Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The GOP's "Pledge to America" on Immigration

You've probably heard about the Republican Party's “A Pledge to America." The pledge includes several points on immigration. Read the full pledge here. Below are the excerpts on immigration.

Providing for the common defense is a not just a priority or political imperative – it is a Constitutional duty. National security is more than just war fighting: it is protecting our citizens, bringing certainty to an uncertain world, supporting those who volunteer in the service of their country and defend our way of life, using every tool to protect Americans from threats at our borders....

Establish Operational Control of the Border: We must take action to secure our borders, and that action starts with enforcing our laws. We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands.

Work with State and Local Officials to Enforce Our Immigration Laws: The problem of illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels engaged in an increasingly violent conflict means we need all hands on deck to address this challenge. We will reaffirm the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws.

Strengthen Visa Security: To stop terrorists like Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, we will require the Department of Homeland Security to review all visa applications at high-risk consular posts and prevent aliens from attempting to avoid deportation after having their visas revoked.

Kudos to Professor Greg Weeks at UNC Charlotte who posted these on his blog. Weeks feels these measures would “entail larger government, more spending, and more judicial activism.”

What do you think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

UPDATE: 400 show up to Mexican mobile consulate

Hundreds of Mexican nationals lined up in the Concord High gymnasium Saturday to apply for Mexican passports and other forms of Mexican identification. Another 30 people protested outside.

Mexican nationals like Adriana Mercado, 18, and Florinda Chela, 20, came with family members to renew their passports and a matricula consular so they could use them for identification and on trips to Mexico.

Consular officials said when Mexican nationals return home, they need valid passports to get back into Mexico. The matricula consular card serves as a second form of picture ID to be used primarily in the U.S. The card also provides proof of identity when enrolling children in school, applying for credit or getting an individual tax identification number from the IRS so Mexican nationals can pay U.S. income tax.

Outside the school, protester James Johnson, president of NCFIRE - short for North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement - said he objected to the event being held on school property. He also questioned why the program was necessary.

"If they're in the country legally to start with, they already have the proper documentation," he said.

Read the rest of Kathy Haight's story on the event here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Colbert testifies (sarcastically) before congress

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert testifies in front of congress on the conditions facing migrant farm workers. He delivered quite the sarcastic remarks and angered several legislators who feel the comic disrespected their work on an important issue.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, invited Colbert to testify at a hearing on giving undocumented farm workers the right to earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. Colbert talked about what he called his "vast experience" on the issue after spending a day as a migrant worker on a farm in upstate New York.

The video of his opening statement is above. Here are a few highlights:

"This is America. I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian."

"America's farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables.... "Now, the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables. And if you look at the recent obesity statistics, many Americans have already started."

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants. He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."

"I'll admit I started my work day with preconceived notions of migrant labor, but after working with these men and women ... side by side in the unforgiving sun I have to say -- and I do mean this sincerely -- please don't make me do this again. It is really, really hard."

"Maybe we could offer more visas to the immigrants, who lets face it, will probably be doing these jobs anyway."

ICE won't attend Mexican consulate event.

Immigration officials have been alerted to the Mexican consulate’s visit to Concord tomorrow to help its citizens apply for passports and IDs.

Ivan Ortiz, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations unit and the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations were contacted. They will not however attend.

“ICE will not have a presence at the event,” he said.

Groups that support greater immigration enforcement plan to protest the mobile consulate event at Concord High School.

Protesters contacted Concord School Board and ICE. They requested that the agency register illegal immigrants.

Officials of the Mexican consulate said no U.S. documents will be provided. They said they will be providing Mexican passports and IDs that can be used only in Mexico. They said Mexican nationals are returning home and need proper Mexican passports and IDs to get back into the country.

Mexican consulate braces for CLT protest

The Mexican Consulate expects protests Saturday when it brings its mobile offices to the Charotte area. Members of the consulate's Raleigh staff will be at Concord High School Saturday morning to help Mexican citizens living in the Carolinas apply for Mexican passports and other forms of Mexican IDs.

NCFIRE has called for its supporters to protest the event.

James Johnson, President of NCFIRE, which advocates for greater immigration enforcement, said in an email that the event is designed for one purpose only -- to "document the undocumented." He says that people in the country legally already have the necessary legal documentation to be here, including passports, green cards, and student visas.

At least one protest supporter has emailed members of the Concord School Board in protest. He also said that he has contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Officials of the Mexican consulate said no U.S. documents will be provided. They said they will be providing Mexican passports and IDs that can be used only in Mexico. They said Mexican nationals are returning home and need proper Mexican passports and IDs to get back into the country.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Democrats pay for ad calling for Ariz.-style crackdown

When it comes to illegal immigration, N.C. Democrats often appear to side more with Republicans than their own party.

The N.C. Democratic Party is paying for a mailer in a state Senate race that calls for "bringing the Arizona immigration crackdown to North Carolina."

Our friends over at the News & Observer report that the mailer was sent on behalf of Senate candidate David Redwine of Shallotte (photo, left), who is in a hot campaign with Republican Bill Rabon of Southport for the seat held by retiring Sen. R.C. Soles.

The mailer reflects another example of how dicey the immigration issue is for Southern Democrats. While the views of urban Democrats are more in line with President Obama, rural Democrats must cater to a more conservative constituency that sees immigrants as competitors for jobs.

I reported last year that polls showed illegal immigration as one of the top concerns among N.C. voters. North Carolina has an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants.

While U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, said at the time that he supports working toward a comprehensive bill that puts undocumented immigrants on a path toward legalization, other Carolinas Democrats in Congress hold positions more like Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, says she supports comprehensive reform, but has also said she "strongly opposes amnesty" and called illegal immigration "a threat to our nation's security and economy."

U.S. Rep Heath Shuler introduced a bill last year that would require employers to enter a federal program, known as E-Verify, that checks if workers are in the country legally.

U.S. Rep Kissell, whose 8th District includes parts of Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Union counties, joined Shuler when he introduced his E-Verify bill. He said last year that people he speaks with repeatedly question " 'What part of illegal don't we understand?' "

Andrew Whalen, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said the crackdown mailing reflected the views of Redwine, not the party, according to the News & Observer.

"I think the mail piece specifically is a plank in David Redwine's platform on which he is running for the Senate," Whalen said. "There are many viewpoints and many different candidates in the Democratic Party."

The mailer features a photograph of Redwine, a former state House leader, outside a prison talking with a prison guard. The headline reads: "David Redwine wants to throw the book at CEOs who just won't quit hiring illegal immigrants."

In the mailer, Redwine calls for new fines on corporations that knowingly hire illegal immigrants and jail time for CEOs who are repeat offenders.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Dream Act and Colin Powell's immigration bomb

A recap of the latest news on The Dream Act. Legislators will debate the merits of adding the controversial measure to the defense bill this week. The Dream Act would give some illegal immigrant students a chance to become citizens if they complete two years of college or military service.

Colin Powell drops immigration bomb
Associated Press
Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell says illegal immigrants do essential work in the U.S. and he has firsthand knowledge of that -- because they fix his house.

Dream Act has little chance this time around…
Los Angeles Times
The chances that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can deliver on his promise to move the so-called DREAM Act toward passage in the Senate this week range from slim to none. But the announcement that it would be added as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill has energized pro-immigrant groups, even as it underlines the fact that there'll be no comprehensive immigration reform any time in the near future. Not this year, certainly, and probably not next year either.

Editorial supports Dream Act
Chicago Tribune
Every year, 65,000 youngsters who are here illegally graduate from high school to an uncertain future. They don't qualify for most scholarships, student loans or resident tuition rates; they also can't legally work here. Those who can afford tuition hesitate to apply for fear of being deported. With no ties to any other country, most end up staying and working underground. U.S. taxpayers, meanwhile, are deprived of the talent and legal labor of hundreds of thousands of young men and women they paid to school.

If we can't amend, enforce:
Los Angeles Times
It would be nice to get rid of the anachronism of birthright citizenship, but that may be practically impossible. So here's an alternative idea: How about enforcing the immigration laws we've got? ...The worst offender, however, has been the Obama administration, which seems to be doing everything in its power to ensure that those numbers continue to rise. It has pushed for amnesty, refused requests to beef up border enforcement, made it difficult to detain illegal immigrants pending deportation proceedings, and waged an all-out courtroom war against legal efforts to slow illegal immigration in Arizona.

Poll results show most in state want illegals barred from public colleges
Athens Banner-Herald
Two-thirds of Georgians want to bar illegal immigrants from attending the University of Georgia and other public colleges, even if they pay out-of-state tuition, according to results from a recent poll. Sixty-seven percent of people polled last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Georgia Newspaper Partnership favor a law requiring proof of legal residency to attend a Georgia college or university, while 22 percent opposed such a law and 11 percent were undecided.

Low poll numbers for Obama on hot topic
Orange County Register (California)
Most U.S. voters disapprove of President Barack Obama's handling of illegal immigration, according to a recent national poll by Quinnipiac University. The poll showed that 60 percent of respondents disapproved of his handling of illegal immigration, while 25 percent approved and the rest didn't know.

Photo: Immigration activists held a rally in May on the campus of the University of Chicago. (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / September 20, 2010)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hatch, former co-sponsor, opposes Dream Act

U.S. Sen Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, says Congress must "regain the faith of the American people" before taking up the Dream Act.

He said congress must first concentrate on securing the border and creating jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that he wants to add the Dream Act as an amendment to the upcoming defense policy bill.

The act applies to young people who came to the country when they were under 16 years of age and have been in the country five years. These students would have a chance to apply for citizenship if they complete two years of college or military service.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah Sens. Hatch and Bob Bennett both plan to vote against the Dream Act.

Bennett said he would stand with Reid if the Senate voted on the Dream Act separately from the defense bill.

“I support the Dream Act as free-standing legislation, but putting it in a bill that has a number of objectionable aspects is not something I support,” he said.

Bennett and Hatch are among a handful of Senate Republicans who have previously supported the Dream Act despite some conservatives criticizing the proposal as a form of amnesty.


Obama vows to fight for Dream Act

The Senate has “chance to do the right thing,” the president told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday. Obama said the bill would help young people in the country illegally a chance to attend college or serve in the U.S. military.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that he wants to add the Dream Act as an amendment to the upcoming defense policy bill.

The act applies to young people who came to the country when they were under 16 years of age and have been in the country five years. These students would have a chance to apply for citizenship if they complete two years of college or military service.

It’s a tough time for any kind of immigration reform. According to recent polls, most residents seem to be in favor of sending everyone home.

The Dream Act however has some bipartisan support. There is more sympathy for the kids who supporters say shouldn't be punished for the errors of their parents.

Opponents have come out in force against the Dream Act. They argue passing it will only add more incentives to illegal immigrants to come here and create unfair competition with U.S. citizens and residents for college seats.

"The Dream Act would provide amnesty for millions of illegal aliens under the age of 30 who claim they entered the US when they were young and claim they intend to go to college," said William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

Even supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are a bit nervous. They fear that if the law passes, they may have lost one of their strongest trump cards for passing a more in-depth comprehensive policy that they feel is needed to fix the broken immigration system.

President Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus gala that he would do whatever it takes to support the act’s passage.

An excerpt:
"Now, the Senate is going to have a chance to do the right thing over the next few weeks when Senator Reid brings the DREAM Act to the floor. Keep in mind, in the past, this was a bill that was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t receive that same kind of bipartisan support today. I’ve been a supporter since I was in the Senate, and I will do whatever it takes to support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ efforts to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law on behalf of students seeking a college education and those who wish to serve in our country’s uniform. It’s the right thing to do. We should get it done. "

Thursday, September 9, 2010

SC town drops plan to ban illegal immigrants

A town near Charleston will not ban illegal immigrants from living in the community.

Summerville town councilors voted 4-3 to table an ordinance requiring renters to prove they are American citizens or in the country legally, according to the Associated Press. The ordinance would have required a verification form be filed with the town.

Several council members warned that the ordinance could lead to lawsuits that could cost the town millions.

Councilors voted 3 to 3 on tabling the motion. Mayor Berlin Myers cast the deciding vote.

Some 45,000 people live in Summerville.

Councilman Walter Bailey said last month that the idea was prompted in part by the Obama administration's challenge of the new Arizona immigration law.

A federal judge has blocked key aspects of that Arizona law, but Bailey says his Summerville ordinance is different enough to where he doesn't think the judge's ruling applies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Charlotte ICE gang team honored

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gang unit in Charlotte received law enforcement’s Special Achievement Award by the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association.

The NCGIA recognized the ICE gang unit, officially called the Operation Community Shield Task Force, for its success in reducing gang activity throughout the state.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, when the Operation Community Shield Task Force was established, the unit has arrested more than 186 gang members, associates, and immigration violators encountered in the company of gang members or in residences of gang members at the time of their arrests.

The Operation Community Shield Task Force has identified numerous transnational gangs, including Malditos and Mara Salvatrucha 13, operating in North Carolina and the surrounding states.

“We are honored to receive this award from NCGIA and will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to disrupt gang activities,” said Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge of ICE’s HSI office in North Carolina.

Latinos to pick up litter across city

Fifth annual event Saturday expected to draw 400 volunteers who will work in teams.

From the Paper:

By Franco Ordoñez

Hundreds of Latinos, armed with litter sticks and garbage bags, are expected to hit the streets Saturday to help clean the city.

Some 400 volunteers are expected to take part in the fifth annual citywide cleanup organized by Jesus Ministry. It's intended to help the Charlotte community educate local Latinos on American culture - and to combat negative stereotypes.

"The Latino community is concerned about the place that we live in," said Maudia Melendez, head of Jesus Ministry. "We are part of the tapestry of the community. And we need to make sure that we've contributed - even in little ways - like keeping the streets clean."

Volunteers will be concentrating on trash and recycling, but Melendez said there is a greater message with their work.

The Latino community cares about ridding the streets of all types of garbage, whether it's litter or crime.

On Saturday, teams of volunteers will be dispatched to more than a half-dozen sections of the city, including uptown, Elizabeth Avenue, Central Avenue, and Sugar Creek Road to pick up litter and recyclables.

Jake Wilson, executive director of Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful, is helping coordinate activities and providing tools for the group.

"It's just tremendous for the Latin community to give back and take ownership of some of the (areas) that need cleaning, throughout Charlotte and the county," he said. "If we had more communities like this it'd make my job a lot easier."

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

American Muslims Launch PSA To Counter Anti-Islam Sentiment

A new public service announcement by a Muslim-American group promoting tolerance features a doctor, a police officer, a little girl, someone who is deaf, and a Phillies fan.

They're all Muslims. And they emphasize they're all Americans.

"I don't want to take over this country," the people say in the ad. "I don't support terrorism of any form."

The group behind the ad, My Faith My Voice, says the PSA is part of a grassroots effort by American Muslims from across the country to present their voice on issues affecting Muslims and Islam in America.

I haven't seen it broadcast in North Carolina yet, but I'd be interested to know if someone else has seen it played in the Carolinas.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flow of illegal immigrants in N.C. falling

A new study finds that the number of illegal immigrants in North Carolina has dropped more than 100,000 people since 2006.

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that about 250,000 illegal immigrants live in North Carolina. That's a significant drop from the 390,000 illegal immigrants the Pew Hispanic Center estimated to be living in the state in 2006.

The state numbers reflect a nationwide trend that show the number of illegal immigrants has dropped 8 percent to 11.1 million.

The new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center reports that the decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of the illegal immigrant population over the past two decades.

The center's analysis also found that the most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico. From 2007 to 2009, the size of this group from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22%.

Other major findings of the report include:
• Unauthorized immigrants accounted for 28% of the nation’s foreign-born population in 2009, a decline from 31% in 2007.
• Mexico accounted for 60% of unauthorized immigrants in 2009, or 6.7 million people. Other Latin American nations accounted for 20% of the total, or 2.2 million people. South and East Asia accounted for 11% of the total, or 1.2 million people.
• In 2009, 59% of unauthorized immigrants resided in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and New Jersey. However, the share living in those states has declined from 80% in 1990, as unauthorized immigrants have dispersed to new settlement areas.
• Nearly half of unauthorized immigrants living in the country in 2009—47%, or 5.2 million people—arrived in 2000 or later.
• The number of male unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 6.3 million and declined to 5.8 million in 2009. The number of female unauthorized immigrants, 4.2 million in 2009, is roughly the same as it was in 2007.
• The number of children who are unauthorized, 1.1 million in 2009, declined slightly over the decade. By contrast, the population of U.S.-born children with at least one unauthorized parent nearly doubled from 2000 to 2009, when they numbered 4 million.
• There were 7.8 million unauthorized immigrants in the labor force in 2009, or 5.1% of the total. The size of the unauthorized labor force peaked in 2007 and declined in both 2008 and 2009. There were 7 million unauthorized immigrants employed in March 2009.
• States with the largest shares of immigrants in the labor force are Nevada (9.4%), California (9.3%), Texas (8.7%) and New Jersey (8.7%).
• The unemployment rate for unauthorized immigrants of all ages in March 2009 was higher than that of U.S.-born workers or legal immigrants—10.4%, 9.2% and 9.1%, respectively.