Immigrant Rights News - Wed, March 5, 2008
Immigrant Rights News – Wed, March 5, 2008
Visit one of the National Network’s blogs: www.nnirr.blogspot.com for IRN postings.
4. Fox News: “
GOP senators to introduce toughest-yet immigration package
Bills would mandate prison time for illegal border crossings and compel English in dealing with federal agencies.
By Nicole Gaouette
March 5, 2008
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are set to announce today the hardest-hitting package of immigration enforcement measures seen yet -- one that would require jail time for illegal immigrants caught crossing the border, make it harder for them to open bank accounts and compel them to communicate in English when dealing with federal agencies.
Most of the bills stand little chance of being debated in the Democratic-controlled Congress. But the move by some of the Senate's leading Republicans underscores how potent the immigration issue remains, particularly in a presidential election year.
The bills give Republicans a way to put pressure on the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to take a tougher stance on immigration. They also reflect a shift toward harsher immigration rhetoric and legislative proposals from both parties since Congress failed to pass a comprehensive overhaul in 2007.
The package -- an enforcement smorgasbord assembled by at least eight lawmakers -- consists of 11 bills, but it could expand to as many as 14. Some elements echo House bills, but others go beyond House proposals.
One would discourage states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants by docking 10% of highway funding from states that continue to do so.
Another would extend the presence of the National Guard on the border, and a third would end language assistance at federal agencies and the voting booth for people with limited English ability.
A bill by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is leading the effort, would impose a maximum two-year prison sentence on someone caught illegally crossing the border a second time.
"The point is to reinforce the idea that most of us here feel that we need to make enforcement and border security a first step to solving the overall problem," said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), one of the sponsors.
Although Congress usually avoids tough legislation during an election year, Vitter insisted that he and his colleagues could still get something done. "There are concrete steps we can take. None of us see any reason to waste this time," he said.
Other bills in the package would
* Block federal funding to cities that bar their police from asking about immigration status.
* Give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use information from the Social Security Administration to target illegal immigrants.
* Require construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, not including vehicle barriers.
* Impose sanctions on countries that refuse to repatriate their citizens.
* Deport any immigrant, legal or illegal, for one drunk-driving conviction.
* Enable local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said the Republican proposal "falls far short of what is needed." Democrats want to combine enforcement with a guest-worker program and a way to deal with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Reid "continues to support legislation that is tough on people who break the law, fair to taxpayers and practical to implement," Manley said.
But Democrats have also begun embracing a tougher stance on immigration. A confidential study assembled for the Democratic leadership earlier this year urged them to start using tougher language. Democrats have focused on offering opportunity to immigrants, but the study by two public-policy groups urged them to begin speaking in terms of "requiring" illegal immigrants to become legal and about what's best for the
Many House Democrats have gone a step further, endorsing an enforcement-only bill by freshman Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) that would bolster border security and require employers to verify their workers' legal status with an electronic verification system.
The SAVE (Secure America through Verification and Enforcement) Act has drawn 140 cosponsors, 48 of whom are Democrats, many of them vulnerable freshmen who won seats from Republicans.
The Democratic leadership dislikes Shuler's bill and has refused to schedule a debate. Republican leaders are considering collecting signatures for a special petition that requires House leaders to bring a bill up for debate if 218 members sign. There are 198 Republicans.
Angela Kelley, director of the
Conservatives consider McCain soft on immigration. McCain, along with Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of
If McCain endorsed the Senate package, that could "create a platform for McCain to look tough on immigration, create distance from Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] and erect a shield around the amnesty charge," Kelley said.
Besides Sessions and Vitter, the bills are being introduced by GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of
New immigration screening methods target Muslims, critics charge
By Marisa Taylor
4:22 PM CST, March 3, 2008
In the six and a half years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal law-enforcement agencies have secretly established profiling techniques to screen immigrants based on their nationalities, protocols that critics charge encourage the unjustified targeting of Muslims.
The profiling, described in a February 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo obtained by McClatchy Newspapers, shows that the government has relied more heavily on nationality as an indicator of security risks than was previously known.
Federal agencies have created internal lists of countries that are of "special interest" for national security reasons, wrote the memo's author, Ted Stark, supervisory special agent with the Office of Intelligence at ICE.
So many federal agencies have created different lists that
The proposed list, which officials said had yet to be adopted, includes 35 countries, most with significant Muslim or Arab populations. Almost 20 percent of the world's countries — including some of the
The effort to come up with a uniform approach is another reflection of how the nation continues to grapple with finding effective ways to detect terrorists, and how those efforts sometimes collide with constitutional and legal rights.
In this case, with little or no oversight or public scrutiny, law enforcement officials have assumed flexible and expansive discretion to make screening decisions based on where an immigrant was born.
The group of agencies — which included ICE, the National Security Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — not only recommended one list but also suggested an interagency definition of a "special interest alien."
Under the proposal, a special interest alien would be an immigrant with terrorist ties or an immigrant who by nationality, "ethnicity or other factors may have ties or sympathies" with the listed countries.
As a result, an immigrant who doesn't have any known terrorist links and who isn't from a country on the list conceivably could be considered a special interest alien, if his or her ethnic background included a listed country.
Stark described the proposed term as "generic enough to address all the functional issues" of federal law-enforcement agencies.
Critics charge that the screening technique not only appears to target Muslims but also is too broad to be effective.
"When you're targeting as 'special' 20 percent of the world, you're obviously sweeping far too broadly and you're going to waste a lot of resources on people who pose no threat," said David Cole, a professor at Georgetown
"The second problem is that when you treat people from Muslim countries as suspect merely because they come from Muslim countries, you are very likely to alienate the people here and abroad we need to be working with if we're going to get helpful information on what the real threats are."
Federal authorities wouldn't discuss the memo or the screening methods in detail but denied singling out Muslims. When asked, some confirmed that such lists existed but wouldn't disclose the identities of the nations.
According to the memo, once a federal agency designates an immigrant a "special interest alien," officials run him or her through a "full court press" of interviews, inspections and database checks.
Depending on what agents discover, such foreigners might be cleared after lengthy background checks. Or they could be flagged for detention or deportation, or become the subjects of criminal investigations.
Cole, a leading critic of the administration's anti-terrorism initiatives, said the description of the special-interest designation confirmed his suspicions that federal law enforcement officials had gradually set up permanent profiling efforts throughout the government.
After the 9-11 attacks, federal agents detained 1,200 mainly Muslim men and separately required visa-holders from predominantly Muslim or Arab countries to be fingerprinted and registered in a database.
"This sounds like a continuation and an institutionalization of what was essentially a failed initiative in the first couple of years after 9-11," Cole said. "It's a proxy for religious and ethnic profiling."
Courts have upheld immigration policies that discriminate based on nationality, but they generally view law enforcement profiling of
Proponents of stricter immigration enforcement have pressed authorities to concentrate on Muslim or Middle Eastern immigrants, given that four of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists overstayed their visas and almost all came from
Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said agents had the prerogative to single out immigrants based not only on nationality but also on race, religion or ethnicity because of the federal government's broad authority in all immigration matters.
"This is not a constitutional issue," Krikorian said. "This is a question of the best law enforcement and security approach."
After the attacks, Americans expressed ambivalence about whether law enforcement should rely on profiling. While a majority thought that it was wrong to base profiling on race, religion or ethnicity, many also described it as "understandable" if Middle Easterners were singled out.
In practice, agents don't automatically scrutinize every immigrant from the listed countries, ICE and FBI officials said. Nor do agencies rely on the designation when deciding whether to pursue criminal charges or to grant
"It's not an automatic trigger," said Steve Kodak, an FBI spokesman, who confirmed that the bureau's criminal investigative, counterintelligence and counterterrorism division used such lists. "It's a tool that agents use at their own discretion."
Kelly Nantel, an ICE spokeswoman, said her agency didn't have one list or definition but used different approaches depending on the division or situation.
"In many cases, that includes reviewing the country of origin," she said. "But it's a single consideration in an overall decision."
Attorneys for immigrants said it was impossible to know whether authorities were singling people out for the wrong reasons when so little was disclosed.
Although the government hasn't launched other mass detentions, agents continue to detain or question Muslim immigrants without explanation.
"They never say why," said Melinda Basaran, a
Alicia Molina, a
The college-educated engineer, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his wife and children, who remain in
After he arrived in the
He permitted McClatchy Newspapers to ask ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services about his case, but officials with those agencies said they wouldn't comment.
Considering that he had undergone a previous security check, he thought that he'd be granted asylum quickly when he filed his request in April 2004. Instead, government officials told his lawyer and him that he hadn't cleared yet another background check.
In late January, almost four years and nine court dates later, the government granted him asylum. He's now seeking to bring his wife and children to the
"This clearly happened because of the country he's from," Molina said. "To me, it's un-American. But all along, the government acted like it was completely normal and that it happens to everybody."
ON THE WEB:
More about American sentiment on profiling:
(Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel contributed to this report.)
NAFTA has had its trade-offs for the
Consumers and global companies benefited, but critics see pitfalls.
By Marla Dickerson
March 3, 2008
Thousands of protesters paralyzed traffic in
The Rust Belt has shed hundreds of thousands of factory jobs since 1994, when the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade bloc was implemented.
"Let's get real about NAFTA. It simply isn't working for all Americans,"
Whether talk of revamping NAFTA amounts to more than election-year stumping remains to be seen. Three-way trade has soared and unemployment in the
Yet there is growing wariness among the public that the
Lawmakers who are critical of the Bush administration's trade policies picked up 37 congressional seats in the 2006 election, according to Global Trade Watch, a Washington-based advocacy group. Although Congress approved a free trade pact with
It's not just Democrats who want a time out. Six in 10 Republican voters said that free trade had hurt the
"We're seeing the strongest opposition to free trade expansion in recent memory," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the
Despite promises that NAFTA would help keep Mexicans at home, illegal immigration to the
"The dimensions of the problem are finally becoming obvious," said Raul Fernandez, a professor of Chicano and Latino studies at UC Irvine. "Policymakers in the
Free trade agreements have been the centerpiece of the Bush administration's relations with Latin America, where the
Despite strong economic growth in much of
Survey respondents in Central America were particularly downbeat, despite that region's recent embrace of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In a separate 2007 opinion poll, Mexicans said they disapproved of NAFTA by 2 to 1, according to the Mexico City-based polling firm Mund Americas. That's an about-face from 10 years ago, when Mexicans favored the deal by a similar ratio.
The shift reflects disappointment that NAFTA hasn't done more to transform
Free trade boosters say unrealistic expectations have soured ordinary people in both countries on NAFTA. The pact, they believe, is a scapegoat for failed government policies and larger economic trends.
Although NAFTA clearly has put some American factory hands out of work, manufacturing employment has been declining since the 1970s, largely as a result of automation.
NAFTA may have pushed some Mexican farmers off the land. But experts say most illegal immigrants were pulled north by back-to-back economic booms in the
Under the agreement, the last tariffs on agricultural products were lifted Dec. 31. Although
But his administration has opposed any such move. NAFTA backers note that some Mexican farmers have prospered under the deal: Although only about 5% do any exporting, they've been so successful at sending avocados, tomatoes and other fruit north that
Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D) and
Others want strict enforcement of labor and environmental laws in developing countries and more retraining and financial aid for workers who lose their livelihoods.
Jeff Faux, founding president of the Economic Policy Institute, thinks NAFTA requires a bigger fix. He advocates a $100-billion, U.S.-backed development fund to stimulate job growth in
He said pulling out of the deal was impossible, given the links forged by the
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
By DEBORAH BAKER, Associated Press Writer
— ROSWELL, N.M.
Karina Acosta's senior year at Roswell High came to an abrupt end after she was ticketed for blocking a fire lane outside a school and driving without a license.
The officer who stopped her _ a
The episode has caused a furor in town, with teachers and others complaining that Acosta's treatment violated the spirit, if not the letter, of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has all but made the nation's public schools safe havens for illegal immigrants.
"The school was considered a place you could come and not have to worry," said Coreta Justus, a teacher at 1,300-student Roswell High. She added: "My job is to educate whoever walks in my classroom."
Complaining of racism and unfair treatment, students demonstrated on
Three months later, Acosta's case is still dividing people in
Officer Charlie Corn reported that he spotted Acosta blocking a fire lane in late November while she was dropping off a youngster at a middle school. Corn, who was on traffic duty at the school, followed Acosta to the high school nearby, discovered she had no license and ticketed her.
He gave her several days to produce proof of legal residency, after which he called her into his campus office and contacted immigration authorities. They immediately took her to a juvenile detention center, and she agreed to be sent back to the Mexican state of
A 1982 Supreme Court ruling guarantees children who are in the
But the question of whether police may do so is murkier.
Marisol Perez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said Corn's actions were "certainly questionable and problematic." She said the case was "just as egregious" as that of three students who were arrested at an
Jennifer Moore, who teaches international, human rights and refugee law at the University of New Mexico, said making students vulnerable to deportation at school is "making a mockery" of their right to public education.
And it is occurring "in the very place where they have the greatest chance at getting the skills they need to participate in this society that they are living in," she said.
But the chief said that in the future, "Enforcement action like that would probably be taken after school hours and off of campus."
The legal question aside, some of Acosta's former teachers said she was wronged.
Dolores Fresquez said her former student was well-behaved, had good grades and held down a job. Fresquez, who teaches Spanish and English as a second language, estimated that up to 90 percent of the students in the old, yellow brick high school are Hispanic, and perhaps 40 percent of those are illegal.
"The thing that made me angry is that schools are supposed to be safe for any student, regardless of what nationality, what age they may be," the teacher said.
But others in
"They're here freeloading, and that's exactly the reason I think they should not be allowed in the school system," said Gene Warren, a retired telephone repairman.
An Acosta family friend, Rosie Delgado, said that Acosta's mother, who has also been living in
The Rev. Juan Montoya of
"It's not just about Karina. Karina is just one of many," said Montoya, a Mexican-American. "I know people who have been picked up _ didn't break a law, they didn't pass a stop sign, they didn't do anything."
<><><> 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