Friday, April 30, 2010

Church leaders call for 'compassionate' solution to illegal immigration

Posted on April 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM
Updated today at 5:57 PM

DALLAS - A group of evangelical church leaders held an early morning prayer vigil Friday, in advance of Saturday's big immigration march in downtown Dallas.

They say it's their moral duty to help find a way to resolve illegal immigration, in a more compassionate way than the legislation passed in Arizona.

They said not all religious conservatives take a hard line on illegal immigration.

Unlike in the past, this year's Mega March through downtown Dallas has created a deep divide between those in favor and those against new legislation in Arizona, which allows police to stop and question those seeming to be illegal immigrants.

It has a group of North Texas faith leaders, already deep in thought and prayer, seeing how this legislation is already affecting their church communities.

"We are seeing, for instance, churches that have lost up to 50 families because of the fear factor of SB1070," said Mark Gonzales, a pastor.

Gonzales, like others in the group, sees the urgency of addressing illegal immigration but believes federal leaders in Washington should be taking action, not individual states.

"We understand the Arizona situation, and what's going on across the border, but we don't believe SB1070 is a way to go about trying to secure the border," he added.

Most immediately, this group is praying people will march peacefully tomorrow, no matter what their stand.

Included in their prayer circle on Friday, was newly-appointed Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who is ready to do his part.

"We've got pretty good plans in place, comparable with where we are. Of course, we're going to remain flexible and try to get ahead of any problems that might flare," Brown said.

Texas Gov: Arizona Immigration Law 'Not Right' for Texas

April 29, 2010; Associated Press

Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement: "I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas."

AUSTIN, Texas -- Arizona's tough new illegal immigration enforcement law would not be right for Texas, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday, upholding the state's long-held tradition of rejecting harsh anti-immigrant policies.

The Arizona law will require local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally, making it a crime for them to lack registration documents. The law also makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally.

"I fully recognize and support a state's right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas," Perry said in a written statement.

"For example, some aspects of the law turn law enforcement officers into immigration officials by requiring them to determine immigration status during any lawful contact with a suspected alien, taking them away from their existing law enforcement duties, which are critical to keeping citizens safe."

The Arizona law has been hailed by conservatives as long overdue and two Texas lawmakers have said they'll introduce similar immigration measures when the Texas Legislature meets next.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday that a Justice Department review is under way to determine the Arizona law's constitutionality.

Though Texas is ruled by conservative Republicans, top GOP leaders from former Texas Gov. George W. Bush to Perry have rejected harsh and punitive immigration policies.

Bush continued his moderate approach to immigration once he got to the White House, often to the dismay of his conservative base.

"We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals," Bush said in his 2007 State of the Union address. "We need to resolve the status of the immigrants that are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty."

Perry took heat during this year's Republican primary for backing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, saying in a debate that the students are on a path to citizenship.

"Texas has a rich history with Mexico, our largest trading partner, and we share more than 1,200 miles of border, more than any other state," Perry said Thursday. "As the debate on immigration reform intensifies, the focus must remain on border security and the federal government's failure to adequately protect our borders.

"Securing our border is a federal responsibility, but it is a Texas problem, and it must be addressed before comprehensive immigration reform is discussed."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why don't they come legally? They can't

The Oppenheimer Report

PHOENIX - APRIL 28: Undocumented Mexican immigrants are in-processed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), center on April 28, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Across Arizona, city police and county sheriffs' departments turn over detained immigrants to ICE, which deports them to their home countries. Last year ICE deported some 81,000 illegal immigrants from the state of Arizona alone, and with the passage of the state's new tough immigration enforcement law, the number of deportations could rise significantly. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) After my last column criticizing Arizona's xenophobic immigration law, I got an avalanche of readers' comments. Most of them were angry anti-immigrant tirades, but some made important points that deserve an answer.

I won't waste your time responding to those that reek of racial prejudice. Instead, I will try to respond to some of the most common criticisms made by intelligent, well-meaning people whose arguments can't be dismissed as coming from the lunatic fringe.

Denise, who describes herself as a ``white Anglo who has lived in Miami all my life'' and wonders ``how much longer I will be able to live in the town I grew up in,'' writes: ``I am already a minority who is discriminated against and often feel that I live in a foreign country because of the huge population of Latins who insist on speaking Spanish.''

``My question to you is, Why is it so awful for the citizens of the United States to simply ask immigrants who wish to live in America to do so legally? And why should we reward those who broke the law and came here illegally?'' she asks. ``Maybe in your next article you can address these questions.''


Well, Denise, let me try. There are four major reasons why I take issue with the premise behind your questions.

First, there would be nothing wrong with demanding that immigrants come to the United States legally if we allowed them to do so. But we don't -- they are coming through the back door to take jobs we offer them, because we don't allow them in through the front door. Legal immigration quotas were set more than 20 years ago, when the U.S. demand for unskilled and highly skilled workers was much smaller than today's.

The U.S. labor market demands up to 500,000 low-skilled workers a year, while the current U.S. immigration system allows for only 5,000 permanent visas for that category, according to the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration reform advocacy group.

``There is no real line for unskilled workers,'' says Maurice Belanger, the Forum's public information director. ``If you are a Mexican wanting to get a legal visa to work as a waiter in the United States, you would be dead before you get your visa.''

It's somewhat easier to immigrate legally if you have close family members who are U.S. citizens, but often not by much. According to the latest U.S. State Department's visa bulletin, there is a lengthy backlog in several family visa application categories.

The U.S. government is now processing 1992 applications of Mexican adult children of U.S. citizens, and 1987 applications of Filipino brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

``Many people think we have good laws and bad people who are breaking them,'' says Frank Sharry, head of America's Voice, a pro-immigration reform advocacy group. ``But we have bad laws and mostly good people who have no line to get into legally.''


Second, deporting up to 10 million undocumented residents would be incredibly costly and impossible to carry out unless we turn this country into a police state. For national security and law enforcement reasons, it would be much better to know who they are, where they live, and to subject them to a series of steps -- learning English and paying taxes among them -- to regularize their status.

Third, I don't like to use the word `illegals' as a noun, because it's aimed at dehumanizing what for the most part are good, hard-working people. Yes, they broke the rules. But U.S. citizens who drive through a red light also break the rules -- in fact, causing much more potential harm -- and that shouldn't turn them into ``illegal'' human beings.

Fourth, I don't think you should be overly alarmed by the fact that many Hispanic immigrants don't speak English. They may not, but their children will. And if their children end up being bilingual, so much the better. In an increasingly competitive global economy, the United States badly needs more bilingual people.

In conclusion, Denise, we have a dysfunctional immigration system. Employers are hiring undocumented immigrants to do jobs Americans won't do, while the U.S. government provides these immigrants with no realistic chance to get legal visas. Perhaps you and I will agree that it's a perverse system that needs comprehensive reform.
© 2010 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved

Arizona's Punishing Law Doesn't Fit the Crime

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2010

Arizona's Punishing Law Doesn't Fit the Crime
Studies Show Decrease in Arizona Crime Rates Over Time

Washington, D.C. - Supporters of Arizona's harsh new immigration law claim that it is, in part, a crime-fighting measure. However, people like Republican State Senator Russell Pearce of Mesa, the bill's author, overlook two salient points: crime rates have already been falling in Arizona for years despite the presence of unauthorized immigrants, and a century's worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. Furthermore, while much has been made about kidnappings in Arizona, law-enforcement officials indicate that most of these involve drug and human smugglers, as well as smuggled immigrants themselves - not the general population of the state.

The Immigration Policy Center releases a fact sheet which shows the decrease in Arizona crime rates over time. The fact sheet also indicates that states with high immigration have the lowest crime rates and that unauthorized immigration is not associated with higher crime rates.

Highlights include:
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crimes in Arizona fell from 512 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 447 per 100,000 people in 2008, the last year for which data is available.

According to a 2008 report from the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates are lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates, such as Arizona. From 1999 to 2006, the total crime rate declined 13.6 percent in the 19 highest-immigration states (including Arizona), compared to a 7.1 percent decline in the other 32 states.

Although the unauthorized immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2004, data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 35.1 percent during this time and the property crime rate fell by 25.0 percent.

Combating crime related to human smuggling requires more trust between immigrants and the police, not less. Yet the undermining of trust between police and the community is precisely what Arizona's new law accomplishes. In the final analysis, immigration policy is not an effective means of addressing crime because the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.

To read the fact check in its entirety, see:

Arizona's Punishment Doesn't Fit the Crime: Studies Show Decrease in Arizona Crime Rates Over Time (IPC Fact Check, April 28, 2010)


For press inquiries contact Seth Hoy at or 202-507-7509.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC, formed in 2003 is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

A division of the American Immigration Council. Visit our website at

Friday, April 23, 2010

Implementation Costs of SB 1070 to One Arizona County

For Immediate Release
April 23. 2010

Estimates Indicate Costs Could Rise into the Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Entire State

Washington D.C. - Today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may sign into law a bill that has the potential to sink her state much deeper into the red than it already is. Touting a $10 million investment into local law enforcement from discretionary federal stimulus money the state received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Brewer is gambling with Arizona's economy. The costs associated with SB 1070 have not been quantified by the Arizona legislature but it is safe to assume that $10 million dollars is only a drop in the bucket towards what it would actually cost to enforce this law.

In Arizona, when a bill is introduced in the state legislature, a "fiscal note" is attached which lays out the cost of implementation. In the case of SB 1070, the accompanying fiscal note is shockingly lacking in detail, concluding that "the fiscal impact of this bill cannot be determined with certainty. We do not have a means to quantify the number of individuals arrested under the bill's provisions or the impact on the level of illegal immigration." At a time when Arizona is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, however, enacting an enforcement program that will surely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars is fiscally irresponsible at best.

In the absence of any current fiscal data on the cost of SB 1070's implementation, some Arizonans are pointing to a fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden in response to similar legislation proposed in 2006. Yuma County is one of Arizona's 15 counties, with a population of about 200,000.

The 2006 fact sheet estimates the costs of a bill which would have authorized the police to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges if they were simply present in the state (the bill was eventually vetoed by then Governor Janet Napolitano). The Yuma County Sherriff's fact sheet shows a staggering potential cost to Yuma County law-enforcement agencies. The Sherriff estimated:

Law-enforcement agencies would spend between $775,880 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses;
Jail costs would be between $21,195,600 and $96,086,720;
Attorney and staff fees would be $810,067-$1,620,134;
Additional detention facilities would have to be built at unknown costs.

Furthermore, in an email between Yuma County Attorney Jon Smith and Arizona lawmakers, Smith added that there would be even more costs to implementing SB 1070 than just what Ogden had outlined, and noted that his county was already struggling with a budget deficit by furloughing employees and forcing days off without pay. He wrote:

"It was also noted that the Superior Court, Justice Courts and Municipal Courts would also realize increased costs if that legislation passed. Although such increases were not calculated, it was and should be noted that such would include additional court staff, interpreters, administrative staff and pre-trial services. In a percentage of those cases, Juvenile Court and the juvenile detention facility would have also recognized cost increases...An increase of this proportion would stifle all areas of the system, from the moment of arrest to the point of conviction, sentencing and incarceration. Already LEA (law enforcement agencies) are fighting to stay afloat through the use of furloughs, and mandated days off with pay. I really doubt the fines and fees assessed will be able to match the need and cost associated."

The Yuma county snapshot of enforcement costs is a sobering reminder of the overwhelming financial harm that SB 1070 could cause the state of Arizona. Ultimately, those costs are only part of the story and don't even account for lost revenue such as tax contributions and consumer purchasing, as well as the potentially expensive lawsuits that will likely ensue if this law if it is signed by the Governor.


For press inquiries contact Wendy Sefsaf at or 202-507-7524.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC, formed in 2003 is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

A division of the American Immigration Council. Visit our website at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Much Will Arizona's Immigration Bill (SB1070) Cost?

For Immediate Release
April 21, 2010

Washington, D.C.- Frustrated by Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, states across the country continue considering legislation that relies heavily on punitive, enforcement-only measures which not only fail to end unauthorized immigration but also have the potential to dig their state's finances deeper into a hole. The latest example of this kind of policy nose dive is in Arizona. A recent bill, "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (SB 1070), was passed by the Arizona State legislature and awaits the signature of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. As the Governor ponders whether or not to put her signature on SB 1070, she should consider the potential economic impact of the bill, which would require police to check a person's immigration status if they suspect that person is in the United States illegally. This bill, if it becomes law, will likely affect not only unauthorized immigrants, but all immigrants and Latinos in general. Given the vital role that immigrants and Latinos play in Arizona's economy, and considering Arizona's current budget deficit of $3 billion dollars, enacting SB 1070 could be a perilous move.

At a purely administrative level, Gov. Brewer should take into consideration the potential costs of implementation and defending the state against lawsuits. As the National Employment Law Project (NELP) points out in the case of other states that have passed harsh local immigration laws, Arizona would probably face a costly slew of lawsuits on behalf of legal immigrants and native-born Latinos who feel they have been unjustly targeted. This is in addition to the cost of implementation. For instance, NELP observes that "in Riverside, New Jersey, the town of 8,000 had already spent $82,000 in legal fees defending its ordinance" by the time it was rescinded in September, 2007. Also in 2007, the county supervisors in Prince William County, Maryland were unwilling to move forward with the police enforcement portion of an immigration law after they found that the price tag would be a minimum of $14 million for five years.

More broadly, Gov. Brewer should keep in mind that, if significant numbers of immigrants and Latinos are actually persuaded to leave the state because of this new law, they will take their tax dollars, businesses, and purchasing power with them. The University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy estimates that the total economic output attributable to Arizona's immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs. Furthermore, over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino-owned and had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002 - the last year for which data is available. The Perryman Group also estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time. Putting economic contributions of this magnitude at risk during a time of recession would not serve Arizona well.

With Arizona facing a budget deficit of more than $3 billion, Gov. Brewer might want to think twice about measures such as SB 1070 that would further imperil the state's economic future and try instead to find ways in which she can bring additional tax revenue to her state while pursuing smart enforcement that will actually protect Arizonans.


For press inquiries contact Wendy Sefsaf at or 202-507-7524.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC, formed in 2003 is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

A division of the American Immigration Council. Visit our website at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Are We Ready To March Seven Times?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Once again the Obama Administration has shown its contempt for the Latino community and its lack of political will to fix the immigration reform problem facings our country. In an obvious show of Para-military might, President Obama allowed over 800 police and law enforcement agents of ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies to conduct a series of raids throughout Arizona.

Reports from the areas raided describe a frightening scene as federal, state, and local police moving in to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants who allegedly were involved in illegal human trafficking of undocumented immigrants in the shuttle service industry.

Kat Rodriguez of Derechos Humanos called the federal raids “a massive show of force, with helicopters, dozens of agents, police vehicles, and weapons, assaulting our community in a fashion never seen before.” A show of force whose sole intention was only to intimidate, create fear and panic.

These raids are rapidly becoming the calling card of the Obama’s Administration efforts to enforce old and antiqued immigration laws. Instead of pushing for reform, we find the President more comfortable recycling the brutal enforcement polices of the Bush Administration.

President Obama who recently claimed to support the Schumer/Graham framework for immigration reform has allowed the federal government to use all of its enforcement tactics and arsenal to continue to crack down on undocumented immigrants. In fact, this administration has a worse human rights record than that of the Bush Administration when it comes to immigration enforcement and treatment.

Senator Harry Reid’s claim last week to have 56 votes in the United States Senate to move immigration reform forward seem to ring hallow compared to the Obama’s Administration’s show of disrespect to the Latino community by allowing over 800 law enforcement agents to descend on places of employment and disrupt and destroy innocent families and personal lives.

The President who claimed to have as a national key priority the issue of immigration reform has simply allowed the Department Of Homeland Security to become the Department of Fear and Bigotry.

While our President claims to be on the side of the Latino community in fixing the immigration problem, he has allowed his Secretary of Homeland Security to become the master oppressor by allowing the largest display of federal law enforcement to suppress and intimidate our community.

Just last week in Dallas, Latino Evangelical faith leaders called upon the President to join with them in fixing the immigration problem. In a fairly soft spoken attempt at trying to rally this President to their side, the soft ball approach to the Obama Administration instead has been answered by what many are calling a complete lack of accountability by the President authorizing one of the largest raids against undocumented immigrants of his administration.

It is time to stop pretending as if this President is going to reward our community for voting for him and that we began to demand accountability of this President’s policies against creating familial separations, destroying families, and endearing itself to the evil forces of bigotry, fear, hate, and discrimination.

We need to stop counting the number of votes given to this President during the last election, and start counting anew the ones that will vote for true change and hope, not broken promises and phrases of false expectations.

While this Administration is quick to condemn the human rights violations of other third world governments, it is time that the American people understand that a government that can and will violate the rights and constitution freedoms of some will not hesitate to use that same force against others. It is time that we stood up and demanded accountability of this President and his polices of oppression.

Immigration reform leaders in Arizona are calling the massive federal raids “a new low in the Obama Administration’s lack accountability.”

We need to send the message to the President and Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. that we are no longer going to listen to the false promises of immigration reform that come from the shallow halls of government. The half- hearted attempts to placate our efforts to find immigration reform will not be acceptable, and we must demand accountability using the mid-term elections as a means by which to register our displeasure and anger.

In Arizona where the state legislature just recently passed SB1070, a bill that essentially allows any law enforcement official who may have “a reasonable suspicion” to question anyone in the state whom they suspect may not have the proper documents to determine their immigration status is a difficult pill to swallow.

Police will have the right to stop and question anyone even if no other law has been violated. If there is “reasonable suspicion,” that you may not have the proper documentation, racial profiling will become the norm and you will be questioned.

It is under this climate of evil and anti-Latino attitudes that the President Obama ordered the largest single immigration raid in any state. President Obama has allowed governmental bureaucrats to enforce policies of the past, and has refused to implement humane and just policies that do not separate families and create fear and uncertainty in the Latino community.

He has allowed ICE to do as it pleases in enforcing its own misguided interpretation of national immigration policies to arrest, detain, and ultimately deport not hardened criminals, but men and women who support their families and whose sole attempt is to live within the framework of our United States Constitution.

It is imperative that Latino Evangelical leaders reevaluate their support of a President who refuses to acknowledge that this country must fix it immigration policies and stop violating the civil rights of Latinos.
When we allow laws that encourage racial profiling and that allow the police to stop and question any person under a racial profiling standard, we are allowing our country to slide rapidly toward the brink of becoming a police state.

A few years back, Latino Evangelical pastors refused to acknowledge that we would be facing laws that allow racial profiling, where police would be raiding homes, where Gestapo type police gangs would raid workers at their jobs, where detention facilities would be big business incarcerating and detaining undocumented immigrants without due process, and where families would be separated and destroyed by our government.

We now know that we live under a government where Gestapo type police raids are becoming the norm, where big business detention contracts are routinely approved by the government without any regard to who is being jailed, where more and more undocumented immigrants in detention are being threatened or intimidated to renounce their right to due process and as a result more immigrants are being deported, and thus allowing a government that instead of nurturing families, is out to destroy them.

The raids in Arizona only demonstrated that unless we come together and demand accountability, we will surely lose this battle against the evil forces of hate and fear.

Yet, once again last week we have found that those who claim to be our friends and allies in this fight for justice and immigration reform do not share our values or beliefs.

How then can our faith leaders pretend that the policies and governance of this President are in agreement with our vision of justice and righteousness? How can we allow this government to destroy more and more families and not raise our voice in opposition to the current policies of this government?

What will it take to create within the Latino Evangelical Church the passion to stand up for ourselves and fight for justice and righteousness?

Perhaps the best summary of the events of the Obama Raid are left to Isabel Garcia of the Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Humanos who said, “Instead of bringing in the Department of Justice to investigate the immigration abuses and uphold our rights, the Obama Administration sics the ICE police on our communities.”

And instead of another national gathering in Washington, D.C. to march for immigration reform again, maybe it is time we gathered together instead to demand that this President stop the raids. That he instead commit to join our fight for justice and righteousness by pursuing a policy of finding a solution to the broken immigration system that allows the fiasco that occurred in Arizona to not happen again.

Perhaps it is time that Latino Evangelical leaders take the lead of demanding Presidential accountability and stop meeting in the big house, and instead marched around the walls of the White House seven times, prepared to trumpet our demands of accountability and for righteousness judgment.

Is it time to march seven times around the walls of injustice and fear?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.