"FARMERS IN ALABAMA are in revolt against the state’s over-the-top immigration law, which is designed to hound illegal immigrants so that they move elsewhere. As it happens, a substantial portion of farm workers there, as in other states, are undocumented. In the farmers’ view, the law is depriving them of steady, experienced labor — and threatening to deal a lethal blow to crops throughout the state.
The uproar has exposed political fault lines within the Republican Party, whose vows of support for business have run headlong into its crusade to drive away illegal immigrants, on whom agribusiness relies. It’s also laying bare the nation’s hypocrisy over unskilled immigrants, whose legal entry into the country is blocked in most cases even though their labor remains much in demand." Read more…
"The House Judiciary Committee, in a rare move, is planning to subpoena the Department of Homeland Security for information about illegal and criminal immigrants whom the department has declined to deport.
A subcommittee on the panel voted 7-4 on Wednesday to authorize the subpoena, which Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is expected to issue later this week. It would be the first subpoena issued by the committee since it came under GOP control.
Smith and other Republican lawmakers want the department to provide detailed information about the thousands of immigrants who are flagged but not arrested or deported through a program known as Secure Communities. Smith had given the department an Oct. 31 deadline to provide the information voluntarily." Read more …
Foes see agency causing harm; backers cite smugglers, cartels.
Both sides of a debate over a proposed law giving the Border Patrol more access to protected lands say they're trying to do what's right for the environment.
The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act would waive laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act on federal lands within 100 miles of the border, affecting protected areas such as Big Bend National Park.
Environmentalists say the law could contribute to the decline of habitat for animals such as the endangered ocelot and jaguarundi, small wildcats whose range extends into South Texas. Proponents of the bill say restricting Border Patrol activity in federally protected borderlands just creates lanes for smugglers, who have no regard for the environment.
The act moved out of a House committee last month. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
The bill by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, allows the Border Patrol to build roads and other infrastructure on federally protected lands by waiving more than two dozen environmental and historical regulations. Agents are inhibited in some places by not being able to move freely through federal lands, said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing agents. Read more …
"WASHINGTON – A leading immigrant advocacy group warned Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday that his endorsement by Rep. Lamar Smith, author of several immigration bills, could later haunt his White House aspirations in a general election.
Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, endorsed Romney over his home state Gov. Rick Perry, earlier this week.
'The Obama campaign must be watching with glee,' said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates comprehensive immigration reform and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
'For a candidate whose best "vote for me" argument to Republicans is that he is electable in a potential general election match-up, Romney’s recent endorsements seem instead calculated to alienate Latinos and shrink the number of potential battleground states in the process,' Sharry said.
Romney has attacked Perry in televised debates over the Texas governor’s positions on immigration measures.
Perry signed a bill that allows children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, and he has opposed a mandatory statewide E-Verify program that would require businesses to check a new employee’s immigration status against government data bases after the person is hired." Read more …
"Immigration is not just some esoteric issue in San Antonio or Texas, which is why what is passing for debate on the issue in the GOP should be of more than just passing interest — and distress.
A few names rise to the top in illustrating how delirious the debate has become. One would be Cain, another Seagal. But another is Perry, as in Gov. Rick, instructive on a couple of fronts, good and bad.
Herman Cain, the former Godfather CEO turned presidential candidate, recently proposed an electrified fence on the border and moats filled with alligators — one to kill undocumented immigrants, the other, I guess, to dispose of the evidence.
And action hero Steven Seagal is one of the border's newest full-time deputies, signed up in Hudspeth County." Read more …
Here’s a Capitol riddle for you: Representative Lamar Smith, one of the most reflexively anti-immigrant hard-liners in Congress, is sponsoring a bill to flood the agriculture sector with up to half-a-million visas for guest workers. Understand why and you’re well on your way to unpacking the nation’s dysfunctional relationship with undocumented immigrants.
Mr. Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a bill to require every employer in the country to use E-Verify, the federal hiring database, and fire the workers it flags as unauthorized.
He says it will give American jobs back to Americans. But it has angered small-business owners, who know a job-killing regulation when they see one. And it has enraged the farm industry, where more than half of the work force is undocumented. Thus the need for Mr. Smith’s second bill, the American Specialty Agriculture Act.
A well-designed agricultural guest worker program is not a bad idea. Even when unemployment is above 9 percent, Americans don’t want to stoop in the fields anymore.
But this is an awful guest worker bill. It would create a system that is far worse than the current cumbersome guest worker program. It would let growers pay even lower wages and weaken the rules on providing workers with housing and reimbursing their travel expenses. Growers would get a break on having to certify that they tried to hire Americans first. Oversight would shift from the Labor Department, with its pesky insistence on wage-and-hour protections, to the Department of Agriculture, which has never run a program like this before. Read more …
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said Tuesday his agency deported nearly 400,000 individuals during the fiscal year that ended in September, the largest number of removals in the agency's history.
Morton announced the Fiscal 2011 numbers in Washington, saying about 55 percent of those deported had felony or misdemeanor convictions. Officials said the number of those convicted of crimes was up 89 percent from 2008.
Authorities could not immediately say how many of those crimes related to re-entering the U.S. after being deported. Individuals can be convicted of a felony for returning to the U.S. or being found in the U.S. after they were deported.
Among the 396,906 individuals deported were more than 1,000 convicted of homicide. Another 5,800 were sexual offenders, and about 80,000 people were convicted of drug related crimes or driving under the influence. Last year, the total was roughly 393,000."