Morning News, 1/18/10

By Bryan Griffith, January 18, 2010

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1. Haitian illegals to have TPS
2. FL detention center readied
3. CO rep. presses for visas
4. TX lawmaker chosen as 'face'
5. RI early program fails

Illegal Haitians get short-term legal status
By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times, January 16, 2010

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday granted an 18-month amnesty to Haitians who were in the U.S. as illegal immigrants or legal visitors at the time of this week's earthquake.

Miss Napolitano said the order for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) only applies to those who were already in the U.S. on Jan. 12, when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. She said anyone who flees to come to the U.S. now will be sent back, but those who were already here will be allowed to stay and work for 18 months, at which time the government will decide whether to extend the period.

"It's sort of a time-out for Haitians in the United States who can begin to work ... and have some resources then to send back to Haiti itself," she said.

She estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 Haitians might qualify for what she called "intermediate immigration status."

Dozens of lawmakers had urged Homeland Security to extend TPS to Haitians, arguing that Haiti is in such bad shape it cannot accept any deportees.

This is the right thing to do. Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. will not only be able to make money to support themselves, but also to send remittances to their suffering families back in Haiti," said Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.

TPS was written exactly for this kind of situation when a natural disaster overwhelms a country, and makes it impossible for that country to take folks back, Miss Napolitano said.
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Krome detention center readied for for possible influx of Haitians
Federal officials are taking precautionary measures in the event that hundreds of Haitian migrants reach South Florida shores. The first step: Make more room at Krome.
By Kathleen McGrory
The Miami Herald, January 17, 2010

Federal authorities plan to move more than 400 detainees from the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade to make room for a potential influx of Haitian migrants fleeing the earthquake zone, the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday.

It was not clear when the relocation process would begin, or where the detainees currently housed at Krome would be placed.

There are several federal and county holding facilities in Florida that could be used.

Authorities said they had no indication that a mass migration was imminent.

Instead, the move to free up space in Krome is precautionary -- and part of the department's contingency plan for major events, sources told The Miami Herald.

So far this year, 17 Haitians have been interdicted at sea, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

A total of 1,782 Haitians were interdicted last year.

The Krome Service Processing Center, as it is officially called, serves as a holding place for immigrants waiting to learn their status or awaiting deportation. It currently holds about 500 people.

On Saturday, immigrant advocacy groups expressed concern for the detainees who would be leaving Krome for another facility.
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Rep. Jared Polis, Boulder TechStars continue push for 'Startup Visas'
Lawmakers targeting initiatives to help foreign-born entrepreneurs
By Alicia Wallace Camera Business Writer
The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), January 16, 2010

Last summer, Kevin Mann came to Boulder from the United Kingdom with a startup and a 90-day visa.

His idea -- software that transforms publishing materials, notably comic books, into digital media -- landed Mann's company among a handful of participants in the Boulder-based TechStars, a startup boot camp program. That company, now known as, has since raised more than $1 million, is growing its local work force and its reach across the comic book industry.

Mann, however, remains in the United Kingdom. His visa expired on the last day of the 2009 TechStars session.

"Now, the only way to get him over here is we have to, in essence ... hire the founder of the company," said Micah Baldwin, a TechStars mentor who joined as its chief executive officer.

Mann's situation is something some technology investors -- a well-known Boulder venture capitalist among them -- want to change.

During the past few months, Boulder investor and TechStars co-founder Brad Feld and a handful of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have lobbied for measures to make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to start U.S.-based companies.

Lawmakers very well could hear some of those efforts and arguments this year. As U.S. Congress members went back to work last week, one of the bills on target to be tackled this session is a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a new class of immigrant investor "Startup Visa" initiative.

Two of the 2009 TechStars participating teams were comprised of foreign-born founders. During the summer, Feld said he and others struggled to find ways to get those companies visas, adding that all of the proposed approaches were "expensive, risky and tiresome."

The "young, talented entrepreneurs ... are in the final process of raising their first rounds of financing. Post-financing, they will be creating U.S.-based high-tech jobs," Feld wrote in an e-mail. "If they are successful, they will create a lot of jobs.

"Plus, they are young, so they will do this multiple times in their lifetime."

Being thousands of miles apart has made the day-to-day work very hard, stressful and costly, Mann said, adding that a lot of time also is spent on setting up video conferencing between the 10-employee U.K. office and the Boulder headquarters.

"It would be much easier for the company, if I were there," he said.
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S. Texas lawmaker taking on key role with immigrant bill
By Gary Martin
The San Antonio Express-News, January 18, 2010

Washington, DC -- Born into South Texas poverty as the son of migrant workers, a man who rose from shoeshine boy to sheriff to congressman is the face of the immigration reform bill set to slog its way through the House of Representatives this year.

That's by design. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, a 27-year veteran of legislative battles, isn't the only Democrat who concedes the road for immigration reform is steeply uphill in a midterm election year.

But the bill's backers are counting on the Robstown native to draw on his life experience to argue that immigration reform is needed to protect Americans and immigrants alike.

“When I was sheriff, you would be surprised how many news reports of skeletons they found in the field: of women, children, females who died on their way to the United States,” he said. “This is painful.”

Ortiz said unauthorized immigration must be stopped through a reform of broken laws.

The House bill, introduced last month by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., would protect unauthorized workers from unscrupulous employers and give 12 million unauthorized immigrants a chance for citizenship if they meet certain criteria.

Ortiz said it would also shrink a human pipeline and a culture of hiding, removing cover that could be used by terrorists stalking the U.S.

“We have terrorist cells. Everybody knows that,” Ortiz said.

“When you give these people an opportunity to be legally here, you allow them to come out,” he said. “And those who want to harm this country aren't going to come out and say, ‘I'm here.'”

Gutierrez said Latino lawmakers chose Ortiz, the dean of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as the lead sponsor of the legislation out of deference to his tenure and leadership on civil rights issues.

“There are just occasions when seniority matters,” Gutierrez said.

To make his point, Gutierrez said his immigration reform bill in 2007 garnered 14 co-sponsors.

There are 94 co-sponsors to this year's reform attempt. But no Republican has backed the bill.

A Republican ally of Gutierrez who co-sponsored the 2007 bill, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., called the current legislation “flawed” because it drops a guest worker provision. That is seen as a concession to organized labor, but it will cost the bill some business support.

President Barack Obama has urged Congress to pass immigration reform, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she will let the Senate go first, to shield about 60 Democrats in competitive election year races from unnecessary tough votes.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to file a bill this year that calls for tough enforcement measures. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the upper chamber would move on a reform bill, although no timetable has been announced.

Reid, a Democrat, faces a serious re-election challenge in Nevada and needs the state's growing numbers of Hispanic voters.

Picking Ortiz to carry the House bill is more symbolic than strategic, backers and opponents of the legislation agree.
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Editor's Note: If you enjoyed this article, please visit our HR 4321 overview page.


No progress in RI immigrant prison release program
By Eric Tucker
The Associated Press, January 17, 2010

Providence (AP) -- A federal program allowing illegal immigrant inmates to get out of prison if they agree to be deported was trumpeted by Rhode Island’s governor as a sensible way to save money in his cash-strapped state, which was already saddled with costs blamed on such prisoners.

After all, such early deportation programs have saved millions of dollars in states like Georgia and Arizona, resulting in thousands of illegal immigrants being sent home before they completed their sentences.

But a year and a half after Rhode Island signed up for the initiative, not one person has been deported early and the program hasn’t saved any money. That’s because of the relatively small population of illegal immigrants at the state prisons — called the Adult Correctional Institutions — and the strict criteria required of inmates to participate.

Regardless, state officials say the Rapid REPAT program, under the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, remains sound public policy — even if it’s untested here.

Some advocates for immigrants’ rights say the lack of early deportations suggests the problem of illegal immigration has been exaggerated in the state by Gov. Don Carcieri and others.

"To the extent that it dispels myths about the ACI being overrun with undocumented immigrants, it’s a good thing," said Steven Brown, executive director of the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Illegal immigrants accused of crimes are sometimes deported before trial in instances where they’re picked up by federal immigration authorities. Some local law enforcement agencies around the country are trying to speed the removal process by using fingerprint technology to check both the criminal background and immigration status of arrestees during the booking process.

Rapid REPAT, however, focuses on illegal immigrants already convicted and imprisoned. Proponents say it spares states the cost of incarcerating inmates who’d probably be deported anyway, allowing immigrant inmates to return to their home countries without completing their sentences.

To qualify, inmates must be nonviolent offenders who have received final deportation orders and who have exhausted or waived appeals of their criminal convictions and agree not to fight their removal. They cannot return to the United States after deportation. Inmates must volunteer to participate in the program.

"To us, if we identify one person, one criminal alien, and get him off the streets and out of the country, we’re happy," said Todd Thurlow, assistant field officer for ICE’s Boston field office.

ICE touts major cost-savings in other states that use Rapid REPAT or similar programs.
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