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...
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that "any person" may request agency documents, see 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3), and agencies may only withhold information from a FOIA requester under certain exceptions outlined in 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9). These exceptions are to be narrowly construed, and the burden is on the agency to show why non-compliance with a FOIA request clearly falls under one of these exceptions. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). FOIA also requires that an agency determine whether it will comply with an initial FOIA request within 20 days of receiving the request. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). If the agency withholds information or is nonresponsive, the requestor may file an administrative appeal and then file suit in district court.
This Litigation Issue Page summarizes and discusses recent developments in immigration-related FOIA lawsuits. The page also provides information about attorneys' fees, non-litigation related FOIA developments, and links to FOIA resources.
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...
Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, 560 U.S. ___, 130 S. Ct. 2577 (2010)
The Supreme Court held that a second or subsequent simple drug possession conviction does not qualify as an aggravated felony under INA § 101(a)(43)(B) (“drug trafficking crimes”) and therefore does not preclude a lawful permanent resident from applying for cancellation of removal. Read more...
Contrary to the visa title, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program isn't all about the J1, but the J2s, too!
The Exchange Visitor Program is pleased to announce Tania Alves Calvao AND her son, Olivio, as November's Exchange Visitors of the Month. Each month, we select an exchange visitor who has made an effort to get involved in his/her community and explore American Culture. Read more...
As the congressional Super Committee struggles to cut the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion by next Wednesday, pro-immigrant advocacy groups are amplifying their calls to dial back on border security as a way to reap savings.
The federal government stands to save $2.6 billion a year by deporting only violent criminals, capping yearly border patrol budget increases, and ending a government program to level minor criminal charges against people crossing portions of the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, according a National Immigration Forum report released Tuesday.
The latest iteration of the 2012 Department of Homeland Security budget calls for spending $5.5 billion on Immigration and Customs Enforcement and $11.8 billion on Customs and Border Protection. That’s nearly double the spending levels for both compared to fiscal 2000, and up from $5.1 billion and $9.3 billion in fiscal 2008. Declining numbers of arrests along the Southwest border are evidence that this ramped-up spending is an unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars, the report concluded. According to government data, border patrol arrests fell about 28 percent between October 2010 and August 2011 in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.
“The number of people arrested for trying to cross the border illegally, used as a proxy for measuring the total number of people trying to cross illegally, is at its lowest point since 1972,” the report said. “We are spending more and more money so that we don’t have to apprehend fewer and fewer people.”Read more...
November 28, 2012-- The American Immigration Council's offices will be closed from 12/24/12 - 1/1/13
The International Exchange Center will be closed during the week from Christmas Eve through New Years Day.
All applications that we receive in our office after December 18th will not be reviewed until January 2nd at the earliest. Applications received on or before December 18th will be reviewed by December 21st, but our staff will not be conducting webcam interviews or issuing DS 2019 forms during the period of December 24th - January 1st. Read more...