This Week in Immigration

Is Mississippi About to Make a Costly Mistake on Immigration?
Either Mississippi lawmakers aren’t aware of the hefty fiscal and legal burdens of extreme immigration legislation on state residents, or they just don’t care. This week, the Mississippi House passed HB 488, an immigration enforcement bill that allows local law enforcement to determine the immigration status of individuals during an arrest whom they reasonably suspect is in the country without documents. The bill, which passed Thursday night by a vote of 70-47, also makes it illegal for undocumented immigrants to enter into business transactions with the state, including the issuance of business and drivers licenses. The bill now goes to Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Senate.

Being Anti-Immigrant Doesn’t Work in Politics, Even in the South
While anti-immigrant sentiment may win candidates a few headlines, it certainly doesn’t resonate with every day voters. Following Alabama’s GOP primary this week, a CNN exit poll found that “illegal immigration” was not a top-of-mind issue for many Alabamians. According to the survey, only 3% of the respondents cited “illegal immigration” as the most important issue for them, trailing “the economy” at 59% and the nation’s “budget deficit” at 25%.  Ironically, residents of the state with the toughest anti-immigrant law in the nation (HB 56) don’t see eye to eye with the legislators who pushed the law through the legislature last year. In fact, residents don’t seem to want anti-immigrant legislators representing them in Congress.

Crunching—and Clarifying—the Numbers on Prosecutorial Discretion
Late last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instructed its attorneys to review matters pending before immigration courts in search of low-priority cases warranting prosecutorial discretion. But of the approximately 300,000 immigrants now in deportation proceedings, how many stand to potentially benefit from the initiative? In recent days, immigrant advocates have fretted the figure could be as low as 1 percent—a fear based on the number of cases that had been officially suspended as of the start of last week. In truth, the actual figure presently appears closer to 10 percent. While the government bears the blame for much of the confusion, it now seems certain that advocates’ initial fears were unwarranted.

Silicon Valley Leaders Fund Effort to Help DREAM Students
Although the DREAM Act remains stalled in Congress, students and youth activists across the U.S. continue to mobilize, march and fight for legislation that would provide a pathway to legal status for thousands of deserving undocumented students. But they aren’t the only ones fighting for a fair way forward for these students. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a group of technology leaders from Silicon Valley are providing scholarships, career advice and legal assistance to undocumented students through a campaign called Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). Backers of E4FC— and initiatives like it—include Jeff Hawkins of Palm Pilot; Andrew Grove, cofounder of Intel; and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Civil Rights Leaders Speak Out Against Alabama’s “Vile” Immigration Law

Late last week, thousands gathered on the steps of Alabama’s capitol building to hear civil rights leaders—Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others—speak out against the state’s extreme immigration law, HB 56. Although key provisions of Alabama’s law have been enjoined by federal courts, the law still requires police to verify the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested whom they suspect is in the country without documents. The leaders, who were also protesting a new voter ID law, called HB 56 the “most vile” law in the country.

This Week in Council Publications:

·  The Politics of Skill: Rethinking the Value of “Low-Skilled” Immigrant Workers (IPC Perspectives, March 15, 2012)

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