Consensus doesn’t seem to have a place in policy discussions about the state of the U.S. immigration system. But there is, at least, widespread agreement that the system needs fixing.
“Everyone will tell you the laws aren’t working,” says Brittney Nystrom, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C. But beyond that starting premise, views on immigration laws start to splinter.
“On both sides of this debate, there are deeply held beliefs about what immigration means to America,” says Nystrom. “On one side, you have the idea that we’re a nation of immigrants, and it’s healthy and important to keep that tradition alive. On the other side, you have the argument that immigrants are a burden. Trying to factually discuss immigration becomes almost impossible when people tend to fall into one camp or the other based on what they’re told.”
We are not sure how it would help the United States to see the exodus of millions of taxpayers with homes, cars, children and jobs. Yet, the hope for a mass exodus of people who fit that description is part of what inspired new immigration-enforcement laws in Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.
Best estimates say that roughly 11 million residents of the United States live here illegally. Some came here by getting away with misdemeanor border crossings. Others overstayed visas. Regardless, illegal residency is not a crime. It is a non-criminal, civil dispute with government.
Despite the Supreme Court justices’ apparent skepticism [“Justices receptive to parts of Arizona’s immigration law,” front page, April 26], the immigration status checks required by Arizona’s law subvert federal enforcement priorities and procedures. Section 2(B) requires Arizona police to verify the immigration status of all individuals arrested. This will result in thousands of additional verification requests to the federal government every year, significantly delay response times and divert scarce enforcement resources away from high-priority targets.
Section 2(B) also requires that, in the event of a lawful stop or an investigative detention, police check immigration status only if they have “reasonable suspicion” an individual is unlawfully present. Given the cursory nature of such stops, the complexities of federal immigration law and minimal guidance from the state law, police — under threat of civil damages — will be forced to rely on impermissible criteria such as race to make these determinations.
Such an arbitrary and unjust process contradicts the comprehensive enforcement scheme embodied in federal immigration law.
The Supreme Court of the United States, which heard arguments in the lawsuit against Arizona’s immigration enforcement law Wednesday, will not issue its decision until June, but opponents and supporters continue to argue the merits of the state’s crackdown.
The court heard arguments on the legality of only four provisions contained in the Arizona law, known as S.B. 1070. Analysts on both side of this issue say the court’s eventual decision will affect the future of immigration laws across the U.S.
In January, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona made headlines when she was photographed thrusting an accusatory finger in President Barack Obama's face during a confrontation on a Phoenix tarmac. Brewer later explained that the president was "a little disturbed" about her book, in which she described Obama as weak on immigration.
The fleeting exchange filtered quickly out of the news cycle, but the image encapsulated the underlying legal issue as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Arizona's new immigration law on Wednesday. Fundamentally, the case pivots on the relationship between states and the federal government when it comes to enforcing immigration law.
I have a dear friend who disagrees with me about the immigration issue -- she's a fence-sitter mostly, not sure that the state should or should not be passing legislation restricting access of undocumented immigrants to public services.
"I've got to think and pray about it more, and I'm not sure I know enough about the issue," she told me this morning.
I applaud her candor, and her willingness to suspend judgment until she has all the facts.
Unfortunately, facts have very little to do with the issue.
Two years after Arizona passed a controversial immigration-enforcement law that, among other things, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday for and against the law. Several other states, including Texas, that have passed — or have attempted to pass — similar legislation are certain to keep a close eye on the proceedings.
Analysts say that a decision will probably be rendered in June, which would leave ample time for lawmakers in Texas to mull over if or how they would attempt to write legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration before the next legislative session convenes in January. Several dozen bills — including measures making it a state crime to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant (except those hired for domestic services) and broadening the immigration-enforcement authority of local law enforcement — were filed during the 2011 session. But none passed.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case challenging Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law two years after its passage. The Obama administration has challenged four provisions of the law, known as S.B. 1070, for interfering with federal immigration enforcement. Immigrant right groups have organized a number of protests and vigils nationwide to coincide with today’s hearing. Ben Winograd of the American Immigration Council said the Supreme Court ruling will have major implications nationwide as a number of states seek to pass copycat measures.
Ben Winograd: "Allowing states to be the primary enforcers of federal immigration law would, from a civil rights perspective, have huge ramifications. All of a sudden, every traffic stop that is conducted by a local officer and involves someone who arguably looks or sounds like an immigrant could result in an extended detention and even possibly incarceration."
A clash over immigration law will go before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday (April 25), pitting the state of Arizona against U.S. President Barack Obama in a case with election-year political ramifications for him and Republican rival Mitt Romney.
In its second-biggest case this term, the court -- fresh from hearing the Obama healthcare overhaul case -- will consider whether a tough Arizona immigration crackdown strayed too far into the federal government's powers.
A pro-Arizona decision would be a legal and political setback for Obama, who has criticized the state's law and vowed to push for immigration legislation if re-elected on November 6.
WOODBURY, Minn. — When a teenage boy sits down to dinner with his girlfriend's father, he's bound to feel intimidated. That's particularly the case if the boy came to the United States illegally and the dad is a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who spent three decades apprehending violators of immigration laws. But for Alan, the captain of his high school football team and an honor student, it's like eating with family. That's because the immigration special agent who ordered the arrest of convicted Sept. 11 hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui, has taken up a new cause. Mark Cangemi is trying to help the teenager stay in the country.