The Washington Post reports on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s holding program for non- Mexican illegal immigrants. A record 26,500 non-Mexican immigrants are currently being detained for weeks and possibly years in the facilities that according to the ACLU, and other groups currently challenging the conditions there, lack adequate clothing, medical services, and legal council. Facilities such as the $65 million “tent city” in Raymondville, Texas, are being expanded as the ICE struggles to find more funding and space to lease in order to meet the influx of new detainees.
The $65 million tent city, built hastily last summer between a federal prison and a county jail, marks both the success and the limits of the government's new policy of holding captured non-Mexicans until they are sent home. Previously, most such detainees were released into the United States before hearings, and a majority simply disappeared.
The new policy has led to a dramatic decline in border crossings by non-Mexicans, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
But civil liberties and immigration law groups allege that out of sight, the system is bursting at the seams. In the Texas facility, they say, illegal immigrants are confined 23 hours a day in windowless tents made of a Kevlar-like material, often with insufficient food, clothing, medical care and access to telephones. Many are transferred from the East Coast, 1,500 miles from relatives and lawyers, virtually cutting off access to counsel.
The LA Times has a great article about the proposed hike in costs for citizenship and permanent residency applications. The application fees would go from $330 to $595, and other hikes include those for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking investor green cards, who would face an increase from $475 to $2,850. Work permits would rise from $180 to $340, and those for family visas would increase from $190 to $355.
Why the increase? The article points out that Emilio T. Gonzalez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency faced a $1-billion shortfall for the next two fiscal years and was legally required to raise its own revenue to balance its books. In 2002, Congress gave it a five-year special appropriation of $460 million to eliminate a backlog that peaked at 3.8 million cases and to meet a presidential mandate to process applications within six months.
The Dallas Morning News points out that Mexican immigrants sent a record $23 billion home in 2006. The article cites reduced sending costs and increased migration for the rise, which is the fifth straight of its kind. Roberto Suro from the Pew Hispanic Center disagrees. He "noted that Central Bank figures show a doubling of money transfers from $10 billion five years ago, and illegal immigration hasn't doubled in that time."
NDN's good friend Sergio Bendixen, who will be speaking at NDN's forum next week, was also quoted, saying that part of the increase is because the prosperity of Mexican workers has swelled:
"These immigrants are making some good money in the United States, and, therefore, they are able to send more," Mr. Bendixen said.
The Los Angeles Times has a great article on the potential of passing comprehensive immigration reform with a Democrat-controlled Congress. The article highlights the influence of Rep. Zoe Lofgren, saying:
In the House, where these conservatives could derail a bill, the job of finding that elusive middle ground falls to Rep. Zoe Lofgren. The San Jose Democrat, who heads the immigration subcommittee, has been buttonholing lawmakers, quizzing them between votes and hosting formal meetings.
"There's a way to deal with this," she said. "The Republicans I've listened to make it clear they're open to dialogue, to practical solutions."
NDN continues to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and you can view our work on our website.
Bill Richardson isn't the first candidate to announce he's running for President by posting an online video announcement, but he is the first to do it in English and Spanish. It's worth thinking about how his appeal to Spanish-speaking voters might impact the Democratic primary campaign. As we've written about many time before, Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the country and are increasingly disaffected with conservatives in the wake of the ongoing battle over immigration reform.
For those of eager to reform the nation's broken immigration system there have been some encouraging signs of progress in recent days:
- The GOP made a Cuban immigrant, and great champion of comprehensive immigration reform, the Chairman of their Party. It is an important sign of the President's commitment to passing a bill this year, and for Republicans it helps provide some distance from their shameful demonization of immigrants in last year's election.
- A new coalition of powerful grassroots groups has formed to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. It is aptly named Alliance for Immigration Reform 2007.
- The Democrats pick Denver as their convention site in 2008. To fully capitalize on their choice of Denver in the 2008 elections, Democrats will want to show the Hispanics of the southwest and the nation that they helped fix the broken immigration system, and brought an end to a debate that has become seen in this community as anti-Hispanic.
- Finally, in his State of the Union Preview yesterday, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar made it clear that passing comprehensive immigration reform was an important Democratic priority this year.
Given how contentious this issue was in 2006, there is no doubt that it will take a lot of work to get it done in 2007. But I remain optimistic, and we will be using all means available to NDN to get this important legislation passed this year.
For more on NDN's work promoting immigration reform, visit the immigration section of our website at www.ndn.org/immigration.
Por favor de prestar atención al anuncio que se ha dado: se informa que la Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, Nancy Pelosi, ha escogido al Congresista Xavier Becerra para emitar la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión.
REP. BECERRA A CARGO DE RESPUESTA DEMÓCRATA EN ESPAÑOL AL DISCURSO SOBRE EL ESTADO DE LA UNIÓN DEL PRESIDENTE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – La Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes Nancy Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Harry Reid anunciaron hoy que el Congresista Xavier Becerra de California, Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, y el único miembro del Congreso de California del Sur que forma parte del poderoso Comité de Medios y Arbitrios emitirá la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión el próximo martes, 23 de enero, 2007.
“Estamos orgullosos de que el Congresista Xavier Becerra emita la respuesta en español este año,” dijeron la Presidenta de la Cámara Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Reid. “Su intelecto profundo y su experiencia substantiva de la política pública le han hecho un líder nacional en cuanto a varios temas de importancia para los latinos y todos los estadounidenses. Como ex Presidente del Caucus Hispano Congresional y como integrante nuevo del Liderazgo Demócrata, como Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, el Congresista Becerra fortalece las voces de los latinos y del Partido Demócrata por todo el país.”
“Es un día nuevo y una dirección nueva,” dijo el Rep. Becerra. “Me siento honrado que la Presidenta Pelosi y el Líder del Senado Reid me han dado la oportunidad de compartir con el pueblo estadounidense los pensamientos de los demócratas sobre el estado de la unión y las varias ideas y propuestas de política pública para fortalecer a nuestro país.”
Se hará pública una trascripción, traducción a inglés, y una versión podcast MP3 en el sitio Web http://Becerra.House.Gov siguiendo la respuesta del Rep. Becerra la noche de martes.
Tune in your radios, New York. According to an article in TheNew York Times, Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, one of the LA deejays who helped bring hundreds of thousands of protestors to pro-immigrant rallies in LA and across the nation, is coming to a radio near you.
NDN is a national leader in the effort to raise the minimum wage, and improve the standard of living for millions of working Americans. Our Spanish language media campaign to build support in the Hispanic community was a major factor in passing state ballot initiatives in Arizona and Colorado, and in keeping the pressure on Congress. And the outcome was bipartisan support in the House for this important measure:
The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved the first increase in the federal minimum wage in nearly a decade, boosting the wages of the lowest-paid American workers from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the next two years.
The 315 to 116 vote could begin the process of ending Congress's longest stretch without a minimum-wage increase since the mandatory minimum was created in 1938. In the past decade, inflation has depleted the value of the minimum wage to the lowest level in more than 50 years.
...Republicans who held in lock step during their 12 years as the majority party went over in droves to the Democratic side.