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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

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A coalition of business groups will propose Kansas start a new program to help some illegal immigrants remain in the state so they can hold down jobs in agriculture and other industries with labor shortages, coalition representatives disclosed Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Washington-based Immigration Policy Council called the proposal "unprecedented" and questioned whether the federal government would allow such a program, though she was sympathetic toward supporters' goals. Utah has set up a guest-worker program, but it doesn't take effect until 2013 and was part of a broader package of initiatives on immigration.

The Kansas proposal also is notable because it complicates the debate over immigration issues in the home state of Kris Kobach, a former law professor who helped draft tough laws against illegal immigration in Alabama and Arizona. Kobach, known nationally for advising state and local officials across the nation on immigration issues, is secretary of state, the chief elections official in Kansas.

The proposal is likely to stir controversy in the Kansas Legislature and divide the Republican majority, some of whose members are pursuing proposals to crack down on illegal immigration. Representatives of the business coalition, which includes agriculture groups and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, provided a draft copy of their proposed legislation to The Associated Press ahead of its formal introduction in the House and Senate.

Supporters of the proposal acknowledge they're trying to protect industries heavily reliant on laborers, particularly agriculture. But state officials and backers don't have any hard numbers for how many jobs are in danger of going unfilled. Kansas has an estimated 45,000 illegal-immigrant workers.

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Associated Press | 01/31/12

Jan. 30, 2012 - Today, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking to reopen their cases from outside the United States. This is the seventh appellate court to find the “departure bar”—a regulation barring noncitizens from pursuing their cases after departure or deportation—unlawful and is a step forward in protecting the right to a fair immigration hearing. The decision is particularly significant because the Tenth Circuit had been the only court at odds with the majority. The court had granted rehearing en banc to reconsider its prior decision. 

Despite the overwhelming rejection of the departure bar, however, the government continues to defend the regulation and apply it to cases outside the circuits that have invalidated the bar. The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), which filed amicus briefs in the Tenth Circuit and argued before the court, renew their call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.

Read more about the LAC and NIPNLG’s challenges to the departure bar:

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For more information, contact clearinghouse@immcouncil.org

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| 01/30/12

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report Wednesday urging Congress to make the immigration system more "entrepreneur friendly."

Because of U.S. policies that make it difficult for immigrant entrepreneurs to make a home in the states, many are "voting with their feet" and returning to their home nations, according to a joint report from the chamber and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council. The report suggests permitting foreign students to remain in the United States after graduation and creating a separate visa for potential entrepreneurs.

Immigrant entrepreneurs are responsible for establishing 18 percent of all Fortune 500 companies and 25.3 percent of all science and technology firms in the United States, including giants like Yahoo! and Google, according to the report.

"We should allow the world's most creative entrepreneurs to stay in our country," said Thomas J. Donehue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a speech earlier this month. "They are going to contribute and succeed somewhere — why shouldn't it be in the United States?"

Immigrants are more likely than native citizens to start their own businesses, according to the report. Five percent of naturalized citizens are self employed compared to just 3.7 percent of native-born Americans.

During his third State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama cited immigration reform as one of three important keys to boosting the nation's economy.

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Deseret News | 01/26/12