HEADLINES: Immigration

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While the Supreme Court justices took up health care, opponents of Arizona’s extreme immigration law looked ahead. Eleven attorneys general filed an amicus brief on Monday in support of the federal government’s suit against the law, SB 1070, which the Supreme Court will hear in April. Nearly 70 House Democrats, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), filed a separate, but similar brief. The fight over Arizona’s immigration law is likely to provoke a firestorm as the Obama administration pits itself against Republican state lawmakers who attempted to take up enforcement of immigration law on their own. Another similar brief was filed on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Attorneys for the religious leaders argue in the brief that the federal government, not the states, controls the nation’s immigration laws. A patchwork of state laws could hurt the religious mission to serve immigrants, by essentially criminalizing charity, according to the brief. [Huffington Post and Associated Press]

The city of Seattle has joined dozens of cities and counties across the country in a friend-of-the-court filing that urges the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the most controversial provisions of Arizona’s anti-undocumented-immigration law. The United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities also signed the amicus brief filed this week in the case — Arizona v. United States. Seattle and more than 40 other jurisdictions are siding with the federal government, which first sued Arizona to block implementation of its 2010 law, which some say encourages racial profiling. The federal government argued the law conflicts with its exclusive authority over immigration enforcement, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court a year ago ruled portions of it unconstitutional. [The Seattle Times]

U.S. policing along the Mexican border discriminates against Hispanics and Native Americans and contributes to the deaths of undocumented immigrants, according to a study by the human rights group Amnesty International USA. The report, titled “In Hostile Terrain: Human Rights Violations in Immigration Enforcement in the U.S. Southwest,” identifies what it says are systemic failures of federal, state and local authorities to enforce immigration laws without discrimination. “Communities living along the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly Latinos, individuals perceived to be of Latino origin and indigenous communities, are disproportionately affected by a range of immigration-control measures, resulting in a pattern of human rights violations,” the study said. The U.S. government has tightened security along the nearly 2,000-mile (3,220-km) border with Mexico in recent years, adding additional fencing, surveillance technologies and Border Patrol agents. The federal government also has partnered with some state and local police forces to give officers immigration-enforcement powers. [Reuters]

The leader of a union representing thousands of federal officers responsible for detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants said Wednesday that new rules issued by the Obama administration for immigration detention centers nationwide were flawed and would make the system “more dangerous.” In testimony in Washington before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Chris Crane, the president of Council 118 of the American Federation of Government Employees, accused administration officials of systematically excluding agents from discussions of security provisions in the new rules. The testimony by Mr. Crane was a new sign of a deep rift between top immigration officials, including John Morton, the director of the agency, and at least some enforcement agents on the ground, as the Obama administration makes ambitious changes in deportations policy and detention practices. [NYTimes]


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