NY Times Editorial Board: Trump Embraces a Senseless Immigration Proposal

Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

The New York Times editorial board in “Trump Embraces a Senseless Immigration Proposal” outlines its displeasure with the proposed RAISE Act and his attempt to appeal to his supporters.

President Trump has endorsed legislation that would slash legal immigration by half, mainly by cutting the number of visas granted to relatives of citizens, while favoring people who speak English and have advanced degrees. The bill, which would do nothing to solve the country’s immigration and economic challenges, is unlikely to become law. The only way to understand Mr. Trump’s vocal support of an obvious turkey is as yet another attempt to energize his dwindling base of right-wing and nativist supporters.

More on this story, click here.

New Report Calls into Question CBP’s Use of Force Policy


Immigration Impact provides a recent report that once again places Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use-of-force policies into question.  The new report is by former Baltimore police commissioner and Justice Department official Thomas Frazie. First reported by the Center for Investigative Journalism’s Reveal, Frazier’s scathing review of CBP policy was done at the request of the family of José Alfredo Yañez Reyes, who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol Agent in June 2011 after he and another man tried to flee from agents into Mexico. More on the story here.

Immigration Debate Goes to Senate Floor

Pres. Obama speaks in support of the immigration bill. (Olivier Douliery, McClatchy-Tribune)

WASHINGTON — With an overwhelming vote, the Senate on Tuesday launched debate on an ambitious overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, as Republicans, most of whom have not yet embraced the effort, declined to stand in the way of bringing it to the floor.

But continuing doubts within the GOP about some of the bill’s central elements, particularly on border security, could doom the effort. Republicans in the Senate and House want tighter control of the border with Mexico before the estimated 11 million people who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas would be allowed to gain permanent legal status.

Democrats, who control the narrowly divided Senate, appear to be willing to accept some measures to toughen border security, but not changes that a future president or Congress could use to block the bill’s 13-year route to citizenship. They worry that pursuit of nearly complete control of the southern border, which some Republicans say is the price of their vote, is an impossible goal that would leave immigrants in legal limbo for the next decade and beyond.

Republicans remain deeply divided about whether to compromise on that point. In Tuesday’s lopsided 82-15 vote, only Republicans opposed bringing up the bill.

Trying to bridge the divide in the Republican Party is Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, perhaps the most crucial member of the bipartisan group that wrote the bill. He has been working on his own border security measure to offer as an amendment.

“I understand many in the Democratic Party and the advocate community for immigrants are asking for certainty in the green card process, but I also think we need to have certainty on the border process,” Rubio said Tuesday in the Senate halls. “And so we need to find both.”

To become law, the bill would also have to get through the Republican-controlled House. SpeakerJohn A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that passing an immigration bill into law would be “at the top” of his chamber’s accomplishments this year. He also hinted that he might be willing to let a bill come to the floor even if most of his GOP caucus does not support it. “My job is — as speaker — is to ensure that all members on both sides have a fair shot at their ideas,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

President Obama has touted the overhaul as his top second-term priority. Surrounded by law enforcement, labor and business advocates of immigration reform at the White House on Tuesday, he called on Congress to pass the “common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system.”

As the bill is written, immigrants would be allowed to transition to provisional legal status within six months after it becomes law if the Department of Homeland Security has come up with a plan for border security. After 10 years, if the plan is “operational,” most immigrants in good standing would be able to get green cards. After 13 years they could become citizens.

The legislation provides up to $6.5 billion for more drones, border agents and double-layer fencing across the border with Mexico to try to stop 90% of illegal crossings. Some sectors are well on their way to that goal, while others are less secure. But as the bill is currently written, even if this goal is not achieved, immigrants in the U.S. might still be allowed to become citizens.

“You got to give people a sense of certainty that they go through all these sacrifices, do all this, that there’s at the end of the horizon, the opportunity — not the guarantee, but the opportunity — to be part of this American family,” Obama said.

Many Republicans say that they want to support an immigration measure, but need a guarantee that there will not be a new wave of illegal immigration if they offer a path to citizenship to those who are already in the U.S.

Along with increased border security and the path to citizenship, the bill attempts to prevent illegal crossings by creating guest-worker programs for low- and high-skilled labor and by requiring all businesses to verify the legal status of new employees.

Overcoming the differences among Republicans will be key if the legislation clears the Senate and moves to the House, where the conservative majority prefers an approach that focuses more on law enforcement.

“If we don’t guarantee results on border security, if we don’t guarantee to the American people that we actually are going to get serious about stopping the flow of people illegally crossing our northwestern or southwestern border, that is the real poison pill,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, who has proposed tougher border provisions.

As the Senate began voting Tuesday, the anticipation of an unusually strong bipartisan tally appeared to be gratifying to senators who helped craft the bill. Rubio emerged from the Republican cloakroom with a smile. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) flashed a thumbs-up sign with his vote. When newly appointed Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.) voted yes, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a key member of the group, crossed the floor to shake his hand.

Still, GOP opposition is likely to swell in the weeks ahead, as those who voted to begin the debate want other changes that Democrats are not eager to make. Among those are one to require immigrants to pay back taxes on under-the-table jobs and another to bar holders of green cards from receiving certain tax credits, including those available to low-income Americans under the new healthcare law.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, offered a gloomy prediction for consensus: “We may not succeed.”

Other Republican ideas, though, are more likely to gain traction. These include requiring businesses to more quickly begin verifying the legal status of all new hires and bolstering the exit system at land ports of entry to improve tracking of those who overstay their visas. Studies show that 40% of the immigrants who are here without legal status did not cross illegally but remained after their visas expired.

Rubio has an amendment that would require English “proficiency,” rather than just “knowledge,” before immigrants can gain green cards.

Outside pressure on legislators, meanwhile, continues to build. The powerful Service Employees International Union launched new television ads in support of the bill Tuesday, while the conservative Heritage Foundation urged senators to defeat it, arguing that immigrants who gain legal status would be a drain on the government.

The Senate halls are increasingly filled with immigrants making the case to senators. Among them are many young adults without legal status who were brought to the U.S. as children. They call themselves Dreamers, after the Dream Act, a once-defeated measure now included as a provision in the bill that would give an expedited path to citizenship to those who join the military or attend college.

Source: LA Times

-Kristine Tungol Cabagnot welcomes your comments and questions at kristine@tungollaw.com.

Congress to Pass DREAM Act Before Nov. Elections?

As November elections neared in 2010, the Democratic supporters of the immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act kicked into high gear, pushing it toward an eventual vote in the House and Senate that December. The bill proposed conditional legal status for qualifying young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16, provided they go to college or join the military.

DREAM Act didn’t go anywhere in 2010, but as November nears and both major parties fight for Latino votes, expect the Democratic-backed bill to figure prominently again, along with a few stripped-down mutations as Republican lawmakers formulate alternative proposals.

Read Leslie Berestein Rojas’ analysis of the tantalizing possibilities. Is there a chance (finally) for the DREAMERs? It has been a long trek.


Credit: Video Production by Kristian Tungol at Tungol Designs.

What’s it like to Live in a Family with Mixed Immigration Status?

Are you in a family that has mixed immigration status? It’s a common situation in Southern California, but seldom mentioned outside the family. What’s it like to be part of a family where some are U.S. citizens or have legal status and others could be arrested or deported? What insecurities arise at work and school? Are there things your family can’t do that others take for granted? How does mixed immigration status change the lines of authority within a family? How do you protect one another?

Help KPCC (Southern California Public Radio, click here) understand how a mix of immigration statuses works within the same family. Responses are confidential, and seen only by journalists. Nothing published without your permission.

ICE Begins Second Round of Deportations to Haiti During Humanitarian Crisis

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security has resumed deportations of Haitian nationals. On a conference call this morning, U.S. officials confirmed that they have received no assurances that the 19 individuals who were deported will be treated humanely upon their arrival in Haiti. In response, the Center for Constitutional Rights, University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic and Immigration Clinic, FANM/Haitian Women of Miami, Alternative Chance, and Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center issued the following statement:

This morning, the United States deported a second group of Haitian men to face jail and death in post-earthquake Haiti. In January, a 34-year-old man, Wildrick Guerrier, died only 9 days after being deported to Haiti. Guerrier and 26 other men were jailed without being provided with clean water or food and were held in a cell covered with human feces and vomit. Guerrier and other men fell ill, exhibiting cholera-like symptoms, and were refused medical care.

As acknowledged by the U.S. State Department, conditions have only worsened since the January 2010 earthquake that caused ICE to suspend deportations. Haiti is reeling under a cholera epidemic, social unrest, and unsafe and deteriorating tent camps housing over 1.2 million displaced people. Haiti also continues its practice of jailing deportees with past criminal records under life-threatening conditions.

Yet ICE unexpectedly announced in December 2010 that it was lifting the ban on deportations to Haiti for individuals with past criminal records and began rounding up Haitian community members.

Before the first plane to Haiti left on January 20, a wide range of immigrants’ rights and human rights organizations warned that deportation could be a death sentence. On January 6, our organizations petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to instruct the United States to halt the deportations. On February 4, the IACHR issued an order urging the United States not to deport the Haitian petitioners to Haiti and expressing serious concern about the deportations separating families and placing people with medical conditions in life-threatening conditions.

The cholera epidemic has resulted in over a quarter of a million known cases in Haiti with 4,717 reported deaths as of March 18, 2011. Even more alarming, a new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Harvard Medical School, published March 16, 2011 in the journal Lancet, is predicting that there could be nearly twice the number of previously expected cases of cholera – up to 779,000 – between this March and November 2011 alone. The U.S. government claims it is working with the government of Haiti towards “safe and humane” removals. This is simply not possible given the conditions on the ground, particularly in the jails where deportees are held.

The United States has an obligation not to deport anyone to death. Our country must live up to its human rights commitments and immediately halt any and all deportations to Haiti.

For more information visit www.StopHaitiDeportations.org and CCR’s legal case page.


What an immigrant would say to Boehner

InWhat an immigrant would say to Boehner” by Edward Schumacher-Matos, an immigrant explains by letter immigration and immigrants to possible new Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner.

Please accept congratulations from an immigrant on your victory this week. I think I speak on behalf of all immigrants when I say I was moved by your tears Tuesday night as you realized that a barkeeper’s son is likely to become speaker of the House.

It was a great American moment – the sort that brought so many of us here, too, through the force of our own efforts, to try to better ourselves, our families and, we hope, our country – this country, the United States of America.

I myself came as an adopted son of an American stepfather, and he was from your state: Ohio. His family was the Schumachers from Cincinnati, and just the other night I was looking at pictures of myself as an 8-year-old visiting my Uncle Ray’s corn farm outside town, near the old Baldwin piano factory, on the banks of the Ohio River. I say “my” Uncle Ray because the whole family took me and my Colombian mother in as a part of them, with the generosity that Americans are so famous for. Just writing this makes me tear up, too.

But there is something that worries me and most immigrants, judging from the election results. It has to do with your party. Why do Republicans make us feel like the enemy, the non-Americans, the people you want to take the country back from?

For more click here.

Supreme Court asked to review deportation of U.S. citizen

In a N.Y. Times article by Adam Liptak describes a case in which the U.S. government is accused of wrongfully taking her U.S. citizen daughter from U.S. citizen Monica Castro and then transporting the baby across the border with his undocumented father:

“Ms. Castro later sued the government, saying the agents had no legal authority to detain, much less deport, her daughter. Nor should Border Patrol agents, she said, take the place of family-court judges in making custody decisions. The last court to rule in the case, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, rejected Ms. Castro’s arguments, over the dissents of three judges. The brief unsigned majority decision, echoing that of the trial judge, said the appeals court did not `condone the Border Patrol’s actions or the choices it made.’ But, the decision went on, Ms. Castro could not sue the government because the agents had been entitled to use their discretion in the matter.”

Here is the cert petition in the case, which was filed by Pamela Karlan and Jeffrey Fisher at the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. Download Castro cert petition

Third Circuit Decision has Important Implications for Foreign Spouses

The following is a guest post from Chicago lawyers, Dolan Law Offices at ImmigrationProf Blog:

Last June, Diana Ali of Los Angeles and Karsten van Sander of Great Britain and Germany got married following a two-year courtship. The newlyweds moved to Plainsboro, New Jersey and started their life together. Diana had an internship at Princeton Hospital and Karsten had a green card application pending.

However, earlier this month, three immigration officials came to the couple’s home and took Karsten away in handcuffs. He was taken to a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey where he faced deportation without a hearing and a 10-year ban on returning to the United States because of the mistake in his green card paperwork.

Here’s the problem, as seen by immigration officials: Karsten was in the country pursuant to the visa waiver program which allowed a 90-day stay for travelers from favored nations, such as Great Britain and Germany. The 90 days may be stayed if a green card application is properly filed. However, because of a mistake in Karsten’s paperwork, the green card application was not properly filed. Thus, immigration officials took advantage of a little used provision of the visa waiver program that allows people to be deported without a hearing (except in asylum cases) if they stay more than 90 days without taking appropriate actions to extend their stay.

The immigration officials took this action against Karsten because of a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision that was issued on April 22, 2010. That decision left foreign spouses with no defense against deportation if immigration officials decided to expel them because they overstayed their 90 days allocation in the country. Thus, marriage to an American citizen is no defense against deportation in Third Circuit states, including New Jersey, or in the states covered by approximately half of the other Circuit Courts of Appeals. Because Diana and Karsten live in New Jersey, a state governed by the Third Circuit, the decision applied to them.

Since taking custody of Karsten, and being contacted by the New York Times about this case, immigration officials seem to have had a change of heart and are using their discretion to allow Karsten to try to repair his immigration case. However, other couples may not be as lucky.

Source for this post: New York Times “Strict Reading of Visa Rule Trips Up More Couples”, by Nina Bernstein, May 14, 2010.

Dolan Law Offices are lawyers in Chicago who are committed to fairness and justice for all.

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