HEADLINES: Immigration

Published On: Donate

Baltimore has positioned itself as a leader in immigration reform as the city is grappling with economic depression and population decline by aggressively courting immigrants.  Earlier this year, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a new plan:  “She’s looking to bring in 10,000 new families over the next decade, focusing on immigrant populations, a group that has helped other large cities grow.  She’s hoping new families will boost income and property tax revenue, helping to reignite the city’s economy.”  Baltimore is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Philadelphia and other cities that have effectively courted immigrant growth in order to stave off population decline.   Some are skeptical that Baltimore can be attractive and competitive in courting immigrants without first addressing the myriad other problems that have led to urban decay.   Rawlings-Blake is hopeful that her bold moves such as “prohibiting police and city officials from ever asking residents about immigration status.”  When asked about her views, Rawlings-Blake retorted, “I don’t really think of people as legal or illegal.  Are you productive, or are you not productive?  That’s really my focus.” [NPR]

In a new poll conducted by Politico and George Washington University has found that “62 percent of those surveyed support an immigration reform proposal that would allow undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship over a period of several years. Thirty-five percent oppose it.”  Even more, 77 percent, support DREAM Act-like legislation.  The White House claims that it will make a strong push for immigration reform after the resolution of the fiscal cliff drama, and recent concessions by prominent Republican lawmakers indicate the GOP is willing to come to the table to discuss reform.  Despite the increasing urgency surrounding immigration, “Only 2 percent identified unauthorized immigration as their most important issue. Seventy percent picked pocketbook matters, including government spending, the economy, and jobs.” [Politico]

New census data released last week shows that there has been a marked drop in unauthorized immigration for the first time in over ten years.  Demographers predict that unauthorized “Hispanic immigration – 80 percent of all unauthorized immigration comes from Mexico and Latin America – isn’t likely to reach its mid-2000 peak again, due in part to a weakened U.S economy and stronger enforcement but also a graying of the Mexican population.”  This provides evidence that the immigration debate should move away from border security and towards a solution for the 11 million undocumented people already residing within the United States’ borders.  [Miami Herald]

After years of vigorous debate, the Department of Homeland Security finally “released long-awaited draft regulations that detail the agency’s plan to satisfy the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).”  The Women’s Refugee Commission and other immigrant activists welcome the action as a much needed protection for vulnerable migrants in detention. Until now, very little protection against sexual assault was available to those in ICE and CBP confinement.  The Women’s Refugee Commission is pushing for a similar action by the Department of Health and Human Services next year. [Huffpost]

The nation’s largest Latino groups are using their newly found clout to give an ominous warning to those who oppose immigration reform.  The coalition of Latino groups says that it will “keep a report card during the immigration debate next year, making it clear they expect quick action in 2013.  They said the president and Congress should take up an immigration bill soon after Mr. Obama’s inauguration in January, with an eye toward completing passage of legislation by August.”   Hispanic advocates are hoping that the record Latino turnout this past election will fuel immigration reform efforts. [Nytimes]

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