Although the debate on immigration reform has stalled in Congress (despite more immigration bills being introduced), the issue remains on center stage nationwide a month before elections.
Along with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, introduced the latest reform-minded immigration legislation last Wednesday, the same day that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah., filed his own tough-on-enforcement immigration bill.
Media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg, aka New York’s mayor, testified that fixing the nation’s immigration laws will help strengthen the U.S. economy, Politico reported.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed California’s version of the DREAM Act, AB1413, which would give illegal immigrant students expanded access to in-state tuition and permit state education funding and benefits in certain cases. In his letter explaining his decision to veto the bill, Schwarzenegger wrote:
Unfortunately, given the precarious fiscal situation that the state faces, it would not be practical to adopt a new policy that could limit the financial aid available to students that are in California legally, in order to provide that benefit to those students who are not.
The major gubernatorial candidates vying to be Schwarzenegger’s replacement — Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown — have tangled over immigration policy. Despite railing against employers who hire illegal immigrants, Whitman herself employed an undocumented woman as a housekeeper. Immigration has come up in other races, The New York Times reported:
Candidates running for office in a dozen states have pledged to introduce legislation similar to the Arizona law, according to a count by the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which supports the passage of such laws.
But while some states ponder stricter laws, a study found that about 21,0000 refugees had a strong likelihood of winning asylum if their claims hadn’t been rejected because they failed to meet the one-year filing deadline, the Times reported. The one-year filing deadline became law in the 1990s during a swing toward tougher federal immigration laws.
The Department of Homeland Security is insisting that local police must participate in a controversial program that aims to identify criminals who are potentially deportable. Secure Communities, however, was widely considered to be voluntary, the Washington Post reported, “a perception reinforced by a Sept 7 letter sent to Congress by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. … But the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency now says that opting out of the program is not a realistic possibility – and never was.”
Another program – still voluntary – is the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program, run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Ministry of the Interior. The agency removed 23,384 Mexicans this summer, a record, the Arizona Republic reported.
And, echoing a call by Mexican border governors, a coalition of Mexican border mayors wants the U.S. government to stop deporting convicted criminals to their cities, “saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence,” Fox News reported. Instead, the mayors want ICE to fly the deportees to their hometowns in Mexico, not drop them off by bus at the border.