by Reynold Mason, JD
In a calculated move to bypass Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton issued a memo on June 17th to all ICE Field Office Directors, Special Agents in Charge, and all Chief Counsel, authorizing them to decline to remove illegal aliens who meet the qualifications for amnesty under the DREAM Act. In the June 17th memo, Director Morton couches this administrative amnesty as merely providing "guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion to ensure that the agency's immigration enforcement resources are focused on the agency's enforcement priorities. It then provides an extensive, factors ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should consider when determining whether to pursue the removal of an illegal alien. The factors falling under the purview of the DREAM Act include:
• The circumstances of the person's arrival in the U.S. and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the U.S. as a young child;
• The alien's pursuit of education in the U.S., with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the U.S.;
• Whether the person has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat; and
• The person's age, with particular consideration given to minors.
The memo also lists individuals present in the U.S. since childhood, minors and elderly individuals, and veterans and members of the U.S. armed forces as "positive factors" prompting particular care and consideration. ICE agents are already heeding the memo's directives. Less than a week after Director Morton issued the memo, ICE agents released University of California-Davis student Mandeep Chahal and her mother, even after the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered them removed to India. The Chahals' attorney, Kalpana Peddibhotla, cited the Morton memo as the reason for her clients' reprieve" I am pretty certain if that hadn't happened, they would be sitting on a plane tonight," Peddibhotla said.
Leaders of the National ICE Council, a union which represents roughly 7,000 ICE agents, officers, and employees, were outraged by the memo and its implications. "Any American concerned about immigration needs to brace themselves for what's coming," announced Council President Chris Crane in a press release. "Unable to pass its immigration agenda through legislation, the [Obama] Administration is now implementing it through agency policy." The Council also charges that ICE officials worked "hand-in-hand" with the open-borders lobby, but excluded its own officers from the process of developing policies.
Members of Congress are also alarmed by the Obama Administration's attempt to circumvent the law. Earlier this month the House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to the Homeland Security (DHS) fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill which, if passed by the Senate, would in part override the Morton memo by barring DHS funds from being used to grant parole or deferred action to most aliens subject to final orders of removal. The DHS bill is currently awaiting action by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Is comprehensive immigraiton reform just around the corner?
House Judiciary Committee Resurrects Immigrant Nursing Program
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill last week which would re-start an expired program that admits nonimmigrant nurses to work in "health professional shortage areas." Originally known as the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999, the program provided an additional 500 nonimmigrant visas each fiscal year to aliens who had obtained a nursing license, passed the appropriate exam and was otherwise eligible. Each alien was granted an admission period of three years. Although originally only enacted for a period of four years, the program was extended until it eventually expired in fiscal year 2009.
Under H.R. 1933, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), 300 visas would be issued for eligible nurses each year for an original time period of three years, at which point these nurses could extend their stay for an additional three years. During the mark-up, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), successfully offered one amendment which would make these nonimmigrant nursing visas portable, by allowing the aliens who have already been issued a visa to accept new employment as a nurse upon the petition of a new hospital employer. Both the bill and the added amendment passed through the committee on voice vote.
During the same mark-up session, the House Judiciary Committee also passed the Secure Visas Act by a vote of 17-11. The Secure Visas Act, also sponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith, designates authority to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue and revoke visas; authorizes DHS to conduct on-site reviews of visa applications in high-risk countries; and prevents judicial review of a DHS visa revocation decision.
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
Alabama Passes Toughest Immigration Law in the U.S.
On Thursday, June 2, the Alabama Legislature passed arguably the toughest state immigration bill in the United States. Much like Arizona’s SB 1070, the law covers a wide array of immigration matters including employment, voting, education, and enforcement. It requires that all employers in the state use E-Verify. t also requires law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of a person lawfully stopped for a violation of state or local law when the officer has reasonable suspicion the person is unlawfully present in the U.S. The bill also prohibits sanctuary practices by state and local officials and prohibits concealing, harboring, and transporting illegal aliens. Governor Bentley is expected to sign the bill into law.
New York, California Revolt against Secure Communities
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week he was suspending the State’s cooperation with Secure Communities because of its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Counsel to Governor Cuomo, Mylan L. Denerstein wrote “The heart of concern is that the program, conceived of as a method of targeting those who pose the greatest threat in our communities, is in fact having the opposite effect and compromising public safety by deterring witnesses to crime and others from working with law enforcement.”
Last week’s events in New York and California come on the heels of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s decision in May to cease his State’s participation in the Secure Communities program. Governor Quinn told ICE officials that “due to the conflict between the stated purpose of Secure Communities and the implementation of the program, Illinois state police will no longer participate Masachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has also joined the Secure Communities debate, announcing today that his State will not be participating in the program, while Minnesota and Washington have declined to join the program all together.
Maryland Residents Fight Back Against Tuition Breaks for Illegal Aliens
Last Tuesday, Maryland true immigration reform activists turned in 62,496 signatures in a first step to preventing in-state tuition rates for illegal aliens. (Washington Post, June 1, 2011) The group needs just over 55,000 signatures to force a vote on the measure providing tuition breaks to aliens in Maryland illegally. In order to continue the fight against illegal immigration, one-third of the total number of needed signatures had to be submitted by May 31 at midnight. Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, signed a bill into law earlier this legislative session that allowed illegal alien students who have attended Maryland high schools for three years to receive in-state tuition at Maryland colleges.
Incoming DNC Chair: Republicans Believe Illegal Immigration Should be a Crime
At a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL) denounced Republicans for thinking that illegal immigration should “in fact be a crime.” (Fox News, May 31, 2011) The incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee told listeners that Democrats want “comprehensive immigration reform” and that the 12 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S. are “a necessity” for the economy. She then said that the general “Republican solution … in the last three years is that we should just pack them all up and ship them back to their own countries and that in fact it should be a crime and we should arrest them all." That, she said, is what Rep. Sensenbrenner’s 2005 legislation proposed.
*****My thanks to FAIR for allowing me the use of their immigration updates in preparing this article
by Reynold Mason, JD
Rohrabacher Seeks to End Health Care Subsidies for Illegal Aliens
This month Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) reintroduced H.R. 1822, the “No Health Care Subsidies for Illegal Aliens Act,” to prevent illegal aliens from receiving health insurance subsidies under the new health care law. By applying a documentation provision currently part of the Medicaid to the new health care law, the legislation would close verification loopholes in the 2010 health care reform law to ensure U.S. taxpayers are not footing the bill for illegal aliens’ health care.
Under the bill, aliens must provide documents to support his or her claim. This requirement can be met in one of two ways; the applicant must either present a U.S. passport, a Naturalization Certificate, a U.S. Citizenship Certificate, or a valid state-issued driver’s license if the state issuing the license requires proof of citizenship or nationality to obtain the license.
Napolitano Extends Temporary Protected Status for Haitians
Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano this month extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals living in the United States. TPS is a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) under which the U.S. government may grant aliens (legal or illegal) authority to remain living and working in the U.S. temporarily if “there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety.” These conditions include earthquakes and other natural disasters resulting in a disruption of living conditions in the area. When Secretary Napolitano originally granted TPS to Haitian nationals, she was clear that it was only to apply to Haitian individuals already residing in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake. She reiterated that “those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.” The designation was originally issued to last for 18 months, at which time Haitian aliens would be required to return to Haiti.
Rather than just allowing for those who were in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake to remain, the Secretary re-designated Haiti as eligible for TPS, “meaning that eligible Haitian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 12, 2011, will also be able to obtain TPS through Jan. 22, 2013.” (Id.)
DHS reported that currently, approximately 48,000 Haitian nationals with TPS reside in the United States. (DHS News Release, May 17, 2011) This number also does not include the increase that will come with Napolitano’s latest announcement, as the re-designation does not take effect until July 23, 2011
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."
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