Sunday, August 26, 2012

GOP platform calls for more Arizona-style immigration laws
The Republican Party has officially endorsed its backing for Arizona-style state immigration laws, adding into its platform language that such laws should be "encouraged, not attacked" and calling for the federal government to drop its lawsuits against the laws.

That language and other provisions were widely approved by the party after being introduced by the co-author of the Arizona law, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).

"I was pleased at how overwhelming the majorities were, it was a voice vote and I think there were maybe 80 percent supporting it," Kobach told The Hill shortly after the hard-line immigration language was added to the party's official platform. "The Republican Platform is now very strongly opposed to illegal immigration."

The official party position now reads that "State efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked," and says the Department of Justice should immediately drop its lawsuits against controversial state immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah.

That language is likely to please immigration hard-liners — but it could further damage the party's standing with Hispanic voters, a key voting bloc in a number of swing states. Many Hispanics see Arizona-style laws as discriminatory.

"I think it's an expression of support for Arizona-style laws," Kobach said. "The platform also encourages states to create laws in this area."

Kobach's amendment, which is now official party policy, also includes calls to withhold federal funding for any universities that provide in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants as well as "sanctuary cities" that refuse to enforce state and federal laws on immigration, and calls for the government to complete construction of a fence along the Mexican border that Congress authorized in 2006.

Another amendment he backed that was included in the party platform strengthens the GOP's previous support of a national "E-Verify" system.

The broader party's inclusion of Kobach's amendments reverses a subcommittee's decision the day before to reject the language, and shows his power within the party.

"Of the amendments that Chris either made or spoke in favor of, each and every one was adopted," Indiana RNC Committeeman James Bopp, a constitutional scholar who chaired one of the party's platform subcommittees. "He had a significant impact on the formulation of the platform. People respect his views and listen to him carefully on these issues."

Kobach was an early supporter of Mitt Romney during the primary, citing his immigration positions, and at one point advised Romney on immigration policy, though Romney's campaign denied that he was an official policy adviser to the campaign.

Romney ran hard to the right on immigration during the primary, but has sought since then to temper his rhetoric when talking about the emotional issue.

But Kobach said he was happy with where the party stood on immigration, and said he was unconcerned with Romney's recent remarks on the subject.

"Other issues have just come to the fore and dominated his remarks more than immigration and that's fine — I don't think he's changed his stance," he said. "If we start with the premise that illegal means illegal we need to address that specific things can be done to make that become a reality."


California OKs bill shielding undocumented immigrants

California state legislators passed a bill Friday that seeks to protect undocumented immigrants charged with relatively minor crimes from being deported.

The bill, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would prohibit local police from detaining anyone on an immigration hold if the person is not charged with or has not been convicted of a serious or violent crime.

The bill, which only needs the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law, passed the Assembly on Friday after being amended in the state Senate to remove language that would have required police departments to develop plans to guard against racial profiling.

Advocates and critics alike said the legislation is the largest challenge to the use of immigration holds in local jails, including President Obama's Secure Communities program, because it would impact law enforcement throughout the most populous state, one with a significant immigrant population.

"What we're trying to do here is to protect the innocent," said Ammiano, the bill's chief sponsor. "The fact that you're undocumented doesn't make you a criminal."

It's unclear whether Brown will support the legislation. Brown spokesman Gil Duran said the governor would not comment on the matter.

Enforcement issue

The issue of whether local police should enforce federal immigration law has long been a contentious issue, most recently with the Secure Communities program. Once an individual is fingerprinted and booked in a local jail, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI. Under Secure Communities, the FBI sends those fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration. If that person has previously come into contact with Homeland security, their data would match. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then determines if the person is in the country illegally.

Local discretion

The enforcement agency then can request that the jail hold the person for up to 48 hours. But because it is merely a request, local jurisdictions have discretion, and the federal government has not forced the issue.

Santa Clara and San Francisco counties have policies that prohibit or restrict the use of so-called immigration holds. So does Cook County, Illinois; Taos, New Mexico; and Washington, D.C.

Opponents of the state bill said they were stunned.

"It removes the discretion of local law enforcement agencies in deciding what to do about noncitizens that end up in their custody," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that calls for tighter immigration laws. "It would force them to release people they believe are a threat to the public."

Critics and advocates paint wildly different portraits of the impact of the law.

Crime to rise, foes say

Opponents say that criminals often commit lesser crimes, but might be known to law enforcement as being a gang member.

The example they point to is that of Edwin Ramos, who had two juvenile felony convictions, but San Francisco officials did not turn him over to immigration authorities. Ramos later killed Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons, Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, in San Francisco.

"It is virtually guaranteed that there will be more crimes committed, more victims of dangerous criminals if this policy goes into effect," said Vaughan.

Backers distrust ICE

On the flip side, advocates point to Juana Reyes, 46, who was arrested and jailed in June for trespassing after she sold tamales in a Walmart parking lot in Sacramento. The mother of two had no criminal record and was facing deportation.

"You cannot trust (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) when they say 'give us these fingerprints, give us these people and we will decide who to release and who not to,' " said Angela Chan, staff attorney for the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. "Local law enforcement should not be engaged in immigration law enforcement."


No comments:

Post a Comment