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The Week in Immigration News « The Washington Independent

A roundup of the top immigration stories of the week:

  • After hosting immigration reform advocates at the White House yesterday, President Obama met with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to discuss plans for comprehensive immigration reform. The two senators have been working together to draft a bill, and yesterday, according to the Los Angeles Times, they showed the president a three-page blueprint of the plan. Graham said the proposal included “a rational plan to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States.” “We’re not going to mass-deport people and put them in jail, nor should we,” Graham said. “But we need a system so they don’t get an advantage over others for citizenship.”
  • Cases awaiting hearings in federal immigration courts, particularly deportation cases, have reached an all-time high, as numerous judge positions have been unfilled. According to a Washington Post article, “228,421 cases were awaiting a hearing in the first months of the 2010 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, up 23 percent since the end of the 2008 fiscal year, and 82 percent higher than 10 years ago.” The average wait time for a hearing nationwide is 439 days.
  • Immigrant advocates say that immigration enforcement is worse under the Obama administration than it was under Bush. New American Media wrote: “Advocates who spoke at [Monday]’s press conference in Washington, D.C. angrily pointed to statistics that showed a significant acceleration in immigration enforcement over President Bush’s last year, with over 387,000 immigrants deported since Obama’s inauguration.”
  • A California man has been charged with fraud for operating a massive student visa scheme. Authorities say the man made hundreds of thousands of dollars by attending classes, taking exams and writing papers for about 120 people from Middle Eastern countries who wanted to keep their student visa status. “We have seen visa fraud schemes before but we have never seen anything quite like this,” an investigator for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Los Angeles Times. The man could face up to five years in federal prison. Sixteen people who may have hired the man have already been arrested and the agency is looking for about 20 more. Read more about this story here.
  • As part of immigration reform, all Americans might be required to get a new biometric ID card in order to work. Graham and Schumer are proposing a plan that would force all citizens and legal residents, including teenagers, to become part of a national database to ensure that employers are not hiring illegal immigrants. Read more here.
  • Ohio immigration enforcement may be shifting its focus to employers of illegal immigrants. The owner of eight restaurants in the northern part of the state pleaded guilty recently to hiring undocumented workers and filling out false tax returns. A spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said tougher enforcement for employers is more effective than deporting workers.
  • The Senate State Affairs Committee of Idaho killed an immigration bill that would have required businesses to screen workers using a federal background check system called E-Verify.
  • For years, the Irish press and at least one advocacy group, Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), have called attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Mexicans have been called “the new Irish,” but with over 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants, the Irish could take that title themselves.
  • Hope springs eternal for undocumented Latinos, many of whom were hit hardest by the recession. In a national survey of undocumented Latinos, 14 percent of male respondents said they work fewer than 10 hours a week and 39 percent said they make less than $15,000 a year, far below the poverty line. Still, 74 percent said they would still come to the United States if they could choose again and 71 percent said America is special because of the opportunity it offers people.

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