E-Verify

Is support for an illegal-alien amnesty the key to GOP salvation?

OFIR Vice President Rick LaMountain explains the folly of the GOP chasing the Hispanic vote by way of an amnesty.  Read Rick's article in Wednesday's Investor's Business Daily.


 

Tuition equity on Kitzhaber 2013 list

SALEM — In a speech to civic leaders and lawmakers last week, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signaled his support for legislation that would make attendance at state universities more affordable for students living in the country without legal permission.

In the 2011 session, proposed “tuition-equity" legislation would have allowed illegal immigrants attending high school in Oregon for at least three years to qualify for in-state tuition at state universities. Similar bills were introduced in previous sessions and all have failed.

But for the coming 2013 session, the governor is outspoken about his support, and Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature.

“It is time to get it done," said Tim Raphael, the governor’s spokesman.

Retired Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, voted against a tuition-equity bill in 2003. In 2011, he sponsored a similar bill, in part because he now believes it’s an education issue rather than an immigration issue.

What sparked his change of heart was a letter from a teacher who described a student who came to the country at a young age with her family — an outstanding student, the letter said, but one who could not afford college tuition.

“What’s really in the best interest of our state?" Morse asked. “To help students improve themselves and, in turn, actually improve the welfare of our state by providing people an opportunity. It didn’t make any sense to deny opportunity."

At the time, the idea met with pushback from lawmakers who said it represents the state encouraging illegal immigration. Others said it was anything but equal: charging students from outside Oregon out-of-state tuition while someone in the country illegally pays the lower, in-state tuition.

Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, said tuition equity fails to address the larger problem. He cautioned he had not seen any specific legislation, but said he believes the federal government should address immigration reform.

“The problem is, the young person didn’t make the decision to come here legally and may not have a realistic option under current law to become legal. It’s not just (the issue) of college tuition," he said.

Even if the students were to graduate, he said, they could not be legally hired.

“Sounds like a great policy, saddle them with whatever (it) costs to go to college and then say, ‘Sorry, your dream is limited to higher education and no career,’ strikes me as shallow," he said.

Federal law mandates that children in the U.S. be educated from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students may not legally be asked their immigration status, so estimating how many illegal-immigrant students are in the school system is difficult.

Morse said he’s encouraged that the governor is taking an outspoken position early on. “I think it has a wonderful chance of passing this time," he said.

Students who live in Oregon illegally are considered out-of-state residents, which means they pay about $20,000 more per year at the University of Oregon than in-state students pay. Specifics on what 2013 legislation could look like are not yet known. The 2011 bill would have required that students intend to become citizens. Whether proposed legislation would clear a path to citizenship is unclear.

Alberto Dorantes graduated from Summit High School in Bend. He’s selling fruit around town with his family, but the 20-year-old would love to study psychology and music.

“There are a lot of young people, I think, that if this passes would be encouraged to go to college," Dorantes said.

Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA Oregon, a human rights organization, said he’s not surprised to hear the governor’s public support.

“I think it reflects the current climate of the country. Latinos and people of color were very influential politically last election," Lopez said. He said that his organization has already been in talks with the governor and lawmakers on the issue.

Speaker of the House-designee Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, the granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe, is on record in support.

House Republican Leader-elect Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, was more cautious, in part because specific legislation has yet to be unveiled.

“Our high school graduates deserve opportunities for employment and higher education," he said in an email. But, he warned, the state should move cautiously to not “cause unintended consequences."

MSNBC profile ignores the influence of Barbara Jordan Commission on NumbersUSA's founding

MSNBC today is suggesting that NumbersUSA's grassroots citizen army very well may stand in the way of the mass media's rush to proclaim "comprehensive immigration reform" (mass amnesty) a done deal in the next Congress. Thanks for the respect.

But the MSNBC article nearly completely neglects to inform readers about why we stand against both a mass amnesty and the current mass legal immigration of a million a year. And it is the "why" that gives us the great influence that MSNBC says we have with Congress.

When the American people realize they have a choice between filling millions of jobs with citizens of other countries or in filling them by putting millions of their fellow Americans back to work, polling shows their enthusiasm is for their struggling fellow citizens -- especially Black and Hispanic Americans who are suffering incredibly high jobless rates. The source of NumbersUSA's influence is that we work around attempts of most of the nation's elites to keep discussions of loosened labor markets out of the public eye.

I spent about 90% of my long interview with the MSNBC reporter talking about how I created NumbersUSA in 1996 to carry out the recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform that was chaired by the late civil rights icon Barbara Jordan -- and about how that commission was responding to a two-century debate about how loose or tight immigration policy should make the U.S. labor market. Looser labor markets hold down wages, while tighter labor markets push wages up and press employers to greater degrees of efficiency to justify the higher wages.

The Barbara Jordan Commission (video) came down on the side of a tighter U.S. labor market. So does NumbersUSA.

In a nutshell, those entities clammoring for CIR (comprehensive immigration reform) -- whether or not their intention -- are fighting for loosening a labor market that already is awash in excess labor. Some 20 million Americans who want a full-time job can't find one. The CIR supporters are seeking a policy that will further devalue the labor of workers, depress wages and slow down the ability of any other economic efforts to lower the unemployment rates.

No wonder the elites who profit or gain power from high immigration want to nearly always racialize the issue and avoid the economic discussion -- and why they try to pretend that the Barbara Jordan Commission never existed.

The commission found that the renewal of mass immigration over the last 30 years has created great economic injustices against the most vulnerable members of our society. Fighting against those injustices has always been at the heart of NumbersUSA's activism, although neither that nor the commission itself was mentioned in the long MSNBC article.

As I note to nearly every reporter who calls -- and is left out of nearly every story that gets written -- NumbersUSA's goals were not plucked out of the air. They come from the recommendations of the federal commission. Those goals are to reduce annual permanent immigration in the short term from the approximately one million a year to around 500,000 by eliminating chain migration, the visa lottery and taking away the jobs magnet that feeds so many illegal immigrants eventually into the legal channels.

The MSNBC story refers to our "professions of moderation" that "are what’s most striking about Beck and Numbers USA" and says that pro-amnesty supporters say it is our moderation that makes us "so dangerous."

Our position and that of the Barbara Jordan Commission indeed are moderate and balance many interests. There are many reasons why more traditional numerical levels of immigration of around 250,000 a year would be better for the country, but the 500,000 as an immediate goal represents a great compromise with contending interests.

The hard-line ideologues are those who insist on continuing to give out another one million permanent work authorizations each year -- and ask for even more -- to compete directly with our own unemployed. NumbersUSA is always committed to reminding Americans that they have a choice for a different, more humane, immigration policy.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
 

Obama’s uncle gets expulsion rehearing

President Obama’s uncle has won a new deportation hearing in Boston immigration court, more than a year after a drunken-driving arrest in Framingham revealed that he had violated a longstanding order to return to Kenya.

Last week, the Board of ­Immigration Appeals granted Onyango Obama’s request to reopen his immigration case based in part on his contention that his prior lawyer was ineffective, according to a government official with direct knowledge of the case. Obama’s new lawyers have also argued that the 68-year-old Obama has lived in the United States for nearly half a century and ­deserves a chance to make his case.

Brian P. Hale — spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is prosecuting the deportation — confirmed that the board has reopened the case but declined to elaborate.

The board’s decision raised eyebrows among immigration lawyers who say it is difficult to persuade the immigration courts to reconsider a case that involves an arrest and a flagrant violation of a deportation order, last issued in 1992.

Framingham police arrested Obama for drunken driving in August 2011, and he later admitted in court that prosecutors had sufficient facts to bring the charge against him. But the drunken driving charge will be dismissed as long as he complies with terms of his sentence, including a year of probation that ends in March.

“With an outstanding order and a legally fuzzy plea, it’s pretty unusual for the board to reopen” an immigration case, said Crystal Williams, executive director of the Washington-based American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It’s not unheard of, but it’s pretty ­unusual.”

Scott Bratton, one of Obama’s lawyers at the Margaret Wong law firm in Cleveland, said Monday night: “We are obviously extremely pleased with the board’s decision. This will allow him to pursue his application for permanent resident status.”

Lauren Alder Reid, the courts’ chief counsel for legislative and public affairs, said she could not comment on the immigration case or say when a hearing would be scheduled because case information is generally protected by federal privacy provisions, unless the immigrant or his representative authorizes its release.

Because immigration court records are generally closed to the public, it is unclear what evidence the board reviewed to support Obama’s claim that his lawyer was ineffective. The government official who provided the reasons behind the board’s decision spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak to reporters.

However, prior immigration judges’ rulings in Obama’s case obtained by the Globe under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Board of Immigration Appeals criticized his lawyer, Joseph F. O’Neil, in 1992 for failing to file a legal brief to support Obama’s appeal.

“Counsel for the respondent has in no meaningful way identified the basis of the appeal from the decision of the immigration judge,” the board said.

O’Neil, a veteran immigration lawyer and an adjunct law professor, died in 2008. Ralph J. Smith, a former ­associate of O’Neil’s who handled Obama’s deportation proceedings before the appeal, said in a phone interview Monday that he did not remember Obama’s case. But he described O’Neil as a strong immigration lawyer with decades of experience.

“When they say ineffective counsel, that’s something that’s being used just to make an appeal going,” said Smith, now 90 and retired. “It throws the ball over to the other side.”

Obama is the second relative of President Obama to face deportation in the Boston immigration court. The president’s aunt Zeituni Onyango was discovered in Boston’s public housing in violation of a deportation order just before the president won election in 2008. She won asylum in 2010 based in part on the exposure of her case to the public.

On Monday, critics said Onyango Obama appeared to be getting a special deal. Instead of deporting him, which happens frequently to other immigrants with deportation orders, Immigration and Customs released him from immigration detention. He obtained a federal work permit and a state hardship driver’s license, since his own was temporarily revoked, so that he could return to work at a liquor store.

After his arrest, Framingham police said Obama told them: “I think I will call the White House.”

“He would seem to fit the criteria of someone we would want to remove,” said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors stricter limits on immigration. “And yet even in this case the system bends to his will and he gets another hearing.”

The president was not close to his late father’s side of the family, but he wrote about them in his 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”

But immigration lawyers said the fact that Obama is related to the president could bolster a potential argument that it would be unsafe for him to ­return to Kenya.

“Anyone who’s related to the president of the United States technically is at risk,” said Matthew Maiona, a Boston immigration lawyer.

Obama’s immigration history is a bit of mystery because immigration court files are closed to the public. According to the earlier judges’ decisions obtained by the Globe, an immi­gration judge first ordered him deported in October 1986 because he had no legal basis to stay and no special factors, such as American-born children, that would allow the judge to let him stay.

Onyango Obama came to America at age 17, in October 1963, to study at an elite boys’ school in Cambridge. According to the judge’s decision, he was supposed to have left the United States by Dec. 24, 1970.

Instead, Obama worked from 1973 to September 1984, when immigration officials found him, according to the court’s decision. In 1989, the judge again ordered him deported, and three years later the Board of Immigration appeals dismissed his appeal.
 

Undocumented youth in Hillsboro weigh in on deportation deferral program

Born in Mexico but raised here, Johan Chavez of Hillsboro says returning to his native country would be like entering a different world.

Now 17 and a student at Hillsboro High School, he remembers traveling at age 7 by bus then car across the U.S. border with his family. Since then, he has lost fluency in his native tongue and identification with a culture that now seems foreign.

As an undocumented immigrant, however, it is he who has remained foreign -- something he struggles with.

"Honestly, in my opinion, I am 100 percent American," he said.

Chavez's status and outlook could merge, though, if he is approved for a renewable work permit through a federal program that would defer his deportation. With a Social Security number, he could get a bank account and a job. With a job, he could pay for college, a necessary step toward his dream of becoming a music teacher.

"I know everything I want to do in life," he said, "but basically I can't do anything without some type of legal status."

Chavez is one of an estimated 16,600 young illegal workers and students in Oregon who qualify for President Barack Obama's executive order program. To apply, they must prove they arrived in the United States before turning 16, are 30 or younger, have been living here for at least five years and are in school, graduated from high school or served in the military. They also cannot be convicted of certain crimes.

There is no data specific to Oregon about how many people have applied in the last three months. But of the 900,000 young immigrants believed to be eligible nationwide, only about 300,000 have so far applied, according to data released earlier this month by the Department of Homeland Security.

Luis Guerra, legal coordinator and development associate for the immigrant rights group Causa, said the low number of filed applications can be explained by several factors.

One bottleneck effect, he said, is that many undocumented immigrants are relying on nonprofits for financial and legal assistance with the application process. Many of those organizations are struggling to keep up with demand, resulting in long waiting lists, he said.

"I would estimate the average cost per applicant, including government fees and receiving service from a nonprofit, to be somewhere in the $800 to $1,000 range," Guerra said. "That is not including transportation costs and time off work for many, especially when they have to travel from far places to Portland to either find the large concentration of services or go to a USCIS appointment."

Guerra said applicants may also have trouble submitting proof of identification. He said that for those who don't have passports or licenses, the only proof may come in the form of a consular identification from their country of origin's consulate in Oregon, which adds an extra step to the process.

The last main barrier was removed after the presidential election, Guerra said. Many were concerned that a government headed by Republican candidate Mitt Romney would have resulted in mass deportation, so they are just now coming forward to apply, he said.

For those who have applied, the process can be as short as two months, said Causa's executive director, Francisco Lopez. Many applications received in August have been approved. Some immigrants from around the state have already gotten their work permits and begun to apply for driver's licenses. Most, however, are still waiting for the news that could dramatically change their lives.

Maria Gonzalez, 20, of Aloha is anxious but hopeful that her application will be approved. With her paperwork and fingerprints completed, all that's left is to wait for a response.

"I'm just nervous because basically I'm juggling," she said. "I could have made a stupid mistake on the application and ruined it. It's scary to think that I may not get it."

The Mexico native remembers cautiously walking through the desert border at age 10. Now she is a student at Portland Community College, hoping to attain a career as a nurse or physician's assistant.

For Gonzalez, deferred action is a means to fulfill her potential. Graduating from Aloha High School in 2010 was terrifying, she said, because illegal status kept her from getting any of the scholarships she had applied for.

"Since I live in a single-parent home, once I graduated I was on my own," she said. "All my life, I thought I was pretty smart, but it brought me down to reality knowing that I didn't have the money to go to school, even though I had the head."

Ulises Olvera's status as a gay, undocumented Latino student has afforded him more luck in financing his education.

Olvera, 21, never thought he would get to go to college. Now he attends Portland Community College Rock Creek in Hillsboro, which he has been able to fund through his job as equity ambassador at the multicultural student center. The Pride Foundation, an organization that supports equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, also awarded Olvera a $4,500 scholarship, he said.

"I didn't think I would be able to get into school in the first place," he said. "But anything is possible. I'm pretty successful -- getting my higher education, making a difference at a college setting -- and that's very empowering."

Even so, he said, acceptance into the deferred action program would open up a whole new set of doors for scholarships and work opportunities.

But first things first. If his application is approved, Olvera said, he will break in the new work permit by using it to get a license.

"I depend on public transportation," he said. "I want to drive because right now I live in Beaverton and my parents live in Jewell. I barely get to see them."

Legislative Days are coming

This month (December 10th, 11th and 12th) citizens have a great opportunity to meet, in person, with their elected Legislators. Legislators schedule this time to be in their offices to meet with constituents and attend meetings at the Capitol. OFIR encourages anyone that is able, to call and make an appointment to meet, in person, with your Legislator during those days (or any other day you can get an appointment).

There will likely be two bills we will be working to defeat in the 2013 Legislative session and we need all hands on deck. We are working to stay ahead of the curve and hope to influence Legislators that might be "on the fence" about giving driver licenses to illegal aliens or instate tuition benefits to illegal aliens. Both issues have gotten a lot of attention in past sessions, but OFIR and dedicated citizens have defeated those bills every time. But, the job isn't finished and we must not let up...even for a moment. Our opponents are pressuring (and attempting to guilt) Legislators into passing these two destructive bills. We must not let this happen.

Illegal aliens and their advocates are doing everything they can to get a foothold in Oregon. Unfortunately, there are many Legislators who are attempting to help them, too.

OFIR members and friends, please call and make an appointment with your Legislators and let them know you do NOT support either of these moves to "legitimize" the presence of illegal aliens in Oregon.

If you aren't certain who your Oregon State Legislators are, visit this website http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm for all the information you will need. If you make an appointment, have a meeting, get a response to an email or any other contact, OFIR encourages you to share your information with us.

If you are uncomfortable or just simply too scared to have a face to face meeting, OFIR encourages you to just go and visit the Capitol. The entire building is open to the public, so you can walk the halls, see the offices, look in the hearing rooms and get familiar with the building that controls our state.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, December 10, 11, 12 - Legislative Days at the Capitol

Oh, and there's that, too...

The elephant in the room is eating away at our budget.  Why is it the only discussion our Governor has about the state budget revolves around cutting benefits to PERS employees (who earned them) and letting dangerous criminals out of jail to prey on Oregon citizens. 

Worse yet, his plans often include ideas about what our state can do for those who are in our country illegally...how can we make their life better, easier and more convenient for them.

As a lifelong Oregonian I would like to hear some ideas about how our governor intends to make life better (and safer) for the citizens and legal residents of Oregon.  What is most often left out of budget discussions, is the honest conversation about the real cost of illegal aliens in our state.  With over 8% unemployment in Oregon, there is never a discussion about the estimated 100,000 working illegal aliens and 200,000 unemployed citizens.  The Oregon Legislature won't even hear any bills requiring employers to use free and easy to use employment verification called E-Verify.

Our elected officials owe us that courtesy because reports show that families illegally in our state cost the tax-payers over $700 million just in services every year.

Do you ever see that kind of information printed in budget reports, newspapers or do you ever hear it on the news?  Not likely.

The Governor's next move is to cut services to citizens to offset the cost of spending our tax dollars on sending illegal alien students to state universities and only charging them in-state tuition rates, instead of out of state tuition....which, by the way, legal citizens have to pay if they want to attend an Oregon school.

Read this article about how the governor justifies cutting programs to citizens, but just "slips in" the reason why.

Kitzhaber pushes pension cuts in proposed budget

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber will propose an increase in funding for Oregon schools, but the money wouldn't be enough to reduce class sizes unless the Legislature cuts pension benefits for retired teachers and other public employees, his staff said Thursday.

The governor's budget proposal, scheduled for release on Friday, will include $6.15 billion in K-12 school funding over the next two years, according to a summary released by his office. That's an 8-percent increase over current funding, but not enough to cover the $6.3 billion it would cost to maintain the current level of service in schools.

Kitzhaber hopes his budget proposal will nudge lawmakers to cut back on public pension benefits for retirees in order to avoid forcing school districts to lay off more teachers or shorten school years.

Kitzhaber spokesman Tim Raphael said the governor built his budget on an assumption that the Legislature will approve two changes to the Public Employee Retirement System: The elimination of a supplemental pension payment intended to cover out-of-state retirees' income tax in Oregon. Out-of-state retirees pay income taxes in their home state, not in Oregon, so critics say they shouldn't get the supplemental tax payment. The other change would limit retirees' annual cost-of-living increase to $480 per year.

The governor's office says the pension changes would save school districts $253 million in the upcoming two-year budget period. Across all levels of government, the savings would be $865 million per biennium.

The governor's funding proposal is far too low to improve the quality of education, said Gail Rasmussen, president of the Oregon Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.

His proposed pension cuts are unconstitutional and shouldn't be counted on to deliver savings to school districts, she said.

"Our districts are still dealing with really bad, bad budget crises," Rasmussen said.

In an email sent Thursday to state workers, Kitzhaber said his budget would not require them to take more unpaid days off work to save money, as they've had to do for several years.

His budget also will assume that the Legislature changes criminal sentencing laws so the prison population grows by just 300 inmates over the next 10 years — 2,000 fewer than experts project under current laws.

Kitzhaber's pension and sentencing changes will be a heavy lift in the Legislature, where both initiatives are likely to present political risks for lawmakers.

Public-employee unions, which were instrumental in helping Democrats build their majorities in the Legislature, have a history of fighting pension cuts that hurt their members' pocketbooks.

"Gov. Kitzhaber has provided a good starting point for the budget negotiations ahead of us," Sen. Peter Devlin, a Tualatin Democrat who will be co-chairman of the budget committee, said in a statement.

Lawmakers risk being labeled soft on crime if they approve legislation that reduces prison time for criminals. The governor has long argued that spending on prisons is rising too quickly and diverting scarce tax dollars away from education and police. A commission he appointed is expected to recommend sentencing changes next month.

The $16.3 billion proposed budget for the general fund and lottery is a 10 percent increase over the current spending plan. It would leave $130 million unbudgeted to guard against unexpected costs or a weakening economic recovery.

The governor is required to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature, but the final spending plan must be approved by lawmakers. Kitzhaber and the Legislature have to contend with a $700 million gap between anticipated revenue and the cost of continuing government services at their current levels for two more years.

Kitzhaber will also recommend:

— $1 billion in infrastructure projects, including $450 million for a new Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River.

— More money to pay for daycare for low-income workers, boosting the program by 500 children.

— Additional funding for high school students to earn community college credits and  to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities.

— $55 million for child safety, including more money for Child Protective Services and for community-based mental health services.

True Immigration Reform Must be Rational, Affordable, and Manageable

H.L. Mencken once observed that “complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.” In the aftermath of the 2012 elections, both political parties seem poised to implement a simple, easy to understand, and disastrous solution to our nation’s complex immigration problem.

There is no disputing that immigration reform is urgently needed. The problem is that the framework for reform, long offered by the Democratic Party and now belatedly embraced by the leadership of the Republican Party in the aftermath of an electoral defeat, is essentially our existing policy on steroids. If we are ever going to have an immigration policy that enjoys broad public support, we must start by making it work for the broader public interest. True reform must result in a policy that is rational, affordable, and manageable.

Making Immigration Rational

A rational immigration policy would select immigrants based on their likelihood to succeed in a post-industrial 21st century economy. We must, therefore, end our current policy of chain migration that results in the admission of millions of people whose skills do not meet the needs of our economy. The system must be redesigned to admit more limited numbers of people who bring unique skills, talents, and education that will expand the productive potential of the American economy.

A rational immigration policy must include a “stress test” that assesses the impact of immigration on American workers and makes adjustments accordingly. Certainly, during times of sustained high unemployment, U.S. immigration policies must have a mechanism for reducing the influx. The impact of perhaps tens of millions more people competing for jobs in the manufacturing, construction, and service sectors would signal the death knell of the blue collar middle class.

Making Immigration Affordable

A more rational immigration policy would also be a more affordable one – an important consideration for a nation with a $16 trillion accumulated debt that grows by upwards of $1 trillion annually. U.S. households headed by immigrants are 50 percent more likely to rely on some form of government assistance than those headed by a native born resident.

Any tax revenues generated by immigrants who arrive here poorly educated and poorly skilled lag far behind the costs required for their education, health care, and housing. When the costs associated with means-tested benefits for their U.S. born children are factored in, the price tag for maintaining the current system is unsustainable. Alternatively, immigrants who are selected based on their skills are far more likely to be self-sufficient and net tax contributors.

Making Immigration Manageable

Future flows of immigration must also be manageable. The sheer volume of today’s immigration flow – more than 1 million legal admissions each year and hundreds of thousands of guest workers – make the system virtually impossible to manage effectively. Only by reducing the influx, establishing clear criteria for admission, closing loopholes or frivolous avenues for backdoor admissions, and streamlining the adjudication process can we once again reassert control over immigration.

Manageability also requires having systems in place that minimize the possibility that people who break the rules can succeed. Most importantly, we must eliminate the strongest magnet to illegal immigration – the availability of jobs to illegal aliens. To accomplish this, all U.S. employers must be required to check the work eligibility of the people they hire using the E-Verify system

Finally, it must be moral. Americans must be confident that all laws will be enforced consistently, and not be held hostage to the political agenda of whatever administration holds office. As we have witnessed in the past several years, the integrity of our immigration policy can be undermined by a president who simply decides he will not enforce laws that do not serve his political aims.

Unfortunately, the deal now being discussed in Washington is neither rational, affordable, manageable nor moral. Its centerpiece is a massive, expensive, and chaotic amnesty plan to be followed by the expansion of family chain migration to satisfy Democratic special interests, while piling on some additional skilled worker visas to appease business interests.

True "reform" means solving today's problems in a manner that prevents any recurrence down the line. Is anyone willing to provide this kind of leadership? After years of fruitless effort to truly reform our nation’s immigration policies, it seems the two parties may find agreement on one idea– a concept that is simple, easy to understand, and wrong.

Howard agrees to proposed $1.3M settlement

Those eligible for part of a proposed, $1.3 million class-action settlement alleging discriminatory hiring practices at Howard Industries’ Laurel transformer plant have until Nov. 29 to opt out of their piece of the settlement.

Howard entered into a settlement agreement without admitting any wrongdoing to avoid protracted litigation in a lawsuit filed by four plaintiffs alleging the business held discriminatory hiring practices toward non-Hispanics.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett entered an order Oct. 5 outlining the processes involved in distributing the settlement. The settlement will only be approved following a Jan. 23 final fairness hearing before Starrett.

Veronica Cook, Yolanda Phelps, Charlyn Dozier and Seleatha McGee, all African-American, said in their Feb. 2011 lawsuit they repeatedly applied for employment at Howard Industries, but were only hired after the company was raided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Aug. 25, 2008, 592 illegal workers were arrested at the electrical transformer plant in Laurel in the biggest workplace immigration raid in U.S. history.

The lawsuit was filed one day after Howard Industries Inc. pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine for violating immigration laws.

Howard Industries former human resources manager, Jose Humberto Gonzalez, pleaded guilty in December 2009 to conspiracy and admitted he hired hundreds of people whom he knew were in the country illegally.

Gonzalez was sentenced in 2011 to five months of house arrest, placed on five years probation and fined $4,000.

Howard will put the settlement funding into an account designated by a jointly selected claims administrator.

“The claims administrator will accept claims from purported members of the class and will determine whether those individuals are, in fact, class members and, if so, whether they are entitled to a payment under terms of the settlement agreement,” Starrett wrote in his order.

The administrator will divide class members into four categories to include:

• Plaintiffs named in the lawsuit

• Those who applied between Jan. 1, 2003 and Aug. 25, 2008 who were not hired or offered employment, and records show no valid, non-discriminatory reason for non hire, but were hired after Aug. 25, 2008

• Those who applied during the same period and were not hired while Howard’s records show no valid, non-discriminatory reason

• Those who applied during the same period and were not hired, but records do not affirmatively show the claimant was qualified.

Howard will also offer 70 of the class members a position within nine months of the settlement to be selected by lottery.

Following the entry of Starrett’s order, the administrator began mailing notice of the class action and proposed settlement to eligible class members.
 

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