House backs bill giving state police immigration law-enforcement duties
RICHMOND--The Virginia House of Delegates gave preliminary approval yesterday to a bill that could have state troopers enforcing federal immigration law.
On a voice vote, the House advanced Del. Jeff Frederick's bill, which would direct the governor to enter into an agreement with the federal government to allow Virginia state police to enforce civil immigration violations.
Del. Bob Hull, D-Falls Church, questioned Frederick closely, asking who would pay for state police to enforce federal immigration law in addition to their other duties, and who would pay to house the possible illegal immigrants those police may arrest.
"If we're going to enforce the laws of the fed government, are they going to reimburse us for the cost of sending our police officers out to do that?" Hull asked.
Frederick, R-Woodbridge, said state officials determined there is no fiscal impact to the state. He said the bill makes it an option, not a requirement, for state police to enforce federal immigration law.
"If this is a power that they want to use, then this is a power that they'll use," Frederick said, calling it just another tool to combat illegal aliens. "It's something that they'll be doing in the course of their normal business."
After further questioning, Frederick handed the argument off to House Majority Leader Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, who said that until the state does enter into such an agreement with the federal government, there's no way to say definitively who would pay for what, since that's something that would be included in the agreement.
"All of that cannot be considered until we have an agreement that the governor has entered into," Griffith said.
The House will take a final vote on the bill today. Also today, the House is scheduled to debate another bill that would prohibit state colleges and universities from admitting illegal immigrants.
Another state DEBATING laws to "inconvenience" illegals
GOP Lawmakers Want To Undo Some Immigration Laws
February 01, 2006
SANTA FE — Republican lawmakers in both houses want to undo state laws allowing some undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses and to qualify for in-state tuition and lottery scholarships.
The bills, introduced Wednesday, are part of an immigration package that also includes non-binding memorials asking Gov. Bill Richardson to deploy National Guard troops to the border immediately and requesting Mexican President Vicente Fox to take action to stop illegal immigration.
"The number of persons who enter the United States illegally has risen dramatically in recent years and poses a serious security threat to the United States and to New Mexico,'' said Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell.
Rep. Terry Marquardt, R-Alamogordo, called the package "positive and forward-moving.'' An immigrants rights group called it "draconian.''
Marcela Diaz of Somos Un Pueblo Unido said the legislation was unnecessary and anti-immigrant and would reverse years of work by church, labor and other groups to integrate newcomers into New Mexico communities regardless of their immigration status.
The package includes a bill requiring state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
Last year, the Legislature sent Richardson a bill that would have prohibited state and local police from enforcing federal immigration laws. Supporters said it was aimed at making undocumented immigrants — crime victims or witnesses, for example — more willing to turn to police.
The governor vetoed it, but immediately issued an executive order directing state law enforcement not to ask about a person's immigration status under certain circumstances.
Republicans also criticized a measure Richardson signed into law last year allowing some undocumented immigrants to be eligible for in-state tuition rates and the lottery scholarship program. They must have attended a New Mexico high school for at least a year and gotten a high school diploma or equivalency degree in the state.
"How do you tell an American citizen from New York he has to pay out-of-state tuition to go to UNM, but if you're here illegally from another country, you do not,'' said Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell.
Another measure in the package would require a social security number and evidence of citizenship or lawful status before an applicant could be issued a driver's license.
Under current law, applicants don't have to prove they're legal residents. Foreign nationals can present a passport, a federal tax identification number or a consular identification card. State officials say the policy has lowered the rate of uninsured drivers and increased safety on roads.
Isn't that kinda like making a deal with the devil?
I dont think this would pass a constitutional muster either.
And ANOTHER, I wish they would quit talking about it and get something done
Advocates for reducing immigration turn to trespassing law
Associated Press Writer
February 1, 2006
PHOENIX --Lawmakers seeking to lessen Arizona's immigration woes are trying to expand a trespassing law so that local authorities can arrest immigrants who are in the state illegally.
Supporters said the approach would help communities catch illegal border-crossers who manage to get past federal authorities in Arizona, the busiest illicit entry point along the nation's porous southern border.
Opponents said the idea won't result in significant changes and that a similar strategy flopped last year in New Hampshire because states don't have the power to enforce federal immigration law.
"The argument that we have gotten is that local law enforcement cannot enforce federal law," said Republican state Sen. Barbara Leff of Paradise Valley, one of two lawmakers pushing the idea. "So my goal is that, if that's the case, then we'll make it a state crime and then they can enforce state law."
Public pressure is mounting for state politicians who face re-election races this year to confront Arizona's border problems, even though immigration has long been considered the sole province of the federal government.
Arizona lawmakers have proposed several bills aimed at getting the state involved in the fight against illegal immigration, a problem they said the federal government has failed to fix.
Lawmakers in Arizona and New Hampshire are considering trespassing proposals aimed at illegal immigrants.
Police in two New Hampshire towns arrested illegal immigrants on trespassing charges last year, but the cases were dismissed after a judge ruled that the tactic was unconstitutional.
Ray Borane, mayor of the southeastern Arizona border city of Douglas, said the trespassing approach would be expensive to enforce and that immigrants will continue to cross into the country illegally as long as they can earn a better living in America's underground labor economy.
Borane said his community would have to double its police shifts to enforce the proposal. "I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life," Borane said of the proposals.
Leff said she is seeking a companion proposal that would provide border counties with $75 million for immigration efforts, including enforcement of a tougher trespassing law.
Her trespassing proposal, which cleared a committee this week, would make it a felony for immigrants to be in Arizona if they have violated federal immigration law. Under the bill, immigrants arrested for trespassing could be deported or prosecuted by local authorities or could be handed over to federal immigration agents.
Democratic Sen. Bill Brotherton of Phoenix, who voted against Leff's proposal, said court decisions prohibit local authorities from deporting immigrants.
"We as a state can't do anything with these people," Brotherton said. "We can arrest them, but we can only hold them for a certain period of time."
Even with an expanded trespassing law, communities would still likely have to let immigrants go because federal authorities lack enough detention center space to hold all people arrested for immigration violations, Brotherton said.
Republican Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, who has proposed making immigrant trespassing a top-tier misdemeanor, said local authorities have the power to enforce federal immigration law and that he has proposed $30 million in grants for communities to improve border security and detain illegal immigrants.
"It just supports federal law, so it's perfectly legal," Pearce said of his trespassing proposal.
Democratic Rep. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix, who plans to vote against Pearce's bill at a committee hearing Thursday, said the trespassing proposals would likely increase the possibility of racial profiling if local police unfamiliar with immigration law were to try to enforce it.
"Hispanics who are in our country legally are going to be suspected right away of being undocumented," Gallardo said.
Immigration not a top issue for residents, Kaine says (Reallllly?)
Keyonna Summersand Gary Emerling
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
February 1, 2006
There may be more than 40 immigration-related bills in the works this year in Richmond, but all that attention in the General Assembly on illegal aliens is misdirected, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday.
"I don't believe immigration is one of the top issues in Virginia if you ask Virginians," the Democratic governor said at a breakfast meeting with Washington reporters at the District's St. Regis Hotel. "It does matter to a number of people, but compared to jobs, education, health care, transportation, it's pretty far down."
Mr. Kaine, three weeks into his term, has focused on pushing through a package of fee and tax increases to fund transportation projects such as the widening of Interstate 66.
But legislators say the dozens of immigration-related bills submitted this year signal a growing concern among Virginians about problems with day laborers, gangs and overcrowding in single-family homes.
"Illegal immigration in Virginia used to be a nuisance issue where people knew it was there and didn't really bother them, but now that's changed [and] it's a quality-of-life issue, something that people see everyday," said Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, a Prince William Republican who wrote or co-authored at least 10 immigration-related bills.
Mr. Kaine said the state's approach to immigration was once "Swiss cheese," but he said the system has improved.
Virginia House lawmakers today are expected to pass a bill drafted by Mr. Frederick that would give state police authority to enforce immigration laws and make the state one of only three in the country to delegate such power to local law enforcement.
It goes to the Senate if passed by the House.
Under Mr. Frederick's bill, Mr. Kaine would have the authority to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to authorize certain members of the state police to enforce civil immigration laws.
For example, officers would be allowed -- but not required -- to enforce immigration violations when they encounter an illegal alien during a routine traffic stop.
"There are instances where someone may be stopped for a traffic violation [or] a misdemeanor and the officer may see they shouldn't be on the road, and the only way the officer could do something like that would be to enforce immigration laws," Mr. Frederick said. "This gives law enforcement an extra tool in their tool box to deal with issues they may face on their beat."
Virginia State Police currently can detain illegal aliens if they are arrested for a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor, spokesman Sgt. Terry Licklider said. If a person does not have proper identification, an officer can at his discretion make an arrest or issue the person a summons to appear in court, Sgt. Licklider said.
State troopers encounter illegals a few times each week, Sgt. Licklider said. As many as 250,000 illegal aliens lived in Virginia from 2002 to 2004, according to a study released last year by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Police in Alabama and Florida have authority to enforce immigration laws. The issue also has drawn heated debate in California, where the Orange County Sheriff's Department and Costa Mesa Police Department want to send 200 deputies and 40 officers, respectively, to train with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
• ?Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report
DMV workers, outsiders charged in fake driver’s license scheme
February 1, 2006
NORFOLK — Three Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles employees were arrested Tuesday on charges of selling phony driver’s licenses across the counter to “customers” for $2,000 each. Two suspected facilitators also were charged.
Sisters Teshara L. Sykes, 21, and Tonita S. Sykes, 23, and the third employee, Jamille C. Lowther, 29, were arrested while working at DMV offices in Norfolk. They made their initial appearances Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court.
The case unfolded last summer when FBI agents in New York discovered a suspected illegal immigrant talking about his ability to obtain phony driver’s licenses in Norfolk, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.
The FBI sent undercover operatives to Norfolk DMV offices, where they were able to purchase three fake driver’s licenses through a facilitator, the records say. Authorities said they are investigating how many phony licenses may have been issued previously by the suspects.
The case follows investigations over the past four years in Northern Virginia, where DMV employees were charged with similar, though unrelated, activity. The crime concerns authorities because seven of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers obtained phony IDs in Virginia.
“This is an important investigation because the production and use of false identities can facilitate the commission of more serious crimes which endanger or defraud the public,” Norfolk FBI Special Agent in Charge Cassandra Chandler said in a statement.
The Sykeses and Lowther worked at various times at DMV offices at Military Circle and on Widgeon Road, off Tidewater Drive, in Norfolk.
The two other suspects, Andy E. “Trini” Brathwaite, 27, and Felix Reyes, 45, facilitated the transactions from the outside, according to an FBI court affidavit. Both men, natives of Trinidad, are here illegally, the FBI said.
In July, the FBI learned through an informant that Reyes was sending clients to Norfolk to obtain driver’s licenses in fictitious names without producing any identification, the affidavit says.
Virginia law requires driver’s license applicants to provide proof of identity, legal U.S. presence and Virginia residency. Legal presence may be either citizenship or authorization by the federal government to be in the country.
The informant arranged with Reyes to meet Brathwaite in Norfolk on Aug. 2, the affidavit says. The pair entered the Widgeon Road facility and obtained a license from Lowther and Teshara Sykes in the fake name of Anthony W. Smith, the papers say.
After they left the office, the informant paid Brathwaite $2,000, the affidavit says.
Similar transactions involving an undercover FBI agent, another informant and the Sykeses were conducted on Aug. 16 and Jan. 9, with $2,000 paid each time, the affidavit says. Security cameras captured the transactions.
The FBI was joined in the investigation by a DMV senior special agent.
A spokeswoman for the DMV said the department has undertaken initiatives since the Sept. 11 attacks to prevent fraudulent identifications from being issued. Virginia also has passed laws toughening proof of identification requirements.
The latest initiative, announced earlier this month, is a “zero-tolerance hot line” that collects information about suspected fraud. DMV employees and customers are encouraged to call the hot line to report suspicious activities. Information leading to arrests can result in rewards up to $1,000.