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The Week in Immigration News

A roundup of the top immigration stories of the week:

  • Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime supporter of immigration reform, could become a leader on the issue this year. Just days after he said reform is still a top priority in his agenda, he will be joining activists in a Chicago rally tomorrow in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
  • About 200 Chicago businesses partnered with Jim Edgar, the former Republican governor of Illinois, in announcing a coalition to push for the reform of federal immigration laws. From the Chicago Tribune: “The group argued that legal status for an estimated 540,000 illegal immigrants in the state would result in billions of dollars of new economic activity. … Edgar said he has tried to convince Republican colleagues of the economic merits of immigration, warning that a lack of support could cause lasting political damage. ‘If the immigrant community views us as a party that is hostile to them … we just can’t afford that,’ he said.”
  • Reps. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) met with Mexican president Felipe Calderon this week to discuss the future of the fight against drug cartel violence, and they said they intend to try to expedite aid, from the Merida Initiative, to the Mexican government to help it fight increasing violence. This comes just as U.S. authorities announced that trafficking routes in Cuidad Juarez, one of the most violence-ridden city in Mexico due to drug trafficking, is now controlled by the powerful leader of the Sinaloa cartel. Read more about this story here and about the Mexican drug war here.
  • Arizona’s senate bill 1070, which would mandate some of the toughest immigration enforcement laws in the country, is still on hold, according to KPHO news channel’s Website. The bill would make it a state crime for anyone to be in the country illegally and for anyone to harbor or transport an illegal immigrant. Since it has already been passed by the state senate and two House committees, the bill was expected to move quickly to the governor. Now many believe the bill is being put on hold because it doesn’t have enough votes in the House. It is expected to be heard by the full House sometime next week.
  • Service Employees International Union members are calling for abuses within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to stop during a two-day vigil. The union is protesting ICE abuses as documented recently by The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Department of Homeland Security’s own Office of Inspector General. This appears to be the first national attempt to draw attention to the most recent mismanagement issues by ICE.
  • A former guard at Port Isabel Detention Center, an immigration detention facility, in Los Fresnos, Texas, was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday for six charges filed against him — three deprivation of civil rights charges and three abusive sexual contact charges. According to court records, the former guard will serve five years probation after his release from prison. This adds to the list of claims against Port Isabel from civil rights groups who have previously noted injustice and abuse in the facility. It’s also the same facility that prompted detainees to go on a hunger strike last year.
  • New America Media has a Q&A with Laura Hill, a research fellow at Public Policy Institute of California, to discuss a new study that looks at data from 2003 to examine the effects of permanent residency on the wages and earnings of immigrants. “Our comparison group was immigrants who have been continuously legal and who got a green card at the same time as those who were unauthorized,” Hill said. “We found that getting a green card is not really associated with earning gains especially in the short term for the low skilled worker. If you were a high skilled worker, had a Bachelor’s degree or higher, you could see an earnings or occupational gain attributable to a green card.” Read about the study here.
  • Californians are shifting away from proposals that call for the removal of all social services from illegal immigrants, including public schooling and emergency medical attention, according to a new Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll. From the Los Angeles Times: “Large majorities in the poll supported two alternative proposals: one that would couple stronger enforcement at the border with a temporary worker program, and one that would combine stronger border enforcement with a path to eventual citizenship for illegal residents who perform community service, pay back taxes and learn English. The support for both a guest-worker program and a citizenship option were notable partly because they come at a time when California voters remain deeply pessimistic about the state’s economy.” Read more here.

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