HEADLINES: Immigration

This week, following the lead of Maryland and other states that have enacted similar legislation, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a new policy allowing tuition breaks at Massachusetts public colleges and universities to undocumented students who have received deportation reprieves through the DACA program.  Patrick called the law a “matter of fairness, “saying that “they didn’t sneak in.  They were brought here by their parents.  They only know one country and that is the United States.”  [Huffington Post]

In response to the growing clamor for immigration reform, prominent GOP politicians are launching a new Super PAC entitled, “Republicans for Immigration Reform.”  The group has been formed to provide an ideological and fiscal counterweight to the far right that has until recently been polarizing this issue, thus paving the way for Republican lawmakers to feel supported if they push for immigration reform this next year.  Charlie Spies, a prominent Republican fundraiser said, “There’s currently only energy on the anti-immigration reform side, and we want to be able to provide some cover for Republicans that vote in support of an immigration reform approach.”  Spies raised $142 million dollars for the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. [Washington Post]

The number of successful deferrals through President Obama’s DACA program surpassed 50,000 last week, and now over 300,000 have applied.  This has been a rapid acceleration for the program, as just one month ago less than 5,000 had been granted approval.  A large number of applicants are also in the final stages of processing and could soon add to this figure.  Advocates and immigration lawyers who had been skeptical as to the viability and effectiveness of this program have so far been pleased.  Don Lyster, director of the National Immigrant Law Center, said “the application process has been a model of governmental efficiency,” and that young immigrants should be reassured “that the government is invested in ensuring the success of this program.” [NYTimes]

This past week, the ACLU-NJ filed a class-action suit on behalf of hundreds of immigrants who are being held in New Jersey immigration detention centers.  The ACLU-NJ claims that subjecting immigrants to mandatory detention before they have had a chance to dispute their offense being deportable is unlawful.  Michael Tan, a San Francisco based immigration lawyer with the ACLU said, “Mandatory detention is really an outlier across our legal system.  I’m hard pressed to see where else in our legal system we pack people up before they’re given a hearing to decide if they should be locked up, and spend taxpayer money on their detention, when there are other ways to make sure they will show up for hearings.”  There are hundreds of immigrants in New Jersey who are “stuck in detention on non-violent or minor offenses that might not warrant deportation.” [Associated Press]

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