Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ACLJ Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Arizona Immigration Law on Behalf of 57 Members of Congress & 65,000 Americans

Representing 57 members of Congress and more than 65,000 Americans, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) today urged the Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision that declared the Arizona immigration law unconstitutional.

"Our argument is clear: Arizona has the constitutional authority to implement policies to protect its borders and citizens - policies that mirror federal immigration law and incorporate federal standards," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.

"Because of the federal government's inaction in dealing with illegal immigrants, Arizona passed and signed into law S.B. 1070, a constitutionally-sound measure that is consistent, and does not conflict, with federal law. This case is being closely watched by many states facing similar concerns as Arizona. It's clear that nearly 60 members of Congress and more than 65-thousand Americans understand that Arizona's law is not only proper, but permissible under the Constitution as well. We're hopeful the high court will reach that conclusion."

The ACLJ amicus brief, posted here, contends a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should be reversed "because it exalts Administrative 'priorities and strategies' over Congress's clear and manifest intent to welcome state involvement in the enforcement of federal immigration law." The brief argues the appeals court decision "sets up an untenable conflict between Congressional immigration policy and Administrative 'priorities' that the separation of powers doctrine requires the Administration to lose."

The brief asserts that Arizona acted properly by instituting S.B. 1070:

"Although states may not pass laws setting immigration policy, they may pass harmonious laws that further Congress's purposes. Because S.B. 1070 is fully consonant with federal immigration laws, mirroring their standards and definitions, it is not pre-empted. The Ninth Circuit's decision to the contrary is based on conjured conflicts that have no basis in statutory language or other Congressionally established immigration policy."

In requesting the high court overturn the federal appeals court decision, the ACLJ concludes that 9th circuit provided a faulty legal analysis that "tramples upon federalism by stripping the states of their plenary police power to enforce federal law in accordance with federal standards or enact state law that does not conflict with federal law."

The ACLJ represents 57 members of Congress, 55 members of the U.S. House and two members of the U.S. Senate

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Arizona immigration case on April 25th.


A third of illegal boat arrivals in Australia to get visas

A THIRD of asylum seekers arriving by boat will be living in the community on bridging visas next year under a policy shift, the Immigration Department has revealed to a Senate hearing.

The department expects to save $400 million by moving asylum seekers out of detention centres and into the community, where bridging visas will require them to find accommodation and seek work. So far, only 257 bridging visas have been issued because the program only ramped up in December and January. Immigration Department deputy secretary Jackie Wilson said it is expected 6 per cent of asylum seekers would be released on bridging visas this year.

She said by 2012-13, the department expected 20 per cent of asylum seekers to be in community detention where the department provides housing and support; 30 per cent released on bridging visas; leaving just half of boat arrivals behind wire in detention.

The department has projected asylum seekers will arrive by boat at Christmas Island at a rate of 450 a month in 2012-13 in its budget figures. This figure was ridiculed by Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash. Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe admitted to the Senate committee that, in fact, about 1000 people arrived by boat in November 2011, and 693 arrived in December.

The Immigration Department's budget has continued to blow out due to the federal government's mandatory detention policy for boat arrivals, which has resulted in people being held for years in remote locations while they await the outcome of refugee claims and legal appeals. The department's contract with the private company that runs detention, Serco, is now worth $1 billion over four years.

After the parliamentary impasse on offshore processing Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced in October that mandatory detention would be retained for security, identity and health checks, but bridging visas would increasingly be used. The Immigration Department said yesterday it anticipated a transition period of six weeks when asylum seekers released from detention on bridging visas received support in the community, accessing 89 per cent of the welfare payment, paid by the Immigration Department.

Asylum seekers on bridging visas would have work rights and "the bulk of the group will be able to sustain themselves over time", said Ms Wilson.

The government has failed to gain the agreement of the opposition or Greens to pass its bill designed to overcome a High Court ban on the Malaysia refugee swap.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott yesterday introduced to Parliament his own offshore processing bill, which he said could be a "circuit breaker". The bill would allow the transfer of refugees to countries that are members of the Bali Process, a regional forum on people smuggling.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government would examine Mr Oakeshott's bill and seek legal advice before finalising its position.

But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Mr Oakeshott's bill was "a carbon copy of the government's bill", lowering expectations it would gain Coalition support.


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