An unprecedented increase in the deportation of undocumented immigrants has left an estimated 5,100 children languishing in U.S. foster homes according to a November report from a New York-based advocacy group. The Obama administration deported 46,000 parents of children who are U.S. citizens in the first six months of 2011, the ARC report says. Government data shows a total of 397,000 deportations in 2011, with half involving people with criminal records.
"This means that almost one in four people deported is the parent of a United States citizen child;" Thousands of children enter the child welfare system and are often stuck there." After parents are deported families remain separated for long periods, with child welfare agencies and juvenile courts often moving to terminate the parental rights of deported immigrants. Children who don't have other immediate family are then put up for adoption.
Mother deported, children put in foster care
ABC News highlighted the problem of children of deported parents on February 2…. the police came for Amelia Reyes Jimenez in 2008 to arrest her for one count of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, because she had left her 13-year-old son Cesar, who is severely disabled, alone in her apartment. Jimenez says she thought that Cesar was with her two older daughters and their father, but he had taken the girls to the park and left Cesar home alone.
When she arrived home with baby daughter Erica in her arms, she found the police waiting. "The only thing they asked was if I was illegal and whether or not I had my papers," she said. She told them she had no papers. She was handcuffed. Reyes Jimenez was sent to a detention center an hour outside Phoenix. It would be six months before she had any contact with her children, and nearly two years before she would see them again in person.
"I didn't know anything about my girls; they didn't give me any reasons," she said. "I would ask about them and nobody would answer." Reyes Jimenez, who pled guilty to the misdemeanor, then spent nearly two years fighting deportation. Ultimately, she was loaded onto a bus and deported. The children were lost in foster care.
The one stated goal on immigration law is family reunification. Immigration law has a tremendous effect on the family and the decision about where to live. But the goals of the family and the immigration law are often in conflict. When a parent is undocumented and the child is a US citizen it often results in wrenching heartbreak that no parent should have to endure.
The quota system keeps families apart
The snail’s pace of the quota system often results in families being separated for many years. Even for smaller Caribbean islands with short waiting lists, it can take up to 10 years to sponsor a brother or sister. Often keeping the family together can only be achieved in violation of immigration law.
The situation of the Jimenez family serves as a vivid example of the conflict between immigration law and family integrity. US born children have the legal right to remain but their parents who are illegal will be subject to deportation. No matter which side of the issue you’re on, we can all agree that there is something wrong with kicking American children out of their own country because a parent is undocumented.
New Mexico Illegal immigrants get to keep driver’s licenses
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez suffered a temporary political setback Thursday in a bid to stop New Mexico from granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.A legislative committee shelved her proposal and approved a Democrat-backed alternative that continues to allow licenses for illegal immigrants but with new restrictions.
Ken Martinez, the House Majority Leader, said the state's license policy allows illegal immigrants to "come up from the shadows" so they can drive to work and take their children to school and other places without fear of arrest for not having a license.
State law enforcement and Martinez administration officials told the committee that New Mexico's licensing law posed a security risk to the state and rest of the country."This has never been an immigration issue. It's not about immigration. It's simply about public safety and security," said Keith Gardner, the governor's chief of staff.
"I think it is about immigration ... it is about divisiveness," said Santa Fe Mayor David Coss. "We should stop calling people in our community illegal aliens."
New Mexico and Washington are the only states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same driver's license as a U.S. citizen. Utah grants immigrants a driving permit that can't be used for identification, unlike a driver's license that helps people open bank accounts and make financial transactions or board a commercial airliner.
Leading Senate Democrats Push Expansion of Amnesty Program
CQ Today, which tracks congressional activity, reported last week that longtime amnesty advocates Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin and Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair, Charles Schumer hosted a private meeting last week with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton to discuss expanding the Administration’s amnesty program aimed at administratively closing removal cases of illegal aliens. The meeting took place in Sen. Durbin’s DC office, where Sens. Durbin and Schumer reportedly urged Morton to quickly implement the amnesty initiative nationwide and fix any problems encountered during the program’s pilot phase.
In addition to calling for the program’s nationwide expansion, the Senators argued the Administration is not going far enough in executing its amnesty initiative. At the meeting, Sen. Schumer presented Director Morton with a letter requesting that the Administration grant deferred action and work authorization to illegal aliens whose cases are closed. . “The inability to work and support oneself and one’s family would make a favorable exercise of discretion a potentially hollow victory to the vast majority of those who may otherwise benefit from this discretionary exercise of law enforcement priorities,” wrote Schumer. (Read the letter here) Sen. Durbin echoed Sen. Schumer’s sentiments in a statement following the meeting: “I commend the Department of Homeland Security for the steps it is taking to implement it, but more needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly.” (CQ Today, Jan. 24, 2012)
Deferred action status is what DHS grants when it decides, by its own discretion, not to remove an illegal alien. Those who receive deferred action usually also receive work authorization.
Last week, both chambers of Congress unanimously passed a border security bill co-sponsored by Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Jeff Flake both of Arizona. The bill aims to help secure the border by including “ultralight” aircrafts (small, one-manned, low-flying planes) in the definition of aviation smuggling, and increasing the maximum penalty for smugglers using this type of aircraft to 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. The legislation also allows the government to prosecute those attempting or conspiring to commit this crime, and provides that the Department of Homeland Security should collaborate with the Department of Defense in utilizing equipment and technology to help secure the border.
Ann Arbor City Council opposes increased federal enforcement
Ann Arbor, Michigan,weighed in on the national debate over immigration policy Monday night, passing a resolution opposing increased federal enforcement.Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, deported nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants last year, the highest total on record.
"Regardless of the numbers, whether it's one family that's being targeted or hundreds or thousands of families, all these families equally matter," said Diana Sierra, one of eight immigration rights supporters who addressed the council Monday night.
About 60 percent of deportations between October 2008 and February 2011 affected individuals with no criminal background, according to statistics cited by city officials.
By a 9-2 vote, the City Council went on record saying it supports President Barack Obama's stated intention to focus deportations on serious criminals in order to preserve immigrant families.
But the city opposes policies that detain or deport immigrants who have not committed a serious criminal offense and who have long-standing ties to the community; It goes on to state the city supports timely legalization of those undocumented immigrants.
Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. needs to ease restrictions on immigrants who plan to open businesses, and create a separate visa for potential entrepreneurs, according to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Current immigration laws make it difficult for people to enter the U.S. and start a business, according to the report, released today by the Chamber and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council. Expansion of the visa program would also aid companies’ access to foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities, helping economic growth, the authors of the report said.
Immigrant entrepreneurs established 18 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, according to a June 2011 report from the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business leaders and mayors that advocates for immigration reform. Those companies, such as Google Inc., Big Lots Inc. and Comcast Corp. generated $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2010 and had 3.7 million employees worldwide, the report said.
“They are going to contribute and succeed somewhere -- why shouldn’t it be the United States?” Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 12 speech in Washington.
Immigrants are more likely than native-born U.S. workers to start their own business or be self-employed, according to the Chamber of Commerce study. Of naturalized citizens, 5.1 percent were employed by their own business, compared with 3.7 percent of the native-born citizens, the report found. In Massachusetts, immigrants were 14 percent of the population in 2008 and started 61 percent of the businesses, the report found.
Efforts at revising immigration laws have been stymied in Congress, including efforts to let temporary foreign workers enter the U.S. and to help illegal immigrants advance toward citizenship. Changing the visa program has gotten lost in the debate, according to the Chamber, the nation’s largest business group.
“I’m frustrated by it,” Randel Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in an interview. “But our reaction is to try to pick off the pits and pieces” of reform, “and this is pretty uncontroversial, though anything with immigration has some controversy.”
Antoine Jones can thank his lucky stars for the Supreme Court decision in his case this week. He had been sentenced to life but appealed all the way to the high court. The FBI had reason to believe that Jones was involved with illegal drugs, but they had nothing solid to go on. For months they followed Jones around, kept tabs on his night club and eventually put a GPS tracking device on his Jeep. After about a month, they had the goods on Jones.
The GPS information linked Jones to a stash house with nearly a million dollars in cash and loads of cocaine. The problem for law enforcement is that they had no warrant allowing them to put the GPS on Jones Jeep in the public parking lot. Until now no one really knew whether a warrant was necessary before law enforcement could put a tracking device on your car. The issue had not come up.
Law enforcement use GPS, mobile phones, bank records, highway toll records and other electronic means to track people without warrant. The technology has moved so quickly that there is now no legal guidance on the issue of this kind of surveillance. And the new technologies do not fit into the old framework of the 4th amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” The problem here is that Jones was not complaining that his home or his person was searched. Nonetheless the court felt that the Government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a “search.” And whenever the government does engage in physical intrusion of a constitutionally protected area in order to obtain information, that intrusion may constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment.” By attaching the GPS to the Jeep the government trespassed upon a private, protected area.Unanswered Questions, other location tracking
It used to be that the constitution protected people against the government trespassing on their private property, or sticking its nose in places where we had a right to expect some privacy…an expectation of privacy. But the transmission of electronic signals involves no trespass. This leaves many questions unanswered. The ruling does not give guidance on what the government may or may not do.
Some argue that the Fourth Amendment, as a whole, was only meant to protect "things" from physical search and seizure; it was not meant to protect personal privacy. Congress needs to step up and pass the GPS Act now languishing in the legislative pipeline. No one wants the FBI poking around their cell phones or tracking them through tolls on the public highway
Nearly two out of three Americans (64%) are dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country, down slightly from 72% in January 2008. About one in four (28%) are satisfied.
The latest results are from a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 5-8, 2012, to assess the mood of the nation at the start of this presidential election year. Americans' dissatisfaction with immigration ranks 3rd highest among 17 issues Gallup asked about.
Gallup posed a follow-up question only to those who say they are dissatisfied with the current level of immigration, asking whether the level of immigration should be increased, decreased, or remain the same. The net result is that 42% of all Americans are dissatisfied with the level of immigration and want it decreased -- down from 50% four years ago. Just 6% are dissatisfied and want the level of immigration increased, unchanged from 2008 but slightly higher than in previous years.
Gallup's question does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, a distinction that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought up in Monday night's debate in South Carolina.
With the exception of the controversy over Arizona's immigration law, which Americans tended to favor when it was enacted, immigration has not received significant national attention over the past four years. Perhaps as a result, and because of seemingly more pressing economic issues, immigration is not high on Americans' priority list at the moment.
Still, immigration could become an election issue, because the majority of Republicans and conservatives are dissatisfied and in favor of less immigration. Most independents and Democrats are dissatisfied with the level of immigration and generally tilt toward decreased immigration. Among party and ideology groups, only liberals are more satisfied than dissatisfied on this issue.
The bottom line is that immigration has not been a top legislative priority or a top concern in Americans' eyes as the nation has focused more on its economic and financial troubles. Still, nearly two out of three Americans remain dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country today. As such, it is an issue that could generate strong feelings during the presidential election campaign or if a major legislative proposal comes to the forefront.
At the same time, 54% said they would want their representative to vote in favor of the DREAM Act when that issue was being debated in 2010.
While the current survey did not include enough Hispanics to meaningfully report on their views, immigration is an important issue to this key voting constituency. As such, President Obama and his Republican rivals may seek to raise the issue in the campaign. Americans, and especially older Americans, Republicans, conservatives, and those in the South, will likely welcome proposals aimed at decreasing immigration.
Fox News reports that a 15-year-old Wisconsin boy who wrote an op-ed opposing gay adoptions was censored, threatened with suspension and called ignorant by the superintendent of the Shawano School District, according to an attorney representing the child.
Wegner, a student at Shawano High School, was asked to write an op-ed for the school newspaper about whether gays should be allowed to adopt. Wegner, who is a Christian, wrote in opposition. Another student wrote in favor of allowing gays to adopt. Wegner used Bible passages to defend his argument, including Scripture that called homosexuality a sin.After the op-ed was published, a gay couple whose child attend s the high school, complained.
The school immediately issued an apology – stating Wegner’s opinion was a “form of bullying and disrespect.” “Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”
The 15-year-old was ordered to the superintendent’s office where he was subjected to hours of meetings and was accused of violating the school’s bullying policy.“ The superintendent called him ignorant and said he had the power to suspend him,” The boy’s parents were never notified.
The superintendent gave him a chance to say he regretted writing the column. When the young man stated that he did not regret writing it, and that he stood by his beliefs, Superintendent Carlson told him that he ‘had got to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with him about this topic’.
The superintendent allegedly told Wegner said he was personally offended by the boy’s column.
“He was asked to write an article in the newspaper overseen by a faculty adviser,” he said, suspecting the superintendent was specifically outraged over the Bible verses Wegner had used.
“The superintendent wants everyone to accept homosexuality as normative and homosexual adoption as something that should be standard practices,” said the boy’s lawyer, “In doing so, he’s belittling the views and the biblical views of many people across this country. He is playing a zero-sum game. He’s not interested in dialogue. He wants to cram his view down the throat of everyone else and will not tolerate an opposing viewpoint.”
The attorney said an apology from the superintendent may not suffice – and they may consider taking legal action.
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Last year the U.S. government unveiled a nationwide initiative to combat immigration services scams. The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are leading this historic effort. Many people offer help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all are authorized to do so. While many of these unauthorized practitioners mean well, all too many of them are out to rip you off. This is against the law and may be considered an immigration service scam
This initiative targets immigration scams involving the unauthorized practice of immigration law which occurs when legal advice or representation regarding immigration matters is provided by an individual who is not an attorney or accredited representative.
ICE has also long been pursuing immigration services fraud cases in part through its Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force offices across the country. In a recent case in West Palm Beach, Fla., ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested an individual in May of 2010 who had posed as an attorney and processed more than 3,000 fraudulent immigration applications.
ICE says Notarios and other illegal immigration service providers take advantage of unsuspecting immigrants trying to navigate the immigration system,” said ICE Director John Morton. “ICE will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to combat notario fraud and protect the integrity of the legal immigration system.”
Driver license scam
Undocumented immigrants across the country illegally obtained Missouri identification documents through an elaborate scheme, say law enforcement authorities.Officials say that 14 people have been charged in a $5 million conspiracy to provide thousands of Missouri identification documents to undocumented immigrants through a St. Joseph fee office.
According to the indictment the scheme started in November 2009 and involved more than 3,500 driver's licenses issued to undocumented immigrants from across the country. The defendants who live in San Antonio purchased state-issued birth certificates and Social Security numbers from Texas residents, then sent them to Missouri.The scammers then went with the undocumented immigrants to the license office to act as interpreters, using the Texas documents to get driver's licenses.
They charged undocumented immigrants paid $1,500 to $1,600 for the licenses.The Kansas City Star reports that immigrants who received the illicit documents face deportation and possible criminal charges.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.
The Puerto Rico Connection
In a press release on January 12 ICE reports the largest single fraud case ever for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.Hundreds of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and driver's licenses were sold for up to $2,500 a set as part of a black market ring based in Puerto Rico that operated from since at least April 2009, according to ICE Director John Morton.
"The vast majority were legitimate documents obtained by fraudulent or false means," he said.
The alleged ring consisted of suppliers, runners and brokers, who made coded phone calls asking for "skirts" for female customers and "pants" for male customers in specific "sizes", which referred to ages and identities sought, according to ICE.The documents would be sent through priority or express mail from Puerto Rico to brokers that operated in at least 15 states including Ohio, Texas, Florida and North Carolina, officials said.
Those documents often were then used to apply for a driver's license or a U.S. passport or to commit financial fraud.Puerto Ricans are often an attractive target because they are U.S. citizens with Hispanic surnames.
Morton said another 20 arrest warrants were issued on Wednesday in separate but similar cases, with 61 of 70 suspects either arrested or whose surrender was arranged.The investigation began with a tip from police in Illinois, which led to a nearly two-year undercover operation called "Island Express."
In July 2010, Puerto Rico began annulling all old birth certificates and began issuing new ones with security features to cut down on theft and fraud cases. Morton and Breuer declined to comment on whether the measure has worked.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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FOX and ABC found themselves in the Supreme Court last week defending against FCC charges of profanity and obscenity on the air. This issue has come up, in large part, because of the broadcast of the 2004 Super Bowl, incident during which Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast for a split second during their halftime show. The event that came to be known as “Nipple gate.” The law was changed to increase the fines for the utterance of profanity tenfold, from $32,000 to $320,000 for a single instance of indecent speech…which means that the fine for a single expletive during a broadcast could run into the millions.
The Supreme Court has been asked to weigh the constitutionality of the FCC punishing bad language and nudity on broadcast TV. Fox is involved because of awards shows on which Cher and Nicole Richie spewed the F bomb. ABC is challenging a fine over an "NYPD Blue" episode in which a young boy sees a woman's “backside”. They've been fighting over this for almost a decade.
In the United States, unlike some countries where government owns all broadcasting TV and radio stations, TV and radio stations are privately owned. But the Electromagnetic spectrum has limited capacity, so the FCC assigns frequencies to stations and issues them licenses. A license does not mean that broadcasters own the frequency; they have the privilege of using it only temporarily. The government owns the spectrum and the courts have said that the FCC can impose certain conditions on broadcasters.
For the networks, this is no laughing matter. ABC was fined for several instances when the word “bullshit” was uttered in an episode of NYPD Blue, and CBS was fined because a guest used the word “bullshiter” to describe a contestant on Survivor. The problem is that some of the comments were unscripted so the networks had no opportunity to clean up the language.
To make matters even more complicated, the words were just fleeting expletives. When Cher in her acceptance speech at the Billboard Music Awards said: “People have been telling me I’m on the way out right? So f… em”. The network was found guilty of indecency. And remember Nicole Riche at the 2003 Billboard Awards, she made an unscripted remark that put the net work in hot water: “Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse?” she asked, “It’s not so f…… simple”
The world has changed. We now face a media landscape that we could not have imagined back when cable hit the market. In 1978 the internet was still run by the Defense Department with a few hundred users. Face book, U tube and Twitter did not exist. Today Cable is almost as popular as network TV, if not more so. Every TV sold in the U.S. has a V chip which allows parents to block programs. And there are scores of other devices that can be used to keep forbidden content from children. Even a simply password can keep kids away from adult content.
... "What the government is asking for, is a few channels where you can say ... they are not going to hear the s-word, the f-word. They are not going to see nudity." Said Justice Roberts. The short answer is, use the V chip and other technology. Most Americans don’t find “dick’ “dickhead” “pissed off” and “smart ass” to be offensive. The FCC is overreaching when it imposes $million fines or threatens to lift a broadcaster’s license because these words are uttered in the course of a broadcast.
Newspapers in North Carolina last week were abuzz with the news that a task force appointed by the governor had recommended $50,000 compensation for people who were sterilized under the state’s eugenics program. The Charlotte Observer a few years back ran a series on the sordid history of this shameful chapter of North Carolina history. The state is trying to make amends for its shameful acts in an era when the idea of racial superiority was in vogue.
The story has touched a tender spot in the American subconscious where it has lain for nearly 100 years. Like one who has escaped punishment for a hidden crime, the guilt has eaten away at us. The payment of money to those directly harmed may salve uneasy consciences, but no amount of money can repair the damage to generations of children who were subject to the stigma of legal inferiority.
Mostly black were sterilized; wives daughters, sisters, brothers the young and those thought to be mentally retarded. What is especially sad is that the movement to smarten up the race, received backing from those who ought to have known better. The Rockefeller foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and J H Kellogg were among stalwarts of the time who provided funding to the “Race Betterment Foundation”. Margaret Sanger, whose name can be found on the masthead of Planned Parenthood, thought it was a good way to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life.
What is most disheartening about this episode is that it was championed by the educated, the rich and the respected. The Immigration Restriction League, founded in 1894 by recent Harvard University graduates, the League sought to bar what it considered inferior races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock.
But for me the most damming testimony of the times were these words written by a revered justice of the Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes:
“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for the entire world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.” Justice Holmes concluded his argument by declaring that "Three generations of imbeciles are enough".
At the height of the race betterment movement, 33 states had passed laws similar to North Carolina’s. Eventually with enlightenment, they were all repealed. Other states need to follow the lead of North Carolina and not just apologize for the misguided act of crass discrimination but compensate the victims some of whom are still around.
“Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems? Make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit — and then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they can go back. And open the border both ways by understanding their problems.”
I am willing to bet if you ask Americans who spoke those words, most would get the answer wrong. Sounds like something Obama would say, or perhaps Bill Clinton or one of the democratic leaders of the senate. Well, it’s none of those. In fact those words were uttered by a Republican, Ronald Reagan, who in 1986 pushed through the only amnesty bill that we have seen. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants who had been in the United States before 1982, but made it a crime to hire illegal immigrants. The idea was to regularize the status of those already here and tighten border and employment controls to discourage further illegal immigration.
The only other president to offer an amnesty bill was Republican George Bush in 2007. Yet to read the press you’d think Republicans are vile racists who despise immigrants and want a fence to keep them out. One writer in National Review Online said:
“Immigration has loomed larger as an issue in the Republican presidential debates than it does in the minds of most voters. Driven by a minority of activists in their party, the candidates have been drawn into an unhealthy competition to see who can sound the harshest in cracking down on low-skilled illegal immigrants from Latin America. So far the biggest loser in the competition is the Republican Party. The party is losing out because the rhetoric brings us no closer to actually solving the problem, while driving away voters crucial to the party’s long-term success.’
What is true is that immigration is still a hot button issue. It looms large not just in the minds of Republican candidates, but in the mind of President Obama just as much if not more so. And it is not just a minority of activists. When asked whether the government was doing enough to control the border and screen those allowed into the country, 76 percent said the government was not doing enough and only 19 percent said the government was doing enough. While self-identified conservatives were the most likely to think not enough was being done (83 percent), 74 percent of liberals and 75 percent of moderates also indicated that enforcement was insufficient.
Reagan and Bush were friendly to immigration
National Review says ‘Conservatives should be friendly to immigration, and the first to seek expanded opportunities for legal immigration.’ Reagan and Bush were conservatives. No one can accuse them of raising hopes with campaign promises to make comprehensive immigration reform a top priority and then running for cover when the political storm hit. What president Obama said is that the “congress did not have the stomach” to take up immigration reform now. The president expends all of his efforts battling states that dare to enforce the present provisions of the same 1986 law that granted amnesty.
The 1986 amnesty legislation called for a three-pronged approach: amnesty, tighter border security and employer sanctions: Amnesty was aimed at two sets of undocumented immigrants: those already rooted in the United States and agriculture workers. Supporters said undocumented immigrants would be allowed to come out of the shadows, pay taxes and climb the economic ladder. Critics feared it would spur more illegal immigration and unfairly reward lawbreakers.
• Border security called for a 50 percent increase in Border Patrol agents, up from the nearly 3,700 at the time.
• President Reagan described the employer sanctions as the bill's "keystone." The sanctions created fines for knowingly hiring unauthorized workers and criminal penalties for repeat offenders. The fines ranged from $250 to $10,000 for each unlawful worker. Reagan and supporters said cracking down on employers would deplete the job magnet drawing undocumented immigrants to the United States.
Back to the future
Now once more, we are right back where we started. It seems we want to cherry pick the law taking what suits us and discarding the parts we don’t like. Over 3 million people were granted amnesty in 1986. But because we failed to enforce the sanctions for hiring unauthorized workers we are once again in the same conundrum in which we found ourselves when amnesty was granted in 1986. This time the number of illegal immigrants has quadrupled to 12 million.
The job magnet wasn't turned off. The government never followed through on the promise to crack down on employers. The government at times tried to come down hard, but then backed off after outcries from employers, the ACLU and other activist, pro immigrant organizations.
One side sees illegal immigration as a law enforcement issue. Weak enforcement of employer sanctions, coupled with amnesty under the 1986 law, encouraged undocumented immigrants to keep coming. The other sees illegal immigration as an issue of supply and demand. Advocates on both sides need to agree that employer sanctions must be strictly enforced and they must include a mandatory, fraud-proof verification program for employers; e-verify is a good start. But I have been unable to find a single pro immigration organization that is willing to concede its necessity or usefulness.
President Reagan and other supporters said the reforms would close the door to illegal immigration, protect the sovereignty of the United States and help the country regain control of the border. That has not happened. Not a single proposal escapes the poison pen of short sighted liberals. Any mention of enforcement of provisions of the law calling for employer sanctions is savaged as anti immigrant. The avalanche of criticism aimed at every proposal aimed at correcting the mistakes of 1986 is not helping but hurting the cause of immigrants.