California lawmaker seeks repeal of his state's Dream Act
The law, starting in 2013, will allow children of illegal immigrants to receive state funds to attend schools like UCLA.
December 20th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

California lawmaker seeks repeal of his state's Dream Act

A Republican California Assemblyman is trying to repeal his state's Dream Act, which would give children of illegal immigrants who have graduated high school access to state college grants starting in 2013.

In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the California Dream Act, which would set aside up to $65 million for the children of illegal immigrants who qualify. The legislation differs from a proposed federal bill called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors or DREAM Act, which would give children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship through military service or college education.

“This is absolute sheer insanity,” said Tim Donnelly, the California Assemblyman. “Nobody is as nuts as California."

Donnelly is trying to gather enough signatures on a petition to get a repeal of the law on the November ballot before the legislation goes into effect in 2013.

He said his opposition is based on economics. “We’re broke,” Donnelly said.

Click the audio player to hear more from CNN Radio's Jim Roope:

FULL POST

December 12th, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Justices accept Arizona's appeal over controversial immigration law

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Arizona can enforce its controversial immigration law, over the strong objections of the Obama administration.

The justices made the announcement in a brief order Monday.

Federal courts had blocked key parts of the state's Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, known as SB 1070. Arizona had argued illegal immigration was creating financial hardships and safety concerns for its residents and that the federal government has long failed to control the problem.

The administration has countered immigration issues are under its exclusive authority and that state "interference" would only make matters worse.

Read the complete story on CNN.com

FULL STORY

Filed under: Elena Kagan • Immigration • Supreme Court
After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes
Mercedes, Alabama's largest exporter, says it's responsible for 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
November 23rd, 2011
12:35 PM ET

After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes

It’s not often that a newspaper can attack another state, pontificate on a hot-button national issue and deliver a targeted economic development pitch in one go.

That’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board did Tuesday with its open letter, “Hey, Mercedes, time to move to a more welcoming state.”

News surfaced this week that police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently pulled over a man because of a problem with a tag on his rental car. The man, who was German, didn’t have handy what the state considers proper identification, so he was arrested under a provision of Alabama’s immigration law, which is considered the strictest in the land.

Turns out, the man was Detlev Hager, a 46-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive traveling on business. About 10,000 people in the region rely on the company for their livelihood, according to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which happens to be the state’s largest exporter.

Hager – one of 66 people charged with not having proper identification since October 1 – had his charges dropped after an associate tendered Hager's passport and German driver’s license, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

Not before the Post-Dispatch took its shot, though.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Alabama • Auto Industry • Automobiles • Civil Rights • Courts • Economy • Immigration • Jobs • Politics • U.S.
New state laws, record deportations clogging federal courts in South
Undocumented Guatemalan immigrants are searched before boarding a deportation flight in June in Mesa, Arizona.
November 18th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

New state laws, record deportations clogging federal courts in South

The Obama administration is deporting undocumented residents at a faster rate than that of any other president. Meanwhile, many southern states are pushing forward with their own immigration laws designed to achieve maximum deportation, as well.

In all, there is a national backlog of about 270,000 immigration cases. And that is a big problem for the courts, Atlanta immigration lawyer Charles Kuck says.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's John Sepulvado)

“We’re actually seeing far more cases because of the tough laws at the state levels. So the cases are getting slower here,” Kuck said. “So cases that should take four, five (or) six months are taking one and a half to two and a half years to get adjudicated.”

FULL POST

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Filed under: Immigration
Gotta Watch: Political debate smackdowns
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry participate in the Republican presidential debate airing on CNN, October 18, 2011.
October 19th, 2011
11:02 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Political debate smackdowns

A political debate isn't a good one without a few awkward and fiery moments. Tuesday night's Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas was certainly no exception.  The candidates clashed over all kinds of hot button issues like taxes and health care.  In today's Gotta Watch, we wanted to feature some of our best political debate smackdowns, starting with arguably the most heated exchange from the Vegas debate between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry.

Gloves come off – It's a really awkward exchange that includes a lot of yelling, bickering and even a condescending pat on the shoulder. Watch what ensues after Gov. Rick Perry accuses Mitt Romney of hiring illegal immigrants.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Elections • Gotta Watch • Immigration • Las Vegas • Mitt Romney • Politics • Republican Party • Tea Party • U.S.
U.S. deportations reach historic levels
An undocumented Guatemalan charged as a criminal prepares to board a deportation flight in Mesa, Arizona, this summer.
October 18th, 2011
03:40 PM ET

U.S. deportations reach historic levels

Nearly 400,000 people were deported from the United States in the past fiscal year, the largest number in the history of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the government announced Tuesday.

The year-end removal numbers "underscore the administration's focus on removing individuals ... that fall into priority areas" such as lawbreakers, threats to national security and repeat violators, the agency said in a news release.

Overall in fiscal year 2011, immigration officials said, 396,906 individuals were removed. Of these, 216,698, nearly 55%, had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. That's an 89 percent increase of criminals from three years ago, the enforcement agency said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Immigration • U.S.
October 14th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Court blocks part of Alabama immigration enforcement law

A federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of parts of a controversial immigration enforcement law in Alabama.

The injunction issued Friday from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta came after the U.S. Justice Department - supported by a coalition of immigrant rights groups - requested the legislation, known as HB 56, be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions can be addressed, a process that could take some months at least.

The Obama administration argues the Constitution does not permit states to deter illegal immigration, saying an issue with foreign policy implications is the exclusive mandate of the federal government.

Alabama's law, passed by the legislature this summer, would allow state and local officials to check the immigration status of public school students; to detain suspected illegal aliens without bond; and make it a crime for immigrants who lack proper documents to conduct business with the state for things like driver's licenses.

Among selected provisions blocked from being enforced are:

– Section 10, requiring immigrants to carry an alien registration card;
– Section 28, allowing public school students to be questioned about their immigration status.

Among selected provisions Alabama will be allowed to enforce are:

– Section 30, blocking undocumented immigrants from entering into a "business transaction";
– Section 12, allowing local law enforcement to stop, detain or arrest upon reasonable suspicion anyone "unlawfully present" in the state

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Alabama • Immigration
Rick Perry’s Latino problem
Some Texas Latinos might appreciate Gov. Rick Perry's illegal-immigrant tuition stance, but Latinos still largely don't vote for him.
October 12th, 2011
11:25 PM ET

Rick Perry’s Latino problem

Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking heat from many in his own party for supporting a state policy giving in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants.

But while this position may be seen as favorable for Latinos a large majority of Texas’ illegal immigrants are Latino, with more than 60 percent of them hailing from Mexico alone, according to the Pew Hispanic Center it hasn’t gained him much Latino support in his own state.

Almost two-thirds of Latino voters in Texas vote Democratic, and Latinos overwhelmingly vote against Perry, a Republican.

In a GOP presidential debate last month, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized Perry for supporting Texas’ illegal-immigrant tuition policy. Perry responded this way: “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state … by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”

After the debate, Perry fell from frontrunner status.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Immigration • Politics • Republican Party • Rick Perry • Texas
October 8th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Undocumented immigrant students will be eligible for California aid

Undocumented immigrant students in California will be able to receive state-funded financial aid in 2013 to attend college under a new law signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The law allows top students who are on a path to citizenship to apply and receive the state aid, the governor said.

About 2,500 students are projected to receive Cal Grants totaling $14.5 million, according to the California Department of Finance. That averages out to $5,800 per student.

The funding amounts to 1% of the overall $1.4 billion Cal Grant program, officials said.

The new law, AB 131, is one of two pieces of legislation known as the California Dream Act and will become effective January 1, 2013, officials said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: California • Education • Immigration
Undocumented immigrants are 'coming out'
Jessica Vasquez, Nataly Ibarra and Dulce Guerrero met through through their decision to speak out about their illegal status.
August 19th, 2011
11:32 PM ET

Undocumented immigrants are 'coming out'

The Department of Homeland Security announced plans this week to review 300,000 pending deportation cases in federal immigration courts to determine which individuals meet specific criteria for removal and to focus on "our highest priorities."

That could be good news for some students who have been putting their illegal status out in the open in protests around the country. Such protests target immigration enforcement legislation or push for federal laws that would give illegal immigrants a path to become residents or citizens.

One such protest took place in Atlanta earlier this year when seven students, all undocumented, sat in the middle of a major road and blocked traffic.

"The civil disobedience we follow that from the civil rights movement," says Dulce Guerrero, 18, a recent high school graduate who ended up in a police van that day.

Guerrero and her friend Nataly Ibarra, 16, were drawn together by their choice to speak out about their illegal status despite serious consequences, including deportation.

Undocumented students like Guerrero and Ibarra, many of whom have lived in America since childhood, use the phrase, "coming out." Instead of "coming out of the closet," the phrase used in the gay rights movement, they say "coming out of the shadows.”

"It is rhetorically powerful because undocumented immigrants are supposed to be in the shadows. An illegal alien is someone who isn't supposed to be around, so to say that you are coming out of the shadows means that you are flaunting the whole idea of being illegal of not belonging,” said Dr. David Cisneros, a communications professor at Boston’s Northeastern University.

The Office of Homeland Security is signaling that it might be willing to give people like Ibarra a break by not prosecuting low priority cases. It's a move that could open the door for more illegal immigrants to come out.

Listen to the full story here:

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Filed under: Immigration
Who does new immigration policy favor?
Supporters of an undocumented immigrant show support during a deportation court hearing in Denver, Colorado in July.
August 19th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

Who does new immigration policy favor?

The Department of Homeland Security is going to begin reviewing all 300,000 pending deportation cases in federal immigration courts to determine which individuals meet specific criteria for removal and to focus on "our highest priorities."

Officials say immigration court dockets are clogged, putting public safety in jeopardy, costing money, resources and time. They want to see DHS enforcement resources diverted from illegal immigrants who don't have criminal records to individuals who pose a threat to public safety and national security.

So what does all this mean for illegal immigrants and what are the "highest priorities?"

In a memo, director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement John Morton lays out what circumstances should be taken into account when it comes to prosecuting immigration cases.

FULL POST

August 16th, 2011
03:14 PM ET

Report: Immigration program distracts police, destroys trust

Local leaders across the country were presented Tuesday with the results of a report that calls for the end of a controversial Department of Homeland Security program involving local officials in immigration enforcement.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, known as Secure Communities, seeks to find unauthorized immigrants who have criminal records and deport them. According to ICE, the program is a "simple and common sense" way to carry out its agency's priorities, which include the removal of those who pose a threat to the public or are repeat immigration offenders.

But the report, written by a coalition of community organizations under the umbrella of the National Community Advisory Committee, found that a large number of immigrants being deported were not criminals and that it distracts from local police work.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Immigration • U.S.
July 28th, 2011
09:54 AM ET

Farm worker advocate Richard Chavez dies in California at 81

Richard Chavez, who dedicated more than three decades to the the farm worker movement, died Wednesday of complications from surgery in Bakersfield, California, the United Farm Workers union announced. He was 81.

The younger brother of UFW founder Cesar Chavez, Richard Chavez was the one who designed the black Aztec eagle that became the famous symbol for the organization.

The Chavez brothers grew up during the Depression outside of Yuma, Arizona, and when the family lost their farm, they became migrant farm workers in California fields, according to the UFW.

By the early 1960s, Richard Chavez began helping his brother create the foundation for the union, and by 1966 was working full-time for the movement, the UFW said on its website Wednesday.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Immigration • Labor • U.S.
July 26th, 2011
08:56 AM ET

Attorney: Norway suspect surprised he succeeded in alleged attacks

Norwegian massacre suspect Anders Behring Breivik was "a little bit surprised" that he was able to pull off a bombing and shooting rampage in which he is accused of killing 76 people in total, his lawyer said Tuesday.

His client was surprised that his plan "succeeded - succeeded in his mind," attorney Geir Lippestad told a news conference, adding that Breivik had not expected he would reach Utoya island, where he is accused of shooting 68 people dead on Friday.

Lippestad said it was too early to say if Breivik will plead insanity. Asked if his client was insane, he responded: "Yes, he may be."

Lippestad said it was "very difficult" to describe Breivik's manner - "he is not like anyone."

Breivik says he was in touch with two terror cells in Norway and in contact with other cells abroad, his attorney said, but that he acted alone in carrying out the attack on Utoya and the bombing in Oslo, in which eight people died.

"He says there are several cells around the western world, where I do not know," Lippestad said. Breivik is cooperating with police inquiries, "but he won't talk about the other cells," he added.

His client considers himself to be "in a war," Lippestad said.

Breivik also used some kind of drugs before the attacks on Friday that were designed to keep him strong and awake, his attorney said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Immigration • Terrorism
Tuesday's live video events
Sarah Palin is spending her Tuesday in Iowa
June 28th, 2011
07:44 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

The Casey Anthony trial continues in Florida, while the debate over Libya heats up on Capitol Hill.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of these developing stories.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.

10:00 am ET - DREAM Act hearing - A Senate judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on the DREAM Act, which would give students in the U.S. illegally a chance to remain in the country.

10:00 am ET - Libya war powers hearing - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing on the controversy regarding U.S. involvement in the Libyan conflict.

FULL POST


Filed under: Casey Anthony • Crime • Immigration • Libya
June 27th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Judge blocks Georgia law targeting illegal immigrants

A federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, has blocked a controversial state law cracking down on illegal immigrants from taking effect until the broader legal issues are resolved.

Monday's order by Judge Thomas Thrash, which CNN has obtained, temporarily prevents enforcement of the law, which would penalize those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

The case is Georgia Latino Alliance v. Deal. The law, known as HB 87, was scheduled to go into effect Friday.

Read the complete story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Immigration • U.S.
Pulitzer Prize winner: I'm an illegal immigrant
Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas came to the United States from the Philippines when he was 12.
June 22nd, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Pulitzer Prize winner: I'm an illegal immigrant

[Update 9:45 p.m. ET] - Turns out the New York Times only got the story after Jose Antonio Vargas' former employer, the Washington Post, turned it down. The Times, already set to go to print, "tore up the book" to get the story in, a Times blog post reports.

Jose Antonio Vargas has written many pieces that have put him in the spotlight - including  ones on the Virginia Tech shooting that made him a Pulitzer Prize winner. But perhaps his biggest piece yet may be the one that could put him in the most precarious position - his New York Times Magazine piece in which he explains and documents his life as an illegal immigrant.

"I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore," he writes in the personal essay. "So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I’ve reached out to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure."

He acknowledges what happens now is up in the air - he could end up being deported.

"I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story," he writes.

The article has sparked a discussion online about the decision for someone to come forward so publicly and say they were an illegal immigrant.

"We were delighted to run the piece, which we believe is an extremely provocative and well-written piece of journalism," a spokeswoman for the New York Times told CNN.

Vargas is telling his story as he ramps up an effort with the advocacy group he founded called Define American, which says "It's time to have a real conversation about immigration in our country."

And perhaps there is no way more real to begin that conversation than with Vargas detailing his own story and struggles along the way.

Vargas, who came from the Philippines when he was 12-years-old, has spent most of his life flying under the radar: Using false documents and Social Security numbers to try to make it by. He even once gave the Secret Service an illegally obtained Social Security number so he could attend a White House dinner.

Though he may be a Pulitzer Prize winner, his tale is similar to that of illegal immigrants of every stature in this country, one of living in fear of being found out at any time.

FULL POST

Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform
These little girls are U.S.-born American citizens, but their father lacks proper immigration documentation.
June 14th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform

Tough new state immigration laws are striking fear in the hearts of illegal immigrants with American-born children.

“I worry about my children,” says one father of two young kids in Carrollton, Georgia. He didn't want to give his name, because he has no legal right to reside in the United States. “My kids were born here. What will happen with them? We don’t know, and that’s the fear we have.”

FULL POST

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Filed under: Alabama • Arizona • Georgia • Immigration • Politics • Utah
Alabama governor signs 'tough' immigration law
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a strict immigration law Thursday.
June 9th, 2011
01:08 PM ET

Alabama governor signs 'tough' immigration law

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a "tough illegal immigration law" Thursday morning, his press office said.

The bill is considered by both supporters and critics to be among the toughest in the nation, even stricter than controversial laws in Arizona and Georgia.

Under the new law, public schools will be required to determine the citizenship and immigration status of enrolling students through sworn affidavits or birth certificates.

Authorities will also be required to detain a person who they believe is in the country illegally if the person cannot produce proof of residency when stopped "for any reason."

Alabama businesses will  be required to use a database called E-Verify to look up the immigration status of new employees. The use of the database was recently endorsed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a separate Arizona immigration law.

It will  be illegal for Alabama residents to knowingly give a ride or transport an illegal immigrant or for a landlord to knowingly rent a property to an illegal immigrant.

Cecillia Wang, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's immigrants rights project, called the bill "outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional" in an interview with The New York Times before Bentley signed it.

Huntsville Times editorial: A law, mostly for Hispanics

FULL STORY
May 14th, 2011
10:08 AM ET

Computer glitch voids green card lottery results

The State Department has apologized for a computer glitch that invalidated results for thousands who thought they were chosen in the most recent green card visa lottery.

Millions of people worldwide apply for the 50,000 permanent resident visas issued a year to relocate to the U.S.

A computer randomly picks would-be immigrants who then undergo interviews, background checks and medical exams before visas can be issued.

"Due to a computer programming problem, the results of the 2012 diversity lottery that were previously posted on this website have been voided," the State Department said in a statement Friday. "We regret any inconvenience this might have caused."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Immigration
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