"WASHINGTON — Local law enforcement agencies are not required to hold undocumented immigrants at the request of the federal government, according to internal Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by a coalition of groups critical of the Secure Communities enforcement program.
The documents could provide ammunition for jurisdictions that no longer want to participate inSecure Communities, which allows federal immigration authorities to use fingerprints to scan those arrested by local law enforcement. They also support recent actions by Cook County, Ill., Santa Clara, Calif., and San Francisco, all of which decided this year to stop adhering to federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants who were either low-level offenders or were accused of felonies.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Center for Constitutional Rights and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law received the documents after a Freedom of Information Act request and plan to release them this week. The three documents, from October 2010 and January 2011, clarify DHS policy on detainers — requests from federal immigration officials for police to hold those arrested, in some cases after being detected by enforcement programs.
'A detainer serves only to advise another law enforcement agency that ICE seeks an opportunity to interview and potentially assume custody of an alien presently in the custody of that agency,'according to an undated document.
Another document, notes from a briefing to Congressional Hispanic Caucus staff in October 2010, says 'local [law enforcements] are not mandated to honor a detainer, and in some jurisdictions they do not.' The third document, a series of questions and answers emailed in January 2010, says ICE detainers are 'a request,' and 'there is no penalty if they [local law enforcement] do not comply.'" Read more …
"The nation's strictest immigration law has resurrected ugly images from Alabama's days as the battleground state for civil rights.
Sharing a border with Mexico and being flooded with boycotts does not make Arizona the poster state for the challenges of immigration laws in the United States. The four states that followed suit with their own immigration law enforcement aren't either.
No, the case that's likely to be the first sorted out by the U.S. Supreme Court comes from the Deep South state of Alabama, and Alabama's jump to the forefront says as much about the country's evolving demographics as it does the nation's collective memory of the state's sometimes violent path to desegregation.
With the failure of Congress in recent years to pass comprehensive federal immigration legislation, Arizona, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina and Indiana have passed their own. But supporters and opponents alike agree none contained provisions as strict as those passed in Alabama, among them one that required schools to check students' immigration status. That provision, which has been temporarily blocked, would allow the Supreme Court to decide if a kindergarten to high school education must be provided to undocumented immigrants.
Its stature as the strictest in the U.S., along with the inevitable comparisons of today's Hispanics with African-Americans of the 1950s and `60s, makes it a near certainty the law will be a test case for the high court." Read more …
"HOUSTON — For two years, Diego Gala, a Mexican immigrant in the country illegally, worked five days a week cleaning a private school for less than minimum wage. His employer refused to pay him overtime even when he was forced to work on the weekends. Gala did not speak up, fearing deportation if he reported his boss.
'I couldn’t say nothing because I did not have papers,' Gala said. 'So he was like, "If you say something, you can just get deported. I can call immigration on you, or you can get fired."'
Gala, who was brought to the United States as a small child, grew up not knowing his immigration status until it came time for him to find a job. Workers’ rights advocates say that is not unusual; wage theft is a major problem in Texas, particularly among undocumented workers who do not push for their rightful earnings for fear of drawing the attention of immigration officials.
During the 2011 legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1024, which closed a loophole allowing employers to escape prosecution if they had paid employees only a portion of the wages owed. But now that the law is in effect, organizations and lawmakers in at least three Texas cities — Austin, El Paso and Houston — are facing a new challenge: how to ensure that the prosecution of wage theft is a priority." Read more …
"With an infant son, a common-law wife who's a U.S. citizen and a job at a Galveston bait shop, Francisco Martinez was working toward the American dream.
Then Martinez fell off the shop's roof and landed unceremoniously at the intersection of one of America's most vexing ethical, political and financial conundrums: the care of severely sick or injured illegal immigrants.
'It's a tragic, intractable problem,' said Antonio Zavaleta, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Brownsville who specializes in health care and immigrant populations. 'There's no clear solution.'
Provide the long-term care and those institutions will rack up expenses that either bankrupt them or get passed on to U.S. citizens through higher charges. Don't provide the care and many of those patients won't survive, an ethical blight for a nation that prides itself on being humanitarian.
The UT Medical Branch at Galveston's solution, after saving Martinez's life, was to try to persuade the Mexican national, now paralyzed from the chest down, to return to his homeland for the special, long-term care he needs. Martinez's response, despite UTMB's offer to pay for the trip, was to tell hospital officials, 'if you don't want me here, just throw me outside.'" Read more ….
"An in-depth analysis of the latest crime numbers reveals that the 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border defies any single description.
'The border is so diverse, you couldn't put the whole border in one bucket,' said Rusty Fleming, a volunteer public information officer for the sheriff's department in rural, sparsely populated Hudspeth County.
The statistics used by the American-Statesman, which are the same as those provided to the FBI as part of its Uniform Crime Report, were provided by the Department of Public Safety and include data recently published on the department's website as part of its detailed 2010 crime report." Read more …
"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Unitarian church in New Mexico sends supplies to the border for recent deportees. A coalition of church leaders gathers under a statue of colonial America religious figure Anne Hutchinson at the Massachusetts Statehouse to denounce immigration checks by police. A Methodist minister in Texas recites Isaiah 58:6, a passage about loosening the bonds of injustice, as she's thrown in jail after protesting alongside illegal immigrant students outside a U.S. senator's office.
As some states pass laws aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration and federal lawmakers balk at passing any immigration reforms, religious leaders from various denominations are jumping into the debate. They're holding rallies, walking in the Arizona desert, gathering testimonies from immigrants. The leaders fast, get arrested, and sometimes put their own health on the line in an attempt to draw attention to what they see as inhumane treatment of immigrants and to the laws that target them." Read more …
"WASHINGTON • Rep. Tim Griffin, a Republican freshman from Arkansas with a university in his district, supports legislation that would make it easier for foreign math and science professionals to get legal residency.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., is resisting intense pressure to support a House bill that would require employers to verify the legal status of their workers because he is concerned that businesses would be unduly burdened.
While the Republican presidential campaign trail bristles with talk of moats, militarization and electrified fences when it comes to immigration, the view among some congressional Republicans has become more nuanced and measured.
Now many Republican freshmen, lacking the scar tissue of prior congressional attempts to make sweeping chances in immigration law, are advocating that policy be changed in small, bite-size pieces that could help bring order to the system and redefine their party's increasingly anti-immigration image, even as they maintain a strong push for better federal border security." Read more …
"Mexican drug cartels are strengthening alliances with gangs in the United States beyond ethnic, ideological and geographic boundaries, warns a new report from the federal National Gang Intelligence Center.
The gang-cartel link is most prominently seen in El Paso between the Barrio Azteca gang and the Juárez drug cartel, but similar alliances are emerging in various parts of the country, according to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.
El Paso police report a drop in gang membership and criminal gang activity, but nationally, gangs are expanding, evolving and becoming more sophisticated, the National Gang Threat Assessment reported.
'Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are observing a growing nexus between the Mexican drug cartels, illegal alien smuggling rings and U.S.-based gangs,' the study stated.
The recently released report stated that different cartels are aligned with various gangs, including gangs that work with more than one cartel, depending on the situation.
Local law enforcement officers said most street gangs in El Paso don't deal directly with Mexican cartels, but the alliance between the Barrio Azteca gang and the Juárez drug cartel is well documented.
The Barrio Azteca was formed in the mid-1980s by El Pasoans in state prison and has since grown into one of the most active regional crime networks, having branches in Juárez and Midland-Odessa." Read more …
"SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol has quietly stopped its controversial practice of routinely searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs along the northern border and in the U.S. interior, preventing agents from using what had long been an effective tool for tracking down people here illegally, The Associated Press has learned.
Current and former Border Patrol agents said field offices around America began receiving the order last month — soon after the Obama administration announced that to ease an overburdened immigration system, it would allow many illegal immigrants to remain in the country while it focuses on deporting those who have committed crimes.
The routine bus, train and airport checks typically involved agents milling about and questioning people who appeared suspicious, and had long been criticized by immigrant rights groups. Critics said the tactic amounted to racial profiling and violated travelers' civil liberties.
But agents said it was an effective way to catch unlawful immigrants, including smugglers and possible terrorists, who had evaded detection at the border, as well as people who had overstayed their visas. Often, those who evade initial detection head quickly for the nearest public transportation in hopes of reaching other parts of the country." Read more …
"The state has been unable to enforce a new law designed to increase the deportations of illegal immigrants from the Texas prison system amid concerns that federal immigration officials are unprepared to handle the anticipated influx of convicted criminals, state officials said.
Under the new law, which was scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, state prisoners who are granted parole and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials must either be deported or leave the country voluntarily – or risk being returned to state custody to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
The law was crafted to address a vexing problem identified by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which reported granting parole to some illegal immigrants and turning them over to ICE – only to later learn that they were not removed from the country, said state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
Madden, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said the law also aims to save taxpayers millions of dollars by paroling primarily 'low-risk, nonviolent' prisoners who are in the country illegally after they become eligible for parole." Read more …