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The POLITICO article “Obama: We Can’t Wait on Immigration” (Jan. 6) suggests that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announcement of streamlined processing for certain immigration waivers is part of a “war on GOP members of Congress.”

This is an unfortunate characterization of a long-overdue regulatory change. It is designed to correct a decade-long problem that has unnecessarily separated families and caused undue hardship to thousands of U.S. citizens and their loved ones.

The proposed rule would permit “in-country processing” of family unity waivers. This changes regulations that now require applicants to leave the country before they can apply for a waiver.

The current system has become increasingly burdensome, because of processing backlogs, uncertainty of outcomes and violence in key U.S. consulates, such as the one in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It creates unnecessary hardship for applicants who are eligible to receive a legal status but must first obtain a family unity waiver.

This waiver can now only be obtained abroad. But leaving the U.S. may trigger a bar of three years to 10 years if the applicant has been unlawfully present.

Many applicants fear that they might be permanently separated from their families and so never apply to become lawful permanent residents. Though applicants would still have to depart the U.S., under the new proposal they would do so knowing that their waiver had been provisionally approved — reducing waiting time and hardship for all.

All members of Congress — Republican or Democrat — have likely seen the compelling cases raised by the three year-to-10 year bar problem. Resolving it is not a partisan issue. It is instead an example of immigration service acting responsibly to address a problem of its own regulatory making.

Mary Giovagnoli

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Politico | 01/06/12

The Obama administration proposed changing federal rules to let some undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. while seeking legal status, a move that would help Hispanics, a key voting bloc in the 2012 election.

The proposal is aimed at spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are eligible for a visa. The proposed change would let them remain in the country while applying for a green card, according to a statement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The law now calls for immigrants who have been in the country illegally for 180 days or more to leave the U.S. to apply for legal residence, a period that can last as long as 10 years. Because of the potentially long separation from their families, immigrants who are eligible don’t apply for legal status, according to the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based pro-immigration group.

Congressional Republicans have stymied President Barack Obama’s drive to overhaul immigration laws to let temporary foreign workers enter the U.S. and to help illegal immigrants on a path toward citizenship. The proposed change doesn’t need congressional approval.

It would “provide a more predictable and transparent process and improved processing times,” according to the immigration agency’s statement.

Hispanics contributed to Obama’s margin of victory in the 2008 presidential election. Exit polls on election day showed 67 percent of Hispanic voters supported him compared with 31 percent for Arizona Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee.

States With Hispanics

That support helped Obama carry states with large Hispanic populations, including Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The states are among the ones likely to be the most competitive in this year’s presidential race.

The illegal immigration issue has sparked disputes in the race among Republicans vying to be Obama’s opponent.

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Bloomberg | 01/06/12

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last week, the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review in federal court in Seattle. The lawsuit alleges widespread problems with the asylum “clock”—the system that the government uses to determine when immigrants with pending asylum applications become eligible to obtain work authorization in the United States. The class certification motion describes the nationwide impact of these policies.

The complaint, co-filed with the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, Gibbs Houston Pauw, and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, was submitted on behalf of untold numbers of asylum applicants wrongfully denied work authorization due to unlawful agency policies and practices. The named plaintiffs include asylum seekers who have pursued their cases for years without work authorization—including a man from China who initially filed his asylum application in 2003.

With limited exceptions, federal law requires USCIS to grant work authorization to any person with an asylum application pending for 180 days. In calculating this period, however, USCIS relies on determinations made by immigration judges who work for EOIR. As a result, arbitrary EOIR policies on when the “clock” should start and stop—combined with growing backlogs in U.S. immigration courts—have unlawfully prevented asylum seekers from working. The suit alleges these policies violate the Constitution, federal statutes, and governing regulations.

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New American Media | 12/20/11

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Already known as a refuge for people from other lands, New Haven is tightening its embrace of newcomers as its mayor seeks to extend voting rights to illegal immigrants and other noncitizens, a policy challenge that comes shortly after attacks on "sanctuary cities" by Republican presidential candidates.

The Democratic mayor, John DeStefano, helped illegal immigrants come out of the shadows four years ago when he launched a first-of-its-kind program to give them city resident cards. Despite crackdowns elsewhere, he has forged ahead with proposals that he says are designed to find common ground in a diverse city.

"We're a place of differences," he said. "We're a place that sees a strength and places a value on welcoming folks from all over."

Dozens of American cities including New York, San Francisco and Cambridge, Mass., take a hands-off approach to pursuing illegal immigrants. While advocates say they are rightly distancing themselves from a broken immigration system, critics accuse them of flouting federal law as "sanctuary cities" — a label not all of them accept.

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has vowed to cut off federal funding for such cities. One of his rivals, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, pushed a bill this year that would have prohibited cities from acting as "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants and allowed local law enforcement to become more involved in immigration enforcement. Mitt Romney has said he opposed sanctuary cities as Massachusetts governor and, as president, he would "find the right approach" to ending them if legally possible.

President Barack Obama has resisted calls from some Republicans to crack down on sanctuary cities. As a Democratic candidate in 2007, he said the U.S. government should address the issue by providing a rational immigration system, not by withdrawing funds from cities that shelter noncitizens.

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Associated Press | 12/20/11

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Already known as a refuge for people from other lands, New Haven and its mayor are seeking to extend voting rights to illegal immigrants and other noncitizens.

Mayor John DeStefano, a Democrat, introduced four years ago a first-of-its-kind program to give noncitizens, legal or not, city resident cards. Despite crackdowns elsewhere, he has forged ahead with proposals that he says encourage differences.

“We’re a place of differences,” he said. “We’re a place that sees a strength and places a value on welcoming folks from all over.”

Dozens of American cities including New York, San Francisco and Cambridge, Mass., take a hands-off approach to pursuing illegal immigrants. While advocates say they are distancing themselves from a broken immigration system, critics accuse them of flouting federal law as “sanctuary cities.”

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has vowed to cut off federal funding for such cities. Texas Gov. Rick Perry pushed a bill this year that would have prohibited cities from acting as “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants and get local law enforcement more involved in immigration enforcement. Mitt Romney has said he opposed sanctuary cities as Massachusetts governor and, as president, he would “find the right approach” to ending them if legally possible.

President Obama has resisted calls from some Republicans to crack down on sanctuary cities. As a Democratic candidate in 2007, he said the U.S. government should address the issue by providing a rational immigration system, not by withdrawing funds from such cities.

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Washington Times | 12/20/11

Last night, Stephen Colbert gave a shout out to the Immigration Policy Center's blog in a segment called "Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger." Steven Colbert gave a shout out (video below), in his own unique way, to the IPC for lifting up the problems with the original definition of “anchor baby” released in the latest edition of the American Heritage dictionary.

Watch:

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Colbert Report | 12/12/11

What does a tenure “anchor baby” mean? If we were to demeanour it up
in a American Heritage Dictionary, we would find a new
definition given final week.

The tenure was among some 10,000 new difference and phrases in the
fifth book of a dictionary, published in November. It was
defined as: “A child innate to a noncitizen mom in a nation that
grants involuntary citizenship to children innate on a soil,
especially such a child innate to relatives seeking to secure eventual
citizenship for themselves and mostly other members of their
family.”

But when Steve Kleinedler, a executive editor of the
dictionary, review that clarification during a radio talk last
month, it uneasy Mary Giovagnoli, a executive of a Immigration
Policy Center, a pro-immigration investigate organisation in Washington.

The once-obscure tenure has been used frequently in a recent
debate over either to change a Constitution to repudiate automatic
U.S. citizenship to children innate in this nation to illegal
immigrant parents.

Last Friday morning, Giovagnoli posted an indignant object on the
center’s blog, observant a compendium “masks a unwholesome and
derogatory inlet of a term, a tenure that demeans both primogenitor and
child.”

On Monday, a compendium posted a new definition. It started
with “offensive,” in italics: “Used as a adverse tenure for a
child innate to a noncitizen mom in a nation that grants
automatic citizenship to children innate on a soil, generally when
the child’s hearth is suspicion to have been selected in sequence to
improve a mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing
eventual citizenship.”

Kleinedler said, “The tenure is now treated likewise to how the
dictionary treats a far-reaching operation of slurs.”

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Washington Investment | 12/11/11

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: In October, the U.S. Department of Justice challenged South Carolina's immigration law in federal court, charging that parts of the law are "unconstitutional and interfere with the federal government's authority to set and enforce immigration policy."

In April, the Justice Department succeeded in blocking some provisions of the newly enacted Arizona immigration law, and in October, some of Alabama's controversial provisions were temporarily blocked. Last month, the federal government sued Utah.

"A patchwork of immigration laws is not the answer and will only create further problems in our immigration system," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Nov. 22. "The federal government is the chief enforcer of immigration laws, and while we appreciate cooperation from states, which remains important, it is clearly unconstitutional for a state to set its own immigration policy."

South Carolina officials, including Gov. Nikki Haley, echoing the concerns of leaders in other states, say that local authorities cannot wait any more for the federal government to institute comprehensive immigration reform and must act now to secure borders and protect citizens and legal residents.

"If the Feds were doing their job, we wouldn't have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level," Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said recently.

The Obama administration has ramped up deportation actions.

About 1.1 million illegal immigrants have been deported since the beginning of 2009, and the Department of Homeland Security is dealing with a backlog of about 300,000 cases. By comparison, a total of 1.57 million were deported during President George W. Bush's two terms.

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Post and Courier | 12/11/11

A decision by the American Heritage Dictionary to revise its definition of "anchor baby" -- labeling it an offensive and disparaging term -- is an attempt to manipulate the "linguistic landscape" and push a leftist agenda, some opponents of illegal immigration say.

"Anchor baby" was among roughly 10,000 words -- including "hoodie" and "babydaddy" -- added to the dictionary's fifth edition last month. The hot-button term, a noun, was initially defined as: "A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family."

That definition caught the attention of Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center, who heard American Heritage Dictionary executive editor Steve Kleinedler read it during a radio interview last month. Giovagnoli blasted the definition on the organization's blog last Friday, saying it masked the "poisonous and derogatory" nature of the term.

By Monday, the term had been changed. It is now defined as such: "Offensive  Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child's birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother's or other relatives' chances of securing eventual citizenship."

The revision is now a "well-crafted" definition of how the term is used, Giovagnoli said.

But not everyone agrees.

"That's a political statement and it's not even accurate," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "[An anchor baby] is a child born to an illegal immigrant."

Krikorian said the revised definition makes a political statement and is much more than neutral, "just the facts" reference material.

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Fox News | 12/08/11

What does the term “anchor baby” mean? If you were to look it up in the American Heritage Dictionary, you would find a new definition since last week.

The term was among some 10,000 new words and phrases in the fifth edition of the dictionary, published in November. It was defined as: “A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.”

But when Steve Kleinedler, the executive editor of the dictionary, read that definition during a radio interview last month, it troubled Mary Giovagnoli, the director of the Immigration Policy Center, a pro-immigration research group in Washington.

The once-obscure term has been used frequently in the recent debate over whether to change the Constitution to deny automatic American citizenship to children born in this country to illegal immigrant parents.

Last Friday morning, Ms. Giovagnoli posted an angry item on the center’s blog, saying the dictionary “masks the poisonous and derogatory nature of the term, a term which demeans both parent and child.” Her item soared into the blogosphere. By Friday afternoon, Mr. Kleinedler had called Ms. Giovagnoli.

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New York Times | 12/08/11