Entries in Immigration Law (7)


Obama, Romney React to Ariz. Immigration Decision

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama was pleased by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s contested immigration law, but is still concerned about one provision upheld by the court that allows state police officers to ask citizens in certain scenarios for their immigration status, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

“While the president is pleased with the decision by the Supreme Court to strike down much of the Arizona law, we remain concerned about how the Section 2 would be implemented and concerned about the impact it might have on-depending upon how it’s implemented-the impact implementation could have on civil rights,” Carney said, echoing what President Obama said in a statement shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning. “Obviously we’re committed to the protection of the civil rights of the American people.”

And Carney, who was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to a campaign rally in New Hampshire, quickly pointed out the politics of the issue, attacking Republicans for flip-flopping on the issue.

“This president’s commitment to immigration reform is strong, his commitment to border security is strong and has been demonstrated by his record and he believes we need to take steps to provided the kind of comprehensive immigration reform Republicans have resisted. Congress has to act,” Carney said. “Unfortunately what we’ve seen is a retreat by leaders of the Republican party in these past several years from a position of advocating comprehensive immigration reform, to what we saw during the Republican primaries … was an embrace of the Arizona law as a model for the nation. A position that hardly suggests the desire for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform,” he said.

The president’s rival, Republican Mitt Romney, has stayed mum to the point that it’s not clear if Romney supports the law the Supreme Court ruled on.  Or, if like the court, he agrees with parts of it and not with others.

In a short statement released after the Supreme Court decision, Romney said President Obama “has failed to provide any leadership on immigration.” And he pointed out that while candidate Obama promised comprehensive reform, President Obama has not been able to carry through.

Romney said at a debate in Arizona and sponsored by CNN that a different Arizona immigration law that requires employers to verify a worker’s legal status should be a model for the nation. But he has not specifically said if he supports the Arizona’s policy – affirmed today by the Supreme Court – of asking people stopped by local police for immigration documentation.

Asked repeatedly today whether Romney supports the Arizona immigration law, and what he thinks of the parts overturned by the court, Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said that Romney believes states have the right to draft immigration laws of their own when the federal government fails to do so.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Conservative Justices Receptive to Parts of Arizona’s Immigration Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With Gov. Jan Brewer sitting in the audience, the Supreme Court Wednesday heard the Obama administration’s challenge to Arizona’s strict immigration law, with Chief Justice John Roberts suggesting at one point that the federal government “just doesn’t want to know who is here illegally.”

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, who argued the health care case less than a month ago, had to field critical questions from the conservatives on the court, some of whom seemed eager to allow at least some provisions of the controversial state immigration law to go into effect.

Before Verrilli could launch into his argument, Chief Justice John Roberts said he wanted to “clear up at the outset” what the case in front of the justices was not about.

“No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it?" Roberts asked Verrilli.

“That’s correct,” Verrilli answered. He reiterated that the issue before the court was whether the Arizona law -- known as S.B. 1070 -- interfered with existing federal law. Last year a lower court had ruled in favor of the Obama administration, blocking four of the most controversial provisions of the law from going into effect.

“Arizona is pursuing its own policy” of immigration control, Verrilli said. “It is our position the Constitution vests exclusive authority over immigration matters with the national government.”

But Justice Antonin Scalia, who seemed to be the most vocal supporter of the Arizona law, attacked. “All that means is that the government can set forth the rules concerning who belongs in this country. But if, in fact, somebody who does not belong in this country is in Arizona, Arizona has no power?” Scalia asked.

Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito zeroed in on one blocked provision of S.B. 1070 that requires Arizona law enforcement to ask someone they stop for their papers proving they are in the country legally if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that those individuals are in the country illegally. Law enforcement would later confer with the federal government on the legal status.

Roberts indicated that provision of the Arizona law does not interfere with federal law, but only notifies the federal government that someone is in the country illegally.

Verrilli responded that the state law forces the federal government to veer off from federal priorities. “Are we going to take our resources, which we deploy for removal” and divert them in a way that might be a “detriment to our priorities?” Verrilli asked.

At one point Roberts said, “It is not an effort to enforce federal law” because the decision to enforce the law is left up to the federal government. “It seems to me that the federal government just doesn’t want to know who is here illegally or not.”

Verrilli shot back, “No I don’t think that’s right. I think we want to be able to cooperate and focus on our priorities.”

Alito pointed out that while the Obama administration might choose to use its priorities to go after more dangerous offenders, the priorities of another administration might be different.

Verrilli tried again and again to reject the argument put forth by Arizona that S.B. 1070 worked cooperatively with existing federal law.

At one point Justice Sonia Sotomayor said about his argument, “You can see it’s not selling very well. Why don’t you try to come up with something else.”

The argument marked a rematch between Verrilli and Paul Clement, the lawyer who represented the 26 states challenging the health care law, and also represented Arizona in court Wednesday.

Clement said the government had taken the “extraordinary step” of challenging the state law even though it had been drafted to complement the federal law.

He was asked by several justices how certain provisions of the law would work and how the law enforcement provisions might affect those in the country legally, or even U.S. citizens.

Sotomayor asked about another one of the blocked provisions that allows warrantless arrests of a person if the officer has probable cause to believe the person to be arrested has committed an offense that makes the person deportable.

Opponents of S.B. 1070 agreed that the conservatives on the court seemed to support the so-called “show me your papers” provision of the law.

“But there appeared to be a majority of justices who had serious problems with other provisions of the law, including criminalizing failure to carry immigration papers and criminal sanctions for unauthorized migrants who seek work in Arizona,” says Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

After arguments, Gov. Brewer expressed satisfaction. Speaking to a throng of cameras, she said, “I feel very confident as I walked out of there that we will get a favorable ruling in late June.”

Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in Wednesday’s arguments, as she dealt with the issue in her previous job as solicitor general. The court is expected to decide this case around the same time it decides the health care case: near the end of June, just months before the next election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ariz. Immigration Law Architect with Ties to Romney Heads to Supreme Court

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Kris Kobach, a key drafter of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, will be in Washington on Wednesday to hear the Supreme Court discuss the legality of the tough state measure that empowers local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

Kobach, who worked closely with former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce in crafting the 2010 law, said he stays in close touch with the Mitt Romney campaign.  "My relationship has always been that I’ve been providing advice to either Romney or to his senior campaign officials. They can do with it what they wish. I have no formal role, just a person providing advice since the new year. I don’t talk with Romney often, I email with his campaign quite frequently.”

During a presidential debate in January, Romney, now the presumptive GOP nominee, said he supports the notion of “self-deportation,” which he said is when “people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.” The notion is a central part of the Arizona law.

The Romney campaign has described Kobach, who is currently serving as Kansas secretary of state, as a “supporter” or an “informal advisor.”  Kobach is a longtime advocate for immigration reform. He is a former professor of constitutional law and previously served as chairman of the Kansas Republican Party and as former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s chief advisor on immigration and border security while at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Bush administration.

The Obama administration is challenging Arizona’s S.B. 1070, arguing that the Constitution gives the federal government authority to regulate immigration, and that the state law interferes with federal law.

Kobach rejects the challenge.

“The Supreme Court has said again and again that there is a role for the states to play. Congress is the primary actor in the field, but the states are permitted to act too, as long as Congress doesn’t ask them to get off the field," Kobach said in a recent interview.

Kobach says he and other drafters of the Arizona law worked to make sure that it mirrored federal law. “We knew full well that groups like the ACLU would want to challenge it so we drafted the law very carefully to avoid any conflict with federal law.”

In court papers, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. writes, “Arizona seeks to enforce federal immigration law through means different from those Congress designated: it has criminalized acts that Congress has decided to punish only civilly; it has allowed county prosecutors to charge and incarcerate individuals for violations that the Executive Branch has decided not to pursue; and it has required state officers to take steps in the name of federal law enforcement without regard to the policies and priorities of the federal officials in whom Congress has vested enforcement authority.”

At issue before the court is not the fiery issue of racial profiling, but the technical issue of “preemption.”

“What preemption really means,” says Elizabeth Stumpf, professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School, “is that when the Congress passes an immigration law, if there is a state or local law that conflicts with it, then the federal law is supreme. That’s the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.”

Stumpf doesn’t agree with Kobach’s analysis of the Arizona law. She says, for example, in some instances the state law criminalizes behavior for conduct that the federal law does not, meaning it’s not an example of “mirroring” federal law but creating a new kind of law.

In an online statement released by the Romney campaign in January of 2012, Kobach and Romney endorsed each other. “Illegal immigration is a nightmare for America’s economy and America’s national security. Mitt Romney is the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets, like in-state tuition, that encourage illegal aliens to remain in our country unlawfully. He is also the candidate who will stand shoulder to shoulder with the states that are fighting to restore the rule of law. I am pleased to stand with this true conservative.”

Romney said of Kobach, “With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem.”

In Pennsylvania on Monday, Romney appeared alongside Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible vice presidential nominee. Romney was asked about Rubio’s proposed alternative to the Dream Act that would allow those who qualify to stay in the U.S to work or attend college by giving them a non-immigrant visa.

“I’m taking a look at his proposal,” Romney said, “It has many features to commend it, but it’s something we are studying.”

Kobach says that he would reject Rubio’s proposal if it were an amnesty. “It can’t give lawful presence en masse to aliens unlawfully present. Lawful presence could mean a temporary visa, green card, citizenship, anything that gives the illegal alien what he has taken unlawfully.”

Kobach said he has seen no details of the Rubio draft.

He also rejects the criticism that S.B. 1070 will lead to racial profiling. “Read the law,” he says. “It expressly prohibits racial profiling. It says very clearly that it shall not be enforced with regard to a person’s race, ethnic or national origin.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Pushes to Opt Out of Federal Immigration Program

Spencer Platt / Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Controversy continues to amplify regarding a nationwide enforcement program that screens for illegal immigrants in local jails.

California lawmakers are joining a growing number of states that are resisting the program -- which requires states to forward fingerprints of all arrestees to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for screening.

The program purports to identify and subsequently deport illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, such as murder and kidnapping.

However, some California lawmakers say the program isn't as successful as supporters suggest. State politicians are trying to take a proactive stance against the program by considering a bill that would allow California counties to opt out of the federal program.

The Assembly has already approved the bill with a 47 to 26 party-line vote. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote.

Democratic lawmakers say the program discourages illegal immigrants from reporting crime, out of fear that they too could be deported. Those lawmakers say the program targets also low-level offenders  and sometimes even immigrants who have never been convicted at all.

Meanwhile, majority of California Republican lawmakers disagree with the bill, saying opting out of the program would undermine federal law.

They identify as proponents of the program, saying it successfully helps locate and alleviate threats to public safety.

California's bill regarding the program does not mark the first time the program has sparked controversy.

In April, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) called for an investigation into the actions of federal immigration officials as to whether they lied to local governments about their ability to opt out of the program. Lofgren also questioned the legal authority for implementing the program.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Georgia to Adopt Arizona-Style Immigration Law?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Friday that he will sign an Arizona-style immigration bill into law, fulfilling his campaign promise to protect American borders.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, approximately 425,000 undocumented people live in the state.

The new measure would make it so that police can verify immigration status when conducting certain criminal investigations.

The measure would also make it more difficult for undocumented people to get jobs. If signed into law, those who use fake documents to get jobs will face prison time. Employers must also verify that workers are legally able to be employed in the country.

Supporters of the bill say that by weeding out undocumented workers, it will make job attainment easier for Americans.

Opponents of the bill say it will promote racial profiling.

The adoption of such a law would inevitably throw the state into the center of the national debate about immigration.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes DREAM Act Immigration Reform for Lame-Duck Congress

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday joined top Congressional Democrats in urging Congress to pass a small piece of immigration legislation known as the DREAM Act before it adjourns for the year.  The measure would give hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants a conditional path to legal residency.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeatedly promised a vote on the measure during the lame-duck session. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also expressed support for bringing a bill to the floor, although not until after Thanksgiving.

“This legislation has traditionally enjoyed support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and would give young people who were brought as minors to the United States by their parents the opportunity to earn their citizenship by pursuing a college degree or through military service,” the White House said in a statement following the president’s closed-door meeting with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this afternoon.

The DREAM Act would apply to immigrants younger than 36 years old who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children under the supervision of their parents and have maintained "good moral character," among other requirements.

The bill has had Republican co-sponsors in the years since it was first introduced in 2001. It was passed as part of a Senate immigration reform bill in 2006, although the package later failed in the House. In 2007, the DREAM Act was filibustered when it came up for an up-or-down vote.

“Passage of the DREAM Act is achievable right now,” said Gutierrez. “The policy of mass deportation is not working and is ripping apart communities and may only get worse under a Republican-controlled House.  We cannot squander this opportunity to save a million kids.”

Opponents of the measure say the bill is flawed and would unreasonably add legal workers to the workforce at a time when many Americans are out of jobs.

According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, about two million of the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. could be eligible for legalization under the DREAM Act.

The group also estimates, however, that only 825,000 of those immigrants would ultimately take advantage of the law if it were enacted.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Sharron Angle Defends Anti-Immigration Ad, Tells Hispanic Students They Look 'A Little More Asian'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- With midterm elections just two weeks away, Sharron Angle is finding herself in the middle of a new controversy, this time involving Hispanics.

The Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada told Hispanic students at Rancho High School in Las Vegas Friday they "look a little more Asian," after defending ads from her campaign featuring dark-skinned, seemingly Hispanic men.

When students asked Angle about her anti-immigration ads -- which some Hispanic groups called "race-baiting" -- the Tea Party favorite said they were “misinterpreting those commercials.”

“What we know is that our northern border is where the terrorists came through.  That's the most porous border that we have. We cannot allow terrorists, we cannot allow anyone to come across our border if we don't know why they're coming.  So, we have to secure all of our borders and that's what that was about, is border security."

Angle defended the use of dark-skinned men in her anti-immigration ads.  Her reasoning? Even some of the Hispanic students look Asian.

"What we want is a secure and sovereign nation and, you know, I don’t know that all of you are Latino.  Some of you look a little more Asian to me.  I don’t know that,” Angle said at the event organized by the Hispanic Student Union and with only Hispanic students in attendance.  “What we know about ourselves is that we are a melting pot in this country.  My grandchildren are evidence of that.  I’m evidence of that.  I’ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly."

During last week’s debate, Angle reiterated her support for an Arizona-style immigration law:  "The solution is simple:  Secure the borders, enforce the laws.  I think every state should have a sheriff like Joe Arpaio, and I think we should be supporting states like Arizona."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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