Midnight on Tuesday is the deadline for filing your state and federal income taxes and a portion of Georgia’s taxpayers are undocumented workers.
It’s hard to say exactly how many of the state’s workers are illegal.
Workers who don’t have social security numbers can still file a tax return, using a nine-digit Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or I-TIN. The Georgia Department of Revenue doesn’t know how many people with ITINs are here illegally. But the Immigration Policy Center says in 2010, undocumented workers in Georgia paid more than $85,000,000 in income taxes.
Grace Williams is an Atlanta accountant who filed some of those returns. She says there are two reasons why undocumented workers file tax returns. Some want a refund. But Wilson says those who owe hope paying their taxes will lead to bigger things.
“A lot of people in the community are telling them that that’s the responsible thing to do,” Williams says, “And if they aspire to become legal one day, the first thing that they’re going to look at is, ‘Did you do your taxes?” she says.
Williams says those workers hope to become U.S. citizens. But DA King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, which advocates enforcement of immigration laws, says that’s not the real motivation.
“They are getting a refund on the Additional Child Tax Credit,” King says, “Refund is not the right word. They’re getting a rebate from the government for having U.S.-born children,” he says.
King calls the segment of undocumented workers who pay taxes “microscopic.” He points to the Center for Immigration Studies. The group doesn’t have Georgia-specific numbers, but nationally, they say illegal immigrants who file tax returns receive billions more in refunds than they pay in taxes.
So, what’s next? It’s hard to say. Immigrants’ rights groups advocate a path to citizenship, while opponents want tougher enforcement.
When the Department of Homeland Security announced last summer that some lower-priority cases should be shelved in immigration court through a process called prosecutorial discretion, Alexandru Ghilan looked like the perfect candidate.
The 29-year-old from Moldova had come to the United States on a work visa six years ago. He had applied for political asylum because of incarcerations and beatings he said he had endured as an activist protesting the former Communist regime in his eastern European home country.
Ghilan, who earned a law degree in Moldova, did not enter the country illegally and has no criminal record in the United States. He has worked and paid taxes since he came to the country. He has a wife and a 1-year-old daughter who is a U.S. citizen.
His asylum request has been denied: Communists no longer hold power in Moldova. He is appealing the case. Now, it has been passed over for administrative closure through prosecutorial discretion even though an immigration judge recommended that Ghilan be considered. If Ghilan had been granted that closure, he would no longer be living under the constant threat of deportation.
Government prosecutors aren't saying why some seemingly good fits for prosecutorial discretion, such as Ghilan, are being denied. But immigration attorneys are saying this is happening too often.
"It looks like it's a national problem," said Denver immigration attorney Bryon Large, who heard input from other lawyers from around the country during a recent meeting of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Figures collected by the American Immigration Council show that about 9 percent of 165,000 immigration cases reviewed since late last year have been suspended through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
President Obama’s inability to pass much-needed comprehensive immigration reform could cost him the 2012 election.
Though recent news of a rebounding economy, coupled with Republican Party infighting suggest otherwise, the Hispanic vote is neither uniform nor clearly aligned with the Democratic Party. If Hispanics fail to support the president in four key swing states — Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado — the election could go to the likely Republican candidate, former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Time magazine kicked off the topic of Hispanic electoral power with their March 5 cover story “Yo Decido.” The author noted demographic trends that favor Hispanic predominance in certain places in the nation, and last week, it was widely reported in the U.S. media that about one in six Americans are Hispanic. Additionally, one in six workers in the U.S. are Hispanic and of legal status.
While the Republicans may have learned from earlier egregious mistakes, like former candidate Herman Cain’s jocular comment about electrifying the fence between the U.S. and Mexico, they seem to have a collective tin ear when it comes to Hispanic culture, issues, voting patterns and history. They don’t understand the importance of Hispanics among us, and, surprisingly, they don’t seem to really care.
Romney is hardly progressive or nuanced when it comes to Hispanic issues; he opposes the critically important DREAM Act, which would allow people who arrived in the U.S. as children to earn an education in America beyond high school. Common sense suggests we support a policy whereby our nation, struggling to compete in an increasingly technical, global environment, supports the education of young people who want to contribute to the social and economic development of the U.S.
TOPEKA — Kansas hasn’t adopted an Arizona-like immigration law, but several current and former elected officials from Kansas have chosen sides as the issue goes before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court will hear arguments April 25 in the legal battle between the state of Arizona and the federal government over the immigration law known as Senate Bill 1070.
Kris Kobach, a Republican who before being elected Kansas secretary of state gained national attention by pushing tough anti-immigration laws, helped write SB 1070. The measure was adopted by the Arizona Legislature and enacted by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010.
The law contained a number of controversial provisions that are now front and center before the Supreme Court.
One of the most controversial requires local police in Arizona to determine the immigration status of anyone stopped if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.
The Justice Department says regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not the states. Officials in Arizona, a state bordering Mexico, say the feds haven’t done their jobs and that is one of the reasons for SB 1070.
In addition to legal briefs from the specific parties in the case, the Supreme Court has received approximately 40 legal briefs from others who support and oppose SB 1070, according to a report completed by the Immigration Policy Center, a nonpartisan group whose mission “is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration.”
Kansas is one of 16 states that have signed on in support of SB 1070. That decision was made by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican. Schmidt’s office says he supports preserving powers of states to promote public safety. His office said Kansas has not spent any money in the litigation.
President Obama's inability to pass much-needed comprehensive immigration reform could cost him the 2012 election. Though recent news of a rebounding economy, coupled with Republican Party infighting, suggests an alternate narrative, the Hispanic vote is neither uniform nor clearly aligned with the Democratic Party. If Hispanics fail to show up in support of the president in four key swing states — Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado — the election could go to the Republican candidate, likely to be former Governor Mitt Romney.
Time magazine kicked off the topic of Hispanic electoral power with its March 5th cover story, "Yo Decido," written by journalist Michael Scherer. The author noted demographic trends that favor Hispanic predominance in certain places in the nation, and last week, it was widely reported in the U.S. media that about one in six Americans are Hispanic. Additionally, one in six workers in the U.S. is Hispanic, and most Hispanics live in the U.S. legally. They are fully integrated into communities. There is a prevailing assumption that, because a majority of Hispanics are Catholic, they should be naturally allied with more conservative candidates — particularly the two Roman Catholics still in the Republican race as of this writing, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
While the Republicans appear to have learned from some earlier egregious mistakes, like former candidate Herman Cain's jocular comment about electrifying the fence between the U.S. and Mexico, they seem to have a collective tin ear when it comes to Hispanic culture, issues, voting patterns, and history. They don't seem to understand the importance of Hispanics among us, and, surprisingly, they don't seem to really care.
An immigration enforcement bill that contains the same type of provisions that have Arizona’s S.B. 1070 poised for a Supreme Court hearing died Tuesday in the Mississippi Senate.
Immigration Works, a national organization “advancing immigration reform that works for all Americans – employers, workers and citizens,” said Tuesday in a press release that “Mississippi isn’t the only state to hesitate on immigration this year. Lawmakers across the country are holding off. Some are waiting to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in its second immigration federalism case in so many years, U.S. v Arizona.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments about Arizona’s law, known as S.B. 1070, on April 25.
S.B. 1070 has served as a model for other states and has brought to the forefront questions about how states can enforce existing federal immigration laws.
Immigration Works described “what made the difference in Mississippi”: “Business leaders and law enforcement officials spoke out persuasively, expressing concerns about the consequences of HB 488. The employer coalition that opposed the bill included the Mississippi Farm Bureau, the Mississippi Poultry Association, the state chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors and several foresting and nursery groups, as well as blueberry and sweet potato growers.” (Read the full press release below.)
The Immigration Policy Center writes that H.B. 488 “would have, among other things, allowed police officers to determine the immigration status of individuals they ‘reasonably suspect’ are in the country without documents. While HB 488 is dead, however, state House members may still be looking to keep these immigration enforcement measures alive by inserting them in other bills.”
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will chair the Democratic National Convention here in September, on Tuesday urged Hispanics in North Carolina to vote “for those who don’t have a voice” in the presidential elections in November.
“If we don’t vote, neither of the two parties are going to take us into account. You have to go out and register people and, above all, motivate those who can to become U.S. citizens,” said Villaraigosa in a meeting with Hispanic reporters in Charlotte.
In his first visit to the Queen City, one of the country’s highest-profile Latino politicians reiterated that since North Carolina is the state that has had the biggest growth in the country in its Hispanic community, its voting power is “essential.”
“The figures point to it and we know it: the Hispanic vote is important, and we’ll work very hard to get it,” Villaraigosa emphasized.
The mayor on Tuesday toured Charlotte’s convention center and Bank of America stadium, where President Barack Obama will accept the nomination of his party in September.
The number of Hispanics in North Carolina increased by 111 percent over the past decade to more than 800,000, representing 8.4 percent of the state’s residents.
According to figures compiled by the North Carolina state elections board, in 2008 there were more than 68,000 Hispanics registered to vote and of those 20,648 voted in the presidential elections that November.
Obama won North Carolina by a scanty 14,177 votes, the first time since 1976 that a Democratic presidential candidate had garnered the state’s 15 electoral votes.
A post-electoral analysis by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center emphasized that those Hispanic votes that went to the Democrats were “indispensable” in helping Obama win the Tar Heel state.
The city of Austin didn’t like Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement law — SB1070 — when it first passed in 2010, and it still doesn’t like the measure today as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments for and against it.
In 2010, the city of Austin quickly passed a resolution that urged city departments to sever ties with businesses in that state.
Council members said then they wanted to send a message that they opposed racial discrimination of any kind, and they didn’t want to risk subjecting city employees to “unfounded detentions while on official city business” in Arizona.
Now, Austin — along with the city of Laredo and Dallas County — is again expressing dismay over the measure in an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for April 25.
Meanwhile, a leading immigration-policy think tank has issued a report stating that if the justices rule in Arizona’s favor, individuals may still bring additional legal claims to halt the policy depending on how it is enforced.
The court will review four provisions of the Arizona law, which has been enjoined by a federal district court. They include a requirement that police officers attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped if they suspect the person is in the country illegally; a requirement that immigrants register with the federal government and carry a registration card with them; a provision that makes it a crime for an unauthorized immigrant to work, apply for work or solicit work; and a provision that allows officers to arrest immigrants without a warrant if probable cause exists that they have committed a deportable offense.
The amicus brief, joined by 41 cities, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, argues that the law, and others like it, open the door for racial profiling and adversely affect community policing efforts.
On March 14, Tania Chairez and Jessica Hyejin Lee walked into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in downtown Philadelphia and handed over letters demanding the release of Miguel Orellana, an undocumented immigrant who has been detained for eight months at a Pennsylvania detention center. Both Chairez, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lee, a 20-year-old junior at Bryn Mawr College, were undocumented immigrants themselves, having been brought to the U.S. by their parents at ages 5 and 12, respectively. After making their demand, they exited the building, sat down in the middle of the street, and began shouting “Undocumented! Unafraid!” They were arrested after refusing to move, putting themselves at risk of deportation in the process.
With Washington unlikely to take up immigration reform any time soon, some immigrants, like activists in the Occupy and LGBT movements, are turning to more confrontational tactics. Young undocumented immigrants across the country have come out as “undocumented and unafraid” in the most conspicuous of places: in front of the Alabama Capitol; in Maricopa County, Ariz., home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio; in front of federal immigration courts; and even inside ICE offices, processing centers, and detention centers. While they sometimes have specific causes, such as Orellana’s release, they also had a larger demand: that the civil and human rights of all undocumented immigrants be recognized and respected.
Twin Cities jazz pianist and Cuban immigrant Nachito Herrera has been named one of three recipients of the 2012 American Heritage Award, the highest honor granted by the American Immigration Council. The award will be presented at the American Immigration Lawyers Association Convention in Nashville on June 15th. Few musicians have received this honor--the last was Carlos Santana.
Over the past decade, Nachito Herrera has burrowed his way into the hearts of Twin Cities’ jazz fans with his monster technique, bottomless energy, and infectious enthusiasm for his homeland and its eclectic rhythms. Even fans of trad and polka now tap their Sorrel boots to montuno and clavé. Nearly monthly, Nachito spreads his artful fire across the stage at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis, where he has presented sets of tunes ranging from Rachmaninoff to Ellington to Earth, Wind and Fire to Disney and more.