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1. Obama plans to intensify crackdown
2. USCIS says program a success
3. CO Senate introduces bill
4. FL lawmaker revises bill
5. Cuban militant exile trial
Crackdown on Illegal Workers Grows
By Miriam Jordan
The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2011
The Obama administration plans to intensify a crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants with the establishment of an audit office designed to bolster verification of company hiring records.
In an interview, John Morton, chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, said the Employment Compliance Inspection Center would "address a need to conduct audits even of the largest employers with a very large number of employees." The office would be announced Thursday, he said.
Mr. Morton said that the center would be staffed with specialists who will pore over the I-9 employee files collected from companies targeted for audits.
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2010, ICE conducted audits of more than 2,740 companies, nearly twice as many as the previous year. The agency levied a record $7 million in civil fines on businesses that employed illegal workers.
Enforcement activity during the Bush administration focused on high-profile raids in which thousands of illegal immigrants were arrested and placed in deportation proceedings. Relatively few companies and their executives were prosecuted.
In contrast, the Obama administration has made employers the center of its immigration policy with "silent raids." Critics say the policy has penalized small employers while failing to target larger employers.
Mr. Morton said the new center would have the "express purpose" of providing support to regional immigration offices conducting large audits. "We wouldn't be limited by the size of a company," he said.
The audits, which have affected garment makers, fruit growers and meat packers, result in the firing of every illegal immigrant on a company's payroll. Companies say this has hurt them, especially as they can't attract American workers even during an economic downturn.
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U.S. Sees Success in Immigration Program for Haitians
By Kirk Semple
The New York Times, January 19, 2011
A year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the American government has received more than 53,000 applications from Haitians seeking temporary legal status in the United States, and it has approved the vast majority, a top immigration official said Wednesday.
A Haitian immigrant, back to camera, being helped last January in a clinic to apply for temporary legal status. Most of the 53,000 Haitians who applied by the deadline Tuesday gained the status.
The official, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency’s response to the disaster showed that it could handle a much larger immigrant legalization program like the proposal known as the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.
Tuesday was the deadline for Haitians to apply for the designation, called temporary protected status. The program gives most Haitians who were in the United States on the day of the earthquake the right to stay and work legally for 18 months while Haiti tries to recover.
“I think our performance and our execution of the T.P.S. program serves as a model of our ability to execute immigration reform programs,” Mr. Mayorkas said in an interview. “How quickly, effectively and efficiently we responded to the disaster is a standard for us to adhere to.”
The special designation is scheduled to expire on July 22, but advocates for Haitian immigrants say they expect that the government will extend the status, as it has for immigrants from other countries crippled by war or natural disaster.
At least 46,000 Haitians have been granted the special designation. Immigration officials said that they were still processing applications that arrived before the deadline, and that they expected the total number of approvals to exceed 49,000. That is still lower than the number of people federal officials initially expected might be eligible for the temporary protection.
Immigration officials said they had purposely chosen high estimates of the number of Haitians who might have been eligible, to ensure that they had budgeted enough money and manpower to handle the application process. Within several weeks of the announcement, officials said, they revised down to 70,000 to 100,000 their initial estimate of 100,000 to 200,000, after consulting with academics, immigrant advocates and others familiar with the Haitian diaspora.
Even now, officials said, since there is no way to count the illegal immigrant population, they do not know how many potentially eligible Haitians decided not to file for the special status.
The federal government’s offer was accompanied by a robust outreach effort that included more than 200 public forums, and conference calls between immigration officials and advocacy groups working with Haitians, officials said. Mr. Mayorkas himself led meetings with community leaders and others in New York, Miami and Boston, where large Haitian populations have taken root, and he sent deputies to other locations to explain the program.
Officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, also say that improvements to the agency’s paperwork processing, background screening and public information systems have made it more efficient at handling applications.
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Immigration-crackdown bill introduced in Colorado Senate
By Tim Hoover
The Denver Post, January 20, 2011
With the introduction Wednesday of an immigration bill in Colorado patterned after Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, and the expected rollout of a bill to allow in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, one of the most radioactive issues under the gold dome is back in the spotlight.
But it's unclear whether either of those two proposals, or any of the other expected bills dealing with illegal immigrants, is likely to become law.
With a divided legislature this year — Republicans have regained the state House; Democrats still hold the Senate — there is a real possibility nothing will make it through the legislature. And there's the question of whether new Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper would sign any of the bills if lawmakers passed them.
Hickenlooper has said generally that he would veto any bill that attempted to impose an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration, but his office said he had not taken any position on Senate Bill 54, the measure filed Wednesday by Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, that emulates a portion of the Grand Canyon State's law.
"The Arizona law poses troubling constitutional issues, and even many Arizonans are having second thoughts," said Eric Brown, Hickenlooper's spokesman.
Under Lambert's bill, police would be allowed but not required to arrest anyone if they had probable cause to believe they were an illegal immigrant who is facing deportation or against whom federal immigration authorities have issued a detainer order, or who has been indicted or convicted of aggravated felonies. The bill, though, also makes it clear the measure would apply to anyone who had failed to register as an alien entering the country under federal law, meaning that police could arrest someone if they had probable cause to believe the person was an illegal immigrant.
"Our bill is a serious effort to crack down on dangerous illegal aliens who have committed aggravated felonies," said Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, the bill's House sponsor. "We are trying specifically to go after those illegal aliens who have an ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) order out on them."
Doubts of activists, cops
Colorado is one of at least four states considering legislation similar to Arizona's.
A 2006 law in Colorado already requires police to report to ICE anyone they arrest and suspect of being an illegal immigrant, except in domestic-violence cases.
Lambert said his bill goes a step further and allows police specifically to arrest people if there is probable cause to believe they are in the country illegally or if they have committed serious crimes or are facing deportation.
How would police have probable cause to believe that?
Lambert, without offering specific examples, said there would likely have to be a multitude of factors.
"Probable cause is a reasonably high and well-defined threshold," he said.
A similar provision in the Arizona law has been blocked after a district court initially agreed with the contention that the state law intrudes on the power of the federal government to enforce immigration law.
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Advocates spur immigration bill revision
By John Lantigua
The Palm Beach Post, January 20, 2011
A bill that would radically change and increase immigration enforcement in Florida is a bill that would affect millions of people and numerous industries. And state Rep. William Snyder, who has proposed such a measure, is hearing from many of them.
He appears to be listening.
In a meeting with immigrant advocates Wednesday, the Stuart Republican said he had changed a section of the draft of his Arizona-style immigration bill that they had warned would lead to blatant racial profiling.
Snyder's bill would allow state, county and local law enforcement agents to establish the immigration status of anyone they encounter during "a lawful stop" if they have suspicions that the person is not in the country legally. But the original draft explicitly made an exception for Canadians and people from "visa waiver countries."
"Visa waiver countries" are nations whose citizens can enter the U.S. for tourism or business reasons for 90 days without a visa. The list includes mostly European countries, but also Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Immigrant advocates had warned that that aspect of the bill would lead to targeted profiling of undocumented Latino immigrants. They also questioned whether it amounted to selective enforcement, making it unconstitutional.
"He told us at the meeting that part of the original bill is already gone," said Angelina Castro, a Martin County immigration attorney.
Snyder said the legislature would have the option of reinserting the language into the bill, which seems unlikely.
Immigrant advocates still worry that the bill will lead to profiling and the disruption of many immigrant families. And despite the change in his draft, Snyder still doesn't expect support from those advocates.
"I don't think they'll support any version of my bill," he said.
On the other hand, Snyder said Wednesday that he had received tentative support for his draft measure from a major Florida law enforcement organization if he makes another change.
At the moment, the bill allows law enforcement agents to establish the legal status of any person they encounter during "a legal stop."
Earlier this week, Snyder said he might change that wording to allow such inquiries only if agents were involved in a criminal investigation. The change would make the statute less broad and would seemingly avoid situations where immigrants are deported after being stopped for broken taillights or other minor traffic violations, for example.
Critics of the original draft bill had warned that it also would overburden law enforcement agencies.
"The Florida Police Chiefs Association has told me they will support the bill if the language is changed to criminal investigations," said Snyder, a former Miami-Dade police officer who recently announced he will leave the legislature to run for Martin County sheriff.
Snyder is calling the recommendation "an option," but the changes probably won't stop there.
Snyder's bill will go through a series of public and committee hearings in coming weeks. One aspect of the bill would force employers in Florida to verify the legal status of all new hires, a requirement that is sure to annoy Florida's $7.5 billion agriculture industry, which relies on undocumented workers.
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Luis Posada Carriles trial: Immigration papers raised red flags, official says
By Juan O' Tamayo
The Miami Herald, January 20, 2011
U.S. immigration official Susanna Bolanos was concerned when she read the application for citizenship filed by CIA-trained exile Luis Posada Carriles.
Among the red flags:
• In the section of the N400 form that asked if he had ever advocated the overthrow of a government, Posada answered ``Yes.''
• In a question asking about criminal history, Posada noted a Panamanian conviction that put him in prison for four years.
Posada was arrested in 2002 on charges of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro during a visit to the Central American country but convicted of a lesser charge.
He received a controversial presidential pardon in 2004.
``Those definitely raised concerns,'' Bolanos testified Wednesday at Posada's trial on charges that he lied under oath at his asylum and naturalization hearings in 2005 and 2006.
Bolanos, an official of the Department of Homeland Security's Citizen and Immigration Services who specialized in cases with ``national security concerns,'' conducted Posada's citizenship hearings.
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