This week (5.16.2011)
A proposal to provide college scholarships to the children of immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, is forcing Illinois lawmakers to consider whether it's appropriate to lend a helping hand to people who are in the country improperly.
Many legislators express the need to make a bad situation better. Undocumented immigrants are a fact of life, they say, and giving them a shot at an education through privately funded scholarships will be better for Illinois in the long run.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced the federal DREAM Act on Wednesday to give undocumented students a chance to remain in the United States .
The bill would allow students to remain in the U.S. as long as they enter the country before the age of 15, are long-term residents who have stayed for at least five years, show good moral character, graduate from high school or pass a General Educational Development test and complete two years of college or military service.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, calling it "a rather historic moment," on Friday signed a bill that cracks down on illegal immigration in the state by increasing some enforcement powers and requiring many employers to check the immigration status of new hires.
The new law — the subject of heated debate in the Legislature — shares some similarities to a controversial law enacted last year in Arizona and another enacted this year in Utah. Part or all of those two laws have been blocked by federal judges, and opponents have said they'll sue to try to block Georgia's law.
Lawmakers and law-enforcement officials in several states are turning against a mandatory federal program that is a cornerstone of the Obama administration's immigration policy.
The Secure Communities initiative is designed to spot and deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. Under the program, fingerprints of people booked into a jail are transmitted to a database reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, If found to be in the U.S. illegally, they can face deportation. Recently, such states as Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California have raised objections to the program's real-world effects: Although designed to remove criminals from the country, it has led to the deportation of thousands of people without criminal records.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is reviewing an immigration bill passed by the state legislature and said he plans to sign it. The bill is modeled after a controversial law in Arizona that could result in the deportations of undocumented residents. However, leaders of athletic events and tourism industries warn of a possible backlash.
"Anytime you do something like this, there are the intended consequences and you have unintended consequences, and the unintended consequences in this case are worse," said Bob Hope, a public relations executive in Atlanta who is on the board of the Atlanta Sports Council, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and Women's Sports Foundation. "It presents us as a bigoted city or a bigoted state. Nationally, people can easily look at the bill and say there are uncomfortable issues relative to coming to Atlanta and Georgia. It hurts."