The Society of Professional Journalists voted to drop the terms "illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" because only a court of law can determine when a person has committed an illegal act. The Texas Tribune should drop the terms also.
Today's story regarding undocumented students who benefit from in-state financial aid is marred by the use of the terms "illegal immigrant" and "illegally."
TRAC data recently released gives insight into the workings of the Immigration Courts across the U.S.
During the first ten months of FY 2011, judges in the nation's Immigration Courts dealt with a total of 187,837 filings by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking deportation or removal orders. Of those cases, 132,341 (or 70.5 percent) were forced to leave the country through deportation, removal or voluntary departure; and 55,496 (or 29.5 percent) were allowed to remain in the U.S. through relief granted by the court or terminations (no grounds for removal).
The Texas Immigration Courts led the country by removing more people--26,687 (84.4 percent) than any other state and nearly 14 percent above the national average. Of those to appear before the Texas Immigration Courts only 4,939 (15.6 percent) were not forced to leave the U.S.
The San Antonio Immigration Court removed 4,696 people (or 82.43 percent) and granted relief to 1,001 (17.57 percent) above the Texas average but well below the national average.
While Texas deported more people than any other state (California was #2 deporting 14,235), several states deported a larger percentage of those that appeared in the Immigration Courts:
Louisiana deported 93.4%
Dammed by faint praise. Texas is only #5 in highest percentage of deportations.
Berkeley, California, October 19, 2011 – The majority of people arrested in a fast-growing federal immigration enforcement program are jailed without bond, without access to a lawyer, and without a court hearing, according to a new report. Secure Communities by the Numbers: An Analysis of Demographics and Due Processfinds that the Secure Communities program has led to thousands of wrongful arrests of U.S. citizens, while tens of thousands of families are split apart. The report, released by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law & Social Policy at UC Berkeley School of Law, is a first-ever in-depth analysis of Secure Communities data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Secure Communities relies on local law enforcement to target noncitizens for deportation. Fingerprints from individuals booked into local jails—many on minor infractions—are sent to the Department of Homeland Security for an immigration check, triggering arrests. This has transformed the enforcement landscape by allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to effectively run federal immigration checks on everyone booked into a local jail.
"The results are disturbing because they point to a system that is funneling people towards deportation without due process. Based on our findings, we recommend that the Department of Homeland Security suspend the program until the government addresses the issues we identify, particularly wrongful U.S. citizen arrests, potential racial profiling, and lack of discretion in detention," said Aarti Kohli, director of immigration policy at the Warren Institute and lead author of the report.
Lisa Chavez, Senior Research Associate at the Warren Institute and a co-author adds, "We had unprecedented access to federal data on ICE arrests, detentions, and deportations of people who are pulled in through Secure Communities. By following the numbers, we were able to construct a picture of who is being arrested and what happens to them after their immigration arrest."
When the United States began building a piecemeal border fence to divide itself from Mexico in 2006, fine-art photographer Maurice Sherif embarked on a journey to document what he considers the biggest project since the Panama Canal. Unlike that effort, however, Sherif says the steel barrier between the U.S. and its southern neighbor serves no purpose other than to divide families and cultures.
In his two-volume book, "The American Wall," Sherif documents the differences in the wall’s structure in Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. In some places the wall resembles a non-threatening collection of steel poles on a beach, in others a foreboding 18-foot-high, triple-layer fence between two countries that purport to be allies. Accompanying the photography is a collection of essays, written by people like South Texas College professor Scott Nicol, UT Law School professor Denise Gilman, and author and journalist Charles Bowden.
Sherif spoke with the Tribune this week in advance of his appearance at the 2011 Texas Book Festival in Austin, where he will explain what motivated him to document the historic event, which he believes will only serve to tarnish the image of the United States.
For years, data produced by restrictionist, anti-immigrant advocacy groups have permeated politics and policy. Today is no different. What’s alarming, however, is the ease with which politicians and lawmakers are using this dishonest data to support their restrictive positions on immigration.
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Strikingly, during the last few debates among GOP presidential aspirants, more than one candidate referenced data by FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), another extreme anti-immigrant research group.
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Another recent reference to restrictionist data came from Mitt Romney and his staff, who quoted a CIS study which claims almost half the jobs created in Texas under Governor Perry went to unauthorized workers. Fortunately, these numbers were challenged by FactCheck.org, which noted that the report has been debunked in the Dallas Morning News by Pia Orrenius, an economist and immigration expert at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas—and by a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation who wrote an analysis critical of the CIS study.
No one is arguing that the drastic increase in unauthorized immigration over the past two decades is not an appropriate debate topic or that policy changes aren’t needed. However, we will never achieve real solutions unless we demand intellectual honesty, rather than pandering and platitudes, in debates on immigration. The data and research put forth by anti-immigrant groups, whose only solution is to deport them all, cannot be the basis for honest policymaking or policy discussion.
During the Oct. 18, 2011, Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Mitt Romney sought to undermine Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s argument that he’s presided over rapid job creation during his tenure.
"If you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas, were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants," Romney said.
Politifact rated this statement as Half-True, but Romney was referring to a flawed study by the immigration-restrictionist group, Center for Immigration Studies.
Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer for the Pew Hispanic Center, an independent research organization, said that "there are lots of methodological problems with the CIS study, mainly having to do with the limitations of small sample sizes and the fact that the estimates are determined by taking differences of differences based on small sample sizes." In addition, the assumption that 50 percent of immigrants are illegal is an educated guess, but still a guess.
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In the debate, Romney cited the report’s headline figure pretty accurately. But he failed to note, first, that it was an estimate subject to significant uncertainty, and second, that the report itself included an alternative -- and arguably more accurate -- measurement that produced a significantly lower figure [27%].
That said, the lower figure, even when adjusted for uncertainty, still backs up Romney’s underlying point that illegal immigrants have gained a disproportionate share of new jobs in Texas. It’s just that the number probably isn’t as high as Romney said in the debate. So we rate the statement Half True.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today’s announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of record high deportations in FY2011 illustrates even more the need for DHS to immediately implement its recent guidance on prosecutorial discretion, says the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
According to ICE, some 45% of the 396,906 individuals removed last year had committed only civil immigration offenses. The other 55% were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, but it appears that many of those misdemeanors were for minor violations, often created specifically to convert civil immigration violators into misdemeanor criminals.
A June 17, 2011, memo from ICE Secretary John Morton outlines for ICE agents and attorneys the factors that would deem an immigration case a low priority. They include good behavior, ties to America, schooling, economic contributions, and other equities for enforcement officials to consider when deciding what course of action to take in a particular case.
“The June memo recognizes that immigration law sometimes creates unjust consequences. For instance, a legal permanent resident who pleaded guilty after a bar fight fifteen years ago could be categorized as a criminal alien even though he’s been in the country for decades, pays taxes, and has a U.S. citizen spouse and citizen children. Even though he has a green card, the bar fight incident could render him deportable. But this is exactly the kind of person that ICE should be looking at more carefully to see if prosecutorial discretion is warranted,” explained Eleanor Pelta, AILA’s president.
“Unfortunately,” continued Pelta, “Morton’s June guidance is for the most part going unimplemented in the field. AILA lawyers from across the country are telling us that many ICE offices have done nothing to put the memo into action. Thus, deportations of people who should be left alone continue apace. Instead of spending money and time removing low-enforcement individuals from the country, ICE is supposed to be going after the really bad guys who could do us harm. With such high numbers of people being deported who pose no threat to public safety, ICE still has a long way to go,” Pelta said.
“The FY2011 data from ICE isn’t telling the whole story about the deported immigrants and it would be wrong to assume that they are living up to their enforcement priorities just because a new record was set,” Pelta concluded.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week it deported more immigrants during the 2011 fiscal year than it did in any year since the agency's 2003 inception. The total includes more than 216,700 people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors.
ICE, the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), removed about 397,000 people from the U.S. last fiscal year, up from 392,000 the year before, the previous high mark. The figures are in line with the Obama administration’s increased enforcement since 2009, which has resulted in more deportations and prosecutions in three years than President George W. Bush's administration accomplished in two terms.
... but U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-San Antonio) doesn't think it is enough.
FRONTLINE Presents Lost in Detention Tuesday, October 18, 2011, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS
Last year, the Obama administration set new records for detaining and deporting immigrants who were inside the country illegally. The government plans to best those numbers in 2011, removing more than 400,000 people. In partnership with American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, FRONTLINE correspondent Maria Hinojosa takes a penetrating look at Obama’s vastly expanded immigration net, explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program and goes inside the hidden world of immigration detention in Lost in Detention, airing Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings).