Republican lawmakers Rep. Lamar Smith and Sen. Chuck Grassley made good on promises to target undocumented immigrant workers when they filed twin bills in Congress this week that would create a federal mandate forcing virtually all employers to use the database E-Verify to establish their workers’ immigration status. Smith has pitched his Legal Workforce Act as an immigration enforcement bill with a twist; he imagines it also as a job creation bill that would protect U.S. jobs from undocumented workers in an aching economy.
Immigrant rights groups have rejected that claim, calling the bill a bald attack on immigrant communities that would instead hurt the economy and make mandatory a deeply flawed immigration enforcement tool.
“This legislation is another example of putting cheap political maneuvers ahead of the interests of American workers,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, the director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza. “It will do nothing to create jobs, it will place a burden on all job-seeking U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, and it will not fix our broken immigration system.”
Smith’s bill, HR 2164, calls for nearly every employer with one or more worker to use E-Verify to check the work eligibility of both prospective and new hires. Current law calls for employers to use the system after workers are hired. HR 2164 would also decrease the number of acceptable documents that workers can use to prove their immigration status and work eligibility and would make it a felony to use a false Social Security number. The bill would be phased in over the course of the next three years.
The record level of deportations being carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement includes an unknown number of immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age, call this country home and are not aware that they are eligible for deferred action.
While deferred action is not limited to youth, according to the Immigration Policy Center, “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.”
Many young people who now face deportation proceedings would be eligible for the DREAM Act, which would grant unauthorized immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 conditional legal-resident status for a period of six years, after which they would be eligible to become legal permanent residents, if they obtain at least an associate-level college degree or serve two years in the military.
DREAM Activists — a resource network for undocumented students — has been working on deportation cases of students for a long time, along with law students and immigration attorneys.
“As we started getting more cases we realized we don’t have the resources to handle all cases and they will fall through the cracks,” Mohammad Abdollahi of DREAM Activist tells The Florida Independent, “so we sat down and came up with a guide so people can figure it out by themselves.”
The Asian Law Caucus, Educators for Fair Consideration, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance and DREAM Activist together released a Removal Defense Guide (.pdf) earlier this month.
“With over 60 pages of legal and organizing support from various successful public cases, the guide aims to provide undocumented youth, families, and lawyers with the essentials for deportation defense,” according to a press release issued by the Asian Law Caucus.
Alabama now has the nation's toughest immigration law. Arizona should not compete to take back that title.
Our Legislature gave the state a break this year. No controversial immigration law was passed. No new spotlight fell on Arizona.
Yet the adjective phrase "Arizona-style" is still used to describe extreme, enforcement-heavy immigration measures such as the one just passed in Alabama.
In addition to mimicking most of the provisions of Arizona's infamous Senate Bill 1070, Alabama's law builds on Arizona's employer-sanctions law and its voter-identification law.
Alabama also goes after schoolchildren with a requirement that schools report on the immigration status of students. The idea, which has been proposed in Arizona, is to create a record of the cost of educating undocumented children as a basis for challenging the 1982 Supreme Court ruling that all children should be educated, regardless of immigration status.
Checking the status of schoolchildren will mean that kids - even some who were born in this country - will be kept out of school by undocumented parents who fear questions at school will lead to deportation. Alabama's school provisions would create a permanent uneducated underclass.
Like SB 1070, the Alabama law is built around a strategy called "attrition through enforcement." The aim is to make things so uncomfortable that undocumented immigrants self-deport.
Research by the Immigration Policy Center found that undocumented migrants often just go further underground as a result of get-tough measures. They become more vulnerable and less likely to report crime, making local law enforcement more difficult.
Other provisions in the Alabama law, such as making it a crime to knowingly rent to an undocumented immigrant and barring undocumented people from enrolling in postsecondary institutions, are also part of this strategy.
As an immigration attorney, I highly favor immigrants coming to this country legally. There is no question illegal immigration is a major issue in this country and the United States needs a strong enforcement policy. But no matter what side of the debate you're on, Alabama's immigration law will only worsen our already struggling economy.
The authors of House Bill 56 claim illegal immigration causes economic hardship. Naturally, during tough economic times, we want to blame someone else for our problems. Illegal immigrants are an obvious target since there are negative consequences to their presence, such as increased education and medical costs. But what I don't understand is why my fellow Republicans ignore the benefits they bring.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates illegal aliens cost Alabama $112 million. However, the Immigration Policy Center estimates illegal aliens in Alabama pay a total of $130 million in taxes (personal, property and sales). So, whatever "economic hardship" illegal aliens cause by their presence, they easily offset with the money they pay back into the system.
We are a nation of laws and must enforce those laws. But the hard truth we must face is, at this moment (and until we fix the broken immigration system), our economy is dependent on illegal immigrants.
It is simple supply and demand. Before an enforcement-centric policy would be prudent, we must ensure we have a sufficient supply of workers to meet our needs. The governor of Georgia realized this, albeit too late.
The word "immigrant" often conjures up the negative images of low-skilled and likely illegally residing workers. As Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council tells the Washington Post, "too often the immigration debate is driven by images on television of people jumping over fences." Yet a new report from the Brookings Institution pushes back against this stereotype, showing there are actually more college-educated immigrants of working age in the United States than those without high-school degrees.
To help understand the chart above, it's useful to look at Brookings terminology. Low-skilled immigrants are those that do not possess a high-school diploma, while high-skilled immigrants are those with a college degree, or more. The shift in the past few decades has been significant: "In 1980, just 19 percent of immigrants aged 25 to 64 held a bachelor's degree, and nearly 40 percent had not completed high school," the report states. By 2010 that 40 percent was down to 28 percent, while the percentage of immigrants holding BAs rose to 30. Mid-skilled immigrants--those that have a high school diploma or some college and no degree--are still the largest group, though the percentage has held pretty steady since the early 90's. It's worth adding that Brookings methodology did not distinguish between illegal and legal immigrants; birthplace was the sole determination of immigrant status.
It looks like good news, but not everyone sees the report as encouraging. "New college graduates are faring very poorly on the labor market, and what the report is telling us is that we're bringing in a high number of workers to compete with them," Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a self-described "pro-immigrant, low-immigration," think-tank in Washington D.C told the Post.
It seems immigrants coming into the U.S. are generally a highly-educated bunch.
College-educated immigrants now outnumber those entering the country with just a high school degree - and the variation is much bigger in urban areas, a report says.
They outnumber those educated at high school by 25 per cent in 44 major American cities - and 30 per cent of working-age immigrants now have a college degree, compared to 19 per cent in 1980.
Talented arrivals: College-educated immigrants now outnumber those entering the country with just a high school degree - and the variation is much bigger in urban areas, a report by the Brookings Institution says
An increase in demand from U.S. employers has seen more college-educated immigrants arriving in the U.S. over the past decade than immigrants without high school education, reported Yahoo News.
Only 28 per cent of U.S. immigrants are without a high school diploma and half of skilled immigrants are overqualified for their jobs, a report by the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. said.
One reason behind the rise seems to be U.S. employers favouring a foreign-born workforce because they already have the required training and expect to be paid less, reported the Washington Post.
Changes: An increase in demand from U.S. employers has seen more college-educated immigrants arriving in the U.S. over the past decade than immigrants without high school education
Samir Kumar, 39, said he looks for immigrants with the same skills and education as U.S.-born workers for his Virginia IT business.
‘They actually don't demand a very high amount of salary, the expectations are kind of grounded and they don't jump around so much,’ he told the Washington Post.
Highly skilled temporary and permanent immigrants in the United States now outnumber lower-skilled ones, marking a dramatic shift in the foreign-born workforce that could have profound political and economic implications in the national debate over immigration.
This shift in America’s immigration population, based on census data, is summarized in a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution. It found that 30 percent of the country’s working-age immigrants, regardless of legal status, have at least a bachelor’s degree, while 28 percent lack a high school diploma.
The shift had been in the works for the past three decades, a period that has seen a dramatic increase in the population born outside the United States. But in 2007 the percentage of highly skilled workers overtook that of lower-skilled workers.
The trend reflects a fundamental change in the structure and demands of the U.S. economy, which in the past decades transformed from an economy driven by manufacturing to one driven by information and technology. The report also offers a new perspective on the national immigration discourse, which tends to fixate on low-skilled, and often illegal, workers.
“Too often the immigration debate is driven by images on television of people jumping over fences,” said Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, an immigrant advocacy organization. “The debate has been stuck in the idea that it’s all about illegal and low-skilled workers.”
Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates for tighter immigration restrictions, said the report raises other concerns.
This week Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joined a growing chorus of governors standing up against the federal government’s immigration enforcement agenda when he announced that he would not enter his state into Secure Communities. The program, which is supposed to target immigrants who commit serious crimes for deportation, has been controversial in that it has deported streams of people, both documented and undocumented, who were convicted of minor offenses or, in some cases, none at all.
The Department of Homeland Security responded to Gov. Patrick by immediately slamming the door on the state’s efforts to keep out of the program. An anonymous DHS official told the Boston Globe that the state’s participation is not optional. Immigrant rights advocates say DHS is setting itself up for a legal fight over what’s quickly becoming its most controversial immigration enforcement program.
“The tide is turning on S‐Comm,” said Pablo Alvarado, the executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is coordinating a national effort to dismantle Secure Communities. “A chorus of opposition to the program is growing louder as the migrant rights movement demands a reversal of politics that criminalize immigrants.”
Under Secure Communities, local authorities mush share the fingerprints of anyone booked in a local or county jail with federal immigration authorities. People without immigration documents and documented immigrants with prior criminal convictions get marked for deportation proceedings, even if they’re never charged with or convicted of a crime. The controversial and rapidly expanding program has become the marquee immigration enforcement program of the Obama administration’s deportation agenda. It’s currently operating in 42 states, and the administration hopes to expand it to the entire country by 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a California law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, a decision that gave a boost to supporters of a similar law approved this year in Maryland.
California’s 2001 law, which grants in-state college rates to students who attended a California high school for three years and graduate, was challenged by a conservative immigration group that argued the provision conflicted with federal law. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case and did not comment on that decision.
A California court had previously upheld the law.
The law is similar to one signed in May by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Opponents of Maryland’s law are attempting to gather 56,000 signatures to suspend its provisions and put it on the ballot so that voters can decide its fate next year. Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin have comparable tuition laws.
Opponents said last week they had cleared an early hurdle in the petition drive, securing more than the 18,500 signatures initially needed to keep the effort alive. Del. Patrick L. McDonough, has said he expects opponents will also file a lawsuit to stop the law. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican, was not immediately available for comment.
Those in favor of the law cheered the court’s decision.
The state law "is absolutely lawful under federal law and the California decision is just one more in a litany of court finding making that declaration," said Kim Propeack with the immigration advocacy group CASA de Maryland.
The list of Arizona S.B. 1070-style immigration-enforcement laws challenged in court keeps growing. Now it’s Georgia’s turn.
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center filed a class action lawsuit challenging Georgia’s H.B. 87, the immigration-enforcement bill signed into law there by Gov. Nathan Deal last month.
The National Immigration Law Center says that H.B. 87 is out of step with fundamental values and the rule of law and gives Georgians a reason to fear that they may be stripped of their constitutional rights simply because of the way they look or sound.
Florida’s failure to pass an immigration bill that would have, among other provisions, required local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law and mandated E-Verify, was an issue of national interest. A recent decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Legal Arizona Workers Act heightens the possibility that such an E-Verify bill could return during Florida’s next legislative session.
According to Numbers USA, an organization that supports the concept of “attrition though enforcement” (the idea that unauthorized immigrants will leave if immigration laws are more strictly enforced), under the Georgia bill:
• Local and state police will be empowered to arrest illegal immigrants and take them to state and federal jails.
• People who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
• A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board would be established to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state immigration-related laws.
• Government officials who violate state laws requiring cities, counties and state government agencies to use E-Verify could face fines of up to $10,000 and removal from office.