Archive for ‘News’

December 30, 2011

CNN – Dec. 29, 2011 – Obama administration sets up new hotline for immigration detainees –

Obama administration sets up new hotline for immigration detainees –

updated 9:19 PM EST, Thu December 29, 2011
 An undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, chained for being charged as a criminal, prepares to board a deportation flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala, on June 24 in Mesa, Arizona.
An undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, chained for being charged as a criminal, prepares to board a deportation flight to Guatemala City, Guatemala, on June 24 in Mesa, Arizona.

  • A new federal hotline is set up for immigration detainees
  • The line is for detainees who “may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime”
  • Meanwhile, new immigration laws are set to go into effect in some states on January 1
  • The new laws require businesses to verify immigration status of workers

(CNN) — In the latest volley between the federal government and states pushing anti-illegal-immigration laws, the Obama administration announced Thursday it was establishing a new hotline for immigration detainees who feel they “may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime.”

The 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week hotline is part of a “broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process and prioritize resources to focus on threats to public safety, (on) repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation’s immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration,” a news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said.

The new measure was launched by the Department of Homeland Security to ensure detained individuals “are made aware of their rights” or “properly notified about their potential removal from the country,” according to the release. The hotline number is 855-448-6903.

A new “detainer” form — which includes Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese translations — also is part of the new policy. The detainer — or notice to detain — form is official paperwork giving law enforcement the authority to hold a person in custody for a time.

Administration to lower number of troops on Southwest border

“The new form allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction of the offense for which he or she was arrested,” the release said.

Immigration rights advocates told CNN there “has long been a need for more accountability and oversight of the issuance of immigration detainers.”

“The ACLU and other advocates identified four native-born U.S. citizens who were held unlawfully in custody through immigration detainers in Los Angeles County. One of these citizens was held for two days because of an immigration detainer despite repeatedly telling officers that he was a U.S. citizen,” Laura Vazquez, immigration legislative analyst for the National Council of La Raza, told CNN in a statement. The council is a national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.

CNN attempted to get reaction on the new policy from the attorneys general in Alabama and Arizona — two states viewed as having among the most strict immigration reform laws — but were unsuccessful. An official in the Alabama attorney general’s office said Thursday officials had no comment.

The move by DHS comes just before the beginning of the new year, when new immigration laws in Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia will require businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to ensure employees are eligible to work in the United States, according National Conference of State Legislatures.

E-Verify is a controversial program designed to check a prospective employee’s citizenship or immigration status.

Supporters say it helps businesses avoid unintentionally hiring illegal immigrants. Critics complain that it is expensive to operate, pushes undocumented workers further underground, and is not always accurate.

December 2, 2011

CSMonitor – 12/1/11 – Illegal immigration: Are Obama deportations truly aimed at ‘criminals’? –

Illegal immigration: Are Obama deportations truly aimed at ‘criminals’? –


US says it deported a record 216,000 ‘criminal aliens’ in fiscal 2011, but immigration court statistics show a drop in criminal deportation proceedings from the Bush years. How do those square?


By Patrik JonssonStaff writer / December 1, 2011


County Sheriff deputies in Mesa, Ariz., arrested six workers at a dry cleaners during an immigration raid in April. Federal officials are concentrating on criminal illegal aliens, they say.

Michael Brannock



Immigration attorney Matthew Kolken is openly questioning the forthrightness of the Obama administration these days.


He knows the Obama administration is in a tough spot. Congress is refusing to take up immigration reform, and the president is being squeezed between Republicans who claim he is soft on border crossers and Hispanics who say he has not done enough to resolve the status of longtime illegal immigrants.

Yet it is the administration’s response that has left Mr. Kolken suggesting that the government “is not being truthful.” Immigration officials say they are cutting a “common sense” middle path – ramping up deportations of criminal illegal immigrants but also granting prosecutors discretion to have compassion on law-abiding illegal workers who have close ties to the United States.

Statistics from an independent clearinghouse for federal data, however, appear to contradict some of the government’s claims. Moreover, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University in New York says the administration has been hesitant to release details behind a record 400,000 deportations in the past year.

The result has been growing concern among critics on the left and right that the Obama administration is playing politics – holding back data that might upset the Hispanic community, which is seen as crucial to the president’s reelection prospects. Obama officials refute that assertion, but Kolken, for one, is skeptical.

“What I have seen coming out of TRAC, this administration is not being truthful with regards to the data they’re releasing, or at least with regard to the public-relations spin they’re putting on policies,” says Kolken, who works in Buffalo, N.Y. “Every time they say something, TRAC looks at the cold, hard data, and it contradicts the press releases. It’s a repeating pattern.”

So far, the Obama administration has been bold and specific in its assertions. The Department of Homeland Security “has implemented immigration enforcement priorities that focus limited resources on convicted criminals, repeat immigration law violators, fugitives, and recent entrants,” DHS spokesman Matt Chandler said in an e-mail.

As a result, Immi­gra­tion and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed a record 216,000 criminal illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2011 – “an 89 percent increase over 2008,” Mr. Chandler added.

In May, President Obama told an audience in El Paso, Texas, that the focus was on “violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income.”

The problem is that immigration court statistics obtained by TRAC show that actual criminal deportation proceedings have dropped below Bush administration levels. So how are deportations of criminal aliens up 89 percent over 2008?

That’s the unresolved question.


While DHS says it’s counting deportations of people with past criminal convictions, TRAC can’t get access to detailed case data that would show whether deportees really are serious criminals or people with minor infractions that in the past may not have led to a deportation order. In other words, without more transparency, it’s not clear whether the Obama administration is bolstering its claim of focusing on “the worst of the worst” by including in its data the very immigrants whom the White House insists it’s not targeting.

“There are really an enormous amount of questions about what is actually going on, and it’s very discouraging when law enforcement agencies, despite all the talk about transparency, are not providing data that they are collecting – data that ­everybody really needs to have to decide the very, very complicated policy issues that the country is facing,” says Susan Long, director of TRAC, which tracks federal data through the Freedom of Information Act.

A DHS spokesman replied that agency officials spoke with TRAC on Nov. 11 about how to resolve how ICE tracks statistics. He also noted that the sheer volume of information requests may mean response delays, but to assume that those delays constitute a lack of transparency is “simply inaccurate.”

While the criminal-alien data remain in question, however, there is a more solid verdict on what impact prosecutorial discretion has had on deportations.

ICE Director John Morton announced the policy shift in June, and the administration on Nov. 17 also began a training program to show immigration agents how to block deportation cases against some noncriminal illegal immigrants.

But so far, it may not have protected many of those “just looking to scrape together an income.”

“The overwhelming conclusion is that most ICE offices have not changed their practices since the issuance of these new directives,” states a November study of 252 immigration cases by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

That’s due, in large part, to the culture of ICE, experts say. The ICE union has attacked the prosecutorial discretion policy, saying it undermines the focus on law and order.

Taking on ICE could boost Mr. Obama’s 2012 prospects among Hispanics, says Allert Brown-Gort, director of the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame University in Indiana. “Though he didn’t pull out immigration reform … serious prosecutorial discretion is the next best thing he can do,” he says.

In the meantime, detailed immigration data could be damaging. The Obama administration “is basically letting ambiguity be its friend,” says Professor Brown-Gort. “One of the reasons why the administration is being less than forthcoming is because they’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place.”


December 2, 2011

AJC – 12/1/11 – UGA Council opposes regents’ illegal immigrant policy |

UGA Council opposes regents’ illegal immigrant policy  |


Georgia Politics 5:27 p.m. Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some University of Georgia faculty called a policy barring illegal immigrants from the state’s most selective public colleges “a step toward re-segregation,” and the University Council urged state leaders to rescind the ban Thursday.

UGA President Michael Adams said he will share the council’s resolution with the State Board of Regents, but he stressed the university will continue to follow the policy. The regents have stood by the rules when questioned.

The policy forbids illegal immigrants from attending any campus that has turned away academically qualified students the past two years. The rule went into effect this fall and applies to UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Georgia Health Sciences University and Georgia College and State University.

The University Council is made up of faculty and administrators who advise Adams on policies concerning academics and other issues. The council’s vote was a symbolic stance by the state’s largest public university and follows an earlier resolution the student government passed urging the regents to reverse the policy.

The regents approved the ban after months of public debate over fears that illegal immigrant students take seats away from lawful residents. Illegal immigrants may attend the other 30 colleges in the University System of Georgia, provided they pay out-of-state tuition.

Lawmakers filed a bill last year to bar these students from all public colleges, but it didn’t pass either chamber of the Legislature.

Alabama and South Carolina bar illegal immigrants from attending public colleges. A dozen states grant them admission and in-state tuition if they are trying to earn legal status.

December 2, 2011

Athens Patch – 12/1/11 – University Council May Consider Immigration Issues – Athens, GA Patch

University Council May Consider Immigration Issues

Various colleges have passed resolutions in favor of undocumented high schoolers.

By Rebecca McCarthy

December 1, 2011

The agenda for today’s University Council meeting includes what could become a controversial item. It’s a resolution asking the State Board of Regents to rescind the policy excluding undocumented high school graduates from applying to UGA.

“Our mission is to educate the population of Georgia. and the issue of legal status isn’t part of our mission,” says Dana Bultman. “Determining whether someone is authorized to be here isn’t part of our mission. You could conceivably have a high school valedictorian who couldn’t apply to UGA, and that bothered peope.”

UGA has an admissions policy that grants undergraduate admission to valedictorians from accredited Georgia high schools. According to the Admissions Office website, the valedictorian must also meet “all Board of Regents requirements,” which would include legal status.

Bultman teaches Spanish Rennaisance literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’s Romance Languages Department. She said the college’s Faculty Senate voted unanimously to approve a resolution calling for the policy to be rescinded.

“At the university, we have a non-discrimination policy, and this is clearly discrimination,” she says.

At today’s meeting, a representative from the UGA Student Govenrment Association will also present a similar resolution that members adopted. The College of Education also followed suit.

The Regents policy also pertains to other schools in the university system.These include Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia College and State University and the Georgia Health Sciences University (former known as the Medical College of Georgia).

A petition that circulated around the UGA campus called the move a step toward the “re-segregation” of Georgia schools.

Composed of representatives from each of UGA’s 14 colleges and schools, the University Council meets today at 3:30 in the Tate Center’s Grand Hall.

via University Council May Consider Immigration Issues – Athens, GA Patch.

December 2, 2011

GPB – 12/1/11 – Campaign Energizes Latino Voters

Campaign Energizes Latino Voters.

Thu., December 1, 2011 4:48pm (EST)

By Jeanne Bonner



A statewide Latino organization is launching a campaign to increase voter registration and turnout. And organizers say opposition to Georgia’s new immigration law will bring out Hispanic voters for next year’s state and federal elections.

As part of the campaign, Latinos already registered to vote will pledge to enroll 10 new voters.

As of 2009, there were about 150,000 registered Latino voters in Georgia.

Jerry Gonzalez heads the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. He says he hopes the campaign will push the number above 200,000.

And to that end, he plans to score Georgia legislators on how they voted on the immigration law, known as HB 87.

“The scorecard is going to be based on the final vote on HB87 and we will identify on a county level which elected officials voted for it and who voted against it,” he said.

But it’s unclear how it will affect the 2012 election.

Mark Hugo Lopez with the Pew Hispanic Center says many Latinos here can’t vote because they’re too young or not citizens.

“A smaller share of Georgia’s Hispanic population is actually eligible to vote, just 22 percent, compared to a state like New Mexico or California, where more than 40 percent of the population there of Hispanics is eligible to vote,” he said an in interview.

The campaign, however, could have long-term effects. Lopez said the center’s polling shows strong opposition to the state immigration laws that have cropped up in the last few years. He said only 13 percent of Latinos polled think illegal immigrants should be deported.

Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor, says Latinos are a growing population in Georgia, and many of them will turn 18 in the next few years.

“I suspect immigration is going to be an issue for a very long time,” she said. “So if this is the environment in which young people are being socialized into the political process and civics, the campaign could be very effective.”

The voter campaign will focus on areas where the Latino population is large, including Hall, Whitfield and Gwinnett counties.

The Georgia Latino group opposed a new law requiring many employers to check workers’ immigration status using the federal E-Verify database.

November 2, 2011

11/1 – – Mexican senators seek meeting with Georgia lawmakers over immigration |

Mexican senators seek meeting with Georgia lawmakers over immigration  |


Georgia Politics 6:16 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON — A group of Mexican senators announced Tuesday they are preparing to meet with state legislators in Georgia and four other states next month, hoping to head off more stringent immigration laws like the one Georgia enacted this year.

The senators plan to share information with state lawmakers that shows illegal immigrants generally stay out of trouble and contribute to the economy while they are here.Sen. Carlos Jimenez Macias, a member of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed those plans Tuesday at a workshop on immigration reform in D.C. at the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan public policy institution.

Macias said the author of Georgia’s House Bill 87 — Republican state Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — is among the legislators he and his delegation want to meet next month.

The Mexican senators also plan to meet with state lawmakers in Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, which have enacted similar immigration enforcement measures.

For Macias, the issue is personal. He said he illegally entered the United States when he was 17 to find work and lived for a time in Chicago.

“I know what the illegal immigrants feel here in the United States,” he said.

Ramsey said Tuesday he had not received a request to meet with Macias.

“However, I would welcome the opportunity to meet and hear their concerns and share with them our concerns that motivated us to draft legislation aimed at addressing the issues posed in Georgia by illegal immigration,” Ramsey said.

Macias’ announcement comes after the Mexican ambassador to the United States condemned an early draft of HB 87 in February, saying it was “poisoning” the relationship between the two countries. The Mexican government filed court papers in June in support of efforts to halt HB 87.

Supporters of HB 87 complain illegal immigrants are straining taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia, including schools and prisons. HB 87 seeks to deter illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia by cutting off their access to jobs and public benefits. A federal judge in Atlanta put parts of the law on hold in June amid court challenges. The state is appealing.

Another Mexican senator, Ruben Velazquez Lopez, said he didn’t want to see the “problem of anti-immigrant laws” to be “Mexicanized.”

“This is something that affects all the illegals in the United States,” he said. “And they are from many nations. Not all. But certainly many. Our fellow countrymen are part of the total.”

October 30, 2011

10/30 – New America Media – Latino College Enrollment Skyrockets, But Will Upward Mobility Follow? – New America Media

Latino College Enrollment Skyrockets, But Will Upward Mobility Follow? – New America Media.

Latino College Enrollment Skyrockets, But Will Upward Mobility Follow?

Jacob Simas and Vivian Po, Posted: Oct 30, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — Maricruz Cabrera, a 17-year-old high school senior from Thermal, Calif., a rural community in the east Coachella valley that stretches from Indio to the Salton Sea on the southern edge of Riverside County, knows what it’s like to pick grapes under a hot desert sun. It’s back breaking. It pays little. In a nutshell, it’s hard physical labor for minimal return. Which is why Cabrera, the daughter of migrant workers, has her sights set on the one thing she believes will create job opportunities that her parents never had: a college degree.

Cabrera moved to the United States from Mexico with her parents and older siblings in 2000, and in the ensuing years all of the family members, including Cabrera herself, have had to rely heavily on farm work to make ends meet. Only recently were Cabrera’s parents able to find less physically demanding, yet still low-paying jobs — her mother as a home-care worker and her father as a groundskeeper at a golf resort catering to tourists in plush Palm Springs.

“Getting a [college] education is sort of a necessary thing to do, in order to repay my parents for all they’ve had to [sacrifice],” said Cabrera.

She’s not alone in her thinking. In fact, it is the hope of upward mobility that she embodies — the classic immigrant dream of a better life – as well as the economic recession, which experts say is the reason Latino college enrollment numbers have spiked to unprecedented levels across California and the nation.

According to recent data compiled by the Pew Hispanic Center [URL:, the number of Latinos aged 18-24 attending college in the United States increased by an incredible 24 percent over a one-year period, from 2009 to 2010. That increase represents a spike of nearly 350,000 students and brings the total number of college-aged Latinos enrolled to 1.8 million nationwide, or roughly 15 percent of all young adults enrolled in college. Those figures include students at both two- and four-year colleges.

“People come to the U.S. because they’re hopeful for a brighter future,” said Lisa Garcia Bedolla, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley and chair of Berkeley’s Center for Latino Policy Research. “And some of that immigrant work ethic and hopefulness carries through and is evident in their kids. I can say that in my own family, and I would imagine in other families also, the immigrant generation has always been motivated because they remember what the conditions were like wherever they came from.”

In California – home to more immigrants than any other state in the nation – the overall numbers hold true but also reveal a huge gap between community colleges and four-year universities.

Within the Cal State University system of 23 college campuses, Latino enrollment grew by 3,418 students between 2009 and 2010, and those gains were most apparent on campuses located in rural counties, such as CSU Bakersfield (11 percent increase), Humboldt (32 percent), Monterey Bay (17 percent), Sonoma (18 percent) and Stanislaus (9 percent).

Even in the UC system, where four of the nine campuses actually downsized their student bodies last year, Latino enrollment increased university-wide by a modest 2,410 students between the 2009 and 2010 academic year, although Latino enrollment at the system’s most prestigious schools – Berkeley and Los Angeles – either decreased or was stagnant.

Without question, however, Latino enrollment numbers in California have increased the most in the community college system, which gained more than 40,000 Latino students between the 2009 and 2010 academic year.

Although that number only represents about a 3.5 percent increase, it’s a huge gain when compared to other ethnic groups. No other single ethnicity saw their numbers at the city college level increase by more than 0.36 percent (African Americans) over the same time period.

So while experts point to second-generation Latinos – the sons and daughters of immigrants – as the students most likely to be driving the enrollment numbers up, there remains the question: Why are they choosing to go to school now?

Certainly, population increases alone cannot account for such a dramatic increase over a one-year period, said Bedolla.

“Some of it can be attributed to shifts in educational attainment (at the high school level) in the Latino community, and some can be attributed to there being fewer opportunities for employment,” said Bedolla. “I would assume that the bad economy has something to do with [the increasing enrollment numbers].”

Professor Hugh Mehan, a sociologist at UC San Diego, agreed.

“People who can’t get a job are enrolling in community college to increase their skills so they’ll be better equipped when the economy improves,” he said.

But what looks like a positive trend on the surface – more Latinos going to college – could have unintended consequences down the line if other issues of equity are not addressed. The spike in Latino enrollees at community colleges, in tandem with budget cuts and higher fees at the state’s public universities, has Mehan concerned that the academic gains being enjoyed now by young Latinos may not automatically translate into upward mobility or a better life than what their parents had.

“A two-year degree is an important step up, but it’s not the same as a four-year degree, which can open more (professional) doors for a student,” said Mehan, who also suggests that failing to create more equity across all levels of higher education could well result in nothing less than the shattering of the American dream for a whole generation of youth born of immigrant families.

“The first-generation of immigrants have that enthusiasm and optimism, that carries into the next generation. But if those hopes and aspirations are not fulfilled, then the idea of working hard to get ahead in school diminishes.”

Mehan believes the disproportionate number of Latinos going to community college is a byproduct of rising costs at four-year public universities.

Miroslava De Leon, 17, a senior at Golden Valley High School in Greenfield, a small agricultural town outside of Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley, said increasing tuition fees are the main reason she’ll have to begin her college career at a local community college, despite getting good grades in high school.

“There is a financial challenge with tuition, especially in California with the (fee hikes) at CSU and UC. I have great parents and ever since I was a freshman they started a college savings account for me. But it’s not much, so I plan to stay local at Bakersfield College and then transfer,” she said. “UC Berkeley would be my dream school.”

De Leon sees her own situation mirrored by other second-generation youth in her community.

“I see it everywhere. People are saying, ‘I got in, but now how do I pay for my tuition?’ It’s a recession, and the biggest challenge is how to get through it.”

Yet for students like De Leon and Cabrera, earning a college degree is no longer a surefire ticket to success that it once was for second-generation children of immigrant parents from previous generations, said Mehan.

“The economy has shifted, so the kinds of jobs that enabled people to have upward mobility decades ago are shrinking,” he said. “Since positions are being sent offshore, jobs for people with those entry level skills don’t exist.”

The combination of economic recession and immigration policies that discourage immigrants from building a life in the United States, said Mehan, should at the very least temper any blind enthusiasm people may derive from the promising college enrollment statistics.

“The economic downturn is turning immigrants into victims. They’re being blamed for the economy. Look at Arizona, Georgia and Alabama. States are punishing Latino students for going to school, punishing immigrants for living and getting jobs. Those two factors (the recession and immigration policy) operate against the optimism that’s found in the immigrant communities.”

Despite it all, De Leon remains positive and driven to accomplish what her parents could not.

“My dad left school when he was 13 years old, after his mom passed. And my mom had to drop out of nursing school when she was (a young woman) living in Mexico. They’re my biggest inspiration, and I want to (go to college) to set an example for future generations. I want to be that change.”

October 28, 2011

10/28 – Daily Report – Immigration laws harm students – Daily Report

Immigration laws harm students – Daily Report.

Friday, October 28, 2011
Immigration laws harm students

Alabama law seeking children’s status rejected by 11th Circuit, but danger to school access persists

(File photo)
Daniel Altschuler has written extensively on immigration politics and holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
(Zachary D. Porter)
Azadeh Shahshahani is the director for the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
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True or false: No child in this country can be denied a public education.The answer is true, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision, which held that schools could not exclude children based on their immigration status. This is settled law, but not for Alabama legislators, who passed an anti-immigrant law (HB 56) with a provision requiring elementary and secondary schools to determine students’ and parents’ citizenship status. With a federal district court refusing to enjoin this provision, families with an undocumented family member are already keeping their children, including U.S. citizens, out of school. Though an appellate court this month temporarily blocked the K-12 reporting requirement, the right to primary education access for all in our country remains in jeopardy.This summer, civil and immigrant rights groups, religious institutions, and the Department of Justice challenged HB 56 in federal court. Alabama’s law contains many troubling provisions found in anti-immigrant laws in other states, such as Arizona and Georgia, which were blocked by federal courts. But it goes much further, including the requirement in Section 28 that K-12 school officials track immigration status. The court allowed this section of the law to stand.As with Georgia’s HB 87, proponents of HB 56 claim they are removing the drain on state resources. But, in truth, officials like Gov. Robert Bentley are scapegoating immigrants for political gain at a time of economic insecurity. They have confessed their desire to expel undocumented immigrants from the state. HB 56 sponsor Mickey Hammon asserted, “This [bill] attacks every aspect of an illegal immigrant’s life. … [T]his bill is designed to make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves.” The law is so extreme that Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, concluded that Alabama’s “draconian initiative is so oppressive that Bull Connor himself would be impressed.” Birmingham’s former sheriff, you may recall, once used attack dogs and fire hoses on African-American children.Even those skeptical of immigration’s well-documented economic benefits should be appalled by Alabama officials’ willingness to target children. In addition to violating the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, Section 28 is morally repugnant. It uses state power to keep immigrant children, who bear no responsibility for their status, out of school. Moreover, while so many Alabama public schools are failing, the law unconscionably redirects scarce education resources toward immigration policing. Finally, as the court held in Plyler, “It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime.”Sadly, HB 56 may reflect a larger national trend. In May, the Department of Justice issued a memo re-affirming the illegality of asking students about their immigration status. This followed illegal reporting requirements and efforts in other states to pass education provisions similar to HB 56. Recent reports by the American Civil Liberties Union, for instance, found that roughly 20 percent of New York and New Jersey public school districts requested information from students that would indicate their immigration status. Similar practices abound in Arizona, where fully half of school districts surveyed by the ACLU sought such information. The Department of Justice was right to issue its memo, but, in the wake of HB 56’s passage, it must be even more vigilant about illegal school reporting policies, which may rise as restrictionist officials seek to copy HB 56.It is encouraging that the appellate court temporarily blocked the education provision of HB 56. But beating Section 28 in court, while essential, will not by itself ensure that all American children can go to school without fear. Legislators and education officials around the country must take heed: our classrooms are no place for the refrain, “Papers, please.”

Daniel Altschuler and Azadeh Shahshahani, Special to the Daily Report

October 23, 2011

10/23 – Online Athens – Lawyers say immigration law hurts state’s economy | Athens Banner Herald Mobile

Lawyers say immigration law hurts state’s economy | Athens Banner Herald Mobile.

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011


State and federal immigration laws are making it hard for international companies to do business in Georgia, a panel of legal experts said Saturday at the University of Georgia.

“We literally have companies saying ‘I don’t want to do business in this
state,’ ” Atlanta immigration lawyer Sharon Cook Poorak said.

A UGA law school symposium Saturday included a discussion on the impact of House Bill 87, the new state immigration law that is among the most strict in the nation.

The law affects not only migrant farm workers in South Georgia, but also millionaire European CEOs who want to do business in the U.S., panelists said.

“Georgia is really shooting themselves in the foot right now, to pass these laws that hurt us economically,” Poorak said.

She noted that the state’s unemployment rate is still above 10 percent since the law took effect in July, so jobs held by illegal immigrants aren’t being filled by Americans.

It’s impossible for unskilled workers like dishwashers to immigrate legally because they can’t get visas, said another immigration lawyer, Teri Simmons.

And visas for skilled workers like scientists are hard to get, she said.

“America has one of the toughest, strictest immigration systems in the entire world,” Simmons said.

In addition to discouraging corporations from coming to Georgia, apartments are sitting vacant and small businesses are closing up shop, immigration lawyer Carolina Antonini said.

Her clients are reluctant to go to the hospital if they’re sick or call the police if they’re victims of crime because they fear being deported, she said.

“We’re seeing people flee the state, whole families flee the state,” Antonini said.

Vidalia onion farmers are suffering from a labor shortage because of the law, Toombs County Solicitor Paul Threlkeld said.

“We’ve built an economy on the backs of these folks, and no one wants to treat them like second-class citizens,” he said.

State Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, said he understands why people come to the U.S. illegally.

“If I could make $10 an hour rather than $10 a week, believe me, I’d come across the border and do the same thing,” he said.

But since the federal government won’t reform its immigration program to allow more workers into the country legally, the state had to act, Murphy said.

Simply asking for identification, “I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” he said.

Threlkeld said he’s glad a federal judge has halted enforcement of some of the laws provisions, such as one empowering police to check the immigration status of people they pull over or arrest, while he rules on the law’s constitutionality.

Toombs County doesn’t have the resources to enforce the law, he said.

Neither do many cities, which will be required to verify employees’, public works contractors’ and business owners’ immigration status, said Rusi Patel, counsel for the Georgia Municipal Association.

The law may be thrown out because it conflicts with federal law, said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State University constitutional law professor and advisor to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

State and local police can only enforce federal law if the attorney general certifies them to do so, but HB 87 allows them to enforce immigration law without any training or oversight from the federal government, he said.

October 21, 2011

10/21 – AJC – PolitiFact Georgia | Kent: Immigration board can prosecute with Attorney General’s help

PolitiFact Georgia | Kent: Immigration board can prosecute with Attorney General’s help.

The Truth-O-Meter Says:

The newly created state Immigration Enforcement Review Board “can actually prosecute, and get them [violators] into jail, if we bring in the attorney general.”

Phil Kent on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 in a speech before the North Fulton and Friends Tea Party

Critics of conservative activist Phil Kent have accused him of being a “nativist.” Now that Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Kent to a new board to crack down on illegal immigration, critics say he’s distorting the truth.

They point to a speech Kent made before the North Fulton and Friends Tea Party on Oct. 4 where he explained the authority of the Immigration Enforcement Review Board. The state General Assembly created it when lawmakers passed House Bill 87, legislation that aims to get tough on illegal immigration.

Kent’s appointment to the board created controversy. The Anti-Defamation League asked Deal to reconsider Kent’s appointment, saying he has a history of making “deeply disturbing” comments about immigrants. Kent said his critics are left-wing extremists pushing their own agenda.

Kent told the tea party group that all the review board does is take complaints about possible violations of state laws on immigration. The board can subpoena witnesses, hold hearings and review or investigate possible violators.

“And yes we can actually prosecute, and get them into jail, if we bring in the attorney general,” Kent said.  “That’s what the open borders, anti-enforcement people don’t like.”

Immigrant rights activist Erik Voss, who videotaped the speech, cried foul. The review board has no authority to bring in the attorney general, much less prosecute or jail violators, he told PolitiFact Georgia.

We thought Kent’s statement was worth a closer look. Can the immigration board call in the attorney general’s office and prosecute?

We looked into the law. The Immigration Enforcement Review Board was created by Section 20 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, also known as House Bill 87.

The seven-member review board fields complaints that Georgia governments or agencies have violated any of three state laws. One bans them from establishing policies that give illegal immigrants safe harbor. A second requires them to check the legal status of applicants for public benefits such as food stamps. The third mandates that their contractors and subcontractors file affidavits saying they use a federal database that checks whether employees are in the U.S. legally.

Some of the violations the board has the authority to investigate can be considered criminal offenses.

Agency workers who purposefully violate the law requiring them to check the legal status of those seeking public benefits commit a misdemeanor, and the attorney general has the authority to investigate. Those who knowingly file false affidavits about their use of the federal database violate felony fraud laws.

Local governments that give safe harbor or sanctuary to illegal immigrants risk losing state funding. The board can issue sanctions such as fines as high as $5,000 if a local government doesn’t fix its problems by deadline.

The section of HB 87 that established the immigration board makes no mention of bringing in or collaborating with the attorney general’s office, except to say that the law does not prohibit the state’s top lawyer from “seeking any other remedy available by law.”

We asked the state attorney general’s office for its understanding of the law. A spokeswoman said that the immigration board has civil enforcement authority, while the attorney general has the power to prosecute violators criminally. The immigration board can make recommendations to the attorney general’s office, which will decide whether criminal prosecution is appropriate.

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association, interest groups that represent local and county governments, have the same understanding of the immigration board’s powers.

Kent told us that’s how he understands the law, too. If activists think he’s saying that the board has the power to criminally prosecute violators on its own, they’re twisting his words, said Kent, who is national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control.

“The panel could most certainly, if it felt warranted, ‘bring in the attorney general’ and recommend his office open an investigation with an eye toward prosecution,” Kent said in an email.

Anyone has the power to tell the attorney general of a possible violation of the law, he told us in a telephone interview. “The board can’t do it alone, obviously,” Kent said.

We agree, but that’s not what Kent originally said.

Kent said that the board “can actually prosecute” violators, and “get them into jail,” if it enlists the help of the attorney general’s office.

Actually, the board cannot prosecute anyone or get them into jail.

The board can bring a potential violation to the attorney general’s attention. So can any citizen. That doesn’t mean his office will investigate, much less prosecute.

Kent may have meant to convey that the Immigration Enforcement Review Board can only recommend that the attorney general open an investigation, but he gave the impression it has far more power than that. He therefore earns a False.

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