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New York, November 2011
The United States Immigration Newsletter
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Buy a House, Get a Green Card
Washington, D.C.: In the future, it could be possible to obtain Permanent Resident status in the United States by buying a house. Two U.S. Senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have worked together on a bill that would make a green card available to a foreigner who invests $500,000 in real estate in the United States. One of the two senators, Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York, says that offering green cards for real-estate investments is a way to boost demand in the market with no cost to the government. The market for U.S. property is already growing abroad, while the demand among local buyers remains low. A weak U.S. dollar combined with low prices on American real estate has contributed to a 24 percent rise in properties bought by foreigners last year, compared to the year before. The National Association of Realtors says foreigners bought $82 billion-worth of homes in the U.S. last year. At the same time, potential house buyers in the U.S. hesitate to buy because they worry about the job market, or because they have less money than before. Americans who already own a home would have to sell at considerable loss if they were to buy a new house. This has led house prices to drop 32 percent since 2006. The National Association of Realtors also says that U.S. house sales to foreigners are divided between people who just recently relocated to the United States, and those who live abroad, and they suggest that many who buy American property do it with the intent to immigrate. The possibility of obtaining a resident visa along with property could work as an extra incentive for those who are already interested in moving to the U.S.
Immigration Policy Tough Choice for Latino Voters
Las Vegas NV: Last Presidential election, Barack Obama won 67 percent of the Latino voters, much because of his promises of comprehensive immigration reform and a path to residency for many illegal immigrants. Three years later Obama’s support among Latino voters is down to 49 percent. Many are disappointed with the president’s record and feel that he has failed to deliver what he promised in his 2008 presidential campaign. But Latinos who hope for a softer policy on immigration in the U.S. face a tough choice in the 2012 presidential election, as it is a choice between Barack Obama, or a Republican candidate. Obama, on the one hand, is the president who has overseen the highest number of deportations in the history of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and who has not been able to get immigration reform through Congress. Republicans on their side, is working for stricter immigration policies, and the deportation of all illegal immigrants from the U.S. rather than a path to citizenship. In addition to the lack of immigration reform under president Obama, Latinos in the U.S. have also been among the hardest hit by the struggling U.S. economy. Unemployment rates among Latinos are 11 percent, and many are losing their homes. Thus, whether it is the economy or the stance on immigration, next year’s election could be tough choice for many Latino voters in the United States.
In-State Tuition for Undocumented College Student in Rhode Island
Providence, RI: Illegal immigrants who have graduated from a Rhode-Island high school will be allowed to pay in-state tuition rates when they attend college in the state. The decision came after an unanimous vote by the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education in late September. The news brings hope to immigration advocates, particularly in the light of a related decision in California last year. According to an education research director in Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court has already made it clear that when it comes to education, you cannot hold children responsible for violations of immigration laws, and that it makes little sense to suddenly treat students as criminals when they turn 18. One scholar, Dr. William Perez, who wrote a book on the subject, says that the state already has invested a lot in children who graduated from its high schools. To shut these students out from college by denying them in-state tuition would simply not make for good return on that investment, Perez said. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 65,000 to 85,000 illegal-immigrant youth graduate from U.S. high schools each year. In-state tuition is on the agenda in a number of states in the U.S. In Colorado and Iowa, students are currently waiting for decisions to be made on the same matter.
Illegals’ Children with U.S. Citizenship Pay Four Times More in Florida
Miami, FL: The reality for college students in Florida is quite different from the situation in Rhode Island, where a Board of Governors have recently decided to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition in state colleges. In Florida, students with U.S. citizenship, who have lived all their lives in Florida, have to pay out-of-state tuition if their parents came to the U.S. as illegal immigrants. Recently, a number of students in Florida joined in a class-action lawsuit to change the current state-residency policy. The Southern Policy Law Center filed the lawsuit that claims Florida’s tuition policy violates the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to experts, Florida is the only state where citizens are forced to pay out-of-state tuitions. Colorado has earlier given up similar tuition rules. State officials have not been willing to comment the issue, because of the lawsuit at hand, and therefore it is uncertain whether they intend to defend the current rules, or agree on a change in policy. The Florida legislature is dominated by the Republican Party, which has adopted a zero tolerance for illegal immigration. Advocates for a firmer policy on undocumented migrants say people who enter the U.S. illegally should not be rewarded for breaking the law. One Florida college student on the other hand, says she is a U.S. citizen that has lived her whole life in Florida. She believes she should have the right to the same opportunities as other Florida residents, even if her parents came to the U.S. illegally.
Alabama Gov. Stands by Tough Immigration Law
Montgomery, AL: In June, Alabama passed a new law concerning illegal immigration. Republican Governor Robert Bentley is the man who signed the law that has been called the toughest immigration law in the United States; even tougher than laws passed in Arizona and other states. In a recent Interview, Governor Bentley maintains that passing the strict immigration law was the right thing to do. He is generally not eager to discuss the law in the media, frequently declining to comment on the issue. The reason he avoids interviews on the subject is that he does not wish to become the face of tough immigration law in America. Bentley says he would rather be remembered as a governor who created jobs and solved problems. He also says that he does not wish to contribute to country-wide debate that could build up under people’s stereotypes, adding that many who have never been to Alabama think people there still live in the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s. The governor says that contrary to people’s believes, Alabama is now a diverse state that attracts foreign industry to settle in the state and create new jobs. Federal courts have already blocked parts of Alabama’s tough new immigration law, and President Obama and his administration have challenged the new legislation, as have several other groups. Governor Bentley, however, is confident that the most important parts of the new law will live on. He also believes that many other states will follow Alabama’s example and pass similar laws.
U.S. Government step up War-Criminal Deportation Efforts
Washington, D.C.: According to U.S. immigration authorities there could be thousands of human rights violators and war criminals living as illegal immigrants in the United States. Some of them have even been able to get into the U.S. with legal authorization. Locating and removing these criminals is nothing new for immigration enforcement officers, but lately the authorities have stepped up their efforts. The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center opened in 2009. That is where legal experts, historians and investigators work side by side to uncover and locate those who have committed war crimes or violated human rights. The center is run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and its efforts have facilitated the capture of several noteworthy criminals who were living under cover in the U.S. after having killed hundreds, or in some cases even thousands of people. 28 people work full time at the ICE center, and so far they have come up with a list of over 3,000 suspected war criminals or human rights violators. However, the laws are often not sufficient to prosecute offenders for their war crimes, and instead many of them are convicted of visa fraud or perjury; even jaywalking. For example, a war criminal that lies about not having a criminal record in his home country got convicted of visa fraud, sentenced to jail and eventually faces deportation back to his native country where he will be put on trial for human rights violations.
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