Immigrant Rights News - Tues, Mar. 11, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Tues, Mar. 11, 2008
1. New York Times: “GOP Moves to Force Immigration Vote”
New York Times
March 11, 2008
GOP Moves to Force Immigration Vote
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are trying to force action on a Democratic-written immigration enforcement measure, the latest GOP attempt to elevate the volatile issue into an election-year wedge.
Republican leaders hope that by pushing the bill -- endorsed by 48 centrist Democrats and 94 Republicans -- they can drive Democrats into a politically painful choice: Backing a tough immigration measure that could alienate their base, including Hispanic voters, or being painted as soft on border security in conservative-leaning districts.
The plan is fraught with political risks for both parties. A full-blown immigration debate could call attention to Republicans' divisions at a time when their expected presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, is fighting to gain the trust of the GOP base.
McCain, R-Ariz., played a prominent role in failed legislative efforts to grant some of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already here a path to legal status, which conservatives deride as ''amnesty.'' He now says he would consider such a plan only after the borders have been fortified.
House Republicans are eyeing a bill by Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., that would do just that, as well as mandate that employers verify that their workers are in the
Leaders are expected as early as Tuesday to use a parliamentary tactic that would eventually force a vote on the measure if 218 lawmakers -- a majority of the House -- demand it. Republicans are pressuring Democratic backers of the measure -- including several first-termers and dozens from swing districts, all facing tough re-election fights -- to defy their leaders and sign the petition.
''Lots of Republicans and lots of Democrats would like to see something done,'' Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the No. 2 whip, said Friday.
The move would be a rebuke to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who opposes the Shuler bill unless it's paired with measures to allow undocumented workers a chance at legal status and allow legal immigrants to bring more family members to the United States. Democratic leaders have been working behind the scenes to craft an alternative that could dissuade their more conservative members who back Shuler's bill from joining the GOP effort to press forward on it.
They are considering pairing a widely popular measure by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to allow more seasonal workers to come to the
It's not clear whether Republicans can gather enough support for a vote on the bipartisan enforcement bill, which couldn't take place until April at the earliest. GOP leaders relish the idea of calling attention to Democrats' rifts on the issue in advance of Congress' 14-day Easter recess starting next week. They plan to blast Democrats who have endorsed the legislation but not signed onto the effort to force a vote on it.
''I think it makes it harder for the majority to do nothing,'' Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla, said of the idea last week. ''On a district-by-district basis, there will be places where this is an important issue.''
Shuler has said he would sign the petition. He's one of several conservative-leaning freshman lawmakers whose elections in Republican or swing districts gave Democrats control of the House in 2006, handing Pelosi the speaker's gavel. He won his race amid Republican efforts to tie him to Pelosi, including an ad that accused him of plotting with Democrats ''to take over Congress with the votes of illegal immigrants.''
''He does support the (legislation) and would like to see an up-or-down vote,'' said Andrew Whalen, Shuler's spokesman. ''He would prefer that it didn't become a political issue.''
Some Democrats said they are eager to debate the legislation.
''It's a very big issue. I hear a lot about it, and that's why I want to bring it to the floor,'' said Rep. Jason Altmire, R-Pa., another first-termer who is co-sponsoring the bill. ''We need to address it. Let's just bring it all to the floor and see what wins.''
Even some Democrats who back Shuler's bill bristle at the idea of joining Republicans to force a vote on it, voicing concern that they're being used as political pawns.
''For their presidential candidate to have supported amnesty and for them to be pulling a stunt like this is pure politics,'' said Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., a co-sponsor of Shuler's bill.
In the Senate, a group of mostly conservative Republicans last week unveiled a package of legislation to crack down on illegal immigration and secure the border. They, too, said they would use procedural tactics to get Democrats on the record on the volatile immigration issue.
Democrats are trying to turn the tables, hoping that Republicans' efforts to push get-tough immigration measures will hurt McCain with Hispanic voters and independents, two groups that have supported him in the past.
In a letter to McCain last week, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called on the Arizonan to reject the GOP leaders' plans, calling them ''draconian and divisive.''
''Such a rejection will let this nation's 44 million Latinos know that demonizing them for political purposes will not be tolerated and that the more hateful rhetoric in the immigration debate has no place in our country's civic discourse,'' Menendez wrote.
San Antonio Express-News
Carlos Guerra :Valley grandmother stands up for her rights over border fence
Web Posted: 03/11/2008 06:35 AM CDT
It is never nice to pick on grandma. But if you do, don't expect her to take it lightly — even if you are Secretary Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security.
When virulent anti-immigrant voices started demanding that our nation's 2,100-mile southern border be walled off, more moderate voices questioned the wisdom of such a plan.
And ironically, many whose patron saint is the same Ronald Reagan who demanded that the Berlin Wall be torn down were among the border wall's most vociferous advocates. Don't they remember that the Berlin Wall's effectiveness ended when East German border guards' shoot-to-kill orders were withdrawn?
As the border wall idea gained traction, immigration reform and national Latino organizations sputtered and fumed about it. But in 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act anyway, though the lawmakers refrained from funding it.
As plans for its construction emerged, local border-area officials banded together to keep the barrier from traversing their communities (while skipping some posh resorts of at least one big GOP donor).
But flush with power, DHS officials started to brazenly exercise broad powers they believed were theirs to steam-roll over protesting local jurisdictions.
But the backlash was sufficient that when Congress funded the wall, it was conditioned on DHS negotiating with those who would be affected.
One affected party is Eloisa Tamez, who beams about her five children and 15 grandchildren. She lives simply on three acres that remain from the 12,700-acre Spanish land grant her family received in the 1700s. Interestingly, her land is a mile north of the border.
"When they first came to me (to talk about) the wall, they were surprised when I asked, 'If you're going to build a wall (through my property), how am I going to get to the other side of my land?' she says. "'We have a plan for a gate three miles east of where you are,' they told me, and I said, 'I'm not going three miles out of the way, go through a gate where I'm sure I'll have to show some ID and then turn back three miles to my land.'"
When they said she would have to drive the six miles to her backyard like everyone else, she refused to give them access to her land to survey it, take soil samples and do whatever else they wanted to assess its suitability for the wall.
"I guess I've been resistant all the way," Tamez giggles. After refusing to sign a second waiver sent by certified mail, she was sued. So, she countersued.
Tamez is no anti-government crusader. After becoming a registered nurse, she joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and was a reservist for 17 years, and then worked 27 years as a VA nurse before retiring. Nor is she a dummy. As an RN, she earned her master's in nursing and a doctorate in health education. She now heads UT-Brownsville's masters in nursing program.
Friday, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a stinging 32-page Memorandum Opinion and Order, ruling that "Dr. Tamez correctly asserts that negotiations are a prerequisite to the exercise of eminent domain," and that DHS had presented "insufficient evidence as to whether there has been bona fide efforts to negotiate ..."
It is a temporary victory, Tamez says, but she is optimistic.
"We're trying to delay (the wall) until Congress can look at it and see that this isn't a good idea, which they already kind of did by amending the law through the appropriations act."
And she's hardly alone in her fight, she adds, noting that "my neighbors keep telling me, 'Keep it mi'jita, keep it up.'"
But she has another, perhaps greater purpose, she explains.
"My goal is to make people aware that you are not a criminal and you are not breaking the law if you stand up for your rights. That is my main purpose for speaking up."
To contact Carlos Guerra, call (210) 250-3545 or e-mail email@example.com. His column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Article published Mar 11, 2008
Assembly passes few laws on illegals
March 11, 2008
By Seth McLaughlin - Illegal immigration was a key issue in the recent Virginia elections, but as the 2008 General Assembly closes just a couple of more than 100 proposed bills on the issue were passed.
"We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but, hey, we did better than last year," said Greg Letiecq, president of the anti-illegal immigrant group Help Save Manassas and a co-founder of Save the Old Dominion. "Last year we only got one bill through. ...There were no major victories, but there also were no losses."
State lawmakers passed a bill requiring the State Corporation Commission to shut down companies convicted of violating federal immigration laws.
They also passed one requiring local governments and state agencies to include a provision in contracts that requires contractors to certify they will not hire illegal immigrants. And they approved denying bail for criminal illegal immigrants convicted of certain crimes.
However, the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate continue to fight over a Democratic initiative to appropriate $150,000 annually to provide immigration-outreach training to police officers.
They could not agree on whether to require Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, to allow state and local police to assist federal authorities with immigration enforcement and on whether to bar illegal immigrants from attending public colleges.
"Am I disappointed we did not get more stuff out? Yes," said Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William Republican.
Lawmakers adopted two of the 16 recommendations given to them last year by the state Crime Commission — composed of nine lawmakers, three citizens picked by the governor and a designee of the attorney general. One was the bail bill.
The commission was established by the General Assembly to study, report and make recommendations on all areas of public safety and protection.
James Towey, director of the commission, said an illegal-immigration task force dismissed many of the proposed bills on legal grounds before they reached the Assembly.
"In other words, what would not be pre-empted by federal law, and what also would be effective," he said.
The second bill recommended by the commission and passed by the Assembly requires authorities to check the immigration status of persons taken into custody on a criminal charge.
"I don't know what else we could do that we haven't done if the feds aren't willing to pick up people who have committed crimes who are in our prison and jails," said Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, Virginia Beach Republican and commission member.
Mr. Stolle pointed out that law-enforcement officials last year contacted ICE's Vermont-based Law Enforcement Support Center 12,000 times about a person's immigration status, and fewer than 700 people were deported.
"We can say whatever we want, but until there are additional beds [in state jails] we are not going to increase the number of illegal immigrants deported in
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Pat Reilly disagreed, saying the agency does not necessarily hold illegal immigrants awaiting deportation in the state where they were caught.
Six officers and one citizen took ICE training and last week began assisting other officers in checking the immigration status of every criminal suspect encountered, even in minor offenses.
Republicans have blamed liberals in control of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee for killing the most aggressive proposals, while Democrats say the state has little leeway when it comes to immigration law.
Yesterday, Prince William County Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart, a Republican running for lieutenant governor in 2009, said lawmakers "basically got nothing done" regarding illegal immigration.
"The thing that absolutely disappoints me is that they could not agree to implement to the 287 (g) program statewide," he said. "It is a complete disappointment."
San Diego Union-Tribune
Decline in border crossings crimps economy
Waits, security issues hitting tourism hard
By Leslie Berestein
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
March 11, 2008
The number of people crossing into the
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 10.3 million fewer people crossed at the San Ysidro point of entry, the busiest gateway in the country, than did so in 2004. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics also indicate that for all crossings between
The Otay Mesa port of entry, where traffic peaked in 2005, has since experienced a drop of 24.3 percent in northbound crossers.
The recently released numbers quantify an economic pinch the San Diego-Tijuana border region has been feeling as the cross-border flow of commuters and travelers has slowed.
“There is nobody spending any money,” said Tom Shultz, the owner of a Subway franchise near the San Ysidro port of entry. Shultz said the overwhelming majority of his customers are from
Neighboring businesses, a mix of mom-and-pop retail and quick-service shops, are having similar problems: reduced traffic, lower sales, reductions in employee hours.
“Between the border wait time and security issues, it is killing us,” said Jason Wells, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in San Ysidro, where an estimated 85 percent of the retail customer base consists of shoppers who cross from
In fiscal 2004, 48.2 million people drove or walked into the
Sectors of the local economy – service, retail, construction and others – were attracting a regular flow of commuters from the
Today, these same businesses on both sides of the border are hurting.
“There are three things here,” said Marney Cox, chief economist for the San Diego Association of Governments. “Wait times have continued to grow, crime is deterring (tourism), and there are the job conditions.”
In the San Diego-Tijuana region, the
“The unemployed people are actually living in
With less work for commuters during the week, there is less money being spent on weekends.
“It's a double-whammy that way,” Cox said. “The commuters are not making money, then they're not shopping.”
Thomas Currie, the owner of a San Ysidro money-exchange office a block north of the border, said he has seen a 20 percent drop in business since the start of the year as fewer workers from Tijuana come in to cash paychecks and fewer cross-border shoppers exchange pesos for dollars.
While the economy plays a part, “one of the biggest things hurting us is the border wait times,” Currie said. The delay can last more than two hours. “A lot of people say it's not worth it, I don't care what the price is.”
“They may still be crossing, but they may only be crossing once a week now,” said Kenn Morris, president of the Crossborder Group, a market research firm. “What people are doing is choosing their purchases, and their decision to cross the border, much more judiciously.”
Of the 37.9 million people who entered through San Ysidro in fiscal 2007, more than 20 million were foreign citizens, mostly from
About 17 million were
At La Diferencia, a
Then came the spike in drug-related violence and, more recently, additional documentation required for
“I think that every niche of the economy in
The decline in southbound tourism is felt in San Ysidro, where agencies selling Mexican auto insurance have lost short-term policy buyers. Where tourists once began lining up on Friday afternoons at Baja For Less Mexican Insurance Services, a typical weekend day now brings as few as four drive-through customers, owner Fred Knechel said.
“Now it almost seems like it's a weekday,” he said. “It's nothing like it used to be.”
Cox of SANDAG said the long wait times may eventually be eased as more
Some merchants on both sides are placing hope in the planned expansion of the San Ysidro port of entry from 24 lanes to at least 31 lanes. The first phase of construction is set to begin this summer, but completion is not expected until 2014.
Wells of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce said he hopes construction won't lead to longer waits, but that he is willing to accept whatever improves the status quo.
“The crossings have gotten so bad,” he said, “you can't do more damage.”
Leslie Berestein: (619) 542-4579; firstname.lastname@example.org
By Amber Kispert
Louis Mendoza took a page from the Forrest Gump playbook and journeyed across the country.
Mendoza, a Chicano studies professor and department chair, has returned from his nearly six-month bike trip through 31 states, aimed at better understanding of immigration.
'I can't tell you how much I felt empowered by doing this,' he said. 'It was a big challenge, but being able to pull it off and do it really made me feel good.'
But pulling it off was no ride through the park,
'It was a very difficult physical challenge,' he said. 'After about six weeks, I was in pretty good shape, so it actually then turned into more of a mental and an emotional challenge.'
Trying to withstand being alone for so long and staying motivated to travel on the road ahead was difficult,
Spanish studies junior and event attendee Catherine Klang said she was impressed that
'It takes a really strong person to just keep going,' she said. 'I really admire him. I wish I could have the same perseverance.
Administrative specialist for Chicano and American Indian studies, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria said he also was amazed with
'I think his is just an amazing type of dedication and motivation,' he said. 'I think the trip was more about discovery than anything else; trying to find out the stories because there are so many different stories that don't get covered.'
'Part of the highlight was talking to so many people who were working really hard to make a living,' he said. 'I was humbled by the fact that these people who work so hard were willing to take time and share things with me.'
Going on a trip like this is a great way to put a face on immigration, Marianne Bueno a visiting Chicano studies professor, said.
'I think it's an important way to get a chance to hear and listen and see the everyday stories and the everyday lives,' she said. 'Being on the ground in the way that he was with his bike will help put faces to the language, to the talking, to the policies.'
Immigration in the
'It's about how complicated of an issue immigration is,' he said. 'It's not really just Latinos verses whites.'
'I learned first-hand new immigrants' motivations for coming to the
Immigrants in this country are an essential part of the economy in rural areas, he said.
'Small towns in
On top of learning about these people's lives during his bike trip,
'It's one thing to go in a car and look out the window, but to really experience all the variations of the climate, landscape and the sunsets every day,' he said. 'There's this real sort of natural beauty that surrounds us that we lose sight of sometimes.'
The next challenge for
The people Mendoza met and everything he encountered will stay with him forever, he said.
'It gives you a real sense of the regional differences in the country and it gives you a good sense of the totality; how big and how complex this nation is,' he said.
Study: H-1Bs Visas Go With Job Creation
Tuesday, March 11, 2008; 12:19 AM
For every H-1B position requested, tech companies listed on the S&P 500 stock index increased their employment by five workers in an analysis of 2002 to 2005, according to astudyby the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).
For tech firms with fewer than 5,000 employees, each H-1B request corresponded with an average increase of 7.5 workers, the group said.
In addition, NFAP looked at the number of job openings at tech firms and defense contractors and found 140,000 job openings at S&P 500 firms in January, including more than 4,000 job openings at Microsoft, more than 1,600 openings at both IBM and CSC, and more than 1,500 openings at Cisco Systems. After Microsoft, the company with the most job openings, were defense contractors Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin, each with more than 3,900 job openings, according to asecond studyby NFAP.
Tech companies in particular are seeing huge shortages of qualified workers, said Christopher Hansen, president and CEO of the American Electronics Association (AEA), a large trade group. "The reality is that this nation is today the leader in technology and the technology industries," he said. "To be able to maintain that lead, our companies need access to a highly educated workforce."
These job shortages could continue without a change in the
"We don't see these types of job openings as a temporary phenomenon,"
The studies come out as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates heads to Washington, D.C. Gates is scheduled to testify about innovation and competitiveness before the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee Wednesday, and the H-1B issue is likely to come up.
But the NFAP studies ignore the fact that many H-1B visas are taken by offshore outsourcing firms, said Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and vice president for career activities at the
"These firms hire almost no Americans and their entire business model rests on shifting as many American jobs overseas as fast as possible," he said. "When eight of the top 10 H-1B recipients are the who's who of offshoring then I think it's an understatement to say the program is worse than a complete failure."
Infosys, the Indian outsourcing company, received more than 4,500 H-1B visas in 2007, about 40 times the number Oracle received and 18 times the number Google received, Hira said.
Hira also questioned the NFAP study suggesting companies receiving H-1B visas hired additional workers. "The reports take fanciful leaps of logic to draw strong conclusions from weak or non-existent models," he said.
The NFAP didn't examine most of the top H-1B recipients in its reports, because only three of the top recipients in 2007, Intel, Microsoft and Cognizant, are in the S&P 500, Hira said.
The job creation study also looked at worldwide hiring, not
Asked if the job creation study looked at whether the tech companies were hiring high-paying tech workers in addition to filling H-1B visa,
But AEA's Hansen dismissed criticism that many H-1Bs go to outsourcing companies. NFAP surveyed members of three tech trade groups, and 65 percent of respondents said they have hired people outside of the
"There is a huge, huge demand for these kinds of jobs, and there's a huge competition for them," Hansen said. "There's going to be a major push [for more visas] because there has to be. You have companies that are simply trying to operate, and they need this talent pool to be able to operate."
A look at trends in immigration proposals at the state level
By The Associated Press, By The Associated Press | March 7, 2008
State lawmakers have already proposed more than 350 immigration-related bills in the first two months of this year. States with the largest number of proposals include
Highlights of bills offered:
-- Following Oklahoma's example from last year, legislators in eight states proposed comprehensive immigration bills that would restrict illegal immigrants' access to driver's licenses and other IDs; limit public benefits, penalize employers who hire them and boost ties between local police and federal immigration authorities.
-- Nearly 30 states also have bills focusing on cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
-- Twenty states are seeking to boost cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities and to increase penalties for illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
-- At least 14 states are looking to limit driver's licenses and other IDs.
-- Fourteen states are looking to cut public benefits for illegal immigrants, though such services are mostly regulated by the federal government and already heavily restricted.
-- In a number of states, dueling bills illustrate conflicting views.
<><><> the end / el fin / tamat <><><>
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305
Fax (510) 465-1885