The Obama Administration announced last week that it would expand the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for foreign students. Under the OPT program, foreign students are authorized to work in the U.S. under certain conditions: during annual vacation or other times when school is not in session; In particular, foreign students benefit from the ability to work following the completion of their degree because they do not have to obtain an additional work visa, such as an H-1B, which would require a sponsoring employer and certification from the Department of Labor.
Foreign students, who some experts believe already enjoy an advantage over Americans as a result of OPT, will gain an even greater advantage than they already have due to the expansion. According to David North of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), businesses do not have to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes when they hire foreign students under the OPT program.
President Obama Declares the Border is Secure
In a speech given in El Paso, Texas, President Obama told Americans the border is secure. The President quickly followed these remarks by declaring that it is now time for Congress to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform.
“Over the last two years” he said, “thanks to the outstanding work of [Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano] and [Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin] and everybody who's down here working at the border, we've answered those concerns…. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done.”
Having stated that the border is sufficiently secure, ((the President made the case that it was time for Congress to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform)). He told his audience that granting amnesty to illegal aliens is a moral and economic imperative. America, he said, is defined as a “nation of immigrants – a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts.” Ignoring the long-established rule of law on which citizenship is gained, the President said that “in embracing America, you can become American.”
The President outlined a four-step approach to tackling comprehensive immigration reform. First, he said, the government has to take responsibility for securing the borders. He reiterated that the Administration believes this first task has already been successfully accomplished. Second, the President said that businesses must be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. Third, illegal aliens must “get right with the law,” meaning illegal aliens must pay their taxes, pay a fine and learn English. Finally, President Obama promoted expanding legal immigration so that it is “easier for the best and brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here.” .
The Presidents’ speeches last week are an indication of how important immigration reform measures and the Latino vote will be in the 2012 election. As part of his campaign, the President will be attempting to cater to the Hispanic voters who overwhelmingly favored him in 2008, as well as political independents who want stronger border security
House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Improving Visa Security
Last week, the House Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) Secure Visa Act The Secure Visa Act aims to close loopholes in the current visa regulations to keep terrorists from entering and remaining in the country in two key ways: First, the bill clarifies the Secretary of Homeland Security’s explicit authority under the 2002 Homeland Security Act to issue and revoke visas; and secondly it increases number of Visa Security Units (VSUs) in “high-risk” consular posts. The bill also eliminates judicial review of visa revocations.
Obama Hosts Celebrity Amnesty Meeting; Continues to Push DREAM Act
Last Thursday, President Obama held a meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room with celebrities from the Hispanic community to discuss “comprehensive immigration reform. Notable attendees included actresses Eva Longoria and America Ferrera, television hosts Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo (the brother of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)) and Maria Elena Salinas of Univision, Emilio Estefan (husband to singer Gloria Estefan), and Voto Latino Executive Director Maria Teresa Kumar. Senior White House aides Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe also attended the meeting
Following the closed-press discussion, actress Eva Longoria spoke to reporters and indicated the meeting focused heavily on the DREAM Act. “We will be reintroducing that next week and hopefully get it to pass,” she said of the legislation aimed at granting amnesty to roughly two million illegal aliens. (White House comments on the meeting also confirm that the DREAM Act was front and center during the talks: “The President reiterated his deep disappointment that Congressional action on immigration reform has stalled and that the DREAM Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate….”) “The President reiterated his concern that we educate the best and brightest but then ship that talent overseas or expel talented young people who have grown up as Americans and want to further their education or serve in our military,”
One day after the celebrity meeting, President Obama continued to push for the DREAM Act while delivering the commencement address at Miami Dade College in Florida. He told the audience, “I know that several young people here have recently identified themselves as undocumented….And I will keep fighting alongside many of you to make the DREAM Act the law of the land.” “Whether your ancestors came here on the Mayflower or a slave ship; whether they signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande—we are one people,” he said
by Reynold Mason, JD
April 28, 2011 - He’s just so sick of being pigeon-holed as an instrument of U.S. policy. And “truth, justice, and the American way“ are ”not enough anymore.” That’s why Superman, in the latest Action Comic, has announced he is “renouncing” his U.S. citizenship.
Although he’s traditionally seen as an American hero (remember, though, he is an alien), in Action Comics #900 Superman tells the president‘s national security adviser that he’s had enough of the Red, White, and Blue:
The key scene takes place in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer. In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.
Wired.com offers some more startling details about the non-violent protest that got Superman in trouble . When Superman drops in on an Iranian protest to stand with demonstrators in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, the U.S. government takes him to task for acting as an instrument of national policy. Superman responds by renouncing his American citizenship and proclaiming himself a citizen of the universe. Please say it isn’t so.
By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta April 27, 2011 Only days after launching his 2012 re-election bid, President Obama revived the issue of immigration reform with a meeting at the White House last Tuesday. There, the President hosted approximately 70 guests including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, Rev. Al Sharpton and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Although the White House press release on the meeting stated that the President planned to discuss how to “build a bipartisan consensus in Congress” on immigration reform, the White House neither invited any Members of Congress nor law enforcement representatives.
Noticeably absent from the discussions was Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA), current Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Rep. Gallegly called the President’s meeting and selective guest list a “summit on amnesty,” noting that the attendees “were obviously people who were not concerned about stopping illegal immigration.”
Also absent from the White House gathering were governors from border states. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said “it was a little bit of a snub” that neither she nor Texas Governor Rick Perry received an invitation from the President. (The Hill, April 20, 2011) Gov. Brewer remarked that since she and Governor Perry are on the front lines working to secure the border, they “should have been afforded that opportunity, to be at the table to help him understand the situation.” Arizona’s governor has met with President Obama in the past, during which meeting the President referred to Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070, as “misguided.”
One person who did attend the White House meeting, however, was bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah, John Wester. Wester was a chief architect of the Utah Compact. The Utah Compact is a basic, five-principle outline which urges compassion towards illegal aliens and argues that immigration should be left to the federal government.
The leaders of national pro-amnesty groups have spoken out in favor of The Utah Compact and encouraged its principles as a guideline for legislation in the states. Wester reported that the Utah Compact came up during his meeting with the President on Tuesday, and suggested it might be a template for an American Compact.
The White House immigration summit comes at a time when President Obama is under increasing pressure to rally his base for the 2012 elections. In an interview with MSNBC, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) said that President Obama’s failure to act on immigration reform is making it difficult for him to support him for reelection. He encouraged the President to focus on the immigrant community when creating an agenda for comprehensive immigration reform. Representative Gutierrez also warned that the President needs to “shore up his support among the Latino community” in the coming months.
Sources inside the meeting indicate the President might be willing to do just that. Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President and a guest at last week’s meeting, said that Obama indicated he would press for a vote on a bill to help certain undocumented immigrants attain legal status if they attend college or serve in the military. Despite the December defeat of the DREAM Act, legislation which holds similar provisions, the President seems intent on pursuing an immigration agenda that has been resoundingly rejected by the American people. This latest meeting of the President’s was scheduled just prior to Obama’s fundraising stops in Nevada and California, two heavily populated Hispanic states.
My Thanks to the Federation for American Immigration Reform fot the use of their legislative updates in preparing this article.
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Last Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Arizona District Court’s injunction of key provisions of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law. The ruling is the result of the Obama Administration’s lawsuit against the State of Arizona, filed by the Justice Department, which sought to prevent the law from taking effect last July. Monday’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel upheld the District Court’s injunction, ruling that the provision requiring law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of individuals lawfully stopped if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien—was preempted by federal law.
The court ruled that under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), state and local law enforcement officers could only enforce federal immigration law under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General within the confines of INA Section 287(g). The court interpreted 287(g) to mean that in the absence of a written agreement with the Attorney General, state and local officers are only permitted to enforce federal immigration law on an “incidental and as-needed basis,” and that written agreements are required for the “systematic and routine cooperation”
Because Congress had, through federal immigration statutes, granted the Executive Branch wide discretion in the enforcement of immigration laws, the Obama Administration’s “priorities and strategies” preempts Arizona’s S.B.1070. Through its mandatory directive to law enforcement officers, Arizona has “attempted to hijack a discretionary role that Congress delegated to the Executive.”
The court said that the “deleterious effect” on U.S. foreign relations is one factor weighing in favor of preemption. Judge Paez, writing for the majority, said because certain foreign leaders and Administration officials publicly criticized S.B. 1070, the law was an obstacle to the Executive’s authority to control foreign affairs.
The court viewed the law as a threat to Federal supremacy in immigration matters.“The threat of 50 states layering their own immigration rules on top of the INA” said the court “weighs in favor of preemption,” It would essentially open the floodgates for other states to pass immigration legislation that would incrementally diminish DHS authority over immigration matters
In a compelling dissent, Judge Carlos T. Bea said that in his view, the law is constitutionally sound. Under 287(g) Judge Bea said in his dissent, Congress expressly provided that states are free to communicate with the federal government regarding the immigration status of any individual and assist in the enforcement of immigration laws. Judge Bea noted in his dissenting opinion ,that the majority opinion provides no statutory, regulatory, or case authority to support its decision that state and locals without 287(g) agreements could only enforce immigration laws in instances of “necessity” or only when “called-upon” by the government.
Immigration activists have heaped praise on the ruling. Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) stated, “The Ninth Circuit decision stands as a strong warning to any state that is still considering enacting its own unconstitutional regulation of immigration by replicating or expanding upon Arizona's ill-fated S.B. 1070.” The National Immigration Law Center issued a statement in which it warns that: “Other states that want to walk down Arizona’s misguided and costly footsteps should take note: state immigration legislation is unconstitutional, as the Court of Appeals now has resoundingly confirmed.”
On the other side of the immigration ledger’ FAIR President, Dan Stein, remarked that “Monday's ruling turns the Constitution on its head, empowering the president to make immigration policy by executive fiat.” “The decision also leaves state and local governments at the mercy of an administration that, for political reasons, refuses to enforce the nation's immigration laws,” he said. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer says her state will appeal the decision either to a full panel of the Ninth Circuit or to the U.S Supreme Court.
House Immigration Subcommittee Considers Eliminating Visa Lottery
By Reynold N Mason
The House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing last week on a bill that would eliminate the controversial visa lottery program—The “Security and Fairness Enhancement for America Act of 2011” (SAFE Act)—eliminates the 55,000 “diversity” visas by striking Sections 201(a)(3) and 201(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
During the hearing, members of the Subcommittee expressed varying opinions about the utility of the visa lottery program. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), denounced the visa lottery as poor public policy. “U.S. immigration policies should be based on something more than just the luck of the draw. It should be secure, and it … should be beneficial to Americans. The visa lottery program is neither,” he said. Ranking House Judiciary Committee member John Conyers (D-MI) disagreed, calling the hearing an “attempt to eliminate the people … least likely to be able to come to this country.” Rep. Conyers also accused those voicing concern over the program of opposing diversity. “The question is, from my point of view, maybe the opponents of this program don't want diversity in the first place, and … it's not a very nice position to take,” charged Conyers.
Adding to the debate, several witnesses testified that the program gives rise to national security concerns. “Given the fact that there is no necessity for a family relationship, no necessity for a particular job skill, it is easy for an organization like Al Qaida to submit names,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, sponsor of the SAFE Act. “Yes, it's done at random, but you could submit lots of names from individuals who do not have terrorism records, that are young people, whose names could be drawn,” he added. Janice Kephart, former counsel to the 9/11 Commission, agreed, referring to the visa lottery as a “terrorist gamble.” “A successful application means an infiltration tactic with little oversight, a guaranteed visa, and permanent residency to those already in the U.S. or seeking entry from abroad,” said Ms. Kephart. According to her testimony, the four state sponsors of terror—Iran, Sudan, Syria, and Cuba—received a total of 2,588 visas or adjustments of status through the program in 2010.
Mr. Stephen Edson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for visa services, also testified before the Subcommittee regarding the program’s susceptibility to fraud. “Because almost anyone can qualify for entry into the program,” Mr. Edson explained, “the cost of committing fraud in the category is quite low.” As such, applicants for the visa lottery, as well third-party brokers, commonly commit visa lottery fraud he said. He testified that fraud by applicants may include multiple entries into the program, false claims to education, employment, or financial support, and even “pop-up” spouses or family members. And, in the case of third-party fraud, Mr. Edson relayed accounts of consular officers discovering individuals (such as post office officials) conspiring to steal, provide to someone else, or hold hostage for a fee, documents that are supposed to go to winners of the visa lottery. “I believe that the SAFE for America Act will solve the problem of fraud in the visa lottery program, and the only way it's likely to work, is by eliminating it,” he asserted in his concluding remarks. If this bill passes it will be another door shut to prospective immigrants with no one to petition for or sponsor them.
******My thanks to the Federation for American Immigration Reform for the use of its legislative updates in preparing this article
The Obama Administration has boasted that it deported a record number of illegal aliens in the 2010
Figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, show that during the first nine months of 2010, 279,035 aliens were removed from the country as a result of ICE enforcement. This number is ten (10) percent more than the same period during 2008 — the last year of the Bush administration.
While the total numbers of noncitizens ICE deported has grown, removal of aliens who have merely overstayed their visas or crossed the border illegally dropped for the first time in the last five years, as ICE gave priority to removing those convicted of crimes.
On average, each deportation cost taxpayers more than $6,000 in 2010, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement budget numbers. The amount Americans spend annually to detain and deport immigrants increased by more than 100 percent since 2005, to $2.55 billion in 2010. During the same period, the number of people deported more than doubled, to more than 390,000.The Department of Homeland Security says the investment to step up enforcement of federal immigration laws has been worth it.
By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta, April 7, 2011. Last summer a friend spoke with me about legal insurance. But like most Americans, the concept of paying an insurance premium, small though it is, for the privilege of calling a lawyer should I be caught doing 53 in a 35 zone,-- this actually happened to me-- did not resonate with me. After all I am a lawyer capable of representing myself. Without much ado, I politely turned down my friend. That was until my run of the mill speeding ticket turned into a marathon of court appearances and postponements.
I am not a lawyer for nothing and, I quickly realized that it was costing me precious time sitting around traffic court listening to lame excuses from speeders facing their reckoning. I enrolled in the plan and turned the nightmarish little annoyance of a speeding ticket over to the lawyers supplied by PPL. To my pleasant surprise I received three calls from a law office within four hours of my call to the number on the back of my membership card. I told the attorney my story, the true one of course, and left the matter in his hands. On the date of the court appearance I was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My cell chimed, I answered, and it was the PPL lawyer. He had been to court on my behalf and had good news to report: case settled, no points, no mark on my record, fine $#***%.
Now mind you, I was at one time in private law practice and there was no way I could make calls to clients to update them on developments in their case. As a solo, that was entirely out of the question. My experience impelled me to pay a visit to the office of the PPL attorneys here in Atlanta. And I had an opportunity to pose questions to one of the partners, incognito, of course. It turned out that the PPL law firm is AV rated, four stars if you understand movie ratings, two thumbs up. “How” I asked “are you able to handle the flood of calls from the hordes of speeders who get busted on I-285?
It turned out there are lawyers assigned to traffic court who make it their specialty. They troop to the far flung counties of the Atlanta metro area, getting speeders out of jail and others out of jams. I came away impressed.
Most people have health insurance, and they go to great lengths to secure it just in case a migraine hits in the middle of the night. But as an attorney, I found that my clients were woefully unprepared to tackle their legal demons, which are bound to haunt the dreams of any father who tosses the car keys to his son for the first time. Most of my clients were working people and could not afford my hourly rates. I was compelled to resort to novel payment plans to get my fees. I still have thousands out there that I have given up on collecting. These were good people, they meant well but simply could not afford my fees and the mortgage at the same time.
When the call came that little Johnny was in the clink, hard working people, like my clients, did not know where to turn or whom to call. They knew it would cost more than they could afford. But they were caught on the horns of a dilemma confronted by working people day in and day out. They earn too much to be entitled to legal aid, but not enough to afford a good lawyer. In the ordinary case, most people would ignore the problem or sign documents they did not fully understand and pray for the best. But a problem like Johnny’s demands attention pronto.
That’s genius of PPL. It alleviates the money worries associated with seeing lawyer.
I have seen clients brought to ruin by the burden of a crushing legal dilemma. Clients who “co-signed" notes for their nieces and nephews sought my help after the niece filed bankruptcy and auntie was left holding the bag. True story. In this case, the niece’s creditor sued auntie and hounded her until she coughed up the money to make good her niece's obligation.
It is my experience that clients who sought out my advice in advance of committing such legal hari Kari generally stayed clear of such deleterious entanglements.
PPL is preventive a well as palliative. It’s like an aspirin for the headache or an annual physical. It could prevent the bigger problems from taking root.
PPL is the brain child of an unfortunate driver, who in 1969 was involved in a crash. The idea occurred to him after his auto insurance covered his medical and the damage to his car. But what of the legal bills? He shelled four grand out of pocket. His misfortune has come to represent an idea whose time has come. Like health insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, if you have legal insurance, help is just a phone call away.
by Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta April 5, 2011
The House Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to discuss possible reforms to the H-1B visa program. While businesses claim they use H-1B visas to sponsor “high-skilled” workers, H-1B visa recipients are typically only required to have either a Bachelor’s degree or specialized knowledge in a particular field. H-1B visas are also used to bring fashion models into the country
Dr. Ron Hira, who teaches public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, discussed the many flaws in the H-1B visa program during his testimony. According to Dr. Hira, H-1B visas displace and deny opportunities to U.S. workers: “loopholes in the program have made it too easy to bring in cheaper foreign workers, with ordinary skills, who directly substitute for, rather than complement, workers already in America.” He also discussed loopholes in the program that provide an unfair competitive advantage to businesses that outsource jobs overseas. Hira stated nearly all of the employers receiving the most H-1B visas in the last five years are using them to offshore tens of thousands of high-wage American jobs. “Off-shoring through the H-1B program is so common that it has been dubbed the ‘outsourcing visa’ by India’s former commerce minister,” Dr. Hira added.
While members of the Subcommittee agreed with one another that the H-1B visa program needs reforming, they disagreed on the direction such reform must take. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) called for either increasing the H-1B visa allotment or tightening the requirements for qualifying for the visa. “The 65,000 base annual quota of H-1B visas is going to come under more and more pressure as the economy improves. If Congress doesn’t act to increase the H-1B cap, then we may need to examine what sort of workers qualify for H-1B visas,” he said in his opening statement. Rep. Smith also questioned whether the safeguards built into the H-1B program are sufficient to protect American workers. Citing a recent GAO report, he asserted, “H-1B employers categorize over half of their H-1B workers as entry level—which is defined as ‘performing routine tasks that require limited, if any, exercise of judgment’—and only six percent as fully competent.” Rep. Smith described national security concerns about the H-1B program. According to recent GAO findings, he said, the U.S. government has awarded H-1B visas to over one million foreign nations from 13 “countries of concern.” Finally, Rep. Smith expressed concerns over the “legacy of fraud” taking place in the H-1B program. At hearing over a decade ago, he said, witnesses discussed fraud in the program such as petitioning companies being nothing more than an abandoned building or fake address, yet roughly 10 years later in 2008 USCIS’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security found outright fraud in over 13% of randomly selected cases, he asserted.
Several Subcommittee members argued that instead of expanding the H-1B program, the U.S. should increase the number of legal permanent residents (green card holders) the government admits each year. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, argued that admitting individuals as green card holders is preferable to H-1B guest workers because H-1B recipients are unable to stay in the country permanently or move from job to job. “What we need are more green cards,” said Rep. Conyers. “Staple a green card to a national graduating certificate when he graduates from an engineering school. You would then relieve the problem of most of them ending up going back home to become our competitors when most of them...really wanted to stay.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Immigration Subcommittee, also advocated increasing the annual allotment of green cards. According to Rep. Lofgren, the primary problem with the H-1B program is that it only permits workers to stay in the U.S. temporarily: “[T]he real issue … is how can we capture with permanent visas the individuals who we want to keep to create companies, to do start-ups, to create jobs for American workers,” she stated. “Europe, Australia, Canada, and even China and India are changing their laws and rolling out the welcome mat providing permanent visas and citizenship to some advanced degree holders. We must do the same or risk being left behind.”
Other members of the Subcommittee argued that the H-1B program should be restricted or eliminated entirely. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee, argued for lowering the number of H-1B visas. “There is such a thing as too much legal immigration,” King said. “Too much legal immigration also drives down wages and oversupplies in the workforce. And we are in a precarious position here in this country,” he said.
*****My thanks to FAIR for the use of their legislative updates in preparation of this article
By Reynold N. Mason JD
Atlanta April 5, 2011.
President Obama is beginning to feel the pressure from immigration activists. He kicked off his re-election campaign just this week. But activist with an issue to push know that campaign season is prime time for political promises. The promises may not always be kept but, it does not require much savoir faire to extract a promise or nail a plank into a candidate’s political platform.
Politico reports that, Change Takes Time, an immigration activist group, pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, has plans to stage events across the country, including president Obama’s home state of Hawaii, to promote immigration reform. White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, has said that the president is committed to immigration reform and that the broader agenda includes amnesty. But some experts say that immigration reform is such a divisive issue that it is likely to languish for the rest of the year, while the president gets his re-election machinery up and running.
Despite campaigning on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in 2008, Mr. Obama has not taken the lead in moving the issue forward. He has said that the “political and mathematical reality “requires that he get bipartisan support, if immigration reform is to make it out of the republican controlled congress. The new congress, with the Judiciary committee now in the hands of rep. Steve King, an avowed strict enforcement advocate, has thus far focused on border security and sanctions for employers who hire illegals.
But, it appears New York senator Schumer has gotten the memo. He has been quietly meeting with moderate republicans in an attempt to breathe new life into the now moribund immigration reform bill that he drafted last year. The senator from New York has made it clear that he supports comprehensive immigration reform with amnesty for illegal's who are law abiding , provided they register , pay taxes and satisfy other specified requirements. The fact that 2012 is an election year bodes well for immigration activists hoping to cash in on the promissory generosity of candidates running for political office. Immigration is a top issue among Hispanics, now the nation’s largest minority group according to the US census bureau. They will have something to say about the question. They make up significant voting blocks in places like California, Texas. Arizona and other border states. Candidates are not going to overlook that fact.
By Reynold N Mason JD
Atlanta, March 26, 2011 Just a few short months ago, the outlook for those hoping to become legal residents of these United States looked bleaker than a pre-blizzard sky. There were bad omens everywhere. States in the heat of anti-illegal immigrant paroxysm rushed headlong to the bandwagon of those headed to immigration limbo. Arizona held the helm, being the first to enact a tough anti-illegal immigrant bill that authorized police to stop people suspected of being illegal and demand their papers. There was no shortage of copycat laws, as legislations in pursuit of victory at the polls, pushed to out tough one another on the strict enforcement. What has occurred since the 112th Congress was gaveled into session by John Boehner, has observers happily befuddled. Not a single piece of the expected tough immigration legislation has made it out of the House. In fact, the situation looks positively sunny for those here illegally.
State after seemingly contrite state has pulled back from the brink. Several have done a one-eighty. Utah being Chief among them, passing an immigrant friendly law that allows for migrant workers to be here legally and providing for a supply of migrants by contracting with a Mexican State to provide migrant workers for Utah’s farmers. California, took the lead on the Dream Act bandwagon, enacting legislation granting in State tuition to illegal students. Emboldened, and perhaps encouraged by California’s initiative, other States are jumping on the bandwagon.
The good news is traveling fast. The American spirit of generosity appears to be making a comeback. And there is no place more fitting than the State of New York for the goodwill towards downtrodden immigrants to rear its once drowsy, sleepy head. There, at the mouth of New York harbor, stands the Statute of liberty, on which Emma Lazarus’ immortal words are indelibly inscribed: "((Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!))" Ellis Island in the New York area was once the gateway through untold millions on new immigrants came to set foot on U.S. soil for the first time. It is fitting that New York is on the cutting edge of the movement to provide at least a modicum of relief.
Last week Senator Bill Perkins introduced the New York Dream Act. The bill, modeled after the one that crashed and burned in a political firestorm on Capitol Hill last year, is a copy cat Dream Act. It would bring New York’s illegal youth more rights. The one thing missing from the New York Dream is a path to citizenship. Only the federal government can grant that. But New York’s Dream would give under 35 youth who came to the U.S. before age 16, the right to in state tuition, if they have resided in the Big Apple for at least two years.
The promised benefits include access to scholarships, grants and loans. The more intriguing thing about the NY Dream is this; it gives illegal youth the ability to get a driver’s license, State employment authorization, and health insurance. If the bill makes it through, it could, like Utah’s, be a model for sister states to emulate.
A number of other states legislations have taken up their own version of Dream. Maryland has passed its version of Dream, and now joins California in allowing illegal students in state tuition. Immigration activists are puzzled but jubilant, and lately, wisely silent. When the tides are going your way, go with the flow.