Proverbial wall to legalization in new immigration bill is border security

Proverbial wall to legalization in new immigration bill is border security
Believers crowd into St Peter’s Catholic Church on Madison Street in Chicago on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13. The practice of placing ashes on the forehead is meant to symbolize human mortality and a sign of mourning and repentance to God. Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists practice this tradition throughout the world annually. Photograph by Jonathan Gibby

There are undocumented immigrants in Chicago who crossed the border to get here; came on expired visas and were brought by their parents as minors. They are high school students, university graduates, dishwashers and mothers. Many of these immigrants are my neighbors.

And they’ve all been waiting for the immigration legislation that President Barack Obama promised to pass while he was president. Now it’s finally here, in the form of an 844-page-long omnibus bill released on April 17.

Border security is also an essential part of the new bill–the proverbial wall that must be gotten over before the long-awaited possibility of legalization can begin for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants that qualify within the bill’s strict requirements.

To get to the first level of legal status, known as registered provisional legal status (RPI), undocumented immigrants would have to pass the application process, pay a penalty of $500 and any back taxes.

But one hurdle comes in even before this. According to the bill, immigrants granted RPI can’t have their status officially adjusted until four conditions have been met. These include the introduction of the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy, a new plan that mandates more security around the border fence, a widespread e-verify system and the electronic exit system; and the Southern Border Fencing Strategy, which puts forward a new plan for where additional fencing will be built on the border.

Both are part of a widespread increase in enforcement that the legislation mandates.

The conditions for these increases to be met before anyone can start on the path to legalization are:

i) the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy has been submitted to Congress and is substantially deployed and substantially operational;

ii) the Southern Border Fencing Strategy has been submitted to Congress, implemented, and is substantially completed;

iii) the Secretary [of Homeland Security] has implemented a mandatory employment verification system to be used by all employers to prevent un-authorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States; and

iv) the Secretary [of Homeland Security] is using an electronic exit system at air and sea ports of entry that operates by collecting machine-readable visa or passport information from air and vessel carriers.

Because the legislation is still in draft form, it’s unclear exactly what will be in the final bill if and when it passes.

But looking more closely at the new strategy laid out for the border shows some of the problems with tying legalization to enforcement, immigrant rights advocates say.

The Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy would aim to “maintain an effectiveness rate of 90 percent or higher in all high-risk border sectors.” Stretching across more than 2,000 miles, the “high-risk border sector” in the Southwest includes the cities of Tucson, Ariz., San Diego and El Paso, Texas. According to Homeland Security’s September 2012 annual report on enforcement actions from 2011, 327,577 immigrants stopped at the Southwest border in fiscal year 2011.

Claudia Valenzuela, associate director of litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center, based in Chicago, said some are concerned that the people charged with deciding whether the strategy is working may have biases.

“Governors like Jan Brewer [of Arizona] might not have the most open, neutral position on this,” Valenzuela said. Brewer has continued to push for more border patrol along the Arizona border, despite the southwest U.S. border with Mexico having the heaviest concentration of border patrol in the country.

And even if the border is deemed fully “secured,” she continued, it could only further prolong an already long process for those who have been waiting for years. “Already the legalization process is going to take 10 years for people,” Valenzuela said. “That in itself is sort of troublesome.”

In addition, she said, the security build-up along the border mandated by the draft legislation is “a misdirection of resources.”  “We know that the number of entries have dropped,” she said. In May 2012, the Pew Research Hispanic Center found that net migration from Mexico had dropped almost to zero.

The Security Strategy will include more border patrol, aerial surveillance systems (also known as drones), and a partnership with the Department of Defense to “increase situational awareness.”

The price tag: $3 billion over the next five years.



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    Judicial Watch, a leading legal Conservative organization has just uncovered a concealed program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the USDA, although hesitant to comply released a documents that the U.S. government has been complicit in since 2006. They were spending taxpayer money to run Spanish-language television ads encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for government-financed food stamps. a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions questioned the Obama administration’s partnership with Mexican consulates to encourage foreign nationals, migrant workers and non-citizen immigrants to apply for food stamps and other USDA administered welfare benefits. Sessions wrote, “It defies rational thinking, for the United States – now dangerously near $17 trillion in debt – to partner with foreign governments to help us place more foreign nationals on American welfare and it is contrary to good immigration policy in the United States.”

    The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch in August 2012, include the following:
    • March 30, 2012 – The USDA seeks approval of the Mexican Embassy in drafting a letter addressed to consulates throughout the United States designed to encourage Mexican embassy staffers to enroll in a webinar learn how to promote increased enrollment among “the needy families that the consulates serve.”

    • August 1, 2011 – The USDA FNS initiates contact with the Mexican Embassy in New York to implement programs already underway in DC and Philadelphia for maximizing participation among Mexican citizens. The Mexican Embassy responds that the Consul General is eager to strengthen his ties to the USDA, with specific interest in promoting the food stamp program.

    • February 25, 2011 – The USDA and the Mexican Consulate exchange ideas about getting the First Ladies of Mexico and United States to visit a school for purposes of creating a photo opportunity that would promote free school lunches for low-income students in a predominantly Hispanic school. Though a notation in the margin of the email claims that the photo op never took place, UPI reported that it actually did.

    • March 3, 2010 – A flyer advertises a webinar to teach Hispanic-focused nonprofits how to get reimbursed by the USDA for serving free lunch over the summer. The course, funded by American taxpayers, is advertised as being “free for all participants.”

    • February 9 , 2010 – USDA informs the Mexican Embassy that, based on an agreement reached between the State Department and the Immigration & Naturalization Service (now ICE), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) food voucher program does not violate immigration laws prohibiting immigrants from becoming a “public charge.”

    The documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls. In an email to Borjon Lopez-Coterilla and Jose Vincente of the Mexican Embassy, dated January 26, 2012, Yibo Wood of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sympathized with the plight of illegal aliens applying for food stamps, saying, “FNS understands that mixed status households may be particularly vulnerable. Many of these households contain a non-citizen parent and a citizen child.”

    So it illustrates that a silent conspiracy has been going on for years, using taxpayers money funneled from the U.S. government to illegal aliens whether in the United States or not? To me and the millions of Americans without this is a incredulous traitorous move, that defies logic. This is a seditious secret activity and Americans who are being taxed to serve the interests of a corrupt foreign country need to be held accountable.

    We need a National ID biometric card to stop illegal aliens through fraud collecting food stamps and other welfare programs. To me this would be more effective than E-Verify and businesses that don’t comply with the law should receive a mandatory prison sentence.

    Americans must demand the double layer fencing that stretches completely from East to West, with skin tearing barbed wire attired at the top. Known as the 2006 Secure Act, this fence was underhandedly deconstructed by Senator Kay bailey Hutchinson.

    No more civil misdemeanor for entering America without inspection, but instead should be facing a mandatory FELONY conviction.

    The BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP must be changed, so only children of U.S. citizens ARE entitled to citizenship. Forget the USDA stealth program, offering food stamps to just about everybody including illegal people who arrive here by plane and disappear without being tracked, or the millions who cross the international border and also vanish. Giving automatic citizenship to the progeny of thousands of “foothold” babies is drowning America in hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. What the Liberal Democrats don’t tell you about this important issue, is the citizenship clause was to award citizenship to slaves, not foreigners babies. The sad truth is a family with 3 babies of illegal immigrants gets the food stamps, which other in the family circle share, plus cash payments and government housing. The government mask the foreign nationals as low income.
    Everyone these four issues if implemented into the Opportunity and
    Immigration Modernization Act would be a massive financial boon for the
    shrinking dollars deficits, in the state or federal
    funds as well as the U.S. Taxpayer. CONTACT YOUR TWO U.S. SENATORS TODAY and urge them to oppose
    S.744! You can call the Capitol Terminal board toll-free at 1-888-978-3094.
    Learn more about this new potential Immigration Reform Bill, in relation to the
    huge fraudulent 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act at as
    well in petitioning your arguments and standing on this new law. INSIST NO PATH
    TO CITIZENSHIP? A free petition is available on and read the huge amounts of daily information disclosed on American This is the articles, blogs and media reports that is a must read. Learn so much more about illegal immigration bills at Judicial As I have said many times before, I see no problem for an increase for extra visas for STEM workers, PhDs and cream of the crop—so to speak, as long as there is a serious effort, to locate the same highly skilled workers already here. But before anything as extra visas, AGjobs are available, we must have a tracking system, so they can be detained if they abscond from a farm or other labor that supposedly Americans will not do. However, none of these new complex reforms can happen, until we are assured that a real fence is constructed and the above mentioned policies?

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