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Posts Tagged ‘Lamar Smith’

Republicans Disapprove of New DACA Policy

August 21st, 2012 No comments
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Last week featured a rare moment of encouragement in the nation’s often tiresome and vindictive immigration debate: Thousands of young undocumented immigrants began applying for temporary permits that will allow them to live and work legally in the United States. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the result of a policy shift unveiled by the Obama administration in June, is a small but significant step that could help more than a million immigrant students and military veterans who were brought to this country illegally as children and who have lived in fear of deportation since.

But leave it to anti-immigration zealots to find a cloud in this silver lining. For them, any measure of relief for illegal immigrants is too much. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), for instance, used the week’s events to suggest that the program amounted to amnesty and would cost taxpayers millions of dollars to implement.
Neither claim is true.

The program doesn’t provide a path to legalization for those young immigrants, as the Dream Act, which failed to win approval in Congress, would have done. Instead, it grants a two-year respite from deportation for those who meet various conditions. They must be under 31, have come to the United States before they turned 16 and lived here for at least five years, and have no serious criminal convictions. They also must be enrolled in school, or have graduated from high school or served in theU.S. military. If their applications are granted, they will not be deported for two years, but they do not receive citizenship.

Nor does the program require taxpayers to foot the bill for the application process or for budget shortfalls. Eligible immigrants are required to pay $465 to cover the costs of processing their applications and the fee waivers granted to those living in foster care or acute poverty. Moreover, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency administering the program, is funded almost entirely by fees paid by immigrants seeking visas or green cards and employers sponsoring workers. Less than 4% of the agency’s budget is funded by taxpayers. Smith and his fellow Republicans know that.

Finally, critics who worry that immigrants will file fraudulent applications should consider that those applying must provide documents provided by U.S. institutions, such as public schools and the military, as evidence. Surely, the Department of Homeland Security can handle that.

Smith is right about one thing, however. This stopgap measure isn’t enough to address the country’s immigration problems. Only Congress can do that.

If you are considering the new DACA process and would like to hire an attorney to process your case, contact The Nunez Firm.

President Obama Appoints Public Advocate to handle Immigration Complaints – GOP Complains

February 8th, 2012 No comments
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Immigration officials announced Tuesday a new public advocate tasked with tackling questions and complaints about immigration law-enforcement policies.

The Obama administration appointed Immigration and Customs Enforcement Senior Adviser Andrew Lorenzen-Strait to serve as the point person for inquiries from people – including U.S. citizens and people who are in the country illegally and in deportation proceedings.

“We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I’m confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity,” ICE Director John Morton said in a written statement.

The announcement quickly drew fire from some GOP leaders.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized the move, saying the appointment of an “in-house lobbyist for illegal immigrants” would cost taxpayers more money.

“It’s outrageous that the Obama administration has appointed a taxpayer-funded activist for illegal and criminal immigrants who are detained or ordered deported,” Smith said in a written statement. “The administration all too often acts more like a lobbying firm for illegal immigrants than as an advocate for the American people.”

Ten Important Things About E-Verify That Everyone Should Know

September 15th, 2011 1 comment
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E-Verify is an immigration enforcement tool. It is the federal government’s Internet-based system that allows employers to check whether prospective employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. Currently, only 4 percent of all American businesses use the system, but House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced the Legal Workforce Act of 2011, H.R. 2164, to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers across the country.

This mandate would cost Americans their jobs and crush small businesses. And an important point that appears to be lost in Rep. Smith’s proposal is that E-Verify does not even work at catching unauthorized workers—precisely what it is designed to do. The real solution is to pair E-Verify with a program that ensures a full legal workforce and to phase it in gradually to allow the government to make it error proof.

Here are ten things everyone should know about E-Verify and the Legal Workforce Act of 2011.

GOP Unveils Plans for Immigration Reform (Not Surprisingly . . . It’s Anti-Immigrant)

June 18th, 2011 No comments
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Two of the masterminds behind the GOP’s mass deportation (of immigrants) strategy, Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Elton Gallegly (R-CA), chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, are introducing new legislation intended to bring about their extremist fantasy: the expulsion of 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families.  That’s what their whole “enforcement only” approach is all about – tighten the screws on immigrant families while blocking any hope of being able to legalize their status.

The Republicans’ dark vision for immigration “reform” isn’t playing well with Latino voters.  But in addition to alienating Latinos, Smith and Gallegly are on a path that will also hurt U.S. workers and key industries — like agriculture — by forcing all employers to use the flawed E-Verify system when evaluating whether an employee is legal to work.

In a recent op-ed, the duo tries to sell E-Verify as a “successful tool for employers.”  With a fail rate of 50%, E-Verify is anything but successful.  We all want to crack down on unscrupulous employers who take advantage of workers, but that’s not what E-Verify does. Instead, E-Verify will give bad employers even more control over desperate workers who move off the books and into the cash economy, reducing tax revenue and expanding the exploitation of workers.

The consequences of mandatory E-Verify aren’t limited to immigrant workers.  The Smith/Gallegly E-Verify plan would cause almost 800,000 Americans to lose their jobs due to errors in the government databases; force an additional 4 million legal workers into an administrative quagmire; create an undue burden on small businesses; nearly wipe out the agricultural workforce; and result in loss of tax revenue, increasing the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that mandatory, nationwide E-Verify would cost us $17.3 billion over 10 years because it would increase the number of undocumented workers being paid outside the tax system. Just implementing the program, according to the CBO, would cost $23 billion over ten years.

Mandatory E-Verify would also have a devastating impact on industries that rely on immigrant labor, like agriculture.  By cracking down on immigrant farm workers, Smith and Gallegly’s vision would lead to the exportation of farms and jobs and the increased importation of food from foreign sources.  The loss of on-farm jobs would also have a domino effect: 3.2 million non-agriculture jobs depend on the agriculture industry.

All these problems, and the program only identifies undocumented workers 50% of the time. Despite all this, there is a real possibility that some version of E-Verify will advance, especially in the House of Representatives.

The Smith/Gallegly strategy is to ignore the faults and cost of the system, its impact on the economy, and its burden on U.S. workers—and insist that E-Verify will “free up” jobs and force undocumented immigrants to “deport themselves.” The reality is that most undocumented immigrants will remain here, even more in the shadows of the underground economy, subject to exploitation and reduced labor standards that impact everyone.

What’s frustrating is that there’s a better solution staring Smith and Gallegly right in the face. Comprehensive immigration reform, which would combine border and workplace enforcement with a program to require undocumented immigrants to register for legal status, would raise wages and labor standards for all workers, boost tax revenues, and gut the underground economy.  This is a fiscally responsible solution—and a practical alternative to the Smith-Gallegly mass deportation fantasy.  What’s more, a majority of Americans support it.

The Smith-Gallegly plan will only make a bad situation worse.  Throughout the summer, we will be pointing out that Smith and Gallegly are wrong on the politics and wrong on the facts.  We will also be pointing out their rank hypocrisy.  House Republicans benefit from immigrant labor every time they eat a Georgia peach, go to a restaurant, leave their children with the nanny, or build an addition onto their homes.  Undocumented immigrants are present in every state, in every sector of the economy.  It’s time that Republicans in Congress admit this simple fact, and support a plan that gives immigrants the respect they deserve and enacts a real solution for taxpayers and workers.

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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