Monday, March 30, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - 3/30/2009

1. Immigration Courts Backlogged

Today's USA Today reports that "the nation's immigration courts are now so clogged that nearly 90,000 people accused of being in the United States illegally waited at least two years for a judge to decide whether they must leave...Their cases — identified by a USA Today review of the courts' dockets since 2003 — are emblematic of delays in the little-known court system that lawyers, lawmakers and others say is on the verge of being overwhelmed. Among them were 14,000 immigrants whose cases took more than five years to decide and a few that took more than a decade..." Doesn't the Sixth Amendment guarantee the right to a speedy trial?

2. Delay in Immigration Raids May Signal Policy Change

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports the hopeful news that ICE raids are being delayed and reviewed. "A senior [Homeland Security] department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute -- increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recently denounced the current practices at a Capitol Hill conference on border issues sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "Raids that break up families in that way, just kick in the door in the middle of the night, taking [a] father, a parent away, that's just not the American way. It must stop." The article also suggests that the Obama administration is using the border war against the Mexican drug cartels as a legitimate way to divert manpower and funds into an area of immigration law enforcement that has broader support than the workplace raids.

3. I Have a DREAM

Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) alongside Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) reintroduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (H.R. 1751/S. 729) in Congress last week.

First proposed in 2001, the DREAM act is a piece of legislation that would allow immigrant students an opportunity to earn permanent residency. In order to be considered eligible, the student must:

  • prove that he/she arrived in the US at or before the age of 15.
  • prove that he/she has been in the United States for at least five years
  • be between the ages of 12 and 30 at the time of the bill's enactment
  • have graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED
  • demonstrate "good moral character"

If a student fulfills all of these requirements, they would be given temporary residency for a period of six years under the DREAM act. Within that time frame, they must spend two years attending college or serving in the military in order to earn permanent citizenship. If a student does not comply with the academic or military requirement, temporary residency will be revoked and they can be deported. As it stands, children who are brought into the United States illegally have no path to legal and permanent residency.

The following senators and representatives have already co-sponsored this legislation. If your senators and representative have not signed on, contact them now:

Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] - Sponsor
Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] - 3/26/2009
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] - 3/26/2009
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] - 3/26/2009
Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] - 3/26/2009
Sen Lugar, Richard G. [IN] - 3/26/2009
Sen Martinez, Mel [FL] - 3/26/2009
Sen Reid, Harry [NV] - 3/26/2009

Rep Berman, Howard [CA-28] - Sponsor
Rep Cao, Anh "Joseph" [LA-2] - 3/26/2009
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 3/26/2009
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 3/26/2009
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] - 3/26/2009
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 3/26/2009
Rep Nunes, Devin [CA-21] - 3/26/2009
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 3/26/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 3/26/2009
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/26/2009

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