FAIR Legislative Update January 18, 2011
FAIR Releases Immigration Reform Agenda for the 112th Congress
To help members of the 112th Congress determine which immigration reform measures will have a positive impact on U.S. immigration policy, FAIR is releasing its Immigration Reform Agenda for the 112thCongress. This document provides new lawmakers with a brief summary of action taken during the previous Congress and a roadmap for moving forward with immigration reform measures. Specific suggestions for legislation include the following:
- Permanently authorize the E-Verify program and provide adequate funding to guarantee the future of the program;
- Make the E-Verify program mandatory for all existing and new hires;
- Reinstate or codify the “no-match” rule for employers who receive notice that their employees’ social security numbers do not match the Social Security Administration’s database;
- Deny certain federal funds to cities that have sanctuary policies;
- Prohibit employers from deducting wages paid to illegal aliens;
- Fully implement US-VISIT to provide for a comprehensive entry-exit system; and
- Amend the language of the INA to clarify that states may not offer illegal aliens in-state tuition under any circumstances.
The action items in FAIR’s Immigration Reform Agenda for the 112thCongress are by no means exhaustive, but they do highlight what FAIR considers to be the most urgent immigration-related matters facing lawmakers as they begin their work in 2011. To read FAIR’sImmigration Reform Agenda for the 112th Congress, click here.
Addressing the Texas State House and Senate chambers last week, Republican Governor Rick Perry told legislators that abolishing sanctuary cities was on a list of “emergency items” for State lawmakers to tackle within the first 30 days of the new legislative session. (Gov. Perry Press Release, Jan. 11, 2011) While stating he believes that immigration enforcement is the federal government’s responsibility, he insisted “[the state] cannot compound their failure by preventing Texas peace officers from doing their jobs.” (The Houston Chronicle, Jan. 11, 2011)
The term “sanctuary cities” generally refers to cities that, through an act, ordinance, or policy, limit their police forces from assisting federal immigration authorities seeking to apprehend and remove illegal aliens. (CRS Report, Jan. 15, 2009; See also FAIR Website, Jan. 13, 2011) Such policies contradict a 1996 federal law, which attempted to eliminate sanctuary cities by providing:
[A] Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. (Sec. 642 of IIRIRA, P.L. 104-208; 8 U.S.C. 1373)(emphasis added)
Sanctuary cities, however, attempt to circumvent this prohibition by barring local officers and agents from collecting immigration data in the first place, thus having no information that could be transferred to federal immigration officials. And, unlike in the case of Arizona’s SB 1070, no administration has yet been willing to sue a local jurisdiction to challenge this practice.
Three of the largest cities in Texas, Austin, Dallas and Houston, have sanctuary policies in place. (See CBS dfw.com, Jan. 15, 2011; CRS Report, Aug. 14, 2006) “There are cities in the state that have made decisions that they’re going to [be] havens for those that are either in conflict with federal immigration laws or state laws that prohibit that,” Perry said. (Austin News KXAN.com, Jan. 12, 2011) However, Governor Perry has not yet provided details on how he plans to work with the Texas Legislature to eliminate sanctuary cities, commenting only that a “lengthy and appropriate conversation” will occur. (The Houston Chronicle, Jan. 12, 2011)
Wasting no time in the new legislative session, the Kentucky Senate has already acted on the issue of illegal immigration. The Kentucky Legislature convened on January 4, 2011, and within four days, the state Senate had already approved an immigration enforcement bill. The bill is modeled after Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, SB 1070.
The Kentucky immigration enforcement bill (SB 6) requires local law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt check the immigration status of an individual during lawful contact, when there is reasonable suspicion the individual is an illegal alien. It also prohibits local governments from adopting a policy, ordinance, resolution, administrative regulation, or law “that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” SB 6 also creates new crimes for smuggling and aiding and abetting illegal aliens. (Id.)
State Senator John Schickel (R) said the bill was “designed to put heat on the feds” into taking action on enforcing immigration laws. (Blue Grass Politics, Jan. 7, 2011) Although many state democrats voiced concern about the unknown costs of the bill as their reason for voting against the measure, Schickel asserted that Kentucky cannot afford notto implement the law. He said that Kentuckians are already paying an unknown amount of money to educate illegal immigrants and pay for hospital room visits. (Id.) According to FAIR’s research, illegal immigration cost the state of Kentucky $326 million in 2010. This number includes the cost of education, welfare services, child healthcare provisions and justice system costs. (See FAIR, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers, p. 70)
As FAIR reported last week, Kentucky is one of many state legislatures who plan to pass immigration enforcement legislation this session. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 10, 2010) Led in part by State Legislatures for Legal Immigration (LSSI), state representatives nationwide hope to initiate immigration legislation that will result in federal action. Kentucky’s immigration bill will now move to the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives.
Last Thursday, the Chicago City Council unanimously adopted a resolution asking the federal government to halt deportations of illegal aliens. (ABC News, Jan. 13, 2011) Specifically, the resolution urged President Obama to use his executive powers to call an immediate end to the deportation of illegal workers whose families contain either a U.S. citizen or an individual who would be eligible for a stay of deportation or conditional resident status under the failed DREAM Act. (Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 14, 2011)
During debate of the resolution, the council members (called “aldermen”) called the deportation of illegal aliens “inhumane” and likened the enforcement of federal immigration laws to U.S. Marshalls tracking down fugitive slaves during the Civil War. (Id.) Alderman Edward M. Burke of Chicago’s 14th Ward commented at a City Hall Press Conference the day the resolution passed, “It is just unfathomable that the federal government persists in this cruel and unusual punishment to innocent members of our society….If Illinois can have a moratorium on the death penalty, the U.S. ought to have a moratorium on these cruel deportations.” (Id.)
Alderman Roberto Maldonado of the 26th Ward used the resolution as an opportunity to criticize President Obama for increasing the number of deportations over that of the Bush Administration. “This is the president [who] promised the Latino community and the immigrant community that he was gonna send a bill for immigration reform within the first 90 days of his administration. He’s just about to embark on his re-election campaign for his second term, and we’re still waiting.” (Id.)
The Chicago City Council’s resolution comes a day after Illinois lawmakers raised the State’s income tax by about 66 percent in an effort to balance the state budget. (NY Times¸ Jan. 12, 2011) Illinois has a current deficit of about $13 billion, $8 billion of which is partially attributable to unpaid bills to Illinois social service agencies. (Id.) FAIR estimates that the illegal alien population residing in Illinois costs its taxpayers more than $4.5 billion annually. (See FAIR’s National Cost Study, Table 15, July, 2010)
To highlight the impact mass immigration has on the environment, FAIR released its latest research paper last week, Immigration, Population Growth and the Chesapeake Bay. This in-depth report looks at the environmental repercussions of mass immigration at one of the nation’s greatest natural resources. The Chesapeake Bay is home to 3,600 different species of plants and animals, and is the nation’s largest estuary. But with 17 million people occupying the Bay’s 64,000 square miles, over-population is threatening the survival of precious aquatic life in the area. Moreover, as FAIR’s reputable research team explains, immigration accounts for 66 percent of the population growth in the Bay between 2000 and 2009. If this rate of immigration continues, the Chesapeake Bay is projected to be home to more than 23 million people by the year 2050, putting additional strains on endangered wildlife and irreplaceable resources.