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As Deportations Soar, States Locked Into Controversial Immigration Program


View this email online at http://www.progressivestates.org/node/25958

 

As Deportations Soar, States and Municipalities Find they Are Locked into Controversial Federal Immigration Enforcement Program

Federal immigration officials recently reported that they deported a record 392,892 immigrants over the last year - a figure significantly higher than during the last year of President George W. Bush's term and the second straight year the nation has experienced an increase in deportations. Only half of those deported - 195,772 - were convicted of crimes, meaning roughly half of those who were deported committed no crime at all.

More Affordable (and Clean!) Energy for Hawaiians, All While Supporting Small Businesses

Last week, the state of Hawaii approved its first roll-out of Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), a reward program that allows homes and businesses to get paid for building renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar panels and feeding that energy into the electric grid. To implement the plan, companies that install and maintain a renewable source device receive a Power Purchase Agreement from a utility, while the state government regulates the electricity tariff rate. The Hawaii FIT program roll-out will take place on all of the state's grids within six weeks. Hawaii joins Vermont, Washington, California, and Oregon in introducing statewide feed-in-tariffs.

As Voters and Candidates Attack Unfair Trade, A New Tool To Find Trade-Related Job Loss in Your Community

Voters’ worries about job off-shoring and “free trade” have become dominant themes this election season. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree. Thanks to the new Trade Data Center created by Public Citizen, there is a new resource to inform debates over job creation and for understanding the real effects of trade agreements on the state and local level.

As Deportations Soar, States and Municipalities Find they Are Locked into Controversial Federal Immigration Enforcement Program

Integrating Immigrants into Our Communities * Suman Raghunathan

 

Federal immigration officials recently reported that they deported a record 392,892 immigrants over the last year - a figure significantly higher than during the last year of President George W. Bush's term and the second straight year the nation has experienced an increase in deportations. Only half of those deported - 195,772 - were convicted of crimes, meaning roughly half of those who were deported committed no crime at all.

The spike in deportations is largely believed to stem from a controversial and rapidly-expanding federal immigration enforcement program, Secure Communities. This administrative program seeks to establish data-sharing agreements between state and local police departments and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the entity responsible for enforcing immigration law. In jurisdictions with such agreements, all individuals who are booked (regardless of whether they are actually convicted) have their fingerprints run through a federal immigration database by local law enforcement. If an individual is found to be undocumented, they are turned over to federal immigration authorities and often rapidly deported - regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime.

In fact, several legal and immigrant rights groups have submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which have found that a large proportion of immigrants are apprehended through Secure Communities on suspicion of committing low-level misdemeanors such as driving with a broken tail light. As advocates have pressed for clarity on the program's oversight mechanisms (DHS has never issued guidelines for states with Secure Communities agreements), other immigrant rights groups have pressed for the ability to opt out of the program, which many believe burdens already-overstretched law enforcement professionals and erodes hard-fought advances in community policing.

As recently as last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continued to characterize Secure Communities as a voluntary program based upon a formal agreement between ICE and state or local police departments, and as a targeted immigration enforcement initiative that aims to focus on apprehending undocumented immigrants that commit violent crimes. Secure Communities is the linchpin of DHS's immigration enforcement plan, and already operates in 32 states and 660 counties and jurisdictions nationwide. The Obama administration plans to have the program up and running in all states by 2013.

The initiative continues to expand rapidly across the country, yet confusion abounds in communities and state legislatures as to whether the program is actually voluntary, and which state or local agency has the authority to enter into such agreements with the federal government. Conflicting recent statements from the Department of Homeland Security have now raised alarms that states and municipalities lack the power to decide not to participate in the program. Amid longstanding and widespread concerns about the program's effect on community-police relations and the lack of due process afforded to those apprehended and deported through the program, states and localities are increasingly finding Secure Communities is not voluntary.

Notably, Arlington County, Virginia's City Council voted at the end of September to pull out of the Secure Communities program, citing its negative impact on police-community relations. Arlington joins San Francisco, where Sheriff Michael Hennessey's efforts to clarify the necessary steps for the city to opt out of the program via letters to DHS have so far proven futile; Santa Clara County, California; and the District of Columbia, where the City Council voted unanimously to opt out of the program earlier this year. In Colorado, where the state has already negotiated a broad Secure Communities agreement with the Department of Homeland Security, immigrant rights groups are engaged in intensive negotiations with Governor Bill Ritter to amend the agreement to allow jurisdictions to opt out. All of these jurisdictions are now in limbo after the recent DHS announcement.

Until last month, DHS maintained that participation in Secure Communities is voluntary, and that state and local law enforcement jurisdictions have the option to opt out of participating in the program. However, DHS has been extremely vague on the course of action jurisdictions must pursue to opt out - prompting US Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to send a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking for clarification on how to do so. In response, Napolitano confirmed in a September 8th letter that states and localities do have the choice to opt out of the program. Immigrant and criminal justice advocates then redoubled their administrative and legislative advocacy efforts to urge sheriffs and state or local governments such as City Councils to decide or vote to opt out - and in turn, the cities above did so.

However, an anonymous DHS official subsequently admitted that participation in the program is actually not optional for states and municipalities. And on October 12th, just a month later, Napolitano changed the Department of Homeland Security's position when she said municipalities in fact have no power to choose whether or not to participate in Secure Communities.

Murkiness about the supposedly "voluntary" nature of the program echoes a troubling lack of transparency from ICE about the program, including negotiations with municipalities about it. For example, a recent FOIA request filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) found that ICE proceeded with implementing the program throughout the state of Pennsylvania without a formal agreement and without informing local communities of the agreement - a strategy that runs counter to ICE's public statements in the past. In addition, it appears other states will be seeing this approach: according to a Secure Communities December 2008 weekly report, ICE notes its plans to pursue such stealth negotiations in a similar fashion (for example, without a formal agreement and without notifying local communities) elsewhere.

These concerns about Secure Communities highlight the flawed nature of broad immigration enforcement programs that seek to deputize state and local law enforcement as immigration agents - responsibilities many police officers are reluctant to assume. Progressive States Network has previously detailed that such local immigration law enforcement efforts are not only extremely costly (diverting much-needed taxpayer dollars away from pursuing criminals to round up undocumented residents at a time of historic budget deficits), but also ineffective. As federal comprehensive immigration reform lags, state and local police officers must focus on building trust among immigrant residents, rather than inspiring fear.

More Affordable (and Clean!) Energy for Hawaiians, All While Supporting Small Businesses

Physical Infrastructure Investments * Fabiola Carrion

 

Last week, the state of Hawaii approved its first roll-out of Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), a reward program that allows homes and businesses to get paid for building renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar panels and feeding that energy into the electric grid. To implement the plan, companies that install and maintain a renewable source device receive a Power Purchase Agreement from a utility, while the state government regulates the electricity tariff rate. In this transaction, the renewable energy producer is guaranteed a rate for the power supply to the grid. Consequently, installation takes place quickly, the customer pays no upfront costs (the renewable energy provider pays for the entire project, including installation, maintenance, and trouble-shooting), the service is predictable, and the rate is comparable with other retail electricity rates.

The Hawaii FIT program roll-out will take place on all of the state's grids within six weeks. Hawaii joins Vermont, Washington, California, and Oregon in introducing statewide feed-in-tariffs. Under the Oregon plan passed just this year, feed-in-tariff applications for solar projects were submitted so quickly that 15 minutes after the program was opened, no more applications could be received.

By generating its own energy sources, Hawaii will become less dependent on foreign fossil fuels. The program is particularly necessary in a state where 90 percent of the energy it consumes are from imported petroleum. In addition, FIT can help reduce utility costs. Currently, Hawaiians pay among the nation’s highest prices for electricity and fuel: The state spends about $7 billion to meet its energy needs. Further, feed-in-tariffs will bring gains for Hawaiian energy businesses, placing them in a competitive global clean energy market. In fact, feed-in tariffs have played a role to develop Germany’s world-leading solar power industry.

As it stands, Hawaii’s FIT program covers renewable energy generators of up to 500 kW in size; the Utilities Commission is still working out the details of the FIT for larger renewable energy systems up to five megawatts. Some members of the solar industry have expressed concerns over the program’s unspecified grid interconnection costs (the fees an energy producer pays to distribute energy) and utilities’ ability to halt energy production; to address these concerns, the Utilities Commission is seeking to monitor the program and revise it to make it better.

As Voters and Candidates Attack Unfair Trade, A New Tool To Find Trade-Related Job Loss in Your Community

Fair Trade Deals * Tim Judson

 

Voters’ worries about job off-shoring and “free trade” have become dominant themes this election season. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree. Eighty-six percent said outsourcing of jobs by U.S. companies to low-wage foreign nations is a top cause of our economic woes - by far voters' top concern, with questions about deficits and health care costs well behind.

This is causing a striking disconnect for voters this election season. After years of witnessing massive trade-related job losses in their communities, voters are resistant to corporate messages promoting even more job-killing trade deals. This disconnect is nowhere more apparent than on the airwaves: off-shoring multinationals are exploiting the Citizens United ruling tofunnel contributions through domestic business groups for television and radio ads in support of pro-free-trade candidates, even as the need for domestic investment and job creation could not be greater.

There is a new resource to inform debates over job creation and for understanding the real effects of trade agreements on the state and local level. Through the new Trade Data Center created by Public Citizen, we now know that nearly 400,000 jobs have been lost as a result of bad trade policies since the recession began. And in many states, this off-shoring and outsourcing has been a significant contribution to unemployment and continues to hamper efforts to get people back to work - including in these states faring poorly in number of jobs lost:

  • Michigan - 52,247

  • Ohio - 31,583

  • North Carolina - 22,168

  • Texas - 14,437

  • Tennessee - 11,780

The Trade Data Center draws on extensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), innovative computer algorithms, and detailed information about contracts and siting of corporate headquarters, to make the following information available for the first time:

  • Trade-related job loss data that is mapped and searchable by congressional district, county, metro area, state, company name and more, as certified by the Department of Labor;

  • Information about workers and companies that claimed trade-related job losses, but that were denied adjustment assistance by the DOL; and

  • A map of the operations of multinational corporations in the eight countries that are currently negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Members of Congress and the public have requested that the Obama administration not include controversial NAFTA-style investor rights in this agreement. This map gives a sense of the sheer quantity and geographic reach of corporations that would be able to use these rights to attack public interest regulations in the U.S. and abroad.

Research Roundup

 

Chicken Little in the Voting Booth: The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen Voter Fraud - Fear over non-citizen voter fraud has reached a fever pitch as Tea Party groups across the country mobilize "ballot security" operations in time for Election Day, and candidates clash over the hot-button issue of whether to require voters to present photo ID at the polls. However, it is worth remembering that incidences of non-citizen voter fraud are actually quite rare. The latest fact sheet from the Immigration Policy Center summarizes years of research from the Brennan Center, Project Vote, The New York Times, and other sources, which prove that these are all "solutions" in search of a problem.

Our Fiscal Security - A project of the Century Foundation, Demos, and the Economic Policy Institute, Our Fiscal Security presents a dynamic framework for analyzing and thinking about the federal budget. The website will serve as a resource for progressive economic and federal fiscal analysis, featuring commentary, reports, and timely research.

State Data on Women & Poverty and Economic Insecurity - The National Women's Law Center (NWLC) recently released two state-by-state charts using recent Census data, one on women and poverty and a second on broader indicators of economic insecurity. The women and poverty chart includes poverty rates for women, black women, Hispanic women, elderly women and single mother families. The economic insecurity chart includes poverty rates for all people, children and single mother families as well as rates of unemployment, health insurance and the wage gap for each state. The NWLC released a thorough analysis of women’s poverty at a national level as well.

 

Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

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Steps Forward

 

ME: Court Denies Challenge to Maine's Clean Election Law

WA: 9th Circuit Upholds Washington's Campaign Disclosure Laws

CA: After massive cuts, higher ed funding rises in new California budget

 


Steps Back

 

MT: Judge Strikes Down Montana's Ban on Corporate Political Expenditures

NV: Right Wing Group Runs Ad Discouraging Latinos From Voting

 

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Full Resources from this Dispatch

As Deportations Soar, States and Municipalities Find they Are Locked into Controversial Federal Immigration Enforcement Program

Migration Policy Institute - Midterm Elections Generate Rush of Immigration Measures
The Washington Post - Local Jurisdictions Find They Can't Opt Out of Federal Immigration Enforcement Program
ColorLines - ICE Forces Counties to Join Controversial Deportation Program
Immigration Impact - Smoke and Mirrors: FOIA Reveals ICE Deception in Secure Communities Program
PBS Need to Know - Outside Arizona, Local and Federal Officials Already Collaborate
The New York Times - Localities Warned on Fingerprinting
The New York Times - In Colorado, Debate Over Program to Check Immigration History of Those Arrested
U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Secure Communities Weekly Executive Report December 15-19, 2008
Progressive States Network - Secret Deportation Quotas, Program Failures and High Budget Costs from Local Immigration Enforcement Revealed in Recent Reports

More Affordable (and Clean!) Energy for Hawaiians, All While Supporting Small Businesses

Environment News Service - Hawaii Permits Residents to Generate Clean Energy, Feed It to the Grid
The New York Times - Feed-In Tariffs Contemplated in the U.S.
Green Tech Media -Oregon’s Feed-In Tariff Sells out in 15 Minutes
Progressive States Network - Clean Energy Options: In the Wake of the Oil Spill, Energy Alternatives That Will Create Jobs
Environment Maryland - Building a Solar Future: Repowering America's Homes, Businesses and Industry with Solar Energy

As Voters and Candidates Attack Unfair Trade, A New Tool To Find Trade-Related Job Loss in Your Community

Public Citizen - Trade Data Center
Public Citizen - Campaign Money Watch
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Unemployment Statistics: Mass Layoffs (searchable by state)
Slate.com - Interactive map of vanishing employment across the country (Jan. 2007-October 2009)
Columbus Dispatch - "Ohio has endured a decade of job losses"

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrion, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Charles Monaco, Press and New MediaSpecialist
Ben Secord, Outreach Associate

Please shoot us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms,or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

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