A dramatic drop in business at a time when the economy is said to be rebounding.
Cities and states are taking steps to provide legal assistance to immigrants in deportation proceedings.
3 out of 4 people being deported today are subjected to “expedited removal” — with no day in court, just an immigration agent to decide their case.
Immigration News Picks 9/20/2012: Romney and the Latino vote, Report Shows Racial Profiling of Hispanics in North Carolina
A roundup of news from the presidential campaign and other stories from around the nation.
FI2W’s Valeria Fernandez was a guest on PRI’s The Takeaway. She spoke about the impact of Thursday’s raids on shuttle van companies in Arizona, in which 47 people were arrested.
This month the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) celebrated one year of Secure Communities, a program dangerously misnamed since it actually endangers rather than improves community security.
Billed by a Latino newspaper as “one of the most controversial measures enacted by the city’s Common Council”, an agreement between Danbury, Conn., and the Department of Homeland Security for that municipality to join the criticized 287 (g) program is finally going into effect after extensive debate.
Under the agreement, which at least 66 local law enforcement agencies nationwide have joined, two Danbury Police detectives will be trained by DHS to enforce immigration laws. The Associated Press reported, the agreement has already resulted in immigrants’ moving away from the southern Connecticut city.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the agreement will function under new rules set by the Obama administration, which supposedly would prevent local officers from going after non-criminal undocumented immigrants and those who commit minor infractions, like traffic violations.
According to the Tribuna Connecticut newspaper, Boughton said:
“The revised program was not created to cater to either of the extreme sides of this issue.
“It will not pick up the (day laborers) at Kennedy Park, nor will it turn a blind eye to the legal status of someone who robs a bank.
“This program caters to the 70 percent of the population that wants a safer community, whether they were born here or not and are here legally or illegally.”
While even such a conservative stalwart as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page asks for comprehensive immigration reform and a stop to the Bush-era enforcement-only approach, the Obama administration’s chief of immigration enforcement has reiterated this week the government’s commitment to a hard-line approach.
At the same time, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano will host a meeting on immigration Thursday at the White House “with advocates, religious groups, businesses and law enforcers,” The Associated Press reported.
These latest developments seem to continue the Obama administration’s pattern of talking about reform while acting on enforcement.
“We will try to apply immigration laws in a tough, smart and thoughtful manner,”* said John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), during a visit to Los Angeles, according to a Spanish-language article in La Opinión by Feet in 2 Worlds contributor Pilar Marrero.
Morton signaled there will not be a stop to immigration raids.
After years of criticism by immigrant advocates and numerous scathing reports from national and international organizations, the Obama administration is making some changes to the immigration detention system. The changes were announced on Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on its website.
One measure getting a positive reaction from advocates is the discontinuation of the practice of keeping families at the T. Don Hutto detention facility in Texas. But other changes to the system that houses more than 30,000 people on any given day are seen by some as more of a reorganization than an actual overhaul. They include the creation of a new supervisory office to “design and plan” the detention system; the appointment of detention managers to supervise the 23 biggest facilities in the country; and the establishment of an Office of Detention Oversight.
In addition, ICE says it will create two “advisory groups” with advocacy organizations, which will deal with “general policies and practices,” on the one hand, and detainee health care, on the other.
Advocates already expressed some misgivings about the changes, announced as “major reforms” by ICE.
“…(W)ithout independently enforceable standards, a reduction in beds, or basic due process before people are locked up, it is hard to see how the government’s proposed overhaul of the immigration detention system is anything other than a reorganization or renaming of what was in place before,” Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, told The New York Times.
A month ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent letters to 652 businesses across the country to let them know their hiring records would be audited “to determine whether or not they are complying with employment eligibility verification laws and regulations.” The goal was to check whether those companies have been making sure they are not hiring people not authorized to work in the U.S., a.k.a. undocumented immigrants.
The initiative apparently has led to firings at some of those companies. Last Saturday, pro-immigration activists and workers demonstrated in Los Angeles to demand that President Obama stop the audits as well as the use of e-Verify, an employee ID verification system widely criticized by immigrant advocates.
ICE’s increased vigilance over employers –it said the number of letters it sent in July exceeds the numbers sent during the entire previous fiscal year– follows Obama’s promises that his approach to enforcing immigration laws would focus more on the labor demand side rather than on the supply, i.e. the undocumented workers who’ve been the target of raids and deportations in the last few years.
But L.A. activists said this particular measure has swollen the ranks of the unemployed in the midst of the economic crisis.