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Immigration News

June 2, 2011, 7:55 pm
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Developments in congress and the Courts
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by Reynols Mason, JD

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s E-Verify Law
In a landmark decision that has broad implications for immigration enforcement at the state level, the United States Supreme Court Thursday upheld the Arizona Legal Workers Act. Passed  in 2007. The Act has two major components: (1) it requires Arizona employers to use the federal E-Verify system; and (2) it allows Arizona to suspend or revoke the business licenses of employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. The Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in 2007 seeking to strike down the Arizona law, arguing that both provisions were preempted by federal law.  However, in Thursday’s 5-3 decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, the Supreme Court rejected the Chamber’s arguments and held that Arizona’s law is constitutional. 

The Obama administration argued that the lower courts were wrong to uphold the Arizona Legal Workers Act because federal immigration law expressly preempts any state law imposing sanctions on employers hiring illegal aliens. Several groups filed amicus briefs in support of the Chamber’s lawsuit. These included the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA); the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); the American Immigration Council (AIC); the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); National Council of La Raza; Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); and Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU).

House Immigration Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Bill to Keep Criminal Aliens Behind Bars
The House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing last week to debate Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) new bill, the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act”. The grants the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to detain dangerous aliens who have been ordered deported, but cannot be removed.  “Just because a criminal immigrant cannot be returned to their home country does not mean they should be freed into our communities.  Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained,” said Smith.

He introduced H.R. 1932 to remedy the impact of Zadvydas v. Davis, a 2001 Supreme Court case that addressed how long the government may detain an alien while seeking to remove him. The Court ruled in that case, that those who legally entered the U.S. may not be detained longer than six months. if removal is not “reasonably foreseeable.” The Supreme Court later expanded the holding of Zadvydas to aliens who entered the country illegally. Thus, the government must now release all aliens, including criminal aliens, from detention six months after their 90-day removal period has expired if a court determines that removal of the alien is not reasonably foreseeable.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas, thousands of criminal aliens have been released into the U.S. general population. At last week’s hearing, Thomas Dupree, Jr., a former Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General, told the Immigration Subcommittee that the consequence of Zadvydas is that “the government is compelled to release—into our communities—murderers, child molesters and other predators who pose a clear and direct threat to public safety and national security.”

Senator Rubio Holds His Ground against Amnesty
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is standing firm against the DREAM Act and other amnesty legislation for illegal aliens.  After Democrats reintroduced the DREAM Act this month, Rubio told the Spanish-language network, Telemundo, he would vote against it. Senator Rubio then reiterated his opposition to the DREAM Act in an interview with Politico last week, saying that “we need an immigration system that works in order for America to grow and prosper economically.  But we have to have laws.  We have to have a legal immigration system.” 

The Florida Senator is taking now taking heat from amnesty advocates who were hoping Rubio would renege on his support for pro-enforcement policies.  Jorge Mursuli, a Cuban immigrant and executive director of a Florida Hispanic civic-engagement group said Senator Rubio’s continued support for immigration enforcement created a treasonous “Benedict Arnold feeling.”  Frank Sharry, director of the pro-amnesty group America’s Voice, decried Senator Rubio’s continued opposition to amnesty. “To be against comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship and against the DREAM Act defines you in the Latino immigrant community as a hard-liner and an enemy of the community,” said Sharry.   And, Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., a freelance writer for Hispanically Speaking News last week wrote:  “Senator Rubio might look Latino and have a Latino-sounding name, but his recent political alignment further to the right shows that he is not pro-Latino. And whereas the push for fair and comprehensive immigration reform was once a bipartisan issue, Democrats have remained the chief advocates of such legislation."

Author: Reynold Mason
Reynold N. Mason teaches law courses at Zenover Educational Institute In Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a judge on New York City Civil Court and, a Justice on New York State Supreme Court. Mason has been an adjunct professor of law at Medgar Evers College and Monroe College in New York. He has authored several legal opinions published in New York Miscellaneous Reports and New York Official Reports as well as the New York Law Journal. He lives in Atlanta.
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