Immigration news and developments
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Immigration news and developments

December 13, 2011, 11:10 am
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Arizona immigration law gets to the Supreme Court
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The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that  it is granting Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s request to review the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ injunction of her State’s tough immigration enforcement law, S.B. 1070.  In April, the 9th Circuit upheld the Arizona District Court’s injunction of key provisions of the law.  Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli Jr., who represents the Obama Administration, asked the Court last month to deny Governor Brewer’s appeal. In his brief, Mr. Verrilli told the justices that the Arizona law upsets a delicate balance that includes “law enforcement priorities, foreign-relations considerations and humanitarian concerns.” On the other hand, Arizona argued that the Administration's contention that states “are powerless to use their own resources to enforce federal immigration standards without the express blessing of the federal executive goes to the heart of our nation's system of dual sovereignty and cooperative federalism. We are about to get the definitive answer.

Alabama AG Recommends Repealing Parts of Immigration law

Last week, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange sent a memorandum to the state’s legislative leaders, recommending that they repeal parts of Alabama’s immigration enforcement law, HB 56.  Strange recommended repealing the provisions that require aliens to carry their registration documents with them (a provision that mirrors federal law) and the provision that requires schools to collect non-identifiable data on the immigration status of students.  These changes, Strange argued, could make the statute easier to defend in court.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Alabama in August to stop HB 56 from taking effect.  However, the District Court allowed most of the law to stand, including the provisions on alien registration cards and school data collection. The DOJ appealed the District Court’s ruling and, in October, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked both provisions. 

Amnesty advocates have been complaining bitterly that HB 56 is an unjust and unfair law.  In July, the ACLU and other groups filed a lawsuit against HB 56, charging that, “Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law is unconstitutional and endangers public safety, invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law.” America’s Voice, a pro- immigrant lobby, has said HB 56 “has battered Alabama’s reputation for months as crops have rotted from lack of available labor, children have been dropping out for fear of attending schools, and families have been split apart

Feds to review Student Visa Program used for Human Trafficking

The Associated Press reported on December 7,  that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered a review of the J-1 student work visa program after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents found the visa was being used for human trafficking.  On November 30, federal agents in New York arrested 25 mafia members from several families for illegally bringing in hundreds of women from Russia and Eastern Europe to the U.S. to dance and strip in New York clubs.

Homeland Security officials accused some of the suspects of helping the women obtain fraudulent work and travel visas. However, when the women got into the country, they were employed as strippers. “Some were recruited as waitresses, some were told straight up what the situation was. Some were recruited from overseas through advertisements in foreign language newspapers throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, some were recruited from Facebook in Russia,” said James Hayes of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials accused five men from Albany, Binghamton, and New Jersey of illegally marrying some of the women so that those women could apply for green cards to stay in the country.

The J-1 visa was created in 1963 to allow students from other countries to temporarily work and travel in the US. The J-1 visa has allowed foreign nationals to enter the U.S. through various programs—as  high school or college students, professors or scholars, Au Pairs and interns, among other things.  Depending on the program, these aliens may stay in the U.S. for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.   The program currently brings in more than 100,000 individuals per year to the U.S.

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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