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US Immigration Update - Supreme Court, Arizona and the Presidential Election

by Dominic 26/06/2012 12:21:00
With the 2012 Presidential Election firmly on the horizon, President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney face a tough few months of campaigning on a variety of issues. However, a series of events regarding US immigration legislation have brought the issue to forefront of American politics and currently looks set to be the deciding issue in the race for the Whitehouse.

The presidential election has traditionally depended on the outcome of a few states, known as swing states. While the majority of other states have voted relatively consistently throughout recent years, states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are harder to predict and could go either way depending on the candidates and their policies and promises.

The 2012 election is predicted to hinge upon the Hispanic vote, the fastest growing demographic in the country, as the population is strongly distributed throughout several swing states therefore both candidates are eagre to secure their vote.

Polls have consistently shown that while Hispanic voters have significant ties to Central and South America, making immigration predictably an important issue, the economy remains the most important.

While the country's economy continues its slow crawl towards recovery, the contenders' credentials for righting the ship have come under the microscope; Barack Obama has focussed on his achievements during his first term while Mitt Romney has relied on his business expertise and record as Governor of Massachusetts.

With a net worth of approximately $200 million (£130 million) Mr Romney has concentrated on his business prowess in an effort to appeal to Hispanic voters, claiming he possesses the capabilities to repair the economy.

The president's standing among Hispanic voters was also considered to be severely damaged due to his inability to secure the comprehensive immigration reform he promised during his 2008 win combined with his administration's record levels of deportations.

However, a series of events over the past two weeks has proved how unpredictable an election year can be.


Executive order stumps Republicans

Earlier this month President Obama used his executive powers to put a halt to all deportations of illegal immigrants who fit certain criteria. The move is highly controversial yet many Republicans have been left wary of openly denouncing the order...read more.

Immigration pushed front and centre in presidential race

President Obama's directive to immediately halt the deportation of illegal immigrants under the age of 30 has shaken up the American political landscape and brought US immigration to the very forefront of the race to the Whitehouse...read more.

Obama’s immigration order solidifies Hispanic support

President Obama's executive order has strengthened his position among the crucial Hispanic demographic, independent polls show...read more.

Supreme Court rules on Arizona US immigration case

The US Supreme Court has finally passed its judgement on the controversial case of Arizona's SB 1070 law in a ruling which looks set to have serious ramifications on American life and politics, particularly the presidential election...read more.




Executive order stumps Republicans

President Obama's directive left
Republicans in a tricky situation.

Earlier this month President Obama used his executive powers to put a halt to all deportations of illegal immigrants who fit certain criteria. The move is highly controversial yet many Republicans have been left wary of openly denouncing the order.

The executive order stipulates that any illegal immigrant under the age of 30 who was brought to the country before they were 16, has no criminal record and has either graduated college or served in the military be granted a working US visa instead of a deportation order.

Government estimates put the number of people likely to be directly affected at 800,000 although a Pew Hispanic Centre study put the number as high as 1.3 million people.

While the people it will directly affect will be unable to vote in November's presidential election, the move has been praised by Democrats and Hispanics.

However, Republicans have traditionally opposed immigration legislation which grants anyone who entered the country illegally permission to stay, and therefore have been wary of the expected response.

This is in large part due to the upcoming election and the ability of the GOP to attract a significant proportion of votes from the Hispanic demographic. Openly opposing the president's order could have disastrous consequences for a party which is predicted to need at least 40% of the growing demographic to remain competitive.

Yet this doesn't lead to an obvious answer of supporting the order either; the GOP's base is centred on conservative white voters who typically support the party's strict border control and tough immigration measures. While coming out and supporting the president's directive is unlikely to sway any Republican voters to the Democrats, it could mean many simply don't turn out, and in an election when the Republicans, particularly presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is going to need every vote from his base, this isn't an option either.

It meant many Republicans tread a delicate line this week, with many opposing views and many questions dodged, to read the full story, click here.

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Immigration pushed front and centre in presidential race

The battle for the White House 
could hinge on immigration.

President Obama's directive to immediately halt the deportation of illegal immigrants under the age of 30 has shaken up the American political landscape and brought US immigration to the very forefront of the race to the Whitehouse.

President Obama last week issued an executive order which has put an immediate stop to all illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the US before they were 16 and have graduated high school or served in the military. Illegal immigrants who meet these requirements will be granted work permits in a move which the president said was 'the right thing to do'.

The move, which is thought to affect as many as 1.5 million people according to some estimates, completely bypassed the Houses of Congress and has added an unexpected twist to the upcoming presidential election.

President Obama will face a stiff challenge from Republican nominee Mitt Romney in November and the still-struggling economy and high rate of unemployment had been considered to be the most crucial, deciding topic.

Mr Romney has been citing his success as a private businessman, his net worth is estimated to be around $200 million (£127 million), as his chief credential in helping America return to prosperity.

While immigration has been shown to be of considerable importance to many voters, particularly the potentially crucial Hispanic vote, research and surveys have consistently shown that the economy remains the most important to almost every demographic, even Hispanics.

However, the president's announcement last week has brought the issue front and centre...

...to read the rest of this story, click here

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Obama’s immigration order solidifies Hispanic support

Barack Obama's executive order
has solidified his support among
Hispanic voters.
 

President Obama's executive order has strengthened his position among the crucial Hispanic demographic, independent polls show.

Earlier this month President Obama issued an executive order which put a halt to the deportation of any illegal immigrant under the age of 30 who was brought to the country before they were 16, has graduated high school or served in the military and has no criminal record.

The order is thought to have a direct effect on 800,000 people, although some place it as high as 1.3 million.

President Obama promised a reform of the US immigration system during the 2008 election but his failure to do so led some to believe his popularity among Hispanic voters has fallen.

Hispanic voters are the fastest growing demographic in the country and, given their distribution throughout the swing states which could decide November's election, they are widely considered the most important vote to secure and both President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney are trying their best to win their support.

While Republicans, including Mr Romney, have criticised the president's order, independent polls show the president's popularity among likely Hispanic voters to be as high as it was four years ago after the order was announced.

The nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup poll of more than 1,000 registered Hispanic voters found the president enjoying more than double the support of his rival: 66%-25%.

Not only is President Obama far ahead of the former Massachusetts governor, the poll's results show Mr Romney's standing among Hispanic voters is the lowest of any Republican presidential nominee in the last 16 years, during which time the size of the Hispanic electorate has doubled.

The hard line positions Mr Romney took during the primary appear to have damaged his campaign and while he has taken significant steps to soften his rhetoric since securing the nomination, independent analysts predict the former governor will need as much as 40% of the Hispanic vote to remain competitive in November. 

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Supreme Court rules on Arizona US immigration case

The Supreme Court's ruling could
have far reaching consequences.

The US Supreme Court has finally passed its judgement on the controversial case of Arizona's SB 1070 law in a ruling which looks set to have serious ramifications on American life and politics, particularly the presidential election.

The law, known as the Support Our Law enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in April 2010 and was intended to take effect by the end of July that year. However, legal challenges over its constitutionality were filed almost immediately and the law has remained subject of legal challenges ever since.

The Law

SB 1070 is anti-illegal immigration law intended to crack down on illegal immigrants by making it almost impossible for them to remain in the state. At the time of its writing, SB 1070 was considered the strictest immigration law in the country.

Provisions in the law state that any foreign citizen over the age of 14 who remains in the country for more than 30 days must register with the government and all foreign citizens must carry registration documents on them at all times; the law makes it a misdemeanour crime for any foreign citizen found without the proper documentation.

The law makes it difficult for illegal immigrants to find work and includes fines for individuals or companies found to be hiring or harbouring illegal immigrants.

When enforcing the law, SB 1070 allows law enforcement officials to determine an individual's immigration status during either a routine stop or lawful arrest, or during any time that an official has 'reasonable suspicion' as to an individual's status.

The law was written in large part by Kansan Secretary of State Kris Kobach and sponsored by former State Senator Russell Pearce, both Republicans. The law has influenced similar laws in other states including South Carolina and Alabama which are subject to similar legal challenges. Alabama's HB 56 law, also drafted in large part by Mr Kobach is considered even tougher than SB 1070...

...to read the rest of this story, click here

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Green card lottery opens but US immigration policy still anyone's bet

by Aleksandar 11/10/2011 17:18:00

Immigration policy is likely to be a key 
issue of contention in the upcoming
Presidential election.  

As the United States prepares for another year-long Presidential election campaign, the direction of federal and state immigration policy is becoming an increasingly contentious issue. The next President, whether it is Barack Obama or a Republican challenger, will have to find a policy platform that reconciles the wishes of industry to import skilled labour in a failing economy, with the passionate fervour and electoral appeal of the anti-immigration lobby.

Like Fort Knox itself, America has always been notoriously difficult to get into. For those that seek a life in the states beyond a 90-day tourist trip along route 66, the only real options are very limited places for family members, skilled workers and occasional lucky winners of the US visa or 'green card' lottery.

The Green Card or 'diversity visa' lottery opened last week and will give as many as 50,000 people from eligible countries a chance to live and work in the US. The number may seem generous but the odds are not good. Last year more than 14 million applications were received by the US Department of State for the 2012 intake.

Meanwhile, as lottery entrants around the world bite their nails and wait for their numbers to come up, debates about American immigration policy are raging domestically on a number of fronts.

On one hand, we have seen a growing popularity for the theory that skilled migration will benefit the struggling economy and labour market. The Council of Jobs and Competitiveness - made up of leading American businesspeople including General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, AOL co-founder Steve Case and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg - will hand a report to President Obama at a council meeting in Pittsburgh today, recommending a number of policy changes aimed at creating jobs and increasing global competitiveness.  Among the findings is a recommendation to liberalise the visa system to allow foreign graduates of US science and engineering degrees to stay and work in the country.

"When it comes to driving job creation and increasing American competitiveness, separating the highly skilled worker component is critical. We therefore call upon congress to pass reforms aimed directly at allowing the most promising foreign-born entrepreneurs to remain in or relocate to the United States," the council report states.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - who is also a multi-billionaire businessman - also recently called publicly for immigration reform, describing an increased skilled migration intake as "the solution to unemployment".

So key figures in American business and economics are praising the benefits of more immigration. But somehow their calls are being stifled.

This is because on the other hand the perennially hot topic of illegal immigration has once again reared its head just in time for election season. In June, Republican Governor of Alabama Robert Bentley signed a bill that forces educational authorities to check the immigration status of students and parents regularly and to prohibit those without valid papers from attending class. The law also makes it a criminal offence to knowingly harbour illegal immigrants, and imposes large financial penalties on businesses that hire workers that are in the US illegally.

A similar tough stance on illegal immigrants was legislated in Arizona in April 2010, and many other states with large Hispanic populations are following suit. Critics have been quick to condemn the trajectory of immigration policy in the Southern states, claiming that laws like these set a precedent for racial discrimination.

"You cannot tell if a person walking on a sidewalk is undocumented or not, so this is a mandate for racial profiling," said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The Obama Administration has also weighed in on the debate, with the Justice Department seeking to challenge the Alabama immigration law in the federal Court of Appeals, thereby opening up a whole other can of worms over state sovereignty and federal powers. The Federal Government also brought legal action against the state of Arizona.  

"To the extent we find state laws that interfere with the federal government's enforcement of immigration law, we are prepared to bring suit, as we did in Arizona," US Attorney General Eric Holder said in warning to Alabama legislators and other states considering harsh laws on illegal aliens.

This hardline approach to migrants that do not have a valid US visa is also gaining traction in the Republican presidential candidate race. One of the front-runners to challenge the incumbent Obama, Governor Rick Perry of Texas has recently dropped dramatically in the polls over comments he made on the Alabama law. Governor Perry argued that denying children an education, regardless of US visa status, will have a negative impact on the long-term economy. Perry's supporters felt this position was soft and he has since revised his stance.

Perry's poll movements over recent weeks show that immigration could well be a deciding policy issue not just in the Republican primaries, but in determining who the next President is.

The issues of monitoring illegal immigration and determining the intake of skilled foreign labour are very different and require different policy responses. However, in the frenzy and noise of an American election campaign, complex policies and ideas can be reduced to stereotypes and sound-bites.

The Obama Administration has been making positive noises on support for skilled migration. If the Democrats secure a second term, there is a chance they will heed the call of business and increase the skilled migrant intake, which could mean more opportunities to live and work in the States.

But if you find yourself working in Arizona or Alabama, just make sure you have your papers.

- Aleks Vickovich is Online Editor for the American Visa Bureau, an independent consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for an ESTA visa.

 

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Our new Visa Bureau Blog

by Tom 20/06/2008 11:35:00

Welcome to the new Visa Bureau Blog.

Two Speech Bubbles We're starting a conversation!

We'll use this blog to keep you informed about immigration and visa issues that could affect you, share some of our insights and comment on newsworthy events.

 More importantly, we're opening ourselves up to comments, questions and feedback from you.  Every post in our blog will have space for your insights or questions.  We welcome constructive discussion and questions.  We will answer your questions on this blog and address any concerns you may have about what we write.

This blog is a conversation, not just a broadcast.

As a company, we value openness, communication, honesty and professionalism.  Those values will be reflected in this blog. 

When our experts write a post or answer a question, we'll take a moment to introduce them.  Our contributors include Migration Agents, Online Editors, members of our Case Processing team, and even our CEO.  We want to make our relationship to our readers and clients as open as possible.

I'm Tom Blackett, the Online Editor here at Visa Bureau.  I'm responsible for making sure our website has only the most up-to-date information (and that it's good to read!) My team and I will be spending time to moderate this blog, forwarding questions to staff and working to make sure that our readers have the best possible experience.

My team and I are looking forward to moderating the discussion here on the Visa Bureau Blog and helping you, our readers, get the most out of this ongoing conversation.

Happy blogging!

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.