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A few days ago I wrote a blog about life along the border since 9/11, calling it a “Constitution-free zone”—a term coined by the ACLU. Life in the “Zone”—defined as a 100-mile wide area that wraps around the external boundary of the United States—is like living in an occupied zone, border residents tell me. Where the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects Americans from arbitrary stops and searches, doesn’t always apply.

Unfortunately, the voices of residents living along the international borders seldom penetrate the Washington echo chamber. Today, in Detroit, more than 100 delegates from the northern and southern borders are meeting to “form a national picture of what’s happening along the border,” according to Ryan Bates, an organizer for the newly formed Northern Border Coalition. The goal of the two-day conference, which began February 23, is to hammer out a political strategy so that border residents can lobby Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to rein in U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents whom they say are out of control.

As the number of Border Patrol agents has skyrocketed, so has the confusion about their role in border communities. Residents are unsure of their rights when border agents stop them. Lawyer Ben Winograd, a staff attorney with the American Immigration Council in Washington D.C. wanted to clarify in an email the notion of a “Constitution-free zone” I’d written about in my previous blog.

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the Texes Observer | 02/24/12

If Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has his way, Mitt Romney’s first term as president will see the largest forced exodus of people from the United States since the mid-1950s. Kobach, an adviser to the Romney campaign on immigration policy, is also the chief legal architect of a long-standing conservative campaign to stop the influx of undocumented immigrants, primarily from Mexico and Central America, who come to America to work .

“If we had a true nationwide policy of self-deportation, I believe we would see our illegal alien population cut in half at a minimum very quickly,” Kobach told Salon in a recent intervew. With an estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the country, Kobach is hoping to force 5.5 million people to leave the country by 2016

Kobach, elected to statewide office in Kansas in 2010, advocates “self-deportation” but says  he does not want “to do it at gunpoint.” Undocumented residents, he said, “should go home on their own volition, under their own will, pick their own day, get their things in order and leave. That’s a more humane way.”

A 45-years old Harvard graduate and father of three, Kobach is the man behind the Republican front-runner’s most clearly articulated immigration goal: “Self-deportation.” While the term does not appear on Romney’s campaign website, Kobach uses it all the time. With the Republican candidates gathering in Mesa Arizona tonight for a nationally televised debate, the discussion of immigration issues may well touch on Kobach’s rhetoric, as well as his legal accomplishments.

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Salon.com | 02/22/12

BISBEE — A special report issued earlier this month by the Immigration Policy Center called “Discrediting ‘Self Deportation’ as Immigration Policy” argues that forcing all illegal immigrants to leave the United States would make life difficult for everyone.

The strategy called “attrition through enforcement” was conceived by national immigration restrictionist organizations, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA.

“While these groups favor severe restrictions on all immigration and support mass deportation, they are also proponents of this strategy. Recognizing the current political reality, they have sought to market the idea of attrition through enforcement as a kinder, gentler alternative to the harsh, expensive, and unworkable strategy of mass deportation,” states the Immigration Policy Center report.

“According to CIS (Center for Immigration Studies), attrition through enforcement involves reducing the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., and deterring future unauthorized immigrants from coming, by stepping up enforcement of existing laws and increasing the incentives for immigrants to ‘deport themselves.’ As Numbers USA puts it: ‘There is no need for taxpayers to watch the government spend billions of their dollars to round up and deport illegal aliens; they will buy their own bus or plane tickets back home if they can no longer earn a living here,’” it continues.

According to its Web site, the Immigration Policy Center is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC’s mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. In its report, the group points out that attrition through enforcement has not resulted in a significant reduction in the unauthorized immigrant population, and it has had a devastating impact on communities.

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The Sierra Vista Herald | 02/12/12

Kris Kobach’s ears should be burning.

Backlash built this week against the Kansas secretary of state for gallivanting state-to-state, drumming up support for laws bent on driving illegal immigrants out.

The rebukes aren’t coming from his usual critics, those who display sanity about the federal reforms needed to effectively deal with illegal immigration.

No, Kobach’s supporters are barking back now. The legislators and taxpayers who bought into his schemes to make the lives of illegal immigrants so hellish that they “self-deport.”

The editorial board of the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala., accused Kobach of banking on exactly what happened there — costly court challenges and a wide-range of unintended consequences for legal residents.

“Alabama allowed itself to be used as a guinea pig on illegal immigration so that a Kansas lawyer could build his political career,” the editorial said.

So Alabama’s legislature has gone to work, figuring out how to rewrite or repeal the damage done by Kobach’s handiwork, measures passed in 2011.

On Monday, the Immigration Policy Center released “Discrediting ‘Self Deportation’ As Immigration Policy.” Yes, you can make life harsh for immigrants, but everyone else suffers, too. Economists predict Alabama’s gross domestic product will lose up to $10.8 billion as a result, and $57 million to $264 million more in state income and sales tax collections could evaporate.

Oops.

Anyway, data are beginning to show that immigrants don’t self-deport in substantial numbers.

It’s all sleight of hand, a hustle that eventually will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Missouri also stood out in national conversations for being among the gullible states where chasing around illegal immigrants is still gathering traction, despite experiences elsewhere.

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The Kansas City Star | 02/09/12

 

If you want to stop a monster, cut off its head. Simple logic.

If you want a secure the border, go after the crime syndicates that routinely penetrate our southern border for their own nefarious purposes. Go after the leaders of the Mexican cartels. Go after their money.

The minions of these sophisticated international criminal organizations smuggle in drugs and people at will. They take back tens of billions of dollars in dirty profits. We put manpower and technology on the border. They find ways around it.

They take their profits out in shrink-wrapped bundles of hundred-dollar bills. Electronic transfers. Money schemes. Prepaid value cards that can store and transport money.

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, regularly appears on Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people.

"If U.S. forces can find Osama bin Laden, I am sure, with Mexican help, they can find and arrest Chapo," former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard wrote in an article for the Immigration Policy Center. "That arrest would do more to stop the flow of contraband into the U.S. and the slaughter in Mexico than all the billions spent so far."

Through the Merida Initiative, the U.S. has provided money and expertise to Mexico to fight the cartels, but time is not on our side if we hope to engage in a more vigorous assault on these criminal gangs that breach our borders. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who runs an aggressive campaign against the cartels, will leave office in December. He cannot run in Mexico's July presidential election. His successor may take a more conciliatory approach to the cartels. Mexico is weary of a drug war that has cost more than 47,000 lives in the past five years.

Instead of discussing the cartel threat, the U.S. has been focusing on fences, immigration sweeps and deportations. These are politically popular responses that do not weaken criminal organizations in Mexico.

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The Arizona Republic | 02/09/12

 

Immigration advocates said Monday that an “attrition through enforcement” immigration strategy is nothing new, and already interferes with the daily lives of undocumented and their families, including U.S.-born children.

The term “attrition through enforcement” was first used by immigration restrictionists in 2003 and implemented in 2005, Michelle Waslin of the Immigration Policy Center said on a conference call Monday. Waslin added that immigration restrictionist organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA have sought to market the strategy by arguing it would prove less expensive and more reasonable than mass deportation.

Waslin said the strategy would force undocumented immigrants to leave, regardless of how long they have been in the U.S. and how this impacts U.S.-born children. She added that citizens will pay more in taxes to implement the strategy, which also impacts businesses.

Jonathan Blazer of the American Civil Liberties Union said during the call that “states have served as major laboratories of experimentation for [immigration] restrictionists who seek to push the bills farther and farther.”

He added that because language in state bills is copied word for word and introduced simultaneously, the movement is “a nationally coordinated effort through” groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, known as FAIR, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, State Legislators for Legal Immigration and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Three Florida state representatives are current members of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, including Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie, who filed a bill in the current legislative session that would mandate the use of an employment authorization program known as E-Verify.

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The Florida Independent | 02/07/12

 

The fundamental injustice of the tax system grows clearer as tax day looms ominously over working people and a few horde more and more of the nation’s wealth. Short of a total collapse of capitalism, the primary redistributive remedy for this would be progressive taxation. But our tax policy gets it exactly backward, and it's about to get a bit worse. And as with so many wars of attrition against the working class, this one begins by shafting disenfranchised communities, especially immigrants.

While the rich are rolling in tax giveaways, a few credits actually give poor folks a break. One of these, the refundable child tax credit (CTC), applies to middle-class and poor parents alike and was claimed by some 21 million taxpayers in 2011, “which averaged about $676 per child and totaled $26.1 billion,” according to Politico. For poor families, the CTC, together with its big sister the Earned Income Tax Credit, provides a lifeline to keep them from plunging below the poverty line.

Now some lawmakers advocate cutting off the child tax credit for tax filers who lack of Social Security number. The move is unabashedly aimed at making life harder for undocumented workers, even taxpaying ones, specifically by punishing their children.

Currently, the CTC is one federal tax benefit that people can claim using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a social security number. This effectively makes it available to undocumented workers—those who lack formal authorization.

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In These Times | 02/07/12

 

A bit of respect, please, for the drug cartels. For their ingenuity, technological shrewdness and ability to adapt their products and services to a changing marketplace.

It’s a perspective missed by both Democrats and Republicans. Politicians of both parties are too busy grandstanding about “securing” or “fixing” a border they fail fully to understand.

A series of position papers is being released by the nonprofit Immigration Policy Center detailing the failings at the U.S.-Mexico border in stark, necessary language. The author is former Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard, and his nuanced view is a corrective to the overheated rhetoric we usually hear on the subject.

Most Americans think the trouble at our southern border is just about guns, dope and meth. Goddard argues the Mexican drug cartels are more aptly described as “transnational criminal organizations.” They are branching to new lines of business like production and distribution of pirated music, movies and software, money laundering and hijacking.

“Rather than being just a line in the desert sand, the southwest border is a complex, multidimensional interrelationship of immigration laws, cyberspace money transfers and international business connections,” Goddard writes.

His second in a series of three reports, “How to Fix a Broken Border: Disrupting Smuggling at Its Source,” was released days ago. In almost every paragraph you can read Goddard’s exasperation with our wrongheaded border policy.

Politicians earn brownie points from voters by pumping up the rhetoric about needing “more boots on the ground,” but they are unlikely to catch a Zeta that way. “If we are serious about stopping the threat on the border, we have to dismantle the criminal organizations that carry the contraband and take away the tools that make them so effective,” Goddard writes. “Anything less will fail.”

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Kansas City Star | 02/06/12

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, architect of some of the most controversial anti-illegal immigrant state laws, now is fighting a proposal in his own state that would allow undocumented immigrants to work in hard-to-fill jobs.

The proposal, by business groups, calls for undocumented immigrants to be able to remain in Kansas if they work in jobs in agriculture and other industries that are struggling through labor shortages.

Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft tough laws against illegal immigration in Alabama and Arizona, is denouncing the new Kansas proposal as "amnesty" for people who've come to the U.S. illegally. A spokeswoman said Gov. Sam Brownback, a fellow Republican, isn't supporting the measure.

But Brownback's agriculture secretary has acknowledged having several conversations with federal homeland security officials about potential labor shortages. The coalition pushing the new program includes agriculture groups with memberships that traditionally lean toward the GOP, as well as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, another stalwart supporter of conservative Republicans.

Utah has a guest worker program, but it isn't set to start until January 2013, and its enactment was part of a legislative package that included initiatives in line with Kobach's thinking on immigration. States with large populations of undocumented immigrants -- including California, Florida and Texas -- don't have their own programs.

The Kansas proposal was described as "unprecedented" by Wendy Sefsaf, director of communications at the American Immigration Council.

State officials and supporters of the business groups' plan don't yet have hard numbers on how many jobs are in danger of going unfilled, but unemployment rates in the western half of the state were mostly less than 4 percent in December, well below the statewide figure of 5.9 percent.

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Fox News Latino | 02/02/12

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - An architect of state and local laws cracking down on illegal immigration is a leading Republican officeholder in Kansas, but business groups in his home state are asking legislators to move in the opposite direction by starting an unusual program designed to give illegal immigrants hard-to-fill jobs.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft tough laws against illegal immigration in Alabama and Arizona, criticized the new Kansas proposal Tuesday as "amnesty" for people who've come to the U.S. illegally. A spokeswoman said Gov. Sam Brownback, a fellow Republican, isn't supporting the measure.

But Brownback's agriculture secretary has acknowledged having several conversations with federal homeland security officials about potential labor shortages. The coalition pushing the new program includes agriculture groups with memberships that traditionally lean toward the GOP, as well as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, another stalwart supporter of conservative Republicans.

Utah has a guest worker program, but it isn't set to start until January 2013, and its enactment was part of a legislative package that included initiatives in line with Kobach's thinking on immigration. States with large populations of illegal immigrants- including California, Florida and Texas- don't have their own programs.

It would be "unprecedented" if Kansas implemented the program proposed by its business groups, said Wendy Sefsaf, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center. She said she is skeptical that the federal government would allow such a program, though she's sympathetic toward its goals.

"Maybe it's a good thing to have a counterbalance to Kris Kobach," she said.

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Associated Press | 02/01/12