Top Immigration Headlines: May 2012
This month in immigration news, media outlets focused on two families who faced the detention and/or possible deportation of their loved ones. Meanwhile, American businesses pressed for more employment visas, while others pondered the reason for a decline in Mexican migration. In Arizona, people questioned how enforcement of SB 1070 will play out under new police leadership.
Here is a snapshot of immigration headlines across the country in May.
Kate Wilcox of the Reading Eagle (Reading, Penn.) reported that immigration into the US is slowing among Mexicans, partly because retirement-age Mexicans are moving back to the country instead of staying in the US. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the net migration flow from Mexico is at or below zero. The report attributed the decline to a slow economy in the US and tougher enforcement on the borders.
In Berks County, where Reading is located, the number of Latinos has doubled since 2000, mostly because an influx of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans moved to the area. Although the number of Mexican immigrants is still high in Reading, some community members believe the number is declining due to a lack of jobs.
American businesses have tripled their requests for H-1B visas awarded to highly skilled workers after a multi-year dry spell, according to Matt O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News. The spike in H-1B applications has been attributed to an overall increase in tech hiring, although that point is debated.
There has been ongoing criticism of the H-1B visa process, which caps the number of eligible high-skilled workers who are permitted to work in the US. Business owners advocate for increased caps, while workers argue that too many visas are taking away American jobs. The visa cap has been met every year, although the recession slowed recruitment.
Scott Condon of The Aspen Times reported that an immigrant woman awaiting deportation was unexpectedly released and sent home in time to celebrate Mother’s Day with her family. Norma Gonzales was granted a one-year stay of removal. The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition lobbied for her release after hearing that her son had just graduated from high school and received a full scholarship to Duke University to study engineering.
One man’s family eagerly awaits his release from a Buffalo detention facility, according to Nicole O’Reilly of The Hamilton Spectator in Ontario, Canada. Richard Austin, a Guyanese native and US green card holder, had been living in Canada for more than a year when he was crossing the border back into the US near Niagara Falls. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers saw that he had been out of the country for more than a year, they sent him to a detention facility. Austin is a husband and father to a family living in the US.
JJ Hensley of The Arizona Republic reported that Phoenix’s new police chief, Daniel Garcia, is going to continue the immigration enforcement policies put in place by his predecessor, Jack Harris.
With Arizona’s SB 1070 being reviewed by the Supreme Court, many Arizonans are questioning how Garcia will oversee enforcement of the immigration laws. When asked how police will treat arrested individuals, Garcia responded that everyone will be treated with dignity and respect. “We don’t stop people randomly just to determine their status,” Garcia said. “Unless you have reasonable belief that a crime has occurred, you don’t have a reason to stop anybody.”