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Immigration Reform Proposals to be Submitted This Week

A blueprint for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship some undocumented residents, is expected to be released this week by a 6 member Senate working group, that includes Senators Dick Durbin, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mark Rubio, Charles Schumer and Robert Menendez.

The Republicans in the group are going to stress tougher border security and more employer penalties. The Democrats (hopefully) will stress family reunification.

Mr. Durbin added that the effort will be focused on unifying families, and will include a version of the Dream Act, which would give undocumented students a path to permanent residency status.

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Applications Out Today for Young Immigrants to Defer Removal

Today is the day that hundreds of thousands of undocumented young persons who have been residing in this country can start applying for a two year period of protection from deportation.

Under President Obama's recent order, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is handling the applications. The forms became available today.

Individuals requesting consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals must submit Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (with accompanying fees); and an I-765WS, Worksheet. USCIS recently developed a series of resources to inform the on how the process will work. The website, www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals, includes a flier, a How do I brochure, frequently asked questions, and a number of other resources. USCIS encourages individuals with questions to visit this website or call the USCIS National Customer Service line at 1-800-375-5283.

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New DREAM Deferral Details Released: $465 Cost to Applicants

New details were released yesterday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the application process for President Obama's new program deferring deportation for undocumented young residents for up to two years.

The cost for a work permit will be $465.00. Lawyers aren't needed. The applications will be available August 15.

Here is the press release. [More...]

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Obama Spends July 4th With New Citizens

President Obama, as is his custom, spent July 4th with military families, at a White House backyard barbecue, but he began the day presiding over a citizenship ceremony for 25 new citizens.

“Just as we remain a nation of laws, we have to remain a nation of immigrants,” Mr. Obama said. “And that’s why, as another step forward, we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children. It’s why we still need a Dream Act — to keep talented young people who want to contribute to our society and serve our country.

Immigration is another issue that sets him apart from Mitt Romney. I wonder how that issue polls in the swing-states that everyone says will determine the election in November. It's likely to help him in Colorado and Nevada, but what about the others? [More...]

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ICE Announces 400,000 Deportations in 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton today announced the number of people deported from the U.S. in fiscal year 2011 (which ended in September.) The total, which is the highest number yet: 400,000. (ICE press release here.)

According to ICE, "55 percent of the 396,906 individuals deported had felony or misdemeanor convictions." It could not answer how many of the felonies were immigration offenses like illegal re-entry which don't require the commission of a separate crime:

Individuals can be convicted of a felony just for returning to the U.S. or being found in the U.S. after the government orders them to leave.

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New Immigration Policy Begins, Canceling Some Removals

Homeland Security has begun its review of 300,000 cases of undocumented residents eligible for removal (deportation) and giving reprieves to a limited few.

Under the policy, immigration authorities will use powers of prosecutorial discretion in existing law to suspend the deportations of most immigrants who, although they have committed immigration violations (which generally are civil offenses), have not been convicted of crimes.

In particular, officials will look to halt deportations of longtime residents with clean police records who came here illegally when they were children, or are close family of military service members, or are parents or spouses of American citizens.

The cases will be examined individually, with removals being canceled for those who fit the guidelines: [More..]

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Obama Authorizes Work Permits in Lieu of Deportation

President Obama today issued an order authorizing undocumented residents to obtain work permits and avoid removal (deportation.)

The Obama administration said Thursday it will allow many illegal immigrants facing deportation the chance to stay in this country and apply for a work permit, while focusing on removing from the U.S. convicted criminals and those who might be a national security or public safety threat.

That will mean a case-by-case review of approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants facing possible deportation in federal immigration courts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in announcing the policy change.

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Lou Dobbs' Undocumented Worker Problem

The Nation has a feature article alleging Lou Dobbs employed undocumented workers.

Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper.

From The Nation's editorial: Make it Legal:

On any given day, we've all probably eaten fruit harvested by undocumented workers or meat they butchered. These workers also make possible the lifestyles enjoyed by wealthy Americans like Dobbs and Whitman, with their estates and grounds and stables. How these millions of workers could be extracted from their jobs and deported without causing massive disruption not only to their lives but to the entire economy defies the imagination. Yet this is what Dobbs demands with his call for ever tougher enforcement.

The solution:[More...]

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Menendez-Leahy Immigration Bill Introduced

Last week, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT)introduced S. 3932, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform ("CIR") Act of 2010, The ACLU says it has some good due process protection measures, but it falls short in other key areas, particularly the e-verify program and in its enforcement measures, many of which run counter to civil liberties.

Here are the problems with the enforcement measures:

S. 3932 .... unfortunately leaves intact the 287(g) program run by Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), which delegates certain federal immigration enforcement power to designated state and local police. Earlier this year, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued a scathing report of the 287(g) program, recommending 33 critical reforms to be implemented. ICE has failed to implement the vast majority of those recommendations and instead has expanded the 287(g) program to 70 jurisdictions.

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Colin Powell Urges Path to Citizenship for Undocumented

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Congress to pass immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented today. He said undocumented workers have made repairs on his house and they are an essential part of our labor force.

"They're all over my house, doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I'm sure you've seen them at your house. We've got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status."

Here's the text of the Dream Act, S. 729, as introduced in 2009. Thomas page is here. PDF version here. [More...]

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Senate Approves $600 Million for Mexico Border Security

Republicans won't agree to immigration reform, but Democrats were willing to kow-tow to them today and pass another $600 million for border security for 2011, 10% more than 2010. $1 billion for border security with one country for two years?

The money would be used for such purposes as adding 1,500 new enforcement agents and deploying unmanned aerial drones to improve border surveillance.

Cops and drones. Just what we don't need more of. And, get this -- John McCain said the $600 million was insufficient, he wanted more. And more jail sentences: [More...]

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Evangelical Support Grows for Path to Legalization

The New York Times reports:

Normally on the opposite side of political issues backed by the Obama White House, [evangelical]leaders are aligning with the president to support an overhaul that would include some path to legalization for illegal immigrants already here. They are preaching from pulpits, conducting conference calls with pastors and testifying in Washington....

Could it make a difference?

Although other religious leaders have long favored immigration overhaul — including Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, Jews and Muslims — the evangelicals are crucial because they have the relationships and the pull with Republicans.

So, if all those groups are for it, who is against it? The people they are preaching to? Can they convert their choirs?[More...]

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ICE is Rebranding Its Image, Less Focus on Civil Immigration Enforcement

ICE has an image problem. The Washington Post reports the agency is making changes and hopes to fix it.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will realign its duties to promote criminal investigations over immigrant deportation, officials have announced.

By streamlining and renaming several offices, officials hope to highlight the agency's counterterrorism, money laundering and other complex criminal investigations and in the process "re-brand" ICE, turning the public -- and political -- spotlight away from its immigration work.

Here's the memo that went out to ICE employees last week.

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Denver City Council to Consider Immigration Proclamation

Tomorrow night, the Denver City Council will consider an immigration reform proclamation that includes:

NOW THEREFORE,BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER:

Section 1. That the Council of the City and County of Denver calls upon President Barack Obama, the United States Congress, and our Colorado congressional delegation, to take swift and responsible legislative action to produce fair, humane, effective, and comprehensive federal immigration reform - reform that enhances American stability, security, and prosperity by: providing for robust border control; enforceable immigration laws; family unification; a rate and system of controlled immigration that matches the needs of our economy; a path to earned legalization, citizenship, and social integration for our existing immigrant workforce and their families; equitable access to higher education for immigrant students already being educated in American public schools; enhanced enforcement of labor laws; and bilateral partnerships with other countries to promote economic development that will reduce the flow of immigrants in the first place.

If you'd like to call your city council representative and ask them to support it, here's the contact information.

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NY Governor To Accelerate Pardons to Avoid Deportation

New York Governor David Paterson today announced that he would accelerate the pardon process so as to grant more pardons to legal immigrants convicted of old, minor crimes and prevent them from being deported.

Some of our immigration laws, particularly with respect to deportation, are embarrassingly and wrongly inflexible,” Mr. Paterson said in a speech on Monday at an annual gathering of the state’s top judges. “In New York we believe in renewal,” he added. “In New York, we believe in rehabilitation.”

In other good news, Sheriff Joe Arpaio won't run for Governor. Now if he'd only leave law enforcement. David Newert at Crooks and Liars has more on Arapio's possible motives. And here's the Pulitzer winning five part Tribune series on Arpaio's performance in office, which leaves much to be desired, to say the least.

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