Tag: State immigration policies

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – Immigrants in Arizona Weigh Recession and Anti-Immigrant Policies

PHOENIX, Arizona — When things got tough in Arizona, many families decided to leave to avoid being caught in the local illegal immigration crackdown. But Maria Garcia’s family wouldn’t move. When her husband was fired for not having legal documents, they stayed and weathered the storm. After 23 years, the Garcias say they’re here to stay.

“My father passed away, he was sick for many years and I couldn’t see him. Now my mother is sick. But I know that if I leave it would be very dangerous for me to come back,” said the migrant from Colima, Mexico.

The Los Perros swap meet has seen fewer customers lately. (Photo: Valeria Fernández)

The Los Perros swap meet has seen fewer customers lately. (Photo: Valeria Fernández)

Two recent national studies present contradicting data about whether the current recession and anti-immigrant climate are pushing undocumented immigrants to leave the U.S. and return to their home countries.

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies – a group that advocates lower immigration levels – shows that the illegal immigrant population has fallen by one-third over the past two years. According to the study based on Census Data, Arizona is the state with the highest drop. About 180,000 of the 530,000 undocumented living in Arizona left, according to research conducted by Steven Camarota.

Yet another study released earlier by the Pew Hispanic Center said while that the number of people entering the country illegally is dropping, undocumented migrants who are already here are not returning.

So are immigrants leaving or staying?


New Massachusetts State Budget Eliminates Health Coverage for 28,000 Legal Immigrants

Hispanic News Briefs From New England Newspapers

By Pedro Pizano, FI2W contributor
Siglo 21 Massachusetts newspaper

Siglo 21 newspaper

BOSTON, Mass. — The state Senate is seeking $130 million in savings by kicking “aliens with special status” out of Commonwealth Care, a subsidized insurance program for low-income residents, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. The program will save an additional $63 million by no longer automatically enrolling new low-income residents.

The “aliens with special status” are 28,000 documented immigrants who have had a green card for less than five years. They will be left without health coverage from Commonwealth Care after August 1.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association says the $130 million cut will bring additional costs to the hospitals that provide free care to people with low incomes. They say those hospitals would need to spend an additional $87 million in 2009 to treat those who lose their coverage, according to the NCPA.

Although Gov. Deval Patrick approved the budget cut for the 2010 fiscal year on July 1st, he also submitted separate legislation to restore $70 million to Commonwealth Care. This program is central to the nearly universal health care law enacted here in 2006 that achieved the nation’s lowest percentage of uninsured residents: 2.6 percent compared to a national average of 15 percent.



Immigrant Family Torn Apart in Arizona Raid

Sheriff Arpaio has arrested 248 immigrants in raids allegedly aimed at unlawful hiring, but no employer has been penalized.

PHOENIX, Arizona — Katherine Figueroa was playing outside her home Saturday morning when she overheard the news coming from a nearby TV. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had just raided the car wash where her father and mother worked.

She rushed to see her dad’s image on television. His expression looked worried, his hands were tied with plastic cuffs.

Her eyes filled with tears, the 9-year-old made a plea to President Barack Obama to return her parents home in a video produced by Arizona activists and reports on the Univision network.

“I want my parents back, is not fair for me to be alone,” said Katherine who was born in the U.S. and is a U. S. citizen.

Katherine Figueroa saw her father's immigration arrest on TV. (Photo: Valeria Fernández)

Katherine Figueroa saw her father's immigration arrest on TV. (Photos: Valeria Fernández)

Listen to Katherine in an interview with Feet in 2 Worlds:


Although the federal government has announced changes to its policies regarding work-site immigration raids, not much has changed in the Phoenix area, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is implementing what critics call “his own brand of law.”


Arizona Bill Would Criminalize the Presence of Undocumented Immigrants in the State

By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor

PHOENIX, Arizona — Undocumented immigrants in Arizona could face jail terms for simply being in the state under a series of bills gathering momentum in the state legislature.

Sen. Pearce, author of the bill

Sen. Pearce, author of the SB 1175 bill

A bill approved Wednesday by a Senate committee (SB 1175) would allow any police officer to arrest an undocumented immigrant under charges of trespassing on state land. Those jailed would have to pay the cost of their own incarceration.

“If this bill passes, it would be the first state in the nation making illegal presence a crime,” said Alessandra Soler-Meetze, Executive Director of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “The implications are tremendous. What it means is that anyone who is in this country without proper documentation is going to be charged and arrested.”


Wisconsin, California Would Join Utah in Giving Driving Cards to Undocumented Immigrants

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Photo: Welmoe/Flickr

Photo: Welmoe/Flickr

Wisconsin would become the second state in the union to issue undocumented immigrants special cards allowing them to drive but not grant them other rights, according to a provision in the state budget that still has to be approved by the full legislature and Gov. Jim Doyle.

A similar bill sponsored by State Sen. Gilbert Cedillo (D.-Los Angeles) was approved in the California Senate Monday. It now heads to the Assembly and possibly the governor’s desk. Cedillo’s initiative, however, has been defeated several times in previous years.

So far, Utah is the only state that issues special cards allowing immigrants to drive, but stops short of granting them other rights — creating a two-tiered system where about 40,000 drivers have the cards, The Associated Press reported.

Three other states –Washington, Illinois and New Mexico– allow the undocumented to receive regular driver’s licenses, The A.P. said. Maryland stopped issuing them this week.


Influenza and Immigration: Keeping the “Anti-Immigrant Flu” Out of Newsrooms

A pro-Sheriff Arpaio demonstrator in Phoenix on Saturday. (Photo: Nick Oza)
A pro-Sheriff Arpaio demonstrator in Phoenix on Saturday. (Photo: Nick Oza)

PHOENIX, Arizona — Conservative talk-radio commentators were faster than a virus in spreading the idea that undocumented immigrants are a hazard to public health by bringing a new flu virus across the country’s “porous border.”

But one national media organization is trying to keep the anti-immigrant fervor out of newsrooms.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) called for the mainstream media to “resist the baseless blame of immigrants” in connection with the spread of influenza A-H1N1.

“This virus should not be characterized as a Mexican disease,” said Iván Román, NAHJ’s executive director. “We should also resist covering it in a way that furthers anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

Román pointed out that while there may be a temptation to link Mexican immigrants to the spread of the disease in the United States, it is necessary to keep in mind that this community is no more responsible for it than American spring-breakers traveling to Mexico.


Mass. Governor Meets Ethnic Media Over In-State Tuition, Driver's Licenses, Immigration Reform

Gov. Deval Patrick and Frank Herron, director of the Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (Photo: E. de Oliveira)

Gov. Deval Patrick and Frank Herron, director of the Center on Media and Society at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (Photo: E. A. de Oliveira)

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira, EthnicNEWz.org and FI2W reporter

Proclaiming that, “we need immigration laws that are consistent with our values,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a wide-ranging press conference with ethnic media journalists at the State House in Boston.  At the meeting, last Friday, the governor defended the creation of partnerships with immigrant communities, answered questions on topics such as bilingual education and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, and commented on race relations under President Barack Obama.

The audience of about fifty journalists –more than 35 from immigrant communities– came from African-American, Brazilian, Chinese, Haitian, Japanese, Korean, Latino, Polish, Portuguese and other print, broadcast and Web media.

The governor made brief remarks at the opening of the press conference, saying democracy thrives when it maintains an unfiltered press. He then opened the floor to the journalists’ questions on topics from “anywhere in your agenda you want,” he said.

At least one topic formed a common thread for many of the journalists: access to driver’s licenses for undocumented workers, many of whom contribute to the state economy and pay taxes.


GOP Candidate for NJ Governor Against Driver's Licenses, In-State Tuition for the Undocumented

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

NJ gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie at a Parsippany town hall this weekend. (Photo: Christie campaign)

NJ gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie at a Parsippany town hall this weekend. (Photo: Christie campaign)

The leading contender for the Republican nomination in the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign is opposing an immigration panel’s recommendations that the state extend licenses to drivers regardless of their immigration status and allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates.

Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, however, was careful in his statements last weekend at a Parsippany town hall not to dish out the hardline rhetoric that has come to be expected from Republican candidates on the issue of immigration. Such rhetoric did not work well for them in last year’s elections, when most hardline candidates for Congress lost their races.

Christie said he was opposed to the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigration Policy, appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007, and whose report sparked a heated debate a couple of weeks ago. The Parsippany audience applauded his remarks warmly, New York newspaper El Diario/La Prensa reported Tuesday.


New Jersey Controversy Over In-State Tuition, Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Governor Corzine disagreed with some recommendations from the panel he created. (Photo: NJ Dept. of the Public Advocate)

Governor Corzine disagreed with a recommendation by the panel he created in 2007. (Photo: NJ Dept. of the Public Advocate)

New Jersey has become the latest state to try to fill the gap created by the lack of federal immigration reform. Last week an advisory body created by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine recommended that the state issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and that state colleges allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates.

The Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy issued a 123-page report with a list of measures New Jersey could take to implement “a comprehensive and strategic statewide approach to successfully integrate” some 400,000 undocumented immigrants into the state population. [Visit the panel’s site for the full report or an executive summary in pdf.]

The reaction – much of it critical – has mostly concentrated on the recommendations about in-state tuition and driver’s licenses.

“Allowing illegal aliens to obtain ‘no questions asked’ state driving privileges would undermine New Jersey’s strict licensing laws,” The Gloucester County Times said in an editorial Sunday.

“…it’s a shame that (the panel) muddied the line between legal and illegal immigrants — and went too far, in our opinion, in a few of its recommendations,” The Press of Atlantic City said. “That tends to polarize the debate even further than it already is.”