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11-26-2012, 11:44 PM #1
MA - A historical look at immigration legislation
By Bob Katzen
Updated: 11/26/2012 08:46:34 AM EST
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
But Gov. Deval Patrick provided plenty of controversy when he issued an executive order that will allow young illegal immigrants in Massachusetts to pay the lower in-state resident college tuition and fees rate at the state's 29 public colleges and universities as long as they obtain work permits through a new program ordered by President Obama. No legislative approval is required for either of the orders.
Obama's order offers "deferred status" to these illegal immigrants by forbidding the federal government from deporting those under the age of 30 who came to the U.S. before age 16; have lived here for at least five years; have no criminal record; and are military veterans or have a high-school diploma or GED. Patrick used Obama's action as the basis for a letter he wrote last week to Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland informing him that these deferred-status immigrants must be offered in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Massachusetts.
Supporters say many of these students were babies when they were brought here by their parents and had no choice about entering the country illegally. They note many are unable to afford the higher tuition and end up skipping college and working in low-pay, low-skilled jobs rather than contributing to the economy in a more meaningful fashion.
Opponents say the state should not offer financial rewards to anyone who has broken the law and is in this country illegally. They argue it is outrageous to offer low tuition rates to these students while legal citizens from outside Massachusetts, including war veterans, are required to pay higher rates. They noted many programs that help full-fledged citizens have been reduced over the past few years in Massachusetts.
The cost at UMass Amherst this year for tuition and fees is $13,230 for in-state residents and $26,645 for non-residents. That's a savings of $13,415 for in-state residents. Worcester State College checks in at $14,237 vs. $8,157, and Bunker Hill Community College's numbers are $13,880 vs. $5,640.
This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reviews local legislators' votes on illegal-immigrant issues.
REQUIRE PROOF OF LEGAL RESIDENCE TO REGISTER AUTO (H 423. The House (135-19) and Senate (24-10) overrode Gov. Patrick's veto of a bill that would require applicants to provide proof of legal residence in order to register their cars.
Supporters of the bill said it would prevent illegal immigrants from registering their cars. They noted a loophole has allowed unlicensed drivers to legally register their cars and then drive illegally without a license.
In his veto message, Patrick said allowing an illegal alien to own a vehicle in Massachusetts does not jeopardize the public's safety. He argued the bill seems aimed at using the Registry of Motor Vehicles to identify and police undocumented people.
(A "Yes" vote is for requiring proof of legal residence. A "No" vote is against it.)
YES: Rep. Paul Adams, Rep. James Arciero, Rep. Cory Atkins, Rep. Jennifer Benson, Rep. Colleen Garry, Rep. Thomas Golden, Rep. Sheila Harrington, Rep. Marc Lombardo, Rep. James Miceli, Rep. Kevin Murphy and Rep. David Nangle.
DIDN'T VOTE: Rep. Charles Murphy.
YES: Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Sen. Jennifer Flanagan and Sen. Bruce Tarr.
NO: Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, Sen. James Eldridge and Sen. Susan Fargo.
DIDN'T VOTE: Sen. Barry Finegold.
LOWER TUITION FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (H 1230). In 2006, the House rejected, 96-57, a bill allowing illegal-immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts colleges and universities if they have attended a high school in Massachusetts for at least three years and have graduated or received the equivalent of a diploma.
The measure also requires these students to provide the college with an affidavit stating that he or she has filed or will in the future file an application to become a citizen or permanent resident.
Arguments of supporters and opponents were the same as they are over Patrick's directive last week.
This is the most recent time the Legislature voted directly on this specific issue. The vote is from 2006. Representatives who were not yet elected in 2006 did not vote on the proposal.
YES: Atkins and C. Murphy.
NO: Garry, Golden, Miceli, K. Murphy and Nangle.
NOT YET ELECTED: Adams, Arciero, Benson, Harrington and Lombardo,
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN PRISON (H 3500). The House rejected, 84-73, an amendment that would require the state to join the federal Secure Communities Program.
Under the program, the fingerprints of all individuals in Massachusetts jails would be checked with FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) databases for the criminal's immigration status and prior criminal record. The Obama administration had mandated that all states join the program by 2013.
Amendment supporters said the program is a fair one that would ensure illegal aliens who commit serious crimes will be deported. They noted that under the program, ICE has so far deported some 81,000 illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. They argued that "color-blind" fingerprints would be taken from all prisoners and disputed opponents' charges that the program would lead to racial profiling.
Some amendment opponents said the program would lead to racial profiling. They noted that 27 percent of those deported had only a misdemeanor offense and 54 percent had no criminal conviction at all. They argued the program would result in women in domestic-abuse situations being afraid to call the police.
(A "Yes" vote is for requiring the state to join the Secure Communities Program. A "No" vote is against it.)
YES: Adams, Arciero, Garry, Golden, Harrington, Lombardo, Miceli, K. Murphy and Nangle.
NO: Atkins, Benson and C. Murphy.
STUDY AND DELAY ASKING IMMIGRANTS FOR ID (H 3781). The House approved, 110-45, an amendment that would replace a proposal to require the state to verify that anyone over 18 who applies for state benefits is legally in Massachusetts with an amendment to launch an investigation about whether the state should study the proposal instead. The amendment would require the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight to investigate whether the state should "authorize a study of the services provided by the commonwealth to residents and non-residents of the commonwealth and the monetary distinction between such residents." The amendment also requires the committee to consider "any potential civil rights violations that could occur if a study was conducted."
Some supporters of the investigation on whether to study said the original proposal is mean-spirited and anti-immigrant and noted many illegal immigrants are hardworking people who perform jobs most Americans would not do. Others said the House should gather information before making a rash decision and noted this problem really should be solved on the federal level. Some argued there are many legal immigrants who would find it difficult to produce the necessary documentation.
Opponents of the study said it is simply another example of a way for legislators to avoid a direct vote on the proposal itself. They said the study would never be conducted and the measure would never be implemented. They noted state services, with some emergency exceptions, should not be provided to people who broke the law and are here illegally. They emphasized the legislation would only apply to illegal immigrants and includes many safeguards to protect individual rights.
(A "Yes" vote is for investigating whether to study the amendment. A "No" vote is against the investigation and favors the verification policy.)
YES: Atkins, Benson, K. Murphy and Nangle.
NO: Adams, Arciero, Garry, Golden, Harrington, Lombardo and Miceli.
CHECK IMMIGRATION STATUS OF CASINO EMPLOYEES (S 2015). The Senate approved, 32-6, an amendment that would require casino owners to check and verify their employees' immigration status using a program operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration or a private verification system.
Amendment supporters said this would simply ensure these desperately needed new casino-related jobs will be filled by legal residents and not illegal immigrants.
Amendment opponents argued there are already sufficient federal requirements that companies verify their employees' immigration status.
(A "Yes" vote is for requiring verification of employees' status. A "No" vote is against it.)
YES: Donnelly, Donoghue, Finegold, Flanagan and Tarr.
NO: Eldridge and Fargo.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? During the week of Nov. 19-23, the House met for a total of 31 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 34 minutes.
A historical look at immigration legislation - Lowell Sun OnlineWe have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.