Posted on April 11, 2011 by Robert A. Kraft

This guest post is courtesy of Oak View Law Group:

Debt issues are quite common nowadays. If you are slogging through a swamp of debts, Debt Settlement Company can help you out in this regard and can ease or eradicate your debt loads. You can file for bankruptcy as well but if you are a non-citizen of U.S and worrying how bankruptcy can affect your immigration issue, read the rest of the article, and find out whether filing for bankruptcy can jeopardize your immigration status or not.

There is no such specific law which states clearly anything about bankruptcy and immigration or any regulation which disqualifies anyone from the privileges of immigration in the US. However, bankruptcy might not have any direct influence on immigration status, it has some indirect ones for sure. The Bankruptcy Code pronounces clearly that “…only a person that resides or has a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States, or a municipality, may be a debtor under this title” [11 U.S.C. Section 109(a)]. The term “person” incorporates individual, partnership, and corporation… [11 U.S.C. Section 101(a)(41)].The bottom line is there is no requirement of citizenship in the bankruptcy code.

How Bankruptcy Affects Immigration Status 

·      In general, filing for bankruptcy won’t affect the citizenship applications in any way. However, whenever there are criminal convictions like holding credit cards in other people’s names, writing “fraudulent” checks in more than one state, tax elusion, false transfers of assets, or filing an inaccurate bankruptcy petition, it would mandate the deportation crimes of “moral turpitude” and can adversely affect one’s immigration status.

·      To gain the lawful permanent citizenship of US, one must establish himself as of “good moral character” before US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Filing for bankruptcy might be deemed as a blemish on ones moral character and therefore won’t have a good impact on his or her immigration status.

·      Tax evasion is a serious matter of concern for people who are still immigrants or had applied for citizenship. People becoming a lawful permanent resident should not fail to file a required federal, state, or local tax return, or must not owe any federal, state, or local taxes that are overdue. However, someone filing for bankruptcy does not prove that the person has overdue taxes as well. If any immigrant works illegitimately and does not pay taxes on time or transfer money or property to another person in order to evade tax liabilities, and if these amounts exceed $10,000, he or she could be considered an “aggravated felon” and is conclusively estimated to be an outlaw and hence could be ostracized.

Bankruptcy and immigration around the world

While maximum countries have bankruptcy laws and procedures similar to those of the United States, some of the countries have different cultures and attitude towards the issue. In countries like China or Japan, most people are ignorant of bankruptcy and the suicide rate is quite high for people going through financial turbulence. However, in countries like Hong Kong no social stigma is attached to bankruptcy and it is accepted by almost everyone.

Final thought

Remember, the immigration officers no matter which country they belong to, always verify the immigrant’s financial status. Therefore, if you are an immigrant, stay honest while passing any information to the federal government and make sure that all your income is reported to the IRS on tax returns. If required, you can take help from immigration attorneys in this regard and determine whether bankruptcy can adversely affect your immigration status.

Posted on March 7, 2011 by Robert A. Kraft

Texas immigration attorney Mark Murov has a good article about the E-Verify system in his latest newsletter. His conclusion is that this is not a workable solution to our immigration problems. Here are excerpts from Mr. Murov’s article:

Although the government claims that E-Verify, its electronic employment authorization program, is free, most companies which have been forced to use it (due to Federal Contracts and State laws) have found it necessary to utilize vendor programs, and to pay setup costs and ongoing service fees. A recent Bloomberg study states that if E-Verify had been mandatory for employers last year, it would have cost U.S. employers $2.7 billion. Moreover, 99.7% of employers have fewer than 500 workers and can least afford the expense. The Cato Institute issued a report which called E-verify Franz Kafkas Solution to Illegal Immigration.

Although E-Verify has improved somewhat in the fourteen (14) years since it was first rolled out, many companies have found that E-Verify does not work well for them or their workforce. E-Verify cannot detect all unauthorized workers. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it does nothing to detect identity fraud : if a worker presents genuine documents belonging to another person,

E-Verify will erroneously confirm him as work authorized. Additionally, due to errors in the database, workers who are in fact authorized sometimes lose their jobs, creating hardship to their families and to employers which incur the expense of replacing them.

The only way to fix the problem of unauthorized workers is to address this issue wtih Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). This means a more comprehensive package of reforms, including a legalization program that brings workers into compliance and taxes their income. CIR should include a workable Verification program to allow employers to verify their workers immigration status with greater confidence that they are doing the right thing. CIR means a solution which comprehensively addresses the future of foreign workers living and working here by creating working visa categories which employers need. CIR should also reform the systems by which the laws are enforced to create equity and certainty for workers and employers.

Its time for our Congress to do the right thing and fix our immigration system, in one piece of legislation. CIR is the only smart way to fix the problems with unauthorized employment and verifications.

Posted on January 28, 2011 by Robert A. Kraft

Yesterday, immigration and Customs Enforcement deputy director Kumar Kibble told a House subcommittee hearing that it costs approximately $12,500 to arrest, detain, and deport each person removed from the United States.

This is only one of several reasons that most immigration lawyers believe deportation of illegal immigrants is not a workable solution to our current immigration problems. 

In 2010 ICE deported about 393,000 people from the United States, and the cost was almost $5 billion. It’s estimated that 11 million people are currently in the U.S. without authorization. Extrapolating the ICE figures, it would cost the government almost $140 billion to deport them. We simply cannot afford to do that.

Posted on January 17, 2011 by Robert A. Kraft

The Salvadoran Consulate in Dallas is working hard to process applications faster. This was reported in a recent article in the Dallas Morning News. Here are excerpts from the article:

The last time Héctor Guatemala and Araceli Jiménez came to the Salvadoran Consulate in Dallas to request passports, they arrived at 8 a.m. and waited several hours before being called to the counter.

Five years later, the couple returned to renew their documents and noticed a big change – their request was processed within minutes. “I see things have improved because now they have appointments,” said Guatemala, 44, a resident of Dallas.

The appointment system is one of the recent changes that José Mario Mejía Barrera, the new consul general of El Salvador in Dallas, hopes will improve services.

Mejía says he has been tasked by his government with improving relations between the consulate and the Salvadoran community in North Texas, protecting the civil and labor rights of immigrants, encouraging remittances and, most important, speeding up service.

The Dallas consulate, at 1555 W. Mockingbird Lane, serves about 100,000 Salvadorans in North Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas with six clerks and consuls.

More people are requesting services, but the lines at the consulate are shorter because the appointments are spread out over several weeks and the crowd is predictable. In the past, sometimes 70 to 80 people showed up one day, and only a handful the next. Now an average of 35 to 40 Salvadorans get services each day.

Posted on December 30, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

The incoming 2011 Congress will have a Republican majority, and the Associated Press believes (and I agree) that any immigration discussions will be focused more on border security and automatic birthright citizenship than on comprehensive immigration reform.

We may have lost our chance for meaningful reform by not passing new laws during the Bush administration or the first two years of the Obama administration. Here are excerpts from the AP article:

The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress’ approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship.

Such a hardened approach — and the rhetoric certain to accompany it — should resonate with the GOP faithful who helped swing the House in Republicans’ favor. But it also could further hurt the GOP in its endeavor to grab a large enough share of the growing Latino vote to win the White House and the Senate majority in 2012.

Legislation to test interpretations of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to children of illegal immigrants will emerge early next session. That is likely to be followed by attempts to force employers to use a still-developing web system, dubbed E-Verify, to check that all of their employees are in the U.S. legally.

There could be proposed curbs on federal spending in cities that don’t do enough to identify people who are in the country illegally and attempts to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants. Democrats ended the year failing for a second time to win passage of the Dream Act, which would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status.

House Republicans will try to fill the immigration reform vacuum left by Democrats with legislation designed to send illegal immigrants packing and deter others from trying to come to the U.S.

Many of those attending a recent gathering of conservative Hispanics in Washington warned that another round of tough laws surrounded by ugly anti-immigrant discussions could doom the GOP’s 2012 chances.

But more controversial measures such as attempts to deny citizenship to children of people who are in the U.S. without permission could be tempered by GOP leaders aware of the need to curry more favor with Hispanic voters.

Posted on December 28, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

A rather alarming report, detailed in the Los Angeles Times, shows that new travel restrictions requiring passports for American citizens to reenter the country are not being enforced.

These are American citizens, so perhaps we should not get too excited about the report, but it still makes you wonder about travel enforcement in general. Here are excerpts from the article:

Despite new travel requirements, more than 2.3 million Americans reentering the country by land or sea from Mexico or Canada failed to produce a passport, birth certificate or other secure document to establish identity and nationality, a government review has found.

Most people, including about 500,000 in California, were allowed to pass through ports of entry without the approved documents or without being sent to a secondary inspection post for a more in-depth examination, according to the report by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

Many travelers were allowed to pass after undergoing extensive questioning and producing at least a driver’s license, the report found. Overall, 96% of travelers arriving at the 39 busiest land ports were in compliance with the new law, which took effect in June 2009.

The procedure for processing those without the required documents needs to be more precise and implemented across the board, the report said.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, approved by Congress last year, requires U.S. travelers reentering the country from Mexico or Canada to present documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

Out of more than 1 million people, including U.S. and foreign citizens, who legally enter the United States each day, about three-fourths arrive by land from Mexico or Canada, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

Posted on December 9, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

In a policy change that may stir some debate, the Dallas County tax assessor-collector John Ames, has announced that his office will resume accepting identification cards issued to Mexican citizens for motor vehicle transactions such as registrations and title transfers. Here are excerpts from a Dallas Morning News article on the subject:

John Ames decided a week ago to stop accepting the Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridad identification cards because of their use in some fraudulent transactions. But Ames reversed himself after learning that some Mexican nationals living in Dallas County have no other form of identification, which is needed to register vehicles, his office said.

The Mexican government issues the cards through its consulate offices to Mexican citizens living in other countries regardless of their emigration status. Many U.S. cities and police departments accept the card as identification as do certain banks for financial transactions.

Norman Kasal, spokesman for the tax office, said Ames’ original decision was based on the fact that it’s not possible to verify the matricula consular cards’ authenticity or legitimacy. In addition, some have used fraudulent cards in such motor vehicle transactions as registrations and title transfers, he said.

The office will try to verify the validity of such cards, Kasal said, even though it may be time-consuming.

For example, if someone submits registration or title documents on behalf of a vehicle owner along with the person’s Mexican ID card, the tax office will try to contact the cardholder to verify that the card and transaction are valid, he said.

“As agents of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, my office makes every effort possible to ensure the accuracy and legality of the transactions we process,” Ames said in a prepared statement. “Our decision to not accept or accept various forms of ID is based on the ability to verify the authenticity of that ID.”

Posted on November 23, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has introduced a new fee waiver form, effective today. The form is supposed to make fee waiver requests simpler and less confusing. This is especially important since immigration fees have risen so dramatically in the past few years. Here is the announcement from USCIS:

For the first time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is introducing a standardized form for requesting waivers of the fees charged for immigration-benefit processing. Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, will become available for use on Nov. 23, 2010 – the same day USCIS’s latest fee schedule takes effect.

“Our goal is to bring clarity and consistency to immigration-benefit services,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.  “The development of the new fee waiver form reflects our commitment to making improvements through extensive collaboration with the public.”

The fee waiver form reflects significant input from stakeholders, community-based organizations, and the general public. In stakeholder meetings, USCIS heard concerns that the absence of a standardized form led to confusion about the criteria and standards used to approve waivers. In July, USCIS published and sought comments on a proposed form through the Federal Register, generating input from numerous interested parties. Comments reflected applicants’ past experiences in requesting fee waivers and recommended changes to the proposed form and instructions to make them easier to understand for non-native English speakers.

The new form identifies clear requirements for documenting a fee waiver request. The form’s instructions also give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to evaluate the requests. For example, if an applicant can show that he or she is receiving a means-tested benefit and presents evidence to document that claim, then there is no requirement to submit further evidence. USCIS will use the same methodology in reviewing all fee waiver requests, whether submitted on the new Form I-912 or in a written statement generated by the applicant.

USCIS announced today that it is also now seeking feedback on a new guidance memorandum documenting the agency’s consolidated policy for reviewing fee waiver requests. Stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to visit www.uscis.gov/outreach to review the new memorandum and offer their input.

USCIS’s latest fee rule, which takes effect Nov. 23, 2010, expands the availability of fee waivers to several new categories. The final rule also increases fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent, but does not increase the fee on naturalization applications.
 
For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News ran an excellent editorial today about some of the proposed new immigration legislation in Austin. This is important enough to reprint in full:

Picture a Texas where city police officers become foot soldiers in a push to corral and deport people who are in the country illegally. Picture neighborhood schools as part of the screening process to sort out who has immigration papers and who does not.

It’s a jarring picture that radically changes the jobs that cops and educators already work hard to get done.

Yet it’s the image we get from lawmakers in Austin who have filed – with dramatic flourish – bills to put local officials in the business of immigration enforcement.

They represent a wedge issue in next year’s legislative session. Lawmakers’ attention will be dominated by the painful job of chopping up to $25 billion out of the state budget. Even so, some of the most conservative lawmakers are creating a sideshow out of their vows to pass Arizona-type laws to crack down on illegal immigrants.

There is no doubt that local taxpayers pay the bill for services for people in the country illegally, and Texans have justification to be steamed at Washington’s refusal to piece together a workable immigration policy. But these Austin proposals would do nothing to pay for services, secure the border or deal systematically with millions of people who overstay their visas.

What the proposals would do is make cops on the streets responsible for determining whether someone is in the country illegally before making the arrest. The problem with that is the naive notion that cops can do this job with little chance of racial profiling.

An arrest could come only during a stop on a separate infraction, but it would require the police officer to check with federal immigration officials on a suspect’s status. The problem is the time and energy that would take from officers who should concentrate on catching dangerous people.

The author of the legislation filed in the House is Debbie Riddle, aRepublican from the Houston suburb of Tomball. One of her bills, she said, would require “school districts to report the number of illegal aliens attending their schools.” Local educators don’t need a time-consuming new mandate from Austin and the distraction of becoming de-facto immigration inspectors. Schoolchildren shouldn’t be caught in the middle of document searches and background checks. Education should be the priority.

Riddle filed her legislation with much stagecraft. She camped outside the House – yard chairs and all – so she could be first in line for her bill filings.

Politicians like to say that Austin is different from other state capitals, that members put aside party differences “for the good of Texas.” New House Speaker Joe Straus, a centrist Republican, was able to restore some of that spirit last year.

Going into the 2011 session, the GOP majority in the Legislature is bigger, bolder and farther to the right. What’s certain is that lawmakers will have some of the most polarizing political battles imaginable. These battles will be not so much “for the good of Texas” as they will be for the good of people’s political resumes.

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News ran an excellent short editorial today encouraging Latinos to vote in the coming election. Historically, Latinos vote in smaller percentages than other ethnic groups. There may be cultural reasons for this, but the failure to vote hurts Latino causes -— whether that is immigration reform or economic recovery. I want to join the newspaper in urging Latinos, and everyone else, to vote November 2. Here is the editorial:

This probably isn’t the first editorial you’ve read urging Latinos to make their mark at the polls. We’ve written some ourselves, so this plea to Texas’ Hispanic voters is not new to us, either.

Nevertheless, the point remains. From jobs to education to immigration, Hispanic voters have quite a bit at stake in November’s mid-term election. Yet some recent polling data suggests a significant number of registered Latino voters may sit this one out.

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that only about half of Hispanic voters nationally are likely to cast ballots. By contrast, 70 percent of all registered voters say they will vote.

A survey by this newspaper and several others found similar numbers across Texas. Only 44 percent of registered Texas Hispanic voters said they were “absolutely certain” to vote, compared to 58.2 percent of all registered Texas voters with no doubt they would hit the polls.

The polling firm Latino Decisions found some marginally better numbers nationally. Its recent report shows 73 percent of registered Hispanic voters are “almost certain” to vote. “Almost certain” is nowhere as good as “absolutely certain,” but the Latino numbers perhaps could end up higher than 45 percent to 50 percent of those registered.

Let’s hope so. Sitting this election out will do Hispanics no good, no matter how despondent they may be over the immigration debate. Experts examining these recent polls believe the anger surrounding this issue is largely responsible for the low projections.

But there is much more at stake, which the Pew Hispanic Center interestingly picked up on. Its survey revealed that Latinos consider education, jobs, health care and budget deficits more important issues than immigration.

So with all that at stake, particularly the economy, Latino voters have every reason to vote early or on Nov. 2. We hope that by the morning of Nov. 3, these dire projections will have been proven wildly inaccurate.

Posted on October 4, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

The results of a poll of Texans conducted recently by the Dallas Morning News show that a majority favor a crackdown of some sort on illegal immigration, similar to what Arizona is trying to do. But the anti-immigration fervor in Texas doesn’t appear to be as strong as in some other states. Here are excerpts from this interesting article:

Texans appear fed up with illegal immigration, with most backing an Arizona-type crackdown and many willing to change the U.S. Constitution to discourage women from entering the country to give birth.

But some experts said that Texas, while roiled by the issue, still isn’t as captivated by it as other places – especially for a border state with a decidedly Republican tilt.

A statewide poll by The Dallas Morning News showed that 53 percent of registered voters say police should verify whether people they’ve stopped are in the country legally, even if it could lead to racial profiling. Thirty-eight percent oppose it.

Meanwhile, Texans were almost evenly divided on changing the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to those born in the U.S., with 45 percent favoring change and 43 percent opposing it, the poll found.

“If there’s a surprise, it’s that the margins are so narrow,” said Jerry Polinard, University of Texas-Pan American political science professor. “Overall, immigration has been on the agenda of the state for the past six or seven years, but it hasn’t lit the sparks that it has in some of the other states.”

Texans’ reluctance to change the Constitution mirrors national polls on the subject. But Texans are less enthusiastic than the nation at large about the Arizona law, which allowed law officers to ask people about their immigration status if officers suspect people are in the country illegally. The law largely is on hold while it is challenged in federal court.

Mark P. Jones, political science chairman at Rice University, said Texas voters might have peeled off because the poll raised the concern over racial profiling.

Also, Hispanic culture has long been a part of Texas history, he said.

“It’s hard to argue that there is an overwhelming feeling by Texans that we need that law,” Jones said.

Although some Republicans have vowed to push in next year’s Legislature for a similar law, GOP Gov. Rick Perry has been lukewarm, saying it’s not needed in Texas. His Democratic opponent, Bill White, has opposed it, saying it would distract police officers from protecting the public from crime.

The News’ poll showed clear breaks between Republicans (78 percent favoring it) and Democrats (71 percent opposing it), and Hispanics (76 percent opposing) and whites (68 percent favoring).

Both Jones and Polinard said the immigration conflict eventually would hurt Republicans by alienating Latino voters, who within 10 years will have a large sway in Texas elections.

“The Republicans, if they take this up, are looking over a cliff. Demography is destiny,” Polinard said.

“The Democrats fall on their knees every night and pray for immigration to be an issue because it’s viewed as anti-Latino and it will only help them,” he said.

Jones said efforts to pass a verification law would be a polarizing distraction, with no real legal benefit because the courts probably will overturn most of it. “It’s not a winning political issue,” he said.

The poll also looked at Texans’ views of showing a photo ID to vote, and the vast majority favor such a law.

Opponents believe that the ID requirement would force many who are poor, elderly or disabled – those most likely not to have a driver’s license – to be turned away from the polling places.

Posted on September 20, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

General Colin Powell has clarified a rather startling remark he made Sunday morning on Meet The Press.

He was talking about the need for a path to legal status for those in this country without authorization. His original statement was “They’re all over my house, doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I’m sure you’ve seen them at your house. We’ve got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status.”

Today, General Powell’s office said he “misspoke” during the interview, and that he did not mean that he personally had hired illegal immigrants to work on his house. Instead, he was “…referring to the many service contractors who work in my neighborhood, using mostly immigrant workers, who do good work. Some may well be ‘illegal.’ There are 11 million illegal immigrants in this country and most are working somewhere in our economy.”

Regardless of who hired the illegal immigrants in question, General Powell is exactly right in saying we need to find some way to bring these people “out of the darkness” and integrate them into American society.

Posted on September 13, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

Many of us in the Dallas area are closely following the Hazleton, Pennsylvania saga regarding that town’s ordinances aimed at keeping illegal immigrants away. We do this because a local suburb, Farmers Branch, is doing essentially the same thing. Neither city is having much luck, as they keep getting shot down by the federal courts.

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer provides details of Hazleton’s latest setback. Here are excerpts:

In a high-profile Pennsylvania case that helped spark the ongoing national debate over immigration policy, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the City of Hazleton has no right to punish businesses or landlords who hire or rent to illegal immigrants.

The ruling, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, upheld a 2007 lower-court decision prohibiting Hazleton from enforcing local immigration ordinances.

The judges said federal immigration law preempted Hazleton’s controversial 2006 initiatives.

“Federal law simply does not prohibit landlords from renting [in the ordinary course of business] to persons who lack lawful immigration status,” Chief Judge Theodore McKee wrote. “Nor does federal law directly prohibit persons lacking lawful status from renting apartments.”

The ruling sets up a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’re over the moon,” exulted Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania, who successfully argued the case. “Hazleton pioneered a wave of these divisive laws across the country that tore communities apart along racial and ethnic lines.”

The appellate ruling, Walczak said, “is a pointed repudiation of such local anti-immigrant laws, and should serve as a warning to other communities considering similar misguided legislation.”

But Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who pushed through the ordinances, becoming a folk hero to many, vowed that the fight was not over. Saying he was “not disillusioned” by the ruling, Barletta pledged to take the case to the Supreme Court.

“Hazleton was the first, and became the symbol of hope for many around the country,” the three-time Republican congressional candidate said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “Since I proposed this law more than four years ago, we have seen the growing frustration all across the country.”

“It is . . . not our job to sit in judgment of whether state and local frustration about federal immigration policy is warranted,” McKee wrote. “We are, however, required to intervene when states and localities directly undermine the federal objectives embodied in statutes enacted by Congress.”

In the court’s view, that’s what happened in 2006, when Hazleton began passing a series of ordinances aimed at undocumented immigrants.

The laws gave the city the right to fine employers and suspend their business licenses for hiring such immigrants. Similarly, landlords “harboring” illegal immigrants could have their rental licenses pulled and be prohibited from collecting rents.

Hazleton also required anyone 18 and older to obtain a permit, predicated in part on their immigration status, before being allowed to rent an apartment.

Because of ensuing legal challenges and court injunctions, the ordinances have never been enforced.

Posted on September 9, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

I wrote earlier this week about a Pew report indicating a decline in illegal immigration from Mexico. But the Dallas Morning News warns that the problem is not yet solved, and will not be solved until our elected representatives find the courage to debate and pass comprehensive immigration reform. The editorial is good enough to reproduce in full here:

The estimated number of illegal immigrants in the United States sank by nearly a million to 11.1 million from 2007 to 2009, suggesting that the tide has turned in efforts to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Opponents of comprehensive immigration reform already are claiming that new migration statistics from the Pew Hispanic Center vindicate their position that tougher enforcement, not reform, is the solution.

There’s no disputing the trend toward lower numbers. Major indicators, however, point to the economy as the principal driver, bolstered by a growing anti-illegal immigrant mood across the nation.

The 2007 slump in homebuilding, a major magnet for low-cost migrant labor, set off the wave. The subsequent national recession further soured the migrant job market. However, the number of illegal immigrants in Texas continues rising – largely because our unemployment rate remains lower than the rest of the country. Analysts say it appears that some migrants aren’t necessarily going home but are relocating to states where the jobs are.

At the same time, American companies are facing tough new sanctions for employing illegal immigrants, making them far less inclined to take that risk. The Obama administration also has dramatically stepped up efforts to remove illegal immigrants in federal custody, having deported 389,000 last year and aiming for a record 400,000 this year.

Finally, the danger of sneaking into the United States has grown dramatically because of border-area violence. Drug gangs are kidnapping northbound migrants and holding them for ransom. The recent mass murder of 72 Central and South American migrants in the state of Tamaulipas underscores the intolerably high risks.

These factors have combined to produce the remarkable numbers in the Pew report. Problem solved, right? Hardly. Remember: A whopping 11.1 million illegal immigrants remain. And when the U.S. economy improves, jobs will lure other migrants back. Mexican gangs vying for control of border smuggling routes eventually will see they have a financial stake in increasing, not deterring, the flow of migrants northward.

That’s why comprehensive immigration reform remains the long-term solution – along with sustained, tough enforcement – to ensure that migrants seeking entry into this country do it by the book, while those already residing here understand there’s no choice but to legalize their status and pay for having broken the law.

Employers must have access to a predictable supply of legal, low-cost migrant labor, which can be guaranteed only through a scheduled system of temporary work visas envisioned under comprehensive reform.

These numbers point to signs of short-term progress on immigration, but don’t be fooled. This problem is far from solved, and it will keep coming back until Congress gets serious about comprehensive reform.

Posted on September 7, 2010 by Robert A. Kraft

 A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center says illegal entries from Mexico are declining and the total illegal immigrant population is down by about one million, but not in Texas, which has actually seen a slight increase. A map of unauthorized immigrants state-by-state is also part of the Pew report.

The Dallas Morning News ran a recent article about this report. Here are excerpts:

The report by the Pew Hispanic Center avoids naming causes for the contraction to 11.1 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. But it notes that the recession and tougher immigration enforcement paralleled a trend that “represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades.”

The findings come at a time when the national debate over illegal immigration grows more vigorous and polarized. Rancor comes from Arizona’s tough new immigration law, which is being challenged in the federal courts. And while some press for a partial legalization program for those here illegally, others have called for an end to birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.

Much of the drop the Pew reports found in the unauthorized immigrant population comes from the nation’s Southeast coast and the states of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Mexican officials and others have speculated that Texas became a destination state for some immigrants from more economically battered U.S. states. Texas’ jobless rate — now at 8.2 percent — has been 1 to 2 percentage points below the national average for much of the recession.

The Pew study follows another report this week that says in Texas one out of three young students under the age of 8 has an immigrant parent. The Washington-based Urban Institute says nationwide one out of four students under the age of 8, roughly third-graders, has an immigrant parent.

And Texas continues to have one of the nation’s highest percentages of illegal immigrants in the labor force, at nearly 9 percent. Illegal immigrants account for 6.5 percent of the state’s 24 million residents, or an estimated 1.6 million people in 2009. It’s the third highest rate in the nation in a cluster led by California (with a 6.9 percent share).

The Pew center said that the unauthorized immigrant population peaked at 12 million in March 2007, several months before the recession officially hit the U.S. And the nonpartisan research center noted that 72 percent of the overall foreign-born population was in the U.S. legally in 2009.