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US Legislative Immigration Update November 3, 2008

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November 3, 2008
Immigration Law in Congress and current immigration legislation impacting Americans.

Fair has released its Legislative Immigration Update that covers the following

Ground Breaking Arizona Immigration Law under Attack

On Election Day, Arizona voters will be faced with Proposition 202, a ballot initiative that, if passed, will make it virtually impossible for state officials to enforce state laws against employers who hire illegal aliens. The initiative, misleadingly titled the Stop Illegal Hiring Act, would roll back most of the immigration enforcement measures enacted by H.B. 2779 in 2007. Proposition 202 would render the current law meaningless by changing the requirement that Arizona employers use E-Verify to gain a presumption that they did not intentionally hire an unauthorized alien. Arizona's 2007 law is considered to be one of the most effective state immigration enforcement laws in the nation.

Currently, an employer in Arizona who uses E-Verify to verify the legal status of their newly hired employees gains a rebuttable presumption that they did not intentionally hire an unauthorized alien. If Proposition 202 is passed, this section of the law would be changed to grant an employer a "non-rebuttable presumption of innocence" as long as the employer took the minimal steps of filing federal I-9 paperwork, which is already required by federal law. A non-rebuttable presumption means that the presumption of innocence cannot be overcome no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary. In essence, this provision would prevent officials from prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens, as long as they fulfill the minimal requirement of filing I-9 paperwork. Arizona State Rep. Russell Pearce, who authored the 2007 sanctions law, says that the I-9 system has been "plagued with fraud" since it was instituted in 1986, allowing millions of illegal aliens to find jobs in this country. Returning to the I-9 system as the standard for hiring workers, he said, "will actually encourage illegal immigration." (Arizona Capitol Times, October 24, 2008)

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who is responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations in the state's most populous county, told the Arizona Capitol Times, "It will, I believe, be the death knell for any potential employer sanctions case. Prop. 202 would be a tremendous step backwards. It would not help things. It would make things much worse." (Id.)

The anti-enforcement measure is backed by some of the state's largest business owners who formed the group Wake Up, Arizona to fight the 2007 law. The group - which includes owners of car washes, homebuilders, prominent Republicans, and fast food franchisees Mac Magruder and Jason LeVecke - was also a key player in an unsuccessful challenge to the 2007 law in federal court. (Id.) (See, State of Arizona Campaign Finance Reports, 1-08-5-08 & 11-06 -12-07)

Former Agriprocessors C.E.O. Arrested for Harboring Illegal Aliens; Plant Fined $10 Million for State Labor Law Violations

Last week, authorities from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the state of Iowa took actions against Agriprocessors, an Iowa meatpacking plant where 389 illegal aliens were arrested in an ICE worksite enforcement operation earlier this year. (See Legislative Update, May 19, 2008) On Thursday, October 30th, ICE officials arrested Sholom Rubashkin and charged the former plant executive with criminal violations of immigration law. (ICE News Release, October 30, 2008) One day earlier, the state of Iowa fined the plant nearly $10 million for alleged violations of state labor laws. (Associated Press, October 30, 2008)

Rubashkin has been charged with conspiring to harbor illegal aliens for profit, aiding and abetting document fraud, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. A complaint filed Thursday in federal court alleges that Rubashkin loaned $4,500 to employees who possessed invalid identification documents one week before the May enforcement operation. Supervisors at the plant then allegedly distributed money to illegal aliens so that they would be able to buy new, fraudulent lawful permanent resident (LPR) cards under different names. The complaint states that a plant foreman arranged for the purchase of the fraudulent cards and that Rubashkin allegedly asked human resources employees to work the afternoon before the worksite enforcement operation - a Sunday - in order to complete new application paperwork for several individuals. According to the complaint, ICE officials seized approximately 96 counterfeit LPR cards from the human resources office the next day. If convicted of the three charges, Rubashkin could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars (ICE News Release, October 30, 2008) and be sentenced to a maximum of 22 years in prison. (The New York Times, October 31, 2008)

Last Wednesday, Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil assessed civil penalties against Agriprocessors totaling $9.99 million. The state alleges that the plant illegally deducted "sales tax/miscellaneous" costs nearly 3,400 times, failed to pay 42 employees their last paychecks following the May 12th ICE enforcement operation, and more than 96,000 times illegally deducted money from over 2,000 of its employees for protective clothing. "Agriprocessors has demonstrated a complete disregard for Iowa law," Neil said in a statement. "This continued course of violations is a black mark on Iowa's business community." (Associated Press, October 30, 2008)

These recent events are only the latest in a series of criminal and civil actions taken against Agriprocessors since the May 12th enforcement operation. Of the 389 illegal aliens arrested on May 12th, approximately 300 have been convicted of felony document fraud charges. Furthermore, two plant supervisors have already pleaded guilty to harboring charges. (The New York Times, October 31, 2008) Two human resources employees have also been accused of federal violations for helping illegal aliens use fraudulent documentation to work at the plant. (Associated Press, October 30, 2008)

Homeland Security and Justice Take Steps to Identify More Criminal Aliens

On Wednesday, October 29th, ICE announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have enhanced their respective biometric systems - the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) - to improve the way the two systems interact with each other. This improvement, or "interoperability," is the cornerstone of ICE's Secure Communities, a comprehensive plan to identify and remove criminal aliens from local communities. (ICE News Release, October 29, 2008)

According to ICE, the program will work as part of the routine booking process at most detention centers. In that process, an individual's fingerprints are normally checked against IAFIS to obtain information about the detainee's criminal history. The new process will simultaneously check the detainee's fingerprints against the full IDENT system, which includes immigration records. If the individual's fingerprints match those of a non-citizen, the new automated process notifies ICE's Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) and directs officials to evaluate the case and take appropriate action. Additionally, the local law enforcement agency will receive biographic identification information about any non-U.S. citizen they arrest for criminal charges. Law enforcement officers can use this information to verify the identity of the person they have arrested. (Id.)

The program is currently being piloted in Harris County, Texas, but ICE plans to expand the capability to 50 additional state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation by next spring. "Interoperability will create a virtual ICE presence at every local jail, allowing us to identify and ultimately remove dangerous incarcerated criminal aliens from our communities," said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. (Id.)

Immigrant Advocacy Group Begins Construction on $33 Million, Publicly Funded Headquarters

Last month, immigrant advocacy group CASA de Maryland announced it would begin work on a new $33 million headquarters and multicultural center in Prince George's County, MD. According to a CASA official, approximately half of the center's funding is comprised of public money. (The Examiner, October 23, 2008) Government funding for the group has been scrutinized recently, largely because of CASA's involvement in legal and political affairs. For example, CASA published a pamphlet that instructs illegal aliens to refuse to cooperate with immigration and law enforcement officials if approached. (The Examiner, March 31, 2008)

CASA's new headquarters project has received more than $6 million in state and federal tax credits. CASA officials said the center will be used to house the organization's statewide program departments, provide services for the surrounding community, and serve as an incubator for four nonprofits. When it opens in 2010, the center will offer legal, health, and employment services, classroom space, and a meeting area large enough for up to 200 people. (The Examiner, October 23, 2008)

CASA provides several social services, including financial advice for low-income immigrants, AIDS/HIV testing, and youth counseling. (The Examiner, March 31, 2008) The group does not deny any of the services it offers to illegal aliens. "We provide services to people in need, so we don't ask for documentation because we are not eyes," CASA's executive director Gustavo Torres said. (News Channel 8, October 27, 2008) "We are not immigration services," Torres added. "We are here to provide social services to our community." (Id.)

CASA receives 45% of its funding from state and local governments. (The Examiner, August 12, 2008) So far this year, CASA has received more than $2 million from local Maryland governments, (The Examiner, March 31, 2008) and in 2007, the city of Baltimore contributed $245,000 to the group alone. (The Examiner, April 2, 2008) CASA also receives grants and bonds from the state government - upwards of $625,000 in 2005 and 2006. The state is also contemplating giving the group another $500,000 next year. (The Examiner, March 31, 2008)

Earlier this year, CASA announced it would help illegal aliens arrested in worksite enforcement operations post bail. (See Legislative Update, August 25th, 2008) This announcement came just one week after CASA accepted a $1.5 million donation from Citgo, a Venezuelan-owned oil company. (The Washington Post, August 5, 2008)
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The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest-more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

With more than 250,000 members and supporters nationwide, FAIR is a non-partisan group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative.Our grassroots networks help concerned citizens use their voices to speak up for effective, sensible immigration policies that work for America's best interests.

FAIR's publications and research are used by academics and government officials in preparing new legislation.National and international media regularly turn to us to understand the latest immigration developments and to shed light on this complex subject.FAIR has been called to testify on immigration bills before Congress more than any organization in America.

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