Immigration Impact

How to Have a Productive Conversation on Immigration

In preparation for the August recess, the Immigration Policy Center released a new guide to answering the tough questions on immigration. This is perhaps a misnomer, as the issues we cover—the intersection of crime, the economy, integration, and immigration—aren’t so much tough as they are complicated. There is plenty of evidence available on the significant contributions immigrants make to the country, so providing that is easy. What’s tough is discussing the personal myths and misconceptions individuals carry with them on the topic.  Aren’t immigrants to blame for…?

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Steve King's Tall Tales about Immigrants Couldn't Be Farther From the Truth

There is no denying that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has a vivid imagination. As he sits in Border Patrol vehicles at night, he apparently sees hundreds of DREAM Act-eligible drug mules with muscular calves hauling heavy loads of marijuana across the border. How does he know these drug mules would meet the rather stringent criteria for legalization under the DREAM Act? Hard to say. How does he know these drug mules outnumber their valedictorian counterparts by a ratio of one hundred to one? No one can say. What is certain is this: when it comes to the topic of immigration and crime, nativists like King have no need for facts when there is so much fear and innuendo at their disposal. Perhaps this is because the facts are so stacked against them.

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Report: Immigrants Play Critical Role in Driving U.S. Talent and Economic Competitiveness

U.S. workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have been important contributors to American innovation, job creation, rising incomes, and global economic competitiveness throughout the years. And not surprisingly, immigrants have played a critical role in American innovation through STEM fields and all parts of the U.S. economy. A new report by Gordon Hanson (University of California, San Diego) and Matthew Slaughter (Dartmouth) describes these important relationships between talent, economic competitiveness, and immigration in the United States. In their paper, the authors present data in support of three critical points: 

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Report: Immigrants and Their Children To Fill Workforce Gaps Left by Aging Baby Boomers

Over the next two decades, as the baby boom generation continues entering retirement, we will experience the largest exodus from the workforce by any generational cohort in American history. This wave of retirees will create a labor force deficit among the millions of jobs baby boomers depart from on top of new job growth industries create. Amid this great demographic shift, immigrants and their children are poised to play a critical role in filling workforce gaps left by massive baby boom generation retirements over the next twenty years, as a new forward-looking report from the Center for American Progress describes.

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Civil Rights Hotline Reveals 3 Dangerous Trends Following Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law

According to a new report from the National Immigration Law Center, anti-Latino discrimination is alive and well in Alabama, and has gotten a seal of approval from the governor and the state legislature. HB 56, the state’s increasingly infamous anti-immigrant law, went into effect on June 9, 2011, and has since inspired all manner of bias aimed at Latino residents of the state. Stories abound of police pulling over and harassing Latino drivers for no justifiable reason; cashiers demanding proof of legal status before they will take the money of Latino customers; white shoppers telling brown-skinned shoppers to “go back to Mexico.” In short, more and more self-appointed defenders of the nation’s immigration laws are degrading and dehumanizing their fellow Alabamans. In the process, they are dehumanizing themselves as well.

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Center for Immigration Studies: Best Way to Deal With Latino Vote? Ignore It

The nativist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has an implicit message for the Republican Party heading into the 2012 elections: stop worrying about Latino voters and just play to your predominantly Anglo base. Such is the kamikaze message contained within a new CIS report, innocuously titled Projecting the 2012 Hispanic Vote. The report dismisses the claims of innumerable analysts that Latino voters could tip the electoral balance one way or the other in the so-called “battleground” states and, by extension, in the nation as a whole. After all, argues CIS, veterans and senior citizens outnumber Latinos in the national electorate, so why not focus on winning them over instead? This may seem comical to some observers, but CIS is saying it with a straight face.

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5 Ways Obama's Deferred Action for Dreamers Shifts the Conversation on Immigration Reform

There’s no doubt that recent implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative is the biggest thing to happen in immigration law in many years. While most of the attention is currently focused on how to make it work, how to apply and how to work out the kinks, it’s important to take a macro view at the ways this program can actually renew the entire conversation on immigration reform.

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Immigration Hardliner's Lawsuit Against Deferred Action is Unlikely to Stand Up in Court

Kris Kobach’s official job title is Kansas Secretary of State. But he is better known for drafting—and being hired to defend in court—state and local immigration laws designed to make undocumented residents “self-deport.” His two most notorious undertakings are Arizona SB 1070 and Alabama HB 56, which have largely been eviscerated by federal courts. Yesterday, Kobach embarked on a new legal escapade, filing a lawsuit to block the Obama administration from granting deferred action to so-called “DREAMERers,” undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. Fortunately, although sure to generate headlines, the lawsuit has little chance of standing up in court.

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Judge Strikes Down Most of Alabama's Extreme Anti-Immigrant Law

As with the Supreme Court’s recent opinion on Arizona SB 1070, initial media coverage portrayed the (technically) mixed rulings on the Alabama and Georgia immigration laws as a split decision. But do not be fooled: yesterday’s opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit represent a sweeping win for the immigrants’ rights movement and a crushing blow to the legal crusade led by Kris Kobach. While yesterday’s victory was not unqualified, the provisions struck down by the Eleventh Circuit were far more significant than those that were upheld.

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Sore Loser, Jan Brewer, Continues Anti-Immigrant Crusade

Despite losing both the legal and public relations battles in the fight over SB 1070, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer was anxious to put Arizona back in the spotlight this week. Although she can’t prevent people from requesting or receiving deferred action, she issued an executive order that attempts to prevent Arizona recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from obtaining driver’s licenses in her state.  The order, which also banned access to public benefits (something DACA recipients are ineligible for, anyway) has been characterized as mean-spirited and belligerent, but it is also just wrong on the facts.

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Administration Releases Details on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

The Department of Homeland Security released details this week on its plan to grant “deferred action” to immigrant youths who were brought to the country as children. The announcement, which was accompanied by an updated FAQ and other materials on how to apply, comes eight weeks after DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano revealed the initiative, which could immediately benefit more than 900,000 immigrants. The new guidance from DHS addresses many questions about the application process—the answers to which appear below—but leaves others unresolved.

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Some States Attempt to Move Forward on Immigration Laws Following Supreme Court Decision

Prior to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Arizona SB 1070, other states that passed immigration laws were also embroiled in complicated legal battles. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah all passed restrictive immigration laws, parts of which were challenged in court and subsequently enjoined pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, however, each state is now attempting to interpret that ruling in an effort to implement its immigration law.

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Inactive 9/11 Immigration Policies Must Finally Be Squashed

For a long time after 9/11, immigration reform was only discussed as a national security issue, and many policies were put in place aimed at stopping terrorists from entering the country. Unfortunately, some of these policies—such as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program—targeted particular ethnic groups, promoted profiling, and resulted in discrimination and civil rights violations. In recent years, the Obama administration has made efforts to end the NSEERS program, but NSEERS still exists and the impact of these policies is still being felt in immigrant communities. In fact, the Rights Working Group, a coalition of civil rights organizations, recently released a report, The NSEERS Effect: A Decade of Racial Profiling, Fear, and Secrecy, which analyzes the continuing impact of this post-9/11 policy.

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Justice Department Says Alabama Immigration Law Disrupts Access to Public Education

While eyes remain fixed on the Alabama legislature’s effort to revise their immigration enforcement law, HB 56, the U.S. Department of Justice informed state officials in a letter last week that the state’s immigration law has resulted in significantly higher absence rates among Latino students. According to the letter, more than 13 percent of Latino schoolchildren in Alabama withdrew from classes between the start of the school year and February 2012. While the Department’s investigation is still ongoing, the letter said Alabama could lose federal funding and face additional litigation if it fails to revoke a provision of HB 56 that requires administrators to determine the immigration status of newly enrolling students.

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Occupy Takes Bolder Actions Against Unjust Immigration Policies

 “If you want to be a rebel, be kind: human-kind, be both.” – Pancho

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More and More States Introduce Costly Anti-Immigration Bills

Despite the devastating consequences of state immigration laws in Alabamaand Arizona, legislators in other states have introduced similar enforcement bills this year. Legislators in MississippiMissouriTennessee and Virginia introduced an array of costly immigration enforcement bills in their 2012 legislative sessions—some which are modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070. While study after study continues to document how these extreme state laws are costing state economies, disrupting entire industries and driving communities further underground, state legislators clearly aren’t getting the message.

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Children of Immigrant Entrepreneurs Find the American Dream

 The contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs—innovation, job creation and economic growth—are often cited by economists as strong reasons to reform our outdated immigration system.  However, the kids of immigrant entrepreneurs receive relatively little attention.  Delving into the experiences of these adult children of immigrants provides a new lens through which to witness the struggles and triumphs of parents and their children as they pursue the American Dream.

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Another Way to Keep Immigrants From Working? Stop The Asylum Clock

 Every year, thousands of people flee persecution in their home countries and seek safe haven in the United States. Many of them spend their entire savings on the journey, travel under life-threatening conditions, and arrive on our shores with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Those who are lucky find long-lost relatives, compatriots, or religious communities who help them get back on their feet. Then they begin the process of applying for asylum, which often takes years. Fortunately, our laws allow asylum seekers to obtain work authorization if their cases are not decided within 180 days. The 180 days, however, are counted by an “asylum clock,” which is too often stopped for unwarranted reasons.

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Could Immigrant Integration Spur Economic Growth?

 Over the weekend, more than 27,000 people became American citizens during 285 naturalization ceremonies held across the country in honor of Citizenship Day (September 17). Becoming a citizen, however, is hard work. A new country, new rules, high costs, and little targeted support for new immigrants make what should be a journey of exploration and opportunity one that may be frustrating and lonely. Not surprisingly, problems such as these are a major obstacle to naturalization. Scholars note that despite the steady rise in naturalization rates over the decades, a shocking number of people do not naturalize are actually eligible to do so. In 2008, for example, while more than one million LPRs naturalized, more than eight million were eligible to do so. Developing better integration programs, however, may improve naturalization efforts and lead to economic growth.

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Progress? California Passes Second Half of Dream Act

While many applauded Governor Jerry Brown’s recent efforts to make college more affordable for all of California’s students, others insisted the state didn’t go far enough.

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Why Is The DHS Arresting Immigrants With Little To No Criminal Records?

For the last two years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spinning a good yarn—that it’s keeping Americans more safe by pursuing those who are truly dangerous. Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton was quoted in the New York Times saying ICE has a “focus on deporting immigrants convicted of serious crimes.” To his credit he issued a series of memos dating back to summer 2010 explaining that immigration officers and prosecutors should prioritize finite enforcement resources on pursuing serious offenders only. But why then does the reality on the ground seem so far from the rhetoric?

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Businesses Warn State Lawmakers That Immigration Legislation Will Break the Bank

As many state legislative sessions come to a close, lawmakers are giving serious thought about proceeding with restrictive immigration legislation. Legislators in some states (Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Virginia,Wyoming, and most recently, Arizona) have canned restrictive enforcement legislation due to prohibitive costs and push back from business and community groups while lawmakers in other states (Kansas, Indiana, and Oklahoma) continued the debate this week. Although legislation continues to move in states like Georgia and SouthCarolina, one thing is certain—the fiscal consequences of these laws are real and business groups are putting their legislators on notice.

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GOPers Try to Propagate Myth that Immigrants Steal Jobs

Today’s House Subcommittee hearing on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, clumsily entitled “New Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not,” was clearly intended to sow fear. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly (R-24th/CA) wasted no time in sounding the alarm that unemployed native-born workers are being left to twist in the wind as immigrants gobble up the few new jobs which have become available since the end of the Great Recession. Yet the preponderance of the evidence presented during the hearing failed to support that conclusion.

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Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts

In response to a recent Roll Call article calling out the nativist lobby, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith wrote a letter to the editor making a series of claims -- many of which he’s been making for the last 20 years -- which simply don’t stack up to the facts. These myths also conveniently obsure the lack of any denial of ties to the nativist lobby. While many of Smith’s easy-to-swallow myths may stir the extreme end of a conservative base, they serve as a yet another distraction from having an open and honest immigration debate.

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Right-Wing Politicos Using Immigration Controversy to Create a Second Class of US Citizenship

At a press conference this morning at the National Press Club, a coalition of state legislators and immigration restrictionists known as the State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) presented their proposal to turn back the clocks to the pre-Civil War era to create a new definition of “state citizenship,” create a new second-class citizenship, and fundamentally alter the principles of the U.S. Constitution. With connections to restrictionist group FAIR and the notorious John Tanton Network, SLLI members Rep. John Kavanaugh of Arizona, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Pennsylvania, Kansas Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach and others were on hand to monger more fear on “the illegal alien invasion” and, in the words of South Carolina’s state Senator Danny Verdin, cure the “malady” and “poison” of undocumented immigration.

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Who Guards Corrections Corporation of America as it Guards Our Immigration Prisons?

In November, the Associated Press reported that a video obtained by its reporters showed Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) prison guards watching prisoners fight in an Idaho prison, ignoring the pleas of the prisoner being beaten, Hanni Elabed. While this was not an immigration detention facility, CCA operates many detention facilities under contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE needs to look closely at this incident and others reported this year and reassess whether it will continue to risk housing immigration detainees in CCA facilities.

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Backer of Virulent Anti-Immigrant Groups Is Finally Unmasked In Mainstream Media

The mainstream media is finally exposing “the man behind the curtain” of America’s anti-immigrant movement. This week, Village Voice Media published a piece entitled, “FAIR-y Tales” by Terry Greene Sterling, an award winning journalist and Writer-in-Residence at Arizona State University. Sterling’s in-depth investigative journalism blows the lid of off the John Tanton network and its anti-immigrant organizations—CIS, FAIR, IRLI (drafters of SB1070), Social Contract Press and Numbers USA. It even includes an interview with John Tanton, the unapologetic architect of the anti-immigrant movement in America.

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New Data Show Newer Immigrants Assimilating Well

We want legal permanent residents (LPRs) to become U.S. citizens and fully participate in civic life -- and research shows they are, in fact, doing just that. DHS recently presented new data on two programs for legal permanent residence (LPR) status -- one that required immigrants to learn English and U.S. history, and one that did not. They found that those who were required to learn English and history (which are also requirements for U.S. citizenship) are naturalizing at higher rates.

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How Will the GOP Play its Cards on Immigration?

The predictions are already rolling in that the 112th Congress will get little done, each party miring themselves in partisan differences with the goal of a White House win in 2012. The thought of gridlock on so many pressing issues facing the country—fiscal policy, stimulating the economy, ensuring job growth—is sobering. And two more years of inaction on immigration reform—reform that would help our economy grow and respects the rights of people—well, that’s simply depressing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If Speaker-elect John Boehner is really interested in governing, he will think long and hard about the direction he allows the House to go on immigration.

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Why Pollsters Undercounted the Latino vote

An interesting post-election thread is the issue of why so many polls underestimated voter turnout, specifically in races where the Democratic candidate won. The starkest example comes from the state of Nevada where the Democratic candidate for Senate, Harry Reid, beat his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, by 5 points. Polls published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal had Angle leading by 4 points just days before—a 9 point gap. The New York Times’ Nate Silver had Angle ahead by 2.3 points, with Reid eventually winning by 5.6 points—nearly an 8 point gap. Why the disparity?

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28 out of 33 Recommendations for ICE Changes Have Been Overlooked

DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released an updated report on the Performance of 287(g) Agreements which provides the same dreary account of the program as the first one. The April 2010 OIG report found that ICE and its local law enforcement partners have not complied with the terms of their 287(g) Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs), that the standards by which deputized officers are evaluated are not in line with the stated objectives of the 287(g) program, that the program is poorly supervised by ICE, and that additional oversight is necessary. It included 33 recommendations to improve the program, 28 of which, the new report finds, still remain open.

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