By Jaqueline Hurtado and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Los Angeles - It was a moment Jose Diaz knew he didn't want to miss.
The day laborer and undocumented immigrant waited for more than 10 years to see it.
"I missed work today," he said, "but I felt like I had to be here."
Diaz was in the crowd cheering after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Thursday that will allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses in his state.
"This is only the first step," Brown said from the steps of Los Angeles City Hall, adding that he hopes other states will follow California's example.
"When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice," he said. "No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the state of California."
The new measure, known as Assembly Bill 60, requires the California Department of Motor Vehicle issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants who can prove their identities, have established California residency and pass driving exams. The law goes into effect no later than January 1, 2015.
Details about how the new licenses will look and the exact process for obtaining them are still in the works. But even so, supporters of the measure cheered the signing of the law.
"To have a license is not a luxury. It is a necessity, because in cars we go to work, to school and shopping and without a license really we are limited in many things," said Frida Hinojosa, an undocumented immigrant.
For more than a year, driver's licenses and other state benefits have been at the heart of a battle in the nationwide immigration debate.
Supporters of licenses for undocumented immigrants argue that it's safer to have more drivers trained and insured, and opponents argue that such systems are rife with fraud.
The rules vary from state to state.
In January, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said she would push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. That same month, the governor of Illinois signed a new law that would allow undocumented immigrants to get temporary licenses.
In at least 45 states, officials have said recipients of deferred action - the Obama administration's program for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children - are eligible for driver's licenses, according to the National Immigration Law Center. But in some states, like Arizona and Nebraska, officials have stepped up efforts to stop licenses from being issued, the law center said.
While a small majority of Americans are in favor of the immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate, according to a new national poll the old and young don't see eye to eye on the issue.
And a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that more than six in ten say border security rather than a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should be the bigger priority.
The poll's Tuesday morning release comes as a bill backed by the bipartisan 'Gang of Eight' senators faces more legislative hurdles. The measure would offer a 13-year path to eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. If the legislation passes through the Democratic Senate, it would face an uncertain future in the Republican dominated House of Representatives.FULL STORY
The border with Mexico must be secure.
This requirement is the cornerstone of an immigration reform bill a bipartisan group of senators are to file on Capitol Hill Tuesday. There will be no path to legal residency for migrants without it.
Undocumented immigrants may also not reach the status of fully legal residents under the proposed legislation, until the Department of Homeland Security has implemented measures to prevent "unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States."FULL STORY
[Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET] Politicians are beginning to weigh in with their views on Twitter.
Perhaps no surprise, but House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has high praise for Obama's announcement.
Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright from Pennsylvania hit on one of the specifics Obama spoke about: Business.
It looks like immigration might be the next hot issue in Washington, D.C.
A bipartisan group of senators will hold a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. ET "to provide a key update on their discussions on a
comprehensive immigration reform bill," according to a release from Sen. Marco Rubio office.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that she plans a new push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Martinez, who has tried to get the law repealed twice before, described it as dangerous in a post on her official Facebook page.
"I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," said Martinez, a Republican. "I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law."
Her comments are the latest salvo in a nationwide debate over the controversial issue.
President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address to put the divisive issues of climate change and immigration back on the front burner.
But according to a new national survey, Americans are divided over whether global warming is a man made phenomenon.
According to the poll, which was conducted last week, 49% agree with the White House that global warming is a proven fact and is due to emissions from cars, power plants and factories. That's twice as high as the number who say that global warming has not been proven, as well as the 24% who say that it is a proven fact but is not due to manmade sources. But the 49% figure is down seven points from 2007.
The president also used his speech to highlight the controversial issue of illegal immigration, and a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday also indicates that a bare majority of the public says the main focus of the federal government should be on developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal residents, rather than deporting them.Read full Political Ticker post
The talk in Washington is all about the "fiscal cliff" and what the president and Congress need to do to avoid it. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff debate.
Today's programming highlights...
11:30 am ET - Immigration reform briefing - GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jon Kyl speaks with reporters from Capitol Hill on immigration reform.
Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.
People are talking about immigration today, but they're also interested in letters and numbers and science.
- Immigration program
- Scrabble cheating
- Why people play the lottery
- Hypersonic test fails
- Mohawk guys and office goths
An executive order by President Barack Obama allows those who entered the country illegally as children to remain and work without fear of deportation for at least two years. The policy has proven controversial, and readers are debating the implications on the United States as well as the people who are applying.
One of the biggest concerns is whether the program in effect condones illegal immigration.
nothingleft: "I think the bigger question is how does someone who has been here illegally for 15+ years not get flagged either from the schools, jobs, social services or driver's license? It's places like these where reform has to start. Life flows in the path of least resistance and if it is easier to come illegally then that is the route people will take."
Some readers said the best way to fight illegal immigration is to make it easier for people to become legal.
Brational2: "If you are bothered by the idea, or the reality, that some of the taxes you pay as a legal immigrant, or as a citizen, are used to provide government services to illegal immigrants, there's a way to end that. Make them legal."
Do they owe society money?
joeblow9999: "Are these illegals going to pay back taxes on the free ride they got from taxpayers paying for their primary education? Most of their parents never paid tax other than sales tax. Wouldn't it be great to go through life never having to pay income tax while you make minimum wage and have the taxpayers pay tens of thousands of dollars to educate your kids?"
Think about our history, many readers said.
Guest12234: "The Pilgrims were illegal aliens. Their children, their children's children, their children's children's children, their children's children's children's children need to be shipped back from whence they came. It's just typical of the GOP and their ilk. They're OK with drawing a line of morality that suits their need. If you want to send back all illegal aliens to this country, let's go back several centuries. I'm willing to bet if the Indians were left to their own devices, our planet would not be in the shape it's in."
But is the United States being stretched too thin?
Mortarfire: "Great. The slices of the American pie are already so thin you can see through them. The 'land of opportunity' is out of opportunities. There are other countries, why does this one have to be the only one that people want to live in? Go fix your own!"
Or are people just too selfish?
myopinionz1: "What is wrong with people nowadays? Have we become so inhumane that we are mad at a mother who fled a cartel nation ... to come to a place they think is safe for their children. Humanity is going down the tubes. There was a time when Americans were looked to as the pinnacle of society, humanity, peace and hope."
Many readers said they want there to be consequences for entering the country illegally. FULL POST
The Supreme Court ruled largely in favor of the U.S. on Arizona's immigration law, but it upheld the most controversial provision involving police checks on people's immigration status.
So what did we learn and what can we glean from their decision? Bill Mears, CNN's Supreme Court producer, breaks down the decision piece by piece:
1. Others states better tread carefully
By striking down three of the four major provisions and upholding the idea of federal authority on this issue in pretty sweeping comments, the Supreme Court has signaled other states with similar laws that they better tread carefully or make sure their laws do not to reach too far.
In Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion, his main point was that the national government has significant power to regulate immigration issues. And so that lets states know that while they have some place to play in the issue, the federal government still reigns supreme.
While the court didn’t tell Arizona and other states what they could and couldn’t do when they conduct a traffic stop - for example how long police can hold someone, whether the law would amount to racial profiling - this opinion is essentially guidance moving forward. Their opinion was certainly not a complete smackdown of Arizona's law. Instead, it left some things pretty ambiguous.
2. The one provision upheld could be challenged again
The provision that was upheld by all eight ruling justices - commonly called the "show me your papers" provision - allows local law enforcement, when performing other state law enforcement functions, to check on the immigration status of those people they stop for another reason. That part was upheld because the justices said it was complementing existing federal policy. That's as long as police weren’t singling people out specifically for racial reasons. The court essentially said that if police stop someone properly, or are involved in a domestic dispute, it was perfectly proper to at least check an immigration status and then consult with federal officials.
But in upholding that provision, the court was very careful to say that depending on how this is implemented, it could very well be overturned one day. The overall lawsuit brought against the law is a facial challenge, which means it was being opposed and believed to be unconstitutional before it went into effect. What the court is saying when it comes to the "show me your papers provision" is that the justices are going to uphold it for now, allow Arizona to implement it and depending on how they enforce it, deal with it later.
If in the future a challenge is brought claiming that people are being detained for an extended time or racial profiling is occurring, it could be challenged in the state and federal courts again, now that it can actually be implemented as a law. The justices have essentially said they will give Arizona the benefit of the doubt that they will enforce this in a way that meets a constitutional muster test.
It’s a signal to other states that if they are going to have similar provisions, they too have to be careful.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down key parts of an Arizona law that sought to deter illegal immigration. The court also let stand a controversial provision that lets police check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the United States illegally. Some readers kept metaphorical scorecards weighing each side's views about heavier enforcement and possible consequences. With all this debate, are there points where most people can agree?
Some of our readers said Arizona got a raw deal.
Bob Jones: "So Arizona is screwed. The Fed won't enforce its own laws and Arizona is told to sit down and shut up and take it with a smile. Thanks for nothing, SCOTUS. This is the first step. Eventually the people will have had enough."
eddiev5: "I think public opinion polls pretty much show time and time again what people are looking for. And it has nothign to do with the rhetoric you hear from the Democratic Party. On this issue, the Republicans are correct."
Gus Seals: "Actually this is a win, it builds a bigger picture over time how the feds are cooking the books on the number of illegals. The state can use the federal resources to check legal status so says the court. In the long run if the state says we stopped ten thousand illegals and the feds refused to do their job, it is not going to look good politically."
For many, Arizona got a big win.
Chaz: "I love how CNN tries to make this seem like Arizona lost here. They got exactly what they wanted and I say good for them. I have a very hard time with commenters from the East Coast who are just so full of 'forward thinking' opinions, but who don't really have a dog in this fight. This is a serious problem for those states who face these issues every day and I'm glad the ability to check a person's legal status is in place. I liked Governor Brewer's laws, as the state of Arizona faces terrible crime and security issues, due to the illlegal aliens. If the Feds can't protect the Arizona citizens, who can? I like the idea of 'self deportation'. The Mexicans think The AMERICAN DREAM is about getting on the government dole. It is about 'freedoms,' not breaking laws. Entering this country illegally was your first mistake. You broke a federal law. If you can't come in the legal way, leave."
Others were excited to see that the state didn't get everything it wanted.
JimmyNelson: "SCOTUS just smacked Jan Brewers hand.. and I like it."
This commenter said they thought Arizona's law is unacceptable. FULL POST
Editor's note: We're live blogging from the Supreme Court today as the nation waits to see whether the justices will hand down rulings on the controversial health care and immigration laws. You can follow along below as CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears and Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin get the latest details live from the court as well as analysis when, and if, the major rulings come on Monday. Watch live coverage and analysis now on CNN TV, CNN’s mobile apps and http://cnn.com/live.
[Updated at 1:18 p.m. ET] Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement reacting to the Court's ruling:
“I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down major provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 on federal preemption grounds. Today’s ruling appropriately bars the State of Arizona from effectively criminalizing unlawful status in the state and confirms the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate in the area of immigration.
While I am pleased the Court confirmed the serious constitutional questions the government raised regarding Section 2, I remain concerned about the impact of Section 2, which requires law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped or detained when they have reason to suspect that the person is here unlawfully. As the Court itself recognized, Section 2 is not a license to engage in racial profiling and I want to assure communities around this country that the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce federal prohibitions against racial and ethnic discrimination. We will closely monitor the impact of S.B. 1070 to ensure compliance with federal immigration law and with applicable civil rights laws, including ensuring that law enforcement agencies and others do not implement the law in a manner that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against the Latino or any other community.
We will also work to ensure that the verification provision does not divert police officers away from traditional law enforcement efforts in order to enforce federal immigration law, potentially impairing local policing efforts and discouraging crime victims, including children of non-citizens, victims of domestic violence, and asylum seekers, from reporting abuses and crimes out of fear of detention or deportation. We will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans.”
[Updated at 12:31 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama has weighed in on the court decision, praising that some parts were struck down, but adding that he was concerned about the provision that remained. His statement is in full below:
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.
At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court’s decision recognizes. Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education – which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.
I will work with anyone in Congress who’s willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values – but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country – and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it."
[Updated at 12:08 p.m. ET] In regard to similar laws that have been enacted in other states, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin predicts “legal trench warfare on all these laws.”
The “mixed nature of the verdict” makes it impossible to say if these laws or constitutional or unconstitutional, so judges in the future will have to go through each law provision by provision to determine constitutionality.
The ruling guarantees American will see more cases out of other states in the future,” Toobin said.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled on her state's controversial immigration law:
U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholds Heart of SB 1070
“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens. After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.
“While we are grateful for this legal victory, today is an opportunity to reflect on our journey and focus upon the true task ahead: the implementation and enforcement of this law in an even-handed manner that lives up to our highest ideals as American citizens. I know the State of Arizona and its law enforcement officers are up to the task. The case for SB 1070 has always been about our support for the rule of law. That means every law, including those against both illegal immigration and racial profiling. Law enforcement will be held accountable should this statute be misused in a fashion that violates an individual’s civil rights.
“The last two years have been spent in preparation for this ruling. Upon signing SB 1070 in 2010, I issued an Executive Order directing the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZ POST) to develop and provide training to ensure our officers are prepared to enforce this law efficiently, effectively and in a manner consistent with the Constitution. In recent days, in anticipation of this decision, I issued a new Executive Order asking that this training be made available once again to all of Arizona’s law enforcement officers. I am confident our officers are prepared to carry out this law responsibly and lawfully. Nothing less is acceptable.
“Of course, today’s ruling does not mark the end of our journey. It can be expected that legal challenges to SB 1070 and the State of Arizona will continue. Our critics are already preparing new litigation tactics in response to their loss at the Supreme Court, and undoubtedly will allege inequities in the implementation of the law. As I said two years ago on the day I signed SB 1070 into law, ‘We cannot give them that chance. We must use this new tool wisely, and fight for our safety with the honor Arizona deserves.’”
The Obama administration said Friday that it will stop deporting illegal immigrants younger than 30 if they were brought to the United States as children and meet certain other requirements. (See Department of Homeland Security's explanation of the new policy)
Below are a few facts about immigration in the United States:
- The number of illegal immigrants in the United States was estimated at 11.5 million in 2011, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
- The illegal immigrant population grew by 27% between 2000 and 2009, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Sixty-three percent of the illegal immigrant population (approximately 6.8 million) entered the United States before 2000. (DHS)
- Fifty-eight percent of the illegal immigrant population is from Mexico. (Pew)
- Twenty-four percent of illegal immigrants reside in California; 16% reside in Texas. (DHS)
And here are recent developments relating to immigration in the United States:
- 2008: The Department of Homeland Security apprehended 792,000 foreign nationals. Eighty-eight percent of those arrested were natives of Mexico. Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended 379,000 people. (DHS)
- 2008: The Department of Homeland Security removed 359,000 illegal immigrants from the United States. Of those, 69% were repatriated to Mexico; 8% were repatriated to Honduras; 7.7% were repatriated to Guatemala. (DHS)
- 2008: More than 810,000 illegal immigrants accepted offers to return to their home countries without being forcibly removed. (DHS)
- 2008: The Department of Homeland Security removed 97,100 criminals who were also illegal immigrants. Of those, 36% had been convicted of drug-related crimes. (DHS)
- 2009: The number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent was 350,000. These made up 8% of all U.S. births. (Pew)
- 2010: The total number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation's labor force in United States is 8 million. They made up 5.2% of the labor force in 2010. (Pew)
- 2010: About 1.04 million people received legal permanent resident status. Of those, 139,120 were born in Mexico, 70,863 were born in China, and 58,173 were born in the Philippines (DHS).
- 2011: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 396,906 illegal immigrants from the United States, the largest number in the agency's history. Of those, 216,698 (nearly 55%) had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. (ICE)
- April 23, 2012: The Pew Hispanic Center announced that net migration from Mexico to the United States had stopped and possibly even reversed. The center noted that from 2005 to 2010, about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, and about 1.4 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the United States to Mexico.
The Obama administration announced Friday it will stop deporting young people who came to the United States as children of illegal immigrants if they meet certain requirements.
The Department of Homeland Security said the policy change will cover people younger than 30 who:
- Came to the United States before the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years as of June 15, 2012;
- Are in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.FULL STORY
Two groups in Los Angeles just can’t seem to get together on a day of solidarity.
For more than a decade, May 1 - which is the labor movement's International Workers' Day, or May Day - has been about immigration in Los Angeles. Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, said for many years people in the United States didn't celebrate the day, but CHIRLA has tried to change that in Southern California.
“[It’s] a major day of mobilization. All around the world people mobilize en mass," Salas said. “And we’re very proud to have brought back to the United States the engagement of May 1.”
(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Jim Roope)
This year, however, immigration will share the day with the Occupy protesters. Nationwide, Occupy organizers are calling for large-scale demonstrations across the country on International Workers' Day, which is Tuesday.
Salas says CHIRLA and other immigrant-rights groups have tried to get together with the Occupy movement for the day. But Michael Novick, an organizer for Occupy Los Angeles, says the two sides just couldn’t “gel.”
The past few years haven’t been the best for a man trying to make an honest living selling tortillas in Arizona. Business owner Sergio Paez estimates that he has lost 20 businesses as customers in the past three years, from small neighborhood taquerias to chain restaurants.
In 2010, his tortilla business was suffering thanks to the nationwide recession. Then Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the state's controversial immigration enforcement policy known as SB 1070, and things got even worse, he said.
“The law affected the immigrant population dramatically,” said Paez, a naturalized citizen from Mexico whose Phoenix-area factory produces about 200 dozen tortillas an hour.
“The economy had already been going down with the housing crisis - construction stopped, people were losing homes, jobs, cars. That triggered the recession, but I think this law aggravated it here.”
With oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court set for Wednesday in the Obama administration’s constitutional challenge to the law, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for Arizona and other states that have implemented similar policies since 2010.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
A study this week from the Pew Hispanic Center finds that for the first time in decades, net flows from Mexico into the United States have balanced out. According to the report, "the trend lines ... suggest that return flow to Mexico probably exceeded the inflow from Mexico during the past year or two." But readers urged caution in interpreting such a report.
Do the findings of the report mean immigration issues are improving?
Useyerhead: "It has slowed down, not stopped. Slowed down compared to what, the year 2000? That's a pretty high mark. Compare the current percentages to 1970 not 2000 and it is still way out of control."
Elevatn: "Regardless, it kills the right-wing talking points that illegals/ immigration are out of control and violence is running rampant. Reality proves the exact opposite."
Some had a bleak outlook.
8r1f0nt: "The dilapidated, makeshift fence in the picture is symbolic of our government's commitment to border control."
Others were skeptical of the numbers. FULL POST
The family of a Brazilian teenager who was injured in a multivehicle wreck in Florida last month - a wreck that killed at least 11 people, including four of her relatives, amid dense fog and smoke from a brush fire - has released the first post-crash picture of her exclusively to CNN.
Lidiane Carmo, 15, is progressing at Shands at the University of Florida hospital, where she has been since the January 29 wreck on I-75 outside Gainesville, one of her uncles said.
The case of Lidiane, who has lived in the United States for most of her life, drew widespread attention after church members said she was an illegal immigrant, and they were afraid she could face deportation. But federal officials said last week that she would be allowed to stay in the United States.
Her father, Jose Carmo, was a pastor at International Church of the Restoration in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Lidiane came to the United States from Brazil when she was only 2, another pastor at the church told CNN; the family stayed in the United States after their visas expired, CNN affiliate WSB reported.