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Posts Tagged ‘immigration enforcement’

Four Senators Call for Changes in Immigration Enforcement Laws

February 7th, 2013 No comments
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Senators Leahy (D-VT), Coons (D-DE), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Hirono (D-HI) wrote a “Dear Colleague Letter” calling for reforms to immigration enforcement laws that are grounded in civil and human rights, and that ensure due process, equal treatment and fairness. The letter states that the US spends $18 billion annually on immigration enforcement.

The four Senators call for the following changes to immigration enforcement laws and principles:

1. To the greatest extent possible, the US should strive for a process that includes a fair hearing before a judge, a bond hearing, federal court review, and access to counsel.

2. Provides for humane treatment for detainees and ensures that no one is deprived of liberty except as a last resort.

3. Reduces the impact of enforcement on children and families.

4. Clarifies that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and that it should be administered uniformly across the country.

5. Explicitly rejects discrimination and racial profiling.

6. Ensures that all agencies charged with enforcement operate with accountability and transparency.

Texas Business Lobby Helps to Scuttle Immigration Clampdown

July 1st, 2011 No comments
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Powerful business interests helped to scuttle proposed immigration restrictions in Texas on Wednesday, further evidence that Republicans in some states are facing resistance among their own supporters to an immigration clampdown.

The “sanctuary cities” bill would have barred cities from stopping police departments from asking about immigration status of people who are detained or arrested. It died when the Texas legislature adjourned without passing it.

All 58 California Communities Now Participating in Secure Communities Program

March 14th, 2011 No comments
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California reached a milestone late last month when federal immigration officials quietly announced that all 58 counties in the state are now participating in Secure Communities, a controversial program created to track and deport dangerous criminals.

Unveiled in late 2008, Secure Communities is billed as a showpiece of immigration enforcement. Under the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, state and local police must check the immigration status of people who have been arrested and booked into local jails by matching fingerprints against federal databases for criminal convictions and deportation orders.

But today, Secure Communities is mired in problems. About 60% of the 87,534 immigrants deported under the program had minor or no criminal convictions, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s statistics, even though the program was aimed at dangerous criminals.

Moreover, state and local law enforcement agencies are growing increasingly uneasy about participating in a program that they say thwarts their ability to work with communities with large immigrant populations. Police are concerned that taking on the role of enforcer makes it more difficult to build trust in immigrant communities that are already fearful of reporting crimes or providing crucial information. A report released last week by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based research group, found that police chiefs across the nation worry that checking suspects’ backgrounds against databases that include immigration warrants is blurring the lines between public safety and immigration enforcement.

Introduction to the New House Republican Majority’s Position on Immigration and U.S. Workers

January 25th, 2011 No comments
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After four years of Democratic control, Republicans are now in charge of the U.S. House of Representatives.  House Republican leaders have placed a familiar cast of characters in position to draft the chamber’s strategy on immigration:

* Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is now the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and he has declared that immigration will be a top priority for his Committee.  Smith was the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee in 1996 when Congress passed a series of laws that ramped up enforcement against both legal and undocumented immigrants—bills that collectively made the broken immigration system worse, not better.  Despite following Smith’s enforcement-only strategy for nearly fifteen years, the number of undocumented immigrants in our country has continued to rise.

* Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) is now the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee, and he is preparing to launch a series of hearings on immigration enforcement at the beginning of the 112th Congress.  Gallegly also has a long track record on immigration, and has focused much of his efforts on attacking children.  For example, since the early 1990s Gallegly has sponsored legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to babies born in America based on who their parents are.  In 1996, he famously pushed an amendment to deny undocumented children access to an education—the federal version of California’s Proposition 187.

* Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is now vice-chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee.  He may have been passed over for the top spot because of his incendiary comments, such as his comparison of immigrants to livestock and suggestion that we install an electric fence at the border to keep them out.  Still, Smith and Gallegly share King’s policy positions on immigration, and he will continue to play a key role in crafting their approach.

In one of his first acts of the year, Rep. Smith (R-TX) changed the name of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law to the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.  The name change reflects the new priorities of the Committee—an enforcement-only approach with the goal of driving 11 million undocumented immigrants and their family members out of the country.

However, since a mass deportation policy is not popular with Latino voters, House Republicans are attempting to recast their approach in more palatable terms.  Rather than change course and embrace comprehensive immigration reform—the only proposal that would truly level the playing field, turn workers into taxpayers, and restore the rule of law—they are simply recasting their anti-immigration agenda using pro-worker terms.

In this report, America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) peels back the pro-worker mask that Smith, Gallegly, and King are attempting to put on, and shows that they are motivated not by concern for workers but their desire to remove 11 million immigrants and their family members from the country.  AVEF reviews their voting records on worker issues, and find that they have a long history of opposing policies to help American workers succeed, such as an increase to the minimum wage.

In reality, Smith, Gallegly, and King are simply carrying out the policies embraced by a shadowy coalition of anti-immigrant organizations—many of whom have been tied to white supremacists or labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  This report exposes that connection and makes it clear that groups like the “Coalition for the Future American Worker” are simply using American unemployment as the latest excuse to rail against immigrants.  In the past, these same organizations have blamed immigrants for such diverse issues such as global warming, the housing crisis, a broken health care system, traffic congestion, and more.

Finally, AVEF examines why a mass deportation agenda is dangerous politics for the Republican Party.  After pushing anti-immigrant policies for years and campaigning on the issue in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections, Republicans have boxed themselves in with Latino voters.  Following the strategy of Smith, Gallegly, and King, they are the party of Proposition 187, the Sensenbrenner bill, the Arizona “papers, please” immigration law and copycat proposals in other states, the defeat of comprehensive immigration reform, and the defeat of the DREAM Act.  Latino voters feel disrespected and attacked by the GOP, and are increasingly voting Democratic because of it.

As the 2010 Census results drive home, unless the GOP finds a way to reverse course on immigration and win at least 40% of the Latino vote, it will never see the inside of the White House again, and will become a minority party.  With Smith, Gallegly, and King at the helm in the House, the GOP is poised to become a sinking ship with Latino voters unless real leaders in the Party step up.

(As published by America’s Voice)

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