Obama to scale back on Real ID

The controversial 9/11 inspired program to federalize the standards for state drivers licenses is being scaled back to a more modest program by the Obama Administration. This program has been fought by many states, and even Janet Napolitano, as governor of Arizona, signed an bill that rejected the program.
According to the Washington Post:
Yielding to a rebellion by states that refused to pay for it, the Obama administration is moving to scale back a federal law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was designed to tighten security requirements for driver’s licenses, Homeland Security Department and congressional officials said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID, which calls for placing more secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano’s Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow.
The new plan keeps elements of Real ID, such as requiring a digital photograph, signature and machine-readable features such as a bar code. States also will still need to verify applicants’ identities and legal status by checking federal immigration, Social Security and State Department databases.
But it eliminates demands for new databases — linked through a national data hub — that would allow all states to store and cross-check such information, and a requirement that motor vehicle departments verify birth certificates with originating agencies, a bid to fight identity theft.
Further on….

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Delay in immigration raids may signal Obama policy change

According to the Washington Post, “Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed.”
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed. (By Matt Bush — Associated Press)
The article:
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 29, 2009; Page A02
Delay in Immigration Raids May Signal Policy Change
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement may be shifting focus from detaining illegal workers to prosecuting executives at the companies that employ them. A senior government official says raids are being delayed.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.
A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute — increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.
“ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done,” said the official, discussing Napolitano’s views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity.

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illegal Immigration control items in the FT 2010 budget

The FY 2010 budget request of the Obama Administration is calling for increases in several illegal immigration enforcement programs. According to Federal Computer Week,
“Highlights of the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] spending plan include $1.4 billion for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s efforts to identify and deport illegal aliens who have committed crimes. The administration would spend $368 million for existing border patrol agents at the Customs and Border Protection agency.
The administration also requested $110 million to continue expanding the E-Verify system, which employers use to check workers’ Social Security numbers and immigration status. “

A look into incarceration of immigrants

The ACLU has filed a suit on behalf of these immigrants, and the Boston Globe wrote an article with interesting information. Average duration of jail time before deportation: 11 months.
The article in full:
ACLU alleges rights abuses
Report: Detained immigrants face harsh conditions
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / December 10, 2008
Immigrants jailed for deportation in Massachusetts are often subject to harsh conditions, including inadequate medical care, harassment, and overcrowding, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said in a report to be released today.
The report alleges that state and county jails and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement are failing to oversee the detainees’ treatment.
“There’s no one watching over them, so there’s no real incentive to make sure that the immigration detainees’ rights are protected,” said Laura Rótolo, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts and the lead researcher on the 22-month investigation. “They are not protecting people’s fundamental rights.”
ICE confirmed that the agency received letters from the ACLU of Massachusetts about its findings, and is in the process of responding fully.

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Former CEO of Agriprocessors arrested.

That’s the company which ICE raided in May, arresting 300 workers and herding them through a judicial stockyard. See my earlier postings. Now the Feds have arrested and put on $1 million bail the person who was CEO at the time of the raid, and was subsequently removed by his father, living in New York City. To my knowledge this is the first time that a large scale raid resulted in federal charges against a top executive.
The full story in the New York Times:
October 31, 2008
Federal Charges for Ex-C.E.O. at Meatpacker
By JULIA PRESTON
Federal immigration agents on Thursday arrested the former chief executive of Agriprocessors Inc., the nation’s biggest kosher meatpacking company, accusing him of harboring illegal immigrants at a plant in Postville, Iowa, where about 400 immigrant workers were arrested in a raid in May.
With the arrest of the former chief executive, Sholom Rubashkin, federal authorities extended their criminal prosecution to the highest level of management at the plant. Some 300 workers, mainly immigrants from Guatemala, were convicted of felony document fraud charges after the raid, and Iowa prosecutors had faced mounting criticism for punishing those workers but not Agriprocessors’s executives and owners.

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E-Verify is working better

That’s according to the Center for Immigration Studies. CIS asserts that the accuracy of the system has improved in a new report. I have posted in the past on its error rates.
From CIS:
Moving Forward with E-Verify – Program to Check Legal Status Already 99.5% Accurate
WASHINGTON (September 18, 2008) – The E-Verify program, which allows employers to check the immigration status of new employees, has been steadily improving and is now 99.5 percent accurate, according to a new paper by the Center for Immigration Studies. This voluntary program is already screening more than one in ten new hires nationwide, and as of September 13, 2008, has processed 6.21 million queries.

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All States Deemed Compliant with Real ID

Migration Information Source reports that the Department of Homeland Security has declared that all states are compliant with the Real ID driver’s license program, this despite some states still resisting. Part of Real ID’s effect is to make in impossible or close to that for illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
Go here for the report with hyperlinks to key documents. The report without the hyperlinks:
All states have complied with the initial driver’s license requirements in the Real ID Act despite opposition to the act in several state legislatures. States had until March 31, 2008, to meet the requirements or seek an extension.
Maine was the last state the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deemed compliant. The state received an extension only after Maine Governor John Baldacci agreed to submit legislation that would prevent unauthorized immigrants from obtaining a state driver’s license.
Many states have been granted extensions to comply with the act’s licensing provisions, including states (Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington) that had passed laws banning Real ID’s implementation.
Residents in states that did not comply with the act before March 31 would not have been able to use state-issued driver’s licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings beginning May 11, 2008.
Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 because the September 11 terrorists had easily obtained multiple state driver’s licenses. Under the act, only US citizens and legal residents can be issued licenses, and the licenses must have enhanced security measures, such as digital photographs

Arizona employers slow to E-Verify

The Legal Arizona Workers Act that took effect 1/1/08 (which I have posted on) requires all Arizona employers to use the Federal E-Verify system. Only about 15% of employers have done so already.
Here is how it works: An employer enters a new hire’s name, Social Security number and birth date into the online system and instantly receives a message on the screen saying the person is eligible to work in the United States. It appears that there has about a 7% non-conforming rate. My guess is that the E-Verify system is working but that many employers have not been hiring illegal workers since January (the system is applicable only to new hires), and that employers who do have not signed up year.
An article in the Arizona Daily Star in full:
Arizona’s employers slow to get with program
By Becky Pallack
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), March 30, 2008
http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/border/231848
E-Verify, the federal database for verifying a new hire’s legal status, largely has worked fine for Arizona employers.
That’s in part because only 15 percent of employers in the state have signed up to use it.
Just 22,000 of the 145,000 Arizona employers have registered, said Marie Sebrechts, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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Illegal immigrants’ Emergency Care Is Limited by U.S. Rule

Per the NY Times, under a limited provision of Medicaid, the national health program for the poor, the federal government permits emergency coverage for illegal immigrants and other noncitizens. But the Bush administration has been more closely scrutinizing and increasingly denying state claims for federal payment for some emergency services, Medicaid experts said.
The article goes on to say that in the wake of stricter federal rules, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and 20 other states have extended full Medicaid coverage, using only state money, to some immigrants who do not qualify for federal aid. Under federal law, proof of citizenship is required for full Medicaid coverage, but not for emergency coverage.
But some states with growing immigrant populations, like Georgia and Arizona, have themselves moved to limit coverage under emergency Medicaid, leading to intense opposition from immigrant health advocates.
The full article:

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