Friday, July 24, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - 7/24/2009

1. Police chiefs press for immigration reform: Some of the nation's top cops on Wednesday called upon Congress to promptly adopt an immigration reform measure, saying local law enforcement agencies across America are struggling to deal with crime and confusion caused by a broken system. About 100 police chiefs and administrators from Framingham, Mass., to San Diego joined Department of Homeland Security officials in Phoenix for a National Summit on Local Immigration Policies sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit law enforcement educational organization. During closed discussions, the participants agreed that America needs a comprehensive new law containing guest-worker programs, a means for immigrants to become permanent residents and federal enforcement of the prohibition against hiring illegal immigrants, according to Chuck Wexler, the forum's executive director.

2. Mexican immigration to U.S. off 40 percent, study finds: Mexican immigration to the United States has dropped sharply since 2005, but the flow of migrants returning to Mexico remains steady, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center. Immigration from Mexico to the United States slowed at least 40 percent between mid-decade and 2008, according to the analysis, based on national population surveys in the United States and Mexico, as well as Border Patrol apprehension figures. The Mexican survey estimated that 1 million Mexicans left for the United States in a 12-month period beginning in 2006. Three years later, that number decreased to 636,000. "The size of the drop has been quite remarkable in such a small span of time," Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and author of the study, told CNN.

3. Hispanic worker deaths up 76% since 1992: The number of Hispanic workers who die on the job has risen, even as the overall number of workplace deaths has declined, according to federal statistics. Hispanic worker deaths increased from 533 in 1992 to 937 in 2007 — a 76% jump. In the same period, total fatalities in all jobs nationwide fell from 6,217 to 5,657, according to the data. The 2007 tally, the latest available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed a record 990 Hispanic deaths in 2006..."I am particularly concerned about our Hispanic workforce, as Latinos often work low-wage jobs and are more susceptible to injuries in the workplace than other workers," U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told USA Today. "There can be no excuses for negligence in protecting workers, not even a language barrier."..."Workers without legal documentation to be in the U.S. are less inclined to join a union, which helps protect workers, or protest when conditions seem dangerous," said Raj Nayak of the California-based National Employment Law Project. "They're doing the most dangerous work for longer hours," Nayak said.

4. Hispanic Voter Surge Imperils Republicans: This week the Census Bureau released voting and voter registration statistics for last year's election...The Census estimates that there were 9.745 million Hispanic voters in 2008, compared to 7.587 million in 2004 -- an increase of 28.4%. Overall, an estimated 131.114 million Americans voted in 2008, compared to 125.736 million in 2004, an increase of just 4.3%. Another way of looking at it: there were 5.4 million additional votes cast in 2008 compared to 2004 and about 2.2 million of them were cast by Hispanics. Obama took 67% of the vote from Latinos according to exit polling. That's a problem for Republicans, especially because the Hispanic voter growth is not limited to just a few states. Click on Governing magazine's blog entry to see a table showing the percentage increase in Hispanic voters from 2004 to 2008 in each state where Hispanics were at least 2% of voters in 2008.

5. Council on Foreign Relations Says Broken U.S. Immigration System Threatens National Security: "The continued failure to devise and implement a sound and sustainable immigration policy threatens to weaken America’s economy, to jeopardize its diplomacy, and to imperil its national security," concludes a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Independent Task Force co-chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former White House chief of staff Thomas "Mack" McLarty. "The stakes are too high to fail," says the report (1.2 MB PDF). "If the United States continues to mishandle its immigration policy, it will damage one of the vital underpinnings of American prosperity and security, and could condemn the country to a long, slow decline in its status in the world." For this reason, the report urges: "The United States needs a fundamental overhaul of its immigration laws." The group calls on the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that:
  • Reforms the legal immigration system so that it operates more efficiently, responds more accurately to labor market needs, and enhances U.S. competitiveness;
  • Restores the integrity of immigration laws through an enforcement regime that strongly discourages employers and employees from operating outside that legal system, secures America’s borders, and levies significant penalties against those who violate the rules;
  • Offers a fair, humane, and orderly way to allow many of the roughly twelve million migrants currently living illegally in the United States to earn the right to remain legally.

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