Archive for April, 2009

Immigration Highlights – April 24, 2009

April 24th, 2009 1 comment

Immigration Highlights - (04-24-2009) Immigration Highlights -- (04-24-2009)

In the last few weeks, there have been so many different occurrences on various levels of the immigration spectrum.

  1. Alan Bersin – Let’s start with the appointment of Alan Bersin as the Border Czar. What exactly is the mandate of a border czar? Well, according to April 17’s Dallas Morning News (DMN) Op-Ed Article, it would likely encompass something Alan Bersin would have been doing in his previous post as overseer of the Southwest border in San Diego, CA. However, the DMN article poses the issue of whether a more lenient Bersin will come to the position, or a more austere personality will show its colors. Any thoughts?
  2. Janet Napolitano Was RIGHT (in legal speak)! – Typically, I think my readers will see that I do not choose sides. I ordinarily write as objectively as possible to convey the most current information. However, this week, I am incensed at the inaccuracies being reported in the media, and an inherent sense of duty to defend those wrongfully accused has me speaking in defense of Janet Napolitano. The Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has been causing quite a stir lately. On Sunday, April 19, 2009, Secretary Napolitano went on CNN’s State of the Union with John King, and stated, “crossing the border is not a crime per se. It is civil.” Well, most of the media and bloggers who followed up regarding this statement ignored Napolitano’s mention of civil liability involved in immigration law. Most of the headlines simply stated, “Napolitano states illegal immigration not a crime.” This is a classic misquotation! If these media people or bloggers new anything about immigration law, they would know that most immigration violations are CIVIL violations. Though it is true that there is, of course, criminal liability for various immigration violations, Secretary Napolitano’s statement, is not inaccurate (in legalese, that is). Granted, now that Secretary Napolitano is in the political limelight, she may want to phrase her statements more carefully to avoid being misquoted (and taken out of context).
  3. Janet Napolitano was wrong (on Canada) – While the Secretary should be in the clear concerning #2 above, that wasn’t the only upheaval Ms. Napolitano caused. This week, in reference to the Canadian border, Secretary Napolitano misspoke by suggesting that the 9/11 terrorists entered through the Canadian border. Needless to say, Canada, our ally, couldn’t have been too happy about that. Though the Secretary attempted to apologize for her statements, many say it’s not enough and that the damage was done. You can read more detail here.
  4. The Economics of Immigration Reform – On April 16, 2009, The Economist published an excellent article detailing the current events surrounding the immigration reform debate. The report, however, had a certain slant that I appreciated; while the Obama administration has repeated that the economy takes priority over any other issue, including immigration reform, this article illustrates that the immigration system’s problems affect the economy on quite a deep level. For example, “[a]dvocates contend that bringing immigrants’ shadow economy into the light will fatten tax rolls, end the abuse of illegal workers, improve wages for all and spur economic growth.” In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell my readers that I do not feel comfortable picking sides on the debates regarding illegal immigration, drivers licenses, border security, etc. However, one issue I do feel candidly adamant about is that the current immigration system is flawed and must be repaired.
  5. 287(g) – On April 22, 2009, Policy Analyst for Homeland Security, Jena Baker McNeill, wrote a memorandum (webmemo #2405) entitled “Section 287(g): State and Local Immigration Enforcement Efforts Are Working.” Ms. McNeill poses an argument in favor of 287(g) and states, “Congress should. . . encourage the growth and expansion of 287(g) and other similar programs.”For those of you who are not familiar with the term “287(g),” you can see my previous post where I give a brief explanation of what it is: Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants – What To Do?. Also, if you’re curious whether the 287(g) has been implemented in your city or county, you can see the DHS list (under “287 (g) Facts”).
  6. Of interest

Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants – What To Do?

April 14th, 2009 36 comments

One of the most intensely debated issues involved in the immigration reform debate is whether illegal immigrants should be able to have driver’s licenses or not. Currently, Washington, Illinois, Maryland and New Mexico are the only four states that do not require proof of lawful U.S. residency to get a driver’s license. In other words, this is mainly an issue for the states to decide individually; however, the federal government has gotten involved in the debate as well. In fact, some of you may remember that President Obama was publicly in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants during his campaigning days.

Those in favor of the policy (giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants) claim that not issuing them leads to discriminatory practices in law enforcement. Additionally, proponents claim that the policy will make roads safer because these immigrants will be able to acquire the proper driver’s training, testing, and insurance. Moreover, proponents argue the policy helps law enforcement efforts to have more people registered in state databases.

Those against the policy claim it makes it easier for these immigrants to live and work in the U.S. illegally. The underlying logic is that a driver’s license would allow immigrants to have access to other documentation and forms of identification that would provide an impression that the immigrant is actually here lawfully. Also, some argue that providing people driver’s licenses without the requirement of lawful U.S. residency causes the versatility (and value) of that state’s driver’s license to decrease. In other words, certain states may not recognize the validity of the driver’s licenses from the four states listed above (Washington, Illinois, Maryland and New Mexico).

If all this isn’t complex enough for you, there are other complications that get mixed into this whole debate. One such complication is called the Real ID Act. The Real ID Act is a law that was passed in 2005 and mandates minimal standards set forth by the government for issuing state identification. The standards require legal status and a social security number. Currently, the Real ID Act is set to go into effect in 2011. The reason this affects the driver’s license debate is because many states will fall under a category in which the driver’s licenses that these states issue will not be valid for federal purposes (i.e. access to federal buildings, nuclear power plants, boarding aircraft, etc.). To learn more about the Real ID Act, you can visit the specified link at Dept. of Homeland Security Website (DHS). Additionally, some wonder whether many states will adopt the Real ID standards with regard to driver’s licenses themselves. One side note is that Janet Napolitano (Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Sec.) has agreed to review the policy.

The other complication that affects the driver’s license issue is something called “287(g).” Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) basically allows for DHS to delegate the authority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to state and local law enforcement agencies. In other words, state and local police officers would essentially be able to perform immigration law enforcement functions. The reason this is important with regard to the driver’s license debate is because law enforcement officers may now be asking for immigration status when pulling over someone for a simple traffic stop. This would subject illegal immigrants to life-changing consequences simply for tiny infractions. In other words, rather than deport people for truly “deportable/removable offenses,” many could be jailed and deported simply because their encounters with the law are for very minor offenses, such as driving without a license, which illegal immigrants are all but forced to do under most state laws. To learn more about 287(g) and whether DHS has a memorandum of agreement with your city or county, see the specified ICE link.

After reading about this deeply convoluted issue, what do you think? Should illegal immigrants be allowed to get driver’s licenses? Why, or why not?

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Pres. Obama to Announce Immigration Plans – 04-09-2009

April 9th, 2009 No comments

Today, April 08, 2009, seems to be quite the active day with regard to immigration news. Not only was the May 2009 Visa Bulletin released on this day, but the New York Times published an excellent article announcing President Obama’s plans to spark the immigration debate within the coming months. This announcement does not come as such as a surprise though. After all, there was plenty of speculation, including some made by me, that the immigration debate would start soon (you can read my thoughts in previous posts: Immigration Highlights – 04-03-2009 and Follow Up to Immigration Highlights – 04-03-2009). Below is a relevant excerpt from today’s New York Times article:

While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. . . .

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

Some White House officials said that immigration would not take precedence over the health care and energy proposals that Mr. Obama has identified as priorities. But the timetable is consistent with pledges Mr. Obama made to Hispanic groups in last year’s campaign.

He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.

“He intends to start the debate this year,” Ms. Muñoz said.

But with the economy seriously ailing, advocates on different sides of the debate said that immigration could become a polarizing issue for Mr. Obama in a year when he has many other major battles to fight.

Opponents, mainly Republicans, say they will seek to mobilize popular outrage against any effort to legalize unauthorized immigrant workers while so many Americans are out of jobs. . . .

For the full length article, click here.

And don’t forget to keep posting!

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May 2009 Visa Bulletin // With Comments and Discussion

April 8th, 2009 83 comments
May 2009 Visa Bulletin

May 2009 Visa Bulletin

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Aftermath: Shootings at Binghamton, NY Immigration Center

April 4th, 2009 1 comment

In the wake of yesterday’s shooting, some of the readers here, may be wondering how this affects the grand scheme of immigration policy. After all, the shooting was by an immigration at an immigration center. Note: If you did not follow the developing story yesterday, you can read the details in the following CNN Article from April 04, 2009.

The incident has escalated to a nationwide story, now seemingly representing greater issues like gun control and immigration policy.

My belief is that we can only learn what the short-term and long-term effect will be once law makers begin to shape the motivation behind the massacre. Currently, law enforcement officials are still speculating, and no one is certain that we’ll ever know.

According to the New York Times:

As the city of Binghamton, N.Y., grappled with the loss of 14 lives in Friday’s massacre at an immigrant services center, the city’s mayor and police chief on Saturday offered reasons why the man went on a rampage before turning the gun on himself.

Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said the suspect, a 42-year-old Vietnamese immigrant identified as Jiverly Wong, was “depressed after recently losing a job,” the chief said on NBC’s Today Show. “He spoke very little or no English and he was upset that people degraded and disrespected him for that reason.”

So, what does this mean for immigration policy? Will visas be put on hold? Will there be stricter screening of immigrants? Will immigration law finally become a functional system where everybody who deserves to win, does (before being led to insanity)?

Personally, my thoughts are that incidences like this illustrate the volatility involved at the heart of the immigration debate. Perhaps, this was the powder keg needed to ignite the immigration reform debates that I mentioned in my post on the Immigration Highlights yesterday. If lawmakers seize the Beinghamton incident as an impetus for changing immigration policy, then we may see some changes yet (in the long term). However, I, personally, do not think that we will see immediate changes in visa processing. Unfortunately, there is no way to know or confirm this. Do you agree? What are your thoughts?

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Follow Up to Immigration Highlights – 04-03-2009

April 3rd, 2009 No comments

In this morning’s post, I gave you the current immigration highlights and in posting my findings, there was a subtle suggestion that I believe the sparks will soon fly soon in the immigration debate. It looks like I wasn’t the only one speculating that the immigration reform debate will be igniting soon. reported this morning (after, mind you) that: “Since taking office, President Barack Obama has seemed intent on keeping the politically explosive issue of immigration on the back burner. He won’t be able to do that for long.” You can read the article here.

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Immigration Highlights – 04-03-2009

April 3rd, 2009 3 comments

Rather than one long post on a single topic (like Tuesday’s post), today’s post will be a few short highlights of different immigration issues that have been circulating around lately.

ISSUE 1: The DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics was published within the last few days on the DHS website. The Yearbook provides all sorts of interesting statistics of all the people who immigrated to the U.S. If you are/will be an immigrant, see where you fall among the rest at: DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

ISSUE 2: According to the Los Angeles Times, L.A. detainees sue immigration authorities over holding conditions:

“The center is ‘regularly overcrowded, causing violence, safety hazards and humiliation,’ while detainees are denied access to attorneys and courts and are rarely provided drinking water or a change of clothing, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the National Immigration Law Center and the Paul Hastings law firm.”

Why is this important? For one, it becomes clearer just how out of whack the U.S. immigration system is. After all, the detention centers cannot seem to adequately protect the detainees.

ISSUE 3: For a little while, I was wondering where Obama disappeared to regarding the issue of immigration reform. I, personally, granted the American Government some slack because of all the focus on the current economic slowdown; however, I wanted to see whether immigration reform was still in the works (or whether it would be potentially delayed until next term… whoever is President then). In looking it up, here’s what I found:

– According to the White House Blog, President Obama met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on March 18, 2009. The readout on the meeting states:

“During the meeting, the President announced that he will travel to Mexico next month to meet with President Calderon to discuss the deep and comprehensive US-Mexico relationship, including how the United States and Mexico can work together to support Mexico’s fight against drug-related violence and work toward effective, comprehensive immigration reform.”

– Then, on March 19th, the Dallas Morning News followed up and stated that:

“President Barack Obama renewed his campaign promise to tackle the immigration system in a meeting with Hispanic lawmakers Wednesday. ‘The president made clear to us that he is a man of his word,’ said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”

The May Visa Bulletin still has not been released yet. So, the most current Visa Bulletin is still April 2009! Be sure to keep up all of your great support and comments! And feel free to also comment and provide your thoughts on the most recent blog posts as well.