Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Immigration’

News in Brief

Friday, April 13th, 2012

H-1B Visa Count as of April 9: As of April 9, USCIS received 17,400 H-1B petitions counted toward the annual 65,000 cap and approximately 8,200 petitions toward the 20,000 cap exemption for those with advanced degrees.

Oral Arguments in Arizona Immigration Law on April 25:  On April 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the legality of the Arizona immigration law, SB 1070.  The case involves a range of important questions regarding the role that states may play in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Updated List of Countries with Limited or No Visa Services: U.S. embassies and consulates are sometimes forced to limit or, at times, suspend visa services because of natural disasters, civil unrest, war, and/or security concerns, among other reasons. The Department of State recently released an updated list of those countries with limited or no visa services. The list also provides information on where affected applicants can go to obtain visa services. See http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1302.html.

Certain Employment-Based Visas (EB-2) Retrogress in May for Chinese and Indian Nationals: The visa priority date cut-off for May for highly skilled professional workers (EB-2 masters-level immigrants) from China and India will retrogress to August 15, 2007. The current cut-off date is May 1, 2010, which reflected a dramatic improvement from last year at this time. DOS cautions that it is impossible to speculate if the cut-off date will change before the next allocation of visas, effective October 1, 2012.

Global Entry Program Now at 24 Airports: Twenty-four airports now participate in the Global Entry program, a voluntary program that allows for the expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the inspection and admission process takes only one minute at Global Entry kiosks. Travelers who wish to participate must apply via the CBP Global Entry website, www.globalentry.gov or through the Global On-Line Enrollment System (GOES) website, https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov. Applications must be completed and submitted electronically.

DOJ Resource Page for Extension of Work Authorization for TPS or DED Beneficiaries: The Department of Justice now maintains a resource page containing the particularities of work authorization extensions for TPS (temporary protected status) or DED (deferred enforced departure) beneficiaries from nine countries: Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). See www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/htm/work_extension.php.

Victory for Equal Justice and the Rule of Law: Court of Appeals Enjoins Enforcement of Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law (SB 1070)

Friday, May 13th, 2011

On April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against key and controversial provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070, the law enacted nearly a year ago that requires police to demand proof of immigration status from anyone who they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally. The court thus denied Arizona’s appeal of a U.S. district court’s July ruling that prevented segments of the law from going into effect because it was likely that the law violated the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, and significantly, the decision signals that the appeals court believes that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is likely to succeed in its challenge to the law’s constitutionality.

SB 1070 is the draconian state immigration law that was signed into law on April 23, 2010, after Arizona state legislators argued that they needed their own immigration enforcement tools to stem the tide of undocumented immigration into the state. Federal efforts, the state argued, were not enough. The law immediately sparked nationwide boycotts and protests as an unconstitutional attempt to usurp the federal government’s right to enact and control immigration law and as a way to set the stage for abusive and illegal police activity, including profiling. DOJ sued and won an injunction on June 29, 2010, the day before the law was originally set to go into effect.

In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit rightly rejected Arizona’s claim that state police have “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws; in fact, the court held that Arizona’s attempt to drive immigrants from the state interferes with the federal government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration law. Congress, the court held, intended state officers to “aid in immigration enforcement only under the close supervision of the Attorney General,” which was not the case here. The court also recognized that the SB 1070 has negatively impacted U.S. foreign relations and reflects the dangers of allowing states to enact a patchwork quilt of conflicting laws and regulations. In the immediate aftermath of SB1070’s enactment, a number of states considered or introduced copycat bills, but most states have now backed away from these measures.

While the fate of SB 1070 is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court, for now the court’s decision is a victory not only for the Obama Administration in its ongoing effort to halt the Arizona law, but also for equal justice and the rule of law.

Arizona S.B. 1070 Update; Virginia AG Okays Immigration Status Checks by Police

Friday, August 13th, 2010

With just hours to go before Arizona S.B. 1070 was slated to go into effect, federal district court judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of major sections of the new Arizona law. Judge Bolton granted the preliminary injunction at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), one of eight plaintiffs who filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the law. DOJ had asked the court to find that the law unconstitutionally preempted federal immigration law and policy, and encumbered the federal government’s enforcement efforts.

Judge Bolton’s 36-page decision (U.S. v. Arizona) found that DOJ has a high likelihood of success on the merits of the law suit and thus issued the injunction. The most notable part of the law halted from taking effect was the so-called “papers, please” provision, which required police officers to inquire into the immigration status of any individual whom they have a reasonable suspicion of being in the country unlawfully. Judge Bolton held that this provision would likely fail because it places an extreme burden on federal immigration resources by requiring the status checks on many more people. In this way, she ruled, it impermissibly redirects precious resources from the stated priorities of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the day-to-day operations of Arizona law enforcement.

Following similar logic, the injunction enjoined other provisions that would make it a state crime for a foreign national to be in the country without documentation, to fail to carry immigration papers, or to work or apply for work without authorization.

Still, Judge Bolton upheld several sections of the law, including a provision that makes it a state crime to knowingly transport, harbor, or shield undocumented immigrants. That section likely did not encumber federal immigration enforcement, she ruled, allowing it to go into effect.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli thrust his state into the center of the national debate on immigration only a few days after the issuance of the preliminary injunction in Arizona. In a July 30th advisory opinion, Cuccinelli advised that existing Virginia law allows for police officers to check the immigration status of anyone stopped by the police for any reason, as long as it does not extend the duration of the stop. While Cuccinelli’s interpretation is less stringent then portions of the Arizona law enjoined by Judge Bolton, it still represents a major departure from common practice of police officers throughout the country.

Beyond mere inquiry by officers, Cuccinelli’s memo also authorizes the arrest and detention of individuals who are suspected of committing federal criminal violations — for example, undocumented entry — but stops short of authorizing arrests for federal civil violations such as overstaying a visa. The opinion does not attempt to explain how officers could distinguish between civil and criminal violations, or what type of information could lead to a suspicion of a criminal, rather than civil, violation.

The opinion, issued amid growing national debate and in the wake of the Bolton injunction, proves that immigration will continue to be a hot button issue heading into the fall midterms. Over the next several weeks and months, expect legal challenges to the constitutionality and validity of the Cuccinelli memo. A Ninth Circuit hearing on the merits for the Arizona law is slated for November. Further, at least 20 states have introduced Arizona-style legislation that will be considered in the fall term.

More on Arizona’s Draconian Immigration Law

Friday, July 30th, 2010

It has been more than a month since Arizona passed its draconian immigration law (S.B. 1070), which garnered national attention and thrust the issue of comprehensive immigration reform back on the political front burner. S.B. 1070 requires police to demand proof of immigration status from anyone who they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally.  Despite widespread protests and numerous constitutional challenges to the Arizona law – slated to go into effect in late July – many other states are following suit.  Eleven have introduced similar immigration enforcement proposals, which also seek to deter unlawful entry and presence of undocumented immigrants by empowering state and local police officers to investigate immigration status. The various proposals also cite the lack of a federal comprehensive immigration solution as justification for assuming broader powers to enforce immigration laws. (At the time of S.B. 1070’s enactment, President Obama also had cited Congress’s failure to fix the broken immigration system as the reason for enactment of a patchwork of inconsistent and often misguided state and local immigration enforcement actions.)

In the weeks following S.B. 1070’s passage, a diverse coalition came together in opposition to the new law. Police chiefs of several major cities including Los Angeles, Houston, and Philadelphia said that the law would increase crime by driving a wedge between police and immigrant communities.  The government of Mexico condemned the law and issued a warning to its citizens against traveling to the state. Numerous professional organizations that represent and count immigrants among their ranks are boycotting Arizona and cancelled conferences there. Finally, many well-known musicians cancelled shows and tour stops in the state.

Nevertheless, a recent poll shows that 58% of likely voters nationwide support an Arizona-style law in their state. If many other states pass these laws, the nation will have a hodgepodge of disparate and confusing immigration requirements and enforcement directives that will inevitably lead to violations of an individual’s civil rights. The only rational solution to this problem is a federal comprehensive immigration package. This would eliminate states’ justification for these laws as well as preempt future state action. The onus clearly is on Congress and the President to take swift and decisive action.

The uptick in attention to immigration issues makes this year’s mid-term elections particularly crucial. The composition of the House and Senate will change, and control of one or both chambers may switch hands on Election Day.  The party in the majority will dictate if and when a comprehensive reform bill will be considered.