U.S. Legislative Immigration Update October 4, 2010

Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in this October 4, 2010 Legislative Weekly. FAIR tracks pending immigration laws in the United States which can impact homeland security in positive or negative ways and are a valued resource.

  • Senator Menendez Introduces Amnesty Bill Day Before Congressional Recess
  • Georgia Debates Barring Illegal Aliens from Attending State Universities
  • Governor Schwarzenegger Vetoes California DREAM Act

     

Senator Menendez Introduces Amnesty Bill Day Before Congressional Recess

Senator_Menendez_Introduces_Amnesty_Bill_In a final attempt to woo amnesty advocates into the voting booths this November, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman, introduced an amnesty bill late Wednesday, just as members of Congress were leaving town.  (Roll Call, Sept. 30, 2010)  The 874-page bill, entitled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 (CIR Act of 2010), would exponentially increase the number of immigrants in the country to unprecedented levels by:

(1) granting amnesty to the estimated 13 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S.; (2) permitting them to bring in their spouses, children, and other relatives from other countries; and

(3) by issuing hundreds of thousands of new green cards through the process the authors call “recapture.” 

Under S.3932, illegal aliens are granted amnesty through the process of becoming a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant.” In order to be eligible for such status, S.3932 requires that the alien be physically present in the U.S. before September 30, 2010, submits biometric and biographic data, undergoes a background check, and is not ineligible for admission under a few select provisions of preexisting immigration law. (S.3932 § 501) However, the bill still provides eligibility to illegal aliens who have violated laws, including those relating to controlled substances, and prostitution. It also provides eligibility for illegal aliens who are a public charge, have falsely claimed or misrepresented their immigration status in the past, and who have been previously been deported (for any reason).  (Id. § 501(b)(3))

Similar to previous amnesty bills debated in 2006 and 2007, the CIR Act of 2010:

  • Includes the DREAM Act, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens up to the age of 35 who meet minimal educational requirements.  (Id. at §§ 531-542; See FAIR DREAM Act Summary, Mar. 2009)
  • Includes AgJOBS, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who have worked in the U.S. agriculture industry and their family members.  (Id. at §§475-484)

However, unlike previous amnesty bills, the CIR Act of 2010 also: 

  • Preempts all state and local laws pertaining to immigration such that these entities would be left powerless to enforce immigration laws in the absence of federal action.  (S.3932 § 131)
  • Includes the Uniting American Families Act, which would permit legal permanent residents and citizens to petition to bring their same-sex partners to the U.S. and grant them U.S. citizenship within three years.  (S.3932 §§ 421-430)
  • Creates a new executive agency to annually determine the number of guest workers eligible for admission.  (Id. at § 401(a))
  • Mandates free legal services to illegal alien detainees for civil proceedings—a right that not even U.S. citizens are afforded.  (Id. at §§ 241(9); 254(b)(2)(F))
  • Grants illegal alien detainees the “right” to free prompt and adequate medical care, including primary, emergency, chronic, and reproductive health care, including providing free medication and hormonal therapies such as birth control.  (Id. at § 249(a))

These new provisions in the CIR Act of 2010 do nothing more than expand previous unsuccessful attempts by pro-amnesty legislators to grant amnesty to illegal aliens and dramatically increase overall levels of immigration.  (See FAIR Summary of the Reid-Schumer-Menendez Amnesty Bill, Apr. 30, 2010) And, just as Americans overwhelmingly rejected those proposals, this legislation is already proving to be completely out of touch with average Americans. Recent polls conducted by Quinnipiac University demonstrate that 68 percent of voters feel that immigration policy should emphasize stricter enforcement rather than integrating illegal immigrants into U.S. society; forty-eight percent feel that the U.S. should end the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.  (Quinnipiac University Poll, Sept. 13, 2010)

Amnesty advocates hailed Senator Menendez’s introduction of the CIR Act of 2010. Frank Sharry of the pro-amnesty group America’s Voice stated, “By offering a comprehensive reform bill, Senator Menendez is making it clear to the reform movement, to Congress and to the country that, ultimately, comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to fix our nation’s dysfunctional immigration system.”  (America’s Voice, Sept. 30, 2010)  Ali Noorani, chair of the Reform Immigration for America Campaign, said: “It is a serious proposal that contains many of the common-sense ideas we have espoused for years.”  (Roll Call, Sept. 30, 2010)  However, FAIR President Dan Stein denounced the bill as a “last ditch effort to gin up the Hispanic voting base” and “a glaring example of why Americans believe that Congress is out of touch with the concerns of their constituents . . . .”  (See FAIR Press Release, Sept. 30, 2010) 

Whether Congress will act on S.3932 remains to be seen.  During a CNN interview, Senator Menendez said the bill would be the jumping point for any possible action during the lame-duck session of Congress.  (The Hill, Oct. 3, 2010)  Menendez added, “If next Congress you need something as foundation,” the bill will be there, serving as an “invitation to bring Republican colleagues to discussion” on immigration reform.  (Id.)  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who appeared alongside Menendez on the program, said the bill’s introduction was poorly timed.   (Id.)  “It’s a much too important issue to be treated as a political football,” Cornyn said.  (Id.)

Georgia Debates Barring Illegal Aliens from Attending State Universities

A special committee formed by the Georgia Board of Regents, the body of Georgia’s state government that oversees the University of Georgia system, recommended last week that illegal aliens be prohibited from attending the state’s publicly funded colleges and universities.   (My Fox Atlanta, Sept. 28, 2010)  The committee also recommended that all Georgia colleges and universities verify whether admitted students seeking in-state tuition are in the country legally (illegal aliens are not eligible for in-state tuition in Georgia).   (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 21, 2010)  The recommendation arose following increasing concerns over the costs of illegal aliens residing in the state. 

In March 2010, Jessica Colotl, an illegal alien and student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, was arrested for driving without a license, resulting in her placement in a detention facility.  (Southern Political Report, May 18, 2010) However, after school officials and her sorority sisters pushed for her release, she was freed.  (Id.)  Less than three months later, Colotl was re-arrested and released on bail in May for lying to police about her address upon her initial arrest—a felony in Georgia.  (Id.)  A poll conducted by a Georgia television station found that 46 percent of those polled who were aware of Colotl’s story supported efforts to deport her.  (Id.)  Federal officials said that they would not pursue her case until after she graduates.  (Id.)

Regent Larry Walker, an attorney who served in the Georgia General Assembly for more than 30 years, warned of political backlash if the Board failed to approve the committee’s proposal.  (The Marietta Daily Journal, Sept. 22, 2010)  “It shows our concern in this particular area, concern for our citizens,” Walker said.  (Id.)  “It’d be mighty, mighty hard for me if I had a son or a daughter or grandson or granddaughter that couldn’t get in to Georgia, and I found out the reason they couldn’t get in was because somebody who was illegally in the country did get in.”  (Id.)  Sen. Don Balfour, a Republican from Snellville, GA said a new law will be introduced to bar illegal immigrants from all public colleges.  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 21, 2010) 

Governor Schwarzenegger Vetoes California DREAM Act

On the last day of September, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the California DREAM Act of 2010. The California Legislature sent the legislation to the Governor August 31, after both the Assembly and Senate passed SB 1460 and AB 1413 (collectively referred to as the DREAM Act). Together, the bills expanded the pool of illegal aliens who would be eligible for in-state tuition and provided that illegal alien students would also be eligible for certain education grants and benefits.  (SB 1460 § 4; AB 1413 § 1(c))  Pursuant to state statute, illegal aliens in California are already eligible for in-state tuition, despite the fact that federal law prohibits any state from granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens unless the state also grants it to every citizen in the U.S., regardless of residence.   (California Education Code § 68130.5)  In his veto message, Governor Schwarzenegger stated: “given the precarious fiscal situation that the state faces, it would not be practical to adopt a new policy that could limit the financial aid available to students that are in California legally, in order to provide that benefit to those students who are not.”