Homeland Security

Respect family unit in immigration reform

The national conversation taking place around immigration is at its core about how we define ourselves as Americans, and about our relationships with one another. A critical issue that often escapes the limelight is that of the broken family-based immigration system which keeps loved ones apart, often for decades.

As of November 2012, around 4.3 million people were waiting to obtain visas in order to join their family members who reside in the United States. A significant number – 1.8 million – are seeking to unite with immediate relatives who are Asian Americans. Family members from China, India and the Philippines, for example, have been waiting between 10 and 23 years to receive visas that will enable them to join their U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives in America.


Citizenship application process needs reform

As experts on law and policy continue to debate the prospective shape of immigration reform, they should not lose sight of the two groups of people who will have to navigate whatever process emerges from these deliberations – the applicants themselves and the U.S. government employees who have to process them. Thinking about how those two groups behave, and what they would need to be successful under a new immigration regime, presents good arguments for leveraging both existing processes and new technology.


Deadline for introducing immigration legislation looms

Mehdi Mahraoui dreams of getting his doctorate in social work because he wants to improve his community and he is passionate about social justice. Like many 22-year-olds, Mehdi has a lot of dreams. Unlike other young people his age, Mehdi may have to put his dreams on hold.

Mehdi was brought to the United States from Morocco at age seven. Until late last year, he was undocumented. His oldest sister and both of his parents, however, remain in deportation proceedings. If they are deported, Mehdi will be the sole care taker of his eight-year-old sister who is a U.S citizen.


Rand Paul was right to highlight US drone policy

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or so that's what our founders once declared.

With that responsibility, the Federal government has a duty to protect its citizens, providing certain unalienable rights.

So, it's no surprise then that Republicans and Democrats alike joined with Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Wednesday supporting his filibuster to protest John Brennan's CIA nomination and bring attention to Obama's overreach of the Federal government with the U.S. drone program (of which Brennan was one of the chief architects).


Rand Paul's message to Obama: Don't drone me bro

The most positive outcome of Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster — which ended when Paul was forced to take a bathroom break — was giving the American public a sense of the treacherous path that President Obama’s drone program could take, i.e. the targeted killing of Americans here at home. It was a marathon civics lesson and a scathing critique of President Obama’s civil liberties record.


The illusion of security

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) recently compared the release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of administrative detainees to Fidel Castro's 1980 "release of criminals" via the Port of Mariel to Key West and the United States.
The congressman's witty provocation suggests that he is ignorant of U.S. immigration and detention policy and of Cuba's human rights abuses.
Among the 125,000 Cubans who came here in 1980 as part of the Mariel boatlift, there were, of course, "real" criminals. But Barletta seems blissfully unaware that Fidel Castro put Cubans in jail for political reasons and on trumped-up charges. A common "crime" among the Mariel Cubans was peligrosidad or "dangerousness." This was a code-word to justify the incarceration of people for being potentially counter-revolutionary, or gay, or otherwise "undesireable." Sometimes the "dangerousness" label simply provided cover for a local policeman to exercise arbitrary authority.


Detention centers releases may have silver lining

Earlier this week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly put on supervised release several hundred immigrants who had been jailed across the country awaiting removal hearings. The decision reportedly came in anticipation of Friday’s seemingly inevitable sequestration, which will lead to belt-tightening across the federal government. Some of the response from Congress has been reactionary.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, “Spending cuts are no excuse for releasing thousands of criminals and illegal immigrants into our communities. The administration is either incompetent and unable to prioritize spending, or reckless. Neither is acceptable.”
Smith’s scare-mongering is irresponsible.


Making immigration reform work for children

It’s encouraging to hear Democrats and Republicans talking about children in the immigration debate. Children of immigrants are one-fourth of the kids in America, and one million of America’s unauthorized aspiring citizens are children. So getting immigration reform done means getting it right for kids.
This bipartisan focus on kids is critical, because current law subjects children to serious hardship and harm. As Michigan State Law School professor David Thronson recently wrote, today’s immigration law “devalues” children. He concludes that it treats children as objects, instead of people with rights and a say in their own lives. Not surprisingly, when children interact with the system, the outcomes are not good. For example a person inadmissible to the U.S. can qualify for relief by showing hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse or other close adult relative, but the law systematically ignores the same hardship to a U.S. citizen child. Similar double-standards for deportation routinely subject kids to harm, by ignoring the common-sense reality that children experience traumatic separation in more damaging and lasting ways than adults.


In your heart, you know Hagel is wrong for Pentagon job

On the merits, Chuck Hagel is wrong for secretary of Defense, and that’s all that should matter. With Americans in the military serving across the globe, and at a time of growing challenges to national security and extraordinary pressures on the defense budget, there’s no time for the irrelevant partisan distractions that have diminished the debate over the Hagel nomination. When it comes to whether Sen. Hagel should be confirmed by the Senate, all that counts is that he’s the wrong person for the job.