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06/08/10 | Reality at the U.S. Mexico Border

Washington D.C. - On Monday, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) hosted a teleconference with border and national-security experts who dissected the myths linking immigration and border violence. These experts shared their analyses of the reality of crime and violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, what the real sources of violence are, and how the U.S. should respond.  They all made the point that nearly twenty years of immigration policy focusing on "securing the border first" has failed to address the underlying issues and criminal cartels that are the real cause of violence along the border.  The experts noted that immigration laws and policies of the past two decades have, ironically, made the border less safe and have actually benefitted the traffickers and smugglers who operate at the border.

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05/25/10 | When is Enough, Enough?

Washington, D.C. - Following a meeting to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with Senate Republicans, President Obama announced that he would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and would request $500 million for additional border personnel and technology as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill.

As we have seen time and time again, efforts to overhaul the entire immigration system have taken a back seat to the political expediency of pouring more money into border enforcement.  While it is clear that border violence must be addressed, it is also clear that enforcement alone is not a solution to our country's immigration problems.  

Over the last two decades, the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement.  Since 1992, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased by 714 percent. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has grown by 390 percent.  Interior enforcement has expanded as well, and detentions and deportations are at record levels.  However, during the same time period, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has roughly tripled from 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.9 million in 2008. Yet close family members of American families continue to wait in visa backlogs that routinely last 5 to 7 years, and Americas competitiveness in the global market place is challenged by difficulties recruiting and retaining exceptional foreign workers.  

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05/20/10 | Second Grader Speaks to First Lady on behalf of 5.5 Million Children in the U.S.

Washington D.C. - In the midst of a loud, long and contentious battle over immigration, a soft voice emerged yesterday which spoke volumes about our nation's broken immigration system - and the fear and havoc it creates in the lives of million of young people in America. "My mom... she says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have papers," whispered a second grade girl in Silver Spring, Maryland, to Michele Obama during her visit to that school yesterday. Her honesty was powerful testimony on behalf of 5.5 million children (75% of which are U.S. Citizens) in America, who have at least one parent without proper immigration status. 


For several years a range of academics have documented the powerful effect this uncertain future is having on the lives of children in America. The Immigration Policy Center has produced fact sheets and provides links which highlight these various studies.

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05/18/10 | Anti-Immigrant Group Recommends Economic Self-Destruction for Arizona

Washington D.C. - In data released "exclusively to FoxNews.com," the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - architects of the new Arizona law SB1070 - claim that unauthorized immigrants in Arizona are costing the state's taxpayers $2.7 billion per year for education, medical care, and incarceration. The release of this "fiscal analysis" takes advantage of the absence of any legitimate economic analysis by the state on what SB1070 will cost. However, judging from FAIR's track record when it comes to these kinds of state estimates, it is likely that their numbers are virtually meaningless. In its most recent state studies on unauthorized immigration in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, for instance, FAIR has dramatically exaggerated the fiscal "costs" imposed by unauthorized immigrants by including schooling and medical care for their native-born, U.S.-citizen children in its estimate, and conveniently forgetting to account for the economic role that unauthorized workers play as consumers who help support local economies.

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04/23/10 | Implementation Costs of SB 1070 to One Arizona County

Washington D.C. - Today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may sign into law a bill that has the potential to sink her state much deeper into the red than it already is. Touting a $10 million investment into local law enforcement from discretionary federal stimulus money the state received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Brewer is gambling with Arizona's economy. The costs associated with SB 1070 have not been quantified by the Arizona legislature but it is safe to assume that $10 million dollars is only a drop in the bucket towards what it would actually cost to enforce this law. 

In Arizona, when a bill is introduced in the state legislature, a "fiscal note" is attached which lays out the cost of implementation. In the case of SB 1070, the accompanying fiscal note is shockingly lacking in detail, concluding that "the fiscal impact of this bill cannot be determined with certainty. We do not have a means to quantify the number of individuals arrested under the bill's provisions or the impact on the level of illegal immigration." At a time when Arizona is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, however, enacting an enforcement program that will surely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars is fiscally irresponsible at best.

In the absence of any current fiscal data on the cost of SB 1070's implementation, some Arizonans are pointing to a fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden in response to similar legislation proposed in 2006. Yuma County is one of Arizona's 15 counties, with a population of about 200,000.

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04/21/10 | How Much Will Arizona's Immigration Bill (SB1070) Cost?

Washington, D.C.- Frustrated by Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, states across the country continue considering legislation that relies heavily on punitive, enforcement-only measures which not only fail to end unauthorized immigration but also have the potential to dig their state's finances deeper into a hole.

The latest example of this kind of policy nose dive is in Arizona. A recent bill, "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (SB 1070), was passed by the Arizona State legislature and awaits the signature of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. As the Governor ponders whether or not to put her signature on SB 1070, she should consider the potential economic impact of the bill, which would require police to check a person's immigration status if they suspect that person is in the United States illegally. This bill, if it becomes law, will likely affect not only unauthorized immigrants, but all immigrants and Latinos in general. Given the vital role that immigrants and Latinos play in Arizona's economy, and considering Arizona's current budget deficit of $3 billion dollars, enacting SB 1070 could be a perilous move.

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04/09/10 | Immigration Reform with Legalization Does Help U.S. Economy and Newly Legalized

Washington D.C. - A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), entitled Immigrant Legalization: Assessing the Labor Market Effects, yields both some enlightening and some potentially misleading results about the likely impact of a legalization program.  Because the PPIC report focuses on legal status acquired under current immigration law, it does not reflect the long-term benefits and gains that follow from a comprehensive immigration reform package which includes legalization.

While the PPIC report dovetails with other reports when it concludes that legalization would not have a negative impact on native workers' wages and employment, their findings on the wages and mobility of the newly legalized differ from other academic studies on how immigrants fare after legalization.  This difference can be attributed to the fact that PPIC looks at legalization only, and how the newly legalized are doing just 4-13 months after becoming legalized. Almost all other previous studies haven take a longer term view of their success.

PPIC relies upon data from the New Immigrant Survey (NIS), a sample of foreign-born individuals who acquired legal permanent resident (LPR) status between May and November 2003.  It is important to keep in mind that the NIS is not representative of the unauthorized-immigrant population as a whole.  As opposed to the individuals captured in the NIS, most unauthorized immigrants do not have a means of acquiring legal status.  Moreover, individuals in the NIS were interviewed 4-13 months after acquiring LPR status.

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04/02/10 | Enforcement Gone Wild

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a long-awaited report that offers a damning critique of the 287(g) program, confirming many of the criticisms levied against the program by community leaders, law enforcement officials, and immigration groups, including the Immigration Policy Center. Despite problems with the 287(g) program, it has recently been expanded to additional jurisdictions.

The report, The Performance of 287(g) Agreements, identifies numerous shortcomings that lead to abuse and mismanagement and raises serious questions about the wisdom of state and local immigration enforcement partnerships with ICE.

According to the report, the 287(g) program:

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03/30/10 | The Folly of Repealing Birthright Citizenship

Washington D.C. - This Sunday, the editorial pages of the Washington Post included a piece penned by journalist George Will on the topic of birthright citizenship. Will highlights a scholar who argues against giving those born in the United States birthright citizenship and characterizes the repeal of a 150 year-old constitutional tenet as "a simple reform." Normally, the idea of stripping those born in America of their right to citizenship has been relegated to the domain of immigration restrictionists and select politicians who try to exploit it for electoral gains. In endorsing this argument, Mr. Will has looked past a whole body of research which examines the dramatic and far- reaching consequences this would have on American society.

The arguments about birthright citizenship revolve around the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which affirms that all persons born in the United States (and subject to its jurisdiction) have a birthright to citizenship. A repeal of the 14th amendment is sometimes raised as a "cure" to our current broken immigration system, when in reality it takes us further away from the larger conversation that must be had about how we can fairly and efficiently revamp American immigration. Proposing solutions to the symptoms, rather than the root causes of a broken system, do nothing to solve our overall immigration problems and create divisions and dysfunctions in our society at all levels.

In the spirit of balance, the Immigration Policy Center is re-releasing our four-part series originally released in September, 2009 on birthright citizenship entitled:  Made in America, Myths & Facts about Birthright Citizenship.

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03/18/10 | Senators Issue Promising, but Vague Immigration Reform Plans

Washington D.C. - Today, in the Washington Post, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) laid out their blueprint for immigration reform legislation, noting that the American people want Congress to reform the badly broken immigration system. Their framework, welcomed by the President in a statement also released today, rests on four pillars: ending illegal employment through biometric Social Security cards, enhancing border and interior enforcement, managing the flow of future immigration to correspond to economic realities, and creating a tough but fair path toward legalization for the 11 million people currently in the U.S. without authorization. While there will undoubtedly be intense debate over the specifics of each component, the framework marks an important bipartisan step forward on an issue that has been mired in political controversy and held up by both parties for too long.

"Today's statements mark renewed commitment to providing immigration reform that will bolster the economy and provide for America's future," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "We encourage the President and Senators Schumer and Graham to go beyond words and produce legislation that will finally fix our broken immigration system once and for all." 

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