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The Week in Immigration News

-To reduce the state debt in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) wants to make a drastic cut in public assistance for legal immigrants. The cut would mostly affect new immigrants, who are not yet eligible for welfare, by eliminating access to essential medical care and basic food and cash assistance. Thirty-seven thousand people will lose aid from the California Food Assistance Program; 24,000 people will lose assistance provided by CalWORKs, which provides families with cash, childcare and job-training; and 48,570 legal immigrants will lose their access to heathcare (through Medi-Cal). Read more here.

Additional stories after the jump:

-Undocumented immigrants are being left out of the healthcare debate, but a new study shows that even legal immigrants — those who are eligible for government healthcare programs — face challenges that prevent them from receiving adequate care. The study, sponsored by shows that many immigrants are misinformed about two major issues: by receiving public health insurance benefits, they may be considered a “public charge” (which would disqualify them from adjusting their status to lawful permanent resident); and that enrolling in public insurance would affect their ability to sponsor relatives for admission to the United States. Still, others aren’t enrolled because cultural and linguistic barriers prevent them from understanding or applying to be part of the insurance system.

-The Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system, which serves to check a potential employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S., works less than half the time to accurately flag unauthorized workers, according to a research report . E-Verify inaccurately reads unauthorized workers as authorized 54 percent of the time, according to the study. The system is voluntarily used by more than 180,000 employers currently at more than 675,000 work sites and applies only to new hires. “This is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks E-Verify is an effective remedy to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is writing an immigration bill.

-Senate Republicans have raised concerns about the jobs bill because it does not require that an employee be a legal resident or citizen, nor does it require use of the E-Verify system. GOP members say the bill does not prevent businesses from trying to gain tax credits by hiring illegal immigrants. Read more about E-Verify, and why the GOP fears undocumented workers,here.

-The Economic Policy Institute released a report showing that immigrants who are U.S. citizens are more likely to receive higher wages and experience lower levels of poverty than non-citizens. Surprisingly, the study also found that in 2007, adult U.S. citizen immigrants had a median family income of $57,823, higher than the median family income of native-born citizens ($56,000.) Non-citizen immigrants’ median family income was $38,600. The report suggested that this may be attributed to assimilation and the likelihood of naturalized citizens having attained higher levels of education than non-citizens.

  • The Dept. of Homeland Security reports that the illegal population fell significantly between 2008 and 2009, by almost 1 million people (experts agree the main causes are a weak economy and tougher immigration enforcement.) But opinion differs on what those numbers actually mean. Most immigration experts agree that the number of new illegal immigrants entering the country has declined, but some disagree over whether the number of immigrants leaving has increased.

-A new report by the anti-immigration think-tank, Center for Immigration Studies, tells Republican leaders to give up on the Latino vote. The center suggests that only after reducing Hispanic immigration into the country can that voting block begin assimilating and becoming Republican. The Immigration Impact writes in an article, “In other words, the CIS report offers not only a grim view of Republican political prospects, but a stereotypical and insulting portrayal of Latino voters who are perceived as too poor and ignorant to vote Republican, and who should therefore be ignored by Republican political strategists until they grow out of their Democratic phase….Apparently, an immigrant has not really become fully part of American society until he or she fervently supports a Republican Party that officially looks down upon immigrants.”

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