Reporters from EFE just pulled data on immigration enforcement actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year and found some surprising trends. Nationwide, the number of unauthorized immigrants arrested dropped by 23 percent during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013. Notably, the ICE office in Miami prosecuted 33 percent fewer people for immigration offenses. Arrests of undocumented people also dropped substantially in Miami, as well as in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Diego.
According to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, a certain Honduran man has "checkered immigration history in the United States," but he's not guilty of being "voluntarily present and found in the United States" after deportation or of criminal reentry. In 2012, a federal jury in Buffalo had convicted him of both offenses, which carry potential penalties of two and 20 years in prison, respectively. The 2nd Circuit, however, has just reversed those convictions and ordered him acquitted.
As we discussed on this blog a couple of weeks ago, Governor Chris Christie had long given an impression of support for the New Jersey DREAM Act. At a Latino Leadership Alliance event before the last election, for example, he had emphasized the importance of ensuring "tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey." Yet just as the bill was to be sent for his signature, Christie abruptly issued an about-face, complaining that while in-state tuition equality was OK, allowing access state financial aid programs for DREAMers would be too expensive.
New Yorkers in general have a lot to gain if undocumented immigrants are allowed to apply for driver's licenses. An unlicensed driver is around five times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident, according to statistics quoted in the New York Daily News. Drivers with no insurance -- or who fear Immigration and Customs Enforcement may take them away from their families over traffic tickets -- are far more likely to leave the scene of a wreck.
"I said the legislature should move in the lame duck session towards tuition equality in New Jersey. Period," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said recently. "I didn't support any particular piece of legislation." His statement was meant to clarify remarks a week earlier in which he said he opposed the New Jersey DREAM Act, which would have granted it.
The Obama Administration has just implemented an amazing new immigration policy. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that all unauthorized-immigrant spouses, children and parents of current and former members of the U.S. military can now obtain legal status -- without leaving the country first -- as long as they have no other bar to residency.
One of the many concerns immigrant rights advocates have about the detention of unauthorized migrants by the Department of Homeland Security is that it separates families. In many cases, immigrants detained by ICE are held in DHS detention facilities far away from their American homes and families, and a number have been denied visitors or even access to legal counsel.
In a welcome development, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has issued substantive new policy limits on its use of solitary confinement on immigrants awaiting deportation and removal hearings. As the New York Times has reported, every day, some 300 immigration detainees are held in solitary in ICE's 50 largest facilities. They are kept isolated in small cells with little human contact for 22 to 24 hours a day -- at least half for two weeks or longer -- for disciplinary infractions or for protection.
After U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for a sharp reduction in the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders in federal prisons, you may have thought our prison population would actually decrease once his plan was put in place. That might not be true, according to a new analysis of federal incarceration data. Instead, the federal government may simply replace non-violent drug inmates with non-violent immigration offenders.
Under the current version of the immigration reform proposal making its way through Congress, U.S. citizens and green card holders may no longer be able to sponsor those relatives U.S. immigration law categorizes as "lower preference," such as siblings and married adult children, for lawful permanent residency. While the bill is unlikely to be passed this session, limitations on family immigration are likely to be included, or at least used as a bargaining chip, in the final bill.