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Immigration News

June 13, 2011, 9:08 pm
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New Developments in Congress and the states
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                         North Carolina House Passes Mandatory E-Verify

On June 8, 2011 the North Carolina House passed mandatory E-Verify legislation by a vote of 68 to 43.  The bill requires the use of E-Verify by private employers with 25 or more employees, public contractors and subcontractors, counties, municipalities and state agencies.  However, employers that hire exclusively seasonal employees for less than 90 days out of the year are exempt.  The bill also allows any person with a good faith belief that an employer is not complying to report the employer to the Attorney General.  The Attorney General must investigate all valid complaints, but may not investigate complaints based solely on race. 
Employers that do not comply with the E-Verify requirement are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 for a second violation or $2,000 for a third violation.
After its passage in the North Carolina House, HB 36 was sent to the Senate where it now awaits action in the Commerce Committee.    

          Foreign Governments Ask Court to Strike Down Utah Enforcement Bill
Mexico and thirteen Latin American countries signed onto an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief filed June 2, 2011, asking a federal judge to strike down Utah’s new immigration enforcement law, HB 497 
The original plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC), sued the State in May, claiming HB 497 is “preempted” by federal law. 
The plaintiffs also claim that HB 497 will lead to unlawful detentions and racial profiling by Utah officers, as well as violates the federally guaranteed “right to travel.”
HB 497 contains enforcement provisions similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, which requires law enforcement officers to verify a person’s immigration status if that person has been lawfully stopped.

                            Big Business Takes a Look at Troubled Border 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation’s largest business lobbies, released a report last week detailing its recommended “Steps to a 21st Century U.S.- Mexico Border.” 
The report addresses border issues that most affect the Chamber’s members and recommends action on topics such as trade, security, travel and immigration.  The Chamber asserts that the U.S. and Mexico trade more than $1 billion worth of goods every day, and as such, building a strong and stable relationship with Mexico is of paramount importance to U.S. business. 
The Chamber of Commerce report makes clear that business industries in the U.S. are affected by the escalating violence and turmoil that have come to characterize our nation’s Southern border.  Drug cartel activity has made “extreme criminal behavior” a prominent threat to U.S. business trade with Mexico. 
The report states that significant sums of money are being spent to secure employees and provide armored transportation.  Companies conducting business with Mexico must factor in the high costs of protecting both their employees and their product, a cost which is being passed on to the consumer. 
Finally, the report recognizes that “illegal immigration is one of the most significant problems facing our border today.”  The Chamber calls for immigration reform to promote security in the U.S. and create economic growth, but argues that increasing legal immigration will actually decrease illegal immigration and the help ease the related security concerns hurting businesses. 

                     Supreme Court Gives Town of Hazleton Hope

On Monday, June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court reviewed Lozano v. City of Hazleton, a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Hazleton’s immigration enforcement ordinance, and sent the case back for reconsideration. 
In Lozano v. City of Hazleton, apartment owners and illegal aliens living within Hazleton, Pennsylvania sued the City in an attempt to strike down its immigration enforcement ordinance. That ordinance: (1) prohibits the hiring of illegal aliens, (2) mandates the use of E-Verify for employers, (3) prohibits the knowing harboring of illegal aliens within the City, and (4) requires renters to obtain rental occupancy licenses. 
The Supreme Court determined that the Third Circuit’s decision could no longer stand given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, which held that Arizona could constitutionally mandate E-Verify and suspend or revoke business licenses of employers that knowingly employ unauthorized aliens. It sent the case back to the Third Circuit with instructions to reconsider. 

                 Supreme Court Decision Lets California In-State Tuition Law Stand

The Supreme Court last week let California’s law giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens stand by refusing to consider the plaintiffs’ appeal of the decision rendered by the California Supreme Court.
In Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, U.S. citizen students who were paying out-of-state tuition sued the California university, the California State university, and the California Community College systems claiming they violated federal law by giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens, but not also giving the same in-state tuition to their out-of-State students. However, the California Supreme Court upheld the statute and the United States Supreme Court declined to review the California Supreme Court’s decision.  The U.S Supreme Court did not issue any decision or explanation in conjunction with its ruling.

                    California Assembly Pursues its own DREAM

The California Legislature is moving forward with its own version.  Both bills were introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles.   Conrado Terrazas, spokesman for Cedillo, noted that the bills are different from federal legislation because they only allow illegal aliens who already qualify for in-state tuition to apply for scholarships and other aid money.  (San Diego Union Tribune, June 3, 2011)  The federal versions of similar legislation involve amnesty provisions, including a path to citizenship. 
Assembly Bill 130, which is known as the California Dream Act of 2011, would allow illegal alien students who are exempt from paying nonresident tuition access to privately-funded scholarships.  It passed the California Assembly on a party-line vote of 51-22 and is now waiting action in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.  Assembly Bill 131 would allow illegal aliens access to state-funded grants and scholarships for college tuition.  It is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Education on June 22.  Under AB 131, illegal alien students would be eligible for “all student financial aid programs administered by the State of California to the full extent

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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