Wednesday, February 18, 2009

E-Verify Dropped from "Stimulus" Bill

Owing to lobbying efforts from an odd coalition of certain business and civil liberties groups, employers who receive federal funds under the so-called $787 billion "stimulus" legislation don't have to check if their workers are here legally:
Senate and House conferees removed a controversial provision from the economic stimulus package that would have required companies to verify the immigration status of their workers. The decision to strip the measure was hailed by pro-business and pro-immigrant groups, but left fuming those who advocate stricter enforcement of immigration laws...Conferees did not retain language in the House-passed version of the stimulus bill that would have required companies to use the so-called E-Verify system, an online tool that employers can use to check Homeland Security and Social Security databases to verify an employee is legally authorized to work in the country. The Senate's version of the stimulus bill did not include such a provision. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led lobbying efforts to kill the provision, and was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
The Heritage Foundation suggests that the bill will provide $104 billion in funding for public works projects, and that "without specific mechanisms to ensure that workers are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants authorized to work, it is likely that 15 percent of these workers, or 300,000, would be illegal immigrants."

Homeland Security Programs Scrutinized

Based on what the New York Times calls her "practical experiences as a border-state governor," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano "is re-evaluating the largest federal program for testing the country’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks, one of several Bush administration initiatives she has ordered to come under review." She has also ordered a review of several other programs, such as "cybersecurity, a strategy for protecting the border with Canada, and the vulnerability of power plants and other critical infrastructure." Previously, President Obama ordered an immediate, 60-day review of the U.S. government's cyber-security plans, programs, and activities.

Update: Here's a different take on Napolitano's practical experience.

The Jury Has Spoken...

but are they talking gibberish? While exonerating a rancher of alleged civil rights violations, an Arizona federal jury awarded money damages on other counts to six illegal aliens trespassing on the defendant's land:
A federal jury found Tuesday that a southern Arizona rancher didn't violate the civil rights of a group of illegal immigrants who said he detained them at gunpoint in 2004. The eight-member civil jury also found Roger Barnett wasn't liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment.
But the jury did find him liable on four claims of assault and four claims of infliction of emotional distress and ordered Barnett to pay $77,804 in damages — $60,000 of which were punitive. Barnett declined to comment afterward, but one of his attorneys, David Hardy, said the plaintiffs lost on the bulk of their claims and that Barnett has a good basis for appeal on the two counts on which he lost.
Appeals courts often reduce excessive damage awards, but the defendant will have to run up more legal fees to get there.

In a somewhat related development in connection with border security, the Washington Times reports the following:
Heavily armed outlaws are threatening national parks and other public lands along the Mexican border, where terrain and environmental concerns limit the range of U.S. Border Patrol agents and are complicating efforts to build a barrier ordered by Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security has allocated about $50 million to counter the ecological impact on land managed by the Interior Department and other government agencies...
Numerous Border Patrol agents interviewed by The Washington Times said drug smugglers and human traffickers are using ecologically diverse sanctuaries to evade law enforcement officials, whose access is limited in some areas to foot patrols and horseback.