U.S. Legislative Immigration Update June 21, 2010

Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform in this June 21, 2010 Legislative Weekly

  • Clinton: Justice Department Will Sue Arizona over Immigration Law
  • Arizona Lawmaker to Tackle Birthright Citizenship
  • Sheriff: Mexican Drug Cartels Control Parts of Arizona
  • Georgia Resort Hires Legal Workers After Firing Illegal Aliens
  • Inspector General: El Paso Intelligence Center Riddled with Weaknesses

Clinton: Justice Department Will Sue Arizona over Immigration Law

In an interview with Ecuadoran television that surfaced last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Justice Department, under the President’s direction, will indeed sue the State of Arizona to halt the implementation of its new immigration law, SB 1070.  (The Right Scoop, June 17, 2010). The announcement came as a surprise to most Americans, as the Department of Justice had maintained for weeks that it was still reviewing the matter.  (The New York Times, June 19, 2010). The Justice Department corrected Clinton on Thursday, saying that it is continuing to “review” the law.

Privately, however, U.S. officials confirmed that a lawsuit was planned and only technical matters regarding the filling remained unresolved. (The New York Times, June 19, 2010).

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer reacted strongly to the announcement, made not by the U.S. Attorney General, but by the Secretary of State on foreign soil.  “This is no way to treat the people of Arizona,” she said. “To learn of this lawsuit through an Ecuadorean interview with the secretary of state is just outrageous….If our own government intends to sue our state to prevent illegal immigration enforcement, the least it can do is inform us before it informs the citizens of another nation.”  (Politico, June 17, 2010).

Aggravating an already tense situation, Secretary Clinton’s interview took place on June 8, 2010, only days after President Obama and Governor Brewer met in Washington to discuss SB 1070 and border security measures. At that time, President Obama made no mention to Governor Brewer that a decision had been made to file a lawsuit to stop SB 1070. (Id.).  However, the State Department seemed unapologetic for what had transpired. Assistant Secretary of State Phillip Crowley said Clinton’s comments were meant to answer deep qualms about the law in Mexico and other Latin American countries. “It is important to recognize that this has resonated significantly beyond our borders.” (The New York Times, June 19, 2010).

The administration’s decision to sue, however, has not resonated with the American people. According to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports, 56 percent of U.S. voters are opposed to the Justice Department’s lawsuit, while just 26 percent support it. (Rasmussen Reports, June 18, 2010).

Arizona Lawmaker to Tackle Birthright Citizenship

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R), who authored the state’s new immigration enforcement measure, has suggested that he may introduce new legislation that would tackle the issue of birthright citizenship by denying the issuance of birth certificates unless at least one parent can prove legal status. (Politico, June 14, 2010). Proponents argue that the measure would discourage illegal immigration by taking away the incentive of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child.

Pearce detailed his plan in an interview with Time magazine, describing how illegal aliens take advantage of the current system.  (Time, June 11, 2010).  “This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we’ve created.”  He added, “We create the greatest inducement for breaking our laws.” (The Washington Post, June 15, 2010). Governor Jan Brewer and some other Arizona lawmakers have indicated their support for the measure, which is still in the drafting stages.  Brewer recently stated, “It is illegal to trespass into our country. It has always been illegal, and people have determined that they want to take that chance.  They can take their children back with them.” (Politico, June 14, 2010).

Although the legislation is still being drafted, critics are already claiming the bill would violate the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the first clause of which states: “All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”  It was adopted in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War to provide citizenship for freed slaves, and Pearce says it has been “hijacked and abused” by illegal aliens.  Id.  He is confident his bill would not violate the 14th Amendment, saying “we would write it right.”  Id.  John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative who supports the proposed law, said that the concept does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.  “If you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon (illegal) aliens.” (CNN, June 16, 2010).  Nevertheless, all children born in the United States are automatically granted citizenship, regardless of their parents’ immigration status. 

Some local lawmakers strongly oppose the proposal. Democratic State Representative Kyrsten said, “Unlike (Senate Bill) 1070, it is clear this bill runs immediately afoul of the U.S. Constitution,” she said.   But proponents point to the fact that the U.S.-born children of ambassadors or foreign diplomats do not become U.S. citizens because they are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States.  They argue that children of illegal aliens should receive the same treatment, because they are under the jurisdiction of their home country rather than the U.S.  This is not a radical suggestion, as citizenship as a birthright is rare elsewhere in the world.  Many countries require at least one parent to be a citizen or legal resident.  (The Washington Post, June 15, 2010).

Sheriff: Mexican Drug Cartels Control Parts of Arizona

A number of drug-related incidents of violence along the Arizona-Mexico border have prompted Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to declare that Mexican drug cartels now control parts of Arizona. Pointing out that night vision cameras have photographed armed drug cartel members delivering drugs to vehicles along Arizona’s Highway 8, Sheriff Babeu and other Pinal County investigators asserted that a cartel-controlled area known as the “smuggling corridor” now stretches from Mexico’s border to metro Phoenix. (ABC15, June 11, 2010; Human Events, June 18, 2010; Fox News, June 18, 2010).

Sheriff Babeu pointed to two specific incidents highlighting how desperate the situation has become along the Arizona-Mexico border. Five weeks ago, Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll was shot as he tracked six drug smugglers in what Sheriff Babeu described as a military-style ambush. Several weeks later, two men – one of whom had been voluntarily deported seven times – were shot and killed in the same area. Investigators also claimed that an autopsy on one of the men “showed strap marks…that likely came from hauling heavy loads”, which the investigators suspect were drugs. (Id.). In addition, the federal government has recently closed federal park land along the Arizona-Mexico border because of the danger presented by heavily armed drug smugglers and human traffickers who frequently pass through the region. Fox News, June 18, 2010).

Sheriff Babeu added that his department has had difficulty dealing with the violence: “We are outgunned, we are outmanned, and we don’t have the resources here locally for us to fight this.” (YouTube Video, June 14, 2010). He further stated that President Obama’s recent decision to spread 1,200 National Guard troops among the four states on the U.S.-Mexico border “will fall short.” (ABC15, June 11, 2010; see also FAIR’s Legislative Update, June 1, 2010). “What is truly needed,” Sheriff Babeu argued, “is 3,000 soldiers for Arizona alone.” (Id.).

Georgia Resort Hires Legal Workers After Firing Illegal Aliens

A CBS Atlanta investigation into hiring practices at Chateau Elan, a resort in Gwinnett County, Georgia, has led the resort to terminate its contract with its staffing agency and begin filling job vacancies with United States citizens. (CBS Atlanta; Video). The decision to hire legal workers came after CBS Atlanta interviewed an anonymous worker at Chateau Elan who claimed that the resort “hired illegal immigrants.” In addition, CBS Atlanta revealed “court documents showing that illegal immigrants worked at the posh resort.” (Id.; CBS Atlanta; Video).

According to the report, “current and former employees” of Chateau Elan told CBS Atlanta “that dozens of illegal immigrants worked behind the scenes” at the resort, and that management had “fired Americans and replaced them with cheaper illegal help.” (Id.). Faced with the allegations of illegal hiring practices, Chateau Elan CEO Henk Evers sent a letter to CBS Atlanta stating that the investigation had “prompted” the resort “to re-evaluate [its] affiliation with HS Solutions Inc., the outside organization that provides non-guest facing services to Chateau Elan.” That re-evaluation led to the immediate termination of the resort’s contract with the staffing agency. (Id.).

Following up on its initial report, CBS Atlanta found that Chateau Elan’s website listed “job openings for servers, groundskeepers, housekeepers, laundry attendants, cooks and more” and that the resort was planning to hold a week-long job fair. A spokesperson for Chateau indicated that the resort “will be checking everyone’s legal working status before they’re actually hired.” CBS Atlanta interviewed a number of U.S. citizens who expressed excitement at the opportunity to work at Chateau. 19-year old Caleb Samples noted that he had wanted to work at the resort since he was “eight or nine”, and that he was now seeking employment as a groundskeeper. “It’s about time they start cleaning up places like this, and we can start getting jobs,” Samples added. (CBS Atlanta; Video).

Inspector General: El Paso Intelligence Center Riddled with Weaknesses

The Inspector General’s Office reports that the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), just across the border from violence-plagued Juarez, Mexico, has “significant weaknesses” that have undermined its effectiveness.  (Inspector General’s Report, June 2010).  EPIC was launched by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1974 to identify drug traffickers south of the border.  The center collects and disseminates tactical intelligence to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to aid investigations and operations that target smuggling and other criminal activities. The Justice Department’s 86-page report, released this month, highlights a number of serious problems at the border intelligence post.

Overall, the Inspector General reported that EPIC is failing to look at the big picture of drug trafficking and is distributing outdated information. (El Paso Times, June 16, 2010). The Inspector General noted that EPIC had not sustained the staffing for some key interdiction programs, such as its Fraudulent Document unit, its Air Watch unit, or its Maritime Intelligence unit, which had resulted in a disruption of activities. (The Washington Post, June 15, 2010).  The Inspector General also found that “EPIC could not produce a complete record of drug seizures nationwide because of incomplete reporting into the National Seizure System, which is managed by EPIC.”  Id.  According to the report, EPIC could not fully implement this program because it could not require the law enforcement participation necessary to execute it.  “As a result, intelligence products based on this data may be incomplete or inaccurate.” (Inspector General’s Report, June 2010).

Though EPIC is managed by DEA, some 21 agencies provide data and staff to EPIC.  It is apparent that the unit has been afflicted by the information-sharing issues found throughout U.S. Intelligence agencies.  The IG’s report described EPIC’s “coordination problems,” resulting from “EPIC member agencies not sharing information or contributing resources to sustain programs at EPIC.” (Inspector General’s Report, June 2010).  The Department of Justice expressed concern “about the decline in the use of EPIC by Department components at a time when the Department has increased its focus on combating smuggling and its associated violence on the Southwest border.”  Id.  To address this, the IG makes 11 recommendations to improve EPIC’s utility to the law enforcement and intelligence community.