Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - 12/23/2009

1. Immigration Enforcement Fuels Rise in U.S. Cases: Federal prosecutions reached a record high in the 2009 fiscal year, with the surge driven by a sharp increase in cases filed against immigration violators. The 169,612 federal prosecutions were a jump of nearly 9 percent from the previous year, according to Department of Justice data analyzed by a research center at Syracuse University in a new report. Immigration prosecutions were up nearly 16 percent, and made up more than half of all criminal cases brought by the federal government, the report said.

In a related development, Arizona will transfer illegal immigrants who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes to federal custody for the last three months of their sentences, saving the state the cost of housing them. Under the new plan, which begins Jan. 1, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will take custody of the illegal immigrants pending deportation. The Arizona Department of Corrections said that a total of more than 1,200 prisoners would be moved this fiscal year and next, saving about $5.7 million.

And in another related development, The Nation has come out with an article titled America's Secret ICE Castles which states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is "confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants--nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag...Designed for confining individuals in transit, with no beds or showers, subfield offices are not subject to ICE Detention Standards... ICE says temporary facilities in field or subfield offices are used for 84 percent of all book-ins." The descriptions the author provides of conditions in some of these facilities such as B-18 in Los Angeles are disgraceful. After he closes Guantanamo, perhaps President Obama should also consider taking a look at these ICE facilities if the inhumane treatment of prisoners and violations of basic human rights really have no place in the American judicial system.

2. Obama naming Hispanics to top posts at record pace: The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama is on track to name more Hispanics to top posts than any of his predecessors, drawing appointees from a wide range of the nation's Latino communities, including Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Colombians. The president has nominated 49 Hispanics to positions senior enough to require Senate confirmation. So far, 35 have been approved. That compares with a total of 30 approved under Bill Clinton and 34 under George W. Bush during their first 20 months in office, according to U.S. Office of Personnel Management data.

3. CAP Sets "Principles for Immigration Reform": A new report by the Center for American Progress argues that our broken immigration system undermines core national interests and must be reformed. The report identifies five principle goals of immigration reform and makes policy recommendations aimed at achieving them:

1. Establish smart enforcement policies and safeguards.
2. Resolve the status of those illegally present in the United States.
3. Create legal channels that are flexible, serve the U.S. interest, and curtail illegal immigration.
4. Protect U.S. workers from globalization’s destabilizing effects.
5. Foster an inclusive American identity.

4. Latino Leaders Use Churches in Census Bid: The New York Times reports that Latino leaders are mobilizing a nationwide drive to urge Hispanics to participate in the 2010 Census, including an intense push this week in evangelical Christian churches. Latino groups contend that there was an undercount of nearly one million Latinos in the 2000 census, affecting the drawing of Congressional districts and the distribution of federal money. Hispanic organizations are far better organized for next year’s census, but they say that if illegal immigrants — an estimated eight million of whom are Latino — are not included, the undercount could be much greater. One study suggests that Congressional delegations in eight states with large Hispanic populations could grow if all Latinos — the nation’s largest minority at some 47 million — are counted.

5. Trail of Dreams: On Jan. 1, four young people will lace up their sneakers and head north from Miami toward the nation's capital along U.S. 1. The group hopes that each step will bring more attention to the fact that thousands of undocumented individuals, many who have lived in the U.S. since they were small children, are barred each year from continuing their education in the U.S. They're calling it the Trail of Dreams, and the youth -- associated with Students Working for Equal Rights and supported by the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Reform Immigration for America -- plan to complete their trek to the National Mall by May 1.
The travelers would like to be joined in Washington by 100,000 supporters who will rally for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education Act for Alien Minors, or the DREAM Act. For more information or to donate to the marchers, please visit the Students Working For Equal Rights Web site.

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