With Democrats condemning House Republicans for slashing funding for border security in their budget, the American Independent reports on two new policy briefs that argue that increased U.S. funding and personnel for enforcement of the border with Mexico are proving totally ineffective at actually securing the border.
The National Immigration Forum’s report observes that despite hyperbolic political rhetoric to the contrary, Border Patrol funding has been increasing dramatically since 2005, rising at an average of $300 million per year. Under the combined efforts of the Bush and Obama administrations, the Border Patrol now has over 21,000 personnel, twice the amount they had in 2000, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) providing an additional 3,000 agents at the border. The reallocation of National Guard troops to prevent the feared “spillover effects” from Mexican drug violence costs $300 million every year. This in spite of the fact that “crime rates were already down in the border region” before the National Guard was deployed, with border cities like El Paso, Texas and San Diego, Calif. boasting some of the lowest crime rates in the country. Absurdly, the Obama administration’s unprecedented campaign to deport as many law-abiding immigrants as possible is costing the taxpayer $23,000 per immigrant. Read more...
This issue covers a recently filed naturalization delay class action, a damages suit against USICE employees for violating 4th and 5th Amendment rights during home raids, and a recent decision regarding the confidentiality of asylum applications.
The budget recently approved by Congress to keep the federal government running through the 2011 fiscal year includes a series of cuts to major federal immigration agencies that will impact immigrants and immigration programs over the next year.
According to the American Immigration Council:
The bar on spending for immigrant integration programs, present in the initial budget passed by the House (H.R. 1), was not present in the final 2011 budget (H.R. 1473) signed by the President. Immigrant integration funding is a great investment for the U.S.—the costs are minimal, and the benefits can be huge. If well-integrated, immigrants are entrepreneurs and innovators who can help revitalize communities.
The council adds that “the 2011 budget cuts U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by more than a third ($87.7 million) from 2010 funding, whereas the initial budget would have increased USCIS funding by $41.2 million.”
Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.
The Council also states that “immigration enforcement remains the biggest part of the budget, despite what restrictionists might have you think. The 2011 budget appropriates $8.2 billion for Customs and Border Protection salaries and expenses, $574.2 million for border fencing, infrastructure, and technology, and $5.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement salaries and expenses.”
Earlier this year, the National Immigration Forum and the Immigration Policy Center — the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council — released reports that state that as part of broad immigration reform, border security and enforcement spending has to be shifted to avoid the ineffective use of billions of taxpayer dollars.
America's red and blue states are increasingly going in exactly opposite directions on the issue of illegal immigration – a testament to how difficult finding middle ground has become on the federal level.
Earlier this month, Alabama followed Georgia and, most famously, Arizona in passing sweeping anti-illegal-immigration legislation. In many respects, Alabama's is the most comprehensive bill of the three, forcing schools to report how much they're spending to educate kids of illegal immigrants, for example.
That same week, however, New York State followed the lead of Illinois and opted out of the federal Secure Communities program, which is designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants in US jails who are convicted of certain felonies. They have criticized the program as casting too broad a net, deporting even "busboys and nannies." Several days later, Massachusetts also opted out, and California could be next.
As Washington has punted on federal immigration reform, states have become the laboratories to test new approaches. The picture that is emerging, though, is one of a nation divided against itself on the issue.
In the broadest terms, states with a long history of assimilating foreign-born migrants are largely defending the ideal of the United States as a "nation of immigrants," legal or illegal. Meanwhile, states that have before been largely isolated from immigration patterns are now taking a "the law is the law" approach.
The result is a pattern that roughly fits the red-blue divide with the South and inner West opposed by the Northeast and West Coast. But the patchwork of immigration policy could have a silver lining: As states struggle with the issue, their efforts could provide starting points for more meaningful federal reform.Read more...
This Litigation Issue Page highlights lawsuits challenging government initiatives related to employment verification, including the Internet based E-Verify system and "no-match" letters issued by the Social Security Administration.
Several states and local governments have enacted laws regulating employment verification. These laws have prompted litigation, typically challenging whether they are preempted by federal law. The following cases are on our State and Local Law Enforcement Issue Page
Arizona Contractors Assoc., Inc. v. Napolitano, 526 F. Supp. 2d 968 (D. Ariz. 2007), aff'd sub nom. Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. v. Napolitano, 558 F.3d 856 (9th Cir. 2009), petition for cert. filed sub nom. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, (July 24, 2009) (No. 09-115)
United States v. Illinois, No. 07-3261, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19533 (C.D. Ill. 2009)
Gray et al. v. City of Valley Park, No. 07-00881 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 31, 2008) appeal docketed, No. 08-1681 (8th Cir. argued Dec. 10, 2008)
Chamber of Commerce v. Henry, No. 08-109 (W.D. Okla. filed Feb. 1, 2008), appeal docketed, No. 08-6128 (10th Cir. argued May 4, 2009)
June's newsletter features Milan Simic of Belgrade, Serbia, as our exchange visitor of the month, along with his winning entry to our very first photo contest -- a vibrant evening scene of rush hour in New York City's iconic Times Square.
Every now and then a piece of legislation comes around with a terribly creative acronym. The USA PATRIOT Act back in 2001 was one example. But rarely do two bills on the same issue appear in Congress with such diametrically opposed names and policy goals as the DREAM and HALT Acts.
The DREAM and HALT Acts are both currently being considered in Congress. DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors and laudably aims to offer specific pathways to US citizenship for undocumented students, most of whom entered the United States when they were very young. Despite being called a “win-win” by the Boston Globe and numerous other editorial boards as well as gaining elusive bipartisan support, the legislation died in the Senate during the last Congress’ lame-duck December session. Introduced again, it faces even longer odds in the current Congress, particularly in the Republican-controlled House, which has its own immigration “reform” plans.
Now consider the HALT Act, or Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act, which was introduced this July. Sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas and Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, the bill would strip President Obama’s immigration discretionary powers until January 2013, when the winner of the 2012 election is sworn in. Hypocritically (or forgetfully), Smith once called for an expansion of these powers. The executive branch can only intervene in deportations in extraordinary cases, primarily in keeping families together if a spouse, parent or child of a citizen is found to be undocumented.
“Current immigration law often disregards the human right to family unity,” Grace Meng of Human Rights Watch wrote in The Hill. “This power to provide discretionary relief not only helps undocumented immigrants, but provides unquestionable help to their US citizen families as well.”Read more...