Immigration

Congressmen Blasting Obama For Special Immigration Exceptions Have Made Special Immigration Exceptions

Tom Cotton (R-AR) | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DANNY JOHNSTON

Think Progress

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearingwith the less-than-impartial title, “President Obama’s Executive Overreach on Immigration.” But many of the same members of Congress who are decrying the president’s unilateral decision to halt the deportations of some undocumented immigrants are using their own unilateral power to effectively halt deportation of individuals of their own choosing.

Sunday, Senator-Elect and current Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), sharply criticized last month’s executive action. “The president just lost an election, in no small measure because wages for working families are declining and unemployment is still too high in too many places, and the first big action he took after the election was to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get jobs, not for working families to get jobs,” he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. In earlier interviews, he threatened to defund such action and suggested the possibility of blocking judicial nominees to retaliate for what he termed “President Obama’s lawless actions.”

But a little-noticed bill filed by Cotton in June would grant similar protections to a trio of non-citizens, “Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” His bill would have allowed Meriam Yahya Ibrahim (a Sudanese woman later granted asylum after being sentenced to death for apostasy after converting to Christianity) and her children eligibility “for issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence upon filing an application for issuance of an immigrant visa.” While the House never acted on Cotton’s bill, it was not necessary.

Here’s why: any individual U.S. senator or representative can file a “private bill,” proposing relief for a person who has not been granted asylum or citizenship, but still wants to live in the United States. The bill gets assigned to a committee, but almost never comes up for a vote. While in committee, the administration is asked to weigh in on the merits of the person in question. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) almost always allows the individual to stay in the country under “deferred action,” as long as the bill is technically pending in Congress. The end result is that sponsor is unilaterally able to do much the same thing as the “deferred action” granted by President Obama and his predecessors in both parties. At the start of the next Congress, the bill’s sponsor simply re-files the bill, restarting the process.

Similarly, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) filed a private bill in 2012 to grant relief to Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. capture Osama Bin Laden. But after President Obama’s executive action, Rohrabacher decried it as “autocratic contempt for our democratic governing system” a “naked power grab,” and and a “lawless action.” A spokesman for Rohrabacher told ThinkProgress that he sees “no contradiction” between the positions as the “executive action was an attempt to defy the will of Congress,” while the private bill effort “defines congressional will.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has also been a vocal critic of the executive action, likening his bypassing of Congress to a “grenade” from the president. A private bill he filed in January to grant relief to John Cheruiyot Kemboi and Winnie Njeri Kemboi, a married Kenyan couple who had sought asylum. A Tiberi spokeswoman told ThinkProgress that one of their children, a U.S. citizen, has health problems and the Kembois want to stay in the country to care for him. “If anything the Kemboi family situation is yet another example of our broken immigration system,” she explained, and “Congressman Tiberi believes that the president should work with Congress to fix the nation’s immigration problems, not just issue mandates from the Oval Office.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) blasted President Obama’s executive action as “unconstitutional” and designed to divide the GOP. His own “private bills” have spared Alemseghed Mussie Tesfamical from deportaiton back to Eritrea for the past several Congresses. And Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who opined that “the President’s ‘go it alone’ approach drives a political wedge into ongoing reform efforts and recklessly disregards our nation’s lawmaking process,” filed a private bill last year to assist Ibrahim Parlak, a controversialKurdish immigrant.

While most of the critics have been Republicans, a handful of Democrats have also objected to the executive action. One, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) warned that executive action would “cause more problems” than it it would solve. But he filed a private bill to help Corina de Chalup Turcinovic, a French-born widow.

The offices of Reps. Cotton, King, Lipinski, and Upton did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about the bills and the apparent contradiction.

5 immigration myths debunked

CNN Money

President Obama is taking executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

His plan has been a tough sell to the American people, especially with the new Republican-controlled Congress. But many experts agree that some of the arguments against immigration are based on misguided information.

Here are 5 myths about undocumented immigrants, and why they’re wrong.

Myth # 1: They don’t pay taxes

Undocumented immigrants are already U.S. taxpayers.

Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues. Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said.

A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited IRS figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants file and pay income taxes each year.

A 2013 CBO analysis of the failed bipartisan bill introduced by the so-called “gang of 8″ that would have created a path to legal status for many undocumented immigrants found that increasing legal immigration would increase government spending on refundable tax credits, Medicaid and health insurance subsidies, among other federal benefits. But it would also create even more tax revenue by way of income and payroll taxes. That could reduce deficits by $175 billion over the first 10 years and by at least $700 billion in the second decade.

ITEP estimates that allowing certain immigrants to stay in the country and work legally would boost state and local tax contributions by $2 billion a year.

Related: America’s most dangerous jobs.

Myth # 2: They don’t pay into Social Security

The truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute more in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits.

Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants — who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits — have paid an eye-popping $100 billion into the fund over the past decade.

“They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits,” Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney. “Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009,” he said.

As the baby boom generation ages and retires, immigrant workers are key to shoring up Social Security and counteracting the effects of the decline in U.S.-born workers paying into the system, Goss said.

Without immigrants, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the system will no longer be able to pay the full promised benefits by 2037.

Myth #3: They drain the system

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 welfare law, even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.

Related: Part-time jobs put millions in poverty or close to it.

Non-citizen immigrant adults and children are about 25% less likely to be signed up for Medicaid than their poor native-born equivalents and are also 37% less likely to receive food stamps, according to a 2013 study by the Cato Institute.

Citizen children of illegal immigrants — often derogatorily referred to as “anchor babies” — do qualify for social benefits. Also, undocumented immigrants are eligible for schooling and emergency medical care. Currently, the average unlawful immigrant household costs taxpayers $14,387 per household, according to a recent report by The Heritage Foundation. But in its 2013 “Immigration Myths and Facts” report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these children become workers and taxpayers.

A CBO report on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 concluded that a path to legalization for immigrants would increase federal revenues by $48 billion. Such a plan would see $23 billion in increased costs from the use of public services, but ultimately, it would produce a surplus of $25 billion for government coffers, CBO said.

Myth # 4: They take American jobs

The American economy needs immigrant workers.

The belief that immigrants take jobs that can otherwise be filled by hard-working Americans has been disputed by an overwhelming number of economic research studies and data.

Related: Four immigration fixes that could turbo-charge tech.

Removing the approximately 8 million unauthorized workers in the United States would not automatically create 8 million job openings for unemployed Americans, said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, in his 2011 testimony before the House Judiciary Sub-committee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The reason, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is two-fold. For one, removing millions of undocumented workers from the economy would also remove millions of entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers. The economy would actually lose jobs. Second, native-born workers and immigrant workers tend to possess different skills that often complement one another.

According to Griswold, immigrants, regardless of status, fill the growing gap between expanding low-skilled jobs and the shrinking pool of native-born Americans who are willing to take such jobs. By facilitating the growth of such sectors as retail, agriculture, landscaping, restaurants, and hotels, low-skilled immigrants have enabled those sectors to expand, attract investment, and create middle-class jobs in management, design and engineering, bookkeeping, marketing and other areas that employ U.S. citizens.

America’s unions support the president’s executive action. “For far too long, our broken immigration system has allowed employers to drive down wages and working conditions in our country,” the AFL-CIO says on its website. “The brunt of the impact has been born by immigrant workers, who face the highest rates of wage theft, sexual harassment, and death and injury on the job.”

Myth # 5: It’s just a matter of following the law

Many Americans want immigrants to enter the country legally.

But under current immigration laws, there are very few options for legal immigration, the costs are increasingly prohibitive and the wait for any kind of status can be long and frustrating.

Related: I created 7 jobs and the US tried to deport me.

According to the State Department, that imaginary “immigration line” is already 4.4 million people long and depending on the type of visa sought and the country of origin, the wait can be years to decades long. In some countries, such as the Philippines and Mexico people have been waiting over 20 years for approval of a family-sponsored visa.

Immigrants can legally get to the U.S by being sponsored by an employer or a family member, they can enter the country as refugees, or they could receive one of the selectively distributed professional or diversity visas. The Diversity Visa Program makes 55,000 green cards available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.

According to the State Department, the fees to obtain permanent U.S. visas can range from $200 to over $700, excluding legal fees. Plus, there are visa quotas which limits immigration from any given country.

In many poor, violence-ridden countries, or in cases where parents are separated from their children, immigrants say the wait is unbearable, leaving many to resort to illegal border crossing.

That journey can be expensive and deadly.

Smugglers charge anywhere from $3000 to upwards of $70,000 depending on country of origin, mode of transport and distance travelled according to the Mexican Migration Project, a multidisciplinary research effort between investigators in Mexico and the U.S.

Many don’t make it. According to federal records, more than 6,000 immigrants have died crossing the southern border since 1998

Fox hosts outraged that Texas 911 operators are ‘forced’ to help dying non-English speakers

 

Fox News host Steve Doocy | screenshot

Steve Doocy’s hatred of the “other” is clearly demonstrated in his facial expression here.  The problem with the above picture is that the expression appears to be permanent, not unlike an old episode of The Twilight Zone entitled: The Masks.

The Raw Story

The hosts of Fox & Friends on Wednesday were shocked to learn that emergency responders were “forced” to serve non-English speakers in life-threatening situations even if the callers were suspected of entering the country illegally.

“They stumbled across the border illegally and now they need your help!” Fox News host Steve Doocy complained, pointing to a 911 call in Brooks County, Texas where a man who could only speak Spanish asked for a helicopter rescue because his cousin was “turning purple.”

“A small Texas town forced to answer 911 from stranded illegals in Spanish!” Doocy exclaimed.

“Not only are they understaffed and lacking resources, now they’ve got to deal with illegal immigrants who have no business being here,” co-host Brian Kilmeade opined.

Brooks County Chief Deputy Urbino “Benny” Martinez pointed out to Kilmeade that his department had a duty to respond to all 911 calls.

“So, those calls you have to respond to, even though for the most part when you get there, you realize, they’re not an American citizen?” the Fox News host pressed.

“That’s correct, but they’re on U.S. soil, and due process comes into play, and that’s the way we’re taking them as,” Martinez explained.

The chief deputy added that he wanted Republicans and Democrats to drop partisan ideology and have a “sincere dialog” because his department was running out of funds.

Earlier this week, sheriffs of Texas border counties said that Gov. Rick Perry (R) was wasting money on a “political” stunt by sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News that the state should be spending money to fund police officers who were empowered to respond to the border crisis.

Watch the video below from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast July 23, 2014.

 

KS:  I always think of the text that appears on the Statue of Liberty.  In part it reads…

 
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus 

Immigration, charity, and conservatives’ unholy assault on Glenn Beck

His supporters are pushing back.

His supporters are pushing back. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Week

When Glenn Beck announced he would deliver food and toys to immigrant children, the attacks were blistering — and profoundly unchristian

For a movement that wants to eliminate welfare on the grounds it crowds out charity, the rightmost edge of conservatism has been remarkably uncharitable throughout the current immigration crisis. It is almost like they detest charity itself.

Earlier this month, Glenn Beck announced his intention to deliver food, toys, and other supplies to the undocumented immigrants detained in McAllen, Texas. His reasoning was fairly straightforward: Since the immigrants, who are generally children, currently awaiting processing have escaped corruption and violence and political unrest, there is a moral imperative to extend to them welcome and aid. Beck never advocated any form of amnesty, nor did he propose any particular policy (aside from registering his anger with the Obama administration’s response). He felt morally obligated to intervene on humanitarian grounds, and asked his audience’s help in raising funds to do so.

Beck’s impulse was a good one, and his reasoning was equally sound from an ethical standpoint. There are always moral hazards in our interactions with others, including in charitable acts. But that doesn’t mean a turn-the-other-cheek mentality isn’t warranted.

Yet Beck’s audience did the opposite. In response to his charitable campaign, Beck’s listenersevidently flooded him with threats made against his life and work. Other conservative pundits made hay of the backlash against Beck, including Bill O’Reilly, who aired a complaint from one of his viewers excoriating Beck on The O’Reilly Factor. “I am appalled by Glenn Beck’s visit to the border,” the viewer complained. “Wait until poor people in Central America hear that he is giving them millions of dollars. They’ll flow in here like water.”

So much for the Christian mission of mercy and tenderness. For Beck’s enraged audience, any act of kindness, no matter how small — the immigrants would have eaten whether or not Beck served the food, and ‘millions of dollars’ were never on offer — was too great a risk.

In fact, it appears the far right opinion generators currently trying to manipulate the outcome of the crisis cannot even muster a charitable way of thinking about the children currently sleeping under Red Cross blankets in crowded rooms near the Texan border. As Fare Forward‘s Laura Marshall points out, there’s a powerful Christian significance to offering others charity, a willingness to understand them and their life circumstances in the least cynical, least hateful terms possible. The opposite of this approach involves the decision to imagine others in the worst terms, to construe all of their characteristics and behavior in the most negative, obscene ways one can muster.

It’s this latter abuse that far right media jockeys have mounted in full against the child refugees gathering at the border. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has made preposterous claims about the ebola virus being endemic among the refugee population; there is no evidence to support this, though history illustrates that claims of poor hygiene and filthiness are typical of one group’s demonization of another. With the terms of moral hygiene established, it’s easy to imagine refugees and other vulnerable populations as contagion. A less callous approach would display genuine concern for the health of the immigrants themselves.

Lastly, consider the EPIC (El Paso Intelligence Center) report peddled by Breitbart. While the conservative site leapt at the chance to use the 10-page document as definitive proof that the kids at the border are nothing but opportunists looking to leech off of the American way of life, they ignored the facts within. Even EPIC admits that 65 percent of the immigrants have identified some form of violence as significant in their decision to leave their home nations. That basically makes them refugees.

Nonetheless, the report has been twisted by places like Breitbart to show that the kids are here because they think they can stay and freeload. The fact that push factors and pull factors figure into the complex and difficult decision to leave home has been uncharitably shucked aside for a simple narrative: don’t listen to the media, these kids aren’t afraid of violence at all; they just came here because they think we’ll let them stay!

In other words, no matter the evidence presented or the strength of moral reasoning, charity itself — even private, voluntary charity — has been routinely dismissed, derided, and mocked by powerful voices on the far right. When the next opportunity for a genuine outpouring of charity arises, what should we expect? If a crisis involving unaccompanied children isn’t enough to elicit a charitable impulse, nothing will ever be.

A View From The Border: Signs From A Surprising Rally In Texas

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Think Progress

MCALLEN, TX — At least 60 advocates braved sauna-like conditions near the Texas border on Saturday to rally across the street from the McAllen Borer Patrol Station, showing their support for the influx of unaccompanied Latin American children being apprehended there.

About 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, have been detained this fiscal year by Border Patrol agents, many in Texas’s Rio Grand Valley towns, like McAllen. Studies show that — at least since 2009 — children have been leaving the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala in droves because of increasing violence and grinding poverty, taking dangerous journeys to the U.S. to seek refuge.

The rally, which was also an interfaith prayer vigil, was meant to counter hundreds of planned “anti-amnesty” protests across the country over the Obama administration’s handling of the surge. Only three people showed up nearby as part of the national anti-immigrant protests. They said they expected others to arrive, but also speculated they may have “gotten the wrong address.”

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

Attendees at the rally in support of the children brought messages of love, compassion, and sympathy for children for whom they feared a return to Latin America could mean certain death.

Here are the top ten signs that advocates brought to the rally:

1. Some alluded to the tragic maltreatment of minors crossing the border, such as incidentswhere Tea Party protestors have berated children as they are bused to processing centers.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

2. America: A nation of immigrants.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

3. A little Texas hospitality goes a long way, y’all.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

4. “USA: Defined by how we treat immigrants.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE AND JACK JENKINS

5. One of the core reasons for the recent surge of child immigrants is the sharp uptick in gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Sending children back to broken communities in these countries puts them at great risk of injury, rape, and even death.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

6. Paddington Bear has something to say about immigration as well.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

7. The vigil included representatives from several religious traditions, including Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Muslims. Faith groups have been at the forefront of efforts to offer relief to the unaccompanied minors, and Pope Francis recently called for the international community to work together to address the crisis. A regional atheist group was also present at the rally to express support for the kids.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

8. “Believe in the value and the dignity of each person = protect refugees.”

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

9. The Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act, recently introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), seeks to expedite the process of trying unaccompanied minors by making the federal government deport Central American children just as quickly as they already do with Mexican children. However, the act would deny many of these children the fair trial they deserve, and would probably only hurt those it claims to protect.

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CREDIT: JACK JENKINS

10. Some 2,000 people have died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border over the past 10 years. That number could increase as more and more Central Americans flee horrific violence and poverty in their home countries.

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CREDIT: ESTHER Y. LEE

Linda Yanez, a former state judge, told ThinkProgress that these children should be given the right to plead their cases in front of an immigration judge, and that any proposed legislation would actually harm their ability to do so. “I’m not against the Border Patrol, they’re just doing their jobs,” Yanez said. “It’s about our policy lawmakers and about what they tell our Border Patrol to do. I’m here to support due process.”

“The fact that gangs and drug lords have the biggest influence is something we can’t ignore,” Yanez added. “It’s a life and death situation… It’s a Sophie choice. If these are my choices, I’m going to take the one that gives my child some chance at survival.”

Louie Gohmert: Obama won’t ‘defend women’ from ‘hundreds of thousands’ of immigrant rapists

Louie Gohmert (House Judiciary Committee/screen grab)

 

Politicians like “Crazy Louie” Gohmert play to the absolute fear, loathing and ignorance of their base.

The following is a prime example…

The Raw Story

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) asserted this week that the crisis of women and children refugees seeking protection inside U.S. borders was so serious that it put “our continued existence at risk.”

During a speech on the House floor on Tuesday, the Texas congressman renewed his called for border states to invoke their rights under the 10th Amendment, and to declare war against an “mass invasion” of refugees.

“Our continued existence is at risk with what’s going on at the southern border,” Gohmert explained, adding that the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security was complicit because it had “actually assisted the criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals” by not enforcing the law.

According to the Tea Party-backed Republican, “criminal aliens” had committed 2,993 homicides in the past six years.

“And they’ve committed at least 7,695 sexual assaults,” he insisted. “You want to talk about a war on women? This administration will not defend the women of America from criminal aliens! By the thousands, and hundreds of thousands!”

“Well, we know thousands,” Gohmert opined. “And we know people are coming in by the hundreds of thousands illegally. And this administration wants to talk about other people having a war on women when they will not defend the women that are being sexually assaulted by illegally aliens in this country!”

Watch the video below via Breitbart, broadcast by C-SPAN on July 16, 2014.

8 Reasons Why Jose Antonio Vargas Won’t Be Deported

The Opportunity Agenda/Flickr

Mother Jones

On Tuesday morning, Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the most prominent and vocal undocumented immigrants in the United States, was detained at a Texas airportafter traveling there to report on the plight of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. The Border Patrol took him into custody when he showed them a Filipino passport and no other form of identification. This was one of the few times Vargas, who self-identifies as the “most privileged” undocumented immigrant in the US, has had that privilege seriously questioned. He was released on Tuesday evening and issued a statement through his nonprofit organization, Define American:

I’ve been released by Border Patrol. I want to thank everyone who stands by me and the undocumented immigrants of south Texas and across the country. Our daily lives are filled with fear in simple acts such as getting on an airplane to go home to our family.

Vargas reminds those watching his case that he is representative of so many more undocumented children. But there are also many reasons why his is a special case—and why he won’t be deported:

and why he won’t be deported:

  1. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a celebrity.
  2. He’s been detained, and released, before:Two years ago, a year after he revealed his status as an undocumented Filipino immigrant, Vargas was driving through Minneapolis without a legal license while wearing headphones,according to MinnPost. Although the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office was signed up for a Bush administration initiative called Secure Communities that encourages local law enforcement to hold booked undocumented immigrants for ICE, Vargas was released after roughly five hours. It’s unclear how much information authorities had about Vargas’ citizenship, though MinnPost points out that it was unusual for police to haul him in, given that those suspected of driving without a license tend to be issued a citation on the scene.
  3. He’s dared the ICE to deport him, and it did nothing: As Vox points out, Vargas essentially surrendered to the feds in 2012 when he called ICE and “asked what the government wanted to do with him.” The agency declined to comment. Technically, they can come knocking anytime they want to deport him, and they have not done so.
  4. He’s not a priority: The Obama administration claims it prioritizes cases having to do with “national security, public safety, and border security,” including repeat offenders who have crossed the border after deportation, convicted criminals, and “recent border crossers.” Vargas doesn’t fit these descriptions, considering he’s been convicted of no crime and has lived in the United States since he was 12 years old.
  5. The courts are already backlogged: As MoJo‘s Stephanie Mencimer wrote earlier this week, immigration courts are drowning in cases, especially with the sudden influx of unaccompanied minors. There are currently 30 vacancies on the immigration bench, dozens more judges eligible for retirement, and a backlog of 375,503 cases—up 50,000 since 2013. A case like Vargas’ could’ve sat around for years before it was addressed.
  6. Prosecutorial discretion might have favored him anyway: Even if Vargas’ case were taken up by ICE, the government could have chosen at any time not to proceed. ICE can waive deportation in cases where a defendant has “positive priorities,” including status as a veteran, longtime US residency, a degree from a US college or university, or even just “ties to the United States,” including a “role in the community” or “work as a volunteer.” Vargas arrived as an undocumented minor and was unaware of his status until he was older. He’s been a journalist since he was 17. He’s a graduate of San Francisco State University. And now he’s the founder of nonprofit advocacy group Define American. Not only does he fit many of the positive criterion, he doesn’t fit into the clearly defined “negative” categories: He is not a clear threat to national security, a gang member, or a convicted criminal.
  7. He has a slew of lawyers, immigration groups, and public figures supporting him: Chris Rickerd, a policy council expert in the American Civil Liberties Union, says Vargas’ “equities are such that he should be allowed to continue his stay in the US.” Allegra McLeod, a law professor at Georgetown University, claimed that she thought “his long-standing ties to this country would make the claim that it would be a moral disaster for this country” if officials were forced to consider his deportation. Cristina Jimenez, a representative of the youth immigration group United We Dream, declared in a statement: “We stand in solidarity with Jose Antonio and demand for his immediate release, but we must remember that there are thousands of people along the border that live with this same fear every day.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio alsoannounced his support for Vargas in a public statement Tuesday, describing him as an “exemplary man whose tireless work has helped raise awareness around the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants living on American soil” and encouraging authorities to use discretion when it came to his case.
  8. He’d be a giant headache when the government already has plenty. (See also No. 1.) We’ll just have to see if the outcry over Vargas’  release would be any less of a headache for the Obama administration than his deportation might have been.

Only President Obama Can Help Undocumented Immigrants Now, Advocates Say

AP Photo|

Buzz Feed

Obama “should go big.”

Stunned by the loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, advocates for immigration reform said Tuesday night that the only remaining hope for bringing legal status to undocumented people in America lies through executive action by President Barack Obama.

“Everyone was betting on the primaries for the tea party to die out, with this win, a majority leader hadn’t lost since 1899, this is big going to rile up the Steve Kings, the Mel Brooks of Alabama, going to scare a lot of members,” said Cesar Vargas, an activist who is himself a “DREAMer,” having come to the United States without papers as a child. “Before we heard the votes are not there yet, now they’re gone.”

“Absolutely [Cantor’s defeat] means the president should go big on administrative action,” Vargas said.

The calls for executive action are not new. Major moves on immigration already seemed increasingly dead in the House this session. But now, they appear dead for longer than that — through the 2016 Republican presidential primary, and perhaps as long as Republicans control one house of Congress.

Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, also said executive action by Obama will be the next step.

“If Boehner decides not to act and the window closes on immigration reform, the president has no option but to go bold,” she said. “He’s doing it on student debt, he’s doing it on minimum wage, if Congress won’t act, he will, he should do everything at his disposal.”

The loosely united group of activists pressing for executive action have often disagreed on what exactly the president should do concerning, most urgently, record numbers of deportations. But most agree with some version of a proposal from New York Senator Chuck Schumer: that some sort of relief should be extended to the undocumented immigrants who would be protected by a bill that won bipartisan support last year in the Senate. It’s a move that would provide some sort of legal status — if not citizenship — to several million immigrants.

“Even if the president can not statutorily do the entire road to citizenship, he certainly has the legal authority to do for millions more what he has already done for young people,” said Chris Newman, legal director for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network.

“Once the smoke clears, there will be galvanized momentum for the president to act using existing authority,” Newman said.

Advocates also found themselves Tuesday night making the difficult case that backing reform isn’t actually bad politics for Republicans. Hincapié, for one, disputed the notion that Cantor had lost over his position on immigration. Cantor’s loss was “a vote about not having a backbone,” she said. Another immigration reform group, America’s Voice, blasted Cantor as “no friend of immigration reform” and in fact “the main person in the House blocking a vote on citizenship.”

America’s Dumbest Congressman blasts America for being too nice to children

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) questions U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on

Indecipherable | attribution: REUTERS

Gohmert’s insanity and hatred for “the other” has piqued.  It can’t get any worse than this…

Daily Kos

For a while there I thought Rep. Louie Gohmert had fallen down a well. We hadn’t heard from him in so long. And it was so nice. But America’s Dumbest Congressman is back, and his latest efforts at saying things via his word-hole show are devoted to explaining how the Obama administration and Congress are “complicit” in the sex trafficking of children.

“Well, because of the talk of amnesty in this town and because we do not have a secured border, then this administration and this Congress also is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking, into horrible situations, even people trying to cross deserts who don’t make it,”Gohmert said during a speech on the House floor. “That should not be.”

In one case, he said, “a 3-year-old had someone convince them that they needed to try to get here.”

Um, OK. But the real problem with the children—andGohmert has reserved his spittle for the children, because the Obama administration policy of not deporting them at a sufficiently blistering pace has really wedged itself deep in wherever such things get wedged, in Louie Gohmert—is that the little bastards don’t pay enough taxes. He was promised they would pay taxes!

Please read below the fold for more on this ridiculous story.

“We have people saying, oh, if we just legalize everybody that is here, all of this new tax money will come flooding in,” Gohmert continued. “There can be no debate that young children who are not working, even if they are legalized, for those who make the argument, gee, look at all the tax money that the Federal coffers will be getting if we just legalize everybody here, that is a bogus argument.”

I can’t quite parse out what the man is going on about, since he’s saying it so, um, stupidly, but he appears to be peeved that someone told him the 3-year-olds would be paying taxes and ah-ha, he’s discovered that that isn’t true. Or maybe he’s saying that the young children shouldbe working? Or—you know, this may be a lost cause. Gohmert speaks in a register that normal humans just can’t hear.

He added that children would continue to come to the U.S. as long as Homeland Security continued toprovide “three hot meals, a bed to sleep,” and “if we can’t find your parents illegally in the United States, then we will find you some other parents, people are being drawn in.”

“It is time to stop the luring of young children across the border by the activities of this administration,” Gohmert insisted.

What the hell does Louie Gohmert think goes on? Come to the United States and get yourself some free parents—what? And he’s mad that Homeland Security feeds the kids when it finds them? As opposed to …?

I’m sorry, but America’s Dumbest Congressman has broken me. It’s not possible to even make fun of our esteemed representative anymore because it first requires at least being able to figure out what the holy chapped and blistered hell he is Going On About, and that task seems to get harder with every passing month. Never have we more needed a wingnut-to-English interpreter than we do when Louie Gohmert gets up to speak.

Baltimore Will Stop Automatically Detaining Immigrants, Maryland Governor Says

baltimore

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Think Progress

The Baltimore City Detention Center will start scrutinizing federal orders to hold immigrants for deportation instead of automatically granting these requests, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Friday. The policy change adds Baltimore to the growing number of cities in the U.S. resisting federal immigration policy.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents often ask local jails to hold immigrants for deportation. Baltimore will now only grant these requests if the immigrant has been charged with or convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. “We will focus our efforts on complying with ICE detainers when there is an actual threat to the public’s safety,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s move comes on the heels of a Baltimore Sun investigation that found more than 40 percent of Maryland’s deportees had no criminal record at all, one of the highest percentages of any state in the nation.

The federal program Secure Communities was intended to catch and deport dangerous criminals by coordinating with local jails. In reality, the vast majority of “convicted criminals” deported through Secure Communities were guilty only of traffic violations or civil immigration offenses, such as crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa. Just 12 percent of deportees in 2013 were convicted of serious crimes like murder, sexual assault, or drug trafficking.

While deporting mainly harmless immigrants, Secure Communities has also seriously damaged immigrant neighborhoods’ relationships with law enforcement. Immigrants areafraid to report crimes or come forward as witnesses for fear of being deported or getting a family member deported.

Because of this, California and Connecticut have passed laws to prohibit police officers from honoring ICE hold requests except in cases of serious crimes. Several cities, includingChicagoSanta Clara, and New York City, have adopted policies to defy ICE. Most recently, Philadelphia’s mayor signed an executive order to forbid police cooperation with ICE unless the federal government gets a warrant, making it one of the most progressive cities for immigrants.

As immigration reform continues to languish in the House, President Obama is coming under pressure from activists and members of his own party to end deportations nationwide for those who would be eligible for citizenship under the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform plan. In the meantime, states and municipalities all over the country arestarting to take action to protect their immigrants from restrictive federal policies.

 

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