TX News Service: Immigration Reform – A Path to Citizenship and Secure Borders

Published January 29, 2013
John Michaelson, Public News Service – TX
El Paso, TX

A plan for immigration reform has been announced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, and a mix of optimism and caution is greeting the proposal.

It includes a path to citizenship for people already in the country, says Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

“They are talking about bringing people who are undocumented out of the shadows and give them some kind of path to citizenship, so I think the recognition that there should be a solution for the people already in the United States, and they should be integrated with full citizenship, is quite important.”

The plan rolled out Monday also includes ramped-up border security, a reformed legal immigration system and an employment verification system.

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Public News Service: Big Turnout Leads to Big Predictions of Immigration Reform

Published November 8, 2012
Peter Malof, Public News Service – TX
El Paso, TX

As political analysts debate whether this week’s election results will ease the gridlock in Washington, D.C., some are predicting a quick breakthrough on at least one major issue. Immigration reform has been blocked in recent years – primarily by a Republican base that wants to seal the border first. That stance alienated enough Latino voters to help propel Democrats to a national victory this week, according to Adriana Cadena, statewide coordinator of the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance. She says Hispanic voters will not be satisfied with anything less than comprehensive reforms.

“That means providing venues through which people who are here undocumented can become U.S. citizens. There’s really no other option, and the time is now.”

The debate is already heating up. Some conservative activists say they will continue fighting what they see as amnesty for millions who are in the country illegally, but other Republicans are calling for a reexamination of their party’s relationship to the growing Latino electorate. President Obama, meanwhile, wants reforms enacted soon, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promises to introduce a bill in the coming year.

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San Antonio Express News: Texas wants access to immigrant records

By Susan Carroll, published July 19, 2012:

Texas elections officials have joined a growing number of states seeking access to a massive immigration database to check voter rolls for possible noncitizens, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade sent a letter to Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting access to the federal database, which contains more than 100 million immigration records.
Andrade, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry, is the latest of roughly a dozen GOP elections leaders from across the country to seek the information after the Homeland Security Department granted Florida officials permission last week after a long fight.
Andrade’s plans to check voter rolls against the database mark the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy over the state’s efforts to combat voter fraud. Texas officials and the U.S. Justice Department already are embroiled in a court battle over a state law passed last year that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.
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Think Progress: 96 Year-Old Former Arizona Governor Detained By Border Patrol In 100 Degree Heat

Reported July 6, 2012:

This man is Raúl Héctor Castro. He is 96 years old, a former Arizona governor, and a former United States Ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia and Argentina. He was born in Mexico, and is a United States citizen.

Last month he was stopped by U.S. border patrol agents after residual radiation from a medical procedure he’d recently undergone triggered an alarm at a checkpoint in Tubac, AZ. The 96 year-old heart patient was then forced to exit his vehicle in the 100 degree Arizona heat and wait in a tent in a business suit, even as his companion begged the agents not to subject an elderly man to such treatment.

This is the third time the former governor and ambassador has been detained by border control. The first occurred years ago while he was repairing his own fence and agents stopped him and asked to see his work card — although they eventually desisted after Castro pointed out a sign by his farm entrance that read “Judge Castro.” The second occurred years later in San Diego, although that encounter ended shortly after someone recognized Castro and said “Governor, how are you?”

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KERA: Supreme Court Arizona Ruling Impacts Farmers Branch

On June 26, 2012 Bill Zeeble (KERA) wrote:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona may shut down any more attempted restrictions on Farmers Branch apartment renters.

The court struck down most of an Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants. Farmers Branch wanted to make all renters get citizenship clearance before they could move in. But David Hinojosa, with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), said the Farmers Branch law was thrown out in lower court, and the Supreme Court ruling just confirms that.

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CNN – Citizenship for Sale: Foreign investors flock to U.S.

On June 11, 2012, James O’Toole wrote for CNN Money:

Good riddance, Eduardo.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin drew public ire last month following the revelation that he had renounced his U.S. citizenship, a move widely seen as a tax dodge. But thousands of wealthy foreigners are lining up to replace him, making investments here and putting themselves on a path to citizenship in the process.

The State Department expects to issue over 6,000 “investor visas” in the current fiscal year, which would be an all-time record. Other countries, meanwhile, are following the U.S.’s lead, keen to spur growth in lean economic times.

“Our goal is certainly job creation, and that’s what this program is all about,” said Bill Wright, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “At the same time, it’s allowing somebody from a foreign country to come and invest in our nation.” Read more »

Boston Globe: 9/11 hate crime victim’s kin become US citizens

On March 16, 2012, Samantha Henry reports for the AP:

WEST WINDSOR, N.J.—Anum Hasan has seen many conflicting visions of America: the hope of a better life that brought her family from Pakistan, the hate-filled act that ended her father’s life in the name of American vengeance; and an outpouring of compassion that her family has come to feel is the true face of the country they now call home.

“I think about what story I’ll tell her one day about what happened to our family,” Anum Hasan said, cradling her 1-year-old daughter Aisha on her lap. “It’s important for her to know there’s always a lot of hate going around in the world, but there is so much more good.”

Hasan’s father, Waqar Hasan, was shot to death four days after Sept. 11, 2001, in Texas, targeted by a white supremacist looking for revenge against Middle Eastern men for the terror attack. The family had every reason to want to leave, but on Friday, Hasan’s widow and three of her four daughters were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

It was what happened in the aftermath of Hasan’s killing that reinforced the family’s decision to remain in the U.S.

The doorbell of their Milltown home did not stop ringing. Letters started pouring in. Hundreds of phone messages from across the country were left with their local congressman, decrying Hasan’s killing. Fruit baskets and baked goods were brought to their home. Neighbors in their small town organized a candlelight peace vigil and Waqar Hasan’s widow, Durree Hasan, recalled her amazement that the elderly, infirm woman who lived next door had found a way to attend the vigil, despite the pouring rain.  Read More …

San Antonio Express News: ‘USA’ chant reflects deep social woes

This is one of those moments when you can see the way national origin and class work out to make a hierarchy of belonging to “America.”  This is a disturbing story about obnoxious high school kids and it also exposes some truths that no one likes to talk about.  Victor Landa says it better below:

When do chants of USA! USA! become a racist rant? It sounds, at first hearing, like an Orwellian proposition. But take that proposition to one of the most American of venues, the high school basketball gym, and that seeming double-speak becomes an ethnic affront; it’s all in the intent.

That’s exactly what happened last week during an important regional basketball match between San Antonio’s Alamo Heights and Edison High Schools. The Alamo Heights Mules defeated the Edison Golden Bears, and with that defeat the Mules advanced in regional tournament competition. But in their post-victory celebration a group of Mules partisans chanted USA! USA! This is the nuance that turned a patriotic chant into a perceived ethnic/cultural slur: both the Mules and the Golden Bears are American High School teams. The USA! chant was entirely out of place, it was not an international competition — unless you dig further into preconceptions.

Alamo Heights is a mostly nonminority, affluent high school. Edison is predominantly Latino, lower- to working-class campus. Within that context the chant has a different implication. It is, at best, demeaning. At worst, it’s insulting. The implied intent is that the victors are American, and defeated are not. The implication goes further still: if the members of the Golden Bears squad are not American, as the chant implies, then what are they?  Read more …

Houston Chronicle: New Service Puts Legal Help in the Hands of Immigrants Seeking to Naturalize

On March 7, 2012, the Houston Chronicle published this press release from PRWeb regarding a new service from CitizenshipWorks:

CitizenshipWorks Text Messaging Campaign Provides Local Information about Naturalization Assistance

CitizenshipWorks, an online resource committed to increasing naturalization rates among eligible immigrants, recently announced the launch of its nationwide text messaging campaign, which sends immigrants information about United States citizenship and helps them to access free or low-cost legal help in their area.

Users can text “citizenship” (“ciudadania” in Spanish) to 877877 and receive the location and contact information of nearby legal services providers as well as information about naturalization and alerts about upcoming naturalization workshops and events in their community. Available in English and Spanish, the campaign addresses the unmet need for information about becoming a U.S. citizen and directs users to local organizations providing naturalization assistance.

Nationally, it is estimated that there are 8.5 million lawful permanent residents who are eligible to apply for citizenship. However, less than 1 million naturalize every year. For many immigrants, the complex laws and regulations that govern the process of naturalization are intimidating. Others simply lack the resources to hire an attorney to begin the process.

The CitizenshipWorks website (http://www.citizenshipworks.org) provides free, easy-to-use, online tools to help individuals answer questions about their eligibility for naturalization, better understand the naturalization process, and prepare for the naturalization tests. CitizenshipWorks is a project of the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), a collaborative effort of leading immigrants’ rights organizations; the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, national experts on the naturalization process; and Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit that develops innovative and collaborative technology platforms to increase access.  Read more …