Tag Archive | "Immigration Reform"

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Senate Bill Quietly Curtails African Immigration


By Jason Margolis, PRI’s The World

Each year, 50,000 people are selected at random to immigrate to the United States. They don’t need specialized job skills or even a relative in the US. What they need most is a little luck, some basic educational or work training qualifications, and to be from a country with few recent immigrants living in the US.

The Diversity Visa, better known as the “Green Card Lottery,” is a little-known program inside the US, but is played by millions of people worldwide each year. It was established in 1990 to diversify the immigration population in the US, designed, in part, to help more Irish settle in the United States.

Over the past two decades though, the complexion of lottery winners has become noticeably darker. Today, about half of visa winners come from Africa.

The immigration bill [that came out of]  the Senate would put an end it.

That’s sparked some anger among Africans living in the US, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus. They say if Africans aren’t fairly represented in the immigration overhaul, they’ll torpedo the bill.

Without the Diversity Visa, Africans like Dominic Tamin would’ve likely never made it to the US. Tamin’s father won the Green Card Lottery in the 1990’s, and Tamin came to New York from Cameroon on January 18, 1997.

“That’s when I arrived here. I remember because it was so cold outside. I’d never experienced that cold weather before.”

Tamin is now a high school math teacher and entrepreneur in Newark, New Jersey. He talks about the high number of African immigrants who work in the healthcare fields, in nursing and in-home caregiving. He’s active in the movement to save the Green Card Lottery.

“It’s something that is dear to my heart. I don’t know how to put this, because I’m so passionate about it.”

So, he decided to express his passion through music. He recently produced this song, “DV Lottery” sung by the artist MayJa Money.

This argument, though, isn’t convincing most leaders in Congress. Many Democrats have quietly turned their backs on the Diversity Visa, giving it up as a bargaining chip.

Republicans, like Congressman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia, have been more outspoken against it. Goodlatte’s office turned down an interview request, but here he is speaking against the Diversity Visa on the House floor last year.

In his floor speech, Goodlatte describes the Diversity Visa as “unfair to people from more than a dozen countries around the world that stand in long lines, on waiting lists, and then watch somebody have their name drawn out of a computer at random with no particular job skills, no ties to this country, and they get to go right past them into a Green Card into the United States.”

Mark Krikorian, the executive the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a think tank that advocates for less immigration to the US, agrees with that. He said the Green Card Lottery is ripe for fraud, and that terrorists could steal a winning lottery number and enter the US illegally.

Plus, he said, immigration policy should not be based on national origin.

“And so what the (Congressional) Black Caucus seems to be saying is somehow that (ending the Diversity Visa) is unjust because they want more people who look like them in the immigration flow,” Krikorian said. “And what I’d like to know is how is that different from someone saying, ‘Well, I want more white people immigrating to the United States.’ It’s exactly the same thing.”

“C’mon now, let’s look at the population of the nation,” said Democratic Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, when I posed this to her. Clarke represents Brooklyn in the House of Representatives and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Clarke said any new immigration law must include a dedicated flow for African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Currently, Africans come to the US in three primary ways: asylum seekers, family visas, and the Diversity Visa program.

“We want to be sure that this nation is not one that doesn’t continue to welcome people of African descent and that it is comparable to what we do for others coming from around the world,” Clarke said.

GYI0051137911.jpgIt’s not comparable right now, argues Sylvie Bello, the founder and CEO of the Cameroon American Council in Washington. Bello said the immigration bill includes programs designed to benefit Asians, Latinos and European immigration, such as 10,500 visas annually set aside for Irish immigrants. But there’s nothing specifically for Africans.

“They’re taking us back to the Jim Crow era when we could only come to this country through special programs,” Bello said. “Yes, some of us will qualify for the STEM visa, but it was not created with us in mind. Yes, some of will qualify for the DREAM Act, but it was not made with us in mind. Yes, some of us may qualify for the agriculture visa, but it wasn’t made with us in mind. The only visa type that has a high proportion of Africans that come through is the Diversity Visa.”

Bello said she hopes President Barack Obama will speak about immigration on his visit to Africa this week. And that he remembers a time not long ago when very few Africans made it to America, Africans like Obama’s own father. He came here on a student visa.

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Telemundo/NBC News/WSJ: Most Latinos Back Pathway to Citizenship


MIAMI –While a bipartisan group of senators is on the verge of announcing a proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, the latest issue of the Telemundo/NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Latinos support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,

According to the report,  82 percent of Latinos support “common sense immigration reform” that provides a sensible pathway to citizenship. That’s 18 percent more than most Americans, which is 64 percent.

The poll also shows that 65 percent of Latinos think that immigration strengthens the United States, 11 percent more than most Americans or 54 percent.

Other interesting poll findings are:

-While most Americans (63 percent) think the border with Mexico is not secure, only 49 percent of Latinos share that opinion.

– When asked which party is doing a better job dealing with immigration, 37 percent of Latinos say democrats and 11 percent republicans.

-Hilary Clinton is viewed positively by 65 percent of Latinos, one point above President Obama (64 percent).

-Florida Senator, Marco Rubio is viewed more positively than negatively – 23 percent rated him favorably, 12 percent negatively and 40 percent either did not know him or had no opinion about him.

The Telemundo /NBC News/WSJ Telemundo poll surveys Latinos nationwide measuring a wide range of opinions including government popularity and perceptions about values and current-affair topics. A second issue of the April version will be released on Friday, April 12.Click here for a PDF of the April issue of the Telemundo/NBC News/WSJ poll.

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Congress is to Blame for Present Immigration Status


By Patrick Osio, Special to The Hartford Guardian

In the coming immigration reform debate the nation must return to the doctrine which governed through the 19th and much of the 20th centuries. To wit: Immigration policy must be based on what is good for the nation, not the immigrant.

Congressional representatives of both Houses must stop blaming illegal immigration on the immigrant who illegally crosses the border in search of economic opportunities not present in their home country. The blame lies with political decisions made by past and present members of the House and Senate.

Ignoring the issue for the benefit of political campaign contributions and favoritism to business interests since the early 1940’s caused the abandonment of the most successful immigration policy that made the nation great by supplying it with dedicated and fully committed loyal citizens from all countries in the world.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionAs early as 1947, then President Harry Truman noted that the undocumented entry along the nation’s southern border was becoming epidemic asking Congress to pass laws prohibiting such hiring. Congress ignored his request allowing the unrestrained flow and hiring to continue.

President Eisenhower guided in part by a New York Times article reading, “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican ‘wetbacks’ to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government” in 1954, launched Operation Wetback deporting over one-million illegal entrants. The operation was hailed as a success, but in reality  the southern border had been turned into a turn sty. An again, nothing was done about the hiring practices that was the invitation for illegal entries.

Politicos became adept at blaming Mexico and Mexican citizens for the illegal immigration phenomenon while taking their cue to say much but do nothing from their business political contributors and gaining favor with the nation’s nativist of which many Congressional members are among their ranks. There was little care about the animosity and resentment citizens held against these economic opportunity seekers. This led to the wide held belief that it’s not the jobs that attract; rather it is the lawlessness of Mexicans because after all, the U.S. is a nation of laws.

 

President Ronald Reagan showed the necessary resolve to tackle the issue. And tackle it he did. He pushed and had Congress pass the first truly immigration reform, which for the first time made it a Federal offense to hire illegal immigrants. The passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986, was to hail a new era on immigration policy and bring back the nation on course returning to an immigration policy that was best for the country.

But politicos guided by and influenced by special interests gutted the sections pertaining to illegally hiring and in many cases when the then Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted to enforce illegal hiring of undocumented workers, Congressional members steped in to stop them. It was a shameful practice but no one spoke up against those Congressional representatives.

So IRCA was blamed as a failure. The failure was not the law; it was the political hypocrisy of our elected body. Had IRCA been properly enforced, illegal immigration would not be the problem it is today.

So now we are leaving it up to Congress to once again come to the table and provide us with WHAT? More of the same?  If so, we will be no further ahead than we were in 1986.

There is no need for long and prolonged debate on the issue. It is as simple as revisiting IRCA and adjust it but with clear mandate for strict adherence to the sections prohibiting hiring of undocumented workers, and forcing the agricultural sector to comply with IRCA’s mandate regarding the use of the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Guest Worker Program. IRCA’s probation section, wrongly labeled Amnesty, can be duplicated as written but with stricter controls and enforcement. It’s all there.

Once this is done, the work can begin on making the other changes to keep the flow of highly skilled and educated immigrants that are in high demand and needed to continue the nation’s growth.

It is simply a matter of doing right by the nation, not the politicians and their patrons.

_____________________________________________________

Patrick Osio is the Editor of HispanicVista.com. Contact at: PosioJr@aol.com 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Pub.L. 99–603, 100 Stat. 3359, enacted November 6, 1986, also Simpson-Mazzoli Act, is an Act of Congress which reformed United States immigration law.

In brief the act:[1]

  • Mandated stronger border enforcement
  • Required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status.
  • Made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.
  • Amended the H-2 temporary agricultural guest worker visa creating the H-2A visa
  • Legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.
  • Legalized illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt. About three million illegal immigrants were granted legal status.
Acronym IRCA
Colloquial name(s) Simpson–Mazzoli Act
Enacted by the 99th United States Congress

 

Introduced in the Senate as S. 1200 by Alan K. Simpson on May 23, 1985

Committee consideration by: Senate JudiciarySenate Budget

Passed the Senate on September 19, 1985 (69–30)

Passed the House on October 9, 1986 (voice vote after incorporating H.R. 3810, passed 230–166)

Reported by the joint conference committee on October 14, 1986; agreed to by the House on October 15, 1986 (238–173) and by the Senate on October 17, 1986 (63–24)

Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986

 

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Immigration Reform: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


By Al Día

For those who were waiting for news on the comprehensive immigration reform front, Monday’s proposal by the Senate’s so-called ‘Gang of 8’ (which includes both Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Robert Menendez) seemed a bipartisan first step.

Tuesday’s proposal by President Obama shored up that first step without adding much more to it.

It is a measure of how disastrous the discourse on immigration reform has become since the days of the Ted Kennedy-John McCain immigration reform bill of 2005 that both of the proposals seem such a step forward to so many of us.

Both proposals have their problematic aspects.

Obama extolled his deportation rate without so much as acknowledging that the astromical number includes nearly as many ordinary heads of household as criminals.

The senators proposed that a path to citizenship cannot be enacted until the border is deemed secure by an advisory committee comprised of selected governors, legislators, etc. Depending on who is selected (Arizona Governor Jan Brewer? House Immigration subcommittee members Lamar Smith and Steven King?) this advisory committee might block the institution of a path to citizenship for years.

But the proposals we heard are canny politicking. On the president’s part, he has now seemingly made good on his promise to Latinos to put immigration reform on the table.

For the Republicans of the “Gang of 8,” the move is to reclaim Latino voters, who abandoned the party in droves during the past election, largely because of the toxic Republican-led discourse on immigration.

But the proposals are not universally acclaimed, and it remains to be seen how much political capital it earns either party.

It has been characterized by immigration activists as an enforcement-heavy further militarization of the border. And though advocates have applauded the expedited citizenship path that would be accorded to DREAM-Act eligible students, agricultural workers and graduates of STEM programs, there are fears that it further codifies and criminalizes undocumented immigrants that don’t fall into those categories

PA Rep. Lou Barletta told the Allentown Morning Call that, “Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken. The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”

Seemingly, reform will not be accomplished easily, no matter how cautious the steps.

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Ethnic Media’s Collective Message to the White House: Do It Now


New America Media,
Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (http://www.newamericamedia.org), a national association of ethnic media, and was published by more than 50 ethnic media across the country to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform. Ethnic media interested in running the editorial may contacteshore@newamericamedia.org.

The White House and Congress must move quickly to enact just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.

In the wake of the 2012 elections, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed the need to act on the issue. The window for bipartisan legislation is now open.

Ethnic media have a high stake in the future of immigration policy in this country. That’s why we are joining together to take an editorial stand to urge Congress and the White House: Make 2013 the year of immigration reform.

This is not merely a question of politics. We are calling for comprehensive immigration reform because it is the morally right, economically wise and pragmatically sensible thing to do.

Our country is a nation of laws, and it is clear that U.S. immigration laws need to be overhauled. The immigration system is broken, not only for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but for the thousands of immigrants who are unable to get visas to work in the United States; for American businesses that can’t hire the workers they need; for the families who wait for years to get visas to join their relatives in the United States.

We need comprehensive immigration reform that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and revive our identity as a nation that thrives on the contributions of hard-working immigrants.

It’s clear that our federal immigration laws are not working. Federal inaction on immigration has led states from Arizona to Alabama to write their own legislation. Even the recently announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a temporary band-aid that does nothing to solve the larger problem of a broken immigration system.

Immigration has been portrayed as a divisive issue. In reality it’s not. All of us would benefit from an effective immigration system that responds to the needs of the market, protects all workers from abuse and exploitation and puts an end to the practice of separating parents from their children.

We need an immigration system that reflects the best traditions of our history — our belief in justice, equality, and economic opportunity.

And as we look to the future, we must make sure that we remain competitive in an increasingly globalized world. We need to continue to attract the best and the brightest, to be the destination of the world’s most innovative workers.

We must act now. Our economy and our future depend on it.

Op-ed in Spanish
El mensaje colectivo de los medios étnicos a la Casa Blanca: Hazlo ahora

Op-ed in Chinese
族裔媒體同聲呼籲白宮和國會在2013年落實移民改革法案

Op-ed in Vietnamese
Thời gian đã đến: Truyền Thông sắc tộc Gọi cho cải cách nhập cư trong năm 2013

Op-ed in Korean
2013년 이민법 개혁을 위한 소수계 언론의 공동 선언

A partial list of media that have agreed to publish the op-ed:

African-American Voice (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Al Día (Philadelphia)
Arizona Informant (Phoenix)
Asian American Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
Asian Journal (Los Angeles and New York)
AsianWeek (San Francisco)
Balita Media Inc. (Glendale, Calif.)
Balitang America – ABS-CBN International – The Filipino Channel (Redwood City, Calif.)
Bangla Patrika (New York)
CaliToday (San Jose, Calif.)
Caribbean Today (Miami)
ChicoSol (Chico, Calif.)
Chinese Daily News (Las Vegas)
El Diario-La Prensa (New York)
El Hispanic News (Portland, Ore.)
El Perico (Omaha, Neb.)
El Tiempo Latino (Washington)
El Tiempo New Orleans (New Orleans)
Express India (Washington)
The FilAm.net (New York)
Filipino American Journal (Phoenix)
Future Newspaper (Tinley Park, Ill.)
FWN Magazine (San Francisco)
Hartford Guardian (Hartford, Conn.)
Hyundai News USA (Oakland, Calif.)
The Immigrant’s Journal (New York)
India Journal (Los Angeles)
India West (San Leandro, Calif.)
Inquirer.net (Daly City, Calif.)
Jamaicans.com (Miami)
Jambalaya News (New Orleans)
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix (Phoenix)
KoreAm (Gardena, Calif.)
Korea Daily (Los Angeles)
Korean News Week (San Jose, Calif.)
La Voz (Phoenix)
La Opinión (Los Angeles)
La Raza News (Memphis)
Manila Mail (Washington)
Miami Diario (Miami)
Mundo Hispánico (Atlanta)
Nguoi Viet (Westminster, Calif.)
NM Compass (Albuquerque)
The Perspective (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Philippine News (Burlingame, Calif.)
Philippines Today (San Bruno, Calif.)
Rio Grande Digital (Las Cruces, N.M./El Paso, Tex.)
Rumbo (Houston)
Sada-e Pakistan (New York)
Sampan (Boston)
Siliconeer (Fremont, Calif.)
Sing Tao (San Francisco)
Sing Tao (New York)
Tri-State Defender (Memphis, Tenn.)
Two Rivers Tribune (Hoopa, Calif.)
Vida en el Valle (Fresno, Calif.)
World Journal (New York)
Zethiopia (Washington)

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ICE Numbers Belie Obama Promise on Immigration Enforcement


New America Media, News Report, Marcelo Ballvé

HARTFORD —  The Obama administration had long promised to shift the focus of immigration enforcement from workers to employers.

In real terms, that means less of the high-profile raids like those at electronics and meatpacking plants in Postville, Iowa and Laurel, Miss. that characterized the last years of the Bush administration. Those led to the arrests of hundreds of immigrant workers, but only a trickle of employer prosecutions.

Instead, as John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, promised in a rare public speech earlier this year at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., his agency would “focus on the employer” and pursue “aggressive criminal and civil enforcement against (employers) who knowingly violate the law.”

“But it hasn’t been done,” said Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite arrests appear to be trending down, worksite raids continue. I-9 or Employment Eligibility Verification audits designed to spot unauthorized workforces have leapt in number. Meanwhile, ICE’s own statistics — which the agency shared with New America Media — show that the agency’s efforts to investigate employers have yet to yield an increase in prosecutions.

In fact, the opposite happened — ICE brought less charges against employers in 2009 than it had the previous year.

In the 2008 fiscal year, still under President Bush, ICE brought criminal charges against 135 business managers, supervisors and owners as part of immigration investigations.

In the next fiscal year — which ended in September 2009 after President Obama’s first eight months in office — ICE brought criminal charges against 114 employers, a 16 percent decrease.

Clearly, “white-collar” cases against employers who profit from the broken immigration system are harder to prove than run-of-the-mill immigration arrests.

But the number of employer cases appears as a “miniscule proportion” when set alongside the total prosecutions initiated by ICE, said Williams of AILA.

Taken together, the total number of ICE cases referred to the federal courts ballooned to 20,411 in fiscal year 2009 — a 12 percent increase over the prior year — according to data from the Transactional Records Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

These prosecutions take in everything from counterfeit toothpaste to drug trafficking, but the bulk of the cases were relatively minor immigration charges. Just over half (10,346), according to TRAC, were for entry or re-entry of undocumented immigrants.

The large number of lower-level immigration prosecutions has immigrant advocates worried that the agency’s focus is still on quantity rather than quality.

Of course, new priorities take a while to trickle through a law-enforcement agency as large as ICE. The agency has more than 7,000 agents and is the federal government’s second-largest investigative force after the FBI.

“They are trying to do what they say they’re trying to do,” said Donald M. Kerwin, Jr., vice president for programs at the Migration Policy Institute. “Give them a couple of years to turn the ship around.”

It may be well be that this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 2009, proves a turning point for worksite enforcement.

In December 2009, for example, ICE prosecuted 6 percent fewer cases than in the same month the prior year, a drop driven mainly by a decline in charges for illegal entry, a charge for which those convicted are rarely sent to prison, according to TRAC.

Kerwin of the Migration Policy Institute sees this decline in prosecutions as a possible sign the agency is re-ordering its priorities to focus on serious and flagrant violators of immigration laws such as exploitative employers.

And so far this fiscal year, ICE has initiated 1,687 investigations against employers, more than the entire previous year combined, said Harold Ort, ICE spokesman in Newark.

These cases include an ongoing investigation in the Baltimore area that last month led to raids on two Maryland restaurants, as well as several homes and businesses.

The sweep was meant “to ensure that employers are held accountable for maintaining a legal workforce,” William Winter, ICE special agent in charge of Baltimore, said in a press release issued after the raid.

Yet no employers have actually been charged so far in connection with the Maryland raids. The only arrests were non-criminal administrative detentions of 29 immigrants in the country unlawfully.

The absence of immediate charges against business owners or managers is not unusual. The lag-time between raids and charges against employers can be years.

But when raids are not quickly followed by high-level indictments, it reinforces the perception that it’s still employees and not their bosses who are bearing the brunt of enforcement. They are the ones being scooped up by ICE and fired en masse.

“This is not an acceptable way to treat members of our community,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of the CASA de Maryland immigrant rights group, after the Baltimore-area raids.

ICE has no choice but to enforce the law when encountering undocumented immigrants in the course of employer-targeted investigations, said agency spokesman Ort.

Ort defended the audits of I-9 forms as a powerful tool in detecting unscrupulous employers, immigration-related fraud, and fineable employment offenses.

“We consider … employee records as important as tax or income records,” he said.

As a federal agency in charge of the politically sensitive task of immigration enforcement, ICE must endure criticism from both sides of the immigration debate.

On the one hand, immigrant advocates castigate the agency as a callous enforcer that terrorizes immigrant communities through raids such as last week’s sweep of Arizona shuttle van installations or I-9 audits (which advocates call “paper raids”).

On the other hand, activists and elected officials with more uncompromising law-and-order views on immigration prod the agency to be more aggressive and make as many arrests as possible.

On March 18 — just a week after the raids in nearby Maryland — ICE assistant secretary John Morton testified on Capitol Hill before the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee about his agency’s budget request of $5.5 billion for the 2011 fiscal year.

Morton received a tongue-lashing from a Kentucky legislator.

Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican, pointed out that while I-9 audits of businesses had increased by 187 percent to more than 1,100 in fiscal year 2009, at the same time there had been a drop in worksite arrests of undocumented immigrants.

“When I look at the shift in ICE’s focus over the last year, I’m deeply concerned,” said Rogers, according to a transcript of the hearing. “It appears as though immigration enforcement is being shelved and the administration is attempting to enact some sort of selective amnesty under the cover of prioritization.”

For Frank Sharry, executive director of immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice, only comprehensive immigration reform that modernizes the system as a whole will free up immigration enforcement to balance priorities and focus on illegal hiring and unfair labor practices.

In the current climate, federal immigration authorities certainly do feel pressure to deliver politically expedient statistics.

This pressure was put on public view by the Washington Post’s March 27 publication of internal memos in which a top ICE official discussed deportation quotas. In a written statement, Assistant Secretary Morton said most of the memo obtained by the newspaper did not reflect ICE policy, and added, “We definitively do not set quotas.”

Still, Morton himself was not above promising improved numbers as he was grilled on the 2010 drop in worksite enforcement arrests during the March 18 appropriations hearing.

“I am very focused on getting that up,” Morton replied.

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