Immigration in the US has always been a controversial subject but in an election year, every facet is more closely scrutinised, every proposal is more vociferously debated and every fact and figure is doubted. While an election year makes it all the more difficult to pass any legislation, politicians from across the political spectrum propose their own solutions and ideas to the issues they perceive will secure their re-elections come November.
This week, we have seen the fallout from President Obama's executive order and his Republican rival Mitt Romney's tentative response, but away from the presidential election, we have also seen two new contrasting US visa proposals, one which advises an expansion of existing visa programmes, another which cautions against similar measures.
Here is a breakdown of the week's stories:
President Obama put a halt to the deportation of an esimated 800,000 young people earlier this month in a move which has dramatically altered the landscape of November's election...read more.
Republican Congressman Lamar Smith has said that adding Poland to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) would lead to an increased risk of terrorism...read more.
A bipartisan bill has been proposed in the US Senate which would grant foreign nationals who purchase a home in America a three-year visa....read more.
The American Supreme Court has handed down its ruling on Arizona's controversial US immigration law which could have far reaching consequences...read more.
President Obama's excutive order shakes up election
President Obama has thrown
election predictions into doubt.
President Obama put a halt to the deportation of an esimated 800,000 young people earlier this month in a move which has dramatically altered the landscape of November's election.
Earlier this month, President Obama used his executive powers to bypass the Houses of Congress and put a stop to the deportation of all illegal immigrants under the age of 30 if they were brought to the country before they were 16, have graduated high school or served in the military and have no criminal record.
The affected people, of which some studies estimate there to be as many as 1.3 million, will instead receive a working US visa.
The president's political opponents would typically have outraged at any executive order coming out of the White House and while some have criticised the use of the presidential power, most are cautious about voicing too strong an opposition.
Many analysts and political strategists claim the growing demographic of Hispanic voters will determine this year's election and Republicans' reactions need to take into consideration the makeup of their potential voters.
On the one side, Hispanic voters have been shown to rank the struggling economy as their priority issue yet with obvious ties to Central and South America, they also have vested interests in US immigration policy. While Republicans typically have strong economic policies, their frequent hardline on immigration such as the line presidential nominee Mitt Romney took during the primary, risks alienating Hispanic voters.
On the other side, Republicans are wary about supporting the president's order as this risks alienating the typical Republican voter who has conservative ideals, supports strong border controls and opposes any policies that grant amnesty to anyone who entered the country illegally.
With such a tough proposition, Republican reaction and the political fallout of the president's order was widespread and far reaching.
To read the full story and subsequent developments, click here.
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Congressman warns against Visa Waiver Program expansion
Congressman Lamar Smith
Republican Congressman Lamar Smith has said that adding Poland to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) would lead to an increased risk of terrorism.
"We know that terrorists have used the VWP to their benefit," wrote Mr Smith. "September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, 'shoebomber' Richard Reid and 1993 World Trade Center conspirator Ahemd Ajaj all entered or attempted to enter the US through this program."
The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 36 countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, to enter the US without a visa. The programme attracts significant debate in the US; Mr Smith also wrote that a governmental report found almost half the 36 countries currently in the programme did not meet security requirements.
Poland's acceptance to the scheme is a controversial topic; despite maintaining significant ties with the US, including participating in Iraq and Afghanistan, Poland is one of only four EU countries currently not a part of the VWP.
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US visa for foreign homeowners proposed
Foreign citizens who invest in
property could obtain a visa.
A bipartisan bill has been proposed in the US Senate which would grant foreign nationals who purchase a home in America a three-year visa.
Republican Senator Mike Lee and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer introduced the bill in an effort to entice further foreign investment to the US and give an extra boost to a still recovering economy.
The senators claim the bill was inspired by an influx of wealthy foreign buyers purchasing luxury homes in Manhattan, some of which are reportedly the most expensive residential homes in the world.
The bill would allow foreign buyers willing to spend at least $500,000 (£320,000) on real estate and reside in the property for 180 days to live and work legally in the US for three years.
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Supreme Court Rules on controversial US immigration law
The Supreme Court passed down
its ruling after weeks of
The American Supreme Court has handed down its ruling on Arizona's controversial US immigration law which could have far reaching consequences.
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.
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 US immigration 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.
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