In this session:
"God Father" MIDI
Agreement voids Proposition 187
|California Governor Gray Davis bit the bullet on July 29 when he announced that the state had agreed to drop its appeal of a Federal Judge's opinion that Proposition 187 is unconstitutional.|
|Proposition 187 would have barred illegal immigrants from receiving health, welfare and education benefits. Citizen children would have been required to disclose the immigration status of their parents as a condition of attending public schools in the state. The Proposition was directly contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Plyler v. Doe which held that all children, whatever their immigration status, had a right to receive an education in the public schools.|
Read the complete text of Proposition 187 and the 1994 Ballot
1994 California Voter Information: Proposition 187. Illegal Aliens.
|Against whom are they heros?|
|David Burnham, co-founder of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), performed an interesting study. This study finds that immigration violations are more likely to be prosecuted by the Federal Government than are cases involving drugs, weapons or white collar crime. They speculate by asking, "Could it be that immigration people are brown and don't have lawyers, and white collar people are white and can afford lawyers?"|
|See TRAC INS Site and decide for yourself.|
|Congress: Break Up INS?|
On July 15th, Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced a bill, HR 2528, Immigration Reorganization and Improvement Act of 1999, to break up the INS into separate enforcement and service agencies-the Bureau of Enforcement and the Bureau of Enforcement Services, with the head of each agency reporting to the deputy attorney general. Under the bill, INS detention operations would be transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons within four years.
The proposal attracted 33 Democrats and 51 Republicans as co-sponsors by the end of July 1999. Many Texas representatives supported HR 2528, in part because of traffic backups in July 1999 at the Texas-Mexican border. The 17-state Central Region overspent its budget earlier in 1999 and had to eliminate overtime for border inspectors, leading to closed inspection lanes and long lines at the border.
During a July 29, 1999 hearing immigrants and Congressional staff complained that constituents often cannot call or obtain accurate information from the INS. Researchers testified in favor of separating enforcement and services, saying that INS is too big and cumbersome to do both jobs well. The INS has a backlog of 1.8 million immigrants seeking US citizenship and 800,000 petitions for legal immigrant status.
The Clinton administration continues to support a unified INS with reformed separate enforcement and services divisions of a unified agency, and the ranking Democrat on the Immigration Subcommittee promised to introduce an alternative reorganization proposal, the Immigration Restructuring and Accountability Act of 1999, which would separate enforcement and services within a unified INS. Many immigration advocacy groups favor the Administration rather than Congressional restructuring proposals.
The Los Angeles Times on July 19, 1999 carried an article headlined: "Latino Clout, Improved Economy Soften GOP Stance on Immigration." By not embracing "anti-immigrant positions," leading GOP presidential candidate Texas Governor George W. Bush, who received 49 percent of the Latino vote in Texas in 1998, hopes to do better than previous Republican presidential candidates in 2000. Ronald Reagan got 37 percent of the Latino vote in 1984 and Bob Dole got 21 percent of the Latino vote in 1996. Bob Dole endorsed the provision of Proposition 187 that would have permitted states to bar unauthorized children from K-12 schools; the 1996 GOP platform included a call to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States--Dole denounced it.
Pat Buchanan, campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, said in July 1999 that "The great threat to America, the great crime problem in this nation, the growing crime problem comes from illegal immigration." According to Buchanan, the US "has treaties to defend the borders of 50 countries around the world and we're not even defending the borders of the United States of America." Bush, the leading GOP candidate for the nomination, avoids immigrant-bashing and pointedly includes a few lines in Spanish in his stump speech and favors higher limits on some categories of immigration.
Outlook. Most observers expect no major immigration legislation to be approved in 1999, although INS reorganization could be put on a fast track, since both the Clinton administration and Congress agree that change is needed and disagree only over how to restructure the agency.
There have been regular oversight hearings on the INS as well as proposals to change immigration policies. For example, a bill was introduced in May 1999 to restore Section 245 (i), under which foreigners living illegally in the US when their immigration visas became available were able to adjust their status by paying $1,000 to the INS, rather than returning to their countries of origin. The INS received $140 million in 245 (i) fees before this adjustment of status provision expired in January 1998.
Smith plans to introduce legislation which would "slightly change the mix" away from family unification to give priority for entry to those with education and skills. Smith may also recommend reducing the number of immigrants allowed to enter each year to 550,000. Smith has discussed requiring all immigrant adults to have at least a high school education. About 15 percent of immigrants arriving in the 1970s had less than a high school education compared to 33 percent of those arriving in the 1990s. In 1970, there were 31 million employed workers with less than a high school education; in 1998, there were about 19 million such workers.
Smith has been holding hearings each Thursday on some aspect of immigration. For example, the June 29, 1999 hearing focused on the INS' new Interior Enforcement Strategy.
Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Spencer Abraham (R-MI) held a series of hearings in May 1999 highlighting "positive contributions immigrants make to American society." The May 28, 1999 hearing focused on immigrants in the military, and emphasized that: (1) 60,000, or five percent, of active military personnel are immigrants; and (2) 20 percent of the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor have been immigrants.
A number of immigrant advocacy groups have combined to launch a "Fix '96" campaign, an effort to repeal provisions of the three major immigration-related laws approved in 1996: the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA), and the Illegal Immigration Control and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The campaign charges that these 1999 laws have separated US citizens from their relatives ("average Americans and immigrants feel the bitter legacy of the laws' excesses every day"), made tax-paying legal immigrants ineligible for means-tested assistance and have set in motion processes to curb illegal immigration that may lead to a national identification card that curtails civil liberties.
The Fix '96 campaign focused on a number of provisions of the 1996 laws, including mandatory removal of convicted felons, including those who were convicted for crimes committed before 1996; summary exclusion of foreigners who arrive with no or false documents and have no credible fear of persecution at home; denying legal immigrants who pay taxes access to federally funded welfare benefits; lengthy waits for naturalization and other status adjustments; and uncertain prospects for some long-term resident Central Americans to become legal immigrants. For more information: www.immigrationforum.org
The number of US residents receiving Food Stamps dropped from a peak 28 million in April 1994 to 18 million in April 1999. President Clinton in July 1999 proposed rules that would reduce penalties on states that mistakenly grant Food Stamps to ineligible clients. The largest US anti-poverty program is the earned-income tax credit, which provides $30 billion to low-wage earners.
Ronald Brownstein, "Latino Clout, Improved Economy Soften GOP Stance on Immigration," Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1999. David LaGesse, "Texas lawmakers join push to break up INS. Proposal seeks to create 2 bureaus overseeing enforcement, services," Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1999.
An excerpt from MIGRATION NEWS
Vol. 6, No. 8, August, 1999|
by Philip Martin, University of California, Davis CA 95616
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