Federal law rules on immigration enforcement. That's the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling today not to hear an Alabama appeal of the decison striking down parts of its anti-immigration law, including making it a crime to harbor people in the country illegally.
Sen. Joyce Elliott's bill to allow colleges to charge in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students who've graduated from Arkansas high schools and had sufficient residency here failed in a Senate committee today.
Fox 16's David Goins reports that the bill was approved on a voice vote, but Republican Sen. Alan Clark asked for a roll call and the bill failed on a 4-4 tie, with Republican Sen. Jason Rapert out of the room.
The bill was amended to leave the decisions to individual schools, rather than mandate it for all.
* BACKGROUND CHECKS: A bill to require criminal background checks for political candidates failed on a roll call vote in a House committee.
* MARK MARTIN GETS A POLICE FORCE: A House committee endorsed a Senate-passed bill to authorize a "voter integrity" unit in the secretary of state's office to investigate election complaints. Republicans seem to think existing laws and agencies empowered to do this blow it off. They insist it is not partisan to vest this police power with Republican Martin to investigate and present results to the state board of election commissioners. His office says he can create this unit at no cost with existing employees. A spokesman insisted these same employees were already working full-time on other duties but would just work harder.
Susan Inman of the state Board of Election Commissioners said the investigative option already exists under the non-partisan board and said she favored giving the power to an independent, rather than partisan office.
* HOME SCHOOLING: The House today approved legislation that would allow home schoolers to participate in public school extracurricular activity.
* RAW MILK: The Senate voted 19-11 to approve a bill already passed in the House to allow farm sales of unpasteurized milk.
* EDIFICE COMPLEX: The Senate passed a House-passed bill to prevent naming publicly financed buildings after politicians until they've been out of office for 10 years.
Anybody else see a tiny bit of irony in the news that UAMS will announce tomorrow continuation of a grant from the Mexican consulate in Little Rock to support the College of Public Health's Ventanillas de Salud Health Windows Program? Through it, UAMS provides health information and screenings to Mexicans who live here.
Muchas gracias, y'all.
A blog post from U.S. Sen. John "Dr. No" Boozman on immigration reform indicates he won't be going along with any plan that provides legal status to people in the country already. Or, if he does, he's done a good job of cloaking it.
The reality is this problem exists because we have immigration laws on the books that are not being enforced. After years of extreme neglect by the federal government, our nation is facing an immigration crisis. Federal laws go unenforced, leaving cash-strapped local and state governments to fend for themselves and use resources they do not have to absorb millions of illegal immigrants. Adding more rules to the books without enforcing the ones we have will do little good in the long run.
One thing is certain: if the President insists on amnesty we aren’t going to get very far. Amnesty is a non-starter. We must not reward people for breaking the law. I will continue to oppose amnesty proposals and I remain committed to working towards a real solution that addresses the crisis at our borders.
Don't bother to forward Boozman any of the growing stack of research that indicates immigrants are a financial plus to the U.S. They work. They pay taxes. Because they lack legal status, they often don't receive services for which their taxes would otherwise qualify them. See, for example, Arkansas high school graduates with exemplary records denied Arkansas college scholarship support that a Texan can receive. Someday, their U.S.-born citizen children will outnumber the John Boozmans of the world.
The New York Times reports today on the Obama administration's work toward comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, immigration legislation.
It would include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living and working in the U.S. without authorization.
The sound you hear is Secure Arkansas leader Jeanie Burlsworth's head exploding. (Though, of late, fluordination of water and UN plots have been higher on Secure's agenda than immigration. The NY Times article doesn't indicate that Obama has yet proposed that feared superhighway from Mexico to Kansas City as the first step toward an eventual merger of the U.S. and Mexico. Too bad. If nothing else, it would bring better beer and food to these parts.
Some key findings:
* Arkansas ranked fourth among the states in immigrant population growth from 2000 to 2010, with the foreign-born population increasing by 82 percent.
* The length of settlement for Arkansas immigrants is expanding: in 2010, 57 percent had lived in Arkansas (or elsewhere in the US) for 10 years or more, compared with 51 percent in 2000.
* Half of Latino immigrants and two-thirds of non-Latino immigrants owned their own homes.
* The Latino immigrant share of workers doubled from 2 to 4 percent between 2000 and 2010. Immigrant Latino men have the highest employment rate of any immigrant or native-born group: 88 percent.
* For every dollar the state spent on services to immigrant households, it received $7 in immigrant business revenue and tax contributions in 2010.
* The economic contribution of immigrants in 2010 was $3.9 billion. The economic contribution of immigrants has grown considerably since 2004, when their total impact was just $2.9 — and should continue to grow as immigrants and their children increase their share of the state’s total population and workforce.
I just heard today of the beginning of a movement to try again for DREAM legislation in Arkansas. It would provide scholarship help to long-term Arkansas high school graduates, despite questionable immigration status. Some say why bother with a new Republican majority. I say why not? Let some of them return home to communities full of hard-working immigrants at poultry processing plants and explain.
PS — I took a family Christmas photo last year at a small Latino business in Southwest Little Rock, our favorite taco truck. Joining the diverse crowd that gathers at Samantha's is always a happy occasion, not just because of the good food.
Tidwell, who was adopted at age 14 by JoAnn Tidwell of Glenwood, was required to travel to Mexico when she turned 18 in May. Her adoptive mother accompanied her so that together they could work out the thorniest of problems: Kaiti was brought to the U.S. so young she had no birth certificate in Mexico. That means she was documented neither in in Mexico nor the U.S.; she was a person without a country. The Tidwells have struggled for 15 years to get residency status for her; we've written about their travails, first at home in Glenwood, where she graduated from high school, and later in Mexico.
Today, JoAnn Tidwell, who had to return home alone to the states to care for her son, who was injured in a car accident, called to say that Kaiti's I-130 form (petition for alien relative) has been approved. Kaiti must now travel to one of the most dangerous cities in the world — Juarez — to the Mexican Embassy there to get a travel visa. A green card will be mailed to her, JoAnn Tidwell said. Kaiti will not be alone when she travels to Juarez but with her boyfriend, a U.S. citizen originally from California who has been a great help to the Tidwells, JoAnn said.
Tidwell credited Kaiti's progress to the dedication of a U.S. embassy employee to get Kaiti back to the only country she's ever known to live with her legal family and to the doggedness of a lawyer in Cordoba. Kaiti will apply for residency, a process that takes five years.
JoAnn Tidwell and friends are in the process of putting up fliers in Glenwood saying "Help bring Kaiti home," a request for financial help with travel and lawyers.
Tea Party klaverns are undoubtedly buzzing like beehives poked with a stick over the president giving this limited measure of welcome to strivers who came to the country as children and now hope desperately to stay in a country that once proudly opened its "golden door." The NY Times photograph at the link of the horde of young people in Chicago clamoring to be welcomed here should be inspiring, not frightening.
Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer rose to the call with an executive order barring any state assistance to those receiving protection under the program. As this article notes, it was mostly more empty posturing from a governor known for same.
We need the Dream Act, stalled by the Republicans in Congress. On this, Mike Huckabee and I agree.
Diana Gonzales Worthen, a university administrator and Democratic candidate for state Senate who lives in Springdale, faces a tough challenge in a district that has been solidly Republican for years. She opposes Republican Rep. Jon Woods. Her Hispanic roots are a small plus in a district with a large Latino population, but the number of Latino voters is probably disproportionately small compared with the population.
Nonethless, she plays to her strength today on a hot button issue on which Jon Woods has been a typical extremist Republican — immigration. Woods has demagogued the issue for at least five years, calling for investigations, opposing the DREAM Act and otherwise playing straight to the Republican base.
Gonzales Worthen applauds the U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming that border patrol is a federal, not state prerogative. This is smart, moderate and constitutional, as a Supreme Court majority including Republican justices has ruled. She uses it directly to differentiate herself. Said Gonzales Worthen's spokeswoman Barbara Price-Davis:
“It’s embarrassing when a state legislator comes out on the wrong side of the Constitution. Diana supports the civil liberties of all families guaranteed by our Constitution. Our State Senator should be a person who cares about families, not uses them as political ammunition.”
So true. And, to date, so unproductive politically in Northwest Arkansas.
Representatives of groups supporting the rights of Latinos in Arkansas came together today for a 2 p.m. press conference in the State Capitol rotunda to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law.
After brief remarks by Steve Copley of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, Holly Dickson, staff attorney for ACLU Arkansas, said that today's Supreme Court ruling — which she called three red lights and a "yellow light" on the "show me your papers" aspect of the Arizona law — supports the American ideal of speaking with one voice, with decisions on civil rights made by "one government, not 50-plus." Laws like the one in Arizona, Dickson said, create an atmosphere of distrust, and overtax already overburdened law enforcement agencies. While Dickson said the court "punted" on the provision forcing those stopped by police to prove their citizenship, she said that provision is sure to get closer scrutiny from the courts in coming years. "What we do know," Dickson said, "is that microscope that is already on Arizona and several other states is going to tighten in."
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times and the Spanish-language newspaper El Latino, also spoke at the event, saying that anti-immigrant laws like those in Alabama and Arizona are "profoundly anti-business," and create a poisonous climate for all workers. "These laws do nothing but harass and drive people away," Leveritt said.
— David Koon
The U.S. Supreme Court today overturned three parts of Arizona's controversial immigration law , but upheld one part at least for now.
"Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermined federal law," the court said in a 5-3 decision.
The court said federal law pre-empted Arizona's desire to regulate alien registration and set criminal penalties. It also said Arizona couldn't set criminal penalties on those who hired unauthorized aliens and said states couldn't make warrantless arrests of suspected undocumented aliens. Unauthorized presence is not a federal criminal offense, but a civil one, the court noted. The Supreme Court said, however, it wasn't ready to uphold lowers courts' disapproval of a section of the Arizona law that allows stops of people to determine immigration status where sufficient cause exists. "It was improper to enjoin §2(B) before the state courts had an opportunity to construe it and without some showing that §2(B)’s enforcement in fact conflicts with federal immigration law and its objectives."
Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer formed the majority. Scalia, Thomas and Alito filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part. Kagan didn't participate.
The decision was a rare victory for the Obama administration, Talking Points Memo notes.
A coalition that has opposed punitivie immigration laws in Arkansas has a news conference this afternoon. I think they'll be generally pleased and hope this throws some cold water on future plans to to try the same batch of measures again. The stop-and-check provision — though problematic in progress — remains a concern.
PS — If you think A. Scalia isn't about all politics all the time, check his rip of Obama and matters outside the case. If you think he isn't prepared to reverse himself on precedent in striking down Obamacare, you live in a dream world.
President Obama’s order this week that would stop the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16 and are high school graduates and meet other conditions will not help Kaiti Tidwell of Glenwood, who returned to Mexico in May to get the necessary papers she needs to immigrate legally, she tells the Times.
Tidwell was brought to the U.S. as an infant, floated across the
Gulf of Mexico Rio Grande in a tire. She has lived in Glenwood since she was 6 months old. Her natural mother left her in the care of JoAnn and the late Grant Tidwell, who adopted her in 2008.
Until recently, Tidwell had no birth certificate, leaving her undocumented in either Mexico or the U.S. Having failed four times in their petitions for citizenship in the U.S., Tidwell and her adoptive mother left for Mexico shortly after her 18th birthday, which triggers a U.S. Immigration Service requirement that illegal immigrants return to their home country and apply for a visa to re-enter. (She was able to travel to Mexico thanks to a temporary I.D. procured with the help of state Sen. Randy Stewart, D-Kirby, and a temporary passport from the Mexican consulate here.)
Complicating Tidwell’s situation are provisions in the Hague Adoption Convention that make her ineligible for adoption without the approval of the Mexican government. The convention was enacted April 1, seven days before Tidwell’s adoption was legally recorded in court, though the adoption went through prior to the act.
Though she has an Aug. 9 deadline to register with U.S. Immigration Service, Tidwell and her mother have so far been unsuccessful in getting an appointment with the Mexican Central Authority, the office that deals with adoptions under the Hague act, and which must issue a letter exempting Tidwell from the Hague Act provisions for her to be able to return home.
Tidwell said she plans to ask Sen. John Boozman to approach the Obama administration to see if there’s anything that could be done to bring her home. “We don’t really feel discouraged,” she said, “we just feel stuck.” She said she and her mother need to figure out the “right person” to get her an appointment with the Mexican government.
The Tidwells are staying with a family in Cordoba, in Veracruz state, whom they were put in touch with through their 7th Day Adventist church. Kaiti Tidwell said the family, Dr. Jose Luis Granados and his wife, Sandra, have helped her with the Spanish she needs to communicate with the Mexican government.
Again today he said laudable things in cheering the aim of President Obama's decision to end deportation of young undocumented immigrants. He takes exception to the executive action as a legal matter, but softly by his standards.
Mike Huckabee told the crew at Fox & Friends this morning that he understood his stance on immigration was not particularly popular among Republicans, and he didn’t support and executive order for it, but the policy President Obama tried to implement for young undocumented people was something he had also attempted to pass in Arkansas. “You don’t punish a kid for what his or her parents did,” he argued, saying the policy was not a “job-killer.”
President Barack Obama will order his administration to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants and granting them work permits, the Associated Press is reporting.
The policy will apply to immigrants younger than 30 who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have been in the country at least five years, have no criminal history and graduated from high school, earned a GED or served in the military. The decision could affect as many as 800,000 immigrants.
Could this open the door to Kaiti Tidwell, who floated across the Rio Grande on an inner tube as an infant, was adopted by an Arkansas couple and completed high school here, but was banished to Mexico in the spring because of her inability to establish citizenship?
Can a Mitt Romney denunciation be far behind? UPDATE: He tries to have it both ways.
Noted: A Twitter from state Rep. Justin Harris, who takes federal and state money for operating a pre-school that teaches Bible and which has likely included undocumented immigrants among its students:
The President has no right to issue an Executive Order, allowing illegal immigrants to stay in our country!
A friendlier tone from the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, which continues the call for a DREAM Act for achieving immigrants in Arkansas schools.
UPDATE: Kaiti tells Leslie Peacock that the Obama order won't help her. She said her lawyer has told her that it does not apply to her because she's no longer living in the country.
SIDELIGHT: Video of a reporter for the right-wing Daily Caller who kept trying to interrupt President Obama during his announcement. He's done it before.
The news report on Channel 4 last night perhaps was a cause for celebration for those agitating for mass deportation of all the "illegal aliens" sucking the blood out of these United States.
But there was little celebration at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport as friends and family bid farewell to Kaiti Tidwell, fleeing the U.S. ahead of deportation for a return to her native Mexico and a long process that she hopes will return her to the U.S. with documented status.
You could says she's a wetback, floated across the Rio Grande by her mother, a migrant farm laborer, at the age of six months. She was adopted by an Arkansas family and lived the normal life of a Centerpoint High student as her adopted parents tried in vain to establish her citizenship, a process stymied in part because she was without established citizenship in Mexico.
Sad story. An easier path to citizenship for people who've lived in this country, gone to school and paid society's dues seems more in keeping with the American ideal than packing Kaiti Tidwell off to a foreign land. Ask your favorite legislative candidate about illegal alien Kaiti Tidwell.
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