HEADLINES: Immigration

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Conflict continues to surround the Obama administration’s policy of deferred action, as several Homeland Security agents sued the director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, claiming that they are being forced to implement an illegal policy. Kris Kobach, an anti-immigration champion and the co-author of both the Arizona SB-70 and the Alabama HB 56 laws, is the lawyer for the plaintiffs.  When asked about the case, he said, “They are in the unusual and untenable situation where they are asked to choose between following an order that makes them break federal law or disobeying the order and facing discipline at the hands of superiors.”  A spokesman for Mrs. Napolitano, Matt Chandler, retorted by saying that deportation deferrals “ensure that responsible young people who are Americans in every way but paper have an opportunity to remain in the country and make their fullest contribution.” For now, however, it seems that anti-immigration hardliners will fight in any way possible against the deferred action program. [NYTimes]

According to a new report on L.A.’s controversial “Secure Communities” initiative, Los Angeles County’s annual expenditures spent on the unnecessary detention of undocumented immigrants exceeds $26 million. The program works by sending fingerprints of arrested individuals to ICE, which uses them to screen for deportable immigrants. If ICE finds a match, the agency asks local law enforcement to hold the person until federal authorities can come pick up the arrestee. These holds, called detainers, are supposed to last 48 hours, but in L.A. county and many other jurisdictions, jails often end up holding immigrants far longer, generating costs that aren’t reimbursed by the government. California, however, is gearing up to pass legislation, called the TRUST Act, that would forbid excess detention of immigrations. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigo is an avid supporter of this bill, which could soon travel to the Governor to be signed into law. This would be a huge win for the state’s  immigration reform activists, who have been fighting against the Secure Communities initiative since it was decided upon in 2009. [Huffington Post]

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona announced last week that her state would not uphold the federal mandate to provide services to young immigrants under the deferred deportation program. However, young driven immigrants who would be the recipients of these benefits, including receiving a drivers license and opening a bank account, are not going to take this deprivation lying down. Lilla Romo, a 24-year-old administrator at an ESL school in Phoenix, is a part of a group of young people volunteering for the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which is organizing a movement against Jan Brewer’s policies. They are continuing the fight for the rights of young Latinos who simply want to become productive members of a society they already call home.  “The constant pressure from the state government has made young Latino’s like me learn how to become a fighter,” Romo said. “We’re at ground zero of the immigration battle. Young kids from other states look at us and say, ‘I wouldn’t be able to handle living in Arizona.’ But even when things look their worst, we’re still fighting, still educating, still organizing.”  While immigration in Arizona is certainly not an issue that will be resolved any time soon, the strength and determination of young people like Lilla should give us hope. [LATimes]

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