This Week in Immigration
House Judiciary Committee Sends Wrong Mother’s Day Message with Amendments to VAWA
The House Judiciary Committee sent the wrong kind of Mother’s Day message to women this week, proposing to roll back protections for victims of violence that have been in place even before the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994. While the proposed amendments were discouraging in their own right, the fact they were targeted at immigrant women is an even sadder commentary on just how much some members of Congress will use any legislation as a vehicle for attacking and undermining the immigration system.
Obama Administration Files Suit Against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Earlier today, the Department of Justice filed suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office alleging a pattern and practice of discriminatory behavior against Latinos. According to the complaint, officers under Arpaio’s command targeted Latino drivers during traffic stops and neighborhood sweeps, and used ethnic slurs against Latino inmates with limited English proficiency in county jails. The suit, which was filed in federal court in Arizona, comes five months after the Department’s Civil Rights Division issued a report based on an extensive investigation that contained similar findings.
Justice Department Says Alabama Immigration Law Disrupts Access to Public Education
While eyes remain fixed on the Alabama legislature’s effort to revise their immigration enforcement law, HB 56, the U.S. Department of Justice informed state officials in a letter last week that the state’s immigration law has resulted in significantly higher absence rates among Latino students. According to the letter, more than 13 percent of Latino schoolchildren in Alabama withdrew from classes between the start of the school year and February 2012. While the Department’s investigation is still ongoing, the letter said Alabama could lose federal funding and face additional litigation if it fails to revoke a provision of HB 56 that requires administrators to determine the immigration status of newly enrolling students.
In Heart of Texas, Sheriff Takes Heat for Honoring Immigration Detainers
A local election in Travis County, Texas, is bringing to light important questions surrounding the controversial Secure Communities program. As recently reported by the Texas Tribune, Democratic primary challenger John Sisson has criticized incumbent Sheriff Greg Hamilton for honoring federal immigration “detainers”—the lynchpin of Secure Communities—because of their harm to immigrant communities. While Hamilton has said he is bound by federal law, contrary policies in jurisdictions around the country show the sheriff is either misinformed or confused.
New Data Sheds Light on the Potential Power of Immigrant Voters
It is difficult to quantify the electoral power of immigrant voters. However, new data from U.S. Citizenship and Information Services (USCIS)* provides us with one way to gauge the electoral potential of the immigrant population. The USCIS numbers tell us how many Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) arrived in each county of the United States since 1985. Using this data, it is possible to compare the number of post-1985 LPRs in each county against the margin of victory in the 2008 McCain-Obama contest. This helps to pinpoint where immigrants could be a potent electoral force if they naturalized and voted en masse.
After Justice Department Admits Mistake, Immigrant Advocates Ask Supreme Court to Fix Prior Opinion
Of the many problems with our immigration system, one of the least known—but most frustrating—is that when the government deports immigrants whose appeals are still pending, it offers little to no help returning to the United States if they ultimately prevail in court. Immigrant advocates were thus perplexed when the Justice Department filed a Supreme Court brief in 2008 claiming to have a “policy” of helping such immigrants return to the country. Now, more than three years after the brief was filed, the current administration has conceded that no such policy existed at the time—and immigrant advocates have asked the Court to modify a portion of its ruling that relied on the government’s misstatement.
This Week in Council Publications:
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Provides Protections for Immigrant Women and Victims of Crime (IPC Fact Check, May, 2012)
Council Seeks Submissions to “Change in Motion” Multimedia Contest
The American Immigration Council is calling for submissions to the 2012 “Change in Motion” Multimedia Contest. The competition challenges today’s young adults to explore the role that immigration plays in their lives and communities through video and other multimedia projects. Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested! Thanks!(Submission Deadline: October 31, 2012)