Archive for May 9th, 2011

May 9, 2011

5/9 – USA Today – Will tough new Georgia immigration law keep visitors away? – USATODAY.com

Will tough new Georgia immigration law keep visitors away? – USATODAY.com.

By Laura Bly, USA TODAYThat’s the concern of tourism promoters, who worry that a measure patterned after Arizona’s controversial law could lead to similar cancellations in the Peach State.

By Michael A. Schwarz, USAT

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign Georgia’s bill into law this week. The legislation would allow police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects, and punish those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in the state. Supporters say illegal immigrants are straining the resources of state schools, hospitals and jails, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and they point to a recent Pew Hispanic Center estimate that says Georgia is home to 425,000 illegal immigrants – more than those in Arizona.

But opponents, including the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, fear that Georgia could suffer “the same economic impacts that Arizona felt last year after enacting the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement law,” says the Journal-Constitution.

According to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, the Grand Canyon State has lost about 40 conventions since the law passed, even though a federal judge blocked major portions of the Arizona legislation before it could take effect. A study released last fall by the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group that opposes Arizona’s immigration law, estimates that canceled conventions have cost the state $141 million in direct spending, along with 2,761 jobs and $9.4 million in tax revenue.

Elsewhere, the Florida legislature adjourned Saturday without an agreement on a tough immigration bill sought by the governor and attorney general. And a civil rights group has filed for a preliminary injunction to block a Utah immigration law slated to take effect Tuesday.

Posted May 9 2011 11:00AM

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May 9, 2011

5/9 – ajc.com – Arizona going to high court on immigration | ajc.com

Arizona going to high court on immigration  | ajc.com.

The Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Monday she will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that put the most controversial parts of the state’s immigration enforcement law on hold.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, R, speaks Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at the Governor’s Volunteer Awards luncheon in Phoenix. Brewer, who six months ago won a full four-year term as governor, says she might be able to run for another, despite state constitutional limits widely held to prevent her from doing so. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The planned appeal to the high court comes after Brewer lost an appeal April 11, when a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reverse a lower court’s order that prevented key parts of the law from being enforced.

The panel said federal officials were likely to prove the law is unconstitutional and succeed in their argument that Congress has given the federal government sole authority to enforce immigration laws.

Brewer’s lawyers argued the federal government hasn’t effectively enforced immigration law at the border and in Arizona’s interior and that the state’s intent in passing the law was to assist federal authorities as Congress has encouraged.

They also argued U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton erred by accepting speculation by the federal government that the law might burden legal immigrants and by concluding the federal government would likely prevail.

The U.S. Justice Department urged the appeals court to uphold the order that blocked enforcement of parts of the law.

The federal government argued the law intrudes on its exclusive authority to regulate immigration, disrupts relations between the United States and Mexico, hinders cooperation between state and federal officials, and burdens legal immigrants.

Less than a day before the law was to take effect in July, Bolton blocked key provisions from being enforced, including requirements that immigrants get and carry immigration registration papers and that police — in enforcing other laws — question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally. But Bolton let other parts take effect, such as a ban on obstructing traffic while seeking or offering day-labor services on streets.

The law was passed in April 2010 amid years of complaints that the federal government hasn’t done enough to lessen the state’s role as the nation’s busiest illegal entry point. Its passage inspired protests and led to lawsuits seeking to overturn the law and a debate about whether the law would lead to racial profiling.

The Arizona law isn’t the only one that has challenged federal primacy in immigration.

The U.S. Supreme Court is mulling arguments in an appeal by groups that are trying to overturn a 2007 Arizona law that prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit aimed at halting a new immigration law in Utah, saying it is too much like portions of Arizona’s immigration law.

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Associated Press reporter Jacques Billeaud contributed to this story.

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May 09, 2011 02:41 PM EDT

May 9, 2011

5/9 – ajc.com – Georgia tourism boosters brace for impact of crackdown on illegal immigration | ajc.com

Georgia tourism boosters brace for impact of crackdown on illegal immigration  | ajc.com.

Georgia Politics 4:42 a.m. Monday, May 9, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia tourism and convention boosters are scrambling to prevent the state from suffering the same economic impacts that Arizona felt last year after enacting the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement law.

As Gov. Nathan Deal prepares to sign into law a similar immigration measure, House Bill 87, tourism officials here are employing a series of strategies. They’re pointing out the differences between Arizona’s law and the Georgia legislation, highlighting Atlanta’s civil rights history and emphasizing how cancellations could hurt tens of thousands of metro area workers.

Their biggest concern is the series of cancellations that struck Arizona soon after Gov. Jan. Brewer signed that state’s hotly contested law.

In all, the Grand Canyon State has lost about 40 conventions amid economic boycotts inspired by its crackdown on illegal immigration, according to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association. One estimate says the lost bookings have cost Arizona $141 million.

Partly patterned after Arizona’s law, HB 87 is expected to be signed by Deal this week. The measure would empower police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects. It would also punish people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in Georgia.

HB 87’s supporters say Georgia needs to take action because illegal immigrants are burdening taxpayer-funded resources here. Critics say the legislation is unconstitutional and will scare away tourists and conventioneers.

Last month, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau went on record against HB 87. Bureau officials mentioned Arizona’s experience when they spoke out about what the measure could do to the region’s $10 billion tourism industry. The bureau’s executive committee unanimously passed a resolution saying HB 87 could “tarnish Atlanta’s reputation as one of America’s most welcoming cities.”

Ed Walls, general manager of the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, voted for the resolution. About 30 percent of his hotel’s business comes from conventions, he said.

“Our concern is really the perception of our customers,” said Walls, vice chairman of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association. “In some cases, groups will cancel based on principle.”

A study released in November by the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group that opposes Arizona’s immigration law, estimates that canceled conventions have cost Arizona a total of $141 million in direct spending, along with 2,761 jobs and $9.4 million in tax revenue.

For example, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., a black fraternity, moved its convention from Phoenix to Las Vegas last year. The fraternity said Arizona’s law could “put the civil rights and the very dignity of our members at risk during their stay in Phoenix.” The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said 1,489 people attended the event, creating a $1.1 million economic impact for Las Vegas.

Walls and other bureau officials are now working to prevent such cancellations in Atlanta. He said the region’s tourism boosters can remind conventioneers that Atlanta is the cradle of the civil rights movement. Walls said he also stands ready to point out the differences between Arizona’s law and HB 87, including when police would be able to question suspects about their immigration status under the Georgia legislation.

A lot is at stake. The hospitality industry is the fourth-largest employer in the Atlanta region with about 223,000 jobs, the bureau says.

“Folks that cancel are not hurting just the state of Georgia,” Walls said. “They are hurting an awful lot of people that have jobs in the state of Georgia.”

No Atlanta conventions have been canceled, though some planners have called to inquire about HB 87, said Pattsie Rand, sales and marketing director for the Georgia World Congress Center. Rand also confirmed that a convention Arizona lost amid the boycotts last year remains on the schedule for Atlanta.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council is expecting about 6,000 people to attend its annual conference at the GWCC this fall, Rand said. Last year, the council moved its conference from Phoenix to Miami Beach, saying Arizona’s new law was “inconsistent with the ideals and principles” of the group. Miami Beach convention officials put its economic impact at $6.9 million.

Asked about the tourism industry’s concerns, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said “promoting legal immigration and assuring that federal laws are followed is the best way to protect the human rights of everyone in our state.”

One organization has already announced it will cancel plans to hold its national conference in Atlanta this year unless Deal vetoes the bill. The U.S. Human Rights Network, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization, said more than 600 people are expected to attend its three-day event.

“The last thing that Georgia needs in these difficult economic times is to follow Arizona’s path and become a national pariah,” Ajamu Baraka, the network’s executive director, said in a prepared statement last week.

The author of HB 87 — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — said the network’s actions are “tantamount to economic extortion.”

“At the end of the day, we have to take strong action to protect our taxpaying citizens,” he said. “Enforcing the rule of law and jealously guarding our taxpayer resources is the right side to be on.”

May 9, 2011

5/7 – ajc.com – Napolitano: Congress must act on immigration, not states | ajc.com

Napolitano: Congress must act on immigration, not states  | ajc.com.

Metro Atlanta / State News 5:29 p.m. Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wouldn’t comment on Georgia’s Arizona-like immigration bill,  she said Saturday that state legislative initiatives are not the way to address the issue.

“This is what [President Barack Obama] has said and I’ve been saying, state by state won’t cut it,” Napolitano said in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club. “It’s got to be a federal reform of immigration laws.”

The secretary was also in town to assess storm damage in Ringgold on Sunday and to address graduation at Emory University on Monday.

Napolitano, who declined to comment on Georgia’s immigration HB 87, was governor of Arizona before taking over Homeland Security halfway into her second term. She said states are taking on immigration because of an “underlying frustration that this has not yet been dealt with at the national level, which is really where it should be dealt with so that there is national consistency where immigration is concerned.”

Immigration reform was arguably the hottest topic in this year’s legislative session. HB 87, which Gov. Nathan Deal said he will sign soon, will create new requirements to ensure new workers are eligible for employment in the U.S. and empowers police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects.

Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal, said the governor agrees Congress must address the issue, but said talks in Washington fall apart because Democrats insist on amnesty. In the meantime, states are burdened with the cost associated with illegal immigration such as schools, police and health care, he said.

“We are taking action in the only way that we can,” Robinson said.

Napolitano argued that illegal immigration is down 36 percent and said Homeland Security has beefed up audits of employers to catch those who hire illegally.

What troubles her is that the debate on the issue suggests the federal government is asleep at the wheel.

“I think these efforts on a state by state level first of all have predicated a falsity,” she said. “The falsity is that there has been nothing done, and that the border somehow is out of control. That is incorrect.”

Rep. Matthew L. Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who introduced HB 87, said he applauds any effort the federal government has made to curb illegal immigration. But he said the fact remains that states, which have had to cut budgets across the board in one of the worst recessions in history, cannot afford to fund those who are here illegally.

“Any suggestion that states should continue to wait for the federal government to do something, with all due respect, is laughable,” he said. “We have been hearing that for decades.”

May 9, 2011

5/7 – NECN(AP) – Napolitano urges federal immigration overhaul

Napolitano urges federal immigration overhaul.

ATLANTA (AP) — The nation’s domestic security chief stressed Saturday that a comprehensive immigration overhaul should be left up to Congress, rebuking Georgia politicians who recently adopted a crackdown on illegal immigration that’s considered among the nation’s toughest.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Atlanta Press Club that federal immigration laws are badly in need of a sweeping update, but that Congress should take the lead. She said Georgia residents should be focused on encouraging Congress “that it is time to get to the table.”

“It’s something that only Congress can solve, and the administration is right there saying it’s time to deal with this very serious problem as a nation and not state-by-state,” she said.

Napolitano would not comment on Georgia’s legislation, which Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has pledged he would sign. But she pointed out that the federal government has options, noting that the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block a tough immigration overhaul in Arizona from taking effect. That litigation is still pending.

The Georgia measure would require employers to use a federal database to make sure new hires are in the country legally. It also would allow law enforcement to check the status of people being investigated, even during a traffic stop, if they don’t have an acceptable form of identification.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, the Peachtree City Republican who sponsored the measure, argued that illegal immigrants are a drain on the state’s resources and that state legislators were forced to take a bold stance because Congress hasn’t.

“The federal government’s failure to secure our borders serves as an open invitation for illegal immigration,” Ramsey said as lawmakers were considering the proposal.

Napolitano said she’s “dismayed” by the suggestion that federal authorities aren’t enforcing the law.

“These efforts on a state-by-state basis are predicated on a falsehood that the federal government has failed to act,” she said. “There has never been a stronger, more sustained effort at the border.”

She said while penalties for illegal immigrations need to be strengthened, enforcement alone wouldn’t solve the problem. Lawmakers should also extend visas to allow more high-tech and agriculture workers to enter the U.S., she said, and Congress should give young people who were brought to the country illegally when they were children more leeway to remain.

“There ought to be a way they can stay,” she said. “That’s not amnesty. It’s just common sense.”

May 9, 2011

5/7 – New York Times – U.S. Warns Schools Against Checking Immigration Status – NYTimes.com

U.S. Warns Schools Against Checking Immigration Status – NYTimes.com.

Federal officials issued a memorandum to the nation’s school districts on Friday saying it was against the law for education officials to seek information that might reveal the immigration status of children applying for enrollment.

Civil liberties advocates and others have complained in recent months that many school districts are seeking children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite for enrollment. Some state and local officials have also considered bills to require prospective students to reveal their citizenship or immigration status.

“We have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status,” said the memo, from Justice and Education Department officials. “These practices contravene federal law.”

The letter cited a 1982 Supreme Court decision that recognized the right of all children, regardless of immigration status, to attend public school as long as they met the age and residency requirements set by state law.

“The undocumented or noncitizen status of a student (or his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student’s entitlement to an elementary and secondary public school education,” said the memo, signed by Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the Justice Department; Russlynn H. Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Education Department; and Charles P. Rose, that department’s general counsel.

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said it was the first time her agency had issued guidance to school districts on the 1982 decision. The Education Department did not return calls seeking comment.

Civil liberties advocates, who had been asking President Obama’s administration to clarify the law, hailed the memo. “We’re gratified that the Department of Justice has seen fit to do the right thing, to clarify any ambiguities,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, calling the guidance “a really big deal.”

Last year, Ms. Lieberman’s group found that 139 districts in New York State — about 20 percent of the total — were requiring children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants could provide.

While the group did not find any cases in which children had been turned away for lack of immigration paperwork, it warned that the requirements could deter illegal immigrant families from enrolling children for fear that their status might be reported to federal authorities.

After months of pressure from the civil liberties group, the state’s Education Department sent school districts a memo strongly recommending that they not ask for information that might reveal the immigration status of enrolling students. State education officials in Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Nebraska have taken steps in recent years to halt similar practices, immigrant advocates said.

Despite the New York memo, some school districts there continued to press for the right to ask about immigration status, said Udi Ofer, advocacy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

In Arizona, state lawmakers have considered a bill that would require the state’s Education Department to determine the number of public school students who are unable to prove lawful presence in the United States, officials said. Last year, a legislative committee in Oklahoma favored a bill to require public schools to determine, at the time of enrollment, whether a child was born outside the United States.

May 9, 2011

5/4 – Peach Pundit – Happy Cinco de Mayo to Jessica Colotl! — Peach Pundit

Happy Cinco de Mayo to Jessica Colotl! — Peach Pundit.

Happy Cinco de Mayo to Jessica Colotl!

May 5, 2011 15:49 pm

by Mike Hassinger · 14 comments

Because there’s no better way to celebrate Mexico defeating France than by graduating from an American college.

Miss Colotl, arrested at Kennesaw State University jail for not having a drivers’ license, was turned over to federal authorities and held in Alabama for more than a month. Since sending her to Alabama wasn’t punishment enough, Colotl was convicted in Cobb State Court of driving without a license, given 3 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. While that sentence is being appealed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has extended the year-long deferment of her deportation hearing for another year, which will allow her to graduate college and possibly become a law student.

There’s no question that the immigration issue in America is a direct result of the abysmal failure of the federal government to secure our nations’ borders. Continuing federal incompetence prevents any meaningful discussion of what America’s immigration policy should be, foments anger and resentment, and has caused the deaths of thousands of Hispanics and more than a few Americans. The ongoing federal failure has also resulted in a backlash from states seeking to address the perceived effects of illegal immigration, since most states are powerless to do anything about the cause.

Those perceived effects basically boil down to costs –the costs of overcrowded schools and emergency room visits being the most often-cited examples. But since Plyler v Doe in 1982, it’s been a federal crime to deny free K-12 education to children in this country illegally. And since the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act act of 1986, It’s been a federal crime to deny ANYone medical treatment in an emergency room, regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. That’s right, during the “Reagan era” of untrammeled greed, America began giving away free education and healthcare to anyone who could get here –and Reagan himself signed a law granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Which leaves the states dealing with the consequences. Arizona has a famous law, Utah an improved, but less-noticed version. Georgia House Bill 87, which requires businesses to use the e-Verify system for their employees and gives police the authority to check the immigration status of anyone they have probable cause to believe has committed a crime –but which explicitly bans racial profiling– sits on Governor Deals desk. He’s promised to sign the bill, but is being pressured by immigrant activists not to. We shall see.

Jessica Colotl did not cause the problem of illegal immigration –though her case has brought some changes, including a new rule from the University system barring illegal immigrants from Georgia university that have had to turn qualified legal applicants away. She presumably wants to stay and become an American citizen:

“…I believe in the American system and I believe in American values… I am no different than any other American.”

We hear a lot about how “the rest of the world” resents America -our material goods, our standard of living, our way of life. It’s refreshing to hear someone born elsewhere say she believes in American values. I hope you’ll raise a glass to Jessica Colotl while you are out celebrating Cinco de Mayo tonight, because Americans should welcome and celebrate those people who want to join us, regardless of the criminally stupid failures of our federal government.

Cheers.

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