IMMIGRATION REFORM AND BORDER SECURITY

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The effort in Washington to pass immigration reform is headed for a potential showdown over border security – with the Senate and White House plans putting different emphasis on the issue, and Democrats and Republicans appearing to disagree over the extent of the problem.

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The likely conflict was highlighted earlier this week when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared U.S. borders secure and said Republicans have a flawed argument about border security needing to precede comprehensive immigration reform.

“I believe the border is secure,” Napolitano said Monday in San Diego, during a three-day swing of the Southwest border. “I believe the border’s a safe border (but) that’s not to say everything is 100 percent.”

She said the Republicans have failed to recognize yearly improvements in contraband seizures and the number of people caught trying to cross the border illegal. They also think border security is unrelated to interior immigration enforcement such as visa tracking and employment verification and the pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the United States, Napolitano also said.

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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

While the plan by President Obama, who has made immigration reform a second-term priority, includes tighter border security, the plan by a bipartisan Senate panel is contingent on securing the borders. Still, both sides agree that border security has improved since the Bush administration.

Roughly 365,000 people attempted to cross U.S. borders illegally in fiscal 2012 — a nearly 50 percent drop since fiscal 2008 and 78 percent drop from its peak in fiscal 2000, according to a Feb. 1 report by the U.S. Border Patrol, which based the findings on apprehensions. Borders agents also seized more than 4.2 million pounds of narcotics and $100 million in unreported currency over that period, the report states.

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AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite

However, Republicans on the eight-member Senate panel, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, says more needs to be done. “There remain several areas, particularly in Arizona, where people’s homes are being invaded, where drug smugglers are crossing property every night,” he said last month in a statement. “But there is no question there has been a significant reduction in illegal crossings over the past five years.” Still, the situation is far from perfect.

Chris Crane, president for the union for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, told a House committee Tuesday that agency morale is sagging in part because the country is allowing illegal immigrants to stay.

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“Agents cannot make arrests because of overstayed visa,” Crane said. “It’s not illegal anymore. … The agency is falling apart, morale is at an all-time low.”

The Senate plan calls for improving border security through more agents, improved technology such as unmanned drones and the better use of existing resources. The National Guard in December purportedly agreed to a one-year extension with the Department of Homeland Security to patrol the Southwest border. Roughly 1,200 Guardsmen began patrolling the region with Board Patrol and U.S. Customs agents in 2010, but their ranks have been trimmed to about 300 and their role is now largely to support the roughly 18,000 U.S. Border agents in the region – including more aerial observations.

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Despite Napolitano arguing that Republicans have missed the point about border security being tied to visa tracking and employment verification, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another Republican on the Senate panel, publicly made the connection weeks earlier. Rubio told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that his goal is to ensure border security is part of the reform plan because “if not the workplace enforcement, the visa tracking … don’t happen.”

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“Then we are going to be right back here again in five to 10 years with another three, four, five million people who are undocumented,” he said.

The Senate plan includes a component to evaluate the Southwest border – a commission composed of governors, attorneys general and community leaders from that region to monitor security progress and make recommendations. However, the weight of their findings and to what extent border security is included in the potential-but-likely legislation remains unclear.

“That’s one of the things we’re going to have to discuss,” Rubio told Hewitt. “That’s part of turning a principle into a bill, into a law. … It’s important that we have input from the people that are affected by the border, because it’s one thing to say that the border is certified from, you know, an air conditioned office in Washington. Another thing is to have to deal with it on the ground as a law enforcement person.

Read more: FOX NEWS

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LEGALIZING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IS A BAD IDEA: THE OP-ED THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE PUBLISHED

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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The Chicago Tribune published an op-ed rehashing claims about undocumented immigrants that have been widely debunked, without noting that the author is a fellow at nativist organization the Center for Immigration StudiesCIS is an anti-immigrant organization whose affiliation with hate groups has been thoroughly documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In the February 8 op-ed titled, “Legalizing Illegal Immigrants A Bad Idea,” CIS fellow David Seminara repeated the false claims that undocumented immigrants steal jobs from hard-working Americans and that they put a strain on social services. The Tribune identified Seminara simply as a former diplomat who has “issued thousands of visas during his career at the State Department.”

According to his bio on the CIS website, Seminara has been a fellow at the organization since 2009. He has written extensively for the group’s blog, including writing posts that have criticized an undocumented immigrant fearful of applying for deferred action and attacked scholarships for undocumented immigrants.

Knowing Seminara’s affiliation with CIS would have alerted readers that the op-ed was presenting a biased view of the immigration debate as it repeated many of CIS’ and other nativist groups’ talking points. Indeed, his claim that undocumented immigrants steal Americans’ jobs is not new; it has been discredited by economists and immigration experts using mountains of research: Undocumented immigrants do not generally compete with Americans for labor, and in fact have been found to boost Americans’ wages.

Immigrants given legal status under the immigration reform framework announced by the Senate are also unlikely to be a strain on the welfare system. Under the current framework, newly legalized immigrants would not be eligible for Medicaid or any government social benefit. In addition, immigrants are more likely to have jobs and over half have a high school degree or more.

In Illinois, consumer spending by undocumented immigrants already generates $5.45 billion in gross regional spending which accounts for 31,000 jobs in the Chicago area,according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In fact, the Immigration Policy Center reported that in 2010, undocumented immigrants in the state paid nearly half a billion dollars in taxes.

Read More: Media Matters

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SENATOR MENENDEZ, REID AND RUBIO URGE SUPPORT FOR THE CREATION OF THE SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN LATINO MUSEUM

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Bipartisan group of Senators call on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to include language supporting the creation of a future Smithsonian American in the Fiscal Year 2013 Interior Appropriations Bill

photo source AP
US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a bipartisan letter today to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies requesting that the Committee include language in their Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill supporting the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum, Latino programming and outreach through the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, as well as the recommendations ofNational Museum of the American Latino Commission.  The letter signed by 8 members overall, including Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Dean Heller (R-NV), was spearheaded by Senator Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force.
“Acknowledging the need for a Smithsonian American Latino Museum is an important step to its creation in the future. It is time for that we officially recognize that the success of this nation could not have been had without the social, economic, political and cultural contributions of Hispanic-Americans. That is why we must not only support the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, but lay the groundwork for a future Smithsonian American Latino Museum that has strong, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.”

photo source AP

“For centuries, Hispanic-Americans have helped shape the history of Nevada and the country. Latinos have contributed to every facet of our lives and culture, they have spurred progress in our laboratories, playing fields, halls of justice, art, literature and the economy,” Reid said. “It is time for the country to build a place where we can honor a culture and people that are such an integral part of our national identity. Senator Menendez and I are working hard to make the Latino museum a reality.”

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“This will be an enduring monument to people who have found opportunity and refuge in America and strengthened her in return, while also serving as a tribute to this exceptional country which welcomes people and helps them realize their dreams like no other place has ever done in all of human history. With our nation facing major economic and fiscal challenges, it’s important that we also continue encouraging private fundraising efforts to make it a reality.” Said Senator Rubio. photo source AP

In November 2011, US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), US Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to authorize the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries building on the National Mall as the designated location of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum. The authorization of the museum follows the recommendations of the May 2011 report of the bipartisan Commission to Study the Potential Creation of the National Museum of American Latino, a Commission that was established by law in 2008.

CLICK HERE FOR PDF OF SIGNED LETTER 

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GET EDUCATED: DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT ALL THIS SOPA/PIPA IS ABOUT?

SOPA Resistance Day!

SOPA Resistance Day! (Photo credit: ~C4Chaos)

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Everyone needs to be informed on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would censor the Web. My blog post informs the people of what SOPA / PIPA really are, which in a nutshell is HOLLYWOOD VS the TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY:

Who supports SOPA/PIPA? The US Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America all have unyielding support of this legislation. SOPA would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order to be served on search engines, Internet providers, and other companies that would force them to make a suspected piratical Web site effectively vanish from the Internet.

The support for SOPA and an earlier version in the Senate called Protect IP is broader than Hollywood. A list of supporters includes the Association of Magazine Media, the National District Attorneys Association, the Romance Writers of America, Eli Lilly and Company, Kate Spade, Pfizer, Ralph Lauren, and a number of labor unions.That list appears on FightOnlineTheft.com, another Chamber project that urges visitors to “tell Congress to act on the rogue sites legislation immediately.” The Web site doesn’t highlight the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by name — instead, it’s described as a project of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy, which is in turn organized by the Chamber’s intellectual property center.

“I would assume that the Chamber’s members who support SOPA contribute more than those who are opposing it,” says Ryan Radia, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington.

Are there free speech implications to SOPA? SOPA’s opponents say so–Laurence Tribe, a high-profile Harvard law professor and author of a treatise titled American Constitutional Law, has argued that SOPA is unconstitutional because, if enacted, “an entire Web site containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement.

What has the response to this language been? Web sites including Wikimedia (as in, Wikipedia) charged that SOPA is an “Internet blacklist bill” that “would allow corporations, organizations, or the government to order an Internet service provider to block an entire Web site simply due to an allegation that the site posted infringing content.” Tumblr “censored” its users’ content streams, and reported that its users averaged 3.6 calls per second to Congress through the company’s Web site–nearly 90,000 total.

With a bit of HTML from AmericanCensorship.org, a Web site supported by the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Knowledge, hundreds of Web sites “censored” themselves to protest SOPA. Even Lofgren, from Silicon Valley, has joined the fight-censorship protest.

For their part, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been highlighting an analysis it commissioned from First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, a former MPAA attorney, who concluded SOPA is perfectly constitutional.

How would SOPA work? It allows the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order against the targeted offshore Web site that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It’s kind of an Internet death penalty.

How is SOPA different from the earlier Senate bill called the Protect IP Act? Protect IP targeted only domain name system providers, financial companies, and ad networks–not companies that provide Internet connectivity. Because SOPA is broader, even some companies who liked, or at least weren’t vocally opposed to, the Senate bill aren’t exactly delighted with the House version.

What happens next? In terms of Protect IP, the Senate Judiciary committee has approved it and it’s waiting for a floor vote that has been scheduled for January 24. One hurdle: Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has placed a hold on the bill.

During a two-day debate in the House Judiciary committee in mid-December, it became clear that SOPA supporters have a commanding majority on the committee. They’re expected to approve it when Congress returns in 2012.

Where it goes from there is an open question that depends on where the House Republican leadership stands. Because the House’s floor schedule is under the control of the majority party, the decision will largely lie in the hands of House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants.

Another possibility is that there could be further House hearings on the security-related implications of SOPA, a move that would delay a final vote. An aide to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith previously told CNET that there’s no indication yet as to any further hearings, but after the committee debate in December, don’t be surprised if it happens.

Interested in Protesting? If you are like me and against SOPA/PIPA, Google has a petition you can sign as part of their “End Piracy, Not Liberty” campaign https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/. By signing the petition you are urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

Feedback? Now that you have a better understanding on this legislation, what are your thoughts concerning this issue?

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