NDN Blog

NDN Backgrounder: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yesterday, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), led a White House meeting with key groups and stakeholders to discuss immigration policy. 

For anyone interested in learning more about this important issue we've assembled the following set of background material:

Key Arguments:

Beck Loses Advertisers, Dobbs Should be Worried, Simon Rosenberg, 8/14/09 - Rosenberg presents at Netroots and discusses the implication of advertisers withdrawing from purchasing air time on the Glenn Beck show on Fox. 

The Coming Battle Over the Census, Simon Rosenberg, 8/10/09 - For many months now NDN has been making the case that inevitably the right would make a spirited case to prevent the 2010 Census from counting undocumented immigrants, or at least using their numbers to influence reapportionment or the allocation of resources by the government.  We argue that it is important for the Obama Administration to pass Compehensive Immigration Reform by March of 2010 (the count begins in April, 2010) in order to avoid what could become a very nasty debate about who should be counted.

Sotomayor, Hispanics, and the Martinez Resignation, Simon Rosenberg, 8/7/09 - Rosenberg offers initial thoughts on the way the Senate Republicans handled the Sotomayor vote and how that contributes to the alientation Hispanics feel towards the GOP.  Highlights the significance of the only minority Republican Senator fleeing the national Republican Party.

Making the Case for Passage of Immigration Reform This Year, Simon Rosenberg, 6/16/09 - Rosenberg lays out the basic foundation for why Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform. This summary is a good introduction for those wanting to learn the fundamentals of this issue.

Making the Case: 7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year,Huffington Post, Simon Rosenberg, 4/30/09 - Rosenberg argues that the answer to whether Congress can pass reform this year is "yes."

A Responsible Immigration Policy - A Series of Essays from NDN

Hispanics Rising II, Updated May 2008 - NDN's commentary pertaining to the impact of the growing Hispanic electorate on national elections, key data and projections that support the argument that whoever wins the Hispanic vote can maintain a hold on national elections.  

On Obama, Race, and the End of the Southern Strategy, Simon Rosenberg, 1/4/08 - Rosenberg discusses the impact of the figure of Barack Obama, as America undergoes one of the most significant demographic transformations in History.  As such,liberating American politics from the pernicious era of the Southern Strategy, based on the exploitation of race, should be one the highest strategic priorities for left-of-center politics.

Can Democrats Seize the Opportunity The Immigration Debate Offers Them?, Simon Rosenberg, 12/11/07 - Rosenberg explains how embracing comprehensive immigration reform will allow Democrats to draw a bright line distinction with the GOP on an issue where the Democratic position has majority support of the American people and of a deep and broad national coalition.  Takin on CIR shows Congress can work to solve vexing national problems; drives a deep wedge in the GOP coalition; and makes a major overture to Hispanics, who are the key to a permanent 21st century progressive governing coalition.


NDN Poll in Battleground States on Immigration, 9/2/08

Polling of Swing Districts, America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 2/19/09

Recent Polling on Immigration,  America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 6/2/09 - Since a previous America's Voice poll in November, Pete Brodnitz of the Benenson Stratagey Group finds that support for comprehensive reform has been stable (and high), but increasing numbers of voters see the economic benefit of passing comprehensive immigration reform. The poll is consistent with NDN polling by Bendixen & Associates in its affirmation of overwhelming public support for immigration reform.


Politics and Policy: What to Expect from the Immigration Debate, Simon Rosenberg, Ali Noorani, and Tamar Jacoby, 8/4/09

NDN Forum Immigration Reform: Politics, Public Opinion and Legislative Prospects,   Simon Rosenberg and Andres Ramirez, 6/16/09. Please click here for video of Simon Rosenberg's presentation; please click herefor video of Andres’ presentation.

NDN, America's Voice, NCLR Team Up to Reiterate the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform This Year, 2/19/09

“Immigration Reform and the Next Administration,” NDN Event at the Democratic National Committee Convention in Denver, CO, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Marco Lopez, Frank Sharry, Janet Murguia, 8/25/08 

NDN Bicameral Event for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Rep. Gutierrez, Rep.Lofgren, Sen. Reid, Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Menendez, 3/3/07 

To stay up-to-date, follow us on the NDN Immigration Weekly.

Only "Three-Fifths of a Person" - More Immigrant Deaths Uncovered from Under DHS

At a border conference recently Secretary Napolitano stated, "Our job is to enforce the laws that we have now, to do it intelligently, to do it with well-trained professionals who are well-supervised," but in enforcing current immigration law, DHS is violating the highest law of all - the Constitution of the United States. 
Until due process applies to immigration courts, DHS should seriously revisit this policy. 

I allude in the title to Article I, Sec. II of the original U.S. Constitution (before the 14th amendment providing equality under the law came into being) because today, the New York Times uncovered additional deaths of individuals who were held under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention.  I would like to think that this absence of humanity at ICE persists because many of the DHS officials there are remnants of the Bush Administration.  DHS officials report that these deaths were "missed," the way you'd fail to notice a new hair do, or forget to pick up dry-cleaning.  Not only is the enforcement system itself appalling, more infuriating is DHS's completely unacceptable response.  If I were a family member of that person who was left to die and then "forgotten," DHS would have a wrongful death suit on their hands (at least). 

But most of those detained do not know the legal system, and do not have the resources to effectively fight back, and so they often lose their lives in the attempt.  As Rep. Zoe Lofgren has pointed out, it is unacceptable that in the United States of America, that prides itself on its humanitarian, inclusive values, and "justice for all," ICE detention centers are something out of a "gulag" or dark ages. 

Let me explain how "justice" works in the immigration enforcement system:  first, a person - any person mind you, even U.S. citizens - can have their door knocked down one fine day and get taken in by ICE (because unless you happen to carry your U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport in your pocket, you have no proof of citizenship).  Once you are taken in and accused of a violation to immigration law, many are kept for days or weeks on end while they await a hearing.  Because infractions to the INA and immigration laws are a civil penalty, not a crime (contrary to popular belief), if you are detained for an immigration violation you have absolutely no right to a lawyer.  If you cannot get one, tough luck.  Similarly, you have no right to a translator.  So if you don't know to ask for one, if you cannot find one or hire a translator in order to understand the charges against you - again - too bad, you will be processed without being able to understand the charge against you.  How is THAT for due process?

So once you are convicted of an immigration offense that you probably didn't understand, whether you violated the law or not, you are sent to one of these detention centers, where approximately 104 individuals have died since 2003.  That might not seem like a large number, but the fact that many died after needing and requesting medical attention repeatedly means that ICE detention procedures as they stand often amount to manslaughter.  And this is no exaggeration - the fact is that according to the law, detainees have no enforceable rights.  ICE has acted in such a way that has resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, but those people have no due process rights under current law. 

And unfortunately, this epidemic of mistreatment and deaths in detention is not isolated to immigration detainment centers.  Immigrants (and U.S. citizens) when held for immigration violations are sometimes placed in ICE detention centers, but because of overcrowding, they are often moved to local, state and federal prisons.

According to the Department of Justice, there are Bureau of Prisons facilities, privately managed "secure" facilities, and community corrections facilities.  Our focus on detention might begin to explain why our prisons are also the most crowded in the world.  The U.S. has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world, with 750 inmates per 100,000 persons.  Of those incarcerated, "white" inmates make up about 57% percent of the prison population, while "blacks" make up 39% and "Hispanics" are 32%.  However, the prison system has a disproportionate effect on minorities.  Only approximately 118,000 inmates are white, while approximately 81,000 are black and 66,583 are Hispanic.  Although African-Americans constitute 14 percent of regular drug users, they are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, and 56 percent of persons in state prisons for drug crimes.  Many justice experts have found that the increase in the incarceration rate is the product of changes in penal policy and practice, not changes in crime rates. 

But as I said earlier, the important distinction is that people who violate only immigration law are not criminals.  And thus, they should not be in prisons or similar establishments.  I encourage enforcement of laws and of immigration law, but an immigration law that is functional, fair, and that is in line with our Constitution and our principles.  I do hope President Obama takes this opportunity to reverse much of the damage caused by the 1996 revisions to immigration law and to create a new, realistic, fair, and enforceable immigration law. 

A 'Supreme' Latina at the White House Today; Young Latinas Show Their Support

Today, President Obama hosted a celebratory gathering for the new Justice Sotomayor at the White House.  Now the first Hispanic Justice, she serves as a role model and inspiration to so many young women of all races and creeds.  For not only does she have an amazing life story, lest we forget that she is the Justice with the most experience on a federal bench in 100 years.  Lest we forget the extraordinary ability and dedication it takes to achieve the post of Editor of the Yale Law Review - an honor that has been enjoyed by a select few people, let alone Latinas. It is because Sonia Sotomayor faced so many additional obstacles and challenges, and yet she persisted down the difficult path to extraordinary achievement that she inspires great pride among citizens, among women, and among Latinas - particularly young Latinas.   

That support took an entirely new level during confirmation hearings as Justice Sotomayor was grilled on her "wise Latina" comment.  Because of her solid judicial record and the absence of "activism" found in her decisions, certain Senators had to stick to informal comments and quotes from speaking engagements to try to attack this entirely qualified nominee.  And it is this attitude that enraged some, bothered others, and inspired so many to demonstrate that they would not stand for these attacks.  In the week leading up to today's celebration, Latinas crowded rallies for Sotomayor, organized Sotomayor confirmation vote watch parties, wrote articles and opinions, and even incorporated their support into their personal lives. Here are a few images of the week: 

An active George Mason college student, Christine Gonzales, stands inspired at a Sotomayor rally, covered by the New York Times.  

A group of Latinas stand here with Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton; the group has helped found the "New Latino Movement," and organized this watch party sponsored by a series of organizations, many lead by "wise Latinas," such as the Hispanic National Bar Association, LULAC, and the Hispanic Bar Association of D.C.  One of the organizers commented to the Washington Post, “Melody Gonzalez, 29, a staffer on the Hill who co-founded a grass-roots volunteer group called the New Latino Movement, milled through the crowd sporting a wide grin and a purple T-shirt printed with the words ‘Wise Latina.’ ‘Can you imagine the message this is sending to all the women of the United States?" she said. "Sonia Sotomayor is a symbol of what one can do with the power of education. That as women and as Latinas, we can aspire to the highest levels of achievement that our country has to offer.’”

And finally, a Latina bride ran for her dress at Filene's Basement running of the brides, and the way in which she chose to unite her team was around the "Wise Latina" t-shirts, shown in this clip.  

Video from "Politics and Policy: What To Expect from the Immigration Debate"

The video from our recent event, "Politics and Policy: What To Expect from the Immigration Debate," is now up on our YouTube channel. For those of you that couldn't make it to the event, you can check out the videos here. And even if you were here, feel free to share!


Weekly Immigration Update: Immigration Reform at NCLR Conference; 9500 Liberty Screening; and Discussion Tomorrow


Last week we blogged from NCLR, discussing the impact immigration reform impact the opportunities available to young people, and the role reform could play in encouraging young Latinas particularly to seize these opportunities.  

Also at NCLR, Gov. Tim Kaine delivered a moving - fully bilingual - address, showing that a person is no less "American," or hard working, or deserving, just because they are fortunate enough to know more than one language.  He touched on a number of topics, ranging from Health Care to the Judge Sotomayor nomination, but when he discussed immigration reform, he emphasized:

I also want to reiterate that the President is committed to comprehensive immigration reform—it’s needed, and the wheels are already in motion.

Given that those wheels are in motion at the national level, we will be hosting a discussion tomorrow about the policy and politics of immigration reform - don't miss it, RSVP here

We ended last week gearing up for tomorrow's discussion by hosting a select screening with the filmmakers of 9500 Liberty, Annabel Park and Eric Byler.  This powerful documentary takes you through the journey of a community that was torn apart as it became a microcosm of the national debate over immigration, one year before the national elections. 


Attend/Watch NDN Event - Politics and Policy: What To Expect from the Immigration Debate

Please join NDN on Tuesday, August 4 at 12:00 p.m. for a discussion of the political and policy elements that are likely to be considered in the upcoming comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress.

There have been several hearings and discussions among policy-makers regarding our broken immigration system and some members of Congress have indicated that a bill may be introduced in Congress as early as this fall.  There is a diverse group of coalitions - from business, to labor, to faith and community organizations - working to move this issue to the forefront of the national agenda.

NDN President, Simon Rosenberg, will be joined by Tamar Jacoby, President, ImmigrationWorks and Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum for this compelling and timely discussion.

The forum will be held at NDN from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Please click here to RSVP.  Lunch will be served. Please arrive early to guarantee a seat.  For those not able to attend, we will be providing a live Web cast of the event; just go to ndnblog.org/livecast at 12:15 p.m. ET to catch a high-quality stream of the forum. 

We look forward to seeing you at this important event.  

For additional background information on NDN's work in this space:

Key Arguments:

A Responsible Immigration Policy

Making the Case for Passage of Immigration Reform This Year, Simon Rosenberg, 6/16/09 

Making the Case: 7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year, Huffington Post, Simon Rosenberg, 4/30/09

Hispanics Rising II, Updated May 2008

Can Democrats Seize the Opportunity The Immigration Debate Offers Them?, Simon Rosenberg, 12/11/07 


NDN Poll in Battleground States on Immigration, 9/2/08

Polling of Swing Districts, America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 2/19/09

Recent Polling on Immigration,  America's Voice/Benenson Strategy Group, 6/2/09


NDN Forum Immigration Reform: Politics, Public Opinion and Legislative Prospects,   Simon Rosenberg and Andres Ramirez, 6/16/09. Please click here for video of Simon Rosenberg's presentation; please click here for video of Andres’ presentation.

NDN, America's Voice, NCLR Team Up to Reiterate the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform This Year, 2/19/09

“Immigration Reform and the Next Administration,” NDN Event at the Democratic National Committee Convention in Denver, CO, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Marco Lopez, Frank Sharry, Janet Murguia, 8/25/08 

NDN Bicameral Event for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Rep. Gutierrez, Rep.Lofgren, Sen. Reid, Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Menendez, 3/3/07 

9500 Liberty Visits NDN: What is It Like to Be Caught in a Microcosm of the Immigration Debate?


Last night, NDN was honored to host a private select preview of the film 9500 Liberty.  With the filmmakers, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, we examined the political intrigue of one of the most infamous immigration battles ever conducted at the local level.  We discussed the incessant nature of the work that is fighting bigotry - in Virginia and everywhere - and the very real and socio-economic impact of policies intended to alienate immigrants.  

Because it is likely that immigration legislation will be introduced this fall, the premiere of this film on October 1st will provide an invaluable tool for moderates and progressives on this issue, with unprecedented access to the inner workings of the anti-immigrant lobby and its strategic approach to electoral politics. The film also reveals the social and economic fallout when local governments resort to harsh immigration enforcement measures.

In July 2007, Prince William County, VA became ground zero in America's explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopted a local ordinance requiring police officers to question individuals that they considered to be "probably" undocumented.  In the battleground county of a key battleground state, the "Immigration Resolution" became the central issue in a local election held one year before the 2008 Presidential Election.

9500 Liberty is a riveting documentary by two individuals who were caught in the crossfire of these events.  You must see the trailer, and hopefully you will support 9500 Liberty and continue to share this story - it must be told.  And don't forget to stay tuned for the October 1st premiere.  


Weekly Immigration Update; from NCLR

Chicago, IL - The Annual Conference of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) started off with a bang on Saturday.  President Janet Murguia delivered an impassioned speech on the state of Latinos today and called to all of us for action on the various fronts discussed at this conference - Health Care, Education, Civil Rights, Immigration Reform, and Leadership building.  When one advocates for one issue, it is easy to forget that there is a spectrum of other concerns that affect the Latino community in equal measure.  While the Hispanic community at NCLR reminds us of these other issues at the forefront of Hispanic voters' minds, there is a unifying thread - concern for demonization and de-humanization of Hispanics.  That is how immigration is linked to all other issues - in conversations with activists from all areas, immigration remains a threshold issue for everyone.  With this audience, a candidate for public office could have an impeccable tax, health care, or education proposal, but if the idea is that certain people cannot have access because they are "foreign" (even if they are legal immigrants), the buck stops there. 

Sen. Dick Durbin renewed his call for passage of the DREAM Act, that could change the lives of so many young people here in Illinois who have gone to school - high school and often college - only to be kept in waiting of the promise of DREAM.  It is a hopeful sign that Sen. Durbin will similarly serve as a loud voice for comprehensive immigration reform - DREAM and all the other pieces - as legislation hits the Senate floor this Fall.

Valerie Jarret spoke yesterday of the importance of passage of health care reform for this community, in addition to education reform and immigration reform, as well as diversity in our Supreme Court and throughout the government so that "government reflects the population it is governing."  She tied all these issues together as they are all needed to achieve the promise of a level playing-field for all in this new age of Obama.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, delivered a riveting speech that drew a standing ovation from the NCLR attendees.  Herself a woman of many "firsts,"  she focused on the role of Latinas, highlighting the challenges we face in preparing our young women, but also emphasizing how far we have come, for example, as Latinas are now the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs.

Secretary Hilda Solis also spoke at the midday "Latina Brunch," delivering inspiring words on the importance of keeping faith in oneself as women and as workers who provide this country with so many riches - tangible and intangible. 

During the Latina Panel in "The View" format, Maria Cardona, Leslie Sanchez, and Lori Montenegro discussed issues of most importance to our gender and demographic.  Hands-down, the most important concern was that of young Latinas' self-image.  As the group and demographic with the highest rate of high school dropouts and teen-pregnancies, we face a generational crisis with our Latina millenials.  As Lori correctly indicated, the two issues (education/teen-pregnancy) are necessarily correlated with the vision these girls have of themselves.  If they do not envision opportunity, a career, or self-improvement, it will not happen.  I would argue that immigration reform ties directly into this issue because if a young immigrant woman (whether legal or illegal) feels that she is somehow not deserving or simply not eligible to attend the same schools or pursue the same ambitions as her "native" counterparts, she will act accordingly and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Even native born American Latinas can be affected if their own immigrant or first generation family instills these beliefs.  But regardless of whether these Latinas are legal immigrants, undocumented, or first or second generation, the impact of their decisions extends to our entire society.  Particularly at this time of economic crisis, we need our population to be the most prepared, the most educated, the most motivated, and the most innovative.  And the absence of major reforms to our immigration system is one of the most obvious obstacles holding us back as a nation.   

The New Fault Line in the Immigration Debate


People often ask, "what does 'comprehensive immigration reform' mean?"  At NDN, we believe it means an overhaul of the very broken immigration system.  This overhaul must not only include improved enforcement of immigration laws, but it must improve the current channels for legal migration, as well as provide a path to citizenship for those who are undocumented.  No part of the plan will work without the others.   

In a must-read editorial today, former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Castaneda, and Tamar Jacoby address what true comprehensive immigration reform must look like.  They accurately point out, "President Obama looks to be gearing up to make good on his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform. But unlike in 2006, when Democratic and Republican reformers agreed on what was needed in an overhaul, this year there's a new fault line."

The authors' compelling point: 

...This year, in contrast to 2006, organized labor and many Latino advocates are thinking about slicing up the reform package and moving forward with a piecemeal approach: a bill that legalizes the unauthorized immigrants already in the United States -- call them the "stock" -- but makes no provision for those who will want to work north of the border in years ahead, the future "flow." 

The reasoning...with unemployment edging toward 10 percent, it's hard to argue that the United States needs foreign workers. And organized labor, particularly the AFL-CIO, has seized on the opportunity to graft its larger agenda onto the immigration debate. 

...But this view is shortsighted. Just as it would have been a mistake in a Republican era to pass an expanded temporary worker program but leave out legalization and a path to citizenship, so, too, would it be a mistake now to legalize immigrants who are here without creating a way for future workers to enter the United States legally...Consider U.S. politics. With no pipeline for future workers, McCain will not vote for the bill. Without him, there will be no other Senate Republicans. And without Senate Republicans, there won't be enough Democrats, given the inevitable defections among Blue Dogs, New Democrats and other moderates. 

But ultimately, the problem with "legalization only" is bigger than politics in either country. The economic downturn may have cut the traffic from Mexico -- as much as 25 percent, by some estimates. Yet once the economy begins to recover, demographic and economic reality will kick in again on both sides of the border. 

...The United States can recognize this reality and harness it -- or pretend it doesn't exist and live with the costs of denial. If these workers cannot enter the United States legally, they will find ways to enter illegally, no matter how much border and work-site enforcement is in place, no matter how dangerous the trip or how high the price. Hoping that people will stop coming is as illusory as thinking that those already in the United States will pack up and go home. 

...The bottom line is that the only way to stop illegal outflows from Mexico is to legalize them, adapting the law to reality, not the other way around. 


Weekly Immigration Update: Hate Crimes, Sotomayor, 9500 Liberty Trailer, and the Current State of the GOP


1. This week:  Congratulations to the Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Bill. 

2. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings and all the discussion surrounding this “wise Latina” led to a great deal of political theatre on the part of Republican Senators.  We have more on that, and on what’s coming up next. 

Judge Sotomayor was asked about immigration briefly during the hearings as Senator Durbin asked her to comment on how changes in the immigration courts have affected federal courts.  

A great piece by Frank Rich on Sotomayor and the GOP’s evident decline is reminiscent of NDN's writings on the end of the GOP's "Southern Strategy", which you can read more about here.  Rich writes: 

Yet the Sotomayor show was still rich in historical significance. Someday we may regard it as we do those final, frozen tableaus of Pompeii. It offered a vivid snapshot of what Washington looked like when clueless ancien-régime conservatives were feebly clinging to their last levers of power, blissfully oblivious to the new America that was crashing down on their heads and reducing their antics to a sideshow as ridiculous as it was obsolescent…

…Southern senators who relate every question to race, ethnicity and gender just assumed that their unreconstructed obsessions are America’s and that the country would find them riveting. Instead the country yawned. The Sotomayor questioners also assumed a Hispanic woman, simply for being a Hispanic woman, could be portrayed as The Other and patronized like a greenhorn unfamiliar with How We Do Things Around Here. The senators seemed to have no idea they were describing themselves when they tried to caricature Sotomayor as an overemotional, biased ideologue…

…When Tom Coburn of Oklahoma merrily joked to Sotomayor that “You’ll have lots of ’splainin’ to do,” it clearly didn’t occur to him that such mindless condescension helps explain why the fastest-growing demographic group in the nation is bolting his party.

Click here for NDN's analysis of the State of the Modern GOP.

3. Local enforcement of Federal Immigration Law 

9500 Liberty Trailer released - Just a few miles from Washington, D.C (and many miles from the Mexican border), Prince William County, VA became ground zero of local law enforcement of immigration laws, and an example of how these policies divided a community.  On the one hand, we saw a xenophobic County Council Chairman and a group of residents attacking anyone who "looked" foreign, and on the other hand we had a County Police Chief and county residents who warned us of the impact such divisive and ineffective policies could have.  To take us through the journey of local politics, racial profiling, and two communities up in arms, filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler have completed a documentary entitled 9500 Liberty.  Check out the trailer of the film here.  As writer John Grisham stated, "9500 Liberty makes it clear that when we, as a nation of immigrants, debate the immigration issue, we are defining our very identity as Americans." 

Enforcement does not equal Rule of Law – As long as the federal government does not fix the very broken federal immigration and nationality act, localities will continue to take matters into their own hands, as demonstrated by this lawyer, who seems to be making a bundle from state and local governments under the auspicies of fighting “illegals.”  Is this the best use of your taxpayer dollars? 

Mr. Kobach is on a dogged campaign to fight illegal immigration at the local level, riding an insurgency by cities and states fed up with what they see as federal failures on immigration. As these local governments have taken on enforcement roles once reserved for the federal government, he is emerging as their leading legal advocate…

And with the Obama administration indicating that it will put off an overhaul of immigration until late this year or beyond, the courtroom campaign for tougher rules is likely to expand as cities and states remain the main battleground for shaping immigration policy. 

…Lawyers who have confronted Mr. Kobach in court say the cases he pursues would cover the country in a patchwork of local immigration rules that are contrary to federal law and costly to defend.

“These laws divide communities, stereotype Latinos, burden businesses and trigger needless and expensive litigation,“ said Lucas Guttentag, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. 

…Mr. Kobach lost a suit against Kansas to block a statute allowing illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates in public colleges. But he won a similar case in California; it is now before that state’s highest court. And he helped Arizona defend a statute that cancels the business licenses of employers who repeatedly hire illegal immigrants; it was upheld by the federal courts.

Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, praised Mr. Kobach for empowering local governments by helping his city craft “a masterful ordinance that at the end of the day will have a great effect on this country of eliminating illegal immigrants.”

The recently elected mayor of Valley Park, Grant Young, was more guarded, noting that the town of 6,500 had paid some $270,000 in legal fees.

4. Speaking of Enforcement – Check out this Sunday’s Op-ed by Lee Hockstader in the Washington Post, “Immigration’s Sideshow.” 

5. Anti-immigrant Campaigns Don’t Pay – Famously anti-immigrant Sen. Ensign falls eight more points in the polls.  No silver bullet there. 

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