Entries in Illegal Immigration (11)


Immigrant Mom Loses Effort to Regain Son Given to US Adoptive Parents

Encarnacion Bail Romero cries after learning she won't regain custody of her child she knew as Carlos. (ABC News)(CARTHAGE, Mo.) -- In a controversial case that involved the rights of illegal immigrants and their young children, a Guatemalan mother lost her effort Wednesday to get back the five-year old son who was taken away from her after her arrest on immigration charges and put up for adoption in Missouri despite her objections.

A Missouri judge ruled the boy should stay with the Missouri couple, Melinda and Seth Moser, who took him into their home five years ago while his mother was in federal custody, where she attempted in vain to oppose the adoption proceedings.

"Nobody could help me because I don't speak English," said Encarnacion Bail Romero in an interview with ABC News.

The child, born as Carlos but renamed Jamison by the Mosers, has been with his adoptive parents in Carthage, Missouri since the age of 11 months.

The judge said the biological mother had no rights to even see her child, according to the mother's lawyer.

Asked if the Mosers would allow Bail Romero to see the child, the Mosers' attorney, Joseph Hensley, said the couple was "not willing to comment on that at this time."

"We're extremely happy about the decision," said Hensley, who also noted that the decision, "really puts the biological mom in a difficult decision in terms of staying in this country."

The ruling Wednesday reaffirmed the original decision by another Missouri judge who terminated the parental rights of Bail Romero, stating that, "illegally smuggling herself into the country is not a lifestyle that can provide any stability for the child."

The Missouri Supreme Court called the initial decision a "travesty of justice" and ordered a review of the case by a second judge.

Appearing outside the courtroom with tears in her eyes, the biological mother declined to comment. Her lawyer, Curtis Woods, said he would appeal the decision of the judge who he said ruled Encarnacion Bail Romero's parental rights had been terminated because she had abandoned him while she was incarcerated.

"I am very disappointed in the decision," said Woods.

The judge handed down the decision in a courtroom closed to all but the parties involved and their lawyers. There was no translator provided by the court Wednesday for the Guatemalan woman, who speaks only a little English.

The ruling allows the formal adoption proceedings by the Mosers to proceed.

The Mosers left the court without speaking to reporters, but they had previously argued in court that they could best provide for the boy and that they were the only parents that he knew.

"I could not love him more, had he come out of me physically," Melinda Moser said in an earlier interview.

The biological mother was arrested in 2007 on an immigration raid at a chicken processing plant in Missouri and has not seen her son since.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Relaxing Deportation Rules for Younger Illegal Immigrants

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is relaxing rules for younger illegal immigrants who haven't broken the law since coming into the country as children.

The Homeland Security Department will no longer deport those immigrants, and work permits will be given to them, administration officials confirmed to ABC News.

The widening pathway to citizenship is similar to the proposals in the Dream Act, legislation supported by Obama but blocked in Congress. Obama is scheduled to speak about the change this afternoon, effectively bringing the issue of immigration back into the 2012 race.

"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."

The Obama administration is likely to deny that politics played a role in the announcement, but the timing is ideal for the president's reelection campaign. In the GOP primary, Mitt Romney adopted strictly conservative positions against illegal immigration in his effort to woo right-wing voters. He backs a strong fence along the border with Mexico, opposes most amnesty and boasts of his move as Massachusetts governor to deny in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Democrats have said they plan to hold Romney to those positions, painting him as a candidate with extreme views on immigration. Romney's campaign stumbled last month when the Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic outreach told reporters that Romney was "still deciding what his position on immigration is," fueling the notion that he holds few true convictions.

Obama's announcement today is likely to curry favor with Hispanics, a key growing voting bloc who could determine the winner in November in important states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada. The president currently beats Romney among Hispanics in polls, but most Latinos say they disapprove of his deportation policy. Obama also plans to speak to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Florida next week, as will Romney.

Under the new rules, up to 800,000 immigrants will be affected. Deportation will no longer apply to immigrants who came into the country before they were 16 and are now under 30, have lived here for five straight years, have never been convicted of a crime, graduated from high school or got a GED, or have been in the military.

Those immigrants will be allowed to apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed unlimited times.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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."


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


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


States Set to Enact Controversial Laws on January 1 -- Congress may have been bogged down in a quagmire this year, but states across the country actively passed a slew of new laws -- ranging from conventional to controversial -- that are set to go into effect in 2012.

California takes the lead in the number of new laws that will be enacted on Jan. 1, according to a list compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

The ideological divide between conservative and liberal states is stark when it comes to the new regulations.  It is most evident in the issue of immigration and the dueling laws that will go into effect next week.

Four states -- Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia -- passed laws requiring businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to determine whether their employees are legal residents and eligible to work in the United States.

But California took the opposite route.  Starting Jan. 1, city and county governments in the state will be barred from requiring private employers to use E-Verify, unless it's required to receive federal funds or is mandated by the federal government.

The California Dream Act will also go into effect in 2012.  The legislation expands eligibility for in-state tuition and non-state scholarships to students who may not have legal status but have attended high school in the state for at least three years, have graduated from high school, or are attending a college or university.  Another legislation allows such students to participate in student government.

But California stands alone when it comes to more lax requirements on illegal immigration. Most new state laws lean on the conservative side and that's not a surprise, observers say.  In 2010, a wave of elections swept conservatives to power across the country, and a majority of legislatures this year were Republican, says Jon Kuhl, a spokesman for NCSL.

This conservative uprising is also reflected in new election laws that will kick off next year.  Four states -- Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas -- will require voters to present a photo ID before voting.

California, however, again went in the opposite direction, passing a law that allows new U.S. citizens to both register and vote on election day, a system opponents say invites voter fraud.

California also took the lead in passing other controversial laws that could either set the precedent for the rest of the country or face national backlash.  New legislation requires social science curricula to include, "a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other cultural groups."  It also expands laws against discrimination in textbook materials to include gender, religion, disability, nationality, and sexual orientation.

Outside of ideological motivations, several new laws are indicative of the economic hardship states are facing.

Under a new law in Delaware, people who become members of the state's pension fund on or after Jan. 1 will be required to contribute more than earlier members.  It also ups the retirement age for pension beneficiaries.

Arizona will also reduce benefits under its retirement plan for those who enroll at the start of the new year.  North Dakota, meanwhile, raises the contribution requirement for its state retirement plan by two percentage points.

Here are some other noteworthy laws that will take effect on Jan. 1:

-- A new law in California expands the definition of cyber bullying to include certain posts on social networking sites.

-- Two new laws in Oregon and California prohibit the possession, sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins, a practice that some advocates of the law say has reduced certain species of sharks.

-- Starting Jan. 1, it will be illegal for Nevadans to write text messages or use handheld phone devices while driving.

-- In North Dakota, drivers under 18 years of age will be barred from using cellphones in their cars, and everyone will be prohibited from text messaging.

-- In California, people under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use ultraviolet tanning devices.

-- Delaware and Hawaii will both allow same-sex couples to marry and receive the same benefits as other married couples.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


AZ Governor on Immigration Law: 'This Case Is Not Just About Arizona'

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday praised the Supreme Court’s decision to step in and hear a case challenging key provisions to her state's tough immigration law.

"This case is not just about Arizona," Brewer said in a statement.  "It's about every state grappling with the costs of illegal immigration.  And it's about the fundamental principle of federalism, under which these states have a right to defend their people."

Brewer says that when she signed the law she was "keenly aware" of the need to respect federal authority over immigration-related matters and that the legislation authorizes "cooperative law enforcement" and enforces sanctions that parallel federal law.

The Obama administration has argued that Arizona's immigration laws interfere with existing federal law.

"Those provisions do not represent an effort to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing federal immigration law; instead, they are designed to establish Arizona's own immigration policy," the administration argues in court briefs.

Brewer has been outraged that the Obama administration has filed suit against Arizona and other states with similar legislation.

"Arizona has been more than patient waiting for Washington to secure the border.  Decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation, and states deserve clarity from the Court in terms of what role they have in fighting illegal immigration," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Judge Upholds Parts of Alabama's Immigration Enforcement Law

Hemera/Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- A federal judge has cleared the way for Alabama to have the toughest immigration enforcement law in the nation beginning Thursday.

In ruling that "the United States has not met the requirements for a preliminary injunction," U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn on Wednesday upheld key parts of the statute that allows cops to ask anyone they detain or arrest to verify U.S. citizenship.

During routine traffic stops, police can also arrest someone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

Furthermore, Blackburn cleared the way for schools to verify a student's immigration status.

The judge still hasn't reached a final decision on other provisions that the Obama administration wants her to overturn.  They include forbidding an illegal immigrant from looking for work or making it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.  Blackburn suggested that the Justice Department might have a legitimate argument on these and other points that they are preempted by federal law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Border Patrol Agent Accused of Hiding Illegal Immigrants, Drugs in Basement

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Calif.) – A border patrol agent has been arrested after a search of his home uncovered an underground room allegedly used to hide illegal immigrants and drugs, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Marcos Gerardo Manzano, 26,  has been charged with harboring illegal immigrants, one of whom was his father, Marcos Gerardo Manzano Sr., a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a criminal record.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said during the raid the FBI discovered an illegal immigrant hiding in the room along with 61 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Opponents of Illegal Immigration Target Birthright Citizenship

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A coalition of state legislators say they will unveil a plan Wednesday to prevent illegal immigrants' children from becoming citizens at birth.

But instead of proposing a change to the Constitution, which has established birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment, the lawmakers are expected to advocate a state-by-state approach to blocking issuance of state birth certificates to unqualified children.

"We're announcing a change to state laws that each state could adopt that will move us in the direction of insuring that the 14th Amendment is applied correctly," Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who founded the coalition, told ABC News.

Metcalfe said he's alarmed by the burgeoning size and cost of America's illegal immigrant population, estimated at 11 million, and whose offspring in the United States would be able to sponsor their parents and relatives for legal residency.  The children are sometimes referred to as "anchor babies."

Metcalfe and a group of conservative constitutional scholars who helped draft the state-level plan said they believe their legislation will pass muster during expected court battles because of a careful interpretation of the text of the 14th Amendment.

The amendment, enacted after the Civil War to grant citizenship to descendants of slaves, reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

"Just because you're born on American soil did not mean that you were granted American citizenship automatically," Metcalfe said.  "You had to be under the 'jurisdiction thereof,' including that geographic location.  'Jurisdiction thereof' was meant and was directly correlated to having an allegiance to our country by the parents." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio