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Posts tagged ‘Mark Krikorian’

Immigrant Activists Push to Stop Deportations.

President Barack Obama’s surprise announcement last week that his administration would change its deportation policy to become more “humane” shows how the immigration battle has narrowed after months of congressional deadlock.

As recently as last year, immigrant rights activists, along with an unusually broad coalition of business, labor and religious groups, were united in their demand that Congress pass a sweeping bill to both remove the threat of deportation from many of the 11 million people here illegally and eventually make them citizens. But now activists just want to stop deportations.

They have pressured Obama to limit the number of people sent back overseas, which led to his administration’s announcement Thursday of a review of deportation policies after a meeting with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Activists also are pushing state legislatures to end participation in a program to help federal immigration authorities deport people and chaining themselves across entrances to local jails or immigration detention centers.

“We need relief and we need it soon,” said Reyna Montoya, 23, of Phoenix, whose father is fighting deportation and who co-wrote an open letter with dozens of other young activists urging immigrant rights groups to stand down on the citizenship issue. “People who are directly affected just want peace. Later on they’ll worry about becoming citizens.”

Immigrant rights groups still want to win citizenship for many who are in the U.S. without legal permission. But the shift to deportation relief shows the desperation felt by immigrant communities as deportations have continued, even as the president and many in Congress say they support changing the law to allow some of those people to stay in the U.S.

It also represents the possible splintering of the diverse coalition for an immigration bill that would overhaul the system by expanding citizenship. And the more aggressive, confrontational tactics also raise the risk of a public backlash.

“One picture of a cop with a bloody nose and it’s all over for these people,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors greater restrictions on immigration, said of the activists.

The change comes after many expected Congress to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul last year. Republicans have been torn between some in their base who want to step up deportations and others alarmed at how Hispanics, Asians and other fast-growing communities are increasingly leaning Democratic.

The Senate in June passed a bipartisan bill to legalize, and eventually grant citizenship to, many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. But the bill died in the Republican-controlled House. Republican leaders there floated a proposal that could stop short of citizenship for many people here illegally. But Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged it stood little chance of passing.

Meanwhile, Obama’s administration is on track to having deported 2 million people during the past six years. Critics say that’s more than President George W. Bush’s administration deported, though some who push for a tougher immigration policy argue the Obama administration’s numbers are inflated.

Obama already has eased some deportations. In 2012, as he was trying to generate enthusiasm among Hispanic voters for his re-election, Obama granted people who were brought to the country illegally as children the right to work in the United States and protection from deportation if they had graduated high school or served in the military. Advocates are pressuring the president to expand that to other people here illegally. The administration has said it cannot make sweeping changes without Congress, and it is unclear what steps it will take after its review is completed to limit deportations.

Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said it’s inevitable that Obama makes changes. “This is a White House that has told the immigrant rights community that they had to build up enforcement massively to create the political climate for comprehensive immigration reform,” Newman said. “Well, that gambit failed.”

Roy Beck of Numbers USA, which pushes for a more restrictive immigration policy, said expanding deportation relief could also fail. “It looks radical,” he said of the notion of sharply limiting removals.

Activists are willing to take that risk and have grown tired of waiting for Washington.

Late last year the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition’s members acknowledged there were no hopes of a big immigration bill anytime soon. They began pushing the local sheriff’s office to end its participation in the Secure Communities program, which checks the immigration status of anyone booked into local jail and refers people here illegally to federal authorities. Last month, six coalition members were arrested after locking themselves together to block entrance to the county jail.

“We decided we needed to change our focus because this is a more winnable campaign,” Executive Director Alejandro Laceres said. Of Congress, he added, “We don’t have the luxury of moving at their pace.”

In Arizona, activists have launched a series of protests, including blocking buses transporting immigrants to courts. “We just realized we are losing too many people in our community,” Carlos Garcia of the group Puente Arizona said in a telephone interview minutes before he was arrested outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix. Worries about whether their tactics could cause a backlash “go out the window,” he added. “Our heads hurt from thinking about the politics around it.”

At the state level, activists have had notable successes. The biggest victory came last year in California when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act, barring California police from participating in Secure Communities. Immigrant rights groups are trying to replicate that legislation in Illinois and Massachusetts.

Driving the efforts are cases like that of Abel Bautista, who was stopped for traveling 8 miles per hour over the speed limit on a Colorado interstate in 2012 and has been fighting deportation ever since. At first he was not too worried, because he expected an immigration overhaul last year to make the case moot. Now he worries about the lack of legislative action and the trauma inflicted on his three U.S. citizen children as his case drags on.

“We’re just left hanging at loose ends,” Bautista said in an interview, recounting how his children’s performance at school has deteriorated and how they sob when he leaves for court hearings. “If the community unifies and has more demonstrations, maybe they will listen to us.”


© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

National Review Rips Rubio on Immigration.

Image: National Review Rips Rubio on Immigration

By Greg Richter

Freshman Republican Sen. Marco Rubio went into the immigration reform bill’s Gang of 8 as the conservatives’ ambassador to the group but has become the Gang‘s salesman to conservatives, a National Review cover story argues.

The Florida senator’s inexperience pitted against the tactics of veteran Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has him selling a bill that doesn’t live up to his promises, author Mark Krikorian writes.

Democrats packed the bill with “as many loopholes and immigration-lawyer schemes as they thought they could get away with,” the story says. “Rubio’s staff, like most GOP Senate staff, are relative amateurs on immigration, while Schumer’s people are pros.”

Rubio, of Cuban heritage, has been the primary face for the bill, promising that it will require illegal immigrants who receive amnesty to pay back taxes along with a fine and learn English.

The National Review piece says that no taxes are likely to be paid, since the language of the bill says immigrants must “satisfy any applicable federal tax liability” previously “assessed” by the IRS. Such assessments, the article notes, are made only after someone has filed a tax return that is then audited by the IRS. Since illegal immigrants work off the books, there wouldn’t be any past tax assessments to be paid.

As to the requirement to learn English, National Review says that it applies only to those already given amnesty and kicks in only when they want to get a green card. Even then, immigrants would be required only to take an English class — not prove that they are proficient in the language.

The fines involved are relatively small, National Review says, and employers who knowingly hire illegals face no fines whatsoever.

The bill would double legal immigration, from 1 million to 2 million a year. E-Verify would be required, but would apply only to new hires.

“The Schumer-Rubio bill,” National Review says, “simply seeks to placate every interest group at the table by handing out more visas.”

And while polls show the public overwhelmingly supports amnesty, the article contends that much of that support is “half-hearted” and seen as a way to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

But that’s exactly what was promised in 1986, the article notes, and the promises weren’t followed through then any more than they will be now.

Though Rubio says that no current illegal immigrants could get a green card before enforcement benchmarks are met, “he seldom notes that virtually all illegal aliens would get a kind of green card lite within months of the bill’s signing.”

The “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status gives work authorization, a legitimate Social Security number, a driver’s license, and travel papers.

“(I)n other words,” National Review says, “the amnesty is effectively granted up front.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Low-Skill Visas Could Derail Immigration Reform.

A dispute between business and labor over the number of visas available for low-skilled workers is threatening to derail immigration reform in the Senate.

A key bipartisan group of eight senators said earlier this week that they had resolved issues between business and labor and only needed to finalize the details of the bill’s language.

The “Gang of 8” had hoped to roll out their bill when Congress returns to session next week. However, business groups — led by the construction industry — are now hedging over the number of work visas that would be available in the agreement.

“Capping the amount of visas for the construction industry at only 15,000 in an industry that currently employs nearly 6 million workers is simply unrealistic and destined to fail,” a coalition of builders’ groups said in a statement.

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“A guest worker program that fails to provide a sufficient number of visas to meet market demand as the construction sector recovers will inevitably make it harder to fill critical labor openings and make it impossible to secure the border.”

Labor unions, on the other hand, are optimistic in their success at capping the total number of low-skilled foreign work visas at 200,000. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement that a “new visa program is only a small part of our campaign to build a common sense immigration system.”

Such differences could stand in the way of a bill even being introduced in the Senate next week, a leading think tank opposed to increasing the number of work visas tells Newsmax.

“This is not some peripheral part of the bill,” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “It is very important.”

“This is one of the many time bombs in the process that could go off and blow the whole thing up,” he said.

A national employer advocacy group called the Gang of 8’s progress promising, but criticized the “outsized” role of the unions in the process and the limited number of work visas.

“The Republican senators in the Gang of Eight did the best they could under the circumstances,” said Immigration Works USA President Tamar Jacoby. “But the deal is skewed by union demands — and several of its most ingenious, most thoughtful elements will not work as intended on the ground, primarily because the program is too small.”

“The stakes could hardly be higher. Without a workable temporary visa program, the nation can have no hope of ending illegal immigration,” Jacoby said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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