By BILL KACZOR, Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida man's bid to become the first undocumented immigrant to obtain a law license in the United States met skepticism Tuesday from most of the state's Supreme Court justices.
Jose Godinez-Samperio came to the U.S. with his parents on visitors' visas when he was 9 years old, but the family never returned to Mexico. He graduated from New College in Florida, earned a law degree from Florida State University and passed the state bar exam last year.
"He's somebody who has done everything he's supposed to do. He complied with every rule," Godinez-Samperio's attorney and former American Bar Association president Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, said after the hearing.
Godinez-Samperio's case is one of a few across the country. Undocumented immigrants in New York and California also want to practice law there.
The Board of Bar Examiners in Florida found no reason to deny the 25-year-old Godinez-Samperio a license but asked the state's high court for guidance, said the board's lawyer, Robert Blythe.
"It's not really about this applicant," Blythe said. "It's a broader question."
Justice Barbara Pariente compared Godinez-Samperio's status to someone who doesn't pay federal income tax.
"The board would never recommend that person for admission to the practice of law," Pariente said.
Later, though, she suggested the court could temporarily license Godinez-Samperio. The seven justices questioned lawyers about the possibility of a limited license that would let Godinez-Samperio do free legal work and discussed delaying their decision to see if he obtains a work permit under a policy President Barack Obama announced in June.
"Somebody's trying to make it a – literally – a federal case, but we're talking about one person right now out of thousands every year," Pariente said.
Obama issued a directive to protect immigrants who are 30 or younger and entered the country illegally as children. It exempts them from deportation and offers temporary work permits and Social Security cards for those who apply. It does not provide a path to citizenship.
Pariente said Obama's policy "may or may not continue" if the Democratic president is defeated in November. Republican challenger Mitt Romney said Tuesday he would honor the temporary work permits under Obama's policy while promising comprehensive immigration reform before the two-year visas expire.
Godinez-Samperio said the election may decide his future.
"The voters need to take into account that the president they elect is going to make a lot of these policy changes," he said. "And Mitt Romney has been a failure at being clear on his immigration position."
The Florida justices are appointed by the governor and up for retention votes every six years. Three are on the ballot this year and are opposed by the GOP, a break from a typically nonpartisan election.
Justice Charles Canady also expressed reservations, citing a federal law that prohibits state agencies from licensing undocumented immigrants. He noted the case in California, where the U.S. Justice Department filed brief with the Supreme Court there opposing bar admission for Sergio Garcia.
Garcia also came illegally to the U.S from Mexico when he was a child, but he would not qualify for a work permit under Obama's new policy because he is 35 years old.
D'Alemberte, who also is a former Florida State University president and taught his client when he was a law student, said the federal law doesn't apply because the Florida Supreme Court is not an "agency." He also argued the states have a constitutional right to decide who practices law in their courts.
At least one Florida justice, Cuban immigrant and naturalized citizen Jorge Labarga, seemed to support Godinez-Samperio.
"If he's afforded a Social Security card that means he can work," Labarga said. "Then what's the issue?"
In New York, Ceasar Vargas has passed the bar exam but is waiting to see what happens in Florida and California before applying for a license. Vargas, whose parents illegally brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 5, graduated from the City University of New York law school.
The Oktoberfest of Presidential debates is here and undoubtedly the hot button issue of immigration reform will make it on to the agenda. In one corner of the ring will be the candidate who supports comprehensive immigration reform –the President – and in the other, the candidate who supports self deportation – that is, Mitt Romney.
The sides are clear, never mind the flip flopping by Mitt, his tanner appearance on Univision or his latest talk about how helpful it would be to be Latino. But lost in the talk about immigration reform is the economics or dollars and sense of the left and right policy on the coffers of this country.
So let’s examine the economics of both sides.
Under Romney’s forced self-deportation policy, billions of dollars will have to be added to immigration enforcement to kick out unauthorized immigrants who do not represent any sort of threat to the United States.
As the Center for American Progress posits in the 2010 study, it would cost $200 billion over five years to deport the 10.8 million unauthorized immigrants the Department of Homeland Security claims live in the United States.
Additionally, The Perryman Group in a 2008 report estimates that the long-term negative effect of eliminating the unauthorized workforce would include roughly $245 billion in lost GDP and 2.8 million lost jobs.
Further, Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda in a 2010 study conducted for the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress claims that deporting millions of unauthorized workers and consumers would damage the U.S. economy by reducing the U.S. GDP by 1.46 percent annually. This would amount to a $2.6 trillion cumulative loss in GDP over 10 years, not including the actual costs of deportation.
As if that’s not enough, a 2009 Cato report estimates that “a policy that reduces the number of low-skilled immigrant workers by 28.6 percent compared to projected levels would reduce U.S. household welfare by about 0.5 percent, or $80 billion” in 2019.
As for rounding up and incarcerating undocumented migrants – it costs roughly $166 per day for the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency to detain one person or $5.5 million per day to detain 33,400 people in over 250 facilities, according to estimates by the National Immigration Forum.
Now you know what Romney’s policy stance will cost, let’s look at the economics on comprehensive immigration reform as proposed by President Obama.
The 2006 immigration reform bill, which included a legalization program, would have more than paid for its reform provisions through increased tax revenue.
The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that, as originally introduced on April 7, 2006, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 would have generated $66 billion in new revenue during 2007-2016 from income and payroll taxes, as well as various administrative fees.
This additional revenue would have more than offset the $54 billion in new “direct spending” during 2007-2016 for refundable tax credits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and food stamps for newly eligible immigrants and their families.
Meanwhile, a 2010 study by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, conducted for the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress, estimates that immigration reform which includes legalization of unauthorized immigrants and the creation of more flexible channels for legal immigration in the future would add at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years.
Over the first three years, higher personal income would generate increased consumer spending – enough to support 750,000 – 900,000 jobs in the United States – as well as increased tax revenues of $4.5-$5.4 billion.
The benefits of additional growth in the gross domestic product would be spread broadly throughout the U.S. economy, but immigrant-heavy sectors such as textiles, electronic equipment, and construction would see particularly large increases.
A 2009 report by the libertarian CATO Institute also found that “the positive impact for U.S. households of legalization…would be 1.27 percent of GDP or $180 billion” in 2019.
Further, several past studies have found that immigrants who received legal status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act went on to acquire more education, earn higher wages, move out of poverty, and buy homes.
A 2009 study by Rob Paral & Associates for the Immigration Policy Center found that “IRCA immigrants age 25-34 years in 1990 experienced an increase of 41 percentage points in home ownership rates by 2006.”
Legal status allows workers to move into higher-paid occupations. For instance, a survey of Mexican men legalized under IRCA found that 38.8 percent had moved up into higher-paying occupations by 1992.
The facts are clear. You be the judge!
Driver's licenses and other state benefits are at the heart of a new battle in the national immigration debate. President Barack Obama's new immigration program will mean some undocumented immigrants will be granted driver's licenses -- and some will not, depending on where they live. It's the first sign that states will differ dramatically in their implementation of the President's program.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer fired the opening salvo last week, on the same day that federal authorities began accepting applications for a program aimed at helping tens of thousands of young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.
Brewer ordered officials in her state not to provide driver's licenses or any other benefits to immigrants granted "deferred status" under the new federal program, which allows accepted applicants to remain in the United States and work without fear of deportation for at least two years
A lot of these issues are in uncharted waters. In this particular area, which is how do you treat people that are deferred action, there's very little legal precedent to go by," said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at the New York University School of Law. "States are making their own judgments."
That means the actual benefits recipients see could depend on where they live.
Governors in Nebraska and Texas have already followed Brewer's lead.
"The state of Nebraska will continue its practice of not issuing driver's licenses, welfare benefits or other public benefits to illegal immigrants unless specifically authorized by Nebraska statute," Gov. Dave Heineman said Friday.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said that the federal immigration "directive does not undermine or change our state laws," writing in a letter to the state's attorney general that the federal guidelines "confer absolutely no legal status whatsoever" on any immigrant who qualifies.
But California is moving toward granting licenses to the influx of undocumented immigrants expected to take advantage of the federal policy, as is Oregon.
"We're still trying to sort out what this new limbo category means for states," said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who arrived in the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military, can get a two-year deferral from deportation and apply for work permits.
A memo outlining the Obama administration's policy states that the program does not grant legal status. But it does provide for a work permit and, presumably, the benefits that come with it.
A Texas driver’s license is among the top documents that undocumented immigrants need to get to a job. A new initiative to provide work permits and “deferred action” on deportations for certain illegal immigrants quickly raised questions about whether those approved for work permits would get driver’s licenses, too.
The answer is yes, say officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The work permit, known as an employment authorization document or I-766, is one of the primary documents used for a limited period driver’s license. Various kinds of noncitizens, from refugees to temporary residents, now receive these temporary driver’s licenses.
“Someone who has been granted “deferred action” and presents an employment authorization document (EAD or I-766) meets the Department’s current lawful presence and identification policy,” said Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Public Safety Department. “If they are otherwise eligible (i.e. have met residency, SSN, and other requirements), they can be issued a driver license set to expire when the EAD expires.”
With a temporary work permit, the immigrants can then apply for a temporary Social Security card, if they qualify for the initiative known as deferred action for childhood arrivals, said Vanna Slaughter, the immigration services director for Catholic Charities of Dallas. In similar cases, such Social Security cards have qualifying language that ties validity to the work permit, Slaughter said.
In Arizona, home turf to huge battles over immigration initiatives, Gov. Jan Brewer said last week her state wouldn’t provide driver’s licenses. Ditto for Nebraska.
In a letter dated Aug. 16th to state agencies, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sounded tough, but nuanced. Perry wrote, “To avoid any confusion on the impact of the Obama administration’s actions, I am writing to ensure that all Texas agencies understand that Secretary Napolitano’s guidelines confer absolutely no legal status whatsoever to any alien who qualifies for the federal ‘deferred action’ designation.”
Perry added, “These guidelines do not change our obligations under federal and Texas law to determine a person’s eligibility for state and local public benefits.”
While the federal initiative on deferred action doesn’t provide legal status under immigration, law, it apparently meets the past definition of lawful presence within the state of Texas and the past practice within the state.
Perry has also supported in-state tuition for immigrants in the U.S. without proper documents. And Perry’s letter doesn’t directly mention driver’s licenses.
“He is really doing a balancing act,” said Dan Kowalski, an Austin-based immigration attorney who edits an immigration law website. “He is placating the Tea Party and trying not to [anger] Latino voters.”
The Migration Policy Institute in Washington estimates as many as 1.76 million illegal immigrants could eventually be eligible for the initiative. Applicants cannot be older than 31 and must have arrived in this country before June 15, 2012 and have five years of continuous residency, among other criteria.
California and Texas are estimated to have the largest number of young immigrants who qualify for the initiative, according to the Migration Policy Initiative.
Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Luis Gutierrez released a video message to the DREAMers on August 6 that is one of the most irresponsible and dangerous public messages from a voice of authority in living memory. It is a deep disgrace that supposed champions and co-sponsors of the DREAM Act would advise young people who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, "Do Not Hire a Lawyer." Yet Sen. Durbin said those words, doing a huge disservice to the very vulnerable class of people they are ostensibly trying to help.
These elected representatives perpetuate a dangerous source of confusion between unscrupulous "notarios" who engage in the unauthorized practice of law, and licensed, trained attorneys who are subject to ethical rules and have the ability to advise DREAMers properly on the process and potential consequences of applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
An experienced immigration lawyer who has carefully reviewed the applicant's background and documents can ensure that DREAMers file applications which will have the best possible chance of success. This is why Senator Durbin's patently false claim that "Virtually everyone will be able to go through this process without a lawyer," is so disturbing. Perhaps he has already forgotten that the Deferred Action application process includes no right of appeal, and permits no motions to reopen. This is a one-shot opportunity. Applicants must get it right on the first try, or else they face a discretionary denial that is final and cannot be reviewed.
Perhaps Sen. Durbin and Rep. Gutierrez have also forgotten that both USCIS and ICE have extremely poor track records with respect to granting any forms of discretionary relief to applicants who are unrepresented by counsel. The memos of June 2011 from ICE Director John Morton authorized broad use of prosecutorial discretion for those already in proceedings who have no criminal convictions, but the rate at which such relief has been granted in immigration courts is less than 2%. Self-represented applicants who misunderstand any of the Deferred Action criteria and thus fail to interpret their own eligibility correctly, or who get the standard right but provide documentation that USCIS regards as insufficient, or who believe that the information they provide will remain confidential, may be placing themselves and their families at risk of deportation. These are some of the key reasons why it is so very important for DREAMers seeking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to consult with a knowledgeable
immigration attorney or legal service organization, and why the message from Messrs. Durbin & Gutierrez will do real harm.
Governor Deval Patrick on Friday vetoed a bill designed to keep illegal immigrants from registering motor vehicles in Massachusetts. The bill Patrick vetoed would have required the Registry of Motor Vehicles to obtain “proof of legal residence” from anyone registering a car in Massachusetts. Lawmakers pushed the measure in response to the outcry following several fatal auto accidents caused by drivers who were in the country illegally.
In his veto message, Patrick argued that the measure would force the Registry to “identify and police undocumented people,” even though he said that is the duty of the federal government, not states. The governor argued that the measure would force the Registry to ‘identify and police undocumented people.’
The recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of Arizona’s tough immigration law “underscores the importance of states treading lightly in the enforcement of federal immigration rules,” the governor wrote. Patrick also argued that it is hard to understand how a “nonresident” simply owning a vehicle in Massachusetts jeopardizes public safety. Indeed, he said it would improve public safety if the Registry keeps a record of every car, regardless of the owner’s residency status.
Lawmakers could override Patrick’s veto but they would have to act quickly because formal sessions end on Tuesday. Senator Richard T. Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat who supports the bill, said he was disappointed but not surprised that Patrick rejected it. The governor has been an outspoken critic of efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants.
Moore said he hopes legislators commit to an override vote.
“The public deserves the protection of knowing that people who are on the roads are on the roads legally,” he said. “It’s clearly a public safety issue, and that’s why the Legislature supported it.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has started taking "bets" on its website over when Sen. Charles Grassley will die, after the Iowa Republican scolded the Department of Agriculture for advocating a vegetarian diet.
The USDA drew the ire of rural state lawmakers over a newsletter urging department employees to embrace "Meatless Mondays." The USDA later retracted the newsletter and said it wasn't properly vetted, but Grassley vented on Twitter that he plans to "eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation."
PETA, on its website, accused Grassley of fighting for Americans' right to be "sick and fat."
"We're taking bets (place yours in the comments section below) on how long it will take Sen. Grassley to succumb to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or some other meat-related disease," the post said.
"From his reaction, it seems like a pretty safe bet that he's already got high blood pressure," PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said on the site. "Were he a physician instead of a politician who truly puts his rancher money where his mouth is, he'd be guilty of malpractice."
Grassley's office rebuked PETA, calling the comments "shameful and way outside the mainstream."
"Sen. Grassley is representing his constituents," spokeswoman Jill Kozeny said. "He'd like USDA to remember who it's supposed to work for, too."
But a PETA spokeswoman told Radio Iowa that Grassley is "gambling with his own health" with his pledge to eat more meat.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., previously complained about the USDA newsletter, as did the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers," Moran said in a statement.
The offending comments came in an online newsletter to employees about "greening" efforts. The update schooled employees on ways to save energy, by using energy-efficient light bulbs, installing specialized roofs on buildings -- and participating in what's known as the "Meatless Monday" initiative.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration's new plan to grant temporary work permits to many young, illegal immigrants who otherwise could be deported may cost more than $585 million and require hiring hundreds of new federal employees to process more than 1 million anticipated requests, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The Homeland Security Department plans, marked "not for distribution," describe steps that immigrants will need to take — including a $465 paperwork fee designed to offset the program's cost — and how the government will manage it. Illegal immigrants can request permission to stay in the country under the plan by filing a document, "Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," and simultaneously apply for a work permit starting Aug. 15.
Under the new program, which President Barack Obama announced last month, eligible immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years, are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also must not have a criminal record or otherwise pose a safety threat. They can apply to stay in the country and be granted a work permit for two years, but they would not be granted citizenship.
The internal government plans obtained by the AP provide the first estimates of costs, how many immigrants were expected to participate and how long it might take for them. It was not immediately clear whether or under which circumstances any immigrants would not be required to pay the $465 paperwork fee. The plans said there would be no waivers, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress last week that the government would grant waivers "in very deserving cases." She said details were still being worked out.
"We anticipate that this will be a fee-driven process," Napolitano said.
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, Peter Boogaard, said the plans obtained by the AP were "preliminary documents" and the process is still being worked out. Boogaard said processing immigrant applications under the program "will not use taxpayer dollars" because of the fees that will be collected.
Fee waivers could dramatically affect the government's share of the cost. The plans said that, depending on how many applicants don't pay, the government could lose between $19 million and $121 million. Republican critics pounced on that.
"By lowering the fee or waiving it altogether for illegal immigrants, those who play by the rules will face delays and large backlogs as attention is diverted to illegal immigrants," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "American taxpayers should not be forced to bail out illegal immigrants and President Obama's fiscally irresponsible policies."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated it could receive more than 1 million applications during the first year of the program, or more than 3,000 per day. It would cost between $467 million and $585 million to process applications in the first two years of the program, with revenues from fees paid by immigrants estimated at $484 million, according to the plans. That means the cost to the government could range from a gain of $16 million to a loss of more than $101 million.
The government estimated that as many as 890,000 immigrants in the first year would be immediately eligible to avoid deportation. The remaining 151,000 immigrants would likely be rejected as ineligible.
The plans estimated that the Homeland Security Department could need to hire more than 1,400 full-time employees, as well as contractors, to process the applications. Salaries were included in the agency's estimates of total program costs.
Once immigrants submit their applications, it could take between two and 10 days for the Homeland Security Department to scan and file it. It could take up to four weeks longer to make an appointment for immigrants to submit their fingerprints and take photographs. A subsequent background check could take six more weeks, then three more months for the government to make its final decision before a work permit would be issued.
Napolitano said new information about the program should be made available by Aug. 1. She has said immigrants would generally not be detained by immigration authorities while their application is pending.
By: ALICIA A. CALDWELL , AP
WASHINGTON – The warnings about the Internet problem have been splashed across Facebook and Google. Internet service providers have sent notices, and the FBI set up a special website. But tens of thousands of Americans may still lose their Internet service Monday unless they do a quick check of their computers for malware that could have taken over their machines more than a year ago.
Despite repeated alerts, the number of computers that probably are infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April. Of those still infected, the FBI believes that about 64,000 are in the United States. Users whose computers are still infected Monday will lose their ability to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet.
The problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world. When the FBI went in to take down the hackers late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service.
In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up a safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet.But that temporary system will be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday, July 9.
Most victims don't even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their Web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.But popular social networking sites and Internet providers have gotten more involved, reaching out to computer users to warn of the problem.
According to Tom Grasso, an FBI supervisory special agent, many Internet providers are ready for the problem and have plans to try to help their customers. Some, such as Comcast, already have reached out.
The company sent out notices and posted information on its website. Because the company can tell whether there is a problem with a customer's Internet server, Comcast sent an email, letter or Internet notice to customers whose computers appeared to be affected.
Grasso said other Internet providers may come up with technical solutions that they will put in place Monday that will either correct the problem or provide information to customers when they call to say their Internet isn't working. If the Internet providers correct the server problem, the Internet will work, but the malware will remain on victims' computers and could pose future problems.
In addition to individual computer owners, about 50 Fortune 500 companies are still infected, Grasso said.
Both Facebook and Google created their own warning messages that showed up if someone using either site appeared to have an infected computer. Facebook users would get a message that says, "Your computer or network might be infected," along with a link that users can click for more information. Google users got a similar message, displayed at the top of a Google search results page. It also provides information on correcting the problem.
To check whether a computer is infected, users can visit a website run by the group brought in by the FBI: http://www.dcwg.org .
The site includes links to respected commercial sites that will run a quick check on the computer, and it also lays out detailed instructions if users want to actually check the computer themselves.
We're not finished cheering, hugging and laughing with joy, but the hard-nosed among us are raising a red flag: DREAMers who may be eligible for Deferred Action and work permits under the new policy announced by DHS and President Obama need to protect themselves from notarios and other scammers.
Thieves of all stripes are drooling at the prospect of nearly a million kids, hungry for documentation, willing to pay almost anything for a work permit. No doubt hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people have parted with precious savings in the hopes of a quick fix, even though the ink is not yet dry on the new policy.
Immigrants have always been a vulnerable population, and kids doubly so. It's critical for immigrants seeking Deferred Action and work permits under the new policy to get accurate information and representation by licensed (and experienced) attorneys or "Accredited Representatives."
Accredited Reps, as they are known, are non-lawyers who are authorized by the federal government to advise and represent individuals in immigration cases. They have passed an examination and are supervised by experienced immigration attorneys.
Every major city has one or more low-cost or free legal service provider well-versed in immigration law. They often are staffed by a potent combination of attorneys and Accredited Reps. DREAMers seeking work permits and Deferred Action should turn first to those agencies, and firmly reject the enticements of the corner notario and similar wolves.
Now more than ever, immigrants, especially young DREAMers, need to explore this Deferred Action initiative with the right representation, and to avoid victimization.