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Entries in Immigration (21)

Wednesday
Jul182012

Immigration Groups File Suit Against AZ Immigration Law

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Staying true to their promise, immigration groups are asking a federal judge to block Arizona’s “show me your papers provision” from going into effect.

The provision, which the Supreme Court upheld last month, could go into effect as early as this week.

Last month, the Supreme Court said that section 2(B) of the law — which allows a police officer to request their papers if the officer has a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally– could go into effect, but left open the possibility that other challenges to the law could be brought down the road.

The federal government had brought the challenge arguing that the state law interfered with existing federal law.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced. At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume [the section of the law] will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.”

Kennedy said, “This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.”

But immigration groups, who were not a part of the case in front of the Supreme Court, do not want to wait until 2(B) actually goes into effect. They have filed a lawsuit arguing that 2(B) should be blocked for reasons that were not in front of the Supreme Court: racial profiling.

One of the groups, the National Immigration Law Center, released a statement today saying, section 2(B) “unlawfully discriminates against Latinos and individuals of Mexican origin.” They say they have evidence that legislators who supported the law used discriminatory language and intended the provision to impose statewide racial profiling tactics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun252012

Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Part of Arizona Immigration Law

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Police officers in Arizona are allowed to check the immigration status of every person who is stopped or arrested, the Supreme Court ruled Monday morning.  But the court struck down other key parts of the law.

The controversial immigration law passed in Arizona two years ago and has been opposed by President Obama.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the policy could interfere with federal immigration law, but that the court couldn't assume that it would.

The law -- known as SB 1070 -- was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2010, but immediately challenged by the Obama administration.  A lower court sided with the administration and agreed to prevent four of the most controversial provisions from going into effect.

Besides the "show me your papers" provision, another criminalizes unauthorized work, a third makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers, and a fourth allows the warrantless arrests when an officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed an offense that would result in deportation.

Other measures of the law were struck down, including a provision that made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona or seek work in the state.

In court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued that the Constitution gives the federal government authority over immigration control and that the Arizona law interfered with existing federal law.

Verrilli said 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 the scheme for the regulation of immigration.

But Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona, argued that the law was passed because states are frustrated with the federal government's efforts to curb illegal immigration. Clement said that the Arizona law was drafted to cooperate with existing federal law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Asians Now Top Hispanics as Largest Group of New US Immigrants

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Asians have trumped Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants entering the U.S. each year, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

"The Rise of Asian Americans," released Tuesday, found that in 2010, 36 percent of new immigrants in this country were Asian, while 31 percent were Hispanic.  The figures mark a significant change from 2000, when 19 percent of new immigrants were Asian and 59 percent were Hispanic.

The shift is partly due to a drop in illegal immigration.

"Hispanic immigration has plunged, chiefly because the number of new immigrants from Mexico has gone down quite a bit.  So, Asians are continuing to come here in large numbers, and they've now surpassed Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants arriving in this country," says D'vera Cohen, a senior writer for the Pew Research Center.

Today, Asian Americans comprise 5.8 percent of the country's population, according to the report, which was based on a new national survey of Asian Americans, as well as in-depth analysis of U.S. Census demographic and economic data.

The report also found that the racial group is better off financially and educationally when compared to all U.S. adults, and they seem to be more content.

"Overall, our survey found that Asian-Americans are more satisfied than the population, overall with the way their lives are going; with their financial situation; with the direction the country is going in," Cohen says.

"This is a group with many accomplishments, in terms of education and income.  It's also a group where our survey has found that they've put more value than the general public does on institutions such as marriage, parenthood, hard-work and career-success," she adds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

DREAM Act Advocates Cheer Obama Speech

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although the typical partisan sniping on Capitol Hill was just getting started in Washington before President Obama’s statement Friday afternoon, a few blocks from the White House young undocumented immigrants watched the speech beaming with joy and pride in America.

Following the president’s speech there was a touching emotional moment as Gaby Pacheco, a 27-year-old DREAM Act advocate, stood and let out a sigh of relief and then spoke from the heart before the group which had assembled at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  

Pacheco praised volunteers and workers and singled out Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who revealed last year that he was an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times essay.

Vargas is featured on the cover of this week’s Time Magazine with other undocumented immigrants in a story titled, “We are Americans.”

Pacheco has lived in the United States for two decades, arriving in Miami with her family from Ecuador.  She plans to become a doctor.

“When we have the Time magazine article that shows our beautiful faces, an array, men, women people from all over the world … representing people that want to be psychologists and doctors and dancers and artists, saying give us a chance. Today we are finally free.” Pacheco said.

“We’ve been in this golden cage and the door has been opened and now it’s our chance to be free. But with that comes a responsibility, because this not forever, this is temporary.” Pacheco said.

“With that comes the responsibility to our parents … because our parents gave everything to come to this nation. Our parents did everything, they left behind their family, their language, their careers, everything they knew to give us an opportunity. To give us that American dream that everybody comes to this Nation seeking,” Pacheco told the crowd of DREAM Act advocates.

“We have a responsibility to our friends, to our family members who have been left out. My sister who is over the age of 30, she is a dreamer. And we have a responsibility to her,” Pacheco said, referencing the age limit of undocumented immigrants being given deportation relief if they are younger than 30 and have no criminal record.

Directing remarks to her friend, 31-year old Jose Antonio Vargas, Gaby continued, “We have a responsibility to a man that made this possible. We have a responsibility to him and to this nation to continue fighting. We are going to celebrate today.”

“Because this is the power that our community has. We can no longer be ignored … this is a new chapter in the history of this country. This is a very historic moment and we have to embrace it and celebrate it and thank those that made it possible,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“This is not over, this is the beginning of a great new chapter in our lives.  I am going to continue personally my education. I going to be Dr. Pacheco,” she said as the room cheered for her.

Looking to the future and the American dream Pacheco said, “You’ll see from this group of people future congressmen, future senators, and maybe we’ll challenge the constitution and maybe get a future President … because we believe in this nation and we believe this is our country and we believe that we have a lot to give and our talents to give back. But we want to thank those that made it possible.”

Speaking to Vargas she said, “You have redefined America, you have … and we thank you for everything,” she said before hugging Vargas.

Vargas who is 31 and is not covered by Friday’s announcement, wiped the tears from his eyes and said, “she was the first person I told before the New York Times essay last summer … ”

Vargas who noted in the Time article that quietly trying to live in America, while working as a journalist weighed on him. “I carried your heart with me… I carried it… we’ve been through a lot together, there is a lot more to do because this is not complete. And together this is beyond politics, this is beyond partisanship, this is about doing the right thing.”

“I thank you for your leadership and I think you for your sacrifices and thank you for welcoming me,” Vargas told the group.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Obama Says Limiting Deportations Is ‘More Fair and More Just’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced Friday that his administration would stop deporting and begin granting work permits to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants, saying the changes  would make the nation’s immigration system “more efficient, more fair and more just."

“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” Obama said from the Rose Garden of the White House.

The executive order, effective immediately, applies to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 but are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five consecutive years, are in school or have graduated from high school or earned a GED, have no criminal history or have served in the military.

Immigrants who meet the criteria will no longer face the threat of deportation and can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on the number of times it may be renewed.

“Let’s be clear. This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the … right thing to do,” Obama said.

The election-year move has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans, who have accused the president of overstepping his authority. Obama Friday defended his decision, suggesting he was forced to take action because Congress has not.

The steps taken Friday are similar to the proposals in the Dream Act, which was supported by the administration but blocked in Congress.

“Both parties wrote this legislation, and a year and a half ago, Democrats passed the Dream Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it. It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn’t really changed; the need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to do. The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics,” Obama said.

The president continued to call on Congress to pass the legislation.

“There’s no reason that we can’t come together and get this done. And as long as I’m president, I will not give up on this issue, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our economy … not just because it’s the right thing to do for our security, but because it’s the right thing to do, period. And I believe that eventually enough Republicans in Congress will come around to that view as well,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

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

Thursday
May312012

Star Student in Immigration Flap Will Be Home for Graduation

Frankfort High School(FRANKFORT, Ind.) -- High school senior Elizabeth Olivas is coming home. After getting caught up on an immigration technicality in her native Mexico, the Frankfort Indiana High School homecoming queen will get to walk with her classmates at graduation on Saturday.

The U.S. State Department confirmed to her immigration lawyer, Sarah L. Moshe, that Olivas was given a visa to come back to the United States, Moshe told ABC News.

“The waiver was approved, and we just finished issuing and printing her visa,” an email from the State Department said.  “We gave her the visa packet and I assume she will be leaving the Consulate momentarily (visa in hand!).  Congrats and best of luck to Elizabeth and her family!  She is very lucky to have such a great team working on her behalf.”

Olivas has lived in the U.S. since age 4, and her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. But after turning 18, according to the law, she had 180 days to return to Mexico to apply for a long-term visa to the United States.  Without that visa she would become an illegal immigrant. So she and her father took the trip down to the Juarez consulate, only to realize they counted dates wrong because of the leap year. Olivas was late by one day, initially told she would not be issued her long-term visa and, without a  “humanitarian parole” visa waiver, she would not be able to enter the United States again for three years.

But even the waiver process can be complicated. Waivers can take anywhere from three to eight months to be issued. Olivas couldn’t wait that long. She’d already been in Mexico for six weeks, missing most of her high school senior milestones, including prom and an academic achievement ceremony. With a near 4.0 grade point average, the star athlete is set to graduate as one of the top students at the school.  She is also supposed to give the salutation speech at graduation, which seemed unlikely before her case received a global outcry.

Frankfort High School Principal Steve Edwards told the Indianapolis Star that students were sad at the thought of Olivas not being with them for graduation and that the situation was one of the hardest things he’s ever dealt with.

“This is a very skilled, talented, beautiful young lady,” he said.

But now Olivas and her classmates will be able to celebrate both their graduation and her homecoming.  She told Moshe via text message that she was excited and grateful.

“JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS,” read the text. ” IM COMING HOME!  THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”

Moshe told ABC News Olivas and her family are grateful for all the attention and concern over the teen’s plight.

“We take this opportunity to thank everyone for the outpouring of support for Elizabeth and her family,” Moshe said. “She will certainly enjoy a well-deserved graduation celebration on Saturday!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Madeleine Albright Welcomes New Citizens, Says US Needs Vitality They Bring

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, herself a naturalized citizen, welcomed 12 new citizens to the United States and donated memorabilia from her diplomatic career Thursday to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

During the ceremony, Albright recounted a comment by her youngest granddaughter, showing how far the country has come since her tenure as America’s first female secretary of state under President Bill Clinton.  When her granddaughter turned seven two years ago, Albright recalled, “She said, ‘So what’s the big deal about Grandma Maddy being secretary of state? Only girls are secretary of state.’”

Albright described her own experience of coming to America on the SS America as it “steamed around the Statue of Liberty into New York harbor.”

Born in 1937 in Czechoslovakia, Albright emigrated to the U.S. in 1948 after her home country fell to communism.  She became a U.S. citizen during college.

“Our country cannot stand still; we need the vitality and renewal that comes with fresh energy and ideas. And that’s where you all come in,” Albright told the new U.S. citizens. “If you are anything like me, today is a milestone that you will look back on with pride for the rest of your lives.”

“When you return home tonight, do what I did, and put your citizenship document in the safest and most secure place you can find,” she said. “It is the most important piece of paper you will ever get because it represents not just a change in legal status but a license to a dream.”

Each year the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomes 680,000 citizens in naturalization ceremonies that take place both in and outside the U.S.  The metropolitan New York area accounted for more than 14 percent of new residents, followed by the Los Angeles and Miami areas.

For U.S. Army Major Oludmenga Obasanjo who was born in Nigeria, the ceremony was an “emotional experience.”

“I’ve given and I’m ready to give everything to the United States,” Obasanjo said. “For me to be a total part of the United States this is it, it starts today. Now, it’s total. It’s complete.”

Obasanjo, who is a physician, came to the U.S. six years before 9/11 to complete a masters in public health. After 9/11 he wanted to join the military to serve a country of which he was not yet a citizen.

“Joining the military was just a chance to be a part of a problem that was worldwide, where America was a leader [in] the effort against terrorism,” Obasanjo said. “It was a chance to be part of it at a higher level.”

Next week President Obama will award Albright with the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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

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







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