Dec

Two Americans

Nov

Federal appeals court rejects request on Arizona ballot issue

The Associated Press

A federal appeals court is refusing to order Arizona to count provisional ballots cast by voters whose citizenship wasn’t confirmed when they applied to register to vote.

At issue in a matter decided Thursday was whether a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling should apply retroactively. The Oct. 26 ruling struck down Arizona’s law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund wanted the ruling to apply to provisional ballots cast in the general election.

Elections officials opposed the request, and a 9th Circuit panel of judges denied it in Thursday’s order. It said retroactive application of the ruling would be too burdensome on election officials because counting was already under way.

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Nov

Five Ways to Move Forward on Immigration

By Philip Wolgin

With the election of 2010 now behind us, and Republicans making steep gains in the House and Senate, the prospects for achieving comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) are dimming; if the Administration could not achieve CIR with a majority in both houses, it just does not seem possible now.

That being said, the fight for immigration reform is far from over, and I’d like to suggest five ways to move forward on immigration:
Pass the DREAM Act This one is a no-brainer. The DREAM Act allows for undocumented students who were brought here as children, and who complete high school and some college or military service, to become legal citizens. It is a good bill that will bring thousands of people out of the shadows, improve the education of our nation, and help our military. Harry Reid has already stated that he wants a vote on the DREAM Act during the lame duck session of Congress, so we will see what happens.
Pass the AgJOBS Bill. I’ve written about AgJOBS before, and I think it is a great way to facilitate more people who are here and already working to come out of the shadows, and gain (temporary) legal status. The plan does not automatically give anyone a green card, but it does allow workers to earn legalization.

Most importantly, AgJOBS is a pilot program. With some voices arguing that temporary work programs will take jobs from Americans and lower wages, the program would be a way to gain hard evidence on the actual situation, without comprehensive (and thus permanent) reform.
Fix the EB-1 Visa Category. Green Cards for employment are given out under five categories. (See the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website.) The first preference, known as “EB-1,” is given to “people of extraordinary ability,” outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers.

With all of the talk about the need to bring more highly skilled immigrants into the country, it would make sense that the EB-1 category would be highly sought after.

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Nov

Ariz. Vote Holds Few Bright Spots for Latinos—for Now

It was a night of no surprises in Arizona, where conservative voters who have consistently supported hard-line anti-immigrant measures re-elected the politicians who have sponsored bills.

By Valeria Fernandez

Yet Latino voter mobilization groups insisted that the election was a victory for them as well, because of large increases in voter registration among Latinos and other opponents of those harsh laws.

Gov. Jan Brewer was among those who rode the wave of SB 1070, the law that would have make it a state crime for a person to be an undocumented immigrant, defeating her Democratic rival, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, by a wide margin.

About 85 percent of Latinos gave their support to Goddard, according to exit polls conducted by the National Counsel of La Raza, America’s Voice and the Service Employees International Union.

“We didn’t expected this [voter registration] to have an immediate impact,” said Abigail Duarte, a coordinator for Mi Familia Vota, a part of the One Arizona coalition that registered more than 22, 000 new Latino voters in Arizona.

Rodolfo Espino, a professor and political analyst in Arizona State University, said Latinos are making headway, even if they still have a long way to go.

“To get first-time voters out there voting is huge hurdle to overcome, and it builds for future electoral success,” Espino said. “But the thing to keep in mind is that the numbers are not there to sway a statewide election.”

The key to Brewer’s success, Espino said, is “her ability to combine fears and anxiety about the economy with fear about illegal immigration.”

Brewer, the former secretary of state who became governor in January 2009, after the Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration. Napolitano had vetoed similar measures to SB 1070, including one enacted in 2006, and her move to Washington D.C. opened the doors for a new dynamic in the Arizona Legislature.

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Nov

Maricopa County probes Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s employee database

Maricopa County officials believe the discovery of a duplicate payroll log and database hidden in a secure computer system at the Sheriff’s Office could reveal the extent of alleged misspending in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s agency

By Ivonne Wingett and JJ Hensley (The Arizona Republic)

The sheriff’s employee database operated parallel to a county-run system, recording a different set of sheriff’s staff assignments and payments than official records provided to county auditors. County officials say the system has existed since the early part of the decade, but they learned of it only recently through paperwork produced in a case alleging racial profiling against the Sheriff’s Office.

Details of the sheriff’s employee database and steps taken to investigate will be outlined to county supervisors at a hearing this morning. 

The supervisors plan to subpoena 20 to 30 people to testify in the future about the hidden database, which is housed in a computer system at the center of a costly legal battle between Arpaio and the supervisors.

County administrators believe the Sheriff’s Office intentionally misappropriated as much as $80 million designated for jail operations over five years to pay employees working in patrol, human-smuggling operations and investigative units. Those employees should have been paid with other funds, but county officials suspect the Sheriff’s Office tried to maintain staffing levels by using money that legally was inaccessible.

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Oct

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

NPR

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

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Oct

In Appeal to Hispanics, Obama Promises to Push Immigration Reform

In the final week leading up to the midterm elections, President Barack Obama is encouraging Hispanic voters to turn their frustration over stalled immigration reform against Republicans on Election Day

By Ashley Southhall,  New York Times

Hispanics make up a crucial voting bloc in several battleground states and Democrats are hoping to pick up voters turned off by anti-immigrant discourse.

In a radio interview that aired on Univision on Monday, Mr. Obama sought to assure Hispanics that he would push an immigration overhaul after the midterm elections, despite fierce Republican opposition.

“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Referring specifically to Republicans such as Senator John McCain, who are stressing border security and supporting strict immigration laws like Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration measure, Mr. Obama said, “Those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.”

In a pitch for Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who locked in a dead heat with his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, Mr. Obama warned voters that Ms. Angle “is completely opposed to comprehensive immigration reform.” He also denounced an ad encouraging Nevada’s Latinos to stay home on Election Day as “cynical.”

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Oct

Barrage of GOP Bills Would Deny Citizenship to U.S.-Born Kids

A national coalition of GOP lawmakers is planning a new push to change the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to deny citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants

By Valeria Fernandez

In Arizona, state Senator. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa a longtime crusader against illegal immigration whose legislative efforts include the controversial SB 1070, announced the 14-state campaign at a press conference on Tuesday. He said he plans to introduce an Arizona bill revoking the right of children born in the United States to have automatic U.S. citizenship, regardless of their parents’ status, at the new legislative session that begins in January.

This is not the first time that Pearce has supported repealing “birthright citizenship,” which courts have ruled is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. In 2008, when he was a state representative, he backed a bill by then-state Senator Karen Johnson to deny birth certificates to the children of undocumented immigrants.

That bill never got a hearing. But the passage of SB 1070, which has gained notoriety as the toughest anti-immigrant law in the country for its efforts to criminalize undocumented immigrants, has catapulted Pearce into the national spotlight and given momentum to his broader agenda.

Pearce wouldn’t detail specific provisions of his proposed bill, but did clarify that it wouldn’t be retroactive. If it were, two-thirds of the children born in Arizona would loose their citizenship.

The Arizona lawmaker is joining forces with Kansas attorney and law professor Kris Kobach, who was involved in the drafting of SB 1070 and is running for Kansas secretary of state on the GOP ticket. At least 41 other politicians across the country have signed onto the “State Legislators for Legal Immigration” coalition that plans to introduce similar legislation in at least in 14 states.

Pearce didn’t hide the fact that the coalition’s ultimate goal is to force the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the birthright-citizenship issue.

At the heart of Pearce’s argument is the original intent of the Citizenship Clause in the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, after the Civil War.

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Oct

Lawmakers preparing citizenship legislation

Associated Press (Oct.  19th)

PHOENIX – Lawmakers in states across the country are combining to work on proposed legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to children born in this country to parents who are illegal immigrants, the sponsor of Arizona’s 2010 law targeting illegal immigration said Tuesday.

“We’re taking a leadership role on things that need to be fixed in America. We can’t get Congress to do it,” said Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. “It’s a national work group so that we have model legislation that we know will be successful, that meets the constitutional criteria.”

The efforts by some state legislators comes amid calls to change the Constitution’s 14th Amendment to deny automatic citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. They cite costs to taxpayers for services provided to illegal immigrants and their children.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the founder of a national group of legislators critical of illegal immigration, said the 14th Amendment “greatly incentives foreign invaders to violate our border and our laws.” He had a news conference in Harrisburg on the multistate effort.

Pearce was the main sponsor of a controversial Arizona law on illegal immigration and state and local law enforcement. Key provisions have been put on hold by a judge pending resolution of a legal challenge. He also was the chief sponsor of a 2007 state law targeting employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Pearce and fellow Arizona legislators plan a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce the effort. He said earlier Tuesday the effort is aimed at preparing “model legislation.”

Pearce said the legislation has yet to be drafted, and he declined to comment on possible approaches, including whether it would focus on the issuance of state birth certificates.

“We’re going to address the issue of the unconstitutional declaration of citizenship to those born to non-citizens,” he said. “It is a violation of the 14th Amendment,” Pearce said.

Oct

Why the Boycott of Arizona Continues

As the November general elections near, the international boycott of Arizona has become a central issue in several key elections, including the race for Arizona governor

This is not only because of the dramatic loss of revenue to the state from the cancellation of concerts, conferences, conventions, drop in tourism and cancellation of contracts, but also because Arizona ranks second to last in national poverty rankings according to a recently released Census report. Sound Strike supporters and opponents of SB 1070 break the eerie silence with massive protests and heated battle.

What Governor Brewer and detractors of the boycott fail to realize is that the Arizona boycott is not just about SB 1070. The simple truth is attacks on migrants in Arizona didn’t start with SB 1070 and won’t end with the partial injunction granted to the Obama administration. It is time to end all federally funded partnerships such as the 287(g) program, Secure Communities and other ICE policies designed to marginalize and repress immigrant families and communities. Many of these policies are in the hands of President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary, and Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano; they can end the nightmare immediately. Until then, boycotters will continue to withhold tax revenue to racist and fear mongering state governments such as Arizona.

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