HEADLINES: Immigration

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This week, Alejandro Mayorkas, chief of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, will unveil several initiatives designed to attract and retain foreign entrepreneurs. Foreign entrepreneurs will be eligible for a so-called EB-2 immigrant visa without a specific job offer, as long as they demonstrate that their business endeavors will be in the U.S. national interest. The government is also seeking to bolster use by foreign entrepreneurs of H-1Bs, which are temporary work visas for foreign workers in a specialty occupation. [Wall Street Journal]

The Catholic Church and the Department of Justice have filed lawsuits to stop the enforcement of Alabama’s new immigration law, which Alabama Governor Robert Bentley calls the “strongest” in the nation. The Catholic archbishop has joined with several Protestant denominations in seeking relief from what they say is “the nation’s most merciless anti-immigration legislation.” The clergy claim that the law criminalizes aspects of the Church’s mission, interfering with the right to the free exercise of religion. The Justice Department, in its filing, says a state cannot set its own immigration policy and cannot enact laws that conflict with federal immigration laws. [Catholic News Agency and Associated Press]

A group of students and an immigrant advocacy group have filed suit in Annapolis against the Maryland State Board of Elections for verifying thousands of invalid signatures that were collected and used to block a law that would allow illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition if their parents paid taxes. Lawyers representing nine plaintiffs, including two illegal immigrants and the advocacy group, CASA de Maryland, said many of the signatures were invalid because the voter information on the forms was filled in by a computer program linked to the state’s voter database, and not by the voter, as required under Maryland law. [New York Times]

South Carolina’s public safety chief says a new state police unit that legislators created to enforce immigration law may be more than a year away. The unit will effectively deputize local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws on the streets and in jails.  ICE currently has partner agreements with 69 law enforcement agencies in 24 states, including four in South Carolina, with the sheriff’s departments in Beaufort, Charleston, Lexington and York counties. Since 2006, the program has certified more than 1,240 officers to enforce immigration law. A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union is expected. [Associated Press]



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