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State's fast-growing Hispanic community seeks greater political voice

Published on Sun, May 01, 2011

Through two recessions, the number of Hispanics in South Carolina spiked more rapidly than anywhere else in the country in a boom that’s remaking sections of the Upstate and could soon put more Latinos into public life.

Business leaders say Hispanic small business owners now make up a key economic driver and that the growth is a likely prelude to more entering politics as the population finds its voice.

All told, the 2010 census counted nearly 236,000 Hispanics in the state, a 148 percent jump from 2000 that accounts for a quarter of the state’s total growth, though that’s partly due to a more rigorous count.

The number of Hispanic children in the state increased by 192 percent, an increase that also led the nation, according to census calculations by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Greenville County has the state’s largest Hispanic population, and it has increased by 156 percent since 2000 to 36,495 or 8 percent of the total population.

Longtime Greenville entrepreneur Ruben Montalvo believes the official census numbers are still “way, way under” the actual Hispanic population, which be believes is closer to the national average of 14 percent of the total Greenville population.

Perhaps 4 percent can vote, however, and when you add the communication challenge for many Hispanics and the national debate over immigration, he said it’s “naïve” to believe the population will be fully represented politically.

The demographic is still nowhere near the size and concentration to trigger minority voting districts under federal civil rights law, but the next likely step is more Hispanics moving into public leadership, said Dean Hybl, executive director of the regional collaborative nonprofit Ten at the Top.

It’s now the interim phase, said Wifredo Leon, publisher of Latino Newspaper, in which the population size has become substantial but hasn’t yet developed politically.Read more...

Published in the Greenville News

Supreme Court Reverses Second Circuit Decision on Post-9/11 Detention Suit

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)

On May 18, 2009, a divided Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit's decision upholding the denial of a motion to dismiss respondent's complaint alleging constitutional violations by defendants. Following his arrest and detention for more than 150 days in a maximum security detention center after 9/11 attacks, respondent Iqbal, who is a Muslim and a native of Pakistan, filed a lawsuit against then-Attorney General, John Ashcroft and other officers and officials. The complaint alleged that government officials adopted an unconstitutional policy of subjecting certain individuals to harsh conditions of confinement based on their race, religion, or national origin. Iqbal claimed that petitioners violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights. Read more...

Criminal immigration prosecution numbers continue to rise

Published on Tue, Jul 05, 2011

The Southern and Middle Federal Judicial Districts of Florida were among the top 10 districts in the nation in the number of criminal immigration prosecutions in the first six months of fiscal year 2011.

New data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University shows that criminal prosecution for illegal reentry was the most commonly recorded lead charge brought by federal prosecutors — accounting for nearly half of all criminal immigration prosecutions filed.

The data shows that the Florida districts have contributed more than 420 criminal immigration prosecutions, while clearly showing that the vast majority of these cases occur in the Southwest border states.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report notes that individuals who are not criminally prosecuted may be deported administratively. It adds that the vast majority of immigration apprehensions are dealt with via administrative actions such as “removals” and “voluntary departures.”

The data shows a steady rise of criminal prosecutions for illegal reentry, a felony offense, from 2009 through 2011. According to the authors, this charge has surpassed illegal entry as the most common federal immigration prosecution charge.

Commenting on this data, the Immigration Policy Center states that comparing the prosecution for illegal reentry data with prosecution for weapons-related offenses shows that the “federal government is prioritizing immigration enforcement over potentially far more dangerous activities, such as gun smuggling.”

According to the Policy Center, the data shows that while more than 18,500 cases of illegal reentry were prosecuted, “the number of weapons prosecutions continues to decline. In the month of January 2011 there were only 484 new weapons prosecutions—the lowest level since January 2001. Weapons prosecutions are down 7.9% from this time last year, and 28.8% from 2006.”Read more...

Published in the Florida Independent

In a Narrow Decision, Court Determines that Government Need Not Further Explain Visa Denial

Kerry v. Din, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2128 (2015)

In a 5-4 judgement, the Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circuit and found that Fauzia Din, a United States citizen, was not entitled to further explanation of why the government denied her husband a visa. Previously, consular officials informed Ms. Din without further explanation that the denial was pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B), which describes a broad array of terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility.

Justice Scalia delivered the judgment of the court and a plurality opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas. In the plurality’s view, a U.S. citizen lacks any constitutional interest in living in the United States with her spouse and, therefore, does not have a right to know the factual basis which caused the government to deny her spouse’s visa petition. Justice Kennedy concurred in the judgment but filed a separate opinion, joined by Justice Alito. He found that, assuming that Ms. Din had a constitutional interest in residing with her husband, the citation to the statutory ground of inadmissibility that the government provided as an explanation satisfied her due process rights. Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented.

Policy Report Reveals New Mexican Migration Patterns

Published on Thu, Sep 08, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Immigration Policy Center released a summary of recent data on Mexican migration to and from the United States. The data reveals an emerging new reality: fewer immigrants are coming, fewer are leaving, and a majority of the unauthorized population has been here for a decade or longer.

Although this data deals with Mexican immigrants as a whole and not just the unauthorized, it is a useful indicator of what is taking place in the unauthorized population. More than half (55 percent) of Mexican immigrants in the United States are unauthorized, and roughly three-fifths (59 percent) of all unauthorized immigrants are from Mexico.

The study comes on the heels of reports from the Pew Hispanic Center and the RAND Corporation about the state of immigration today. According to the Immigration Policy Center, the new trends suggest that U.S. immigration policies must transition away from the current efforts to drive out unauthorized immigrants with deep roots in this country, and move toward a more nuanced set of policies that help immigrants who are already contributing to the economy to more fully integrate into U.S. society.

Published in the New America Media

Policy Staff

Beth Werlin, Policy Director

Beth Werlin directs the Council’s policy and research program.  Prior to assuming the position of Director of Policy, Beth worked for over 13 years in the Council’s legal department and was involved in nearly every major legal issue the Council tackled over the last decade.  She has worked to protect the rights of noncitizens and ensure that the immigration agencies are held accountable for violations of the law.  She has represented plaintiffs and amicus curiae in immigration litigation in the federal courts and before the Board of Immigration Appeals and is the author of numerous practice advisories.  Beth first joined the legal team in 2001 as a NAPIL fellow and before that was a judicial law clerk at the immigration court in Boston, Massachusetts.  She earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School and her B.A. from Tufts University. 

Wendy Feliz, Communications Director

Quick Fact: American needs STEM workers

By 2018, the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 223,800 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workers.

Gingrich plan on immigration hardly humane

Published on Fri, Dec 02, 2011

Some right-wing critics of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich have it all wrong when they claim that his immigration plan is "amnesty" -- the code word for a path to citizenship.

Others, however, have pegged it right. The Gingrich plan would be closer to indentured servitude or semi-serfdom.

Dan Stein, president of the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform, described the Gingrich plan as a "modern-day form of slavery." The plan, he said, is an "effort to create a stratified labor force that provides wealthy employers with a way to get employees at below-market rates."

Pro-immigration groups agree. Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, says that the Gingrich plan "virtually guarantees that we create second-class status for workers and their families -- lawful, but with no real rights."

That some are calling the Gingrich plan "humane" shows just how far this country has shifted on immigration.

The core of the Gingrich plan is privatization and expansion of the nation's guest worker program. A new path to citizenship is not part of the Gingrich plan at all.

Certainly, Gingrich has identified a real problem that cries out for solution: Current visa quotas are much lower than demand for workers.

Legal visas are limited to 66,000 a year for unskilled nonagricultural workers (H-2B); to 65,000 for high-skilled workers (H-1B) That's a joke. The U.S. government issued only 150,000 visas for farmworkers (H-1A) in 2009, a small fraction of the estimated 1.5 million foreign farmworkers in the United States.

But rather than fix that system, the Gingrich plan is to throw open the floodgates for employers to hire, on an unlimited basis, workers from other countries.Read more...

Published in the Sacramento Bee