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ACLU: Stop the Criminialization of the Undocumented

The ACLU has released an issues brief arguing against the criminalizing of the undocumented. It's both unlawful and harmful to public policy.

The use by states and localities of criminal laws to go after undocumented immigrants simply for being undocumented is generally unlawful, because the federal government has sole power to regulate immigration.

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U.S. Halts Deportations To Haiti

Homeland Security Secret Janet Napolitano announced today the U.S. will temporarily halt deportations to Haiti.

Those with deportation orders will be allowed to remain in the U.S. Those held in detention centers will remain jailed, Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said.

The Haitians who are here should receive TPS (Temporary Protected Status.) Homeland Security can designate a country for TPS based, among other things, on internal armed conflict, overwhelming natural disaster, or extraordinary temporary conditions preventing safe return of its nationals.

Several members of Congress who represent Haitian communities have been pressuring the Obama administration to give temporary protected status, or TPS, to Haitians illegally in the U.S. The designation would allow Haitians to remain and work legally in the U.S. The latest disaster gave new urgency to the lawmakers' demand.

According to Homeland security, 30,000 Haitians in the U.S. have orders to leave and about 160 are in detention.

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Napolitano Says Obama Ready to Work on Path to Legalization

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday said the Obama Administration is ready to move forward with plans to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants who hope to gain legal status would have to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check and learn English.

.... “Let me emphasize this: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows,” she said, adding that the recovering economy would be strengthened “as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers.”

Unfortunately, Napolitano continued to express support for local enforcement of federal laws and other stricter enforcement procedures. More on her speech is available at the Center for American Progress, including a video of her remarks.

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Napolitano Continues Bush's Punitive Immigration Enforcement Policy

While President Obama said this week that immigration reform will have to wait until next year, his Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has been racheting up former Bush policies of punitive enforcement.

Janet Napolitano, defended the administration’s assertive strategy against illegal immigrants and companies that employ them, relying largely on programs started under President George W. Bush.

....Ms. Napolitano said security problems on the border were inextricably linked not only to the drug trade, but also to the problem of illegal workers in far-flung cities across the country. The government needs to address illegal immigration at the same time it attacks the Mexican mafias, she said.

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Border Agents to Poison Foliage Along Border

Does anyone remember Agent Orange? If this is what Janet Napolitano has in mind for Homeland Security, fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a wild and bumpy ride.

The U.S. Border Patrol plans to poison the plant life along a 1.1-mile stretch of the Rio Grande riverbank as soon as Wednesday to get rid of the hiding places used by smugglers, robbers and illegal immigrants.

If successful, the $2.1 million pilot project could later be duplicated along as many as 130 miles of river in the patrol’s Laredo Sector, as well as other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Are they going to force Sheriff Joe Arpaio's inmates to do the planting? [More...]

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U.S. Expands Expands Iraqi Visa Program Tenfold

We have 12 million people living in this country without proper documentation, many of whom work, have families and pay taxes.

While Congress stalls year after year on providing a path to citizenship for them, and the radical right says there is no room for them, the Bush Administration has no problem playing favorites:

The American Embassy in Baghdad announced Thursday that it had expanded tenfold its program to help Iraqi employees of the American government here, who faced threats for their work, to obtain visas and ultimately citizenship in the United States.

Why should the Iraqis get special treatment? Because they provided aid to the U.S. in its unneccessary preemptive war that we entered under false pretenses?[More...]

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Latinos to Obama: Put Hillary on the Ticket or Help the Undocumented

Also via the Hill today:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) must commit to helping illegal immigrants achieve citizenship or else risk losing the vital Latino vote in the general election, Hispanic Democratic lawmakers are warning.

If he does not promise so-called comprehensive immigration reform, the lawmakers say, the only other way to win over Hispanic supporters of his erstwhile rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), may be to pick her as his running mate.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is meeting with Obama's campaign this week. One member says:[ More....]

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San Francisco to Undocumented Residents: You're Safe Here

No human being is illegal. Kudos to San Francisco:

The city of San Francisco has started an advertising push with a very specific target market: illegal immigrants. And while the advertisements will come in a bundle of languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese — they all carry the same message: you are safe here.

In what may be the first such campaign of its kind, the city plans to publish multilanguage brochures and fill the airwaves with advertisements relaying assurance that San Francisco will not report them to federal immigration authorities.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said the campaign was simply an amplification of a longstanding position of not cooperating with immigration raids or other enforcement. The city passed a so-called sanctuary ordinance in 1989.

The rationale behind it: (More...)

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How the Candidates Differ On Immigration

The Center for International Policy, a group whose mission is "promoting a U.S. foreign policy based on international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for basic human rights," has released two reports in the past month comparing the positions of the Republican and Democratic candidates on immigration, using their own words, statements on their websites and their votes in Congress. On the Republican side, McCain and Huckabee are included; for the Democrats, it's Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

The presidential candidates of the Democratic Party share a common conviction that the country badly needs comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to legalization for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. The policy positions of the Democratic Party candidates—Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama—stand in sharp contrast to those offered by the Republican Party candidates, with the partial exception of John McCain.

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Obama Reaffirms Support for Drivers' Licenses for the Undocumented

On ABC News tonight, Barack Obama reaffirmed his support for drivers' licenses for the undocumented, saying it's an issue of public safety.

He also earned the support of the Spanish newspaper, La Opinion, over Hillary:

"We were disappointed with her calculated opposition to driver's licenses for the undocumented, which contrasts markedly from the forceful argument in support made by Obama," wrote La Opinion's editorial board. "We understand that this is an extremely controversial issue but we believe there is only one right position and it is that of the senator from Illinois."

I strongly support drivers' licenses for the undocumented. But it's states that issue drivers' licenses. I wonder if Obama will take it a step further and work to get Congress to pass a law withholding federal funds from states that don't allow drivers' licenses for the undocumented. That's what the feds did when they wanted states to lower the speed limit to 55. Why can't we do it with drivers' licenses?

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NY Times Blasts Republicans on Immigration

The New York Times says Republicans are embracing an immigration policy known as "attrition." It's a policy of tightening the screws, in hopes the undocumented will just go away.

That amounts to relentlessly tightening the screws in workplaces and homes until illegal immigrants magically, voluntarily disappear.

Making it work would require far more government intrusion into daily lives, with exponential increases in workplace raids and deportations. It would mean constant ID checks for everyone — citizens, too — with immigration police at the federal, state and local levels. It would mean enlisting bureaucrats and snoops to keep an eye on landlords, renters, laborers, loiterers and everyone who uses government services or gets sick.

Worst of all, it’s weak on law and order. It is a free pass to the violent criminals we urgently need to hunt down and deport. Attrition means waiting until we stumble across bad people hiding in the vast illegal immigrant haystack. Comprehensive reform, by bringing the undocumented out of the shadows, shrinks the haystack.

Going through the list of Republican candidates, one is more reactionary than the next. As to the border fence, the Times calls it a "reject of history." [More...]

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Welcome News From the Bush Administration On Deportation of Offenders

One of the worst immigration policies we have is that non-citizens, including those present in this country legally, not only face mandatory removal if convicted of an assortment of non-violent crimes, but must first serve their full sentences in U.S. prisons and jails. If we know the defendant is going to be deported, why the cruelty of the double whammy of a prison sentence followed by removal, and why pay to house them for years before sending them back?

The Bush Administration today announced a plan to end the practice, and allow prisoners to shorten their sentences if they agree to removal.

Under current law, immigrants convicted of crimes are deported only after serving their sentences in this country. Foreigners behind bars, Ms. Myers said, include large numbers of immigrants who were legal residents, but lost their legal status as a result of being convicted of crimes.

Ms. Myers said the agency would work with states to devise parole programs allowing immigrants imprisoned for nonviolent crimes to reduce their prison time if they agreed to be deported immediately upon release. [More...]

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What's the Best Immigration Policy?


With the news and bloggers returning to a discussion of immigration this weekend as the Democratic candidates vie for the Latino and Hispanic vote (more here) and the Republican candidates try to show they are the toughest on the undocumented, here's ten point immigration reform plan TalkLeft supports:

1. We need a comprehensive program that allows undocumented immigrants from all nationalities and living in the U.S. to obtain legal permanent residency.

2. Future immigrants should also be able to come here legally and safely, have access to permanent residency, and not fear criminal prosecution for unlawful entry or exit.

3. Immigrant workers’ rights should be promoted and protected; employer sanctions and the criminalization of work must be ended. Labor laws should be strictly enforced, and immigrant workers should have the freedom to join unions to improve wages and working conditions.

4. The human rights of all immigrants should be respected in the enforcement of immigration laws throughout the U.S. and at the nation’s borders.

5. Immigrants should be able to adjust their status and reunite with families in a fair and timely way. [More...]

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Arizona to Increase Prosecution of Undocumented at Enormous Cost

Despite a severe budget shortage, Arizona is set to begin prosecuting 40 to 60 "apprehended migrants" a day.

This is a very expensive program that is unlikely to be a deterrent.

Even with only 40 prosecutions a day, expenses will likely add up to millions of dollars a year for housing, transporting, prosecuting and defending those who are charged.

While a higher number of arrests clearly occur daily in the Tucson sector, trying to prosecute many more on a daily basis clearly would overwhelm the system, various federal officials say.

On the impact: [More....]

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NY Times Blasts Repubublican Candidates Over Immigration


A New York Times editorial today sharply criticizes the Republican candidates for President over immigration. It also calls on the Demoratic candidates to speak out more forcefully for sane and workable immigration reform.

The problem is that the country cannot build a fence or send troops and expect its problems to go away. Huge numbers of illegal immigrants never go anywhere near the border: about 40 percent enter legally and overstay their visas. Nor can the government purge workplaces of illegal workers without doing vast damage to the economy. At some point it must address the 12 million undocumented, who cannot be deported en masse.

The Times frames the questions both sides need to answer: [More....]

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