February 23, 2009
Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform In This February 23rd Legislative Weekly…

  • Despite High Unemployment, Obama Puts Amnesty on the Agenda
  • IRLI Defends Arizona Ranchers’ Right to Protect Selves, Property Against Illegal Aliens
  • No Shortage of Low-Skilled Workers
  • New Studies Reveal How Illegal Aliens Strain Federal
  • UPDATE: Freedom Finally Attained for Former Border Patrol Agents Resources

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Despite High Unemployment, Obama Puts Amnesty on the Agenda

This week, as a guest on a Spanish language radio show, President Obama stated his continued support for giving amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants, which would force Americans looking for a job to compete with amnestied aliens for work.  (El Piolin Interview, February 18, 2009 and CBS4 – South Florida).

During the radio interview, President Obama said: “We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current [immigration] system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens … are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members.” Following that, President Obama acknowledged what legal American workers already know intuitively – that amnesty is not in their best interest – but then endorsed amnesty anyway.  President Obama said: “And then we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform. … Politically it’s going to be tough.  It’s probably tougher now than it was, partly because of the fact that the economy has gotten worse.”  (El Piolin).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 11.6 million Americans are currently unemployed and the number of unemployed Americans has increased by 4.1 million over the past year.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2009).  Millions more have simply stopped looking for work.  Just last month, 598,000 Americans lost their jobs.  Particularly troubling among the unemployment data is the fact that certain minorities such as African-Americans are experiencing greater unemployment (12.6 percent) than the nation as a whole.

President Obama also said his staff was working on amnesty already, stating: “we’ve got some wonderful people on my White House staff who are working on this issue on an ongoing basis.” Earlier this week, open-borders advocates suggested that they expect that Congress will debate amnesty legislation in the fall of 2009.  (NDN, February 20, 2009).  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s director of Hispanic media has confirmed the likely timing for debate as well.  (O Jornal, January 30, 2009).

IRLI Defends Arizona Ranchers’ Right to Protect Selves, Property Against Illegal Aliens

Last Monday, a federal jury in Tucson, Arizona rejected nearly every claim brought by a group of illegal aliens against Roger Barnett, an Arizona rancher who stopped a group of illegal aliens in 2004 – including at least one convicted felon – after they illegally entered the U.S. and trespassed on his property.  Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll dismissed related conspiracy complaints against Barnett’s wife Barbara and his brother Donald and threw out claims brought by ten illegal aliens who refused to testify in court.  The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) – FAIR’s legal defense and education arm – provided legal representation for the Barnett’s.  (IRLI Press Release, February 17, 2009; Podcast Discussion between Mike Hethmon, General Counsel and Executive Director of IRLI, and Dan Stein, President of FAIR).

The trial began three weeks ago and was brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of the illegal aliens.  Each alien sought $2 million in damages – $1 million in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages – claiming civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress, and other claims.  (The Washington Times, February 13, 2009).  Four illegal aliens were awarded punitive damages for emotional distress, a state-based claim, but at a fraction of the amount originally sought.  Under Arizona’s constitution, illegal aliens cannot recover punitive damages, and Barnett’s attorneys have already signaled they intend to appeal.  (IRLI Press Release, February 17, 2009; See also WorldNet Daily, February 19, 2009 and Article 2, Section 35, Arizona State Constitution).

The ordeal began on March 7, 2004 when Mr. Barnett – accompanied by his dog and carrying a gun – approached a group of illegal aliens who were hiding on his property.  MALDEF and the plaintiffs alleged that Mr. Barnett committed assault and battery, falsely arrested and imprisoned the aliens, acted negligently, inflicted emotional distress and “engaged in a conspiracy to deprive plaintiffs of their civil rights.”  Barnett described the incident in an April 18, 2007 deposition: “Since drug smugglers are frequently armed, I drew my handgun. I holstered it after assuring myself they were not armed. I then called Border Patrol on my cell phone, and my wife, Barbara, on my radio, and waited until Border Patrol arrived and took them into custody.”  (The Washington Times, February 13, 2009).

Court records indicate that the March 7, 2004 incident was not the first time that many of the illegal alien plaintiffs had attempted to enter the U.S. illegally.  In a sworn deposition, a Border Patrol agent testified that a records check revealed that some of the aliens detained by Barnett had made prior attempts at illegal entry.  Additionally, one of the aliens – Gerardo Gonzalez – was convicted in September 1993 on felony drug charges and was deported.  Mr. Gonzalez’s illegal reentry after deportation is a felony. (Id.).

Before the trial began, MALDEF attorney Victor Rodriguez sought to preclude evidence regarding Mr. Gonzalez’s drug conviction and subsequent deportation, claiming it was “irrelevant to the factual and legal issues at hand and extremely prejudicial.”  Judge Roll denied the motion, as well as another motion filed by Mr. Rodriguez that sought to exclude photographs and videotape that showed vandalism and the transportation of illegal drugs through Mr. Barnett’s ranch.  (Id.; Trial Photos of Damages by Illegal Entrants to the Barnett Ranch).

In a 2002 interview with the Washington Times, Mr. Barnett lamented the problems that he has faced with illegal aliens trespassing on his property. He pointed out that he had first started to notice garbage and tracks on his property in 1998 and later learned that his ranch had become a major route for illegal aliens and drug smugglers.  “Thousands of aliens have crossed my property,” Barnett said in 2002.  “There are so many that I can tell you that at times it looks like a slow-motion invasion.  Literally, I feel like the guy with his finger in the dike, and I just don’t think I can hold back the flood.”  Barnett also added that some of the trespassers had torn up water pumps, killed calves, destroyed fences and gates, stole vehicles and broken into his home.  He added that some of his cattle had died from ingesting plastic bottles left behind by illegal aliens and that he had installed a faucet on an 8,000-gallon water tank so that the trespassers would stop damaging the tank to get water.  (The Washington Times, 2002).

The trial “stirred up a firestorm of support” for Mr. Barnett, according to an area newspaper.  The Douglas Dispatch has been “inundated by comments and visitors” wishing to weigh in on a story posted about the trial.  The Dispatch’s Editor and Publisher Larry Blaskey noted that the story had garnered “four times more [comments] than any other story posted in the last week.”  Blaskey added that “[The individuals who submitted comments] don’t understand how the civil rights of one group is more important than the private property rights of Barnett.” (The Douglas Dispatch, February 12, 2009).

No Shortage of Low-Skilled Workers

A study released last week by The Center for Immigration Studies highlights what amnesty advocates refuse to admit: mass immigration, particularly illegal immigration, disproportionately impacts low-skilled and less-educated American citizens.  The CIS study, Unemployment for Immigrants and the US-Born: Picture Bleak for Less-Educated Black & Hispanic Americans, is an analysis of data from the most recent Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among its findings, the study found a 15 percent unemployment rate for native-born citizens aged 18-29 with a high school diploma, a group directly competing with many legal and illegal aliens for jobs.  For those without a high school diploma, the unemployment rate was even higher at 17 percent.  Native-born Blacks fare even worse in the job market, with 20.2 percent unemployment for those with a high school diploma and 24.7 percent for those without. Native-born Hispanics fare better at 13.6 and 16.2 percent, respectively.

According to CIS, there are “24.3 million less-educated native-born Americans unemployed or not in the labor force.”  Added to this total are 6.9 million unemployed Americans who are 16 and 17 years of age and facing few prospects for future employment.  There are currently 22.1 million immigrants working in the U.S., with about 7 million of them holding jobs illegally.  Moreover, the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants have a high school diploma or less … [and] a very large share of temporary workers and green card holders have relatively little education.”  These immigrants are taking jobs away from native-born workers in the sectors of construction, janitorial and building maintenance, food preparation and service, food processing, and transportation and moving services.  Proving that there is no such thing as “a job an American won’t do,” native-born Americans still occupy a majority of the labor force in each of these occupational sectors.

Especially hard hit are native-born teenagers, who previously gained valuable work experience by working entry-level jobs, but now have difficulty finding employment.  For native-born teenagers the unemployment rate is 21.9 percent.  Unemployment among native-born minority teenagers is even more alarming; 31.6 percent for Black teenagers, and 40.3 percent for Hispanics.  This will likely have long-term consequences, since, as the report notes, “people who are poorly attached to the labor force in their youth tend to stay that way throughout their lives.”

Despite the fact that the U.S. is in recession, America continues to admit 1.5 million work-authorized immigrants each year, to say nothing of the millions of illegal immigrants present in the United States, who then compete with American workers for the limited number of available jobs. (AmericanWorker.org). Many Members of Congress argue that there are not enough Americans to fill existing jobs and continue to push for even more guest workers.

New Studies Reveal How Illegal Aliens Strain Federal Resources

A recent study reveals that illegal aliens represent a growing burden on the federal courts and a growing segment of the U.S. federal prison population. At the same time, a separate study reveals that immigration enforcement officials are failing to enforce court orders that require the deportation of illegal, often criminal, aliens.

A Pew Hispanic Center study of U.S. Sentencing Commission data that was released last week concluded that “[s]harp growth in illegal immigration and increased enforcement of immigration laws have altered the ethnic composition of offenders sentenced in federal courts.” (A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime, Pew Hispanic Center). According to the Pew study, the overall number of “immigration offenders” in federal courts has risen sharply in recent years, jumping from 10% in 1996 to 24% in 2007.  While Latinos as a whole constitute about 13% of the U.S. adult population, in 2007 “Latinos without U.S. citizenship” accounted for 29% of all federal offenders and accounted for nearly “41% of the growth in the total number of offenders sentenced in federal courts” as measured from 1991 to 2007.  The study, while detailed, does not provide any data on courtroom or prison related costs.

At the same time as the federal criminal caseload has increased, a recently leaked U.S. Justice Department study reveals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the federal court system have failed to ensure the removal of illegal aliens from the United States after they have been ordered deported.  (FOX News, February 18, 2009).  The internal DOJ study found that more than 7,200 of the 8,000 illegal aliens who were arrested and ultimately ordered deported last year by federal appellate courts have yet to be removed from the country.  While this number is small in comparison to the 554,000 illegal aliens who are in various stages of the removal process, it indicates that ICE still allows most immigration violators to remain free pending removal even though “a very high percentage of [illegal aliens who are ultimately ordered deported] fail to show up” when they lose their cases.

UPDATE: Freedom Finally Attained for Former Border Patrol Agents

True immigration reformers cheered last week as former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were released early from federal prison after two long years.  On January 19, in one of his final acts as president, George W. Bush commuted the prison sentences for the two former Border Patrol agents who were convicted of shooting a fleeing Mexican drug dealer near the U.S. border while trying to apprehend him.  (New York Times, January 19, 2009).  The men will be in home confinement until March 20, when their commutation becomes effective. (CNN, February 17, 2009).

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.

FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest-more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.