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Beyond Borders

A blog about immigration in the New York region

Archive for the 'inmigracion' Category

Gutierrez to outline reform bill Tuesday; local families plan vigil in Carmel


Rep. Luis Gutierrez is scheduled to outline his forthcoming immigration-reform bill tomorrow as part of a rally and vigil tomorrow in D.C.  The Illinokidsis Democrat will be joined by New York Dems including Reps. Nydia Velazquez, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair, and Yvette Clarke, according to the National Immigration Forum.

Locally, pro-reform advocates are holding a vigil at 5 p.m. in Carmel, Putnam County. It’s sponsored by the Hudson Valley Community Coalition, joined by the New York Civil
Liberties Union, and will be held at the Old County Courthouse, 40 Gleneida Ave.

Part of the message is intended for Democratic Rep. John Hall, whose office is at that site. Families will demonstrate “to show the President and our leaders in Congress such as John Hall that they need to listen and respect our communities, and show us progress on immigration reform,” according the press release from the coalition.

The timing is considered key. Advocates want Congress to take action before the mid-term election cycle. Sarah Thomas Maldonado, an immigration attorney in Scarsdale, NYC and Stamford, Conn., writes, “It is time to stand up for the values of our nation and demand a humane workable immigration system from Congress and the President.”

More from the coalition’s announcement:

Our families and communities are suffering because of the inaction of politicians. Our communities are being demonized and victimized by politicians and talk-show hosts.  The need and moral imperative is urgent. The President and Congressional leaders repeatedly stated that America should not be tearing families apart but should be solving problems. They need to be reminded of their promises.

Posted by Leah Rae on Monday, October 12th, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Schumer plan: A bill this fall, biometric verification, and tougher words


New York Sen. Charles Schumer is attending the twice-delayed immigration meeting at the White House this afternoon, and gave a speech yesterday on his intentions. As chair of the Senate Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee, he is taking over for Sen. Ted Kennedy as the main proponent of an immigration overhaul.

This time, he emphasized, Democrats will try harder to convince Republicans that they are “serious about enforcement.” You can already tell by the language he’s using, and his listing of seven principles starting with, “illegal immigration is wrong, and a primary goal of comprehensive immigration reform must be to dramatically curtail future illegal immigration.” (The quotations come from his prepared remarks for a Migration Policy Institute event in D.C. yesterday.)

The idea of legalizing undocumented immigrants is presented not as a giveaway, or a jumping-through-hoops, but a crackdown:

All illegal aliens present in the United States on the date of enactment of our bill must quickly register their presence with the United States Government — and submit to a rigorous process of converting to legal status and earning a path to citizenship — or face imminent deportation.

And he apparently will try to get people not to use the phrase “undocumented workers,” because it sounds weak.

When we use phrases like ‘undocumented workers,’ we convey a message to the American people that their Government is not serious about combating illegal immigration, which the American people overwhelmingly oppose.

The newsiest element of his remarks is the biometric employer verification system. It is a stepped up version of E-Verify, which lets employers check a person’s immigration status using Social Security numbers. That system is considered severely limited because it can’t detect someone who is using someone else’s SSN. Schumer said the subcommittee will hash through different proposals for a new system during a hearing in July.

The speculation will continue about whether Congress will deal with a bill this year, and whether it has to be this year in order to pass during Obama’s term. The latest came from Rahm Emmanuel, who said today that a comprehensive bill still lacked the necessary number of votes, reports the Washington Post. He said immigration was unlikely to pass this year, but that it was important to start the effort this year.

Posted by Leah Rae on Thursday, June 25th, 2009 at 2:11 pm |

Fact-check: Illegal immigrants and crime


A group of people held a press conference in Brewster yesterday to call attention to crimes committed by illegal immigrants and to demand that something be done to enforce the immigration laws.

“While crime is crime and the victims suffer equally whether the perpetrator is a citizen or illegal alien, what makes illegal alien crime so different is that the crime would have never happened if our government was doing its constitutionally mandated duty and enforcing immigration laws,” Ed Kowalski said in a press release from 9/11 Families for a Secure America. “This unequal enforcement of the law also makes it much more difficult on the victim’s families.”

Terry Corcoran has a story in today’s Journal News about the event. In essence, the message was that illegal immigrants are an inherent threat because their identities cannot truly be known. And illegal immigrants are by definition contemptuous of the law, the message goes. “Every illegal is a person who has shown contempt for American law, and every employer of illegals is a co-conspirator in any crime perpetrated by an illegal alien,” Kowalski said in his statement.

“Tomorrow’s terrorist is today’s cab driver,” Peter Gadiel said.

Here I’ll look a couple of statistics mentioned at the press conference, suggesting that illegal immigrants commit more crime than other people. The numbers came from Michael Cutler, who said he’d worked in a number of roles at U.S. immigration agencies.

The first claim: “About 30 percent of the inmate population are identified as being illegal aliens.”

Assemblyman Greg Ball has also made this claim in reference to New York state prisons. The actual percentage of inmates who are identified as illegal aliens in New York is 4 percent, according to state corrections officials. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 6 percent of state and federal inmates are non-U.S. citizens – a group that would include both legal and illegal immigrants. This 2005 report gives further details and percentages. For example, noncitizens accounted for 19 percent of federal inmates. Those federal inmates accounted for just 8 percent of the combined state/federal prison population. Here is the 2007 report, though you have to do the math yourself.

Statistics coming from local jails are not as complete. Eighty-four percent of jails track the numbers of noncitizen inmates, and based on that data, noncitizens accounted for 8 percent of the U.S. jail population in 2007, according to BJS. Again, the 8 percent would include both legal and illegal immigrants.

The “30 percent” figure has been widely circulated, and it comes from a 2005 GAO report that said 27 percent of federal inmates were “criminal aliens.” Again, this is just the federal prison population, and a “criminal alien” can be a legal or illegal immigrant. (In the jargon, a criminal alien is a noncitizen who has been charged with a crime.)

The second claim: “What this really means is that Illegal aliens are about five times as likely to commit a felony as are U.S. citizens and resident aliens.”

Cutler said this calculation is based on the 30 percent figure and the widely accepted estimate that 12 million people in the country are illegal immigrants. Demographer Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center estimates the unauthorized population at 12 million, or 4 percent of the nation’s population.

There have been a number of studies on immigrants and crime. The Public Policy Institute of California examined the incarceration data as a measure of whether immigrants commit more crime than other people. In a 2008 report (click here for the PDF), it found that immigrants are much less likely to be incarcerated than others. It’s difficult to break out the undocumented population, the report said, but it’s possible to compare foreign-born and native-born prisoners with similar education levels and ages.

Because immigrants tend to be young, male and less educated, there would be reason to expect a higher level of criminal activity, not a lower one, the report says. But the foreign-born accounted for 35 percent of California’s adult population and 17 percent of the adult prison population.

The institute looked further: Could the lower incarceration rates be explained by deportation? What about the jail population, which isn’t counted in the prison data? What if you look at only recently-arrived immigrants, or the ones who have accumulated more years here? What if you look at crime rates in individual cities where immigrants are going? What about the children of immigrants? What if you look only at the ones with less than a high school diploma?

The conclusion was that “the foreign-born have low rates of incarceration and institutionalizations, and that these rates hold true across education and region-of-origin subgroups.” The report ends, “In particular, from a public safety standpoint, there would be little reason to further limit immigration, to favor entry by high-skilled immigrants, or to increase penalties against criminal immigrants.”

Posted by Leah Rae on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 2:35 pm |


Listening for specifics on McCain’s immigration stance


Those who want an overhaul of the immigration laws, and those who don’t, are listening very carefully to John McCain these days.

mccain.jpgFaced with criticism from GOP conservatives, the Arizona senator has backed off his longtime advocacy of a comprehensive bill that would combine new border-security efforts with a legalization plan for the undocumented. But he hasn’t been too specific about his new position, other than to say that border security would have to come before any legalization plan. He repeated that statement at today’s LULAC conference.

Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, for one, wants to know: Does this mean one bill with a sequence of steps, or separate bills? “(McCain’s) remarks at the NALEO conference seemed aimed at having it both ways. But this lack of clarity just won’t work,” he said. To read the remarks by McCain, click here. Barack Obama’s are linked here.

Reform advocates have been playing up the security side of their efforts for years now. The McCain-Kennedy bill from 2005 was called, accordingly, the “Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.”

I spoke to some New Yorkers last week about McCain’s immigration stance, and some aren’t expecting any further details during the campaign. That story is posted below.

(Photo: AP) Read more of this entry »

Posted by Leah Rae on Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 at 3:29 pm |

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Reporters from The Journal News track the latest developments in immigration. Beyond Borders explores the news, the cultures and controversies.
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