HEADLINES: Immigration

President Barack Obama told a Hispanic audience that he has “another five years coming up” in his presidency and will use the time to push for an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. The Hispanic community has criticized Mr. Obama for doing little to carry out his promise to overhauling the immigration system. They have also taken issue with the Obama administration’s increase in deportations. Latinos, who generally lean Democratic, will play a crucial role in the election in states such as Florida and Virginia. Mr. Obama said he doesn’t think the choice for Latinos will be difficult. [Wall Street Journal]

A federal judge has rejected part of a controversial city ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska that sought to ban hiring undocumented immigrants and renting property to them. However, much of the ordinance could still take effect next month. Judge Laurie Smith Camp of Federal District Court said part of the ordinance that would have denied housing occupancy permits to undocumented immigrants is discriminatory. Kris W. Kobach, a lawyer who wrote the ordinance and who is now the Kansas secretary of state, said that 75 percent of the ordinance, which was approved by voters in 2010, was upheld. That includes requiring that employers use the federal E-Verify database to ensure that potential employees are legally allowed to work. The ordinance has been suspended during the legal challenge, which was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union. [Associated Press]

In the wake of Georgia’s harsh immigration law, HB 87, which requires employers to check the immigration status of potential workers and encourages law enforcement to ask for immigration verification during routine stops, a Georgia Senate committee has now passed a new measure targeting undocumented residents. The bill, SB 458, would ban non-citizens from attending public colleges in the state, and would make provisions to HB 87. The bill now moves to the full Senate. Supporters of the bill believe that the current University System of Georgia is a violation of federal law, and that attending a public university is a privilege to be granted only to citizens. However, federal law does not ban undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It gives states the power to make the decision independent of the federal government. Out of 318,000 students in the University System, which includes the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State, Georgia Health Sciences and Georgia College & State universities, only about 300 are undocumented. [Huffington Post]

Changes in immigration laws are needed to ensure adequate levels of farm labor and prevent crops from “rotting” in fields, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The sad reality is that crops will be raised in this country this year that may not be harvested because there simply is not the workforce,” Vilsack said at a conference in Arlington, Virginia. “All of America, but especially farm country, needs comprehensive immigration reform, and we need it now.” Vilsack called on Congress to have the “political courage” to fix the system, which he said leaves farmers with too few workers for the amount of acreage to be harvested. [Bloomberg]

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