Man Who Spent 22 Years on Death Row is Cleared

By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A former death row inmate in Tennessee has been cleared of murder, three years after the Supreme Court raised repeated questions about his conviction.

After 22 years on death row, Paul House was released on bail and has now been cleared of murder charges.

State prosecutors on Tuesday asked a judge to drop all charges against Paul House, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in 1986. Special Judge Jon Blackwood accepted the request.

House had been scheduled to be executed next month for the 1985 murder of Carolyn Muncey. He had been on death row for 22 years but was released on bail last year. He has multiple sclerosis and must use a wheelchair.

The high court ruled in June 2006 that House was entitled to a new hearing.

“Although the issue is closed, we conclude that this is the rare case where — had the jury heard all the conflicting testimony — it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror viewing the record as a whole would lack reasonable doubt,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-3 majority.

House’s appeal was championed by the Innocence Project, affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law in New York.

“In the three years since the U.S. Supreme Court stepped into this case and sent it back to the trial court, substantial additional DNA testing and further investigation have shown that he is innocent,” said Peter Neufeld, the group’s co-director. “Each time a layer of this case was peeled away, it revealed more evidence of Paul House’s innocence.”

Muncey disappeared from her rural Luttrell, Tennessee, home on July 13, 1985. Her body was found a day later, badly beaten and showing signs of a struggle. She had been raped.

House, who was on parole at the time as a sex offender, was questioned by police. He denied any involvement in the crime. He was a friend of Muncey’s husband, but claimed he was in his own house several miles away the evening of the murder. But prosecutors found a hole in his alibi, discovering that he had left his home the night of the murder and returned about an hour later with unexplained cuts and bruises.

Forensic evidence found Muncey’s blood on House’s jeans, but questions were later raised whether the samples were contaminated en route to an FBI lab for analysis.

Subsequent state-of-the art DNA testing conducted after the conviction showed semen on the victim belonged to her husband, not House. Blood under her fingernails and cigarette butts discovered near the wooded crime scene also did not match the accused.

But prosecutors maintain other evidence points to his guilt. Muncey’s family has also continued to believe House was involved in the crime.

In a 2005 interview, House told CNN he did not rape or kill Muncey, and he wondered why he was still on death row.

“I guess that’s the million-dollar question,” he said. While maintaining his innocence, he said lying to police about his whereabouts that night was a big mistake.

Kennedy, in his 2006 high court ruling, offered an extensive summary of the facts of the investigation, especially the DNA evidence, which he said might point to “a different suspect.” Kennedy said jurors might conclude Muncey’s blood found on House’s pants may have inadvertently spilled there during the autopsy, or through mishandling by police at the crime scene.

District Attorney Paul Phillips wrote in his petition this week that he still believes House could have been convicted again in a new trial, “but the new evidence (including the forensic examinations) raises a reasonable doubt that he acted alone and the possibility that others were involved in the crime.”

But Phillips noted the “substantial sentence” House has already served as another reason for the charges being dropped now.

Army Extends Immigrant Recruiting

Pilot program seeks to boost the ranks of language and healthcare specialists by offering citizenship.
By Alexandra Zavis and Andrew Becker
May 4, 2000 Los Angeles Times

The lanky 19-year-old from South Korea has lived in the Southland since he was 9 years old. He is as comfortable speaking English as his native Korean. And he desperately wants to join the Army.

Late last week, the teenager walked into a recruiting office in an Eagle Rock mall wearing a pendant shaped like a dog tag around his neck. Until recently, local recruiters would have had to turn him away. His student visa would not have qualified him to enlist. Only citizens or permanent residents who carry green cards were eligible to serve.

But starting today, 10 Los Angeles-area Army recruiting offices will begin taking applications from some foreigners who are here on temporary visas or who have been granted asylum.

In all, the pilot program, which was launched in New York in February, seeks to enlist 1,000 military recruits with special language and medical skills, most of whom will join the Army. Response to the program has exceeded expectations, drawing applications from more than 7,000 people around the country, many of them highly educated, defense officials said.

Those who are accepted will get an expedited path to citizenship in return for their service. “Ever since I entered high school, I was waiting for this opportunity,” Jason, the 19-year-old aspiring soldier, told recruiters as they helped him prepare documents to submit today. “As soon as it came, I just jumped.”

The Army requested that applicants’ full names not be used because, in some cases, it could put them or family members at risk in their home countries.

Although the Army has been meeting or exceeding its recruiting goals, defense officials say there is a shortage of soldiers with medical, foreign language and cultural abilities needed in the war on terror and peacekeeping efforts around the world.

“What we’re looking for are critical, vital skills,” said Naomi Verdugo, assistant deputy for recruiting in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army.

The Army hopes to enlist 333 healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses and others. It is also looking for 557 people with any of 35 languages, including Arabic and Yoruba, spoken in West Africa. Spanish is not on the list. An additional 110 slots are earmarked for other services, which have not yet started taking applications for the program.

Although the effort is limited in scope, it has raised concerns among some veterans groups and advocates for tighter immigration controls. They question whether the policy shift could pave the way for large numbers of foreigners, including ones who might have entered the U.S. illegally, to join the armed services.

“By aggressively recruiting foreigners abroad, or illegal immigrants who could use such a program to get legalized, we could easily create a situation where the Pentagon comes to rely on cheap foreign labor,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

“That’s not where we are now. . . . But we always need to be careful that we don’t start going down a steep, slippery slope.”

Defense officials emphasize that the program is only open to foreigners who have lived legally in the U.S. for at least two years, including students, some professionals and refugees.

Those who enlist are required to meet the same physical and conduct standards as other recruits and exceed the educational standards. They are also vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and they will not be granted waivers for any criminal offenses.

Foreign-born residents have a long history in the U.S. armed forces.

Under a wartime statute invoked in 2002, those who serve can apply for citizenship on the first day of active duty. Naturalization fees are waived. About 29,000 people with green cards are in the military and about 8,000 enlist each year, according to Pentagon figures.

Recruiters have already signed up 105 people with targeted languages and two medical professionals under the new program.

More than 60% of those enlisting under the pilot program have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with roughly 7% of those joining the Army through regular channels.

Their average score on a required math and verbal aptitude test is 79 out of a possible 99 points. That’s compared with 62 for the average citizen or permanent resident who enlisted in the Army in the 12 months ending in September.

As word of the New York pilot program spread, many people traveled across the country to apply.

The 107 enlisted so far include 13 California residents, officials said. Less than half came from the New York area, including New Jersey.

Jason was among those who traveled to New York. But he arrived so tired after an overnight flight that he failed to score the minimum 50 points on a sample aptitude test.

By extending the program to Los Angeles, Army officials hope to make it easier for applicants on the West Coast to be considered and to ease the pressure on New York recruiters.

They also want to reach a broader range of language experts. So far, most of the recruits have been Korean, Indian and Chinese language speakers. The Army needs more people with languages used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, among others. Only four of the recruits enlisted as Arabic speakers, one speaks Urdu and one speaks Punjabi.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Cannon, who commands the recruiting station where Jason is applying, is pleased to be able to sign up more aspiring Americans. The policy restricting applications to people with green cards has been a source of frustration to local recruiters, who have struggled for years to find qualified applicants in a city with many immigrants, especially when the country is at war.

Cannon said his office had been getting calls about the new program for months. For most of the callers, the biggest draw is the chance to become citizens in as little as six months, he said. The normal naturalization process can take five to 15 years.

To retain their citizenship, participants must honorably complete at least five years of service.

When Jason heard he could apply closer to home, he headed straight over. This time he scored a respectable 67 on the sample aptitude test.

After 10 years of living with the uncertainty of temporary visas, he too is hoping to finally become an American.

His mother, who raised two children alone, never bothered to apply for green cards for the family, so now he faces the possibility of being summoned back to South Korea for mandatory military service.

Jason is also looking for a way to complete his studies at Pasadena City College.

His mother’s grocery store is struggling, so he had to defer for two semesters after his first year to help keep the business going. Although his mother worries that Jason could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, he will not be dissuaded.

“I would have to go to the army in Korea anyway, so let’s make it count for something,” he said. “A new life. A new beginning.” This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This story was reported and written in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, a nonprofit news organization. Andrew Becker is a CIR staff reporter. Alexandra Zavis is a Times staff writer.

Obama Budget Puts Security First at the Border

He’ll ask Congress to help curb the flow of arms to Mexico before seeking any immigration reform.
By Anna Gorman and Peter Nicholas
May 6, 2009

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles — President Obama will ask Congress for $27 billion for border and transportation security in the next budget year, fulfilling a promise to the Mexican government to battle the southbound flow of illegal weapons and setting the stage for immigration reform by first addressing enforcement, administration officials said Tuesday.

The spending, an 8% increase over this year’s, will enable the administration to hire more agents and enhance security at air- and seaports. Obama also will request more money to expand screening for illegal immigrants in jail and to improve a Web-based program for verifying workers’ employment eligibility.

Illegal immigrant concentrations in U.S.

The funding requests are part of the 2010 budget Obama plans to present to Congress on Thursday. Legislators last week passed a $3.5-trillion budget blueprint that tracks Obama’s major policy goals, including a healthcare overhaul and a push for renewable energy sources.

The border and immigration budget underscores differences with the Bush administration, which emphasized border fence construction, increased detention space and more teams to raid work sites. Obama has already changed the game on work-site enforcement, giving immigration agents new guidelines that shift the emphasis from illegal workers to employers who break the law by hiring them.

In devoting more money to security and enforcement, Obama may be creating some political space needed to revamp the immigration system. The president risks alienating many conservatives if he doesn’t emphasize strong border and immigration enforcement before taking action on a reform package that would create a path to legalization for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

“If the American people don’t feel like you can secure the borders,” Obama said during a prime-time news conference last week, “then it’s hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, ‘Well, you’re just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year.’ ”

Administration officials, who laid out the priorities for border and immigration enforcement Tuesday, said they wanted to use technology and personnel to help secure the Southwest border and to help battle Mexican drug cartels responsible for widespread violence that threatens to spill into the U.S.

More than 7,600 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since January 2008.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that the budget “clearly demonstrates the president’s commitment to a smart and effective immigration policy.”

“We are continuing to focus on tightening our borders and stronger enforcement, and this budget gives us essential new resources and tools to do just that,” she said.

During his visit to Mexico last month, Obama said the U.S. would do more to stop the weapons that have found their way from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels.

Standing next to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama said: “This war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States. . . . So we have responsibilities as well. We have to do our part. We have to crack down on drug use in our cities and towns. We have to stem the southbound flow of guns and cash.”

Specifically, the budget doubles Department of Homeland Security funding to nearly $47 million to combat southbound firearms and currency smuggling, and adds more than 100 Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers.

An additional $70 million will allow the federal government to hire 349 agents and investigators to work with the Mexican government on developing intelligence to better fight the cartels.

The budget includes an 18% increase for the Department of Justice’s Southwest Border Initiative, which targets the violence fueled by the drug cartels.

The budget plan also calls for a 12% fiscal boost to the Transportation Security Administration, allocating $985 million at airports, $250 million at seaports and $1.9 billion for the Coast Guard. Much of the money will be spent on new technologies and additional security personnel.

Asked about Obama’s pledge to change the immigration system, an administration official said Tuesday: “Enforcement has to be part of the equation. If the goal here is to get an immigration system that functions, enforcement is central to that.”

Among the immigration enforcement priorities, the budget increases funding by 30% to nearly $200 million to enable the Department of Homeland Security to hire 80 new people to identify criminal immigrants in the jails and prisons for deportation.

Obama also wants to spend $112 million, a 12% increase, to make E-Verify, an employment verification program, more reliable and to get more employers to use it.

The emphasis on border security isn’t a surprising first step by the administration, said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank.

“It’s a no-brainer that he is going to want to spend a lot of resources and build muscle at the border,” she said.

But she said that Obama shouldn’t stop there.

“The second chapter,” she said, “better be looking to Congress and being in the driver’s seat, both publicly and behind closed doors, driving a legislative package successfully.”

Reopening of Green Card Cases

By: The Associates Press – Published: May 2, 2009

A federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered the government to reopen the immigration cases of dozens of foreign widows whose American-citizen spouses died before the women could get their green cards. The judge, Christina A. Snyder, ruled that the Department of Homeland Security could not deny the widows’ applications to remain in the United States legally because the agency did not process the paperwork before their spouses died. The ruling paves the way for the widows in Western states to have their applications for green cards reopened. The Citizenship and Immigration Service has argued that the law requires that residency applications be rejected for immigrants whose American spouses die within two years of marriage.

Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Immigration Identity Theft Case

In a 9-0 decision, the justices say the crime is limited to those who knew they had stolen another person’s Social Security number. The decision limits efforts to prosecute illegal workers.
By David G. Savage – LA Times
9:20 AM PDT, May 4, 2009
Reporting Form Washington — The Supreme Court today took away one tool for prosecuting and deporting workers who are in this country illegally, ruling that the crime of identity theft is limited to those who knew they had stolen another person’s Social Security number.

The 9-0 decision overturns part of an Illinois man’s conviction for using false documents.

The court agreed he could be imprisoned for using an ID card he knew was false, but it also said he could not be charged with a felony of “aggravated identity theft” because he did not know he was using someone’s Social Security number.

Last year, immigration officials in the Bush administration had rounded up hundreds of illegal workers at several plants and charged them with “aggravated identity theft.”

Facing such a serious charge, many agreed to plead guilty and be deported.

The lesser charge of using false documents is not a felony and does not trigger an automatic deportation.

In today’s opinion in Flores-Figueroa vs. United States, the court cited the words of the identity theft law. It refers to a person who “knowingly” uses the means of identification “of another person.”

During the oral argument in the case, the justices were told that about half of all the possible combinations of nine-digit Social Security numbers have been used at some time.

Ignacio Flores-Figueroa, a citizen of Mexico, said he had bought a set of false documents in Chicago and used them to work at a steel plant in East Moline, Ill. His employer later reported him to immigration authorities. He was charged with entering the country illegally, using false documents and aggravated identity theft. Only the latter charge was at issue in the Supreme Court.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that in most cases of identity theft, the defendant sets out to steal someone’s identity so to take money from their accounts. In this case, the illegal immigrant wanted to use a false Social Security number as though it was his, but he did not know or care whether it was a real person’s number.

A Shift on Immigration

New York Times
May 3, 2009

Last week, immigration enforcement policy shifted a little. The administration issued guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement that place a new emphasis on prosecuting employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

That is a good idea, and a break from the Bush administration method — mass raids to net immigrant workers while leaving their bosses alone. The raids were tuned to the theatrics of the poisoned immigration debate, using heavy weapons, dogs and helicopters to spread the illusion that something was getting fixed.

But as policy, they were worse than useless. They netted about 6,000 undocumented immigrants, out of 12 million, and 135 employers or supervisors. They destroyed families, tearing parents and grandparents from children, many of them citizens. The fear they caused went viral in immigrant communities, driving workers further into the arms of abusive employers while bringing us no closer to a working immigration system.

So the new guidelines are smarter than cruel idiocy, but raids are still not a solution. They keep the country trying to arrest, prosecute and deport its way toward a working immigration system. Enforcement alone will never get us there. Workplace raids, no matter how sensibly or tactfully redesigned, will never fix immigration by themselves. Indeed, they make things worse.

Raids do not uphold or reinforce workers’ rights, a non sequitur in the world of off-the-books labor, where employers erode conditions for Americans by hiring workers at deplorable conditions and pay. They do not fix long backlogs in legal immigration, lines that extend years or decades, forcing people who want to follow the rules to make an agonizing choice between intolerable separations from their families or lawbreaking.

They do not protect illegal immigrants from the arbitrary cruelties of the detention and deportation system, in which due process is limited and detainees face unacceptable risk of sickness, injury and death in prison.

And the new enforcement regime, like the old, might lead employers to purge their payrolls of people they merely suspect are here illegally, to avoid the hassle and expense of a raid. When raids are coupled with electronic hiring-verification schemes like E-Verify, which the government has been inching toward, the likelihood of mass firings becomes greater. Without a path to earned legalization, undocumented workers who lose their jobs will have nowhere to go — except to endure ever-lower wages and worse abuse from bottom-feeding employers. The cycle of illegality will not have been broken.

The administration has promised to tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year. President Obama has consistently said the right things, defending a path to assimilation and citizenship for illegal immigrants rather than the futility of mass expulsion.

The decision to adjust the policy on raids seems sensibly motivated. But we agree with immigration and labor experts like Professor Jennifer Gordon of Fordham Law School, who sees the new guidelines as a smarter version of a bad idea. Far better, she says, for the government to redouble enforcement of laws like the minimum wage, the right to organize, and health and safety protections. This would reduce the incentive to hire the undocumented, and raise standards for all workers. It would not end up devastating immigrant families, as raids do. In times like these, that would be a step toward immigration reform that all workers could support.

We Need an Immigration Stimulus

A recession is exactly when we want innovative outsiders.


At the dawn of the Industrial Age, in 1719, the British Parliament passed a law banning craftsmen from emigrating to France or other rival countries. The law also targeted anyone who tried to entice skilled British workers to share technological information with foreigners.

“At that time the chief concern was the loss of iron founders and watchmakers,” Gavin Weightman writes in his new book, “The Industrial Revolutionaries.” Spies from around the world tried to uncover the secrets of British engineering, but “were often reduced to lurking around local inns, hoping to engage knowledgeable workmen in conversation and induce them to cross the Channel for some splendid reward.”

This attempted protectionism of ideas was doomed by easier travel and communication. The precursor to the London Times complained in 1785 that a Briton who set up a textile plant in France had “entailed more ruin and mischief on this kingdom than perhaps even the loss of America.”

Which brings us to our own era, and the debate on immigration reform beginning this week with congressional hearings that include an appearance by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. President Barack Obama says he wants to address the issue by the end of the year.

It usually pays to be skeptical about immigration reform, given the alliance between nativists and labor unions for tighter borders. Still, an economic downturn is the right time to move on immigration, one of the few policy tools that could clearly boost growth.

The pace of lower-skilled migration has slowed due to higher unemployment. This could make it less contentious to ease the path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented workers and their families in the U.S. It’s also a good time to ask why we turn away skilled workers, including the ones earning 60% of the advanced degrees in engineering at U.S. universities. It is worth pointing out the demographic shortfall: Immigrants are a smaller proportion of the U.S. population than in periods such as the late 1890s and 1910s, when immigrants gave the economy a jolt of growth.

Immigrants have had a disproportionate role in innovation and technology. Companies founded by immigrants include Yahoo, eBay and Google. Half of Silicon Valley start-ups were founded by immigrants, up from 25% a decade ago. Some 40% of patents in the U.S. are awarded to immigrants. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation found that immigrants are 50% likelier to start businesses than natives. Immigrant-founded technology firms employ 450,000 workers in the U.S. And according to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started one quarter of all U.S. venture-backed firms.

Banks getting federal bailouts are saddled with new hurdles to get visas for skilled workers. The wait for H-1B visas for skilled people from countries such as China and India is now more than five years, with only 65,000 visas granted annually among 600,000 applications. But countries such as Canada and Singapore actively recruit technologists and scientists. As Intel Chairman Craig Barrett has suggested, instead of sending the half million higher-education students from overseas home when they graduate, we should “staple a green card to their diplomas.”

Economic recovery and immigration are closely linked, as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg also understands. Last month he launched a business-plan competition targeting business and engineering students overseas with winners getting cash and introductions to venture capitalists in the city. “Unfortunately, as we’re moving to open our doors even wider to the world, Congress is moving in the opposite direction,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

There’s a strong case that we need both more skilled and unskilled immigrants. In “The Venturesome Economy,” Columbia business professor Amar Bhidé showed that wherever technology is developed, it’s the creative application of innovation that builds great businesses. The Web was conceived in a lab in Switzerland, but it matured in Silicon Valley. Mr. Bhidé argues that immigrants at all levels, including as “venturesome consumers,” are an important reason the U.S. retains a strong lead in innovation, even as the lead in advanced technology and science has eroded.

At a time when our financial-capital markets are still reeling from the credit bust, the human-capital market remains open for business. Fewer workers will be lured to the U.S. during a recession, but the ones who come will speed recovery. There are costs to immigration, especially in border states with generous welfare programs, but the overall benefit is akin to the advantages of free trade in goods and services.

In contrast to the early days of the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturing secrets drove competitive advantage, today’s information technologies thrive as innovators share new ideas and make businesses out of them. Much of this activity is being done by foreigners who want to become economically successful Americans. This makes more open immigration one of the few stimulus packages Washington can deliver with confidence that it would help.

Source: The Wall Street Journal OPINION: INFORMATION AGE APRIL 27, 2009

No Automatic Car Searches


Wow, big win from the US Supremes. Justices Scalia and Thomas are the crucial votes in favor, Justices Breyer and Kennedy dissent. Remember New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454 (1981)? Once the police arrest a defendant. in a car, they can search the car automatically. The theory was that the defendant might be able to grab a weapon from inside the car even though the defendant was arrested, handcuffed, and in a police car. The Supremes say that’s not what they were saying in Belton. The Supremes say that the law now “authorizes police to search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search.”

Again, “Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.” So the mere fact of an arrest in or near a car doesn’t give the police the right to search the interior of the car. Exceptions? Plenty. They can still search for evidence of the crime for which they arrested the defendant. Justice Scalia warns the police against the sham of claiming that they haven’t really arrested the defendant. They also don’t discuss inventory searches at all. This ruling affects a ton of cases and compels reversal of a slew of bad California cases.

Case: Arizona v. Gant; 2009 DJ DAR; DJ, 4/ /09; US Supremes


AILF Lauds Senator Schumer for Beginning Immigration Reform Discussion

AILF Lauds Senator Schumer for Beginning Immigration Reform Discussion
Hearings to Discuss Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009

April 28, 2009

Washington, D.C.On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship will hold a hearing “Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009: Can We Do It and How?” to examine common sense solutions to the immigration system. The following is a statement from Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Law Foundation in Washington, DC.

“The American Immigration Law Foundation applauds Chairman Schumer for commencing hearings on immigration reform. For far too long, our state and local governments have been plagued by an out-of-date and broken federal immigration system. Now more than ever, Congress must take the necessary steps to reform our immigration system in a way that honors our laws, rewards honesty and hard work, and fosters economic prosperity.

The upcoming hearing marks a new day in the conversation on immigration. Rather than dwell on the problems of our broken system, we will hear a discussion that focuses on solutions. While the substantive and political challenges are significant, Chairman Schumer and the entire subcommittee are to be commended for tackling those problems in a pragmatic and forthright manner. This is a discussion that must take place throughout the country because resolution of our immigration crisis will require all sectors of American society to work together to create an immigration system that works for our nation.

We eagerly await the testimony from the esteemed panelists, many of whom will be discussing the moral, legal, and economic imperatives for reform. These hearings will provide an important opportunity to hear what the current political and economic environment means for immigration reform. Among the issues likely to be discussed:

Economic Imperative for Immigration Reform: How can immigration reform become a tool for economic recovery? Legalizing undocumented workers would improve wages and working conditions for all workers, and increase tax revenues for cash-strapped federal, state, and local governments. Moreover, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for undocumented workers would pay for itself over time through increased tax revenue. Newly legalized workers would be able to move into higher-paying jobs, pay more in taxes, and spend more on goods and services-all of which would increase the already-substantial economic benefits of immigration for the nation.

Smart-Enforcement Imperative for Immigration Reform: What type of effective enforcement can we pursue that allows local police and immigration agents to focus on dangerous criminals and doesn’t disrupt families and communities? Since 1993, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has more than quintupled to roughly $1.9 billion. Meanwhile, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has tripled to approximately 12 million and border violence has reached a fever pitch.

Moral Imperative for Immigration Reform: How can we advance humane and effective solutions that are in line with our best values, not our worst instincts? Of the nearly 12 million people now residing in the United States without legal status, about a third have lived here for more than a decade.  Approximately 1.5 million are children, and another 4 million native-born, U.S.-citizen children have at least one undocumented parent.  The Bush administration pursued aggressive enforcement tactics ranging from large-scale, indiscriminate workplace and residential raids to expansive enforcement agreements with state and local police departments, resulting in demonstrable harm to numerous communities.”

For more background see these Immigration Policy Center (IPC) publications: