9/3 – 9/10: Courts Rule on State Laws on Immigrant Detention and Education; Trust Act Generates Controversy in California

12 Sep

Central Component of Arizona’s Immigration Law Upheld on Appeal
On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Arizona can move forward enforcing its controversial immigration law. The court was deciding on the question of whether police officers could check the immigration status of people detained for non-immigration-related reasons. The Supreme Court already decided on this issue earlier this summer, but the case was reheard after advocates raised concerns about racial profiling. In response to these concerns, the judge determined that the law could be challenged once implemented if racial profiling concerns manifest. In one positive outcome, the judge overturned the portions of the law that make it illegal to transport undocumented immigrants.

Florida and New Jersey Open In-State Tuition to Children of Undocumented
On Friday, a federal court in Florida ruled that children of undocumented parents are eligible for in-state tuition. The case was brought by five students, all of whom grew up in Florida and attended Florida public schools, but were denied in-state tuition as a result of their parents’ legal status. The judge ruled that these laws were unconstitutional, and “create[ed] a second-tier status of U.S. citizenship.” A similar lawsuits in California (2007) ended with the same rulings, a positive step in protecting educational access for immigrants.

As Gov Brown Considers Trust Act, Law Enforcement and Activists Face Off on Value of Law
In California, the Trust Act is awaiting Governor Brown’s signature – though there is little indication what he will do. The Trust Act intends to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants held for minor, non-immigration-related, offenses. In this state of uncertainty over the State’s immigration policy, several county Sheriffs have announced their intentions to continue complying with Secure Communities requirements, even if the Trust Act were to pass. In Los Angeles, youth and immigration activists protested the LA County Sheriff’s decision to comply with Secure Communities, resulting in the arrest and detention of four undocumented youth who are now at risk of deportation. Their detention highlights the ways that immigrants are denied a voice in the political issues that deeply impact their communities – although there is a growing movement of undocumented people engaging in public activism, the risks of deportation remain a barrier to democratic participation. Immigration policy also remains a central political issue at the national level, as election season moves into full swing following the conclusion of both Republican and Democratic conventions. For information on the core differences in Romney’s and Obama’s approaches to immigration, check out this report.

“Visas-for-Dollars” Program Shows Role of Class, Race in Immigration Policy
The EB-5 program gives visas to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in American businesses that will operate in a “high-unemployment” area and generate at least 10 jobs in two years. Businesses are increasingly using this program to generate capital for projects. Hilton currently has ten hotel projects nationwide that are being financed through the EB-5 program. Over 3,000 visas have been given out this year, primarily to immigrants from China, as well as from Europe, India, and South Korea. This program is one example of the ways immigration policy is shaped by racism and classism that are deeply embedded in American politics.

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