Immigration Digest, Jan. 2-8: The expected, a surprise and tragedy

istockphoto.com image credit Bill Oxford

With the seating of the new Congress came the expected, a surprise and tragedy.

True to his word, Rep. Steve King, R-IA, introduced a bill to limit birthright citizenship on the same day that conservative state lawmakers unveiled model legislation that they said would be pushed in at least 14 states that would denote citizenship of new-born infants in those states.

The next big immigration battle looks to be birthright citizenship, which through the 14th Amendment automatically gives any child born in the United States citizenship, even those born to illegal immigrants.

Along with tough-minded legislation a la King’s, House Republican leadership repeated their call for hearings related to immigration and homeland security. The calls come as the number of U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions of unauthorized border crossers dropped.

In a surprise move, King will not be the chairman of the judiciary committee’s subcommittee on immigration. Instead, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas chose a California Congressman, Elton Gallegly for the spot.

Gallegly comes from a state where the percentage of foreign-born residents is 2.5 times the national average, according to Census Bureau data.

In the final days of his administration, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter approved a plan to allow Colorado jails to cooperate with federal immigration officials by sharing fingerprints to identify illegal immigrants subject to deportation.

The program, dubbed Secure Communities, has accelerated the deportation of illegal immigrants who have serious criminal records in California’s Santa Cruz County. The controversial program is now in approximately two-thirds of all California counties.

The agency that runs Secure Communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, plans to hire a public relations firm to help manage the program.

Mexico could use some PR help of its own when it comes to immigration bureaucracy in that country, as President Felipe Calderon’s administration planned to dismiss several top officials in the country's National Institute for Migration, citing corruption and other oversight problems.

And then, there was the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House Democrat from Arizona and a proponent of immigration reform, in her home district that includes Tucson.

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