Monday, June 21, 2010
In Our Community: Immigration News
Hello again and welcome back to this week's immigration news. I hope you'll understand why I've been absent from the blog for a week or so when you see this photo. I've been traveling in New Mexico for FCNL - and you can read all about my trip right here. To get back in the swing of things, here is your immigration news from Monday, June 14 to Monday, June 21.
We finally have the extremely important news we've all been waiting for - although not, perhaps, announced in the way we would have anticipated. The Department of Justice will file a lawsuit against Arizona's anti-immigrant law. This news was announced by Secretary Clinton, not Attorney General Holder, but administration officials have confirmed the upcoming lawsuit and said that the details are in the works. Arizona SB 1070 is scheduled to go into effect on July 29, and similar bills have been introduced or considered in many states.
The Supreme Court ruled on June 14 that immigrants will not be automatically deported for minor drug offenses. This is a significant step toward ensuring due process protections for immigrants. Stringent anti-immigrant laws passed in 1996 expanded the definition of "aggravated felony" to include minor crimes such as drug possession and shoplifting, and required mandatory deportation for these crimes. Since then, immigrants have been unduly criminalized and deported without adequate judicial review. Now, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder will protect immigrants from being automatically deported for minor drug offenses.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is overhauling its immigration detention system, and one of its contractors is getting out there early. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) will modify its nine detention facilities to "soften the conditions of detention" and allow immigrant detainees to wear their own clothes, have lengthy contact visits with their families, and enjoy freer movement within the facility. You can read more about it here, here, and here. But this doesn't mean it's all good - these changes come on the heels of a serious incident in which a CCA guard sexually assaulted several female detainees in Texas.
Border Patrol is taking its operations to new heights - literally. CBP has received authorization to launch unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) on the border in Texas. These drones will provide surveillance for border agents to intercept smugglers and migrants. Let's not lose sight of the fact that drones are also conducting attacks in Pakistan with serious civilian casualties. The use of drones on the U.S.-Mexico line is one more step in the direction of militarization of the border.
I'll leave you with a story. Many people say immigrants should just "get in line" to come to the United States legally, but for those who try to do so, it can be near impossible. Shari Feldman and Inderjit Singh, as the New York Times reports, have spent nearly 17 years in immigration limbo as they try to prove the veracity of their marriage to immigration authorities. USCIS's efforts to prevent marriage fraud can go too far - home inspections, invasive questioning, and tricky documentation requirements often keep legitimate couples from getting green cards.