THE U.S. IMMIGRATION NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED BY AN INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION.
New York, June 2011
The United States Immigration Newsletter
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U.S. Government Promotes U.S. Citizenship
Los Angeles, CA: For the first time ever, the U.S. government is running a campaign to promote U.S. citizenship. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is using print media, as well as radio and digital media, in an effort to reach nearly eight million immigrants in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, but has not done so yet. With the campaign, the USCIS is hoping to encourage these immigrants to become citizens of the United States, and at the same time become more integrated in the American society. Spokespeople for the immigration authorities say that about 64 percent of immigrants eventually become U.S. citizens, after they have been in the U.S. for almost ten years, on average. Many immigrants are happy to live their lives in the U.S. on permanent resident status, working, going to school, raising families, and don’t worry about citizenship except when planning to travel abroad, or when it’s time to vote. The citizenship promotional campaign will costs $3.5 million over three years. The money comes from an allotment of $11 million set aside by congress, who hopes immigrants in the U.S. will become more integrated in the community. The citizenship promotional campaign features immigrants from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. The immigrants are portrayed as “Proud Americans” and share parts of their stories as naturalized citizens of the United States. The campaign will run foremost in California, Texas, Florida and New York.
Immigrant has Right to Remain Silent says Federal Judge
Wichita, KS: A federal judge in Kansas has dismissed charges that an immigrant had falsely claimed to be a United States citizen, after agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had raided an apartment where the immigrant man was present. The ICE agents came to the apartment looking for another immigrant, one that had a prior drug conviction and that ICE wanted to remove from the United States. In the apartment they also found another man whom they detained and questioned because they suspected that he too might be an illegal immigrant. The man was later charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. As immigration enforcement agents raided the apartment, they ordered the man out from a bedroom and forced him to sit on the floor. The agents then asked the man a number of times about where he was born, without first informing him that he had the right to remain silent. The federal judge ruled that the ICE agents had no reasonable suspicion and that everything the man told the agents during the questioning must be suppressed, including statements that the man made after the immigration agents had brought him to the ICE station. The public defender in the case noted that since the man’s statements were suppressed in court, the prosecution lacked evidence to prove their case. Prosecution therefore sought to have the case dismissed. It has been noted that although the criminal charges against the man was dismissed, he will still be detained by ICE because of his immigration status.
Wisconsin Republican Suggests Resident ID Requirement
Madison, WI: Don Pridemore, a Republican representative of the Wisconsin State Assembly has introduced an immigration bill that would require all residents in Wisconsin to wear Identification documents at all times. If the bill should pass, police could arrest any resident who did not carry an ID, and hold them for 48 hours, as long as they had a “reasonable suspicion” that the person in question might be an illegal immigrant. As part of the new law suggested in the bill, municipalities and counties who did not comply with the new immigration law, would be fined $500 a day. In addition, local government in Wisconsin would be prevented from giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, and illegal immigrants would be prevented from getting benefits funded by tax money. Pridemore has worked on the bill since August of last year, revising it four times. He says the main reason for the revisions is to make sure the bill does not cause any racial profiling, and to protect the “integrity of U.S. citizenship. Pridemore says action should have been taken long ago, and that “we must do all we can to dissuade the criminal element from looking at Wisconsin as a safe haven.” With the new immigration bill singed in to law, an individual who breaks the law and is unable to prove that he or she is in the U.S. legally, could be detained for up to 48 hours, while given the opportunity to produce evidence of legal residence. If the detained person still could not prove legal residence after 48 hours, he or she would be handed over to federal immigration authorities.
New Tough Immigration Law in South Carolina
Columbia, SC: House legislators in South Carolina has approved a new Arizona-style illegal immigration law that would require police officers to check the immigration status of people they pull over for traffic violations or stop on suspicion of other crimes. The senate bill was amended by the house before approval, and therefore goes back to the State Senate before it can be signed into law. The governor of South Carolina has already said that she would sign an Arizona-style immigration bill into law if it ever reached her desk, and the governor’s spokesperson says that if the General Assembly approves the current bill, the governor will sign it. Republicans in the South Carolina House says the new law will stop illegal immigrants from coming to South Carolina, and that this will make the state safer. It will also preserve jobs for the state’s legal residents. Democrats, on the other hand, says the new law will cause racial profiling, will make all Hispanics into suspects, be a burden for local police, and cause backlogs in jails. One representative says the law is designed to make people feel good, but that it will not make the country safer. If the bill is signed into law, an immigration enforcement unit will be created in the state’s Public Safety Department, granted the state provides the$1.3 million the unit will cost. Under the new law, people who are found to be illegal immigrants will be turned over to the federal immigration authorities. Under the new law, state residents could prove their citizenship or resident status by showing a South Carolina driver’s license, passport, military ID or some other type of ID.
ICE Would Check Prison Visitors’ Immigration Status
San Antonio, TX: A local official of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Texas has asked the Bexar County Sheriff’s department to set up a program to catch illegal immigrants who come to the county jail to visit their family and friends. In an email, the ICE official wrote that he and other agents had noticed that many of the people who came through the visitor’s area of the county jail had foreign ID documents. The agent asked for permission to interview visitors and detain individuals suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. ICE already has a program at the Bexar County Jail where they check the immigration status of inmates who have already been arrested. The new program, however, would focus on the immigration status of people who came to the jail as visitors. Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz says Bexar County “quickly turned down” the request from the immigration authorities. He says it would be uncomfortable for anyone who would come and visit inmates at the jail to have their background checked by federal immigration agents. The way ICE planned to run the program was to have agents sit next to jail staff and make background checks as they deemed appropriate, from entries in the jail logbook. Bexar County is part of Secure Communities, a program that is meant to identify inmates who are in the U.S. illegally. However, the city of San Antonio has not been willing to implement the same immigration enforcement program so far.
State Department Reviews B-1 Visa Rules
Washington, D.C.: The U.S. government is taking a closer look at the B-1 business visa program. Under the B-1 program, visitors can enter the U.S. for a limited time for business purposes. U.S. authorities are investigating the visa practices of one of India’s largest outsourcing companies in the information technology industry. Supposedly, the company used B-1 visas to station Indian workers in the U.S. for the duration of long-term projects. From earlier, Indian IT companies have relied on the H-1B visa category to get their employees to the United States, but there is a cap on the number of H-1B visas, and only 65,000 are issued every year. In addition, it can be hard to qualify for the visa, and there has been a significant increase in the cost of an H-1B visa recently. Indian IT companies get around 60 percent of their business from the United States, and now, U.S. authorities are investigating whether Indian companies has misused the B-1 business visa category. The U.S. State Department says B-1 fraud is a problem and that they are implementing measures to stop individuals from performing illegal work while they are in the U.S. on a B-1 visa. One measure that the department has implemented is to ask additional questions during the visa application interview. According to a State-Department spokesperson, one particular U.S. consulate has refused 25 percent more visa applications since the new interview questions were implemented.
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