March 25, 2009
Navarrette: Obama adds immigration to full agenda
RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR., The San Diego Union Tribune, March 24, 2009, 4:30 p.m.
"President Obama is either daring or foolhardy - or maybe a little of both.
Case in point: Although he has been criticized, even by supporters, for overloading his agenda, Obama recently signaled that, before the end of his first year in office, he'll take up no less challenging a cause than immigration reform.
That's what the president recently told the 24 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in an hourlong private meeting.
It is significant that, according to statements issued by caucus members, immigration was the only item on the agenda. Obama mentioned his planned trip to Mexico City next month, where he is due to meet with President Felipe Calderón to discuss how the neighboring countries can work together to achieve comprehensive immigration reform...".
March 23, 2009
Beginning of the end of 287g
By RUPA SHENOY | Associated Press Writer, 5:44 PM CDT, March 21, 2009
"CHICAGO - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Saturday called on the White House to end Immigration raids that split up families.
Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, spoke at a northwest Chicago church to a diverse gathering of hundreds who interrupted him with cheering and clapping.
Without naming President Barack Obama, George said the current administration can fulfill its promises of change by working toward Immigration reform. The rally was one in a 17-city series of meetings organized by advocates of changes to U.S. Immigration policy, including U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
"I stand with other faith leaders and all of you gathered here today and with every immigrant family in this nation to call on our government to end Immigration raids and the separation of families," George said. "This will be a clear sign that this administration is truly about change."...".
March 21, 2009
Pelosi Stands Firm on Immigration Overhaul
"By Karoun Demirjian, CQ Staff
A comprehensive immigration bill may or may not happen in 2009, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says lawmakers shouldn’t wait to put the brakes on enforced deportation measures that many say have gotten out of control.
“ICE raids that break up families, just kicking in the door in the middle of the night, taking a parent away, that’s just not the American way,” Pelosi said Thursday, at a conference on border issues hosted by the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.
Democrats have criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement on several occasions in the past few years for placing a greater priority on catching large numbers of illegal immigrants through worksite sweeps than on apprehending dangerous criminals. Many Republicans have argued that ICE is simply doing the job it was assigned.
Pelosi took some heat from conservative pundits for expressing such sentiments, which she first did at a rally of immigrants and their supporters in a San Francisco church last week — part of a multi-city tour being organized by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., to build momentum for another legislative shot at immigration overhaul. But Thursday, Pelosi stuck firmly to her position, urging immediate action even in the absence of a comprehensive package.
“We need this comprehensive reform, and we need it soon,” Pelosi said. “And we need to stop those kinds of ICE raids in the meantime.”
Her comments, one day after a Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting with President Obama that focused on how to tackle immigration in Congress, are the most high-profile endorsement of recasting the mission of ICE to have been issued.
But the onus of making the changes resides with the administration. Caucus members have asked Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to scale back the raids, but there have been no changes to agency policy".
Source: CQ Homeland Security
© 2009 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.
March 20, 2009
Obama: Comprehensive immigration reform needed
"1 day ago
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the United States is a nation of immigrants but the country must have control over its borders.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Southern California, Obama said immigration is a high-emotion issue that cannot be dealt with in pieces. He says he wants to work with leaders in Congress and in Mexico to come up with a comprehensive plan.
Obama says it's important for longtime illegal immigrants to have a path to citizenship so they can join unions and get protection from employers who exploit them. He says those illegal immigrants could earn U.S. citizenship if they pay a fine and learn English.
Obama says residents who have put down roots should be able to come out of hiding".
March 19, 2009
Lobby day in DC
Today I will join 500 immigration lawyers as we once again lobby for immigration reform. This year brings hope for much needed change
March 18, 2009
AILA; National Day of Action
From Marshall Fitz, AILA's Director of Advocacy;
"A day of critical importance stands before us as AILA advocates prepare for the National Day of Action. On Thursday, AILA will make history for hosting our most-attended National Day of Action EVER. More than 500 immigration advocates will visit Congressional offices in Washington, D.C., and in-district, to talk about our top legislative priority which is the need for a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system. Because of committed immigration attorneys and law students, we will make a difference!
We will tell our Senators and Representatives that immigration reform remains a critical national priority, that immigration reform will promote, not detract from, our economic recovery, and that the political will to advance a comprehensive legislative package remains strong. To learn more about our message to the Hill, you can review AILA's talking points, polling summary, and tips for meeting with Members of congress and their staff that we've made available for all of our advocates at www.aila.org/dayofaction.
To all of those who are not able to participate in National Day of Action meetings in D.C. or in-district, I strongly urge you to call your Members of Congress on Thursday and remind them that this is the year for Comprehensive Immigration Reform".
March 17, 2009
Opinion - Immigrants Can Help Fix the Housing Bubble
WALL STREET JOURNAL By Richard Lefrak and A. Gary Shilling, March 17, 2009
"The Obama administration should seriously consider granting resident status to foreigners who buy surplus houses in this country. This makes more sense than the president's $275 billion housing bailout plan, which Americans greeted with a Bronx cheer.
The federal bailout forces taxpayers to subsidize overextended homeowners who bet on ever-rising house prices and used their abodes as ATMs, and it doesn't get to the basic problem -- the huge inventory of excess houses. We estimate that 2.4 million houses over and above normal working inventories are left over from the 1996-2005 housing bubble. That's a lot, considering the long-term average annual construction of 1.5 million single- and multi-family units.
Excess inventory is the mortal enemy of house prices, which have already fallen 27% since the peak in early 2006. We predict another 14% drop through the end of 2010 if nothing is done to eliminate the surplus.
[Immigrants Can Help Fix the Housing Bubble] Chad Crowe
Doing nothing to eliminate the excess inventory might well push the recession through 2010 and into a depression. Declining home values, for example, are eliminating the home equity that has funded oversized consumer spending for years.
As consumers retrench, production is cut, payrolls are slashed, and consumer confidence, incomes and spending are savaged in a self-feeding downward economic spiral. But if the government buys surplus houses and sells them at low market-clearing prices, other house prices will drop, destroying more home equity and driving many more mortgages under water. Bulldozing excess houses would be an inefficient end for perfectly habitable structures.
A better idea is to offer permanent residence status to the many foreigners who are clamoring to get into the U.S. -- if they buy houses of minimal values (not shacks). They wouldn't need to live in those houses, but in order to remove the unit from the total housing market, they couldn't rent them. Their temporary resident status granted upon purchase would become permanent after, perhaps, five years, if they still owned the houses and maintained clean records. The mere announcement of this program might well stop the ongoing collapse in house prices, especially in cities such as Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and San Francisco, where prices are down 40% -- but where many foreigners like to live.
Each year, 85,000 H-1B visas are granted for foreigners with advanced skills and education, and last year, 163,000 petitions were filed in the first five days after applications were accepted. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation estimates that as of Sept. 30, 2006, 500,040 residents of the U.S. and 59,915 individuals living abroad were waiting for employment-based visas. Many would buy homes if their immigration conditions were settled.
These people tend to be highly productive. In 2006, foreign nationals residing in the U.S. were listed as inventors on 25.6% of the patent applications filed in the U.S., up from 7.6% in 1998. A Council of Graduate Schools survey found that in the fall of 2007, 241,095 non-U.S. citizens were enrolled in graduate programs. Some 55% were in engineering and the biological and physical sciences, compared with only 16% of U.S. citizens. In 2007, more people on temporary visas received doctorates in physical sciences and engineering than U.S. citizens.
There is a high correlation between education and incomes, and in today's uncertain economic climate, many wealthy foreigners desire U.S. resident status just as a number in Hong Kong secured residences in Singapore and Canada before the British handover to China in 1997. They rapidly became over a quarter of Vancouver's population, and brought in billions of dollars to buy houses and make other investments.
We could benefit from such an influx. Merrill Lynch estimates that in 2007 there were 10.1 million individuals in the world, 7.1 million outside the U.S., with at least $1 million in financial assets that totaled $29 trillion. If new immigrants bought the 2.4 million excess houses at today's $184,000 median price with funds from abroad, they would bring untold billions. The immigrants would also buy consumer goods, pay taxes, and start many new businesses.
The blueprint for a program to sell surplus housing to immigrants is already in place with the EB-5 visa program. Each year, 10,000 EB-5 visas for this country are available for foreigners who each invest $1 million in a new enterprise ($500,000 in economically depressed areas) that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. After two years, the entrepreneur and his family can become permanent residents.
America's relatively open immigration policy makes this country better off than many other developed lands whose governments also must fund the pensions and health care for growing numbers of retirees. Yet there's still a huge need for more productive and skilled people, both current residents and immigrants, who will produce enough goods and services to provide for their own needs and for those in retirement. Otherwise, entitlement spending eventually will touch off intergenerational warfare.
Granting permanent resident status to foreigners who buy houses in this country will curtail a primary driver of the deepening recession and financial crises -- excess house inventories and the resulting collapse of prices. Since the people who will buy these houses will tend to have money, education, skills and entrepreneurial talents, they will be substantial assets to America in both the short and long runs".
March 13, 2009
Star Power; Eva Longoria wants immigration reform
My new favorite star;
"Eva Longoria Wants Immigration Reform, 11-Mar-2009, Written by: Karla Casillas
Eva Longoria spoke to FOX Pop Tarts about the role she will play in helping issues related with Mexico.
Eva Longoria is using her star power to bring attention to immigration reform and issues predominant in Mexico.
The Desperate Housewives star said to FOX Pop Tarts that there needs to be reform in Mexican immigration, according to gossipgirls.com. Longoria said she will make sure to play an active role with the issue.
“I think definitely immigration will be addressed and I will be there to make sure that we’re protected,” she said. She continued by saying that the United States should focus more on their neighbors down south than overseas".
“It is unfortunate that we spend so much time as Americans all over the world, and we need to really focus a lot of our energy on our front porch which is Mexico,” Longoria said. She not only wants to address the issues of immigration, but also bring attention to “the poverty and illiteracy and the educational programs in Mexico.”
To raise that awareness, she said a lot of “star power” will gather to raise money for educational programs in a big charity fund-raiser next year.
March 11, 2009
FAQ, Will a wall on the border stop entry into the USA?
Answer; think again, human inguenuity at work;
"Drug smugglers using ultralights to cross border
By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN – 6 hours ago
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Smugglers facing strengthened border defenses have turned to an old and risky tactic — using single-seat ultralight aircraft to fly marijuana loads into the country.
Officials know of at least three such attempts in recent months — all of which ended badly for the smugglers — but they don't know how many others have been made or whether any have been successful...".
March 09, 2009
Detainee business is booming apparently
Here is a press release from CCA detailing their growth during this recession;
"Corrections Corporation of America Announces New Management Contract With U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at North Georgia Detention Center
By: Marketwire, Mar. 9, 2009 07:45 AM
NASHVILLE, TN -- (Marketwire) -- 03/09/09 -- Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW) ("the Company" or "CCA"), the nation's largest provider of corrections management services to state, federal and local government, today announced a
new contract to manage detainee populations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") at the North Georgia Detention Center in Hall County, Georgia with a total design capacity of 502 beds.
Under a five-year Inter-Governmental Service Agreement between Hall County, Georgia and ICE, CCA will house up to 500 ICE detainees at the facility. The Company will lease the former Hall County Jail from Hall County, Georgia. The lease has an initial term of 20 years with two five-year renewal options and provides CCA the ability to cancel the lease if it does not have a management contract. The Company currently anticipates opening the facility during the second quarter of 2009 and expects the facility to be substantially occupied by the end of 2009.
"We are proud to expand our partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," said John Ferguson, CCA's Chief Executive Officer. "The North Georgia Detention Facility will serve ICE's need for detention capacity as part of the government's strategy to deter illegal immigration and protect public safety." CCA currently partners with ICE to manage detainees at twelve CCA facilities...".
March 04, 2009
Nashville's 287g program is called into question
So if 287g is seen as a political tool for sheriff's seeking political office, how does it relate to fighting crime?
Read this article the New Times which takes the sherriff to task;
"Report Questions an Immigration Program That Uses the Local Police, By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, Published: March 3, 2009 at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/us/04immigrants.html?_r=1
The report, to be released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, says the government has failed to determine how many of the thousands of people deported under the program were the kind of violent felons it was devised to root out.
Some law enforcement agencies had used the program to deport immigrants “who have committed minor crimes, such as carrying an open container of alcohol,” the report said, and at least four agencies referred minor traffic offenders for deportation.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has already ordered a review of the program. A top official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is set to testify at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.
Known as 287(g), a reference to the section of a 1996 law authorizing it, the program has been promoted by immigration officials as an important tool in deporting serious criminals. It has also enjoyed the strong support of some local law enforcement agencies, including here in Maricopa County, where the sheriff operates the largest program, with 160 trained deputies.
But the report said immigration bureau officials had not closely supervised how their agreements with the local agencies had been carried out, had inconsistently described the program’s goals and had failed to spell out what data should be tracked, collected and reported.
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, to which the immigration agency referred calls, did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages. In a response included in the report, agency officials said they had put in place changes, many of them late last year, that address the report’s findings...".
March 01, 2009
Update on ICE raid; Washington State ICE Agents Go Rogue, Defy Napolitano on Raids
"The New York Times is reporting that the recent raid by ICE Agents in Bellingham, Washington was undertaken without pre-clearance by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. The Times article, quoting a high ranking official, informs us,
“[Napolitano] was not happy about it because it’s inconsistent with her position, and the president’s position on these matters,” said the official, who agreed to discuss the matter on condition of anonymity because the secretary had not authorized the conversation.
In a related AP Article, Napolitano was quizzed by lawmakers in DC about the raid. As reported by the AP,
"I want to get to the bottom of this as well," she said. She said work-site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.
The same article reports that the raid comes on the heels of recent signals by the Obama Administration indicating a shift in immigration policy that would rely less on work-site enforcement, focusing instead on employers who hire illegal immigrants and overall immigration reform...".