Morning News, 5/17/10

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1. Hispanic lawmakers talk tough
2. UT gov. scraps special session
3. GA illegal at forefront of debate
4. Palin supports behind AZ law
5. NJ groups issue ID to illegals

Hispanic Lawmakers Weigh Solutions to Illegal Immigration
By Jim Angle
The Fox News, May 14, 2010

Hispanic lawmakers and groups who have voiced opposition to Arizona's immigration enforcement law told Fox News how they would tackle the nation's illegal immigration problem.

"We believe that immigration reform will have to have different elements, enforcement, legalization," said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said he would crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

"And we're going to make it clear to employers, you hire them, you're going to jail and that's how we're going to help the enforcement agents on the border," he said.

But Hispanic leaders believe the estimated 12 million illegal workers already in the U.S. should face very different treatment.

"People that are here, who are law abiding, are hardworking, been paying their taxes, have an opportunity to get in the back of the line, pay a fee and begin the process of legalization," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

"My solution is bring them out of the woodwork, punish them, fine them, tax them, right, tax them," Gutierrez said.

"We do need to make sure that steps are taken so that they can have an opportunity to be citizens," Murguia said.

Hispanic leaders and activists are careful not to use the word "amnesty," but critics say that's exactly what it is.

"It's no surprise they're all saying the same thing and making it sound as though it's tough and punitive and they'll be forced to pay taxes in the future, this kind of thing," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "It's all just a way of dressing up amnesty."

"Even if you say, 'you have to learn English, you have to pay a fine,'" said Kris Kobach, a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "You're basically giving them what they've stolen – that is amnesty."
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Guv wants to avoid immigration debate in special session
E-Verify -- Arizona fallout prompts Herbert to change his mind on meeting to clean up immigration bill.
By Robert Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 2010

Amid the fallout from Arizona's aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration, Gov. Gary Herbert has scrapped plans to call a special session to water down a bill requiring businesses to verify the legal residency of employees.

Legislators balked at making the change and some wanted to go in a different direction, adding tough new penalties for not checking a worker's legal status and even suggesting Utah should adopt Arizona's law requiring residents to prove they are in the country legally -- an unsettling prospect for business leaders.

"The governor realizes [immigration policy] is a conversation that needs to happen in Utah," said Herbert's spokeswoman, Angie Welling. "It's something that he will participate in, but it's something that needs to be done in a thoughtful and deliberative way and a special session is not the venue to do that."

Typically, a special session lasts only a few hours.

Herbert had reservations about SB251 and its impact on business when it reached his desk, but rather than veto it, he struck an agreement with the sponsor, Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan. The deal was that Herbert would sign it into law, then call the Legislature in to a special session to state that participation in the program would be voluntary.

However, there was little support among legislators for revising SB251 and concerns from the business community -- which successfully lobbied to have any penalties stripped from the bill for not using E-Verify -- that lawmakers may actually make it less palatable for entrepreneurs.

"What I was looking at doing is taking the E-Verify bill [and] actually strengthening it like Arizona did and putting real teeth in it," said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.

Sandstrom, who just returned from a visit to Arizona on Friday to meet with sponsors of immigration legislation there, said he planned to impose a fine on businesses the first time they didn't use the E-Verify system; the second time they would be banned from doing business in Utah.

Sandstrom still plans on sponsoring legislation next year for Utah to adopt Arizona's law requiring individuals to prove they're in the country legally.

Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, whose members had concerns about the bill, said that "with all the emotion that is taking place" involving the Arizona immigration law, it is best to avoid a fight.

"I think, because of this situation that took place in Arizona and the heated controversy that there has been, there may be some wisdom in not pushing something that is not as critical," Beattie said.

House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara, said he thinks the bill the Legislature sent to the governor was fine in the first place.
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New face on an old debate
Colotl case spotlights illegal immigration saga in Cobb County
By Mark Davis and Helena Oliviero
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 16, 2010

The recent arrest of Jessica Colotl is more than just the story of one young woman who ran afoul of police and is paying for it.

The 21-year-old Kennesaw State University student, an illegal immigrant, has become a reluctant participant in a national debate that shows no sign of abating. Cobb County — Georgia, too — finds itself on a national stage where the immigration saga plays out in headlines and arrests.

It’s a stage that for weeks has spotlighted Arizona’s controversial get-tough-on-illegals law. Now it includes metro Atlanta — specifically, Cobb County, where illegal immigrants and police have long had an uneasy relationship.

If immigration is a simmering caldron, Cobb is the pepper in the pot, a source of heat. The county is home to a tireless campaigner to tighten immigration laws and a sheriff who has made a career as a get-tough lawman. Opposite them is the president of KSU and thousands of illegal immigrants who have chosen to make Cobb home.

The case highlights how people can take the same facts and reach vastly different conclusions. Depending on whom you ask, Colotl is a victim of overzealous law enforcement, or a scofflaw who has taken advantage of the state’s university system — and taxpayers.

In the middle is Colotl, whose parents brought her here illegally when she was 10. She’s not sure she will remain in school.

“I just hope for the best,” Colotl said Friday at a rally held in her honor. “I hope something positive comes out of this because we really need reform.”

Protests, statements

The facts are well documented. A KSU police officer on March 29 stopped Colotl for impeding traffic and discovered her illegal status. Cobb deputies handed her to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They took her to a detention center in Alabama. On May 1, they released her, and ICE officials announced she could remain in this country until she finishes school next year.

On Friday, Colotl turned herself in to Cobb authorities, who had charged her with lying about her address on a jail-booking form when police arrested her weeks earlier. She posted $2,500 bond.

None of this happened in a vacuum. Her sisters at Lambda Theta Alpha sorority demonstrated for Colotl’s release. The American Civil Liberties Union decried her arrest, claiming police abused the spirit of program 287(g). The federal program authorizes police to detain and arrest immigrants, especially those considered dangerous. A handful of agencies in Georgia, including the Cobb Sheriff’s Office, are participants.

KSU President Daniel Papp pushed for her release from the Alabama facility. When it came, he responded with ebullience.

“This is great news for Ms. Colotl, her family and friends and for the KSU community,” Papp said in a statement. “We are especially thrilled she will be allowed to continue her studies here at KSU.”

Case closed? It blew wide-open instead.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson said the state needed to focus on “key priorities like educating legal residents.” Editorials criticized a system that allowed illegal immigrants access to class and scholarships. Cable TV talkers had a new topic to hash out.

And, in Cobb, D.A. King turned to his computer.

“We suspect few Cobb County residents had any idea that it was so easy for those in this country illegally to enroll in our state’s colleges,” King, founder of the Dustin Inman Society, wrote on his blog. Created five years ago, the organization calls for stricter immigration laws.

“And we suspect,” King continued, “few Cobb residents realized their tax dollars are going to help educate such people.”

Regents blamed

In an interview, King held the Board of Regents, the panel that oversees the state’s universities, responsible for the Colotl controversy.

“The Board of Regents is in violation of state and federal law for allowing illegals into our system,” said King. “I think Jessica Colotl may have done the state of Georgia a favor by bringing this to the forefront.”

John Millsaps, a spokesman for the Board of Regents, said the state’s universities are not in the business of checking students’ immigration status. Universities would have to check on the residency status of 300,000-plus students, or run the risk of racial profiling, he said. As a result, the universities don’t know how many students may be illegal.

“What do we need to know about a student?” Millsaps asked. “We need to know whether to charge them in-state or out-of-state tuition.”

In 2007, the Board of Regents changed policy so illegal immigrants at Georgia public universities could not receive in-state tuition. Illegal immigrants are charged at the higher, out-of-state rate.

Colotl, of Duluth, had enrolled a year earlier as a Georgia student, so KSU charged her in-state tuition.

“Now that we’re aware of her out-of-state status, she will pay out-of-state tuition,” Millsaps said. The tuition for in-state KSU students next fall is $2,298; for out-of-staters, $8,286.

The Legislature four years ago passed a bill that ended state-paid benefits to illegal immigrants in several areas. It allowed the Board of Regents to develop its own policy toward illegal immigrants.

Now, with Colotl in the news, people who would be governor are taking notice. At least three gubernatorial candidates in this year’s election say people like Colotl have no place in state universities.
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Palin Says 'We're All Arizonans Now' in Speech Defending State's Immigration Law
The Associated Press, May 15, 2010

Phoenix (AP) -- Arizona's governor enlisted the help of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin Saturday to defend a new law cracking down on illegal immigration, as calls spread for an economic boycott of the state.

Jan Brewer and Palin blamed President Barack Obama for the state law, saying the measure is Arizona's attempt to enforce immigration laws because the federal government won't do it.

"It's time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say, 'We're all Arizonans now,"' Palin said. "And in clear unison we say, 'Mr. President: Do your job. Secure our border.'"

The former Alaska governor appeared with Brewer at a brief news conference on Saturday. The event launched a website that Brewer said was an effort to educate America about border security and discourage an economic boycott of the state.

The site, funded by Brewer's re-election campaign, shows pictures of Brewer and Palin and invites visitors to sign a petition opposing boycotts. It includes a list of politicians and organizations calling for the boycotts and asks visitors to call or e-mail to "let them know that you support Arizona."

"Our purpose today is to help the rest of the nation understand the crisis which confronts our state," Brewer said, citing the presence of human and drug smugglers.

The immigration law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by pending court challenges. It requires police enforcing another law to ask a person about his or her immigration status if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the country illegally. Being in the country illegally would become a state crime.

"I think for most American people the reaction to this would be, 'Why haven't the police already been doing that?"' Palin said.

Obama and some city, state and foreign governments have condemned the law, which critics say will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. Brewer on Saturday reiterated her assertion that profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated.

"The president apparently considers it a wonderful opportunity to divide people along racial lines for his personal political convenience," Brewer said.

Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Brewer's the one who has divided people, which she's done by signing controversial bills, and "puts her political survival first every single day."

"Every word she said today was crafted with her Republican primary in mind," Johnson said. "Arizona is just an afterthought."

Brewer automatically became governor last year after former Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed U.S. Homeland Security secretary. She's found herself rapidly thrust into an international spotlight, the subject of ridicule on the left and praised by anti-illegal immigration activists on the right.

Arizona's law is considered the nation's toughest crackdown on illicit border crossers. It was pushed by illegal immigration hard-liners in the state Legislature, but Brewer has become the public face of the law since she signed it April 23.

Her decision to sign it, announced in a nationally televised press conference, has given Brewer traction in this year's crowded Republican primary for governor.
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In Trenton, Issuing IDs for Illegal Immigrants
By Kirk Semple
The New York Times, May 16, 2010

Trenton, NJ -- Since moving to this city from her native Guatemala a decade ago, Herlinda, an illegal immigrant, has supported her family with restaurant work, but has had no way of proving that she lives here. Without government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license or a passport, she said, she could not get treatment at most medical clinics, borrow a book from the library, pick up a package from a mail center or cash a check.

But this month she discovered a solution: a community identification card issued by a coalition of civic groups and endorsed by Trenton and Mercer County officials.

“When you don’t have a proper ID, they can humiliate you,” said Herlinda, 43, as she waited in the offices of a church where the cards were being issued. “I feel I belong in Trenton.”

As a new law in Arizona makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and spurs similar proposals in other states, Trenton is one of a small but growing number of municipalities that have moved in the opposite direction — making sure that illegal immigrants have documents to make their lives easier.

At least six city governments, including San Francisco and New Haven, now endorse or issue photo identification cards to residents. The latest is Princeton, N.J., where advocates for immigrants, with the consent of both the borough and the township, will begin issuing cards on May 22; other New Jersey communities have also expressed interest. Oakland, Calif., has approved a program but has not yet started issuing cards.

In one sense, these liberal cities and Arizona’s conservative lawmakers are working toward the same thing, said Maria Juega, treasurer of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group that spearheaded the ID programs in Trenton and Princeton. Both camps, she said, are trying to fill the void created by Congress’s failure to fix a flawed immigration system.

“These are reactions,” Ms. Juega said. “We’ve had these gaping holes that everybody’s been talking about for two decades and done nothing about. Everybody’s scrambling.”

Calls for a nationally mandated identification card have been made for decades, particularly after 9/11, but they received a push late last month when a group of Democratic senators unveiled a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform. The plan includes a proposal to require all workers, including citizens, to show potential employers a card with biometric data, like fingerprints — a measure meant to prevent illegal immigrants from working.

The local identity cards do not grant legal residency or the right to work. They are intended to fold illegal immigrants into the fabric of the community by giving them entree to services and places that require some sort of recognized identification. In Trenton, immigrants can use their cards to access libraries, medical centers and doctors’ offices; seek help from charitable organizations and private social service agencies; and use the city’s public recreation centers and pools.

In addition, law enforcement officials say, the cards give illegal immigrants who fear detection and deportation more confidence about reporting crimes, and allow officials to help immigrants who are crime victims.

“I believe that people who are here in America must be safe and must be healthy,” said Eve Sanchez Silver, the community and Latino liaison for Asbury Park, N.J., where a city-endorsed identity card program for illegal immigrants began in 2008. “If they’re not safe, we’re not going to be safe. If they’re not going to be healthy, we’re not going to be healthy.”

While the programs in Trenton, Princeton and Asbury Park are endorsed by local law enforcement officials but administered by community organizations, New Haven and San Francisco themselves issue identity cards. The cards allow access to even more services, including opening bank accounts. This allows immigrants to deposit their pay checks, rather than carrying large amounts of cash that make them prey for thieves.
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