News Bytes

Posted on: January 12th, 2013
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Study Confirms Faults with 287(g) Immigration Program

EFE reports that the Immigration Policy Center published a study confirming faults with the 287(g) immigration program at a time when the government is subjecting it to review. Since its creation in 1996, Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act has permitted federal authorities to train state and local law enforcement agents to perform certain functions related to immigration. However, the U.S. Justice Department investigation of Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office concluded that the department engaged in a pattern of violations of people’s constitutional rights and racial profiling against Hispanics in carrying out 287(g). It found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducted immigration raids in Hispanic neighborhoods and also, that Latino drivers in greater Phoenix were stopped nine times more frequently than other motorists. North Carolina has been one the many states most affected by the implementation of 287(g), given that more than 14,000 Hispanics have been deported from the city of Charlotte alone over the last six years, the majority for minor traffic violations. A January 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office complained that 287(g) did not fulfill its objectives of detaining and expelling criminals but instead, undocumented immigrants were being deported for minor crimes and misdemeanors. A full report is available at


Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Settles Immigrant Detention Lawsuit

The Tennessean reports that a federal complaint accusing the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office of illegally holding suspects so that deputies could determine their immigration status has been settled, according to paperwork filed with the U.S. District Court in Nashville and an attorney for local law enforcement described it as a very favorable outcome. Six plaintiffs, each of Hispanic descent, will receive $2,500 in damages, according to the settlement. An additional $7,000 in attorney’s fee was also agreed to, for a total payout of $22,500. Judge Todd Campbell signed the order, recently, ending a case that was brought by attorney Elliott Ozment almost exactly one year ago.


Groups Sue to Bar Anti-Immigration Resolution Approved by Montana Voters

The Great Falls Tribune reports that the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, MEA-MFT and Alisha Blair, a 22-year old Missoula woman who was born in Lethbridge, Alberta but is a United States citizen, filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to block Legislative Referendum 121 from becoming law. The statewide initiative prohibits state agencies from providing certain state services and benefits to undocumented immigrants. LR 121 passed with nearly 81 percent of voters supporting it in the Nov. 6election. The new law, which took effect on January 1st, requires certain state agencies to certify through a federal database that persons requesting services are citizens before any services are provided to them. The plaintiffs argue LR 121 violates the Montana Constitution’s guaranteed right of individual privacy because it requires state agencies to demand citizens provide information that is protected under the state constitution’s guaranteed right of privacy. The plaintiffs are asking the judge to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect until arguments can be heard. District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has ordered the first hearing for February 7, 2013 at 10:00 am.


Georgia Lawmakers Propose to Relax Key Part of Immigration Law

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Secretary of State Brian Kemp, county officials and state legislators are pushing to relax a key part of Georgia’s immigration law which requires people seeking public benefits—including professional licenses, grants, and loans—to present “secure and verifiable” forms of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. The law is aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining public benefits to which they are not entitled. Many county and state officials believe the law is too burdensome for business professionals and government agencies. In addition, Kemp said the identification requirement is weighing down the process his office uses to issue licenses to nurses, cosmetologists, and many other professionals across the state. State Representative Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) confirmed that he is working on legislation to relax the identification requirements for license renewals.


States Propose Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

WGBH News reports that undocumented immigrants in three states could join those in Washington State and New Mexico in being able to get a driver’s license. Illinois, Colorado, and Nevada have introduced bills allowing all state residents to apply for a license in the 2013 legislative session. Nevada Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis argued in favor of the legislation, saying that “states can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to roadway safety.” Additionally, The Associated Press reports that top Republicans in Illinois supported a plan to provide driver’s licenses to the 250,000 undocumented immigrants. According to reports, uninsured immigrant motorists cause $64 million in damage claims each year. Former GOP Governor Jim Edgar joined Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton in announcing their support for the legislation. House Minority Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno also supported the bill, which passed both the House and Senate, according to The Chicago Tribune.

In California, legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a California driver license has been reintroduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville. According toThe Monterey Herald, the Safe and Responsible Driver Act would allow undocumented immigrants to get driving permits as long as they pass a background check and obtain insurance. The bill, AB60, is similar to one by former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who pushed for its passage at least seven times since 1998. Cedillo was recently termed out of office and asked Alejo to pick up his legislation. Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure allowing young immigrants receiving federal authorization to work in the United States to get driver’s licenses. The law, written by Cedillo, is expected to benefit 400,000 young people. Like Cedillo, Alejo insists the bill would make the roads safer by making sure everyone knows the rules of the road.

Conversely, in Michigan, 7,000 of 12,000 undocumented immigrants who meet the requirements of President Barak Obama’s federal deferred action program will not be allowed to obtain licenses. The Detroit News reports that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ruled in October that even if immigrants qualify for deferred action, they still do not have legal presence in the country. Johnson’s spokeswoman, Gisgie Gendreau, said the state cannot issue licenses until the undocumented immigrants are granted legal presence to be in the United States. Michigan joins two states—Nebraska and Arizona—that have banned the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, even those who qualify for the deferred action program.


Jobs’ Widow Takes Up Cause of Immigration Reform

Politico reports that immigration reform has a new ally in Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Powell Jobs has made helping undocumented children get on a path to citizenship her cause and has been raising her profile in Democratic circles. Friends say Powell Jobs became aware of the issues undocumented children face through her work with College Track, an after-school, college preparatory program she co-founded and where she tutored kids herself. Powell Jobs’ goal is to help create bipartisan support for the DREAM Act, which would give eligible young people a six-ear path to citizenship.


E-Verify to be Introduced for Employment Authorization in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee

Re-locate Magazine reports that as of January 1st, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee now require some employers to register for and use the otherwise voluntary E-verify system. E-Verify is an online employment authorization verification tool administered by the US Department of Homeland Security in co-operation with the Social Security Administration. Georgia and Virginia have also enacted new E-Verify requirements that will take effect later in 2013. State law in North Carolina will require all employers with 100 or more employees to register for and use E-Verify. On July 1, 2013, the requirement will expand to all employers with 25 or more employers. Employers with 500 or more employees are already required to use E-Verify. Employers with 24 or fewer employees are exempt from the law.

In Pennsylvania, any contractor on a public works contract with state or local governments valued at $25,000 or more must register for and use E-Verify. The process in Tennessee will change so that employers with 6 or more employees must either participate in E-Verify or retain photocopies of identification and work authorization documents as part of the federally-mandated Form I-9 process. Employers with 200 or more employees are already expected to comply with the law. Employers with 5 or fewer employees are exempt.

Georgia law will also require employers with 11 or more employees to register for and use E-Verify. While employers with 100 or more employees are already required to sue E-Verify, employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from the law. In Virginia, state law will require any contractor who has more than an average of 50 employees for the previous 12 months and enters into a contract in excess of $50,000 with any state agency, to register for and participate in E-Verify. Nineteen states now have laws related to the mandatory use of E-Verify for some or all employers.


Baltimore Says, ‘Immigrants Welcome’

NPR reports that hundreds of people gathered in September at Baltimore’s harbor to be sworn in as U.S. citizens. Baltimore was once a major port city and destination for people moving to America. In 1950, nearly a million people lived in Baltimore. Since then, Baltimore has become known for high crime rates and abandoned homes and the city’s population has fallen to half of what it was in the 1960s. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has a plan to bring in 10,000 new families over the next decade, focusing on immigrants, a group that has helped other large cities grow. She hopes new families will boost income and property tax revenue, helping to reignite the city’s economy.

The city is spending money on Spanish-language nutrition and exercise classes, Spanish story time at the library and even cultural training for the police. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies has different advice. Camarota says immigrants, like anyone else, go where there are jobs and he is skeptical that Baltimore can grow its immigrant population simply by ignoring immigration status or offering services. But David Kallick, director of Immigration Research at the Fiscal Policy Institute, disagrees with Camarota, saying that attracting new immigrant residents does help a city, especially when it comes to property taxes.



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