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...
Flores-Villar v. United States, 564 U. S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 2312, (2011)
The Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in a case involving whether two former citizenship provisions in the INA violate equal protection. These sections imposed a five-year residence requirement, after the age of fourteen, on U.S. citizen fathers -- but not on U.S. citizen mothers -- before they may transmit citizenship to a child born out of wedlock abroad to a noncitizen. Read more...
Ishwinder Kaur, 23, hails from New Delhi, India. She is currently training in Chicago in the field of business research and administration. She feels welcome in the US, and affectionately refers to Chicago as “a city of cold winds and warm hearts." 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...
October 1, 2013 - As the US Congress delays approving a budget for FY 2014, it is possible that tax funded “non-essential” services will be suspended. “Non-essential” services are those that are not considered to be a health or security concern.
Read on to learn areas that may impact our exchange visitors in J status: Read more...
When it comes to immigration policy, the candidates vying for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination agree: the first imperative is to halt the flow of illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Immigration has proved to be a contentious issue in the Republican primary. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was lambasted for signing a bill offering in-state tuition to some undocumented students, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich drew criticism from his right flank for suggesting that immigrants with deep roots and family ties should have a path to legalization. But throughout this discord, every candidate has invoked the need to "secure the border" before pursuing any other reforms.
Before suspending her candidacy, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., proposed building a "double fence" that spanned "every mile, every foot, every inch" of the border. Perry has vowed to police the border by fortifying the U.S. Border Patrol, which already deploys a record number of agents. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has embraced the border-first approach, and his focus on enforcement helped him win the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of the harsh Arizona immigration law that became a model for other states.
"What I support is focusing on securing the border, and when we secure the border and have convinced the American people that we do not have a flow of illegal aliens coming into the country, then we can address what we're going to do with the 11 or 15 million that are here," Romney told the Washington Examiner.
The city of Austin didn’t like Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement law — SB1070 — when it first passed in 2010, and it still doesn’t like the measure today as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments for and against it.
In 2010, the city of Austin quickly passed a resolution that urged city departments to sever ties with businesses in that state.
Council members said then they wanted to send a message that they opposed racial discrimination of any kind, and they didn’t want to risk subjecting city employees to “unfounded detentions while on official city business” in Arizona.
Now, Austin — along with the city of Laredo and Dallas County — is again expressing dismay over the measure in an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 25.
Meanwhile, a leading immigration-policy think tank has issued a report stating that if the justices rule in Arizona’s favor, individuals may still bring additional legal claims to halt the policy depending on how it is enforced.
The court will review four provisions of the Arizona law, which has been enjoined by a federal district court. They include a requirement that police officers attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped if they suspect the person is in the country illegally; a requirement that immigrants register with the federal government and carry a registration card with them; a provision that makes it a crime for an unauthorized immigrant to work, apply for work or solicit work; and a provision that allows officers to arrest immigrants without a warrant if probable cause exists that they have committed a deportable offense.
The amicus brief, joined by 41 cities, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, argues that the law, and others like it, open the door for racial profiling and adversely affect community policing efforts.Read more...