detained individuals from calling their lawyers. In at least half the raids, the officers purported to be searching for a person who did not even live at the address raided.
Another harvest coming, more immigration delay
The Seattle Times, April 1, 2008
The Bush administration's latest attempt to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants is as suspect as the error-fraught system it must rely on.
Last week, the Homeland Security Department reissued a proposed rule that would levy penalties on companies that employ workers whose personal information does not match that of the Social Security Administration. After notification of mismatches, employers would have 90 days to clear up discrepancies or fire the employees.But, as Social Security's inspector general has highlighted, errors occur in about 17.8 million — or 4 percent — of the agency's records — errors that could generate a so-called no-match letter. In a December report, the inspector general noted that if these were used for employment verification, "the workload of SSA and (Homeland Security) may significantly increase — even if only a portion of these 17.8 million numberholders need to correct their records. ... "
Further, most of those erroneous records — about 70 percent — belong to American citizens who would still be burdened with proving their work eligibility. Among the reasons could be transposed letters or name changes because of marriage.
Immigration issue fades, but it may return
By EUNICE MOSCOSO for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 30, 2008
WASHINGTON — When Republican presidential candidates met for the YouTube/CNN debate in November, the first four
questions were about illegal immigration.
The focus on that topic reflected its central role in their race, as they repeatedly challenged one another's credentials as defenders of the nation's border with Mexico.
Sens. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) don't debate immigration, one analyst on that issue said, because their positions on it are now identical.
It was also a key topic for the Democrats, as Sen. Hillary Clinton first endorsed, then repudiated then-New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer's proposal to provide driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
$2B plan would let feds track illegals in prison
By Dan Genz for the Examiner, March 29, 2008
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The federal Department of Homeland Security announced an ambitious plan Friday costing more than $2 billion annually to link the FBI criminal fingerprint database with records tracking illegal immigrants.
Federal authorities said the plan, similar to one requested earlier this month by three Virginia lawmakers, would result in nearly 5,000 jails nationwide checking the legal status of inmates booked for local crimes.
"This comprehensive initiative aims to identify and remove all aliens convicted of a crime," said Julie Myers, the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE.
Congress unlikely to tackle immigration reform soon
By Eric Swanson for the Dodge City Daily Globe, March 28, 2008
JETMORE Overhauling America's immigration system will be much more complicated than just closing U.S. borders, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback said Thursday.
"It's going to take time, and it's not going to happen legislatively, I think, anytime soon," he said. "We've made runs at it, and people are upset."
He later said that several immigration-reform proposals are pending in Congress, but he did not think they would move forward anytime soon.
A Foolish Immigration Purge
New York Times, March 27, 2008
Leave it to the Bush administration to throw thousands of law-abiding American workers and companies off a cliff in perilous economic times.
That would be the effect of its decision to press ahead with a bad idea: to force businesses to fire employees whose names don’t match the Social Security database. The purge is part of a campaign — along with scattershot workplace raids and the partial border fence — to make a show of tackling the broken immigration system.
The plan rests on the assumption that people with Social Security glitches are illegal immigrants using fake identities. Companies that receive “no match” letters warning of database discrepancies are given 90 days to clear them up. After that, they must fire the affected workers or face stiff penalties.
A federal judge blocked the plan last year, warning that it would create havoc in the economy and lead to serious due-process violations for victims of clerical errors. The Social Security Administration’s inspector general has estimated that about 17.8 million of the agency’s 435 million records contain errors that could lead to a “no match” letter. Seventy percent of those 17.8 million records belong to native-born Americans.
Lamar seeing chance to nix Real ID Act
By J. Taylor Rushing for the Hill, March 25, 2008
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wants to scrap a three-year-old anti-terrorism law that his fellow Republicans drafted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. And with his new power in the GOP conference, he may have a chance.
Alexander’s target is the 2005 Real ID Act, which mandated that states adopt uniform federal standards for driver’s licenses. Despite the Tennessee Republican’s concerns, he was outnumbered by party colleagues who wanted to stop terrorists from exploiting loose identification laws.
This time around, Alexander has leverage. As chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, he is the third-ranking Republican in the chamber. He also has a strong ally in Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who, like most Democrats, disagrees with the law. As a former governor, Alexander also has many of the nation’s governors and state legislatures behind him. Many complain that the federal government overstepped its bounds when it enacted the legislation that included the provision and effectively passed along a huge public expense to the states.
Immigration issue rerouted to state level as national interest wanes - Activists foiled as interest wanes on national stage
By Howard Witt for the Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2008
HOUSTON — Illegal Immigration, a hot-button populist issue that many experts had expected to top the nation's political concerns this year, has largely vanished from the presidential campaign amid waning interest from voters and mounting delays in constructing a 670-mile border fence between the United States and Mexico.
Moreover, primary results and opinion polls in recent months indicate that the Republican Party's emphasis on a crackdown against illegal immigrants may be driving many Hispanic voters—a crucial electoral bloc in November's election — into the Democratic fold.
New immigration law targets unauthorized workers
KXAN, March 22, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) - Some say a new proposed law -- called the "no-match" rule -- will protect Americans against Social Security fraud. Others say it will devastate our already troubled economy and hit the construction and service industries especially hard.
On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a press release that stated the department would press forward with a proposal to force employers to fire workers who cannot be matched to their Social Security numbers. The department also intends to appeal a San Francisco federal judge's ruling last October that said the new requirement was too much of a burden on businesses.
"We are serious about immigration enforcement. The no-match rule is an important tool for cracking down on illegal hiring practices while providing honest employers with the guidance they need," DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said in the news release.
Although the actual number is difficult to pinpoint, between 12 to 20 million people would be considered unauthorized workers in the United States. Then could be equivalent to tens of thousands of workers in the Austin area. Many of those people use false documentation to get their jobs, a fraud that the "no-match" rule would uncover.
States Must Fend for Themselves on Immigration Problem
PRWEB, March 20, 2008
States Must Fend for Themselves on Immigration Problem
The emergence of Arizona Sen. John McCain as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has seemingly pushed illegal immigration off the primary national agenda. But as the March 17 State Net Capitol Journal reports, states have more than made up for the lack of comprehensive federal immigration reform. Since 2007, many states have in fact enacted extremely tough anti-immigrant measures aimed directly at employers who hire illegal workers, with several more states poised to join them in the near future. To date, 36 states have considered 250 such immigration-related measures with 15 states having gotten those bills beyond the house of origin.
Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) March 20, 2008 -- The emergence of Arizona Sen. John McCain as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has seemingly pushed illegal immigration off the primary national agenda. But as the March 17 State Net Capitol Journal reports, states have more than made up for the lack of comprehensive federal immigration reform. Since 2007, many states have in fact enacted extremely tough anti-immigrant measures aimed directly at employers who hire illegal workers, with several more states poised to join them in the near future. To date, 36 states have considered 250 such immigration-related measures with 15 states having gotten those bills beyond the house of origin.
McCain Cautions Candidates On Immigration
By Josh Kraushaar for CBS News, March 17, 2008
(The Politico) The hot-button issue of immigration doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon – at least not in Republican circles.
On NPR’s “Morning Edition” today, John McCain suggested that strong anti-immigrant rhetoric contributed to two recent, high-profile GOP Congressional losses – of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who badly lost to Sen. Bob Casey in 2006, and Jim Oberweis, who lost the heavily Republican seat of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert this month in a special election.
"I know that there have been some races, like here in Pennsylvania, where Senator Santorum emphasized that issue [immigration] and lost by a large number,” McCain said on NPR.
“We just had a loss of Denny Hastert's seat out in Illinois. The Republican candidate out there, I am told, had very strong anti-immigrant rhetoric also, so I would hope that many of our Republican candidates would understand the political practicalities of this issue.”
McCain Must Appease both Hispanics and Conservatives on Immigration
By Bret Schulte for the U.S. News and World Report, March 14, 2008
On the morning of June 5, 2007, in a packed firehouse in Gilford, N.H., Fergus Cullen watched Arizona Sen. John McCain getting "hammered on immigration" in a back and forth with locals angry over the influx of illegal workers. "They kept coming back to it again and again," says Cullen, the state's GOP chairman. To little effect, McCain defended his immigration bill that gave a path to citizenship to many of the country's estimated 12 million illegals.
Senate passes Sessions' immigration bill
Gannett News Service, March 14, 2008
WASHINGTON -- The Senate passed Sen. Jeff Sessions' measure Thursday that would toughen laws on immigration, add funding to complete more fence along the Mexican border, increase the National Guard presence on the border and train more local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.
"This Senate has repeatedly voted on issue after issue after issue that would move us to a lawful system of immigration but for one reason or the other those votes have not been translated into action or funding," said Sessions, R-Mobile. "As a result, we have not made the progress we should have made."
Sessions tacked his amendment onto the budget resolution, a non-binding bill that lays out the fiscal priorities of the federal government. His amendment also would include funding to expand a program that arrests and imprisons all people convicted of illegally crossing the border and deportation of illegal immigrants who are convicted of felonies.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., opposed the measure, saying the National Guard is stretched thin serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and handling state weather emergencies. Many provisions in Sessions' bill already have been tried, he said.
"They have not succeeded."
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, also voted for the measure, which passed 61 to 37.
Menendez measure addresses immigration
AP, March 13, 2008
WASHINGTON — Sen. Robert Menendez’s proposal to deploy an “appropriate number” of National Guard troops to limit illegal immigration was approved by the Senate today.
The New Jersey Democrat’s proposal was approved 53-45 as part of a larger debate on a blueprint for next year’s budget.
Menendez’s proposal would allow National Guard troops to be deployed if such a move doesn’t interfere with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or affect security in individual states. The troops would be deployed to the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders.
The proposal would also stiffen penalties on employers who hire undocumented workers.
The budget debate isn’t binding, but it lays out Congress’ spending priorities for next year. By approving Menendez’s proposal, the Senate identified it as a priority for next year.
In the House, five New Jersey Republicans are backing a different immigration bill aimed at achieving the same goals of boosting border security and cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants.
Immigration official leaving federal agency
AP, March 13, 2008
WASHINGTON -- The leader of the immigration agency that grants citizenship is stepping down after a tenure in which he drastically increased the cost of becoming an American but failed to reduce the amount of time people must wait.
Emilio Gonzalez, director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he would leave the job April 18. He recommended that Jonathan Scharfen, the agency's deputy director, replace him. The White House will name his successor, who must get Senate approval.
Traps Ahead For Candidates On Capitol Hill - Politico: Votes On The Senate Designed For Political Impact With Three Presidential Candidates In Attendance
by Martin Kady II for CBS News, March 12, 2008
Border Security and Immigration
This Republican amendment, most likely offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), offers a chance for John McCain to mend fences - quite literally - with his party over immigration, while testing the Democratic candidates’ rhetoric on securing the border.
Sessions and other conservatives have been pushing an illegal immigration crackdown that would make border security a top priorty, above all other immigration proposals; potentially penalize states that give licenses to illegal immigrants; and withhold funding from so-called “sanctuary” cities that don’t prosecute illegal immigrants. Republicans are seriously discussing offering a border security amendment on the budget, according to Sessions’ office.
While such a vote might serve to pump up the GOP’s hard-line stance on immigration, it also provides yet another opportunity for Democrats to highlight how McCain diverged with conservatives on an issue so important to the base.
GOP moves to force immigration vote
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press, March 11, 2008
WASHINGTON - House Republicans are trying to force action on a Democratic-written immigration enforcement measure, the latest GOP attempt to elevate the volatile issue into an election-year wedge.
Republican leaders hope that by pushing the bill — endorsed by 48 centrist Democrats and 94 Republicans — they can drive Democrats into a politically painful choice: Backing a tough immigration measure that could alienate their base, including Hispanic voters, or being painted as soft on border security in conservative-leaning districts.
The plan is fraught with political risks for both parties. A full-blown immigration debate could call attention to Republicans' divisions at a time when their expected presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, is fighting to gain the trust of the GOP base.
McCain, R-Ariz., played a prominent role in failed legislative efforts to grant some of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already here a path to legal status, which conservatives deride as "amnesty." He now says he would consider such a plan only after the borders have been fortified.
Vitter backs immigration bill package
By GERARD SHIELDS for the Louisiana Advocate, March 6, 2008
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. David Vitter joined a dozen Republican Party colleagues Wednesday in unveiling 15 bills aimed at reducing illegal immigration.
The Louisiana Republican said he hopes to use the pressure of an election year to coax colleagues to support the measures.
As early as today, Vitter is expected to introduce two pieces of legislation.
The first measure would deny cities that fail to enforce illegal immigration laws, known as “sanctuary cities,” access to grants that provide federal funds to hire more police officers.
Senate GOP plans to unveil tough new immigration bills
Los Angeles Times, March 4, 2008
WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans are set to announce Wednesday the hardest-hitting package of immigration enforcement measures seen yet -- one that would require jail time for illegal immigrants caught crossing the border, make it harder for them to open bank accounts and compel them to communicate in English when dealing with federal agencies.
Most of the bills stand little chance of being debated in the Democrat-controlled Congress, but the move by some of the Senate's leading Republicans underscores how potent the issue of immigration remains, particularly during a presidential election year.
The bills give Republicans a way to put pressure on the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to take a tougher stance on immigration. They also reflect a shift toward harsher immigration rhetoric and legislative proposals from both parties since Congress failed to pass a comprehensive overhaul in 2007.
Counting Heads - The Border and the Ballot Box
By DAVID LEONHARDT for the New York Times, March 2, 2008
ON June 7 of last year, a bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration system — a bill supported by President Bush and the Democratic leaders of Congress — died in the Senate. It died mostly because of grass-roots opposition, and its downfall appeared to serve as an announcement of the issue’s new political potency. For much of 2007, immigration seemed certain to play a dominant role in the 2008 presidential campaign.
'Virtual Fence' Along Border To Be Delayed - U.S. Retooling High-Tech Barrier After 28-Mile Pilot Project Fails
By Spencer S. Hsu for the Washington Post, February 28, 2008
The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday.
Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee.
McCain Retools Immigration Stance
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS for the AP, February 27, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — John McCain faces a dilemma on immigration as he works to persuade conservatives he's tough enough on the issue without erasing his historic appeal to Hispanic voters. Once a crusader for offering the nation's roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants a way to get legal status, McCain now says his first priority is fortifying U.S. borders.
The metamorphosis reflects McCain's intensifying effort to consolidate his support among conservatives, who deride the Arizona senator's past proposals on immigration as offering amnesty to lawbreakers, and bitterly resent his work with Democrats, including Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, on the issue.
The 'Virtual Fence' Has Its Limits - Homeland Security confirms that Boeing's 28-mile prototype of electronic border surveillance will not be expanded
by Keith Epstein for Business Week, February 24, 2008
The major Presidential candidates talked up its innovative approach to securing the U.S.-Mexico border. Aerospace and defense giant Boeing (BA), along with dozens of subcontractors, anticipated that it would give them a lucrative foothold in future government work worth billions of dollars. And fervent advocates of stronger obstacles to illegal immigration hoped the U.S. had finally found a more affordable way to fortify its southwest border than building hundreds of miles of physical barriers.
But Homeland Security Dept. officials have decided that an experimental 28-mile "virtual fence" meant to extend the U.S. Border Patrol's eyes and ears along the U.S.-Mexico border—a web of radar, infrared cameras, ground sensors, and airborne drones—won't be copied anywhere else in its entirety. The project was plagued with design, software, and other glitches; had fallen months behind schedule; and sometimes proved inoperable.
New Tactics to Control Immigration Are Unveiled
By JULIA PRESTON for the New York Times, February 23, 2008
Bush administration officials said Friday that they would begin using new technology to create a virtual fence along sections of the border with Mexico, and that construction had been completed on 302 miles of physical fence.
Further intensifying the crackdown on illegal immigration, the administration will unveil new rules in coming weeks requiring all federal contractors to participate in a system, known as E-Verify, to confirm the legal immigration status of their workers, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said at a joint news conference in Washington.
Democrats embrace immigration issue - McCain's backing of overhaul frees Clinton, Obama
By Sasha Issenberg for the Boston Globe, February 23, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas - Last fall, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama was eager to take a stand when asked in a series of debates whether illegal immigrants should be able to apply for drivers' licenses. But Thursday night, they were much less bashful when the issue of immigration came up: Clinton said she would stop federal raids against undocumented workers, consider halting the construction of a border fence, and during her first 100 days as president, pursue a legalization plan for illegal immigrants.
Feds to Raise Fines for Hiring Illegals
By EILEEN SULLIVAN for the AP, February 22, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government will raise by 25 percent the fines it levies against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, officials said Friday.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the increase, which is the first boost in fines in nearly a decade.
How immigration, inflation are linked
By BONNIE ERBE for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 22, 2008
The two “i“ words are back in the news, one more prominently than the other. The more prominent is “inflation.” The less prominent at the moment is “immigration” (of the illegal variety). The two issues are more closely tied than one would think. None of the three remaining major-party candidates for president has a realistic plan to resolve immigration's contribution to the problem.
Inflation moved from minor concern to major concern this week for the Federal Reserve Board. Chairman Ben Bernanke has aggressively cut interest rates by 2.25 percent since September to try to prevent an economic implosion. But he has to balance recession concerns against the possibility that deep interest-rate cuts might also pump up inflation, as the January report on consumer prices showed a surprisingly steep rate of 0.4 percent. Wall Street fears deep cuts in interest rates might serve to trigger inflation while simultaneously failing to spur growth. Then Americans could end up hearing a revival of a word we haven't heard in a few decades: stagflation.
Senate committee urges feds to act on immigration
Desert Morning News, February 20, 2008
A Senate panel on Wednesday approved a resolution calling for federal action on immigration reform.
SR3, which refers to an "illegal immigration crisis" is a companion to a House resolution and is the second immigration resolution to receive the support of the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Employers flock to E-Verify - More than 52,000 firms use CIS' work eligibility system
By Wilson P. Dizard III for Government Computer News, February 12, 2008
The Homeland Security Department announced today that more than 52,000 employers have voluntarily adopted Citizenship and Immigration Services' E-Verify employment eligibility system.
About 1,000 new employers have joined the program each week since last October, CIS said in a press announcement. The online E-Verify system allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired workers.
In Reversal, Courts Uphold Local Immigration Laws
By JULIA PRESTON for the New York Times, February 10, 2008
Recent rulings from federal judges around the country support local legislation designed to crack down on illegal immigration.
Mexican Leader to Visit U.S., Outside the Beltway
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. for the New York Times, February 9, 2008
President Felipe Calderón’s visit comes at a time when the issue of immigration has ignited strong emotions on the campaign trail.
White House Moves to Ease Guest Worker Program
By JULIA PRESTON for The New York Times, February 7, 2008
The Bush administration announced plans on Wednesday to overhaul the notoriously inefficient federal guest worker program for agriculture, seeking to provide more legal workers to American farmers who now rely primarily on illegal immigrants.
Since legislation to give legal status to illegal immigrant farm workers failed last year in Congress, the administration is now taking action that does not require Congressional approval to streamline the existing guest worker program.
Issues Start Rush to Vote by Hispanics
By JULIA PRESTON for The New York Times, February 5, 2008
Spurred by the widespread crackdown on illegal immigration and by the contentious tone of the national immigration debate, Latinos are gearing up for Tuesday’s voting with an eye toward making Hispanics a decisive voting bloc nationwide in November.
Mayors Blast Congress Over Immigration
By Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press, January 25, 2008
Washington (AP) -- Mayors from across the country said Friday that Congress is unlikely to act on the nation's immigration problems this year and blasted lawmakers for what they called irresponsible procrastination.
Immigration and the Candidates
New York Times editorial, December 30, 2007
Even by the low standards of presidential campaigns, the issue of immigration has been badly served in the 2008 race.
Immigration Is Defying Easy Answers
By JULIA PRESTON for the New York Times, December 30, 2007
The immigration surge of the last decade has awakened tensions of unexpected intensity that have pervaded the campaigns in both parties and stirred voter anger.
Government revising penalties for hiring illegal immigrants
Associate Press, 11/25/07
WASHINGTON - The government is revising a plan for penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants. The first rules would have required employers to fire workers if their Social Security numbers didn't match records and if the discrepancies couldn't be resolved within 90 days.
Coleman takes aim at native state on driver's licenses
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer, 11/8/07
Sen. Norm Coleman took a shot at his native New York Thursday, introducing a resolution condemning states that issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Homeland Security Retreats From Facets of ’Real ID‘
By Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post Staff Writer, 11/4/07
The Bush administration is easing its demand for tough national standards for driver's licenses, acting at the behest of state officials who say the "Real ID" plan is unworkable and too costly, officials familiar with the new policy said.
U.S. Declares War on Illegal Immigration
Melissa Charbonneau. CBN News, 10/5/07
CBNNews.com - The Bush administration has launched a new war against illegal immigration with an unprecedented round of federal raids and arrests.
The campaign to round up illegal aliens has seen a tenfold increase in deportations, sparking heated protests from California to Texas.
"We are just scared of going out. Just because you look Hispanic they pull you over," student Crystal Chacon said.
Father Pedro Patillo said, "They are not criminal, they are working people - labor people - who are working to support their family."
Since the Democratic-led Congress failed to pass immigration reform, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff says his mandate has been "enforce the law."
Senate Approves Pentagon Budget
Associated Press published in the Washington Post, 10/4/07
The Senate passed a $459 billion budget for the Pentagon yesterday, after adding $3 billion to try to gain control over the U.S. border with Mexico.