FAIR Legislative Update November 5, 2012
Just one day before the November elections, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney remain deadlocked in major national polls. To provide the American people with a picture of where the presidential candidates stand on the critical immigration issue, FAIR has researched and collected statements each has made on immigration policy. Below is a sample of those statements, which will appear in FAIR’s post-election report.
|President Obama||Governor Romney|
|Administrative Amnesty/Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals||“Over the next few months eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization. Now, let’s be clear: This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is — it is the right thing to do.” (Barack Obama Speech, Jun. 15, 2012)||“The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased. Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I’ve proposed.” (Denver Post, Oct. 2, 2012)|
|Amnesty||“[T]hose who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well. So they broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English. And they’ve got to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization. That’s not too much to ask.” (Barack Obama Remarks, El Paso, TX, May 10, 2011)||“Mitt Romney opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration. The last amnesty law passed in 1986 granted legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. In the decades since, the illegal immigrant population has quadrupled. Mitt believes that an amnesty should not be permitted to happen again. Illegal immigrants who apply for legal status should not be given any advantage over those who are following the law and waiting their turn. Mitt absolutely opposes any policy that would allow illegal immigrants to ‘cut in line.’” (Mitt Romney for President Campaign Website, Nov. 1, 2012)|
|Border Security||“The most significant step we can now take to secure the borders is to fix the system as a whole so that fewer people have the incentive to enter illegally in search of work in the first place. This would allow agents to focus on the worst threats on both of our — both sides of our borders, from drug traffickers to those who would come here to commit acts of violence or terror. That’s where our focus should be.” (Barack Obama Remarks, El Paso, TX, May 10, 2011)||“Governor Romney will ensure that we have the officers on the ground we need to gain control of the border.” (Mitt Romney for President Campaign Website, Nov. 1, 2012)|
|DREAM Act||“I have never wavered in my support of comprehensive immigration reform. We did put forward a DREAM Act that was passed in the House, got the overwhelming majority of support from Democrats in the Senate, and was blocked by the Republican Party. We now are confronted with a choice between two candidates in which the candidate sitting here with you today is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, is committed to the DREAM Act, has taken administrative actions to prevent young people from being deported.” (Barack Obama Remarks at Univision Town Hall, Sept. 20, 2012)||“Mitt Romney believes that young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.” (Mitt Romney for President Campaign Website, Nov. 1, 2012)|
|Employment Verification||“E-Verify can be an important enforcement tool if it’s not riddled with errors, if U.S. citizens are protected – because what I don’t want is a situation in which employers are forced to set up a system that they can’t be certain works. And we don’t want to expose employers to the risk where they end up rejecting a qualified candidate for a job because the list says that that person is an illegal immigrant, and it turns out that the person isn’t an illegal immigrant….That wouldn’t be fair for the employee and would probably get the employer in trouble as well.” (FOX News Latino, Jun. 30, 2011)||“I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on E-Verify. This E-Verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally. And as a result of E-Verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent.” (Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, Feb. 22, 2012)|
|Legal Immigration||“We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here….We need to provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. And our laws should respect families following the rules — reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart. Today, the immigration system not only tolerates those who break the rules, but it punishes folks who follow the rules. While applications — while applicants wait for approval, for example, they’re often forbidden from visiting the United States. Even husbands and wives may have to spend years apart. Parents can’t see their children. I don’t believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families. That’s not right. That’s not who we are. We can do better than that.” (Barack Obama Remarks, El Paso, TX, May 10, 2011)||“We welcome legal immigrants into this country. I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. I want it to be clearer. I don’t think you have to — shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally. I also think that we should give visas to people — green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A. We should make sure our legal system works.” (ABC News Presidential Debate, Oct. 16, 2012)|
Last Thursday, the Department of Justice Inspector General released a report criticizing our nation’s immigration courts for delays in processing deportation cases. (Justice Department Inspector General Report, Oct. 2012) According to the Inspector General, between FY 2006 and FY 2010 the most significant delays in deportation cases occurred at the first level of adjudication, which occurs in administrative courts housed in the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
While the Inspector General (IG) identified a variety of reasons for delays in removal cases, he highlighted requests for continuances – requests to continue the proceedings at a later date – as the primary cause. (Report at p. 33) Altogether, continuances added on average 132 days (over 6 months) to the processing time of deportation cases. (Id.)
Not surprisingly, the large majority of continuances (62%) were requested by the aliens, either to find counsel or to prepare their cases. (Id. at p.30) And while delaying a case to allow the alien to seek counsel initially may appear benign, the IG pointed out how this process can be, and frequently is, abused. For example, the IG noted that even though the average time between when an alien receives a notice to appear in court and the initial hearing is over two months (69 days), immigration judges often grant aliens multiple continuances to find counsel. (Id. at p. 32-33) The IG described one case in particular in which an alien received 11 continuances to seek counsel. The case took 884 days (nearly 2.5 years) to complete and even then, the alien never obtained counsel and was ordered removed. (Id. at p. 35)
While requests by aliens largely drove the number of continuances, the IG also explained that the Department of Homeland Security, whose attorneys represent the government in removal cases, requested 18 percent of continuances. (Id. at p. 30) However, one of the major reasons DHS requested continuances was to conduct background checks so immigration judges could grant aliens relief from removal. That is, 39 percent of DHS continuance requests were due to time needed to conduct a background or security check of the alien so a court could allow a deportable alien to stay in the United States. (Id. at p. 34)
Finally, the IG noted that EOIR had such poor practices in maintaining data that it was clear the agency had over-reported the number of “completed cases.” Thus, the IG said, it was difficult to get an accurate picture of the entire process of removal cases, suggesting the real story may be worse than what the report portrays.
Last week, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a report showing that most new jobs added to the U.S. economy in the past four years went to foreign born individuals. (CIS Report, Nov. 2012) Foreign born, as defined by the Census Bureau, means persons who are not U.S. citizens at birth, including naturalized citizens, green card holders, guest workers, and illegal aliens. (Report at p. 2)
While employment data may be analyzed in many ways, the CIS report examines the number of foreign born employed in the first quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2012. It then compares it to the number of native born Americans employed during the same time period. Overall, CIS reports that both groups experienced a significant deterioration in employment after the president took office, which was then followed by a faster recovery for the foreign born. During this recovery, foreign-born employment increased by 1.94 million while native-born employment increased by only 938,000. (Id.) Thus, foreign-born individuals took 67 percent of the jobs added between January 2009 and September 2012. (Id. at p.1)
Moreover, CIS notes that most of the jobs were taken by new immigrants, i.e. foreign born individuals who were not already in the United States looking for work. (Id.) Between 2009 and September 2012, about 1.6 million workers arrived from abroad, of which somewhere between 70 and 90 percent entered the U.S. legally. (Id.) These immigrants “made gains across the U.S. labor market” including low-skilled and high-skilled jobs. (Id. at p. 5)
Having examined the data, the CIS report concludes that there is no general labor shortage. (Id. at p. 1) In job categories where foreign born individuals made the largest numerical gains – building cleaning and maintenance, farming/fishing/forestry, personal care, and manufacturing – there were also 2.2 million native born Americans out of work. (Id. at p. 5) And even regarding higher-skilled jobs that would generally require college graduates, there are 9.2 million native born college graduates out of work. (Id. at p. 2)
Last week, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to compel the Berkeley Police Department to ignore all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests. (See October 30, 2012 Berkeley City Council Meeting Annotated Agenda) The newly instated policy simply reads, “The Berkeley Police Department will not honor requests by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain a Berkeley jail inmate for suspected violations of federal civil immigration law.”
Under federal regulation, ICE can request state and local law enforcement agencies to maintain custody of an alien for up to 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to allow ICE agents time to pick up the alien. (See 8 C.F.R. 287.7(d)) Prior to Tuesday’s vote, the Berkeley Police Department jail’s policy regarding ICE detainer requests was to honor all such requests. (See Memorandum from Christine Daniel, City Manager to Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council)
Originally, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan proposed to the City Council a policy would permit the detention of illegal aliens in limited circumstances, similar to the recently vetoed Trust Act. Specifically, his proposal would have authorized his jail to detain an alien pursuant to an ICE detainer request where the alien is in custody pursuant to an arrest for a serious or violent felony and the individual either: 1) “has been convicted of a homicide;” 2) “has been convicted of a serious or violent felony within 10 years of the request;” or 3) “has been released after having served a sentence for a serious or violent felony within 5 years of the request.” (Id.) The serious and violent felonies referenced in the draft policy included crimes such as murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, sexual abuse of a child, and kidnapping. (See Cal. Penal Code §§ 1192.7(c) and 667.5(c)).
The City Council rejected Police Chief Meehan’s draft policy as too restrictive and unfair to aliens, including serious and violent felons. (Berkeleyside.com, October 31, 2012) One City Council member protested, “I don’t understand why we’re not treating everyone the same, citizen or non-citizen” as “[h]alf of my family came over to this country without papers.” (Id.). Other advocates of Berkeley’s new policy rebuked ICE for allegedly picking up arrested aliens and deporting them before they had their day in court. (Id.). However, federal law generally requires that aliens in the U.S. get their day in immigration court prior to being deported. (See 8 U.S.C. §§1229(a) and 1229c)
Last week, Canadian officials shut down a human smuggling ring that brought Romanians through Mexico and the U.S. on their way to Canada. The smuggling ring provides further evidence that despite assurances by the Obama Administration, U.S. borders are far from being secure. (National Post, Oct. 25, 2012)
According to the National Post, smugglers had been charging Romanians between $10,000 and $30,000 to take them through the U.S. to get to Canada, where they allegedly seek the welfare benefits associated with refugee status. (Id.; Globe and Mail, Oct. 26, 2012) Sources report that the Romanians had been able to obtain falsified travel documents in Mexico that allow them to enter Texas at the Mexico border. (National Post, Oct. 25, 2012) They then traveled through a route in the U.S. that takes them to the greater Toronto area. (Id.) The smuggling ring is suspected to be the cause of a recent spike in Romanian refugee claims in Canada, which have increased from just 57 in 2007 to 258 last year. (Id.)
Alarmingly, the smuggling ring’s ability to both illegally enter and exit the U.S. illustrates the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) findings in two separate reports detailing the continued lack of operational control of U.S. borders. According to a 2011 GAO report, only 873 miles of the 2,000-mile Southwest border could be deemed under “operational control.” (See GAO Report, Feb. 15, 2011) A separate GAO report from December of 2010 discovered the situation along the Canadian border to be even worse, with only 32 of the 4,000 miles of border with Canada fully secured. (See GAO Report, Dec. 2010; see also ABC News, Feb. 1, 2011) Congress defined “operational control” in the Secure Fence Act as “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.” (emphasis added) However, according to Border Patrol, “operational control” does not mean nor “require its agents to be able to detect and apprehend all illegal entries.” (See GAO Report, Feb. 15, 2011)
Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has continuously claimed that the border is more secure than ever. Just last year during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “There is a perception that the border is worse now than it ever has been….That is wrong. The border is better now than it ever has been.” (CBS News, Mar. 25, 2011)
Thousands of illegal alien minors are campaigning this election cycle in the pro-amnesty lobby’s latest efforts to maintain control of the Executive Branch. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 31, 2012) Reportedly, these individuals — referred to by amnesty advocates as “DREAMers” — are turning out in droves to help campaign efforts for President Obama and other pro-amnesty candidates for office in “swing-states” key to winning the Electoral College. (Id.)
Focusing on potential Latino voters, they are allegedly running phone banks, knocking on doors, and approaching students on college campuses in order to boost turn-out for pro-amnesty candidates this Tuesday. (Id.) “For people who aren’t supposed to be in the country in the first place to be deployed for partisan advantage is the last straw,” decried said Dan Stein, FAIR’s President. (Id.)