Monday, July 19, 2010

In Our Community: Immigration News

Grab a cup of coffee and join us in reviewing the immigration news from Monday, July 12 to Monday, July 19:

What's happening in Arizona these days? Immigration Impact offers a closer look at the 7 lawsuits against SB 1070. Unless the court issues an injunction, the new law will go into effect on July 29, a mere ten days from now. Meanwhile, eight states (Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia) have submitted an amicus brief in support of SB 1070, despite the Justice Department's assertion that the new law is unconstitutional. In addition, Arizona's tourism industry feels the effects of the boycott and managers express uncertainty about whether the downturn in business will continue into 2011.

Grassroots Leadership has published a draft paper, "Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars along the Rio Grande." This report lays out concerns with the Operation Streamline policy, which requires all undocumented immigrants apprehended near the border to be detained and processed in the criminal justice system. Operation Streamline overloads federal criminal courts, strains taxpayers' resources, and fails to provide a practical and humane solution for undocumented immigrants seeking entry to the United States.

More on the border: A Washington Post op-ed finds that it costs about $10 billion per year to maintain operations on the US-Mexico border, but increased enforcement actually has some pretty serious unintended consequences - trapping undocumented workers in the United States. TRAC reports that immigration prosecutions are at the highest level they've been since the height of prosecutions under the Bush administration, with more than 10,000 prosecutions in April 2010 alone.

A new immigration detention center is being built in Virginia. Once completed, it will be the largest of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, holding between 500 and 1000 immigrant detainees. The state anticipates a rapid influx in detainees as it fully implements the Secure Communities program, which scans jail databases for anyone who may be undocumented. This facility, like many across the country, is privately run. It is clear that Secure Communities, a problematic immigration enforcement initiative, will do one job very well: boosting the profit margins of many private prison contractors.

You can read more about the intersection of immigration and the private prison industry here and here.

The New York Times reports on the Obama administration's shift in worksite enforcement, from high-profile raids to so-called "silent raids" in which companies are audited for hiring undocumented workers. The raids of earlier years would detain workers en masse, tear apart families, and deny justice to those who were deported. Audits are certainly more orderly, and they focus on punishing employers rather than employees. Still, without overhauling the immigration system, the economy still requires foreign workers and even well-intentioned employers may struggle to meet those demands while remaining within the bounds of the law.

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