Sunday, January 29, 2012

Alabama's anti-illegal immigration law and Florida Primary Issues

This American Life on NPR had a story on the unintended consequence of Alabama's immigration law targeting illegal immigrants and where Mitt Romney got his ideas about "self-deportation":

More on potential changes to Alabama's Law:

Immigration is a hot topic in Florida, but it is a difficult issue to navigate for the Republican candidates - from the FT:

From the left-leaning UK Guardian:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Article on South Carolina's Immigration Law

Written by UT student Christopher Rangel:

Obama, the Dream Act, and skilled migration

President Obama once again called for comprehensive immigration reform in his State of the Union Speech.  He also called on Congress to pass the DREAM act, and made a clear link between it and other high skilled immigrants in the U.S.  Giving visas and green cards to immigrants, both undocumented and documented, is a bipartisan issue, many congressman on both sides of the aisle have said that we should be stapling green cards to the diplomas of immigrant students, particularly those in math, science and engineering.  It's unlikely that we will see progress on any of these fronts during the current presidential campaign, but many actors will be putting themselves in place to take action in early 2013, so expect immigration, particularly skilled immigration, to remain on the agenda for 2012.  It is interesting to note that both Gingrich and Romney would be willing to give visas to illegal immigrant who join the military but not to students.  Romney's "self-deportation" quote has also been bandied about the blogosphere as noted by the Miami Herald:

Friday, January 6, 2012

New think tanks focus on immigration reform

As I have noted in previous blog posts, particularly after the Tribune Festival in September, most of the business and political leaders in Texas who spoke at the event feel that there should be some type of comprehensive immigration reform. Several new think tanks/advocacy organizations have now come on the scene to push for immigration reform, particularly in the area of skilled migration, including the Parternership for New American Economy and the National Foundation for American Policy. It is clear from their websites that part of the goal of these organizations is to help change the discourses around immigration, and shift the focus to the positive impacts of immigration on the economy. Key targets include Republican voters and policy makers. Mitt Romney's take on immigration (see previous blog posts) seems to fit in with these approaches, particularly since he focuses on skilled migration. There also seems to be a renewed awareness of the negative impact of the current rhetoric on immigration with potential voters.

Interesting perspective on the GOP Candidates and immigration from Daniel Griswold in the National Review

"Immigration has loomed larger as an issue in the Republican presidential debates than it does in the minds of most voters. Driven by a minority of activists in their party, the candidates have been drawn into an unhealthy competition to see who can sound the harshest in cracking down on low-skilled illegal immigrants from Latin America.

So far the biggest loser in the competition is the Republican party.

The party is losing out because the rhetoric brings us no closer to actually solving the problem, while driving away voters crucial to the party’s long-term success." MORE

New Path to Green Card for Some

As reported in the New York Times this morning, the Obama administration is proposing a change which will make it easier for relatives of U.S. citizens without status to obtain a green card "The change that immigration officials are offering would benefit United States citizens who are married to or have children who are illegal immigrants. It would correct a bureaucratic Catch-22 that those Americans now confront when their spouses or children apply to become legal permanent residents. MORE

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOP Presidential Candidates Positions on Immigration: Newt Gingrich

The following is from Newt Gingrich's website -- I have shortened some of the entries, because of length, and I must say it could use a good editor, particularly where it mentions 10 steps instead of the 11 that are listed...

10 Steps to a Legal Nation

America must be a nation of laws.
Everyone in the United States should be here legally.
America also is a land of immigrants, and our lives, economy, and history have been enriched by immigration.
There has to be a robust and attractive program of legal immigration. There are major positive economic and social benefits to streamlining and simplifying our convoluted, broken visa process.
At the core of being American is a thorough understanding of American exceptionalism. We are a nation not defined by place or ethnic heritage, but by the collective understanding that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It is precisely these rights, freedoms and opportunities that have drawn ambitious, risk-seeking immigrants to our shores for four centuries.
It is essential that every native-born American and every immigrant learn about this exceptional heritage and our exceptional history.

Three Principles

1. No “comprehensive” plan can work. President Bush could not pass one during six years with a Republican Congress. President Obama could not pass one with a Democratic Congress. Immigration reform can be outlined as a complete proposal but has to be passed in a series of steps, with each one understood and passed on its own merits.
2. Under no circumstance can a path to citizenship be created which would allow those who have broken the law to receive precedence over those who patiently waited to become residents and citizens via the legal process. Those who adhered to our immigration law cannot be usurped by those who violated it.
3. We must reconcile the goal of legality with the reality that there are millions of immigrants currently here outside the law, some with a long set of family and community ties, and some with no ties. A system has to be established that establishes legality but no citizenship for those with deep ties, repatriates those with no family or community ties in a dignified way, and quickly sends home those who have committed criminal and other destructive acts.


1. Control the border.
The United States must control its border. It is a national security imperative.
Every nation has the right to control its border. Historically, every country that has been determined to control their border has been able to do so.
Controlling the border is a matter of resources and will...
2. Create a 21st Century Visa Program
Our current visa program is inadequate, inefficient, and outdated. Americans and newcomers deserve a system that works.
Americans will benefit from a fairer, more secure, more efficient system, which will ensure that foreign visitors, students, workers and job-creators alike provide as many positive benefits as possible to our economy and society.
Future visitors and future legal residents will be drawn to the most efficient visa system in the world, whether one wants to come to the United States to travel, to study, or to work. – and especially to bring talent and capital to create American jobs.
A huge element of this reform will be to dedicate the necessary resources to eliminate inefficiencies for all visa processing at our consular facilities.
A Brazilian tourist who wants to visit Disney World and spend thousands to support American jobs should not have to wait four months to get an interview for a tourist visa.
  • A foreign entrepreneur who wants to establish legal residency and immediately create American jobs should not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees first.
  • A brilliant graduate of an American engineering program should not have to go all the way home to initiate the process of applying for a high-skilled work visa.
  • An American farmer in California should have efficient, legal means to hire temporary, legal labor to support the American economy.
Another key part of this reform will be standardizing the technology of identifying documents. Every single visa issued by the United States government, at home and abroad, should include a biometric, tamper-proof card.
3. “In-source” the best brains in the world
...Unfortunately, Congress still sets rigid caps on the number of highly-skilled foreigners who may come to work in the United States per year, and it is increasingly onerous for both employers and employees to obtain H1-B high-skilled work visas. This is wrong and economically misguided, and if America wants to continue to be a haven for the most talented people in the world, this program needs to be vastly expanded to meet our economic needs
We have the best universities in the world, but many foreigners who come to study are turned away and sent back home as soon as they get their degree. It is foolish to educate someone well enough for them to start the next job-creating startup, only to force them to leave America and start their business overseas. We want the jobs here and that means we want the job creators here.
This could be done by allowing easier transition from an F (student) visa to an H1-B (high-skill) visa. Currently foreign students who want to work in the United States must leave the country and begin their application process from scratch. We should remove this inefficiency and allow qualified foreign students to transition immediately into the American workforce...
4. Allow foreigners who want to spend money, invest and create jobs in America to do so.
There is no shortage of foreign nationals who want to come to America to sightsee, to invest, and to create jobs. It is up to us to implement policies that ensure that our economy is as enriched as possible by these individuals.
If citizens of other nations want to invest and create jobs in America, then we should be making it easier for them to invest, work and potentially gain citizenship through an expanded EB-5 program. The EB-5 program grants permanent residency to overseas investors who create and maintain at least ten American jobs.
5. There has to be a legal guest worker program, but its management must be outsourced to a sophisticated manager of anti-fraud systems, such as American Express, Visa, or Mastercard.
We want American businesses that need workers to be able to hire.
Today, the visa program for unskilled workers is cumbersome for employers and workers, and completely inflexible to the labor demands of the American economy. The number of temporary work visas granted stays capped, regardless of how many workers American businesses needs at any point – this is why, when the demand for additional labor is high, many foreigners come here to work illegally.
The solution to this problem is a well-regulated, robust guest worker program...
6. Create a path to earned legality for some of the millions of people who are here outside the law.
There are currently anywhere from 8 to 12 million people living in the United States who entered illegally.
These people range from day laborers who arrived recently, to grandparents who have been paying taxes, supporting their families and obeying the law for decades.
We need a system that enforces the rule of law, ensures that those who broke the law pay a stiff penalty, but also acknowledges that it is neither optimal nor feasible nor humane to deport every single illegal immigrant.
We need a path to legality, but not citizenship, for some of these individuals who have deep ties to America, including family, church and community ties. We also need a path to swift but dignified repatriation for those who are transient and have no roots in America...
7. Deportation of criminals and gang members should be efficient and fast.
We must end the practice of “catch and release,” under which dangerous criminals here illegally are caught by law enforcement, but then quickly returned to society.
When someone is here illegally and is dangerous, there should be expedited procedures to remove them from the United States as rapidly as possible.
The current system is so cumbersome and time-consuming that many arrested non-citizens are released back into society and simply break their word and disappear. This is wrong and dangerous.
8. Ensure that every new citizen and every young American learn American history and the key principles of American Exceptionalism.
America is a learned civilization built on ideas, and the relentless efforts to eliminate American history and American Exceptionalism from our schools has weakened the very fabric and vitality of our civilization.
A key step in our future strength as a country must be to reinstate the importance of America in our citizenship process and our education process.
9. English must be the official language of government.
Teaching everyone English creates a common commercial and political culture.
We want people to come to America to become Americans.
For over 250 years there has been an emphasis on learning English as part of that process.
10. Young non-citizens who came to the United States outside the law should have the same right to join the military and earn citizenship.
Individuals who came to the United States as minors with their parents did not willingly break any laws. These individuals should have the opportunity to obtain legal residency/citizenship by serving their adopted country in the military.
Only the children will be considered for legal residency, and, unlike the so-called DREAM Act, there will not be an option to petition for legal status and citizenship for their parents who entered illegally as adults.
11. Once the new guest worker program is established and the "path to legality" system for those here illegally is in place, anyone breaking the law to get into the United States should face very severe penalties. Anyone facilitating illegal entry should face even more severe penalties. If these rules are enforced, the era of illegal immigration will be over.


If we embrace these ten steps, America will have created a truly efficient and fair system that embraces the rule of law, while acknowledging and celebrating the valuable economic, cultural and social contributions that both existing and future visitors and immigrants have to offer our country.

GOP Presidential Candidates Positions on Immigration: Rick Santorum

I couldn't find anything on Rick Santorum's official website on immigration (neither could NumbersUSA).  The following is taken from Fox News Latino


Santorum’s immigration policy falls in line with the general, hard-line stance held by most of the GOP hopefuls on the issue.

The son of Italian immigrants, he strongly opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants, believes building more fencing along the border is an important part of the immigration issue, and also supports making English the official national language.

Santorum voted against establishing a Guest Worker Program with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in 2006, and is also strongly against in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. He made this clear in the September Fox News – Google Debate in which he attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for allowing undocumented immigrants in Texas the right to in-state tuition costs at state schools.

“What Gov. Perry's done is he provided in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote--I mean, the Latino voters. But you attract Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration,” Santorum said.

Border Security:

Santorum is a strong supporter of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in the hopes that it will stem the tide of undocumented immigrants entering the country. “What I would say is that first, we build the fence. Number two, we enforce the law, and that is that we don't allow people who are in this country to work here illegally,” Santorum said during an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Channel’s “On The Record.  “And when we do find people here illegally, and we go through the process of deportation.”

In recent debates Santorum has gone after Texas Gov. Rick Perry for being “soft on immigration” and opposed Perry’s resistance to a border fence. “What we have is a problem of an unsecure border,” Sanotrum said during the TEA Part debate.“Unlike Governor Perry, I believe we need to build more fence…I believe that we need to secure the border using technology and more personnel. And until we build  that border, we should neither have storm troopers come in and throw people out of the country nor should we provide amnesty.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

GOP Presidential Candidates Positions on Immigration: Mitt Romney

Romney's website doesn't mention illegal immigration, but he has recently said that he would veto the DREAM Act if it was passed by congress:

The following information on skilled immigration is taken from his plan for jobs and economic growth:


To ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and economic dynamism, a Romney administration would press for an immigration policy designed to maximize America’s economic potential. The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come.

Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate. While lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of our top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States. The presence of hardworking, highly skilled immigrants in our free-enterprise system fosters a special dynamic that is recognized around the world. The net result of their successes is the creation of jobs here in America that would otherwise have been created elsewhere or, more likely, never created at all.

It makes little sense for the United States to turn away highly educated immigrants who seek to come here. It makes equally little sense to train talented foreign students in our universities but then fail to integrate them into our economy. Nearly 300,000 foreign students are enrolled in advanced degrees programs here, but the great majority will return home. We are casting away the fruits of our own investment. As has long been our American tradition, we should encourage the world’s innovators, inventors, and pioneers to immigrate to the United States and we should encourage those we train to settle and create jobs here.
Raise Visa Caps for Highly Skilled Workers
As president, a first step that Mitt Romney will take along these lines is to raise the ceiling on the number of visas issued to holders of advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering who have job offers in those fields from U.S. companies. These workers would not displace unemployed Americans. Rather, they would fill high-skill job openings for which there is currently an acute shortage of labor. Even in this tough unemployment climate, as of this past spring nearly 1.25 million high-skill jobs remained unfilled.

A skills gap of that magnitude suppresses the productivity of our businesses and slows the overall economy. Highly educated immigrants would help fill that gap and get our economy rolling again. Welcoming a wider pool of highly educated immigrants would lead to more start-ups, more innovation, and more jobs. Each of these workers would in turn be consumers in local economies, creating new demand for other American products and services. Thus, for every foreign worker employed in this way, new job opportunities also arise for those who are currently unemployed.

Retain Graduates of Our Universities
As president, Mitt Romney will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from one of our universities with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering. These graduates are highly skilled, motivated, English-speaking, and integrated into their American communities. Permanent residency would offer them the certainty required to start businesses and drive American innovation. As with the highly skilled visa holders, these new Americans would generate economic ripples that redounded to the benefit of all.

GOP Presidential Candidates' Positions on Immigration: Ron Paul

The Republican presidential race will get interesting now that the Iowa caucuses have made Romney, Paul and Santorum the top-tier candidates.  I'll start with Ron Paul's offical takes on immigration policy:


If elected President, Ron Paul will work to implement the following common sense reforms:
* Enforce Border Security – America should be guarding her own borders and enforcing her own laws instead of policing the world and implementing UN mandates.
* No Amnesty - The Obama Administration’s endorsement of so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, will only encourage more law-breaking.
* Abolish the Welfare State – Taxpayers cannot continue to pay the high costs to sustain this powerful incentive for illegal immigration. As Milton Friedman famously said, you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.
* End Birthright Citizenship – As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be granted U.S. citizenship, we’ll never be able to control our immigration problem.
* Protect Lawful Immigrants – As President, Ron Paul will encourage legal immigration by streamlining the entry process without rewarding lawbreakers.

As long as our borders remain wide open, the security and safety of the American people are at stake.
As President, Ron Paul will address immigration by fighting for effective solutions that protect our nation, uphold the rule of law, and respect every American citizen’s civil liberties.