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Entries in Illegal Immigrants (32)

Thursday
Mar212013

Report: Deaths Increasing at US-Mexico Border

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The number of immigrants who died while attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border saw a large increase in 2012, even though there seem to be far fewer people attempting the crossing.

According to a report released by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigrant deaths at the border rose by 27 percent in 2012. Despite the fact that the border patrol has nearly twice as many agents as it did 15 years ago, the number of deaths in crossing has more than doubled.

The 477 immigrants who died trying to cross the border in 2012 is the second highest annual total, behind only 2005.

The border patrol captured over 350,000 undocumented immigrants in 2012, as compared to over 1.5 million in 1999. With a dramatic decrease in the number of immigrants attempting the journey, it is staggering that such a large number of them are dying.

The NFAP says that these numbers suggest that the border is getting more dangerous for immigrants. Testimonies from organizations that work along the border seem to confirm this.

Geoff Boyce, a spokesman for an Arizona nonprofit called No More Deaths, told USA Today that immigrants are now crossing the border in more remote areas of the desert comprised of 900 square miles with just two paved roads.

He said the crossing takes three to four days, and is made in temperatures as high as 110 degrees, in the summer, and below freezing in winter time.

"Even the healthiest person is going to have a hard time surviving in those kinds of conditions," Boyce told USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Judge Rules in Favor of Arizona's 'Show Me Your Papers' Provision

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Authorities in Arizona will shortly begin enforcing the "show me your papers" provision of the state's controversial immigration law, SB 1070.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled on Wednesday that after stopping someone for violating another law, police officers can question the legal status of individuals if they think they might be in the country illegally.

The decision follows a two-year court battle that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the requirement in June.

In a statement Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hailed the court ruling, saying it's been a long time coming.

"Today, Arizona is one big step closer to implementing the core provision of SB 1070.  I applaud the federal court for siding with the U.S. Supreme Court in refusing to block the most critical section of this law, which will empower state and local law enforcement, as part of a legal stop or detention, to inquire about an individual’s immigration status when the officer has reasonable suspicion," Brewer said.

"After more than two years of legal challenges, it is time that Section 2(B) of SB 1070 take effect. Given today’s ruling, along with the federal court’s suggestion that it intends in the very near future to formally lift the existing injunction, it is clear the day of implementation is fast approaching," she continued.

While Brewer said the provision "must be enforced efficiently, effectively and in harmony with the Constitution and civil rights," critics contend it will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

For Some 'Dreamers' the Wait for Legal Status Is Just Beginning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- From Chicago to Los Angeles, thousands of young undocumented immigrants have flooded consulates, cafeterias and convention centers seeking legal guidance and paper proof that they are eligible for a "deferred action permit," which will allow them to work legally for two years in the country they grew up in.

The federal government began accepting applications for the permits on Wednesday.  To be eligible, immigrants must be under the age of 31, have come to the United States before their 16th birthday, attended school or enrolled in the military and be able to prove they resided in the country for the past five years.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, as many as 1.8 million could be eligible.

But in Arizona, the benefits of legal status may still be a far off dream.  Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who is notorious for her hardline stance on immigration, signed an executive order Wednesday evening barring people with deferred status from obtaining driver's licenses or other state benefits.

Under Arizona law, people applying for a driver's license could use their federal work permit to prove that they were in the country legally.  Under Brewer's order, work permits given to people through the deferred action process will not qualify for a license.

"The Arizona driver's license is the gateway to public benefits in this state," said Matthew Benson, the spokesman for the governor's office.  "If the state doesn't have the authority to block these illegal aliens from getting driver's licenses our agencies will have no way of knowing who is entitled to public benefits."

Brewer said in the executive order that providing benefits to the young immigrants, as many as 80,000 of whom reside in Arizona, will "have significant and lasting effects on the Arizona budget, health care system and additional public benefits that Arizona taxpayers fund."

Arizona has been a hotspot of contention over immigration policy, having instated one of the strictest immigration laws in the country in 2010.  The majority of the law, often referred to as SB 1070, was struck down by the Supreme Court in July.  The court upheld the most contentious aspect of the law: the authority of police to check the legal status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

But because the deferred action permits do not make immigrants legal residents, Brewer's executive order "really doesn't do much," said Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Arkansas, who studies gubernatorial power.

"It was certainly an opportunity for her [Gov. Brewer] to reiterate her credibility on the immigration issue but it really didn't do anything substantively to change things," Barth said.  "She was essentially reiterating what was already in the law."

Gov. Brewer's spokesman confirmed that the executive order "does not change existing law," it just "reaffirms" it.

Ann Morse, program director at the National Conference on State Legislature's Immigrant Policy Project, said Brewer's order merely "affirmatively stated" what had been left unsaid.  While the permits prevent deportation, they do not give immigrants access to most state benefits.

Morse said "dreamers" are stuck in a legal "limbo" with the deferred action permits.  They cannot be deported, but they are not on a path to citizenship and are only granted the right to work for two years.

"It is a pause button until Congress acts," Morse said.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has tried for 11 years to pass the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came into the country as children and attended college or served in the military.  He said the two-year deferred action permits are a "positive step forward, but there's much more to do."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug152012

Young Illegal Immigrants May Now Apply for Deportation Relief

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After a lifetime of fearing deportation, being banned for legal work and fighting to stay in the country they grew up in, thousands and thousands of young undocumented immigrants could soon get a reprieve as the federal government begins accepting applications for deferred action permits on Wednesday.

Immigrants who are under the age of 31 and were brought into the country before their 16th birthdays are eligible for the permits, which will allow them to stay in the country legally for two years.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, up to 1.76 million could be eligible.

"I have been waiting for this day and will be in line early," Jose Cabrera, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, told ABC's Gina Sunseri in Houston.  "I hope this means someday I can be a real citizen."

In order to receive the deferred action permit, immigrants have to either be currently enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or GED.  Honorably discharged veterans are also eligible to apply.  Felons and people with more than three misdemeanors will not be given permits, according to the policy.

The price tag for a two-year exemption from deportation is a hefty one for many -- $465 per application.  A non-profit group in Houston, Protectors of the Dream, announced on Tuesday that they would be awarding 10 to 25 grants to cover the application fee for some Houston-area immigrants.

"This generation of young scholars and activists that has come to be known as the Dream Act generation is amazing," Jacob Monty, who's with the Monty & Ramirez law firm, one of the founders of the group, said in a statement. 

"We are inspiring our business and professional community to lend the resources, skills, and vision to this cause to lobby for more profound immigration reform and to be witness to how this administration and future administrations treat our young as they step out of the shadows to attempt to take part in the American Dream.  We want to start by alleviating the burden of filing fees for DREAMERS," he said.

Under the new policy, so-called "dreamers" would be granted legal status and work permits, but not a path to citizenship or the right to vote.

In June, President Obama announced the measure, igniting a hailstorm of controversy.

Republican leaders in Congress blasted the policy as out-of-touch with the harsh job market U.S. citizens already face.

"[The] deferred action guidance is another example of how the president's policies put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas) told ABC News when the policy was announced.

Applications will be reviewed on an individual, case-by-case basis.  It is unclear how long each review will take.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Supreme Court Set to Hear Challenge to Arizona’s Immigration Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Less than a month after hearing a challenge to the controversial Obama health care law brought by 26 states, the Supreme Court on Wednesday will explore the relationship between the federal government and the states on another hot-button issue: immigration.

At issue is S.B. 1070 -- Arizona’s strict immigration law that empowers local police to enforce federal immigration laws.  It was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer who says that the law was needed to combat illegal immigration.

“It costs us about 1.6 billion dollars a year in health care, incarceration and education,” Brewer said.  “It’s out of control.”

The arguments will mark a rematch between the Obama administration’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., and Paul Clement, who will argue on behalf of Arizona and who also represented the states in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Almost immediately after S.B. 1070 passed in 2010, the Obama administration challenged the law.  A lower court sided with the government and froze four controversial provisions from going into effect.

One of the provisions requires local law enforcement officers to request immigration papers from anyone they stop if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the country illegally.  Another criminalizes unauthorized work, and a third makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers at all times.  A fourth provision allows law enforcement to make an arrest without a warrant when an officer has probable cause to believe an individual has committed an offense that would result in a person’s deportation.

The Obama administration argues that the Constitution gives the federal government authority over immigration and that the state law conflicts with existing federal law.

“As the Framers understood, it is the National government that has ultimate responsibility to regulate the treatment of aliens while on American soil, because it is the nation as a whole -- not any single state -- that must respond to the international consequences of such treatment,” Verrilli wrote in court papers.

He argues that while the federal government welcomes the assistance of state officers, Arizona is trying to adopt its own immigration policy while paying no heed to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the principal federal immigration statute that establishes a scheme for the regulation of immigration.

But Clement says in court papers that Arizona shoulders a disproportionate burden of the national illegal immigration problem, and that SB 1070 was passed to supplement the “the federal government’s inadequate immigration enforcement.”

“Arizona was acutely aware of the need to respect federal authority to set the substantive rules governing immigration, and carefully crafted a bill to respect Congress’ policy determinations and definitions while enhancing the State’s contribution to the enforcement efforts,” Clement wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Report: Fewer Mexicans Coming to US, More Returning Home

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A report by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that the influx of Mexicans into the U.S. that began during the 1970s has slowed down to a trickle over the past five years for various reasons, including the American economic downturn and tougher enforcement of the border.

There are currently 11.2 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., the majority of them Mexican.  In 2007, it was estimated that seven million Mexicans were undocumented aliens.  Last year, that number fell to 6.1 million.

Mexicans living in the U.S. legally has only climbed slightly from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million last year.

According to the report, "The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill."

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT ]

It's estimated that 1.4 million Mexicans went back to their home country from 2005 through 2010 -- twice as many as a decade earlier -- while around the same number came to the U.S during that time span -- half as many as the previous decade.

Other reasons for the drop in Mexicans coming to the U.S. are declining birthrates and the Obama administration's stepped up deportation policies, which have come under attack by immigration advocates but might convince Republicans to work on a broad immigration overhaul plan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr022012

ICE Arrests 3,168 Criminal Aliens in Sweep

Paul Caffrey/ICE(WASHINGTON) -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday it arrested 3,168 criminal aliens and fugitives in a six-day nationwide sweep in every state including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The operation dubbed “Cross-Check” included more than 2,834 individuals who had prior criminal convictions. ICE officials noted that 50 gang members and 149 convicted sex offenders were nabbed.

Although ICE has run similar operations called “Cross-Check,”  ICE Director John Morton said this was the largest to date.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation’s immigration system,” Morton said at a press conference in Washington. “These are not people we want roaming our streets.”

ICE officials said that most of the criminal aliens would be deported to their home countries. Among those arrested included 559 illegal re-entrants.

All of the defendants are in ICE custody pending removal proceedings. Among those arrested, 204 individuals have had their cases presented to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution on a variety of charges including illegal-re-entry.

Last year DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a policy shift to focus more on removing criminal illegal immigrants, and repeat immigration law violators instead of conducting enforcement operations against non-violent immigration violators.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

Alabama Immigration Enforcement Law Hurting State's Economy

Hemera/Thinkstock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- Are tough immigration enforcement laws designed to provide jobs for American citizens and save money actually bleeding money from states?  It appears so in Alabama.

Since enacting a law last June that allows police to detain people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, the state's economy has lost an estimated $10.8 billion.

That's according to a study by University of Alabama economist Samuel Addy, who says that about 80,000 jobs were vacated since illegal immigrants left the state rather than face arrest.

In addition, more than $350 million in income taxes as well as city, county and state sales taxes have been lost due to fewer people spending money in Alabama.

Advocates of the law maintain that the absence of illegal immigrants would provide unemployed legal residents with work, but that apparently hasn't happened because many people don't want to toil at the same low-paying jobs for long hours.

The argument that Alabama would save money on health and education services spent on undocumented aliens has also been struck down by Addy, who contends that the cost of litigation and enforcing the law is surpassing those savings.

There is a move afoot by state Democrats to repeal the law but the GOP-controlled legislature has only promised to look at possibly revising some aspects of it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec232011

Judge Blocks Most of South Carolina's Immigration Enforcement Law

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments next year about the constitutionality of Arizona's immigration enforcement law, proponents of a similar statute set to take effect in South Carolina next month were dealt a blow by a federal judge Thursday.

Judge Richard M. Gergel of Federal District Court in Charleston struck down various provisions of the state's immigration enforcement law, including the section that makes it mandatory for cops to question a suspect's immigration status during the course of a normal arrest.

Gergel also put the brakes on a part of the law making it illegal to harbor or transport an undocumented alien.

Praising the judge's move, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Andre Segura said, "This is one more decision in favor of blocking these laws.  It further highlights that the weight of authority is that these laws are unconstitutional."

Other judges have also blocked virtually the same provisions in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, and Georgia.  The federal government has argued that it has jurisdiction over immigration laws, trumping state mandates.

The high court's ruling next year on Arizona's law will likely affect the other states with similar rules to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Fewer Illegal Immigrants Crossing Southwest Border

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There appears to be a rather sizable decline in the number of people trying to enter the United States illegally by crossing the southwestern border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics released on Monday indicate that in fiscal year 2011, fewer people tried to cross the southwest U.S. border illegally, but those who did were often caught smuggling drugs or money.  The agency says border enforcement is much tougher because of increased manpower and its use of new high-tech tools such as surveillance drones.

The new numbers show that 340,252 people were detained at the border this fiscal year.  That number represents a 58 percent decline since 2008, and a significant drop from the 1.6 million caught in 2000.

Immigration experts say such declines likely result from a combination of the struggling U.S. economy and increased border enforcement, beginning under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama.

Since 2004, the CBP says, the size of the border patrol has doubled to 21,444 -- an increase of 886 agents from fiscal year 2010.

But while arrests are down, the numbers reveal that a higher percentage of those arrested were drug smugglers or other kinds of criminals.  CBP officers and agents seized nearly five million pounds of narcotics -- a 20 percent increase from fiscal year 2010 -- and confiscated more than $126 million in undeclared currency.

At all ports of entry, CBP officers arrested 8,195 people wanted for crimes, including murder, rape, assault and robbery.

Using high-tech enforcement tools such as aerial surveillance drones has had a significant impact on catching bad guys at the border.

According to CPB, unmanned drones now cover the southwest border all the way from California to Texas, providing critical intelligence to agents on the ground.  The drone program contributed to the seizure of more than 7,600 pounds of narcotics and the apprehension of 467 individuals involved in illicit activities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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