Tag: immigration policy

Supreme Court Asks White House to Take a Stance on State Immigration Laws

Supreme Court, by Sam Ruaat/FlickrThe U.S. Supreme Court wants the Obama administration to offer its opinion on state immigration laws, an issue that the White House has largely tried to avoid. The high court asked the White House on Monday for an opinion in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenge to an Arizona law that punishes businesses for hiring undocumented immigrants.

The Chamber of Commerce, supported by groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, filed suit against a law Arizona passed in 2007 that requires employers to use an employee verification system and penalizes those who knowingly hire people without proper documentation. A Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona law could affect other states that have taken the issue into their own hands in response to what many see as federal inaction on immigration reform.

Michael Doyle, of McClatchy Newspapers, reported the Chamber’s attorney Carter Phillips wrote in a legal brief: “This case involves a question of exceptional national importance: whether state legislatures and municipal governments may override Congress’ judgment concerning United States immigration policy.”


Immigration Reform Confrontation To Begin in Earnest: The Tea Parties Are Coming

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

A tea party on Wall Street in Manhattan on April 15 this year - Photo: ajagendorf25/Flickr

A tea party on Wall Street in Manhattan on April 15 this year. (Photo: ajagendorf25/Flickr)

A strategy that has been successful in rallying vocal opposition to the Obama administration will now focus on immigration reform: Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) will hold tea parties “against amnesty and illegal immigration” starting on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The organization created a web site called Against Amnesty to organize the events. It reads,

“President Obama along with Republican and Democrat DC insiders are preparing a mass ‘Comprehensive’ Amnesty for illegal immigrants in America that will provide a path to citizenship and turn illegal aliens into voters even though a vast majority of Americans oppose this.

“This will only bring more ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION to America!”


After Arpaio is Stripped of Immigration Powers, Conservatives Counter With A New Anti-Immigrant Bill

Workers are marched out of a carwash during Sheriff Arpaio's latest immigration raid - Photo: José Muñoz.

Workers are marched out of a carwash during Sheriff Arpaio's latest immigration raid. (Photo: www.PhotosByJoseMunoz.com)

PHOENIX, Arizona — After the recent decision by federal authorities to limit the power of Maricopa County sheriff ‘s deputies to enforce U.S. immigration laws, Arizona lawmakers are renewing a push to grant local police the ability to detain and question suspected undocumented immigrants.

A campaign in favor of the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” was launched after last week’s announcement that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had his powers limited by federal immigration authorities.

Arpaio had one of the largest forces in the nation deputized to enforce immigration laws on the streets and in county jails under an agreement known as 287 (g). But John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security, said Arpaio’s sweeps were not consistent with the program’s new priorities. Under a revised 287 (g) agreement Arpaio’s enforcement powers are limited to the county jails. He can no longer conduct traffic stops in search of undocumented immigrants under the program.


Workplace Immigration Enforcement Trampled On Workers' Rights, Report Says

Workplace raids by immigration authorities have “severely interfered with the protection of labor rights for immigrant workers,” according to a new report released Tuesday by labor organizations.

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant - Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr

A July 27, 2008, pro-immigration reform march in Postville, Iowa, in support of workers at Agriproccessors plant. (Photo: Prairie Robin/Flickr)

“The single-minded focus on immigration enforcement without regard to violations of workplace laws has enabled employers with rampant labor and employment violations to profit by employing workers who are terrified to complain about substandard wages, unsafe conditions, and lack of benefits, or to demand their right to bargain collectively,” reads the report prepared by the National Employment Law Project, the AFL-CIO, and the American Rights at Work Education Fund (click here for pdf).

The report comes as the Obama administration has continued many of the Bush-era enforcement policies, although work-site raids have been scaled back since the Democrats took over in January. Nevertheless, local police forces with immigration enforcement powers –like Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose federal contract was scaled back— had until recently continued to conduct these operations.


New York Congressman Urges President Obama to Go Forward with Immigration Reform

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley - Photo: Official website.

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley. (Photo: Official website.)

Almost two months after the deadline Sen. Charles Schumer had set for himself to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill on behalf of the Obama Administration, a congressman from New York called on the president to go forward with that initiative.

During a conference call Friday with immigration reform advocates, Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley, who represents parts of Queens and The Bronx, “stressed the urgency for action on a comprehensive solution to our dysfunctional immigration system,” according to a press release from the New York Immigration Coalition.

“We need to maintain the momentum for comprehensive immigration reform, and I’m glad that we have advocates for reform who are willing to fight for what is best for our nation,” Crowley said, according to the statement.

While Schumer missed his own deadline for introducing a reform bill in the Senate, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) has announced he will soon introduce his own initiative in the House. The bills differ greatly, since the senator’s focuses on a slew of enforcement measures and “a crackdown on illegal immigration,” while Gutierrez’s stresses legalization for undocumented immigrants, family unity and humane enforcement.



A Rogue Sheriff Roams in Arizona: FI2W’s Valeria Fernández on The Takeaway

Arpaio has been a controversial figure in Phoenix and in the immigration debate.

Arpaio has been a controversial figure in Phoenix and in the immigration debate. Pictured is a demonstration in June 2009.

FI2W reporter Valeria Fernández was interviewed this morning on public radio’s The Takeaway to talk about an announced immigration raid by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

“There’s no federal law that gives him the authority to do these immigration sweeps, but he says that he can do it,” Valeria said during her conversation with The Takeaway’s Celeste Headlee and John Hockenberry, in which she explained the sheriff’s controversial tactics to detain undocumented immigrants in the Phoenix area.

You can listen to the interview below and you can visit the show’s story “A Rogue Sheriff Roams in Arizona.”


Activists March on DC to Demand Immigration Reform and a Stop to the Separation of Families

Activists lobbied Congress members to stop deportations and pass immigration reform. (Photos: Jelena Kopanja)

Activists lobbied Congress to stop deportations and pass immigration reform. (Photos: Jelena Kopanja - Click for more)

At four o’clock in the morning on Tuesday, a handful of people gathered on the corner of St. Nicholas Ave. and Linden Street in Brooklyn, waiting for the van to arrive. The morning cold did little to temper the group’s enthusiasm as they were getting ready to head to Washington D.C. for an immigration reform march.

Nicolas Zambrano remembered the last time he made the trip two years ago. There were more people back then, filling up several buses. The economic crisis, he believes, had some impact on Tuesday’s turnout. Not everyone could afford the ticket.

Under the slogan of “family unity,” the event in Washington D.C. brought together some 3,000 people, including religious leaders, community organizers and immigrants who shared their stories about families separated by deportations. American citizens spoke about their fathers or wives being sent back to their home countries while they remained in the United States.

Listen to the story of Peter Derezinski, an activist with Chicago’s Polish Initiative, whose father was deported (English with Spanish translation):



Advisory Group Recommends Scaling Back Criticized Program for Immigration Enforcement by Local Police

Soon after taking office, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to reevaluate several criticized immigration enforcement initiatives. One was the 287(g) program that deputizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Now, an advisory panel Napolitano created is recommending that the program be scaled back, and that agents authorized under 287 (g) be precluded from pursuing immigrants who are not the target of a criminal investigation.

The Southwest Border Task Force presented its first report in a conference call with reporters this week. Most media outlets focused on the recommendation that the U.S. hire more customs inspectors for its southern border. But McAllen, Texas newspaper The Monitor reported that the group said the 287(g) program “should be limited to identifying illegal immigrants in state prisons and county jails and exclude any efforts to track them down outside of criminal investigations.”

The task force made a total of 19 recommendations to the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which will forward them to Napolitano.


Sooner Than Expected: Latino Congressman to Introduce Immigration Bill Ahead of White House

Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez will introduce his own immigration reform bill. (Photo: Rep. Gutierrez website)

Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez will introduce his own immigration reform bill. (Photo: Rep. Gutierrez website)

While President Obama’s immigration proposal seems months away from any serious consideration, a Latino congressman from the president’s hometown has announced he will draft an alternative bill by October 13 and introduce it in the House “soon thereafter.”

Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D.-Ill.) announced his decision last week, which he said came at the urging of immigrant advocates.

Obama has charged Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York with drafting the government’s bill. Schumer had said the proposal would have been ready by Labor Day but, according to La Opinión, the health care debate derailed those plans.

“Today, at (a) rally in Washington DC, advocacy groups from across the country called upon Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) to present a progressive, comprehensive immigration bill. Rep. Gutierrez agreed that he will outline the fundamental principles of such legislation by October 13 and introduce a comprehensive bill soon thereafter.”

[ Gutierrez press release ]


News Analysis: Obama, Jimmy Carter, Racial Politics and Immigration Reform

Less than a year ago, at the dawn of the Obama era, there was a lot of talk about how the nation had just elected its first post-racial president. With his multi-racial and multi-religious background, and African immigrant roots, Barack Obama represented the hope of millions that the country was moving beyond its long, tragic history of divisive racial politics.

To be sure, Obama’s election as the first black president of the United States was an historic event of immense significance. But the idea of a post-racial presidency was a fantasy. Comments this week by former President Jimmy Carter reminded us that racial politics and prejudice are alive and well in America.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter told NBC’s Brian Williams.

The issue of immigration was directly implicated in Carter’s remarks. The now infamous shout of “You lie” by Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) during President Obama’s address to Congress last week came after the president asserted in his speech that undocumented immigrants would not be covered under the proposed health care overhaul.

“I think it’s based on racism,” Carter was quoted by the Washington Post as saying of Wilson’s outburst. The former president made the remark in response to a question at a public forum on Tuesday at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

The entire episode — Wilson’s shout, Carter’s critique, and all the various charges and counter charges, accusations and denials flying around Washington and in the media – suggest a very rocky future for immigration reform. (more…)