Blog & Updates
Immigration Policy Update for April 19, 2012
April 19, 2012 - Posted by Maurice Belanger
Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Arizona SB 1070
Next Wednesday, April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the federal government's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's SB 1070. Four key provisions of the Arizona law will be the focus of the Court's review. The most controversial provision is known as the "papers please" provision, which requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of persons stopped, arrested, or detained, if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the country illegally. Other provisions being reviewed by the Court are: the provision that makes it a state offense for immigrants not to be carrying their federal "alien registration document;" the provision making it a crime in the state to work without authorization; and the section that allows an officer to arrest someone without a warrant if the officer believes that the person has committed a crime that makes him or her removable from the U.S.
A decision in the case is expected by June 25.
The Forum has collected a list of links to useful materials about the Arizona law, the legal issues relating to the Supreme Court case, the economic damage Arizona has suffered since passage of the law and implications of a decision one way or the other. You can find all of that information on this page of our Web site, or by clicking on the Arizona v. United States graphic on our home page, http://www.immigrationforum.org.
Rally and Virtual Vigil
There will be a lot of activity surrounding the Supreme Court arguments. On the day of the argument, April 25 at 10:30 AM, civil rights, religious, labor and community leaders are organizing a rally at the steps of the Supreme Court. For those who cannot join a rally in person in Washington, please consider joining a virtual vigil, the Vigil for Justice and the American Dream, an on-line forum that will allow you to stand in solidarity with those who believe in equal treatment and equal opportunity for all. Join with thousands across the country in lighting candles for justice at VigilforJustice.org.
Senate to Hold Hearing on SB 1070
The day before the Supreme Court argument, the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security will hold a hearing, “Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law.” Subcommittee Chair Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had invited Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to testify, but she declined. Instead, Russell Pearce will be one of the witnesses. He is the principle author of SB 1070 and was subsequently booted out of office in a recall election. Also testifying will be former U.S. Senator from Arizona Dennis DeConcini, co-author of the Moakley-DeConcini Act of the late 1980s (ultimately incorporated into the 1990 Immigration Act), which provided protection from deportation for Salvadorans fleeing civil war. Arizona state senator Steve Gallardo, and Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform Executive Director Todd Landfried are also on the witness list.
Citizenship Campaign Launched
Anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona's SB 1070 and Alabama's HB 56 have been good motivators for some of the 8.1 million immigrants who are eligible for naturalization to begin taking the steps to become U.S. citizens and have their voice heard in our democracy. A group of advocates and service providers have launched a new campaign to help immigrants obtain information about U.S. citizenship and to begin the application process.
Under the auspices of Reform Immigration FOR America, the campaign, Mas Respeto, Become a Citizen! will make use of a text messaging service created by CitizenshipWorks, where eligible immigrants can text “citizenship” or “ciudadania” to 877877 for the location of nearby citizenship assistance providers. There are also Web sites (www.mycitizenshipmyvote.org and www.masrespeto.org) where immigrants can go to find out more information about the citizenship process and where they will find links to resources such as CitizenshipWorks.
The National Immigration Forum held a press conference about this campaign on April 10. You can read the resulting press release here or find the recording of the press conference on this page of our Web site.
Child Tax Credit Again Under Attack
On April 18, the House Ways and Means Committee voted on a package of proposals intended to begin the process of cutting spending to comply with a Republican budget that passed the House at the end of March. That budget attempts to avert cuts to Defense scheduled to go into effect according to the budget agreement reached last summer. At the same time, it proposes to cut $5.3 trillion from the President’s budget over 10 years. According to the New York Times, much of the burden will fall on nutrition, health care and welfare programs.
The Ways and Means Committee met on April 18 to begin drafting a measure to cut $53 billion over 10 years. Included in the package is a proposal to limit the child tax credit only to tax filers using Social Security Numbers (SSNs). (Those filing with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, issued by the IRS to taxpayers without SSNs, would not be able to claim the benefit.) That proposal was approved by the Committee by a vote of 22 to 12.
This issue surfaced in January, when Republicans in the House at first insisted that cutting the child tax credit for tax filers without SSNs should help pay for extension of the Social Security tax reduction. The Senate opposed the measure, and eventually the House dropped its insistence on the measure.
The Senate is not expected to agree to the kinds of cuts the House will be proposing as it completes its budget and appropriations work.
For more information, see this fact sheet, created during the January debate on this subject by First Focus, an organization that advocates for children and families.
Racial Profiling Subject of Senate Hearing
On April 17, the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing on "Ending Racial Profiling in America." It was the first time the Senate has held a hearing on racial profiling since June 2001, before the terrorist attacks of later that year.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he was sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to close loopholes in the Justice Department’s racial profiling guidance. The guidance, issued in 2003, does not apply to profiling based on religion and national origin, nor does it apply to national security and border security investigations. (You can find the letter from Senator Durbin et al. attached to this press release from the Senator's office.) Another step Congress could take towards ending racial profiling, Senator Durbin suggested, is to pass the End Racial Profiling Act, S. 1670, introduced by Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D).
Witness included a panel of Members of Congress and a panel that included the Chief of Police of East Palo Alto, California, a law professor, and representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Fraternal Order of Police. You can obtain a video recording of the hearing, and witness testimony on this page of the Judiciary Committee's Web site, and you can find a statement from the National Immigration Forum here.
National Guard on the Border
On April 17, the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing, "Boots on the Ground or Eyes in the Sky: How Best to Utilize the National Guard to Achieve Operational Control."
In December of last year, the Obama Administration announced that it would begin to withdraw the 1200 National Guard troops who had been stationed on the Southwest border along with a record number of Border Patrol agents. The Administration is maintaining 300 National Guard troops, who provide a variety of support services to the Border Patrol, until the end of this calendar year.
The hearing provided an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the Guard’s deployment and the current strategy of providing aerial surveillance. Witnesses included representatives of the Defense Department, the Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine, the Texas National Guard and the Government Accountability Office. You can obtain all the witness testimony on this page of the Homeland Security Committee’s Web site.