Eloquent commentary on the benefits of the DREAM Act

Emily Rosenbaum has written a thoughtful piece about the DREAM Act at the Columbia University Teachers College website.

Ms. Rosenbaum carefully reviews arguments for and against the legislation, taking into consideration a variety of issues, including, perhaps most importantly, the compelling need of undocumented immigrants to be adequately educated so that they may contribute to our nation.

Ms. Rosenbaum’s commentary is available here.

More editorials oppose Michigan’s proposed anti-immigrant bill

The editorial opinions against House Bill 4305 continue to accumulate.

The Times Herald, a news source from Port Huron, Michigan, recently published an editorial against the proposed anti-immigrant legislation, stating, “Police resources should be devoted to upholding public safety.  Officers need to be able to make arrests when they have evidence that someone has committed a crime, not spend their time investigating whether someone is in the country illegally.”

The Holland Sentinel, a publication based in Holland, Michigan, cautioned that HB 4305 would amount to racial profiling:  “HB 4305 might be justifiable if all Americans — whether it’s someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower or a Somali immigrant who took the naturalization oath last week — were required to carry citizenship papers, but that’s not the case. An Arizona-style law would create a discriminatory system, effectively requiring hundreds of thousands of non-white Michigan residents — people just as American as their white neighbors — to carry papers with them proving their legal status.”

Commentary: Latino leaders must combat anti-immigrant bigotry

In the Detroit Free Press, Gus West, board chair and president of the Hispanic Institute, calls on Latino leaders to respond forcefully against assaults on immigrants’ rights.  Referring to a proposal recently introduced in the Michigan legislature, HB 4305, which seeks to follow in the footsteps of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, Mr. West urges leaders to “lead the way” against such measures.

Mr. West connects the current anti-immigrant sentiment to past eras in American history, as he writes:  “The tactic isn’t new. The archives of newspapers from the 1920s are filled with similar stories — not about Hispanics, but about Italians, Germans, Eastern European Jews and others who came to America to make better lives. Those groups overcame the prejudices of the day, often with help from leaders from their respective ethnic groups, and so will Hispanics. But, it won’t happen as quickly or as effectively for Hispanics without support from the Latino leadership.”

Click here to go to the commentary at the Detroit Free Press.

Former USCIS official criticizes Obama Administration and Congress

Roxana Bacon, a former top counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), sharply criticized the Obama Administration and Congress for failing to act on immigration reform measures while at the same time engaging in harsh enforcement of current immigration laws.

In a recent article published in an Arizona law journal, Bacon stated, referring to the nation’s capitol, “I know that D.C.’s collective ostriching is not a viable strategy. . . . The reasons — demographic, national security and economic — are all around us.”

“We need visionary thinking and incisive analysis grounded on economic truths to create the functioning immigration policy the nation needs,” Bacon wrote. “None of this is likely to come from this Congress, or from this Administration.”

Bacon criticized the enforcement of immigration laws against certain people brought into the United States illegally when they were children, through no fault of their own.  “Punishing them is like jailing a one-year-old for not wearing a seat belt,” Bacon wrote.  Referring to the failed effort in Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a proposal to create a path to legalization for these young people, Bacon stated, “Even the most reactive voices acknowledge that the Dream Act kids cannot all be deported; rather, almost all will stay here.  The only issue is whether we set them up for failure or maximize their contribution.  Remarkably, we opted for failure.”

To read Roxana Bacon’s complete article, please click here.

NY Times editorial: Push back against Arizona-style legislation

The New York Times continues its recent string of editorials regarding immigration with a piece commending the citizens of many states for resisting state-level anti-immigrant legislation.

According to the editorial, “In dozens of states considering such crackdowns — including Nebraska, Indiana, Oklahoma, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas — elected officials, law enforcers, business owners, religious leaders and regular citizens are providing the calm voices and cool judgment that are lacking in the shimmering heat of Phoenix.”

“They are reminding their representatives that replacing federal immigration policy with a crazy quilt of state-led enforcement schemes is only a recipe for more lawlessness and social disruption, for expensive lawsuits and busted budgets, lost jobs and boycotts. And all without fixing the problem.”

To access the complete editorial, click here.

Former DHS Chief calls for comprehensive immigration reform

Tom Ridge, who was appointed as the first Secretary of Homeland Security, said recently that critics of immigration reform need to “get over it,” and warned that Americans shouldn’t be so “arrogant” as to believe that “everybody that comes across the border wants to be an American citizen.”

The former secretary said that “sometime in the future” the U.S. government should take a serious look at immigration policy “in general.”  He continued:  “At some point in time you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘We’re not sending 12 million people home.’ . . . We’re not going to send them home, so let’s just figure out a way to legitimize their status, create a new system, and I think that will add more to border security than any number of fences we can put across the border.”

Many in the crowd erupted in applause.

Read more about Tom Ridge’s speech here.

NYT Editorial: Immigration Enforcement Program is Bad News

The New York Times published the following editorial:

No Exit from a Bad Program

“I’m totally confused now,” wrote a government official in one of thousands of internal e-mails released last week on the subject of Secure Communities, the federal program enlisting state and local police in the crackdown on illegal immigrants.

The confusion was over a simple question: Could a state or city choose not to participate in Secure Communities? That is, could it decide to preserve that bright line separating local policing from federal immigration enforcement, so as not to discourage immigrants from reporting crimes?

The e-mails show that the Department of Homeland Security didn’t know how to answer the question — even two years into the program, which sends the fingerprints of everyone arrested by participating state and local agencies to federal databases for an immigration check.

The answer was important, because while the Obama administration has made Secure Communities a centerpiece of its immigration-enforcement strategy, many state and local agencies have wanted nothing to do with it. They know it has been used to deport tens of thousands of people with no criminal records, even though it was supposed to focus strictly on dangerous criminals.

They have seen how some politicized and unscrupulous police departments have used it as an excuse for racial profiling. They worry that participation will strain their resources and make community policing harder.

Though the e-mails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by immigrant-rights advocates, show the agency at its most confused, top administration officials had no doubt: Secure Communities doesn’t allow states and localities to opt out. As The Times reported, the administration even “developed a plan to isolate and pressure communities that did not want to participate.”

There is a place for local law enforcement in immigration matters, but it must be strictly limited and cautiously drawn. It must place the highest priority on catching and removing dangerous criminals, while letting alone those without criminal records — the vast proportion of the undocumented population.

President Obama has repeatedly promised that he will work to change the immigration laws so undocumented immigrants who work hard can earn legal status. The Secure Communities program goes against that vow. It is also bad for public safety. States, cities and towns should be able to opt out.

Here is a link to the editorial.

New report on immigration enforcement

From a press release:

UC Berkeley School of Law’s Warren Institute released a new report that analyzes the complex legal and policy issues surrounding U.S. immigration enforcement. The report, “Borders, Jails, and Jobsites: An Overview of Federal Immigration Enforcement Programs in the U.S.,” explains the intent of federal programs that target noncitizens—and the unintended consequences.

Despite current economic constraints, the federal government continues to escalate funding for enforcement programs. In this year’s budget request, the White House seeks approximately $5.5 billion for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, $55 million more than was allocated last year. But do these programs work—or is the U.S. throwing money away on failed policies?

Click here for the full 40-page report.

New York Times Editorial: Citizenship by birth and assimilation are fundamental American values

The New York Times published an editorial titled “Angry Arizona, Again.”  Here is the editorial in its entirety:

Many states are doing urgent business: jobs, the economy, broken budgets. Arizona’s legislators are trying to give government new powers to strip away individual rights, to extend immigration enforcement into schools, public housing, hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Arizona made itself ground zero for a new nativism last year with a radical policing law that encouraged racial profiling and declared the mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants to be official state policy. This led to boycotts, slumping tourism and convention business, and lawsuits, including one by the Obama administration. Yet Arizona’s current legislative session is overstuffed with nativist bills, several of which passed through committee on Tuesday in an “omnibus” measure.

They include:

A bill to chop up the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to children born in Arizona to undocumented mothers. A bill requiring hospitals to check every patient’s citizenship status, turning doctors and nurses into the immigration police. A bill to deny education to undocumented children by requiring proof of citizenship to enroll in any public or private school. A bill to criminalize driving by illegal immigrants, and to evict them from public housing. This will fix nothing, and do real harm.

The birthright citizenship bill interprets the 14th Amendment in a way no federal court or Congress ever has. The state would issue a different type of birth certificate to babies whose parents lack papers. It’s a nonexistent problem; women are not sneaking over the border to have babies who — when they turn 21 — may be able to sponsor them for green cards. The plan will not drive away illegal immigrants, but it would turn generations of young Americans into deportable criminals.

The Supreme Court has ruled that undocumented children have a right to primary education, because the country is not served by perpetuating an illiterate underclass. And yet Arizona’s elected leaders persist in their assault on that principle. The bills’ sponsors don’t seem to care about the damage they do. They are bent on inflaming the anxieties in a changing country, even when crime is down in border cities and immigration has tapered off. New Census data shows America’s population growing more slowly than it has since the 1930s — another era of rampant bigotry and racial scapegoating.

We hope the angry Arizonans, and the rest of the country, will soon return to their values. Citizenship by birth and assimilation of newcomers are central to the American experiment. All that separates our newest immigrants from previous waves is the lack of a working system to assimilate them.

Here is a link to the editorial.