Home > November 2008

Posted on November 26, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Associated Press reports that the British government is issuing ID card to foreign nationals. The program will start with roughly 50,000 foreign students and spouses of permanent residents. This is a little frightening for those of us who don’t entirely trust what governments might do with the information on national ID cards. Here are excerpts from the article:

Government officials say the cards should provide a tamperproof way to determine a person’s true identity and whether they are eligible to work in Britain. They say they will be more accurate and harder to forge than passports.

Opposition lawmakers say it will be costly and unproductive, and privacy advocates complain that the British government is compiling an unprecedented database.

“This is a huge infringement of our privacy,” said Mairi Clare Rogers, a spokeswoman for the National Council for Civil Liberties.

The cards will contain a computer chip with fingerprint information and other data, including date of birth and nationality. Each will cost $45.

The last time Britain had ID cards was at the end of World War II.

Other foreign nationals living and working in Britain will not be immediately affected, but they will eventually need cards as the program is expanded.

Posted on November 24, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

News from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

November 21, 2008 – WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced an extension to the re-registration period for nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and are now eligible to re-register and maintain their status an additional 18 months. Initially, the 60-day re-registration period for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua began Oct. 1, 2008 and ended on Dec. 1, 2008. This re-registration period is now being extended through Dec. 30, 2008. Additionally, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for eligible Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries for 6 months through July 5, 2009.  This will allow sufficient time for eligible TPS beneficiaries to re-register and receive an EAD without any lapse in employment authorization.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously published Notices in the Federal Register on Oct. 1, 2008, announcing that the TPS designations of Honduras and Nicaragua have been extended 18 months from January 6, 2009 through July 5, 2010.  The extension will make those who have already been granted TPS eligible to re-register and maintain their status for an additional 18 months.  There are approximately 3,500 nationals of Nicaragua and 70,000 nationals of Honduras (and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in Honduras and Nicaragua) eligible for TPS re-registration.  TPS does not apply to Nicaraguan or Honduran nationals who entered the United States after Dec.. 30, 1998. Nicaraguan and Honduran TPS beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible within the registration period that now ends Dec. 30, 2008.  The extension of TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras is effective Jan. 6, 2009 and will remain in effect through July 5, 2010. TPS beneficiaries must submit the Application for Temporary Protected Status, Form I-821, without the application fee and the Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765, in order to re-register for TPS. A separate biometric service fee, or a fee waiver request, must be submitted by re-registrants, 14-years of age and older.  If the applicant is only seeking to re-register for TPS and is not seeking an extension of employment authorization, he or she must submit Form I-765 for data-gathering purposes only and is not required to submit the I-765 filing fee.  All applicants seeking an extension of employment authorization through July 5, 2010 must submit the required application filing fee with Form I-765 or a fee waiver request with proper documentation.  Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee waiver request will result in the rejection of the re-registration application.

Further details on the extensions of the TPS re-registration periods for Nicaragua and Honduras and automatic extensions of the EADs will be available in a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published on Nov. 24, 2008.  More information can also be obtained from the USCIS National Customer Service Center toll-free number 1-800-375-5283.  TPS forms are available from the toll-free USCIS Forms line, 1-800-870-3676

Posted on November 21, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

For better or worse, the The Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition has launched a new network of Internet cameras aimed at the Mexican border in the latest effort to bolster local border security efforts with live video steaming. Here are excerpts from a Dallas Morning News article:

Much like during the monthlong test run of border cameras, users watching the cameras will be able to anonymously e-mail law enforcement to report suspicious activity. During the pilot program, 14,800 e-mails reporting suspicious behavior, suggestions for improvement, and other comments were sent to state officials.

That initial pilot project, Texas Border Watch, was riddled with technological glitches. Pictures from the cameras were grainy and some of the Web cameras were placed so high that it was difficult to distinguish from bush from a person. Images from the cameras available Thursday appeared clearer than previous pictures beamed from the border.

State officials canceled the bidding process for a new camera network – the state had hoped to place about 200 cameras along the border – after the bid deadline expired in mid-April. Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry’s office, said the bids “were going to do too little and cost too much.”

The deal between the border sheriffs and BlueServo will allow the company to sell advertising “to defray the infrastructure and costs of operating” the program, according to a statement from the coalition.

To view the cameras, visit BlueServo.

Posted on November 20, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Washington Post reports that Janet Napolitano will be appointed as Secretary of Homeland Security:

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), whose handling of immigration issues brought her accolades from fellow governors, is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to serve as secretary of homeland security, Democratic sources said late Wednesday.

Napolitano, 50, was an early supporter of Obama and was the only elected official tapped to serve on his transition team. She was reelected in 2006 to a second term as governor of Arizona, the home state of Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in the race against Obama. Napolitano previously served as U.S. attorney and state attorney general for Arizona; she was the first woman in both of those posts.

Posted on November 20, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The CapitolAnnex Web site has a good summary of the immigration bills pre-filed in the Texas Legislature, for consideration when the Legislature meets in January. Fortunately for Texans, our Legislature meets only every other year. Unfortunately, 2009 is one of those years. As some of us say, No Texan is safe when the Legislature is in session. From January through May of 2009 we’ll be sweating every day as the politicians in Austin try to outdo one another in controlling our lives.

Posted on November 19, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

A few days ago I wrote about the absurd policy of the Dallas Independent School District to issue fake Social Security numbers (temporarily) to new employees. Now the Dallas Morning News has weighed in with an editorial on the subject: 

OK, let’s see if we understand this. The Dallas school district knowingly used faked Social Security numbers to make the paperwork for some foreign-born hires go through more smoothly.

Really?

And furthermore, after the Texas Education Agency found out in 2004, warned DISD that the practice was illegal and told it to stop, Ross Avenue officials kept right on falsifying records – potentially a federal crime?

Really?

According to an internal DISD investigation reported by The Dallas Morning News’ Tawnell Hobbs, the district continued the “systemic” fraudulent practice until this summer, when TEA tipped off DISD’s inspector general office. TEA’s Doug Phillips told The News: “We just knew it looked bad and smelled bad. That was the first time we’d ever heard of that one.”

We’d all like to see innovation in DISD, but that’s not the way to do it.

Seriously, the DISD administration continues to make public schooling in this city a laughingstock, and there’s nothing funny about that. The more outrageous stories like this get generated out of DISD headquarters, the harder it is for true reformers within the system and their supporters to keep the public engaged. Worse still is that stunts like this wash over any good work occurring in the classroom.

To be fair to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, the Social Security scam started before he arrived and ended on his watch, after TEA informed the Office of Professional Responsibility – the in-house watchdog he created in the wake of the procurement-card scandal.

Fine. But we have to ask: Who in the human resources department or elsewhere at DISD had a hand in this latest fiasco – and approved it? Do these people still draw DISD paychecks?

If so, why?

Dr. Hinojosa surely knows these scandals are making him the fool, exhausting the patience of his supporters and destroying public trust. He should have on his desk today the resignations of any administrator culpable in this scam.

And if he will not or cannot, he should do us all a favor and pink-slip himself.

Posted on November 19, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

Recently, the U.S. Department of State launched a new Web site designed exclusively for intercountry adoption. The Web site, www.adoption.state.gov, provides information regarding the international adoption process, eligibility and requirements to adopt, the specific countries from which Americans can adopt children, the protections provided by the Hague Adoption Convention, and information about selecting an accredited adoption agency. Here is a statement from the site:

Posted on November 18, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

An editorial in today’s Dallas Morning News decries the decision by Harris County to release illegal immigrants who have been charged with felonies. This editorial is hard to argue with. Regardless of your position on immigration reform, surely no one believes our country is better off because we’re releasing serious criminals because of paperwork delays. Here is the editorial:

Local authorities around the country are taking the lead to tackle illegal immigration because our leaders in Washington have failed to devise a workable enforcement system. Federal deficiencies are so severe that public safety is being compromised, as a Houston Chronicle report showed this week.

Regardless of where you stand on comprehensive immigration reform, it’s hard not to be outraged by the failures the Chronicle exposed in Harris County’s jail system. Hundreds of illegal immigrant inmates charged with felony crimes – murder, rape, drug dealing and child molestation – were set free because Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities didn’t complete the paperwork to hold them for deportation.

ICE, part of the Homeland Security Department, failed to process detention orders for roughly 2,600 jail inmates who admitted they were illegal immigrants. In 177 cases, inmates committed additional crimes after being released. Hundreds had three or more prior convictions.

ICE officials say they’re doing their best with limited resources, but we’ve heard that excuse before. A year ago, ICE officials were forced to temporarily curtail the Criminal Alien Program in Irving because their staff and facilities couldn’t cope with the number of illegal immigrants Irving police were detaining.

Dallas County announced last week that it would participate in a new federal database project that is even more comprehensive than Irving’s. With growing participation by local governments, the pressure on ICE is going to grow. But ICE says it would take years and up to $1 billion to bring a new screening system up to speed and ensure the most serious offenders are deported – not released.

The heated debate in Washington over comprehensive immigration reform no doubt will resume after the incoming Obama administration addresses other pressing issues such as the economy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ridding our cities of these most undesirable immigrants deserves top priority attention, too. Failing that, the Department of Homeland Security should consider a name change, because the criminals it is releasing onto our streets have no justification to be in this “homeland.” And when they roam free, the notion of security for Americans becomes laughable.

Posted on November 17, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

Morning Edition, on National Public Radio, had a very interesting story this morning about the potential effect of Latino voter turnout on future immigration policies. Please read the article, but the gist is the suggestion that the large Latino support for the Democrats might force Democrats to act on immigration reform or risk losing this support. And the Republicans may have to rethink the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has gained them popularity with certain segments of the electorate.

Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy may postpone any efforts at a guest worker program. Here are excerpts from the article:

In recent years, political advice on immigration in both parties has gone something like this: “It’s the third rail of politics.” “The less said, the better.” “If you say anything, talk tough.”

But with President-elect Barack Obama’s solid win — and his overwhelming support from Latinos — some think that advice may change.

“What the election showed is that the conventional wisdom on why immigration reform is too hot to handle is wrong,” says Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration lobbying group.

More Hispanics than ever voted, and they voted 2-to-1 for Obama over McCain. Sharry says Latino support was decisive in helping deliver the swing states of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida. And polls show it was the immigration issue — specifically some in the Republican Party who demonized illegal immigrants — that helped drive Latinos to the Democrats.

“The large, vocal anti-immigrant vote that has hijacked the Republican Party — they have a lot of bark but not a lot of bite,” Sharry says. “They couldn’t turn elections.”

With the economic crisis, health care and energy dominating the political agenda, the Obama administration and the next Congress may well be tempted to keep pushing off immigration.

But if they do, lobbyist Sharry would urge them to think about 2012 and the decisive Latino vote that will have grown even bigger by then. Sharry believes Democrats will need to push an immigration overhaul to satisfy this now crucial constituency. And if the diminished Republican Party hopes to win back that Hispanic support, it could be harder for them to oppose it.

Posted on November 17, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Washington Post reports that the Department of Homeland Security will significantly scale back its planned crackdown this winter on federal contractors that hire illegal immigrants. Here are excerpts from the article:

Under a rule published yesterday, the agency said only contractors that do more than $100,000 in federal work will be required to use an electronic government system to check the work documents of new hires. Originally, officials had proposed that companies doing $3,000 in federal work must comply.

The agency also said it would require federal contractors to check only laborers used on specific contracts, instead of their entire workforce.

The revisions significantly reduce the number of companies that will be subject to the program, which will apply to federal contracts and solicitations issued after Jan. 15. The Bush administration had hoped to make the work eligibility system, called E-Verify, mandatory for nearly 200,000 government contractors, covering about 4 million U.S. workers over 10 years.

The change came after months of intense lobbying by business groups, which argued that the requirement singled out contractors, was unduly burdensome and was so big that it would overwhelm the government system. Randel K. Johnson, vice president and spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that the Bush administration “had been responsive to a substantial amount of business concerns,” particularly by limiting the rule to large contractors, but that the chamber is reviewing its legal options.

Posted on November 16, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety has decided to drop plans to create driver’s license checkpoints on Texas highways in the face of strong lawmaker opposition and suspicions that the proposal targeted illegal immigrants. Here are excerpts:

Fifteen state lawmakers asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to ignore the opinion request made in September. Some suspected the purpose of the checkpoints was to crack down on illegal immigrants.

In August, the public safety commission issued new rules for driver’s license applicants to prove they are here legally.

“A state agency is making immigration policy for the state of Texas, and that is not their job,” Democratic state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon told the San Antonio Express-News.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in 1994 that checkpoints would have to be approved by a “politically accountable governing body at the state level.” The Legislature has not passed bills outlining procedures for checkpoints.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund was among those who said the proposed driver’s license checkpoints, coupled with the requirement for proving immigration status, could lead to profiling.

Posted on November 14, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News today reports an incredible story about how the Dallas Independent School District issued fake Social Security numbers as a “temporary measure” in order to get immigrant teachers and employees on the payroll. The plan was to use the fake number until the immigrant could get a real number. Unfortunately, some of the fake numbers were turned in to the Texas Education Agency, and the ruse was discovered. Here are excerpts from the article:

Years after being advised by a state agency to stop, the Dallas Independent School District continued to provide foreign citizens with fake Social Security numbers to get them on the payroll quickly.

The practice was described in an internal report issued in September by the district’s investigative office, which looked into the matter after receiving a tip. The report said the Texas Education Agency learned of the fake numbers in 2004 and told DISD then that the practice “was illegal.”

The fake numbers were assigned as a stopgap to expedite the hiring process, the report says. The numbers were supposed to serve as temporary identification numbers until employees received real Social Security numbers. Once employees got the real numbers, they were supposed to tell district officials so the fake ones could be replaced.

Here’s how the Dallas school district’s false Social Security number process worked:

•Foreign educators on visas were assigned false Social Security numbers to get them on DISD’s payroll.

•The foreign employees were instructed to obtain Social Security numbers from the Social Security Administration and report them to the district.

•Once employees received the real numbers, the district entered those numbers in place of the fake ones in a computerized management system.

•The fake numbers were supposed to be used temporarily until real numbers were in place. But some of the fake numbers wound up being sent to the Texas Education Agency when DISD asked TEA to conduct background checks on new hires. Those numbers stayed in the system if DISD didn’t replace them with real Social Security numbers obtained by the employees.

Some of the numbers were real Social Security numbers already assigned to people elsewhere. And in some cases, the state’s educator certification office unknowingly used the bogus numbers to run criminal background checks on the new hires, most of whom were brought in to teach bilingual classes.

Posted on November 13, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Dallas County jail has become one of the first in the nation to use a new federal database to identify illegal immigrants during the book-in process. Here are excerpts from the article:

Normally, when prisoners are booked into jails, their fingerprints are run through a national database to check their criminal history. Under the new initiative, fingerprints also will be automatically run through a similar database to check the person’s immigration status.

If the computer shows a prisoner is in the country illegally, he or she will be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will determine whether to place an immigration hold on the person. The same applies to non-U.S. citizens who have been convicted of certain crimes while in the country legally.

After the person’s criminal charges are resolved through probation or prison time, they will be referred to ICE for deportation.

Posted on November 10, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The New York Times recently ran a very long, but important, article about medical care received in the United States by immigrants. The gist of the story is that the medical care is inadequate, regardless of the immigrant’s legal status. This is shocking – many legal immigrants in the U.S. receive poor medical care perhaps for the simple reason that they are immigrants. I urge you to read the article. Here are a few very short excerpts:

Soon after Antonio Torres, a husky 19-year-old farmworker, suffered catastrophic injuries in a car accident last June, a Phoenix hospital began making plans for his repatriation to Mexico.

Antonio Torres’s experience sharply illustrates the haphazard way in which the American health care system handles cases involving uninsured immigrants who are gravely injured or seriously ill. Whether these patients receive sustained care in this country or are privately deported by a hospital depends on what emergency room they initially visit.

There is only limited federal financing for these fragile patients, and no governmental oversight of what happens to them. Instead, it is left to individual hospitals, many of whom see themselves as stranded at the crossroads of a failed immigration policy and a failed health care system, to cut through a thicket of financial, legal and ethical concerns.

An examination by The Times of cases across the country involving seriously injured and ill immigrants shows patients at the mercy of hospitals and hospitals at the mercy of a system that provides neither compensation nor guidance. Taken together, the cases reveal a playbook of improvised responses, from aggressive to compassionate.

Posted on November 6, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News reports today that arrests of illegal immigrants in North Texas increased 21 percent in the last fiscal year. Here are excerpts from the article:

More than 16,300 people were repatriated to their native countries, compared with 13,500 the previous fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

For the nation, removals of illegal immigrants has doubled since 2004.

For the last two years, the federal government has stepped up its use of criminal law, rather than administrative law, in prosecuting immigrant workers in the U.S. illegally.

It is unclear what measures the incoming presidential administration of Barack Obama will take, and when. But Mr. Obama has been critical of raids that divide families, has urged tougher enforcement of employers who hire illegal immigrants, and has spoken favorably of a legalization program with certain qualifications.

Posted on November 6, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

That is the headline of a blog post at ThinkProgress.org. I don’t know that there is any connection, but this resignation seems quite sudden, and it does give rise to speculation.

Here is the press release from the Department of Homeland Security.

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