Posts tagged ‘immigration’

May 8, 2014

Districts Are Warned Not to Deny Students Over Immigration Status

Districts Are Warned Not to Deny Students Over Immigration Status


April 23, 2012

Supreme Court immigration case weighs states’ powers

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People relax on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, March 25, 2012, one day before justices were scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. REUTERS/Stelios Varias

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON | Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:18am EDT

(Reuters) – A clash over immigration law will go before the U.S. Supreme Court this week, pitting the state of Arizona against President Barack Obama in a case with election-year political ramifications for him and Republican rival Mitt Romney.

In its second-biggest case this term, the court – fresh from hearing the Obama healthcare overhaul case – will consider on Wednesday whether a tough Arizona immigration crackdown strayed too far into the federal government’s powers.

A pro-Arizona decision would be a legal and political setback for Obama, who has criticized the state’s law and vowed to push for immigration legislation if re-elected on November 6.

A decision against Arizona would deal a blow to Romney, who has said the government should drop its challenge to the law.

Americans generally support immigration laws like Arizona’s and are ambivalent about the federal and state roles at the core of the case, a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found.

About 70 percent of those surveyed favored state laws that let police check a person’s immigration status and make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to work in the United States; about 30 percent opposed such measures.

On the question of who has responsibility for immigration laws, the core of the Supreme Court case, 59 percent said immigration was a national issue and laws relating to it should only be made by the federal government; 55 percent said individual states had the right to make such laws, too.

The oral arguments on this essential point set the stage for a rematch of the attorneys in last month’s healthcare battle.

Paul Clement, a solicitor general during Republican George W. Bush’s presidency, will represent Arizona.

Donald Verrilli, a former White House lawyer and solicitor general under Obama, will represent the federal government after what some deemed a lackluster performance in March.


The case “pits a politically conservative state against a Democratic administration … just six months before the presidential-year elections,” said Steven Schwinn, a John Marshall Law School professor.

Like the healthcare case, the immigration case splits along party lines. Some Republican-led states and Romney supported Arizona’s effort to push out illegal immigrants, while some Democratic-led states backed the federal government and Obama.

Legal and political experts said the Supreme Court’s rulings, expected by June on immigration and healthcare – two hot-button issues – will weigh heavily on the elections.

The online Reuters/Ipsos poll of 960 Americans, conducted April 9-12, found respondents almost evenly split on whether Obama or Romney has a better immigration approach.

The fast-growing Hispanic population, now equal to 16 percent of all Americans, will be a key force in the election. In the past, Hispanics backed Obama and have been skeptical of Romney, who has acknowledged that he needs their support.

Regardless of how the court rules, if Romney continues to back the Arizona law and others like it, “he will find it difficult to win Latino supporters,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, an immigration policy expert and associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside.


At issue in the case is whether federal immigration law pre-empted and thus barred the Arizona law’s four key provisions.

The Arizona law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone detained and suspected of being in the country illegally. Other parts of the law require immigrants to carry their papers at all times; ban illegal immigrants from soliciting for work in public places; and allow police to arrest immigrants without a warrant if an officer believes they have committed a crime that would make them deportable.

A federal judge and a U.S. appeals court earlier ruled for the Obama administration and blocked all four parts of the Arizona law from taking effect.

Clement will argue that the Arizona law was designed to cooperate with federal immigration efforts and that it did not conflict with federal policy or law.

“This is another federalism case. This is not all about immigration. It’s really about the relationship between the federal government and the state government. It’s the norm that you have state officials enforcing federal law,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

Clement said the burden was on the government to show why immigration law specifically prevented states from the usual participation in enforcement of federal policy.

There are an estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States, a number that has remained steady over the last several years.


For his part, Verrilli has a standard policy of not commenting arguments he will make before the Supreme Court.

In written briefs filed with the court, Verrilli said that Congress gave the federal government alone the authority to make sensitive immigration judgments, balancing national security, law enforcement, foreign policy and humanitarian factors, along with the rights of law-abiding citizens and immigrants.

“Arizona seeks to impose its own judgment on those sensitive subjects,” Verrilli said. “For each state and each locality to set its own immigration policy in that fashion would wholly subvert Congress’s goal: a single national approach.”

Five other states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah – have followed Arizona’s lead and adopted similar laws, parts of which could be affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. In some of those states, legal immigrants have faced run-ins with local law enforcement.

Legal experts said the Supreme Court could uphold all four provisions; rule that all four were pre-empted; or issue a mixed ruling, allowing some provisions to stand, but not others.

“If the court upholds the Arizona statute, then that will really be a significant change in that area of the law,” said Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, who leads the appellate and Supreme Court practice at the law firm Ropes & Gray.

“There are a number of precedents going back many decades that immigration regulation is a matter of foreign affairs reserved to the federal government,” he said.

The Supreme Court last year upheld a different Arizona law that penalizes businesses for hiring illegal immigrants. But that case involved a different pre-emption issue.


The case this week will be heard by eight of the nine Supreme Court members. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself, apparently because she worked on the case in her previous job as Obama’s solicitor general. In the event the court is evenly divided on the case, the appeals court ruling for the federal government would be affirmed.

The partisan battle was underscored by the outside briefs filed by the states and lawmakers. Two U.S. senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives, all Republicans, backed Arizona, while 68 Democratic members of Congress supported the position of their president.

Seventeen foreign countries, including Mexico and others in Central and South America, backed the U.S. government. Clement said the appeals court was wrong to allow foreign criticism of the law to influence its ruling.

No matter the Supreme Court ruling, it may not be the final word. Depending on the decision, Congress could rewrite federal law to allow more state regulation or clearly pre-empt it.

If the court rules for Arizona, Cecilia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to press ahead with claims saying that the law violated constitutional rights and was based on illegal racial profiling. “Lawful U.S. citizens will be caught up in the dragnet,” she predicted.

If the court rules against Arizona, supporters of tougher state laws could try to craft new measures.

The Supreme Court case is Arizona v. United States, No. 11-182.

The precision of Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for all respondents.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Joan Biskupic; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Howard Goller; Desking by Stacey Joyce)

September 23, 2011

Immigration takes center stage in Republican presidential debate

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Written by: Susan Page and Jackie Kucinich

ORLANDO — Call it a Sunshine State smackdown.

In the third Republican debate in three weeks, immigration joined Social Security as an issue creating fireworks between the two men leading the field in national polls. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney accused Texas Gov. Rick Perry of creating a “magnet” in Texas for illegal immigrants by offering in-state tuition at colleges for children regardless of their immigration status. “That shouldn’t be allowed,” Romney argued. “It makes no sense at all.”

Perry, in a stance that drew boos from an audience of 5,000 at the Orange County Convention Center, defended the policy. “If you say we should not educate children who come into our state … by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” he replied.

The two men and seven other rivals bashed President Obama, vowed allegiance to the Constitution’s 10th Amendment on state’s rights and detailed the federal department they would most like to eliminate in a two-hour debate sponsored by Fox News and Google.

All of them tried to make their cases, but the spotlight was on the two men at the center of the stage who made the sharpest exchanges of the Republican campaign to date.


Presented by: FoxNewsChannel


On the issue of foreign aid, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman had to interrupt the moderators to get a word in.

The two leading candidates hit one other at what are likely their biggest vulnerabilities: Perry’s suggestion in his 2010 book that Social Security was unconstitutional and should be administered by the states, and Romney’s signature on a Massachusetts health-care law similar in some ways to Obama’s federal program.

Romney said Perry was trying to back away from what he wrote just six months ago. “There’s a Rick Perry out there” espousing that, Romney said to laughter. “You better find that Rick Perry and get him to stop saying that.”

Perry attacked Romney as an unreliable conservative and accused him of trying to back away from the health care law he signed in Massachusetts — “so speaking about not telling it straight,” he said.

He said Romney was no conservative on the issue of education.

“There’s one person on this stage who is for Obama’s Race to the Top, and that is Gov. Romney,” he said of the administration’s education initiative. “That is not conservative.”

But the Texas governor, who shot to the top of national polls soon after joining the race six weeks ago, was on the defensive for much of the evening, batting back criticism on Social Security, immigration and his lack of a specific jobs proposal.

Romney was direct, confident and prepared with concise answers. He suggested Perry was a career politician. “I was in government four years,” he said. “I didn’t inhale.”

The debate featured questions submitted on YouTube.

Four months before the opening Iowa caucuses, the Republican field is beginning to coalesce.

Perry and Romney led the GOP field, at 31 percent and 24 percent in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was the only other candidate in double digits, at 13 percent.

In the debate, Paul said he would not enforce the No Child Left Behind education law. “Don’t enforce the law, No Child Left Behind,” he said, acknowledging that the law was passed by President George W. Bush, a fellow Republican. He also questioned whether it was realistic to try to ban the use of the so-called day-after pill.

Struggling for traction is Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the Iowa Straw Poll last month but has seen Perry peel away support among conservative evangelicals and Tea Party supporters. She was at 5 percen in the USA TODAY survey, tied with former House speaker Newt Gingrich and businessman Herman Cain.

At one point, Perry was asked about his relationship with former president George W. Bush, with whom he shares a Texas drawl but has had sometimes prickly relations.

“We’ve got a great rapport,” Perry said, saying the two men talk on “a relatively regular basis.” Still, he noted that he had been “very vocal” in disagreeing with Bush on creating the Medicare Part D drug benefit and on No Child Left Behind .

“It gets back to the federal government has no business telling states how to educate our children,” he said.

Earlier, at the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition on Thursday, Bachmann said “conservatives don’t have to settle” for a nominee who doesn’t share their values, a comment that seemed aimed at Romney.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum took a similar tack at the conference, urging religious conservatives to look at the Republican contenders’ records as well as their rhetoric.

“Don’t just look at what box they check, what pledge they take; take a look at what bullets and arrows they’ve taken for the causes they believe in,” he said. “We have a long list of presidential candidates … who say one thing and then cower when the going gets tough.”

There’s still time for the Republican standings to shift, of course.

Four years ago this month, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was at the top of the Gallup Poll with 30 percent, followed by former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson at 22 percent.

The eventual nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, trailed in third place at 18 percent.

Even so, history indicates that the hurdles are high for contenders who haven’t broken into double digits by now. In the past two decades, only once has a candidate who was in single digits at this point ended up winning the nomination. (That was Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, a year when the two front-running candidates didn’t end up in the race.)

In Florida, Perry holds a modest lead over Romney among Republicans, 28 percent-22 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday.

The survey also showed how vulnerable President Obama is in the critical swing state, with 57 percent of those surveyed saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing as president; just 39 percent approved.

Meanwhile, one long-shot candidate, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, announced he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Romney.

He cited his failure to be included in the debates as one reason. “We know the debates are validators,” he said in an interview with USA TODAY.

The Fox News/Google Debate (Full Length)


Candidates Unite in Attack on Perry

GOP presidential candidates looking to close in on front-runner Rick Perry redefined their campaign pitches during the Fox News-Google debate in Orlando, Fla., last night, then took their shots at the Texas governor.

May 11, 2011

Obama Pressures GOP on Immigration

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EL PASO, Texas—President Barack Obama Tuesday tried a new tack on a tough domestic issue, saying that beefed-up security along the U.S.-Mexico border has proved effective enough to justify an overhaul of the immigration system.

In a speech at the border, Mr. Obama said his administration had met Republican concerns by increasing manpower to record levels and installing new surveillance technology and fencing at the border.

“We have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible,” he said.

Now, Mr. Obama said, it is time to begin new efforts to overhaul what he called the “broken immigration system.”

The White House has come under growing pressure from Hispanic groups and other advocates of revamping immigration laws to take more aggressive action on the issue. Mr. Obama offered no new policy proposals, and set out no timetable for legislation. Instead, he called for those who support his proposals to build pressure for congressional action from outside Washington

That partly involves changing American perceptions of the Mexican border. The president tried to reassure Americans that another wave of illegal immigrants will not flow into the country if those already here are allowed to stay. If he can do that, strategists in both parties say, Republicans may feel the political space to support a bipartisan immigration bill.

There is virtually no Republican support in Congress for the legislation Mr. Obama wants, though some Republicans have embraced these ideas in the past. Mr. Obama predicted that no matter what he does, Republican opponents of his approach will demand more. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he said. “Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.”

Mr. Obama spoke at the Chamizal National Memorial, on U.S.-Mexican border, where a giant Mexican flag waved from the other side of the Rio Grande river.

Immigration is a sensitive issue for both parties. Mr. Obama’s speech was aimed in part at building support among Hispanic voters he needs to boost his re-election campaign, particularly in Rocky Mountain states. At the same time, Mr. Obama sought to reassure voters worried about border security, citing a series of statistics—drug seizures, up 31%; criminals deported, up 70%.

Leading Republicans say it’s not enough. Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl have crafted a $4 billion, 10-point plan that calls for double fencing where there is now single fencing and another 5,000 border patrol agents, on top of the 20,700 now in place.

“We hear from our constituents on a daily basis, and, while some progress has been made in some areas, they do not believe the border is secure,” Sens. McCain and Kyl, said in a statement Tuesday.

They also pointed to a Government Accountability Office report that found the U.S. has “operational control” over 44% of the Southwest border with Mexico, meaning it has the ability to detect, respond and interdict illegal activity. The administration says that’s not a good measure and officials are working on a better one.

Republicans face pressure inside their party to keep the focus on tougher immigration enforcement. But some GOP leaders say the party also needs to improve its standing with Hispanics, the fastest-growing voter group in America.

Mr. Obama’s legislative goals have not changed since his last speech on immigration last summer, including a path to citizenship for the 10.8 million people already in the U.S. illegally, a program many Republicans oppose as a reward for lawbreaking. Mr. Obama said the U.S. should make it easier for foreign students educated in the U.S. to stay.

The president faces skepticism, even from supporters, heading into this latest push. “The moment to use pressure is gone. You missed it. The train left the station,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.). “I want to be honest with my constituents and with the American people…. I don’t want to rev them up for something that doesn’t have any possibilities of success.”

“Is this a little late?” asked John Engler, the former governor of Michigan who now heads the Business Roundtable. He participated in of the recent White House meetings on immigration but came away unsatisfied. “The sentiment in the room was we need a plan. We need something to sell.”

Write to Laura Meckler at



Text of Obama’s Speech on Immigration

Here is the White House transcript of President Barack Obama‘s remarks on immigration as delivered Tuesday in El Paso, Texas. (This post was updated from the text, as prepared for delivery.)



Chamizal National Memorial

El Paso, Texas

1:21 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, El Paso!  (Applause.)  Well, it is wonderful — wonderful to be back with all of you in the Lone Star State.  (Applause.)  Everything is bigger in Texas.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back!  (Applause.)  Even the welcomes are bigger.  (Applause.)  So, in appreciation, I wanted to give a big policy speech outside on a really hot day.  (Laughter.)  Those of you who are still wearing your jackets, feel free to take them off.  I hope everybody is wearing sunscreen.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We live here.

THE PRESIDENT:  You say you live here?  You don’t need it, huh?  (Laughter.)  Well, it is a great honor to be here.  And I want to express my appreciation to all of you for taking the time to come out today.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

You know, about a week ago, I delivered a commencement address at Miami Dade Community College, which is one of the most diverse schools in the nation.  The graduates were proud that their class could claim heritage from 181 countries around the world — 181 countries.  (Applause.)

Many of the students were immigrants themselves, coming to America with little more than the dream of their parents and the clothes on their back.  A handful had discovered only in adolescence or adulthood that they were undocumented.  But they worked hard and they gave it their all, and so they earned those diplomas.

And at the ceremony, 181 flags — one for every nation that was represented — was marched across the stage.  And each one was applauded by the graduates and the relatives with ties to those countries.  So when the Haitian flag went by, all the Haitian kids — Haitian American kids shouted out.  And when the Guatemalan flag went by, all the kids of Guatemalan heritage shouted out.  And when the Ukrainian flag went by, I think one kid shouted out.  (Laughter.)  This was down in Miami.  (Laughter.)  If it had been in Chicago, there would have been more.

But then, the last flag, the American flag, came into view.  And everyone in the room erupted in applause.  Everybody cheered.  (Applause.)  So, yes, their parents and grandparents — some of the graduates themselves — had come from every corner of the globe.  But it was here that they had found opportunity.  It was here that they had a chance to contribute to the nation that is their home.

And it was a reminder of a simple idea, as old as America itself:  E pluribus unum.  Out of many, one.  We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants — a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts.  That’s why millions of people, ancestors to most of us, braved hardship and great risk to come here — so they could be free to work and worship and start a business and live their lives in peace and prosperity.  The Asian immigrants who made their way to California’s Angel Island.  The German and Scandinavians who settled across the Midwest.  The waves of Irish, and Italian, and Polish, and Russian, and Jewish immigrants who leaned against the railing to catch their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.

This flow of immigrants has helped make this country stronger and more prosperous.  (Applause.)  We can point to the genius of Einstein, the designs of I. M. Pei, the stories of Isaac Asimov, the entire industries that were forged by Andrew Carnegie.

And then when I think about immigration I think about the naturalization ceremonies that we’ve held at the White House for members of our military.  Nothing could be more inspiring.  Even though they were not yet citizens when they joined our military, these men and women signed up to serve.

We did one event at the White House and a young man named Granger Michael from Papua New Guinea, a Marine who had been deployed to Iraq three times, was there.  And you know what he said about becoming an American citizen?  He said, “I might as well.  I love this country already.”  That’s all he said.  Marines aren’t big on speeches.  (Laughter.)

Another was a woman named Perla Ramos who was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States shortly after 9/11, and joined the Navy.  And she said, “I take pride in our flag and the history we write day by day.”

That’s the promise of this country — that anyone can write the next chapter in our story.  It doesn’t matter where you come from — (applause) — it doesn’t matter where you come from; it doesn’t matter what you look like; it doesn’t matter what faith you worship.  What matters is that you believe in the ideals on which we were founded; that you believe that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.  (Applause.)  All of us deserve our freedoms and our pursuit of happiness.  In embracing America, you can become American.  That is what makes this country great.  That enriches all of us.

And yet, at the same time, we’re here at the border today — (applause) — we’re here at the border because we also recognize that being a nation of laws goes hand in hand with being a nation of immigrants.  This, too, is our heritage.  This, too, is important.  And the truth is, we’ve often wrestled with the politics of who is and who isn’t allowed to come into this country.  This debate is not new.

At times, there has been fear and resentment directed towards newcomers, especially in hard economic times.  And because these issues touch deeply on what we believe, touch deeply on our convictions — about who we are as a people, about what it means to be an American — these debates often elicit strong emotions.

That’s one reason it’s been so difficult to reform our broken immigration system.  When an issue is this complex, when it raises such strong feelings, it’s easier for politicians to defer until the problem the next election.  And there’s always a next election.

So we’ve seen a lot of blame and a lot of politics and a lot of ugly rhetoric around immigration.  And we’ve seen good faith efforts from leaders of both parties — by the way, I just noticed, those of you who have chairs, if you want to sit down, feel free.  There’s no rule about having to stand when I’m –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — we love you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  But we’ve seen leaders of both parties who try to work on this issue, but then their efforts fell prey to the usual Washington games.  And all the while, we’ve seen the mounting consequences of decades of inaction.

Today, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States.  Some crossed the border illegally.  Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas.  Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families.  (Applause.)

But we have to acknowledge they’ve broken the rules.  They’ve cut in front of the line.  And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.

Also, because undocumented immigrants live in the shadows, where they’re vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses that skirt taxes, and pay workers less than the minimum wage, or cut corners with health and safety laws, this puts companies who follow the rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, it puts those businesses at a disadvantage.

Think about it.  Over the past decade, even before the recession hit, middle-class families were struggling to get by as the costs went up for everything, from health care, to college tuition, to groceries, to gas.  Their incomes didn’t go up with those prices.  We’re seeing it again right now with gas prices.

So one way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else.  I want incomes for middle-class families to rise again.  (Applause.)  I want prosperity in this country to be widely shared.  (Applause.)  I want everybody to be able to reach that American dream.  And that’s why immigration reform is an economic imperative.  It’s an economic imperative.  (Applause.)

And reform will also help to make America more competitive in the global economy.  Today, we provide students from around the world with visas to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities.  (Applause.)

But then our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or a new industry here in the United States.  Instead of training entrepreneurs to stay here, we train them to create jobs for our competition.  That makes no sense.  In a global marketplace, we need all the talent we can attract, all the talent we can get to stay here to start businesses — not just to benefit those individuals, but because their contribution will benefit all Americans.

Look at Intel, look at Google, look at Yahoo, look at eBay.  All those great American companies, all the jobs they’ve created, everything that has helped us take leadership in the high-tech industry, every one of those was founded by, guess who, an immigrant.  (Applause.)

So we don’t want the next Intel or the next Google to be created in China or India.  We want those companies and jobs to take root here.  (Applause.)  Bill Gates gets this.  He knows a little something about the high-tech industry.  He said, “The United States will find it far more difficult to maintain its competitive edge if it excludes those who are able and willing to help us compete.”

So immigration is not just the right thing to do.  It’s smart for our economy.  It’s smart for our economy.  (Applause.)  And it’s for this reason that businesses all across America are demanding that Washington finally meet its responsibilities to solve the immigration problem.  Everybody recognizes the system is broken.  The question is, will we finally summon the political will to do something about it?  And that’s why we’re here at the border today.

And I want to say I am joined today by an outstanding Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, who’s been working tirelessly on this issue.  (Applause.)  Our commissioner who’s working diligently on border issues, Alan Bersin, is there, and we appreciate him — Bersin.  (Applause.)

So they’re doing outstanding work.  And in recent years, among one of the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security.  And these were legitimate concerns.  What was true was a lack of manpower and a lack of resources at the border, combined with the pull of jobs and ill-considered enforcement once folks were in the country.

All this contributed to a growing number of undocumented people living in the United States.  And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition that we had forged back when I was in the United States Senate.  So in the years since, “borders first, borders first,” that’s become the common refrain, even among those who were previously supportive of comprehensive immigration reform.

But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of Janet and Alan and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns.  Under their leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.   They wanted more agents at the border.  Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history.  (Applause.)

The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004.  It’s a build-up that began under President Bush and that we’ve continued, and I had a chance to meet some of these outstanding agents, and actually saw some of them on horseback who looked pretty tough.  (Laughter.)  So we put the agents here.

Then they wanted a fence.  Well, the fence is –


THE PRESIDENT:  The fence is now basically complete.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Tear it down!

THE PRESIDENT:  Then we’ve gone further.  We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border.  I’ve deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California.  We have forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries.  (Applause.)  And for the first time — for the first time we’re screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north.  (Applause.)

So, here’s the point.  I want everybody to listen carefully to this.  We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement.  All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done.  But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  They’re racist!

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol.  Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol.  Or they’ll want a higher fence.  Maybe they’ll need a moat.  (Laughter.)  Maybe they want alligators in the moat.  (Laughter.)  They’ll never be satisfied.  And I understand that.  That’s politics.

But the truth is the measures we’ve put in place are getting results.  Over the past two and a half years, we’ve seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, 64 percent more weapons than ever before.  (Applause.)  And even as we have stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago.  That means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.

And also, despite a lot of breathless reports that have tagged places like El Paso as dangerous, violent crime in southwest border counties has dropped by a third.  El Paso and other cities and towns along this border are consistently among the safest in the nation.  (Applause.)  Of course, we shouldn’t accept any violence or crime.  And we’ve always got more work to do.  But this progress is important and it’s not getting reported on.

And we’re also going beyond the border.  Beyond the border, we’re going after employers who knowingly exploit people and break the law.  (Applause.)  And we are deporting those who are here illegally.  And that’s a tough issue.  It’s a source of controversy.

But I want to emphasize we’re not doing it haphazardly.  We’re focusing our limited resources and people on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes — not just families, not just folks who are just looking to scrape together an income.  And as a result, we’ve increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent.  (Applause.)

That’s not to ignore the real human toll of a broken immigration system.  Even as we recognize that enforcing the law is necessary, we don’t relish the pain that it causes in the lives of people who are just trying to get by and get caught up in the system.

And as long as the current laws are on the books, it’s not just hardened felons who are subject to removal, but sometimes families who are just trying to earn a living, or bright, eager students, or decent people with the best of intentions.  (Applause.)

And sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself.  But that’s not how a democracy works.  What we really need to do is to keep up the fight to pass genuine, comprehensive reform.  That is the ultimate solution to this problem.  That’s what I’m committed to doing.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.  We can do it.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT:  The most significant step we can now take to secure the borders is to fix the system as a whole so that fewer people have the incentive to enter illegally in search of work in the first place.  This would allow agents to focus on the worst threats on both of our — both sides of our borders, from drug traffickers to those who would come here to commit acts of violence or terror.  That’s where our focus should be.

So, El Paso, the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work that we’ve started.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to put the politics aside.  And if we do, I’m confident we can find common ground.

Washington is lagging behind the country on this.  There is already a growing coalition of leaders across America who don’t always see eye-to-eye, but are coming together on this issue.  They see the harmful consequences of a broken immigration system for their businesses and for their communities, and they understand why we need to act.

There are Democrats and Republicans, people like former Republican Senator Mel Martinez; former Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York; evangelical ministers like Leith Anderson and Bill Hybels; police chiefs from across the nation; educators; advocates; labor unions; chambers of commerce; small business owners; Fortune 500 CEOs.

I mean, one CEO had this to say about reform:  “American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society.  Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, in science, higher education and innovation.”  You know who that leader was?  Rupert Murdoch, who owns FOX News, and is an immigrant himself.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rupert Murdoch’s views, but let’s just say he doesn’t have an Obama sticker on his car.  (Laughter.)  But he agrees with me on this.  (Applause.)

So there is a consensus around fixing what’s broken. And now we need Congress to catch up.  Now we need to come together around reform that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; reform that demands that everybody take responsibility.  So what would comprehensive reform look like?

First, we know that government has a threshold responsibility to secure our borders and enforce the law.  And that’s what Janet and all her folks are doing.  That’s what they’re doing.  (Applause.)

Second, businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers.  (Applause.)

Third, those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well.  So they broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English.  And they’ve got to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization.  That’s not too much to ask.  (Applause.)

And fourth, stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration.  (Applause.)  We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here.  In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants.  That led to 200,000 jobs here in America.  I’m glad those jobs are here.  I want to see more of them created in this country.  We need to provide them the chance.  (Applause.)

We need to provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status.  (Applause.)  And our laws should respect families following the rules — reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart.  (Applause.)

Today, the immigration system not only tolerates those who break the rules, but it punishes folks who follow the rules.  While applications — while applicants wait for approval, for example, they’re often forbidden from visiting the United States.  Even husbands and wives may have to spend years apart.  Parents can’t see their children.  I don’t believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families.  That’s not right.  That’s not who we are.  We can do better than that.  (Applause.)

And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents.  (Applause.)  We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military.  And that’s why we need to pass the DREAM Act.  (Applause.)  Now, we passed the DREAM Act through the House last year when Democrats were in control.  But even though it received a majority of votes in the Senate, it was blocked when several Republicans who had previously supported the DREAM Act voted no.

That was a tremendous disappointment to get so close and then see politics get in the way.  And as I gave that commencement at Miami Dade, it broke my heart knowing that a number of those promising, bright students — young people who worked so hard and who speak about what’s best in America — are at risk of facing the agony of deportation.  These are kids who grew up in this country.  They love this country.  They know no other place to call home.  The idea that we’d punish them is cruel.  It makes no sense.  We’re a better nation than that.  (Applause.)

So we’re going to keep fighting for the DREAM Act. We’re going to keep up the fight for reform.  (Applause.)  And that’s where you come in.  I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues.  And we’ve already had a series of meetings about this at the White House in recent weeks.  We’ve got leaders here and around the country helping to move the debate forward.

But this change ultimately has to be driven by you, the American people.  You’ve got to help push for comprehensive reform, and you’ve got to identify what steps we can take right now — like the DREAM Act, like visa reform — areas where we can find common ground among Democrats and Republicans and begin to fix what’s broken.

So I’m asking you to add your voices to this debate.  You can sign up to help at  We need Washington to know that there is a movement for reform that’s gathering strength from coast to coast.  That’s how we’ll get this done.  That’s how we can ensure that in the years ahead we are welcoming the talents of all who can contribute to this country and that we’re living up to the basic American idea that you can make it here if you try.  (Applause.)

That’s the idea that gave hope to José Hernández.  Is José here?  Where’s — José is right over there.  (Applause.)  I want you to hear — I want you to think about this story.  José’s parents were migrant farm workers.  And so, growing up, he was too.  He was born in California, though he could have just as easily been born on the other side of the border, if it had been a different time of year, because his family moved around with the seasons.  So two of his siblings were actually born in Mexico.

So they traveled a lot, and José joined his parents picking cucumbers and strawberries.  And he missed part of school when they returned to Mexico each winter.  José didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old.  But you know what, José was good at math and he liked math.  And the nice thing is that math was the same in every school, and it’s the same in Spanish as it is in English.

So José studied, and he studied hard.  And one day, he’s standing in the fields, collecting sugar beets, and he heard on a transistor radio that a man named Franklin Chang-Diaz — a man with a surname like his — was going to be an astronaut for NASA.  So José decided — right there in the field, he decided — well, I could be an astronaut, too.

So José kept on studying, and he graduated high school.  And he kept on studying, and he earned an engineering degree.  And he kept on studying, and he earned a graduate degree.  And he kept on working hard, and he ended up at a national laboratory, helping to develop a new kind of digital medical imaging system.

And a few years later, he found himself more than 100 miles above the surface of the Earth, staring out of the window of the shuttle Discovery, and he was remembering the boy in the California fields with that crazy dream that in America everything is possible.  (Applause.)

Think about that, El Paso.  That’s the American Dream right there.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re fighting for.  We are fighting for every boy and every girl like José with a dream and potential that’s just waiting to be tapped.  We are fighting to unlock that promise, and all that holds not just for their futures, but for America’s future.  That’s why we’re going to get this done.  And that’s why I’m going to need your help.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END           1:56 P.M. MDT

August 20, 2010

SYLP: Is there a difference between a refugee and an immigrant?


Posted on 19 August 2010

Editor’s note: This story was written by a high school student in Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s Summer Youth Leadership Program. This story is part of a special back-to-school issue.

By Monique Saeteurn

Monique Saeteurn

Is there a difference between a refugee and an immigrant? Yes, there is a difference. Many don’t know or understand the difference between a refugee and an immigrant.

A refugee is a person who flees to a foreign country to escape danger or persecution.  An immigrant is a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence. Many people of color in America, especially Asians and Pacific Islanders, are refugees or immigrants.

Your parents, grandparents, and/or great grandparents came to the United States because they wanted to start a new life or they were forced to come. That’s where being a refugee or immigrant comes into play.

My family from Laos had to flee to the United States because of the dangerous war occuring at the time. My mom was about 7 years old when she came to the new country. She couldn’t remember much of what actually happened, but she later researched what happened and why our family had to come to the United States.

The U.N. actually helped my family settle into the new country and get us out of Laos. During the war, family members of mine were chased down by the Communists. That’s why we had to flee out of the country and go to the United States. My family members are considered refugees. I do have the majority of my family living in Washington, and we are very close to one another.

Other families came to the United States because they wanted a better future. That’s when people immigrate. Chinese and Japanese families were the first Asian/Pacific Islanders to come to the United States to seek jobs. As the men worked, they tried to get their families to come as well. They are considered to be immigrants.

There is a huge difference between a refugee and an immigrant, especially when it comes to history and the stories behind them. ♦



August 15th 2010


Under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees from 1951, a refugee is a person who (according to the formal definition in article 1A of this Convention), “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”.[1] The concept of a refugee was expanded by the Convention’s 1967 Protocol and by regional conventions in Africa and Latin America to include persons who had fled war or other violence in their home country.


Freedom may refer to:

Free Will:

  • Free will is the purported ability of agents to make choices free from constraints. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical constraint of determinism. The opposing positions within that debate are metaphysical libertarianism, the claim that determinism is false and thus that free will exists; and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true and thus that free will does not exist.
  • Both of these positions, which agree that causal determination is the relevant factor in the question of free will, are classed as incompatibilists. Those who deny that determinism is relevant are classified as compatibilists, and offer various alternative explanations of what constraints are relevant, such as physical constraints (e.g. chains or imprisonment), social constraints (e.g. threat of punishment or censure), or psychological constraints (e.g. compulsions or phobias).
  • The principle of free will has religious, ethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will implies that an omnipotent divinity does not assert its power over individual will and choices. In ethics, it may hold implications regarding whether individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. The question of free will has been a central issue since the beginning of philosophical thought.

Political freedom:

Political freedom is the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual by the use of coercion or aggression. Freedom is commonly known as a state of being free from government oppression.

The opposite of a free society is a totalitarian state, which highly restricts political freedom in order to regulate almost every aspect of behavior. In this sense ‘freedom’ refers solely to the relation of humans to other humans, and the only infringement on it is coercion by humans[1].


The concept of political freedom is very closely allied with the concepts of civil liberties and individual rights, which in most democratic societies is characterized by various freedoms which are afforded the legal protection from the state. Some of these freedoms may include (in alphabetical order):

Economic freedom

  • Economic freedom is a term used in economic and policy debates. As with freedom generally, there are various definitions, but no universally accepted concept of economic freedom.[1][2] One major approach to economic freedom comes from the libertarian tradition emphasizing free markets and private property, while another extends the welfare economics study of individual choice, with greater economic freedom coming from a “larger” (in some technical sense) set of possible choices.[3] Another more philosophical perspective emphasizes its context in distributive justice and basic freedoms of all individuals.[4]
  • Today, the term is most commonly associated with a free market viewpoint, and defined as the freedom to produce, trade and consume any goods and services acquired without the use of force, fraud or theft. This is embodied in the rule of law, property rights and freedom of contract, and characterized by external and internal openness of the markets, the protection of property rights and freedom of economic initiative.[3][5][6]
  • Indices of economic freedom attempt to measure (free market) economic freedom, and empirical studies based on these rankings have found them to be correlated with higher living standards, economic growth, income equality, less corruption and less political violence.[7][8][9][10][11]
  • Other conceptions of economic freedom include freedom from want[1][12] and the freedom to engage in collective bargaining.[13]


Understanding of immigration

General theories behind immigration

One theory of immigration distinguishes between push factors and pull factors.[7] Push factors refer primarily to the motive for emigration from the country of origin. In the case of economic migration (usually labour migration), differentials in wage rates are prominent. If the value of wages in the new country surpasses the value of wages in one’s native country, he or she may choose to migrate as long as the costs are not too high. Particularly in the 19th century, economic expansion of the U.S. increased immigrant flow, and in effect, nearly 20% of the population was foreign born versus today’s values of 10%, making up a significant amount of the labor force. Poor individuals from less developed countries can have far higher standards of living in developed countries than in their originating countries. The cost of emigration, which includes both the explicit costs, the ticket price, and the implicit cost, lost work time and loss of community ties, also play a major role in the pull of emigrants away from their native country. As transportation technology improved, travel time and costs decreased dramatically between the 18th and early 20th century. Travel across the Atlantic used to take up to 5 weeks in the 1700s, but around the time of the 1900s it took a mere 8 days.[8] When the opportunity cost is lower, the immigration rates tend to be higher.[8] Escape from poverty (personal or for relatives staying behind) is a traditional push factor, the availability of jobs is the related pull factor. Natural disasters can amplify poverty-driven migration flows. This kind of migration may be illegal immigration in the destination country (emigration is also illegal in some countries, such as North Korea, Myanmar, and Somalia).

Emigration and immigration are sometimes mandatory in a contract of employment: religious missionaries, and employees of transnational corporations, international non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic service expect, by definition, to work ‘overseas’. They are often referred to as ‘expatriates‘, and their conditions of employment are typically equal to or better than those applying in the host country (for similar work).

For some migrants, education is the primary pull factor (although most international students are not classified as immigrants). Retirement migration from rich countries to lower-cost countries with better climate, is a new type of international migration. Examples include immigration of retired British citizens to Spain or Italy and of retired Canadian citizens to the U.S. (mainly to the U.S. states of Florida and Texas).

Non-economic push factors include persecution (religious and otherwise), frequent abuse, bullying, oppression, ethnic cleansing and even genocide, and risks to civilians during war. Political motives traditionally motivate refugee flows—to escape dictatorship for instance.

Some migration is for personal reasons, based on a relationship (e.g. to be with family or a partner), such as in family reunification or transnational marriage (especially in the instance of a gender imbalance). In a few cases, an individual may wish to emigrate to a new country in a form of transferred patriotism. Evasion of criminal justice (e.g. avoiding arrest) is a personal motivation. This type of emigration and immigration is not normally legal, if a crime is internationally recognized, although criminals may disguise their identities or find other loopholes to evade detection. There have been cases, for example, of those who might be guilty of war crimes disguising themselves as victims of war or conflict and then pursuing asylum in a different country.

Barriers to immigration come not only in legal form; natural and social barriers to immigration can also be very powerful. Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar: their family, friends, support network, and culture. They also need to liquidate their assets often at a large loss, and incur the expense of moving. When they arrive in a new country this is often with many uncertainties including finding work, where to live, new laws, new cultural norms, language or accent issues, possible racism and other exclusionary behavior towards them and their family. These barriers act to limit international migration (scenarios where populations move en masse to other continents, creating huge population surges, and their associated strain on infrastructure and services, ignore these inherent limits on migration.)

The politics of immigration have become increasingly associated with other issues, such as national security, terrorism, and in western Europe especially, with the presence of Islam as a new major religion. Those with security concerns cite the 2005 civil unrest in France that point to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy as an example of the value conflicts arising from immigration of Muslims in Western Europe. Because of all these associations, immigration has become an emotional political issue in many European nations.[citation needed]

Region-specific factors for immigration

As a principle, citizens of one member nation of the European Union are allowed to work in other member nations with little to no restriction on movement.[9] This is aided by the EURES network which brings together the European Commission and the public employment services of the countries belonging to the European Economic Area and Switzerland. For non-EU-citizen permanent residents in the EU, movement between EU-member states is considerably more difficult. After new waves of accession to the European Union, earlier members have often introduced measures to restrict participation in “their” labour markets by citizens of the new EU-member states. For instance, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain each restricted their labour market for up to seven years both in the 2004 and 2007 round of accession.[10]

Due to the European Union’s—in principle—single internal labour market policy, countries such as Italy and the Republic of Ireland that have seen relatively low levels of labour immigration until recently (and which have often sent a significant portion of their population overseas in the past) are now seeing an influx of immigrants from EU countries with lower per capita annual earning rates, triggering nationwide immigration debates.[11][12]

Spain, meanwhile, is seeing growing illegal immigration from Africa. As Spain is the closest EU member nation to Africa—Spain even has two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla) on the African continent, as well as an autonomous community (the Canary Islands) west of North Africa, in the Atlantic—it is physically easiest for African emigrants to reach. This has led to debate both within Spain and between Spain and other EU members. Spain has asked for border control assistance from other EU states; the latter have responded that Spain has brought the wave of African illegal migrants on itself by granting amnesty to hundreds of thousands of undocumented foreigners.[13]

The United Kingdom, France and Germany have seen major immigration since the end of World War II and have been debating the issue for decades. Foreign workers were brought in to those countries to help rebuild after the war, and many stayed. Political debates about immigration typically focus on statistics, the immigration law and policy, and the implementation of existing restrictions.[14][15] In some European countries the debate in the 1990s was focused on asylum seekers, but restrictive policies within the European Union, as well as a reduction in armed conflict in Europe and neighboring regions, have sharply reduced asylum seekers.[16]

Some states, such as Japan, have opted for technological changes to increase profitability (for example, greater automation), and designed immigration laws specifically to prevent immigrants from coming to, and remaining within, the country. However, globalization, as well as low birth rates and an aging work force, has forced Japan to reconsider its immigration policy.[17] Japan’s colonial past has also created considerable number of non-Japanese in Japan. Many of these groups, especially Chinese and Koreans, have faced extreme levels of discrimination in Japan.[18]

In the United States political debate on immigration has flared repeatedly since the US became independent.[citation needed] Some on the far-left of the political spectrum attribute anti-immigration rhetoric to an all-“white”, under-educated and parochial minority of the population, ill-educated about the relative advantages of immigration for the US economy and society.[19] While those on the far-right think that immigration threatens national identity, as well as cheapening labor and increasing dependence on welfare.[20]

Economic migrant

See also: Asylum shopping

The term economic migrant refers to someone who has emigrated from one region to another region for the purposes of seeking employment or improved financial position. An economic migrant is distinct from someone who is a refugee fleeing persecution. An economic migrant can be someone from the United States immigrating to the UK or vice versa.

Many countries have immigration and visa restrictions that prohibit a person entering the country for the purposes of gaining work without a valid work visa. Persons who are declared an economic migrant can be refused entry into a country.

The World Bank estimates that remittances totaled $420 billion in 2009, of which $317 billion went to developing countries.[21]


Although freedom of movement is often recognized as a civil right, the freedom only applies to movement within national borders: it may be guaranteed by the constitution or by human rights legislation. Additionally, this freedom is often limited to citizens and excludes others. No state currently allows full freedom of movement across its borders, and international human rights treaties do not confer a general right to enter another state. According to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to leave or enter a country, along with movement within it (internal migration).[22] Some argue that the freedom of movement both within and between countries is a basic human right, and that the restrictive immigration policies, typical of nation-states, violate this human right of freedom of movement.[23] Such arguments are common among anti-state ideologies like anarchism and libertarianism. As philosopher and “Open Borders” activist Jacob Appel has written, “Treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary, is hard to justify under any mainstream philosophical, religious or ethical theory.”[24]

Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. Ethnic selection, such as the White Australia policy, has generally disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled, and wealthy. Less privileged individuals, including the mass of poor people in low-income countries, cannot avail themselves of the legal and protected immigration opportunities offered by wealthy states. This inequality has also been criticized as conflicting with the principle of equal opportunities, which apply (at least in theory) within democratic nation-states. The fact that the door is closed for the unskilled, while at the same time many developed countries have a huge demand for unskilled labour, is a major factor in undocumented immigration. The contradictory nature of this policy—which specifically disadvantages the unskilled immigrants while exploiting their labour—has also been criticized on ethical grounds.

Immigration polices which selectively grant freedom of movement to targeted individuals are intended to produce a net economic gain for the host country. They can also mean net loss for a poor donor country through the loss of the educated minority—the brain drain. This can exacerbate the global inequality in standards of living that provided the motivation for the individual to migrate in the first place. An example of the ‘competition for skilled labour’ is active recruitment of health workers by First World countries, from the Third World.


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