It is election season and voter-fraud hysteria is in the air. A raft of restrictive voter ID legislation from coast to coast is aimed primarily at one imaginary problem: fraudulent voting by immigrants who are not U.S.citizens. Supporters of these laws like to pretend that hordes of non-citizens are stampeding into voting booths and illegally changing the outcome of critical elections. But the reality is that voter ID laws have little to do with the exceedingly rare occurrence of illegal voting by immigrants, or any other kind of voter fraud. These are laws designed to disenfranchise racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, and other social groups that might be inclined to vote for the “wrong” candidates.
How Overburdened Immigration Courts Can Be Improved
Immigration courts are notorious for significant backlogs and lacking sufficient resources to timely and justly adjudicate the hundreds of thousands of removal cases pending before them. And, despite recent announcements that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is exercising prosecutorial discretion in some removal cases, immigration courts throughout the country struggle to manage their caseloads. A recent study commissioned by the Administrative Conference of the United States, however, addresses the gap between immigration courts’ workload and resources and recommends several improvements to the system.
For Immigrants, Alternatives to Detention Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be
On any given day, approximately 300,000 immigrants in the United States have pending removal proceedings to determine whether they will be deported from the country. Of those, about 10% are kept in detention centers while proceedings are pending, with the rest are subject to alternatives ranging from the posting of bail to the use of electronic ankle monitors. While few if any immigrants prefer to be detained, a recent report explains that many alternatives to detention (ATD) program impose hardships themselves.
Some States Attempt to Move Forward on Immigration Laws Following Supreme Court Decision
Prior to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Arizona SB 1070, other states that passed immigration laws were also embroiled in complicated legal battles. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah all passed restrictive immigration laws, parts of which were challenged in court and subsequently enjoined pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, however, each state is now attempting to interpret that ruling in an effort to implement its immigration law.
Civil Rights Groups Resume Legal Challenges to Alabama’s Immigration Law
Less than three weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Arizona v. United States—which struck down three provisions of SB 1070 and invited future challenges to a fourth—civil rights groups are back in court resuming their challenges to copycat laws in other states. Going forward, the lawsuits will focus more on how to interpret the Justices’ decision and less on theoretical legal questions about states’ rights. While the cases in Alabama and other states may take years to resolve, it is already clear that parts of the laws will be immediately struck down.
This Week in Council Publications: