My interest here has to this point been on LEGAL immigration, as I chaired a study by the Bay Area Community Council on the implications of moving legal immigrants through the economy to self-sufficiency. We avoided the study of Illegals because it is so complex to understand, and takes attention away from the benefits and needs of the U.S. to have immigrants.
However, recently I attended a short seminar by the Grzeca law firm of Milwaukee, which focuses on immigration issues, on the status of the Secure Communities federal initiatives.
• There are an estimated 10-12 million "illegal/undocumented" but EMPLOYED immigrants in the U.S., and the controversy (i.e., unresolved policy) persists on how to deal with them as well as "control" ongoing immigration relative to needs.
• Therefore, law enforcement "generally" is focusing on dealing with undocumented immigrants who commit "violent" crimes, and having a "live and let live" attitude towards the others.
• Of Interest: Under federal law, being an undocumented immigrant (i.e., here illegally) is a civil ...not criminal ... offense. Civil offenses are punishable by fines. (Yes, there are proposals to make undocumented immigration a felony (i.e., a criminal) offense.)
Thus: the Secure Communities initiative, which all 72 of Wisconsin's counties are participating in. If a person is picked up for a violent crime and is found to be undocumented, his finger prints are put in a federal data base and his presence is reported to the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The person will be prosecuted locally regarding the crime ... while ICE determines whether the person is truly undocumented and liable for deportation. If so, it deports the person.
IN 2010, 393,000 persons were deported in 2010 ... but 193,000 of them had no criminal record. Thus, the practice of treating lack-of-documentation as civil is "general" but not complete.
Also of interest: Some of these "undocumenteds" are former students who have over-stayed their visas and found jobs but not been able to "fit" into one of the prevailing visa quota allowances. Canada, in contrast, is loosening its standards to attract educated immigrants whom we educate but are unwilling to provide a path to permanent residence.
Want more? The tendency is to deny driver's licenses to persons who can't provide documentation. Opponents argue that the person will still be here, probably has a job or is in a family that is making it and paying taxes, and WILL find a way to get where they need to go ... AND if we WOULD provide a Driver's License, we get them into the data base, AND those with licenses are two-thirds more likely to have auto insurance.
Even more to come, for sure ...