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01/26/11 | President Obama’s Plans for Winning the Future include Immigration Reform

Washington, D.C. - Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Republicans and Democrats to work together to "win the future" by taking on challenges that have been decades in the making—challenges like updating our current immigration laws to meet the needs of the country.  The President outlined an ambitious agenda focused on innovation, education, and reform designed to expand economic growth and personal opportunity for all Americans.  He specifically called on Congress to work with him to reform our laws so that we are able to attract the best and brightest minds from around the world, retain highly educated foreign students by making it easier for them to live and work in the United States, stop wasting the talent of students brought to this country illegally as children, and to end the problem of illegal immigration once and for all. 

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01/26/11 | House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement

Washington D.C.Today, the newly named House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held its first hearing of the new session entitled, "ICE Worksite Enforcement - Up to the Job?" The name change seems to be a signal that Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly will focus on enforcement, rather than immigration reform this session. It is hardly surprising, then, that the first hearing of the year was designed to challenge the Obama administration's decision to move from the massive worksite raids of the past to the use of employer worksite audits.

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01/19/11 | Punitive and Productive Immigration Legislation Moving in the States

Washington, D.C. - After passage of Arizona's controversial SB1070 law last year, other states threatened to introduce similar measures. South Carolina, Mississippi, and Nebraska have already begun working on SB1070-style legislation. Meanwhile, legislators seeking true solutions have begun pursuing progressive immigration policies. On a teleconference yesterday, immigration policy experts discussed the ramifications of pursuing anti-immigrant legislation as well as alternatives to SB1070, many which seek to boost economic and job growth on the state level.

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01/05/11 | State Legislators Attack Fundamental Constitutional Values

Washington, D.C. - Today, State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a coalition of state legislators, revealed their plan to challenge the 14th Amendment and the Constitutional definition of citizenship.  Claiming that they need to correct a "monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment" and protect their states from the "illegal alien invasion," the legislators proposed model legislation intended to spark a new Supreme Court ruling to reinterpret the 14th Amendment.

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12/16/10 | State Lawmakers from Critical States Speak Out in Favor of DREAM Act

Washington D.C. - Today, a group of state legislators from Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas, and Utah participated in a briefing to share their support for federal legislation know as the DREAM Act. The bi-partisan DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives and awaits a final vote in the Senate in the days ahead. The DREAM Act offers undocumented students the opportunity to gain legal status after completing two years of college or military service, in addition to other requirements. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 755,000 of the 1.9 million eligible unauthorized immigrants would likely satisfy the DREAM Act's postsecondary or military requirements and obtain legal permanent status. 

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12/10/10 | Scholars United Behind DREAM Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, more than fifty leading university professors urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, noting that both their academic research and their work as teachers compelled them to speak out on behalf of the undocumented students whose future hangs in the balance over today's vote.   These scholars, who have dedicated their professional lives to studying migration-related issues, noted:

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12/01/10 | Restrictionist Group Continues Cynical Legacy of Counting Costs While Ignoring Benefits

In a new report, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) paints a misleading financial portrait of the DREAM Act.  The report, entitled Estimating the Impact of the DREAM Act, claims that the bill would be a burden on U.S. taxpayers and would "crowd out" native-born students in the classroom.  However, the available evidence does not support either of these dire predictions.  In fact:

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11/08/10 | H-1B Employees Should Not Face Arrest While Extension Pending

Late last week, the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council (LAC), together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filed an amicus brief arguing that an H-1B employee should not face arrest, detention or deportation after his initial period of admission expires if a pending extension request remains under review. The brief, filed in federal district court in Connecticut, maintains that H-1B employers who follow the law should not lose valuable employees because of widespread delays at immigration processing centers."Both existing law and common sense dictate that the government cannot sit on an employer's H-1B extension request and then arrest the employee due to its own processing delays," said Melissa Crow, director of the Legal Action Center.

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10/29/10 | Pew Omits Important Details in Report on the Labor Force

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report that has an attention-getting headline, but pays little attention to detail.  The report makes much of recent data indicating that unemployment has fallen slightly among foreign-born workers over the past year, while rising slightly among native-born workers.  Some observers will undoubtedly conclude from this that the jobs which went to foreign-born workers would have otherwise gone to native-born workers if not for the presence of immigrants in the labor market.  However, this is not the case.  In reality, immigrant and native-born workers are not interchangeable, nor do they compete with each other for some fixed number of jobs in the U.S. economy. Moreover, many immigrants are highly skilled professionals who create jobs through their inventiveness and entrepreneurship.

Unfortunately, the Pew report provides no detail about the skill level of the workers who have gained or lost jobs since last year, nor does it tell us where in the country they live.  Yet this is critical information in determining how many unemployed natives might have filled jobs which went to immigrants. As the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) pointed out in an August 2009 report, employed immigrants and unemployed natives “tend to have different levels of education, to live in different parts of the country, to have experience in different occupations, and to have different amounts of work experience. As a result, they could not simply be ‘swapped’ for one another.”

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10/07/10 | Legal Action Center Argues for Greater Federal Court Oversight of Immigration Decisions

Washington D.C. - In a continuing effort to promote greater federal court oversight of immigration decision-making, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) recently submitted amicus (friend of the court) briefs in two cases involving motions to reopen. For noncitizens facing removal from the United States, a motion to reopen (an opportunity to present new evidence in a case) may be the last and only way to pursue their claims for lawful residency in the United States. Failure to grant such a motion might prevent anyone - from an asylum seeker to a U.S. citizen's family member - from presenting new evidence that could prevent deportation.  Yet, although the federal courts are the last chance for redress, they frequently refuse to hear claims that immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals abuse their discretion when they deny motions to reopen.

The LAC argument is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Kucana v. Holder that the Board of Immigration Appeals cannot shield its decisions from judicial review by labeling these decisions "discretionary." Only Congress can limit court review of motions to reopen, and it has not done so.

Given the gravity of removal from the United States, the high volume of immigration court cases, and the reality that most noncitizens do not have lawyers (only 39% of noncitizens were represented in immigration court in 2009), federal court oversight is critical to ensure due process.  For an immigration system that is widely understood to be plagued with errors, judicial checks and balances are especially critical.

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