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Just the Facts

Immigration Fact Checks provide up-to-date information on the most current issues involving immigration today.

Understanding Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law

Updated 09/09/11 -Frustrated by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform, many advocates, from grassroots community organizers to Members of Congress, have begun calling on President Obama to take action. They want the President and his administration to use the power of the executive branch to defer removals, revisit current policies and priorities, and interpret the law as compassionately as possible. The specific requests vary greatly. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), for instance, last year asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to defer the removal of young people who qualified for legal permanent residence until such time as their legislation, the DREAM Act, became law. In April 2011, nineteen Democratic and Independent U.S. Senators, including Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), reiterated the call to stop the removal of all students who meet the strict requirements of the DREAM Act. While the DREAM Act is frequently invoked, many community groups have also  called for exercising prosecutorial discretion in individual cases by declining to put people in removal proceedings, terminating proceedings, or delaying removals in cases where people have longstanding ties to the community, U.S.-citizen family members, or other characteristics that merit a favorable exercise of discretion. Read more...

Published On: Thu, May 26, 2011 | Download File

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX III)

How U.S. Integration Policy Stacks Up Against Other Countries

Integration is an often overlooked but key component of U.S. immigration policy. Successful integration of immigrants fuels their success, strengthens communities, and builds bridges between newcomers and other community members. Time and again, the influx of immigrants into a community has been shown to reverse economic decline and breathe new life into urban areas, small towns, and rural communities. Moreover, integration can be a key to entrepreneurship and future economic growth. For example, research by Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander found that nations which focus more on immigrant integration have higher levels of economic competitiveness, are more innovative, and have higher rates of entrepreneurship. Understanding how federal and state laws facilitate or hinder integration is therefore an important component of setting integration policy.Read more...

Published On: Mon, May 09, 2011 | Download File

Legal Experts Weigh in on Executive Branch Authority

President Obama’s insistence that his “hands are tied” by Congressional inaction on immigration has raised questions about how much executive power the President has when it comes to immigration. To this end, top immigration law experts, including former counsels to the agencies that manage immigration, have drafted a legal memo outlining the scope of executive branch authority and examples of its use in the immigration context.

Published On: Mon, May 02, 2011 | Download File

Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too

Estimates of the State and Local Taxes Paid by Unauthorized Immigrant Households

Tax Day is an appropriate time to underscore the often-overlooked fact that unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.  The unauthorized, like everyone else in the United States, pay sales taxes.  They also pay property taxes—even if they rent.  At least half of unauthorized immigrants pay income taxes.  Add this all up and it amounts to billions in revenue to state and local governments.  The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has estimated the state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households that are headed by unauthorized immigrants. These households may include members who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants.  Collectively, these households paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes.  That included $1.2 billion in personal income taxes, $1.6 billion in property taxes, and $8.4 billion in sales taxes.  The states receiving the most tax revenue from households headed by unauthorized immigrants were California ($2.7 billion), Texas ($1.6 billion), Florida ($806.8 million), New York ($662.4 million), and Illinois ($499.2 million) {See Figure 1 and Table 1}.  These figures should be kept in mind as politicians and commentators continue with the seemingly endless debate over what to do with unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States.  In spite of the fact that they lack legal status, these immigrants—and their family members—are adding value to the U.S. economy; not only as taxpayers, but as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs as well. Read more...

Published On: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 | Download File

E-Verify and the Social Security Administration: A Rocky Road Ahead for U.S. Seniors

Many who support deportation-only immigration measures want to expand the E-Verify electronic employment verification system. However, doing so would place enormous additional responsibilities on the Social Security Administration (SSA)—an already overburdened agency.  If SSA has to spend time and resources verifying Social Security numbers and fixing database errors for work authorization purposes, SSA will have less time and resources to handle its primary function: providing benefits to millions of deserving Americans.  That’s why the AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and other organizations have voiced their concerns over mandatory E-Verify.  In 2007, the president of the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, Inc. testified that mandatory E-Verify could “cripple SSA’s service capabilities” and negate any progress in addressing the backlog of applications for disability benefits. Read more...

Published On: Fri, Apr 15, 2011 | Download File

The Diversity Visa System: A Fact Sheet

What is the diversity visa lottery?

The diversity visa lottery was created to encourage legal immigration to the U.S. from countries other than the major immigrant sending countries.  The current immigration system favors individuals who have close relationships with family members or employers in the U.S.  People who do not have close family or employment in the U.S. have very few opportunities for permanent, legal immigration to the U.S. Read more...

Published On: Mon, Apr 04, 2011 | Download File