The Week in Immigration News
A roundup of the top immigration stories of the week:
- The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would make the state’s immigration laws some of the toughest in the country. Senate bill 1070, called the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” would allow officers to question anyone they come into contact with about their residency status, make it a misdemeanor for failure to carry documentation that shows legal status, make it illegal to transport illegal immigrants (with the exception of medical emergencies and church visits) and ban sanctuary city “soft-enforcement” of immigration laws. It still has to be approved by the state senate before it goes to the governor, but the bill is already at the center of controversy.
- Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) assured activists of their commitment to comprehensive immigration reform during two immigration rallies April 10. The rallies, in Las Vegas and Chicago, coincided with four other Rally for America immigration protests that took place around the country that same day, also featuring senators and congressmen. While many saw these commitments as a step in the right direction, some activists and writers see Reid and Durbin’s words as merely a political strategy to get ahead in November elections.
- The U.S. and Mexico struck a new agreement to crack down on cross-border drug smuggling that crosses the border into El Paso that will allow the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) to prosecute certain Mexican nationals (excluding U.S. permanent residents) under the country’s laws. According to a press release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (via Media-Newswire.com), the agreement came after Alonzo R. Peña, deputy assistant secretary for ICE, and Bernardo Espino del Castillo Barrón, PGR deputy coordinator of delegations, met in El Paso Thursday to discuss cooperation on the Illegal Drug Program (IDP). El Paso is the second U.S. city (ICE began the program in Nogales, Ariz., in late 2009) to participate in IDP.
- “Yesterday, at several bus stations and other locations around Arizona, more than 800 law enforcement officials carried out the largest operation against human smuggling in [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] history,” reported The Takeaway today. The raids targeted shuttle bus operations that carry illegal immigrants into the U.S. instead of workplaces, but civil rights groups have reported hearing from families and workers who fear deportation because of these tactics. The raids involved 800 officers from nine federal and local enforcement agencies. Read more here and here.
- During her trip to Mexico, Michelle Obama said that immigration reform is necessary, but that it requires support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. “We’re seeing young children who are trying to cross the border just to reconnect with their parents, and their lives are in danger,” Obama said (via USA Today). “They’re put in precarious situations. And a strong immigration reform policy would help alleviate some of those challenges.” Obama also said the U.S. should work to reduce its demands for illegal narcotics to help alleviate Mexico’s cartel violence.
- According to a new study, in 14 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the country, a larger number of immigrants hold white-collar occupations than lower-wage work such as construction, manufacturing or cleaning. St. Louis, Boston, New York and San Francisco are among those areas. From The New York Times: “Over all, the analysis showed, the 25 million immigrants who live in the country’s largest metropolitan areas (about two-thirds of all immigrants in the country) are nearly evenly distributed across the job and income spectrum. ‘The United States is getting a more varied and economically important flow of immigrants than the public seems to realize,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director for immigration research at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan group in New York that conducted the data analysis for The New York Times. … The findings are significant because Americans’ views of immigration are based largely on the work immigrants do, new research shows.”
- Tea Parties Against Amnesty, a branch of the larger Tea Party movement, continues its nationwide protests today (April 15-17) to oppose any proposed legislation for comprehensive immigration reform. There are over 56 protest events posted on AgainstAmnesty.com, with close to 10,000 supporters. The rallies include some well-known Tea Party and anti-immigration speakers, including former Rep. Tom Tancredo, the outspoken founder and co-chairman of border security, anti-immigration PAC Team America; J.D. Hayworth, John McCain’s Republican primary challenger for U.S. Senate; Arizona’s controversial sheriff, Joe Arpaio; and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC President William Gheen.
- The Center for American Progress released a report Monday detailing their suggestions for improving security along the U.S. border. Its ten reform proposals include passing comprehensive immigration reform, using new technology, implementing stronger oversight and collaborating with Mexico. According to the CAP report, the Secure Border Initiative is flawed because of a border fence that is too heavily relied on for border security; management and oversight issues; a Department of Homeland Security that is too slow to address mistakes; and misguided spending decisions (namely on SBInet, a technology-heavy program designed to help Border Patrol detect illegal immigrants and smugglers along the border). Read more here.
- Immigration reform and cartel violence are two major items that will be discussed during Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to Capitol Hill. This is the first visit to Congress from a Mexican president since 2001, when former president Vicente Fox addressed Congress. Read more here.