Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Immigrant removals from Northwest keep dropping

The number of illegal immigrants in the Pacific Northwest removed from the country has fallen dramatically over the past couple of years, according to new numbers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They show that 6,733 immigrants were removed in fiscal year 2012 from Washington, Oregon and Alaska, compared with a recent high of more than 10,800 immigrants expelled in 2010.

The 2012 numbers also show that for the first time in five years, the number of illegal immigrants with criminal records declined. The data show that 4,557 of such immigrants were removed in 2012, compared with 5,272 the previous year.

A fiscal year runs from September to October. These removals also include voluntary departures, which is when an illegal immigrant chooses to leave the country on their own.

In recent years, ICE has made removing illegal immigrants with criminal records one of its top priorities. Nationally, the total number of removals stood at nearly 410,000, with nearly 70 percent of those with criminal records.

The decline of removals from the Pacific Northwest can be attributed to fewer people being transferred from out of state to the Tacoma Detention Center, where some immigrants are processed and held before removal, the agency said in a statement.

The agency also said another factor contributing to the drop in numbers is the increase of immigration cases of people who are not detained at Tacoma. In general, those cases tend to take longer, even years, to work through the immigration court system.

For Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica, a Seattle-based immigrant advocacy group, the drop in local numbers is nothing to cheer about.

"I don't view this as a big victory in the total scheme of things, those numbers appear to have just been moved to other jurisdictions," he said, adding that the more 225,000 immigrants removed without a criminal record nationally "reflects hundreds of thousands of families being torn apart."

Stolz said immigrant advocates continue to be troubled by ICE's definition of crimes counted toward its tally of illegal immigrants with criminal records removed. He said people who commit traffic violations can be caught in the dragnet of programs ICE employs with local jurisdictions, such as one called Secure Communities.

Meanwhile, on the day removal numbers were released, ICE director John Morton announced a new policy on when agents should hold in custody immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally. The policy reinforces ICE's priority of going after people with criminal records and brings its detainment policy in line with prosecutorial guidelines released in 2010.

"The new detainer policy further illustrates the Obama Administration's refusal to enforce immigration law as written by Congress, opting only to enforce the law against aliens deemed a 'priority,'" argued the Federal for Immigration Reform, a group that pushes for stricter immigration rules.

Stolz said the new detainment policy is positive step.

"Hopefully, it'll have an impact on the overall numbers of deportations in the future, such as folks pulled over for a broken tail light," he said. "However, the change does not address the fundamental problems created by enlisting local law enforcement in federal immigration enforcement activities, including concerns over racial profiling, undermining trust in law enforcement."


More immigration = fewer American jobs

The Los Angeles Times, California’s most widely read daily newspaper, rarely publishes stories critical of immigration or the resultant population growth that drives the state’s overcrowding.

The Times immigration-avoidance guidelines aren’t written in its manual. But evidence that The Times won’t deal with immigration’s negatives, clear though they are even to casual observers, is overwhelming.

If Times’ readers want to understand what’s really going on with immigration and population, they have to be well-informed and willing to read between the lines.

In his Dec. 21 story titled More People Moving to the United States, reporter Don Lee laid out the facts: as of July 1, the Census Bureau pegged U.S. population at nearly 314 million, up 2.3 million from last year.

California with 38 million people remains the nation’s most-populated state, 12 million more than second-place Texas.

Even though more residents left California last year than moved in, the state added 375,000 people. The Times correctly attributes this phenomenon to immigration (plus 133,000, a 14 percent increase) and net natural increase which is generally defined as new births minus deaths. The Times didn’t elaborate, but a crucial statistic is that most births are from immigrant mothers, legal and illegal and, eventually, the children born to those recent immigrant mothers.

As always, the Times and its sources interpret increased immigration as good.

The Brookings Institute demographer William Frey analyzed the Census data and concluded that more immigrant arrivals indicate that the job market is strengthening.

The potentially challenging prospect of finding employment no longer, according to Frey, dissuades immigrants.

For employers who want to hire cheap labor, a large immigrant pool to choose from is a wonderful thing.

New legal and illegal immigrants benefit, too. They get much-needed jobs.

Once legal immigrants obtain permanent residency, they receive work authorization and can immediately begin to look for gainful employment. Illegal immigrants either falsify work documents or enter the underground economy.

More often than not, a legal or illegal immigrants’ job search is successful.

The Center for Immigration Studies found that since President Obama took office in 2009, immigrants accounted for 67 percent of employment gains. During the third quarter of 2012, there were 1.94 million more immigrants than in January 2009 compared to a 938,000 increase for natives over the same time period.

Congress and the White House, dating back to President Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and continuing through President Obama’s deferred action program, have imposed demographic and economic changes on unsuspecting and often unwilling Americans.

Journalists should treat American job displacement and immigration-fueled population increases as the decade’s biggest stories. Instead, hardly a word has been written.

History proves that during uncertain economic times, presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight David Eisenhower managed their immigration policies in a manner designed to help Americans.

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt, considered by many to be America’s most liberal president, strictly limited immigration and instead created the Works Progress Administration to benefit struggling citizens. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, the largest public works project at the time.

Americans have taken a back seat to special Chamber of Commerce and the ethnic identity lobby’s interests. Judging from the way President Obama’s second term is poised to begin — with a promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform — more of the same lies ahead


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