immigration

Information on candidates' immigration positions available now

Alert date: 
2018-08-11
Alert body: 

For several years now, in election seasons, OFIR has provided information on Oregon candidates’ positions on immigration issues.  See the Elections section in Immigration Topics.

For 2018, OFIR has posted an Overview of the General Election which includes pertinent information.

Collection of information on candidates’ immigration positions is becoming easier now since the Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Survey has begun including several good questions on immigration policy in its compilations of candidate positions on a variety of current issues. 

NumbersUSA also collects information on Congressional candidates’ positions, and with its large database of incumbents’ voting records on immigration issues, NumbersUSA is a valuable source for voters to know about.  Their current listing for Oregon can be viewed here.

With immigration so much in the news today, it’s advisable to check the views of candidates in one’s voting district.  If you don’t find any public information on their views, that’s useful to know also, because candidates should be well-versed on immigration issues to serve their constituents adequately now.  A reluctance to state their positions publicly is a red caution flag for voters.

“Immigration has risen to the top of the list when Americans are asked to name the most important problem facing the nation …”, according to a new Gallup poll.  

Voters can email their candidates and ask them, please, to reply to the Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Survey questions on immigration which are posted here.  Email addresses for candidates are usually on the candidates’ websites, and the OAAVEP survey includes link to candidate websites in most cases.  If you have a problem contacting candidates in your voting districts, you can email OFIR and we’ll send you contact information.

If you wish, you can cite these references to your candidates:

1.  FAIR has issued a good report specifically about what states and local governments can do to help immigration enforcement; see it here.  The full report is a pdf document:  https://fairus.org/sites/default/files/2017-08/2016_State_and_Local_Agenda.pdf

2.  A CIS analyst presented testimony to Congress summing up current needs very well; view her report, “Restoring enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” here.  

3.  Informative discussions of what constitutes good immigration policy are available on the websites of NumbersUSAFederation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies

Who stands up for immigration law enforcement?

On Wednesday, July 18, the public got a clear picture of which among Oregon’s U.S. Representatives support enforcement of immigration laws and which do not.  The House voted on H. Res. 990, “Supporting the officers and personnel who carry out the important mission of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” 

The Resolution was introduced in response to the current national campaign for abolishing ICE and immigration law enforcement.  The text of the Resolution lists many specific reasons why ICE is necessary and has served our country well.

It comes as no surprise that Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, and Rep. Peter DeFazio chose to avoid disclosure of their positions. In the roll call vote, they answered only “Present.”

Thanks to Rep. Kurt Schrader and Rep. Greg Walden for voting YEA.

Control over the entry of non-citizens is essential for the survival of any nation. It’s useful for citizens to know where our legislators stand on this fundamental issue of national sovereignty. 

We now know for sure that Rep. Blumenauer, Bonamici and DeFazio put the interests of illegal aliens and the employers that hire them, above the best interests of citizens.  Their records of betrayal are detailed further at NumbersUSA.com, which has tracked Congressional actions on immigration since 1997, and issues grades for all members of Congress, including Senate and House.

Oregonians, please vote to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary statute this November when IP 22 will be on the ballot.  A Measure number for IP 22 will be available soon, and if passed, it will free up local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE as they should.

CBS News YouGov 2018 Battleground Tracker

YouGov has conducted an estensive survey on opinions of immigration, political parties, and other issues. View the YouGov survey.

Sessions Shuts Down Stealth Amnesty

WASHINGTON Attorney General Jeff Sessionss has ordered an end to a longstanding practice of immigration judges (IJs): administratively closing cases to make them disappear from the docket. Immigration judges did this so often in past administrations that the procedure amounted to a vast amnesty-by-stealth for deportable aliens. When an alien’s case is administratively closed, the alien gets to stay in the United States until the case is reopened—and most such cases, once closed, are never reopened.

The Attorney General noted that out of fourteen briefs he received from various groups, the brief of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) was the only one to oppose administrative closure. Again and again, this lopsidedness in briefing is the reality in these cases, with dozens of groups pushing open borders, and IRLI, standing alone, advocating enforcement.

Agreeing with IRLI’s brief, the Attorney General noted that no statute or regulation confers general authority on IJs to employ administrative closure. And Sessions declined to grant IJs this authority. Instead, he expressly overruled prior Board of Immigration Appeals cases that had recognized it.

Sessions’ ruling means that IJs will be unable to use administrative closure except in certain narrow circumstances where its use is provided for in regulations. As for cases that previously have been administratively closed, Sessions ordered that they must be reopened if either party that is, either the Department of Homeland Security or the alien so requests. Thus, his ruling ends stealth amnesty going forwward, and frees the government to roll back the massive stealth amnesty that has already happened.

“We are pleased that the Attorney General agreed with us and not the thirteen briefs on the other side,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “This ruling chokes off an abuse that has gone on far too long: letting deportable aliens stay by making their immigration cases just disappear. Immigration Judges undoubtedly are overworked,” Wilcox added, “but they are charged with applying our immigration laws, and have no authority simply to erase deportable aliens’ cases from the docket. Now the administration’s duty is clear: to step up, recalendar these prior cases, and finally bring them to a conclusion.”

The case is Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018).

Candidate information available for May 15 primary

Ballots for the May 15, 2018 primary election are arriving in the mailboxes of Oregon’s registered voters.

OFIR has now posted information on the immigration positions of many candidates running in the primary. Please take a moment to look over the information before you fill out your ballot.

The offices for which informational reports are available on the OFIR website are:

Governor

Commissioner of Labor and Industries

Congressional candidates

Oregon House candidates (HD 09, HD 18, HD 19, HD 20, HD 23, HD 26)

Oregon Senate candidates (SD 3, SD 4)

Much of the information came from answers to questions in the 2018 survey of the Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Project. It contained a list of questions covering many political issues, including three questions on immigration policy for Governor and Legislative candidates and six questions for Congressional candidates. 

See the OAAVEP immigration questions listed in OFIR’s Overview for the Primary.  Other candidate information came from candidates’ websites, news articles, and official (OLIS) records of votes by incumbent legislators.   

 

Grassley charges 'colleges' selling visas to foreigners

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is confronting the Department of Homeland Security about a special program under which groups “pose as education institutions in order to secure visas for tuition-paying foreign students.”

The students, the senator points out, are then able to obtain three-year work permits and are exempted from payroll-tax requirements.

“Visa mills are those marginal educational institutions that provide visas and work permits to foreign students, but little in the way of actual schooling,” explains the Center for Immigration Studies.

The work permits under the Optional Practical Training program “actually give the alien students’ employers a tax break for hiring them instead of comparable citizen and green card students.”

Grassley, in a letter with pages of questions posed to DHS, pointed out that the foreign students are given three-year work visas, even if they aren’t offered any reasonable education.

“These ‘visa mills’ profit from the foreign student tuition and face little governmental oversight when issuing work visas under the program, which is not available to American students,” the senator explained.

“Employers also benefit from hiring foreign student over American workers, as neither the employer nor the foreign students is required to pay payroll taxes for the work,” he said.

Grassley said that with all of the financial incentives granted the students, schools and employers, it’s not surprising “that foreign student enrollment has exploded, while recent American grads are un- or under-employed.”

“Unfortunately, our government has delegated much of the authority surrounding foreign student employment to the very individuals and entities that benefit the most, schools and school officials,” he said.

David North at the Center for Immigration Studies noted, “To my knowledge, this is the first time that DHS has been asked by Congress about visa mills and OPT; one hopes that it will stir some interest in DHS about issues long neglected by that agency.”

He previously noted action taken against a visa mill that that had been described in India as “an academic rip-off.”

Grassley said foreign students “contribute to a growing population of non-immigrants who overstay their visas.”

“In 2016, more than 79,000 foreign students overstayed their visas – an overstay rate nearly three times greater than that of the general non-immigrant visa population.”

He pointed out that many reputable colleges enroll foreign students, but there are others.

“These institutions, many of which operate as section 501(c)(3) (tax-exempt) educational institutions, are costing American workers millions of dollars in lost taxes and employment opportunities, and contribute disproportionately to the large and growing population of foreign students and exchange visitors – nearly 80,000 in 2016 – who overstay visas to remain in the United States without legal authorization.”

It’s also a national security concern, he said.

There were more than a quarter-million “foreign students working in one of these government-approved, alien-only, paid ‘training’ programs, as of August 2017,” he noted.

Students are drawn by the money, and schools want to maximum revenue. To do that, he explained, schools such as Pomona College, Williams College, Yale and MIT “all recently reclassified their economics programs so that they qualify for the Department of Education’s ‘STEM’ designation, because foreign students in STEM fields can work in the U.S. for three years or more after graduation.”

U.S. employers also cash in because they are exempted from payroll taxes for the workers.

Grassley said the problem is huge.

“Tri-Valley University (TVU), was certified to admit 30 foreign students in 2009 but by May 2010 – when ICE began an investigation – had enrolled 939. The next fall, Tri-Valley had 1,555 foreign students, before the school was shuttered due to an astonishing list of criminal activity by the school’s founder, Susan Su. TVU ‘students’ reportedly took no classes, but exchanged tuition and fees for I-20s and work approval. After closure, hundreds of TVU students were, mystifyingly, permitted to transfer to other schools.”

Grassley is asking DHS how the work permits are monitored, who looks at students’ training plans, how problems are corrected and more.

 

Bravo to new CIS mission statement

No longer will non-citizens coming into the U.S. from other countries be officially classified as “customers” who must be catered to.  Welcome to the return of realism and truth.  Here’s the revised mission statement of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services agency:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.

Contrast this with the former open-borders slant that prevailed for far too long:

USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.

Explaining deletion of the “customer” reference from the Mission statement, USCIS’s Director L. Francis Cissna (appointed by President Trump) said:

What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as "customers" promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve. All applicants and petitioners should, of course, always be treated with the greatest respect and courtesy, but we can't forget that we serve the American people.

Right on, Mr. Cissna!  Thank you.

News media get F on immigration reporting

How trustworthy are the major newspapers and news media in this country?  Judging from recent reports, not very.  Critical information about the amnesty bills before Congress was omitted by major media.  Here’s proof:

Media Fail: June 30th, 2018 provision goes unreported

By Jeremy Beck, NumbersUSA, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018

Excerpts:

54 Senators voted yesterday in support of an immigration proposal put forward by Senators Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Rounds (D-S.D.), and Angus King (I-Maine), the self-described "Common Sense Caucus". Did they know what they were voting for?

The proposal's language was still being tweaked on Wednesday but by Thursday morning, Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times had the scoop on some extraordinary details:

Not only would the bill enshrine Obama-era deportation rules, protecting most of the current 11 million illegal immigrants from fear of removal, but it extends those same protections to any illegal immigrants who can jump the border between now and June 30....

.... The key language is on the last page of the amendment which Mr. Schumer introduced last Wednesday.

The bill reads: "In carrying out immigration enforcement activities, the secretary shall prioritize available immigration enforcement resources to aliens who arrived in the United States after June 30, 2018."  …

The "Obama-era deportation rules" effectively exempted 87 percent of unauthorized aliens from immigration law by requiring enforcement agencies to only prioritize convicted felons, gang members national security threats and "recent" border crossers.

The "Common Sense Caucus" attempted to reinstate the Obama rules legislatively, but changed the "we-promise-to-get-serious-now" date from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018. Doing so would ensure that people who entered the country illegally after January 1, 2014 wouldn't be held accountable for the Obama administration's failure to keep its promise and (inexplicably) extend that assurance to people who successfully enter the country illegally at any point over the next four months. …

If American voters had asked Congress to devise a plan to cause another border surge, they could not have asked for much more than what the "Common Sense Caucus" came up with.

Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA, has read more immigration legislation than anyone on Capitol Hill and she told the Washington Times that she had never seen anything like the June 30th provision. …

… in the hours leading up to the Senate vote...

The New York Times did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

The Washington Post did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

The Associated Press did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

The Wall Street Journal did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

Reuters did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

McClatchy did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

USA Today did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

The Los Angeles Times did not report the June 30, 2018 provision.

We've seen this kind of epic fail before. In 2013, the Senate voted on - and passed - the "Gang of Eight" bill that included what would have set off the largest immigration increase in United States history, yet in the months leading up to the votes, none of the above newspapers reported the size and historical nature of that provision. The focus back then - as it was this week - was on the legalization provision. The proposed increases in immigration were deeply unpopular with the public and one would imagine the June 30th provision would be as well. By keeping those details out of news reports, the media helped the sponsors of both proposals present their ideas in the best possible light without having to defend the deeply unpopular aspects. …

------------------

Read the entire article here.

Oregon immigrant rights groups respond to Trump's order for 200,000 Salvadorans to leave U.S.

The Trump administration will end temporary legal immigration status for 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the U.S. for nearly two decades, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

The decision means that Salvadorans who currently have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) must return to their homeland by September 2019 or become undocumented immigrants if they choose to remain without legal protections.

Salvadorans were first granted TPS in 2001 following a pair of devastating earthquakes that killed nearly 1,000 people and destroyed more than 100,000 homes in the Central American country.

There are roughly 4,784 foreign-born Salvadorans living in Oregon, according to a 2016 Migration Policy Institute report. Roughly 1.2 percent of Oregon Salvadorans were born in the United States. It's unclear how many TPS holders are affected in Oregon.

The decision comes two months after the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to end temporary residency permit programs granting 5,000 citizens from Nicaragua and 60,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States for roughly 20 years and eight years, respectively. In November, the Trump administration postponed a decision until July regarding a similar program granting refuge for 86,000 residents from Honduras.

Oregon immigrant rights and human rights organizations called the decision inhumane.

"The biggest issue is that these folks have put roots in Oregon, they have jobs, they have children born here," said Levi Herrera-Lopez. "Just like the issue of DACA, people are deciding if their families are going to have to split up."

The Salvadoran Embassy in Washington estimates that 97 percent of Salvadorans in the program over the age of 24 are employed and paying taxes, and more than half own their own homes. Salvadorans on TPS have also given birth to 192,000 children, all U.S. citizens, according to a report from the Center for Migration Studies.

For Carlos Garcia, 58, of El Salvador, he said his days are now numbered.

He fled his home country with his two sons, who are both now Dreamers awaiting their own looming deadline, roughly 17 years ago.

Garcia works as a detailer for an auto dealership and works parttime installing windshields in vehicles.

"What am I going to do now? I’ve been a tax paying resident of this country and I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do," Garcia said.

Garcia said he's known tightening immigration reform has been one of Trump's sole focuses since his campaign, but the reality of returning to El Salvador's "corrupt" government and its "organized crime" is a concern.

"How can anyone live under these circumstances of not knowing what's going to happen this month, or this year?" Garcia said. "The main problem here is the mental health of 200,000 Salvadorans who don't know what the outcome will be."

He said his American dream has become the "American nightmare." Garcia hopes Congress will step in and pressure Trump to reverse the action.

Herrera-Lopez, executive director of Mano a Mano Family Center, a Latino-led community organization offering immigration assistance and youth development services, said Trump's decision falls in line with his campaign promise of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. 

"I understand that these people were offered temporary status, but El Salvador's challenges have not been stabilized," Herrera-Lopez said. "That may be true from the natural disaster standpoint, but not of the social stability of the country."

He points to the country's struggle with Mara Salvatrucha, an international gang commonly known as MS13, in addition to other local crimes that may put tens of thousands of returned Salvadorans at a disadvantage.

"Their economy may not be stable enough to absorb 200,000 people," Herrera-Lopez said. "For many, they are going to a country that is foreign to them, that has changed over the past 20 years, and that is completely disconnected."

An Oregon anti-illegal immigration organization supports the president's action.

Jim Ludwick, communications director for Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said decision demonstrate's Trump's understanding that every nation has a sovereign right to establish immigration policies.

"They were brought in because of the earthquake and were supposed to be here on a temporary basis, but some people have a different definition of 'temporary,'" Ludwick said. "El Salvador has the right to regulate who goes into their country, just like we have the right to regulate who comes into ours."

He said he doesn't understand why people oppose the action, saying families don't have to be torn apart during their return to El Salvador. Hypothetically, he said, if he had children in another country, and his visa ran out, he wouldn't leave his family there.

"Trump isn't breaking up families," Ludwick said. "If someone breaks up their families, they're doing it themselves."

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, translated as Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, plans on coordinating with other Oregon immigrant rights organizations like Mano a Mano to localize efforts and rally support from elected officials and business leaders, but they are thinking nationally as well.

PCUN's secretary-treasurer Jaime Arredondo said they are organizing along with their partner Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a national coalition of grassroots immigrant rights organizations.

"This is something we saw coming, so we're seeing if we can do anything on a national level to delay it or to make sure it's done away with,"Arredondo said.

Mat dos Santos, the legal director of the ACLU of Oregon, said President Trump's focus on targeted immigration operations, including rescinding DACA and ending other TPS programs, will tear Oregon families apart.

"This is another reminder from the Trump administration that new Americans are seen as a threat and not contributors to our country," dos Santos said.

He said he and his ACLU colleagues are expecting to get calls from Salvadorans who are impacted by the program's cut.

Kayse Jama, executive director of immigrant and refugee rights organization Unite Oregon, said the move demonstrates the systematic dismantling of immigration in the United States.

Jama, of Somalia, said President Trump's ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries has prevented him from returning to his home country, and that this recent program cut is only sustaining the president's "anti-immigrant" rhetoric still looming from his campaign.

"These community members are dishwashers, they working in nursing homes, they have their own businesses," Jama said. "This will have huge implications for the Salvadoran community but also our economy."

USA TODAY contributed to this story.

Email Lauren Hernandez at lehernande@statesmanjournal.com, call 503-399-6743 or follow on Twitter @LaurenPorFavor

Pres. Trump spells out immigration priorities

In a broad policy statement released on Dec. 18, President Trump spells out plans to reform immigration controls in the national interest. 

The statement, titled National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017, covers many aspects of national security in addition to immigration issues. 

To view the full document, click here.  Below is the section dealing with immigration management.  The steps he includes in “Priority Actions”, when implemented, will greatly improve the current system.

------------------------

Strengthen Border Control and Immigration Policy

Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law. Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses.

The United States affirms our sovereign right to determine who should enter our country and under what circumstances. The United States understands the contributions immigrants have made to our Nation throughout its history. Illegal immigration, however, burdens the economy, hurts American workers, presents public safety risks, and enriches smugglers and other criminals.

The United States recognizes that decisions about who to legally admit for residency, citizenship, or otherwise are among the most important a country has to make. The United States will continue to welcome lawful immigrants who do not pose a security threat and whose entry is consistent with the national interest, while at the same time enhancing the screening and vetting of travelers, closing dangerous loopholes, revising outdated laws, and eliminating easily exploited vulnerabilities. We will also reform our current immigration system, which, contrary to our national interest and national security, allows for randomized entry and extended-family chain migration. Residency and citizenship determinations should be based on individuals’ merits and their ability to positively contribute to U.S. society, rather than chance or extended family connections.

Priority  Actions

ENHANCE BORDER SECURITY: We will secure our borders through the construction of a border wall, the use of multilayered defenses and advanced technology, the employment of additional personnel, and other measures. The U.S. Government will work with foreign partners to deter, detect, and disrupt suspicious individuals well before they enter the United States.

ENHANCE VETTING: The U.S. Government will enhance vetting of prospective immigrants, refugees, and other foreign visitors to identify individuals who might pose a risk to national security or public safety. We will set higher security standards to ensure that we keep dangerous people out of the United States and enhance our information collection and analysis to identify those who may already be within our borders.

ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS: We will enforce immigration laws, both at the border and in the interior, to provide an effective deterrent to illegal immigration. Th e apprehension and swift removal of illegal aliens at the border is critical to an effective border security strategy. We must also increase efforts to identify and counter fraud in the immigration process, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system, exploits vulnerable individuals, and creates national security risks.

BOLSTER TRANSPORTATION SECURITY: We will improve information sharing across our government and with foreign partners to enhance the security of the pathways through which people and goods enter the country. We will invest in technology to counter emerging threats to our aviation, surface, and maritime transportation sectors. We will also work with international and industry partners to raise security standards.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905-2.pdf

 

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