6. News Bytes:
Study: Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs on the Rise
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a recent Immigration Policy Center study found that the number of foreign-born female entrepreneurs is on the rise across the United States. According to the study, women comprise 40 percent of immigrant business owners. Between 2000 and 2010, the growth rate in the number of businesses owned by immigrant women climbed to 9 percent from 5 percent. The full study can be found here.
Majority of Americans Favor Strict Immigration Laws in their State, but Support is Decreasing
The Houston Chronicle reports although a majority of Americans still support having an immigration law in their state like the one enacted in Arizona, support for tough immigration laws is at its low point since the law’s passing last spring. A Rasmussen Reports poll shows 52 percent of Americans favor an Arizona-style law in their state, with 34 percent disapproving of such a law. That figure is down from 57 percent in February.
Feds Sever Ties with Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office
The Arizona Republic reports that the Department of Homeland Security said it is cutting virtually all ties with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) after a Justice Department investigation found the sheriff’s office employs “discriminatory policing practices.” John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery that ICE is removing all immigration detainees from MCSO jails and will no longer respond to calls from MCSO deputies involving traffic stops, civil infractions or “other minor offenses.” Victoria Lopez, program director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, praised the decision to cut off ties with MCSO. Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington D.C. that favors strict enforcement, said enforcement in Maricopa County will suffer.
The Associated Press reports that the Homeland Security Department announced in a letter to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) that it will use 50 immigration agents to screen jail inmates in Maricopa County Jails. The move comes after the Homeland Security Department revoked the Maricopa County Sheriff’s access to its systems. The letter from Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Nelson Peacock, obtained by the Associated Press, says the 50 dedicated agents will “screen, identify, apprehend and remove criminal aliens” found in Maricopa County jails. Sheriff Joe Arpaio strongly disputed the Justice Department report, which found his office committed a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos, and said that the dedicated agents won’t come close to replacing the 91 officers who had been doing the work.
Study: Judges Have a Bleak View of Lawyers Representing Immigrants
The New York Times reports that a study conducted by a group of lawyers and researchers under the auspices of Robert A. Katzmann, a federal appellate judge in New York City, found immigrants frequently receive “inadequate” legal assistance. Researchers polled judges in five immigration courts, three in New York City and two in the northern suburbs, about the representatives who appeared before them. Immigrants received “inadequate” legal assistance in 33 percent of the cases between mid-2010 and mid-2011 and “grossly inadequate” assistance in 14 percent of the cases, the judges said.
Judge Katzmann blames “predatory lawyers” who are not familiar with immigration law for much of the poor representation. The report also found that many immigrants do not have representation at all, often stemming from immigrants being detained and held away from their homes. The Obama administration has acknowledged the problem of inadequate representation as a result of detentions. In 2009, immigration officials announced plans to overhaul the detention system, including providing more detention capacity in and around cities with large immigrant populations, like New York, so detainees are closer to their families and lawyers.
Woman Sues Arizona Officials over Treatment While Pregnant in Jail
KPHO News (AZ) reports that Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, a 37 year old mother of two, filed a lawsuit in federal court aimed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his office, the Maricopa Medical Center and its staff for allegedly mistreating her while she was pregnant in jail. Mendiola-Martinez went into early labor with her son while her identity theft case was pending. As with all inmates at Maricopa Medical Center, she was chained to her hospital bed during labor and immediately following a C-section. Joy Bertrand, Mendiola-Martinez’s attorney, said her client was experienced great discomfort and was denied relief by a guard. The lawsuit alleges indifference by multiple law enforcement and hospital personnel as to Mendiola-Martinez’s medical needs. All defendants in the suit have yet to be served, and the case is expected to span several months in federal court.
Arab American Institute Asks for Asylum for Syrians in U.S.
Politico (DC) reports that an Arab-American group is asking the Obama Administration for temporary protected status for Syrian citizens currently in the United States in light of the Syrian uprising. Some Syrians and Syrian-Americans who have been critical of the regime have seen their families attacked, and the Syrian ambassadors to the U.S. and U.N. have been investigated for spying on Syrian-Americans. The Secretary of Homeland Security may provide temporary asylum to people in America who can’t safely return to their home countries, particularly students, tourists and other temporary U.S. visitors, according to the letter.
States Implement New E-Verify Laws
The Epoch Times reports that five states have new E-Verify laws in effect for 2012: Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia will make it mandatory for employers to use the system for new hires; California took the opposite stance, making it illegal for municipalities to force companies to use the system. E-Verify, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is a system made to cross reference employer’s new hires to confirm that they are eligible to work in the United States. California joins Illinois as the only two states restricting the use of E-Verify, citing the system’s inaccuracy and economic concerns for doing so. Currently, 18 states have legislation in place that requires the use of E-Verify in some capacity.
Romney Says He Would Veto DREAM Act
The Associated Press reports that at an Ohio campaign stop Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he would veto legislation that would allow certain illegally present residents to become American citizens. Romney has said before that he would oppose the legislation, known as the DREAM Act, but this was the first time he’s explicitly said he would veto it. Romney said he would support provisions of the bill that allow people to earn permanent residency if they serve in the military.
Immigration Law In Effect While Parts of it on Hold
WCBD (SC) reports that South Carolina’s new immigration law is now in effect though many of its controversial provisions remain on court-mandated hold. Businesses are now required to use E-Verify, an online program that allows employers to input information from required I-9 hiring forms and find out a new employee’s legal work status. Employers who are not registered to use E-Verify will have a grace period until July. After that, businesses that violate the law will get a year probation and have their license revoked for repeat violations.
Obama Rule Would Let Undocumented Stay in U.S. During Application
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration announced a proposed new regulation that would allow certain illegally present immigrants to remain in the United States while applying for legal status. As the system stands, people who leave the country to apply for a green card, depending on how long they’ve lived illegally in the United States, are barred from returning for up to 10 years. They can claim that their absence would pose a hardship for their spouse or parent and ask the Department of Homeland Security to waive the re-entry restrictions. To do this, though, they must travel to a consular office abroad and begin a process that can take months or even years. Under the proposed rule, which would not require action by Congress, people would be allowed to file requests for hardship waivers in the United States, and thus could stay with their families while their requests are adjudicated.
State Must Cover Legal Immigrants
The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Court said a 2009 law that cut legal immigrants from the state subsidized insurance program, known as Commonwealth Care, “violates their rights to equal protection under the Massachusetts Constitution.” In 2009, at the height of the recession, the Massachusetts Legislature cut about 26,000 legal immigrants from Commonwealth Care to save $130 million. It created separate health care plans for immigrants called the Commonwealth Care Bridge Program, which severely scaled-back coverage and was available only to immigrants previously enrolled in Commonwealth Care, excluding new legal immigrants. State officials promised to take fast action on the court decision, which could affect up to 37,400 immigrants who have had legal status for less than five years.
Federal Immigration Enforcement is Mandatory, Memo Says
The Los Angeles Times reports that in a 9 page memo dated Oct. 2, 2010, and released recently, federal officials determined that choices available to local law enforcement agencies that wish to decline or limit their participation in the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program would be “streamlined” or “eliminated,” making the information-sharing program mandatory. Launched in 2008, Secure Communities was promoted to local and state leaders as a way to focus immigration enforcement efforts on “serious convicted criminals.” The program, however, has come under fire because a large percentage of immigrants caught up in the system were never convicted of a crime or were low-level offenders.
Though federal officials initially said there were ways for state and local officials to drop out of the program, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said the memo was not inconsistent with prior policy. “As the legal memo explains, once a state or local government voluntarily submits fingerprint information to federal law enforcement officials, it cannot dictate how this information is shared to protect public safety,” spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in an email.
Longtime Rep. Elton Gallegly Will Retire
The Los Angeles Times reports that Elton, Gallegly, a veteran Republican member of Congress, will not seek reelection this year, avoiding a difficult race with another GOP incumbent after the redrawing of California’s political boundaries placed their homes in the same district. Gallegly, 67, has served in the U.S. House since 1987 and is best known for his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. He recently became chairman of the House judiciary subcommittee that oversees immigration. “It seemed like a natural time,” Gallegly said in a telephone interview. “While there’s still a lot of challenges ahead…one day I realized the business is never going to be finished. There’s always going to be another mountain to climb.”
Administration Extends Salvadoran Deportation Freeze
Politico (DC) reports that the Obama administration has extended temporary protected status to El Salvadoran nationals through late 2013, shielding them from deportation and forcible return to their home country. The Department of Homeland Security cites ongoing disruptions from a series of earthquakes in 2001, concluding that “El Salvador remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.” The protected status designation currently applies to 215,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. illegally.
Mitt Romney Touts Endorsement by Architect of Tough State Immigration Laws
Fox News Latino reports that Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Secretary of State who helped author the nation’s toughest state-level immigration laws, announced his endorsement for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. Romney promptly noted the endorsement on his website saying, “I’m so proud to earn Kris’s support.” In his statement endorsing Romney, Kobach said, “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.” Kobach’s endorsement, and Romney’s embrace of it, drew strong criticism from immigration advocacy groups, who described it as proof of the GOP candidate’s nativism. “With his campaign trumpeting Kris Kobach’s endorsement, Mitt Romney’s descent into the dark clutches of radical nativism is complete,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, which is based in Washington D.C.
Gallup Poll: Immigration Issue Roils Voters
Politico (DC) reports that the majority of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country, and more than four out of 10 of those concerned about the issue say they want to see fewer foreigners entering the U.S., according to a Gallup Poll. The poll found that only 28 percent of Americans currently feel satisfied about the level of immigration into the U.S. According to Gallup, immigration is the third-highest-ranking concern among 17 issues that the polling company asked about.
Obama Unveils Plan to Boost Tourism
The Associated Press reports that President Obama announced an executive order at Orlando’s Walt Disney World aiming to increase tourist visa processing in China and Brazil and take other steps including promoting national parks and adding business executives to a tourism advocacy board. The White House says that more than 1 million U.S. jobs could be created over the next decade, according to industry projections, if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market. President Obama’s tourism and travel announcement is part of the president’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative aimed at promoting executive actions Obama can take without congressional approval.