Friday, July 17, 2009

This Week's Current Immigration News

Massachusetts Takes a Step Back From Health Care for All (New York Times)
Massachusetts, which enacted ground-breaking laws with the goal of universal health care coverage in 2006, may eliminate health care coverage for approximately 30,000 legal immigrants to reduce its budget deficit. As unemployment increases, enrollment in Commonwealth Care, the state’s subsidized insurance program for low-income residents, has risen sharply. Nondisabled permanent residents ages 18-65 who have had green cards for less than five years will lose coverage in August to save the state an estimated $130 million. Governor Deval Patrick has introduced a proposal to restore $70 million to Commonwealth Care, but Robert A. DeLeo, the speaker of the State House of Representatives explained, “there is only so much money that we have.” Under 1996 welfare laws, the 30,000 immigrants affected by the loss of coverage also do not qualify for Medicaid or other federal assistance.

New Curbs Set on Arrests of Illegal Immigrants (Wall Street Journal)The Obama administration has expanded a program known as 287(g), which gives U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the authority to delegate the enforcement of federal immigration law to state and local police. New agreements between ICE and local jurisdiction will prioritize the pursuit of illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes. Critics say that the program promotes racial profiling and makes immigrants "fear and avoid the police," undermining any attempts at community policing, which requires "building trust among those the officers serve and protect." However, supporters believe that the program has been effective in combating illegal immigration.Read a New York Times editorial about 287(g).

Few options for veterans who await deportation (The San Diego Union-Tribune)Among the 32,000 foreign-born detainees awaiting deportation from the United States are some who have served in the United States military. Fernando Cervantes emigrated legally from Mexico to the United States in 1961 and enlisted in the Vietnam War at age eighteen. Later, he was convicted of possession of methamphetamine for sale. After serving a three-year prison term, he was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Cervantes' crime is felony for which he can be deported. Such cases raise questions about whether military service merits special consideration in deportation proceedings.

Queens one of 'most diverse places on Earth,' new figures show (New York Daily News)According to Joseph Salvo, a demographer with the NYC Department of City Planning, Queens is one of the most diverse places on Earth. From 2000 to 2006, the borough's foreign-born population grew 6.3%. Unlike other boroughs, Queens has a fairly equal distribution of white non-Hispanic, Hispanic, black non-Hispanic, Asian and multi-racial people. Assemblyman José Peralta stated that the constant influx of immigrants to Queens is an “economic engine that is vital for the borough.”

-posted by Penny King

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