April 19, 2014 Leave a comment
April 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Originally posted on TIME:
The broadcast and digital ad buy in Iowa features King’s comments from an interview with Breitbart News saying he would oppose efforts to allow illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, so-called DREAMers, to gain permanent residency by joining the military. “As soon as they raise their hand and say ‘I’m unlawfully present in the United States,’ we’re not going to take your oath into the military, but we’re going to take your deposition and we have a bus for you to Tijuana,” King said.
“Instead of supporting our military, Steve King, a Republican member of Congress, insults the brave soldiers who are immigrants and those who would proudly serve,” the ad…
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April 16, 2014 Leave a comment
After the 2012 presidential election – the one where Mitt Romney’s call for “self-deportation” drove Latino voters away from the GOP by an historic margin – Republican leaders were falling all over themselves to embrace immigration reform. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), promised immigration reform would be a “priority” in 2013 and said he was confident Democrats and Republicans would “find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
We all know how that worked out.
Instead of following the lead of the U.S. Senate, which passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package nearly a year ago, the House has offered the nation little more than feeble excuses for its refusal to act. First, it was the Tea Party-manufactured fiscal crisis which consumed most of September and closed the government for the first two weeks of October. Then, after the government reopened, the House GOP leadership claimed there were not enough days left in the 2013 legislative calendar to schedule a vote on immigration reform (never mind that they control the legislative calendar). Then, in January 2014, shortly after they revealed their “Principles on Immigration Reform” Speaker Boehner, unveiled what is perhaps the lamest excuse of all. The House GOP, so he claimed, could not move immigration reform because “there’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws.”
In order to prop up their partisan political games, House GOP is blatantly ignoring what’s happening in communities all across the country. Despite the hot air emanating from Capitol Hill, there is stone-cold immigration enforcement being meted out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the tune of 1,100 deportations per day. That translates to nearly 400,000 people per year, often at the expense of core American principles such as fairness, equal treatment, and due process. Let’s look at the numbers:
- In the first five years of the Obama administration, 2 million people were deported from the U.S. at a time when illegal immigration is at a 40-year-low.
- Federal prosecutions of immigration-related offenses are up an astounding 468 percent from 2003, which leads to the administration’s claim it is focusing on criminal rather than ordinary immigrants.
- 430,000 non-citizens a year are locked up in immigration detention facilities at an annual cost to taxpayers of $2 billion.
- Since 2006 Congress has funded a near-doubling of Border Patrol agents.
- Deportations without due process – without any opportunity to see an immigration judge – have risen dramatically and now account for 70 percent of annual deportations.
And while the Republicans may live in a world of immigration enforcement denial, what’s happening on the ground has not been lost on immigration advocates, some of whom have labeled the President the “Deporter-in-Chief” and called on him to stop unnecessary deportations, especially of undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen spouses or children.
The truth is that the heavy-handed enforcement policy dates back nearly a decade to the Bush administration. There are two key statistics in the DHS deportation numbers that illustrate how enforcement has been changed — 1) Voluntary returns, or those caught by U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities when they cross the border but returned to their country without a formal deportation order; and 2) Removals, those who are sent back with a formal order of deportation issued by an immigration judge or immigration officer.
The number of voluntary returns has dropped dramatically since the recession because fewer people are attempting to enter illegally. Additionally, since 2005, DHS has shifted away from voluntary returns, preferring instead to issue formal removal orders which carry more severe legal consequences.
It’s patently absurd to claim the administration is not enforcing the law. What’s clear is that deportations of undocumented immigrants – many of whom have come to America to feed their families – have steadily increased since 2002. What’s also clear is that while the House GOP blocks reform, the broken immigration system is wreaking havoc on the nation, threatening America’s global competitiveness and compromising our core American values of fairness, due process and the rule of law.
The time is now for action on two fronts: the GOP leadership must stop making excuses and move concrete immigration reform legislation to the House floor for a vote, and President Obama must curb the zealous deportation of those who would qualify for reform.
David Leopold is the former national president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and currently practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio.
April 15, 2014 Leave a comment
Originally posted on Fortune Management & Career Blog:
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a novel plan that aims to let foreign-born, U.S.-educated entrepreneurs stay in the country. How it works.
FORTUNE — In America’s battle to keep the foreign entrepreneurs it trains, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has thrown down a massive gauntlet.
Announcing a broad economic growth package last week, Deval introduced what he’s dubbed the Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GER) Program. The proposal: Foreign students who attended colleges and universities in Massachusetts and are interested in staying in the state as entrepreneurs can apply to enroll in the GER program that will be administered by the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative, an independent state agency aimed at developing technology in Massachusetts. Mass Tech will then place selected individuals at participating public and private universities in the state, where they will work part-time and apply for visas that will be sponsored by…
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Honored to join Tuesday’s @americasvoice press call: Who is the Obama Administration Really Deporting?
April 7, 2014 Leave a comment
From America’s Voice:
For Immediate Release: Contact: Katy Green
April 7, 2014 650-464-1545
**** PRESS CALL ****
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at noon EST
DIAL: 866-952-7532; Passcode: DEPORTATION
Advocates from Northern and Southern Borders Discuss Monday’s NYT Story on Deportations, Faces Behind DHS “Priorities”
Washington, DC – On Tuesday, April 8, immigrant advocates from Ohio and New Mexico will speak on a conference call with reporters to highlight cases and definitions raised by Monday’s New York Times exposé on the Obama Administration’s deportation record. For years, the Administration has claimed that its immigration enforcement focused on “criminals” and “border crossers,” while the faces highlighted in this article show a dramatically different reality.
This seminal analysis from the New York Times, based on data obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, shows that nearly 80% of people deported by the Obama Administration are ordinary immigrants, not high-priority “criminals.” The article paints a disturbing picture of how the Obama Administration achieved its record level of deportations by working hand in glove with local law enforcement, and reclassified ordinary immigrants as “criminals” and “border crossers” through aggressive prosecutions and overly expansive definitions.
Both the facts and stories make it clear that, despite the Administration’s policy of prosecutorial discretion introduced 2011, immigrants with deep roots in the U.S., who would qualify for citizenship under the Senate-passed immigration bill, are still being deported.
WHAT: Who is the Obama Administration Really Deporting?
WHEN: Tuesday, April 4th at 12pm ET
Veronica Dahlberg, Executive Director, HOLA Ohio
David Leopold, Immigration Attorney, Cleveland, OH and Past President of American Immigration Lawyers Association
Monica García, Regional Coordinator, Border Network for Human Rights, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund
DIAL-IN INFO: 866-952-7532; Passcode: DEPORTATION
Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice.
America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform
April 3, 2014 Leave a comment
Originally posted on The Hill Congress Blog
By David Leopold
In April 2009, shortly after he assumed office, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed a group of newly minted Federal prosecutors. He directed them not to blindly seek criminal convictions but to carefully evaluate each case with an eye on doing justice.
“Your job as assistant U.S. attorneys is not to convict people” Holder said. “Your job is not to win cases. Your job is to do justice. Your job is in every case, every decision that you make, to do the right thing. Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored. Any policy that is at tension with that is to be questioned and brought to my attention. And I mean that.”
But when it comes to prosecuting undocumented immigrants Holder’s Department of Justice has perpetuated, even exacerbated, a “convict at all costs” policy without regard to whether or not prosecution is the “right thing” to do in any particular case. The Pew Hispanic Trends Research Project recently reported that between 1992 and 2012, the number of unlawful reentry convictions increased an astounding 28-fold, from 690 cases in 1992 to 19,463 in 2012. The report found that the increase in unlawful reentry convictions alone accounts for nearly half of the growth in the total number of convictions since 1992.
There are those, of course, who argue that prosecution of undocumented immigrants who illegally reenter is an important deterrent which promotes respect for the rule of law.
But the crime of illegal reentry is more complicated than that–especially given the nation’s rigid, unforgiving, and broken immigration law. The Department of Justice targets nearly all undocumented immigrants they find who illegally reenter the US after having been deported. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the illegal reentry occurred last week or last decade, whether the undocumented immigrant returned to a life of crime or to support a pregnant spouse, raise a U.S. citizen child or care for a sick U.S. citizen parent.
All too often prosecution for illegal reentry after deportation—which, ultimately, is aimed at keeping our communities safe—does little more than tear apart an American family.
Take, for example, the case of Alfredo Ramos Gallegos, a law abiding, father of 3 U.S. citizen children (including a step-son) who is currently under federal indictment in the Western District of Pennsylvania. An undocumented immigrant, he was deported nearly 15 years ago and allegedly reentered to care for his pregnant spouse—who happens to be a U.S. citizen. Ramos Gallegos is a steady provider for his family, an important role model to his loving children, and a vital part of his community. Importantly, Ramos Gallegos would qualify for a chance to earn his way to lawful immigration status under the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate last year. He has a steady work record, has paid his taxes, has no criminal history, and would easily pass background checks. Yet this past February he was detained by U.S. Border Patrol after a car in which had been a passenger was stopped by the Mentor, Ohio police for a minor traffic infraction. The Department of Justice is now trying him for illegal reentry after deportation.
Is prosecuting Ramos Gallegos the “right thing” to do according to Attorney General Holder? Would the Administration agree that justice requires this man be turned into a convicted felon, ineligible to earn legal immigration status and relegated to a lifetime of banishment from his U.S. citizen children?
John Sandweg, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recently commented on President Obama’s directive to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to find ways to conduct enforcement “more humanely within the confines of the law.” Sandweg observed that the Department’s “effort on [illegal reentrants and immigration fugitives] disproportionately separates parents and children, breadwinners from families, spouse from spouse.” He advised that the Department of Homeland Security no longer consider illegal reentrants and immigration fugitives enforcement priorities.
The administration should follow Sandweg’s advice.
And that includes Attorney General Holder. The Department of Justice should cease the mass “felonization” of thousands undocumented workers across the U.S. It’s wrong to prosecute hard working, otherwise law abiding undocumented immigrants for alleged illegal reentries that occurred years ago. And, as a matter of public policy, it makes no sense for the Obama Administration to make felons out of very immigrants they claim to support so that they are ineligible to earn their way to lawful immigration status.
Leopold is past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and an immigration reform advocate
.@Americasvoice: @SenatorSessions Dishonors Cesar Chavez & Praises Anti-Immigrant Group’s “Research”
April 1, 2014 Leave a comment
From America’s Voice
For Immediate Release: Contact: Michael Earls
April 1, 2014 202-494-8555
Washington, DC – It was quite the busy Monday for the Senate’s leading anti-immigrant member, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). By objecting to a Senate resolution honoring Latino civil rights hero Cesar Chavez and touting the shoddy “research” of allied anti-immigrant organization the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Sen. Sessions offered a fresh reminder of how the extreme, anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party will continue to define the GOP to Latino voters and fill the vacuum left by Republican inaction on immigration reform.
Last evening, Sen. Sessions objected to a resolution honoring Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez after Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked unanimous consent to move it forward in the U.S. Senate. In response, Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) asked, “How can they look back at the sacrifices Cesar Chavez made for our country and fail to recognize the accomplishments of this great American Hero?”
Earlier that day, Sen. Sessions breathlessly lifted up new “research” from anti-immigrant organization Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), saying that CIS had demonstrated that “immigration enforcement in America has collapsed.” Unsurprisingly given CIS’s anti-immigrant roots and associations, the study isn’t viewed as credible by actual immigration policy experts. For example, the American Immigration Council coolly dissected the methodological shortcomings and shoddy conclusions of the CIS study here. Keep in mind, CIS is the same organization whose senior policy analyst Stephen Steinlight said that Senate’s immigration proposal “amounts to a plot against America,” and warned that it if it were to pass, America will “be balkanized along ethnic and cultural lines and lose its cohesion.” Most disturbingly, in regards to the many religious leaders of many faiths who support immigration reform, Steinlight said, “God help me, find a baseball bat, there would be a whole lot fewer of them around.”
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “By blocking the resolution honoring Cesar Chavez, Sessions has proven that he’s not just anti-immigrant and anti-worker, but anti-Latino and anti-American. He has a casual relationship with the facts, a cozy relationship with the Center for Immigration Studies, and zero credibility with most thinking people. So why is it that the Republican Party continues to let him and his buddy in the House, Steve King, define them before millions of Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters? Sessions and King are filling the vacuum left by House GOP inaction, with dangerous implications for the GOP’s electoral prospects in 2014 and 2016—not to mention our national character.”
Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform