Obama to Begin Granting Immunity, Permits to Illegal Immigrants

Obama moves to try to recover the Hispanic vote before the November election. His plan mimics an initiative proposed by Republican Marco Rubio

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL | AP | JUNE 15, 2012

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.

Obama planned to discuss the new policy Friday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden.

Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.

The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the DREAM Act.

“Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration’s action. “Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

The extraordinary move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. While Obama enjoys support from a majority of Hispanic voters, Latino enthusiasm for the president has been tempered by the slow economic recovery, his inability to win congressional support for a broad overhaul of immigration laws and by his administration’s aggressive deportation policy. Activists opposing his deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign office in Denver, and other protests were planned for this weekend.

The change is likely to cause an outcry from congressional Republicans, who are sure to perceive Obama’s actions as an end run around them. Republicans already have complained that previous administration uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportations amount to back-door amnesty. Romney and many Republican lawmakers want tighter border security measures before considering changes in immigration law. Romney opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college but has said he would do so for those who serve in the armed forces.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month found Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters 61 percent to 27 percent. But his administration’s deportation policies have come under fire, and Latino leaders have raised the subject in private meetings with the president. In 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a record 396,906 people and is expected to deport about 400,000 this year.

A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president’s handling of deportations.

The changes come a year after the administration announced plans to focus on deporting serious criminals, immigrants who pose threats to public safety and national security, and serious immigration law violators.

One of the officials said the latest policy change is just another step in the administration’s evolving approach to immigration.

Under the plan, immigrants whose deportation cases are pending in immigration court will have to prove their eligibility for a reprieve to ICE, which will begin dealing with such cases in 60 days. Any immigrant who already has a deportation order and those who never have been encountered by immigration authorities will deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The exact details of how the program will work, including how much immigrants will have to pay to apply and what proof they will need, still are being worked out.

In making it harder to deport, the Obama administration is in essence employing the same eligibility requirements spelled out in the proposed DREAM Act.

The administration officials stopped short of calling the change an administrative DREAM Act – the name is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors – but the qualifications meet those laid out in a 2010 version that failed in the Senate after passing in the House. They said the DREAM Act, in some form, and comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system remained an administration priority.

Illegal immigrant children won’t be eligible to apply for the deportation waiver until they turn 16, but the officials said younger children won’t be deported either.

Last year, Napolitano announced plans to review about 300,000 pending deportation cases and indefinitely suspend those that didn’t meet department priorities. So far, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reviewed more than 232,000 cases and decided to stop working on about 20,000. About 4,000 of those 20,000 have opted to keep fighting in court to stay in the United States legally. For the people who opted to close their cases, work permits are not guaranteed.

Welcome to Poor America. 43 Million and counting

History repeats itself as corporate colonialism claims another nation-state.  The United States is a prisoner on its knees waiting to be shot on the head.

Washington Post

One in seven Americans is living in poverty, the highest number in the half-century that the government has kept such statistics, the Census Bureau announced Thursday.

Last year was the third consecutive year that the poverty rate climbed, in part because of the recession, rising from 13.2 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, last year.

Asians were the only ethnic group whose poverty rate did not change substantially; every other race and Hispanics experienced increases in poverty rates.

In addition, 51 million Americans were uninsured, as the number of people with health insurance dropped from 255 million to less than 254 million — the first decrease since the government started keeping track in 1987. The number would have been worse because 6.5 million fewer people got insurance through their jobs, but it was offset by a leap in government-backed health insurance. More than 30 percent of Americans now get coverage from the government.

“Given all the unemployment we saw, it’s the government safety net that’s keeping people above the poverty line,” Douglas Besharov, a University of Maryland public policy professor and former scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Associated Press.

The grim statistics reflect the depth of the recession that began almost three years ago and could have an impact on midterm elections less than two months away.

“These numbers should be a wake-up call,” said Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University professor and co-director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy. “These are deeply disturbing numbers.”

At organizations where the unemployed come to get help finding a job or seek food, the numbers were no surprise.

“In the decade I’ve been doing this work, this is a low point,” said Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore. “We’re getting a real feeling of desperation. For sheer numbers, it’s a new, unhappy world.”

At the nonprofit Action Though Service in Prince William County late Thursday morning, the shelves of the agency’s pantry were starting to empty, as the line for help snaked out the door with a few dozen people seeking assistance.

Prince William resident Carol Williams said she has come to the shelter once a month since January, when she was laid off from her job at United Medical Center due to budget woes.

“I worked since I was 15, and, now, for the first time I don’t have a job and I can’t feed my family,” said Williams, 55. “I have a degree; doesn’t matter. The jobs aren’t there.”

Williams said she has been applying for dozens of jobs a week and had about 20 interviews since January. “I think people are scared to hire someone who is not working,” she said, adding there also is just a lot more competition because of the high unemployment rate.

A single mother, Williams has five mouths to feed — children and grandchildren– ranging in age from 17 months to 28. Williams said she was able to raise three sons on her own, but she now turns to the food pantry at ACTS and her father and friends for help.

“We had no bread, no nothing last Friday because the pantry was closed,” she said. “Luckily a friend helped me or we would have had no food for the weekend.”

Advocates said they’re seeing a lot more people like Williams.

“We have definitely seen many more individuals who are very well-educated, with high degrees, where it’s the first time to ever be in a situation to ever have to ask for help for food or shelter,” said Vickie Koth, executive director of Good Shepherd Alliance in Loudoun County.

Koth recalls one family of four in particular, where both parents were highly educated — the mother was a lawyer, and the father was a mortgage broker. “They were in the business of buying and selling homes, and they had three foreclosures within the same span of time and were homeless for the first time.

“We’re full all the time and we turn people away every day, and that’s always been true. But the types of people that call have changed,” Koth said. “Time after time I’ve heard individuals say, ‘I’ve given to shelters, I’ve volunteered at food pantries. I’ve never thought I’d be here myself.’ “

U.S. FEDS Threaten Sheriff Arpaio for Enforcing Immigration Laws

By Jerry Markon and Stephanie McCrummen

A federal investigation of a controversial Arizona sheriff known for tough immigration enforcement has intensified in recent days, escalating the conflict between the Obama administration and officials in the border state.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County

Justice Department officials in Washington have issued a rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he does not cooperate with their investigation of whether he discriminates against Hispanics. The civil rights inquiry is one of two that target the man who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff.” A federal grand jury in Phoenix is examining whether Arpaio has used his power to investigate and intimidate political opponents and whether his office misappropriated government money, sources said.

The standoff comes just weeks after the Justice Department sued Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) because of the state’s new immigration law, heightening tensions over the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections. The renewed debate has focused attention on Arpaio, a former D.C. police officer who runs a 3,800-employee department, and a state at the epicenter of the controversy over the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

(Photos: How the immigration law is being enforced in Benson, Arizona)

Once seen as a quirky figure who has inmates dress in pink underwear and forces them to work on chain gangs, Arpaio has in recent years become a kind of folk hero to those who favor his heavily publicized “crime sweeps,” conducted mostly in Hispanic neighborhoods. But civil rights groups accuse the 78-year-old lawman of racial profiling. And some Maricopa County officials say Arpaio has begun meritless corruption investigations of officials who have criticized his policies or opposed his requests.

Those allegations are at the core of the Justice Department investigations, according to documents, lawyers familiar with the inquiries, and people who have been questioned by FBI agents and the grand jury.

(Arizona: We’re not changing immigration law)

The investigations reflect the tangled politics surrounding the immigration debate. The criminal probe is led by Dennis K. Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix who was a top aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Two of Arpaio’s attorneys, Robert N. Driscoll and Asheesh Agarwal, were officials in the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the George W. Bush administration. They denied that the sheriff, a Republican who has been reelected four times since 1992, has been uncooperative or has engaged in racial profiling, misusing money or targeting political enemies.

“The sheriff’s office is cooperating fully with the grand jury investigation and has complete confidence that the inquiry will clear it of any wrongdoing,” Agarwal said. “The office has always fulfilled its responsibilities truthfully, honorably, and in full compliance with state and federal law.”

Arpaio’s attorneys contend that the investigations are politically motivated, citing a news conference in March at which Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was quoted as saying he expects the inquiries to “produce results.”

“While we have no quarrel with the assistant U.S. attorneys handling the investigation, the attorney general’s comments appear to violate federal regulations, departmental policy and state ethical rules designed to ensure the fairness of criminal investigations,” Agarwal said.

(More: Chat with Sheriff Joe Arpaio)

Brewer and her supporters have also asserted that the Justice Department was politically motivated in its lawsuit over the state law, which authorizes, among other things, police officers to ask about the status of people suspected of being in the country illegally. A federal judge last month stopped the most controversial sections of the legislation from taking effect.

Justice Department officials denied any political considerations, saying the investigations and the lawsuit are based on the facts and the law. They declined to comment on details of the Arpaio inquiries.

The civil rights division’s investigation began in March 2009 and focuses on whether Arpaio’s department engaged in “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures,” along with allegations that his jail discriminated against Hispanic inmates, according to letters the division sent to Arpaio. A complaint to the Justice Department said that even bilingual jail guards are required to speak to inmates only in English and that the rule could endanger prisoners’ medical care. The jail was also accused of forcing Hispanic visitors to fill out a “citizenship check” form, the letters said.

Lawyers in the division have repeatedly interviewed Phoenix area human rights leaders about Arpaio’s immigration sweeps, and local “cop watch” groups have turned over hours of video footage of the sweeps to investigators.

“Their questions are in regards to racial profiling, questions about what are the practices when people get stopped,” said Salvador Reza, an organizer with the Puente human rights movement who has met with Justice Department lawyers. He said the lawyers have asked about the treatment of inmates in Arpaio’s jail.

In an Aug. 3 letter to Arpaio’s attorneys, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said the sheriff’s office had declined repeated requests to turn over documents and meet with investigators. Without cooperation by Tuesday, the letter said, the government would file suit “to compel access to the requested documents, facilities and personnel.”

In his Aug. 5 reply, Driscoll accused the Justice Department of “a desperate attempt” to compel cooperation and of “a public relations campaign against Sheriff Arpaio.” He added: “DOJ cannot require the reproduction of millions of pages of documents so DOJ can ‘see what it can find.’ ”

Arpaio’s resistance is highly unusual: Justice Department officials said the threat of such a lawsuit is rare. They added that they plan to meet with the sheriff’s attorneys next week in a last-ditch effort to forestall litigation. If the department files a broader civil lawsuit, it could result in the department terminating the several million dollars in grants to Arpaio’s office each year or in a judge’s order forcing him to change his policies.

On a separate track, the grand jury investigation has been underway since at least January. Lawyers familiar with the inquiry and witnesses said it is focused on allegations that as Arpaio has fought with the county board over his budget and other issues, he and his deputies have retaliated by carrying out at least seven criminal investigations of county officials alleging corruption, fraud and other crimes.

Some legal experts say it could be difficult for such allegations to result in criminal charges. “I don’t know what a charge would be,” said Peter Zeidenberg, a former Justice Department public corruption prosecutor. “We all would agree that being abusive is wrong, but I’m not aware of any federal statute that would fit.”

In one case, Arpaio leveled 40 corruption-related charges against a county supervisor who had spoken out against his policies, all of which a judge dismissed. In another, the sheriff’s allies in the county attorney’s office filed more than 100 criminal counts against another supervisor for improperly filling out required financial disclosure forms. Several days after a judge dismissed most of those, Arpaio’s deputies arrested the supervisor in a parking garage and walked him before TV cameras to jail, announcing more than 100 new charges, which a judge dismissed. (Some of the original charges remain on appeal.)

“They’ll never stop,” said Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, who was named in one of Arpaio’s investigations. Wilson testified before the grand jury and has spoken to FBI investigators more than a dozen times, as recently as last week. “They don’t care who tells them to stop.”

County Manager David Smith said grand jurors also questioned him about deputies’ trips to conferences and training missions in Las Vegas, Honduras and other destinations, where he said they often stayed at “boutique” hotels. He said prosecutors were focusing on “issues that might involve the crime of extortion over the county budget, misappropriation of funds and abuse of police power.”

A Escape Valve Called Illegal Immigration

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of US (1743 – 1826)

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
April 27, 2010

As a Latino, I know what is it like to live in a less developed country. I lived in one for the first 18 years of my life. As a child, I understood I was not able to have it all, because my parents, a teacher and a secretary, could not give me what I wanted, but with much sacrifice what I needed. As a Hispanic, I also know what is it like to live in a country identified as developed, although not all illegal immigrationthe time. I lived 10 years in North America where everything is abundant and where opportunities exist. So history shows. However, these opportunities by many mistakenly identified as the American Dream, just do not fall into the hands; one must seek them out. The American dream never existed. It is one of those corporate inventions created to distract the masses.
For this, and deep study of history, the history that is not in the textbooks, I understand how illegal immigration has been used by corporations to promote their interests and destroy the last shining beacon for freedom. This has been happening for a long time, at least 100 years. Governments and economies in the hands of corporations use illegal immigration to destroy entire societies and consolidate resources.

Why is it that those who support compliance with immigration laws are described as racists? Because the groups that support illegal immigration, which are funded by corporations, believe that it is OK to apply the law selectively, as they see appropriate.

In the documentary Food, Inc., the producers show this trend. Illegal immigrants are brought from Mexico to work illegally at a meat processing company. To keep the immigration police at bay, the company agrees to allow weekly raids where 15 to 20 workers who are captured and deported to their countries. The next day, the meat company already has other illegal workers hoping to fill the empty positions left by their compatriots the night before. When these raids are reported in television news, the police’s action is praised as a show of strength against illegal immigration. What is not reported, is the corruption that exists in every one of these raids. The corporate media is also complicit in this exploitation because they use the news as a way to attract their audience while keeping them ignorant of the agreements between the police and the company and more outrageous, agreements between governments that allow this to happen.
It’s easy to advocate for the rights of illegal immigrants from the human point of view, ‘it is not human send them back to their countries of origin away from their families. But from a legal standpoint, cold and simple we can not have two standards. Either there is respect for the laws governing a nation, or the country will turn into complete anarchy, which is what the corporations want. That anarchy is what prevails in Latin America, and that’s why people leave their families behind to seek a better life.
Mass immigration to the United States, Canada and Europe is the result of the failure of politicians and Latin American leaders to provide his countrymen with better quality of life. It is also a consequence of the adoption of policies that corporations support as they are vital for their overall intention . These policies are forced upon those who are banished by multinationals to seek better prospects. Such prospects exist in places where income is ten times better for the same work, and where the money goes a longer way.
Illegal immigration to North America and Europe is a escape valve that relieves the pressure for irresponsible politicians who let the corporations take over their countries in exchange for indecent tips, positions of power and awards such as Nobel Peace Prizes. While politicians receive recognition, the people must give up their family and homelands to find humane living conditions. This lack of conditions is what makes that even countries with more resources than the United States or Canada, have higher rates of poverty. Corporatist bankers managed to keep the third world in poverty, as they consolidate their power and wealth in a few countries which they will demolish through each economic crisis. So it must be said and clarified once and for all: it is not the Gringos, or the Europeans who exploit immigrants, but the elites that control the governments.
Latin America is a clear example of this policy of consolidation. From Argentina to Mexico, from Nicaragua to Brazil, all countries are handled as chess boards in an effort to consolidate power and wealth. The direct effect of this action is extreme poverty and illegal immigration to lands with more opportunities. The immediate consequence of massive illegal immigration for the developed countries is the collapse of their economies by the overuse of its social safety net. Despite this, those who call for an end to illegal immigration, are called racist and inhumane, even though their requests have nothing to do with either race or humanity.

Here are several examples to help us illustrate the above points. Mexico has more natural resources than the United States. However, the gap between rich and poor is huge. The free trade agreement between the two nations, -a global policy of consolidation- exterminated the middle class and now there are only two classes: the feudal lords and the rest. Although the results clearly show what neoliberal policies and trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are capable of, more countries in Latin America continue to adopt such agreements with Europe, China and the U.S. itself. The giant of the north lost last year more than 500,000 jobs a month due to the economic crisis caused by the same bankers who control the economic cycle. NAFTA made tens if not hundreds of companies molt their operations to Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, India, China and other developing countries. There, with little or no labor regulations, companies pay a fraction of the wages paid in Europe or the United States and legally exploit a workforce that in many cases is as qualified as that of the U.S. or Europe, as they have college education or receive training from the employers. The only difference is the color of their skin and nationality. Is this not the clearest example of racism? Of course, incompetent governments refuse to ask for better conditions for their workers in their own land.
In developing countries, the arrival of companies like Intel, General Motors, Citi, JP Morgan and others is seen as a triumph for their mediocre leaders. What is never revealed however, are the concessions made to the companies for them to arrive and remain in those countries. These concessions include but are not limited to total tax exemption, working long hours at unusual times for the same pay, little or no chance to grow within the company, competition agreements which limit or prohibit the arrival of competitors, zero taxes on exports and imports, zero production tax, zero social guarantees for workers and many others. The weak nations simply fall in the hands of corporate criminals and become the type of democracies where two wolves and one sheep decide what’s for dinner.
Brazil is another example of how globalization is applied to the detriment of society. Recently, President Luiz Inacio da Silva, who clamored for the creation of a New World Order and also pursues the chair of the UN Secretary-General, legalized millions of illegal immigrants from countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, -all running away from their crumbling countries- without making a thorough study of the possible needs or not of foreign workers in the country. The press and much of society almost knelt before Lula for his decision and qualified it as ‘successful’ and human. But what no one asked was whether the legalization of so many would affect the availability of jobs for Brazilians themselves. The move was applauded even more because the decision to legalize workers was mainly positive to collect more taxes to fund one of the most corrupt, lands in the planet, -it earned a 3.7 on the scale. That is super corrupt.

And what happens when a state or a country decides to establish limits on illegal immigration? Recently, the state of Arizona passed legislation to make authorities arrest and deport those who are illegally in the territory. Long before the adoption of the law, hundreds of people gathered outside the Arizonan Congress to demand the law was not approved as the media coverage provided its usual mediocre coverage, trying to turn illegal immigrants into victims of the new law . Although the law is not perfect, because it allows police to demand identification from those suspected to be in the state illegally, which violates privacy laws, it is an important step towards compliance with existing immigration laws. The Mexican government’s reaction was immediate, calling the law a disgrace and persecution of Latinos. President Felipe Calderon said: “They are entitled to be there, because they are model workers.” Why are they not given work in Mexico then? President Barack Obama also criticized the law saying “it threatened basic notions of justice” and said its implementation would be monitored to ensure it would not violate civil rights. It is clear that respecting the laws of the country is not a priority to Obama. In fact he is now actively working with Congress to pass legislation that would give the green light to legalize 30 million illegal immigrants in his country. It’s no surprise that the number of citizens who support his job is the lowest in the first year of any president. Only 29% in the latest survey strongly supports his actions, while 60% of respondents support legislation such as the one passed by Arizona last week against illegal immigration. See the result here.

The reform of immigration laws known as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, or the approval of no real legislation, is what corporations support, because it will allow them to continue their reign of exploitation of the people. This fact is simply ignored by those who want mass legalization. For them this issue is about race, which is a point that originates in the organizations paid by corporations to promote their interests, such as LA RAZA. The corporate media and pro-illegal immigration groups increasingly polarize the population with their anti-Yankee discourse, and pro-invasion of the south western United States, that many people erroneously believe belongs to Mexico.

Now both Democrats and Republicans – both controlled by bankers and corporations-, work in the drafting and adoption of the new law to legalize million and would also give them health care insurance of the type recently approved by the Obama administration. This policy will further weaken the social safety net and end in a total collapse of the democratic system. This is what the elites want to carry out their most precious process of consolidation in the history to control the natural resources and infrastructure the United States. It is a diabolical plan, no doubt about it. Polarizing the masses of people to keep them busy while the bankers steal everything, even their homelands. And what will happen when there is not a escape valve called the United States to absorb the pressure? What will all this anger pressure cooker called the third world go? Judge for yourself!

What to do about it? Educate current and future citizens about the true origin of such issues as illegal immigration, showing them the root of the problem so that it is clear people are able to seek for real solutions, instead of doing what is best for the interests of the powerful. If we have opportunities, a comfortable and dignified place to live, we need not go anywhere, but if we do, we will understand why it is better there than here and how we can improve.