As the Supreme Court upheld a central provision of Arizona's controversial immigration law on Monday -– a requirement for law enforcement to check the legal status of suspected undocumented immigrants -- a powerful corporate lobby may stand to benefit: the private prison industry.
For-profit prison companies including Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group Inc. have capitalized on the immigration crackdown over the past decade, now controlling nearly half of the nation's vast immigrant detention system. Both companies have more than doubled revenues from the business of detaining immigrants since 2005, collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"This is really the pointy end of the sword of SB 1070," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrants' rights group. "It provides a real boon, a real growth opportunity for the private prison industry in the State of Arizona."
A Corrections Corporation of America spokesman said that "under longstanding policy, CCA does not and has not ever taken positions on or promoted any sentencing or detention legislation." A spokesman for the GEO Group did not respond to questions. In the past, CCA officials have stressed that the federal government, not local law enforcement, makes the ultimate decision on which undocumented immigrants should be detained (...)
President Obama at last came through with a bold memorandum on June 15, 2012, executed by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, granting deferred action to undocumented people. The Administration has always had authority to grant deferred action, which is a discretionary act not to prosecute or to deport a particular alien. While critics decry that Obama has circumvented Congress, the Administration has always had executive branch authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion, including deferred action, which is an expression of limited enforcement resources in the administration of the immigration law. It makes no sense to deport undocumented children who lacked the intention to violate their status and who have been educated in the US, and who have the potential to enhance the US through their hard work, creativity and determination to succeed.
We have always advocated that the Administration has inherent authority within the INA to ameliorate the hardships caused to non-citizens as a result of an imperfect and broken immigration system. In Tyranny of Priority Dates, we argued that the Administration has the authority to allow non-citizens who are beneficiaries of approved family (I-130) or employment-based (I-140) petitions affected by the crushing backlogs in the priority date system to remain in the US through the grant of parole under INA 212(d)(5) based on“urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefits.” When the DREAM Act passed the House in 2010, but narrowly failed to garner the magic super majority of 60 in the Senate, we proposed that the President could also grant similar parole to DREAM children as well as deferred action in our blog, Keeping Hope Alive: President Obama Can Use His Executive Power Until Congress Passes The Dream Act.
The new memorandum directs the heads of USCIS, CBP and ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion, and thus grant deferred action, to an individual who came to the United States under the age of 16, has continuously resided in the US for at least 5 years preceding the date of the memorandum and was present in the US on the date of the memorandum, and who is currently in school, or has graduated from school or obtained a general education certificate, or who is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. Moreover, this individual should not be above the age of thirty and should also not have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety. This directive further applies to individuals in removal proceedings as well as those who have already obtained removal orders. The grant of deferred action also allows the non-citizen to apply for employment authorization pursuant to an existing regulation, 8 CFR § 274a(c)(14).
In our blog, From Madison to Morton: Can Prosecutorial Discretion Trump State Action In USA v. Arizona?, we speculated whether the federal government’s ability to decide not to remove certain non-citizens from the US would be its trump card in Arizona v. USA, 567 U.S ___ (2012). A few days prior to Arizona v. USA, the Obama administration announced deferred action for young persons via a June 15, 2012 memorandum, which will prevent the deportation of over a million people who fell out of status of no fault of their own while Arizona’s SB 1070 aims at driving away these very people through an attrition policy. These young people who will benefit under administrative deferred action would have otherwise been eligible under the DREAM Act, which narrowly failed to pass Congress in December 2010.
We were almost correct. In a 5-3 ruling (with Justice Kagan recusing), the Supreme Court invalidated most of the provisions of SB 1070 on the grounds that they were preempted by federal law such as criminalizing the failure to carry registration documents (section 3), criminalizing an alien’s ability to apply for or perform work (section 5(c)), and authorizing state officers to arrest a person based on probable cause that he or she has committed a removable offense (section 6). On the other hand, the Supreme Court, 8-0, narrowly upheld section 2(B), the “show me your papers” law, which requires state officers to make “a reasonable attempt….to determine the immigration status” of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on some other legitimate basis if “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States.” Section 2(B) further provides that “[a]ny person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released.”