Skip links

California city considers granting illegal immigrants the right to vote

The Santa Ana City Council is once again considering a measure that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. During public comment at Tuesday night’s Santa Ana city council meeting, impassioned remarks took center stage over the proposed idea. Proponents argue that the city’s large noncitizen community, including those who are in the country illegally, should have a say in local affairs since they often pay taxes and contribute to the economy. In a city where nearly one-fourth of its residents are not U.S. citizens but who often work and pay taxes, Councilmember Jonathan Hernandez argues they should. Santa Ana has been a sanctuary city for undocumented residents since 2016. KTLA’s Carlos Saucedo reports on September 19, 2023. Details:


Kansas’ Roger Marshall stokes fake fentanyl fears to attack perfectly legal immigrants | Opinion

Sen. Roger Marshall keeps finding new ways to be anti-immigrant.

The Kansas Republican usually defaults to well-worn “keep them out” rhetoric to demonize migrants. “Securing our southern border should be a top priority,” he wrote in a typical online post in June, “yet the Biden Admin continues to sit back and let thousands of illegal immigrants and fentanyl come through our border EVERY DAY.”

That’s misleading, of course.

Fentanyl is a problem in the United States, but it’s not so much an “illegal immigrant” problem. Ninety percent of illicit fentanyl is seized at official border crossings, and more than half of that is brought into the country by U.S. citizens. Those facts don’t really square with Marshall’s narrative, but he’s sticking with the anti-migrant narrative. No surprise there.

So what’s the new wrinkle? It’s not just that Marshall wants to crack down on migrants who are here illegally — he wants legal migrants to be vulnerable to their employers.

That’s the takeaway from Marshall’s Monday press release, which announced that he had “slammed” the Biden administration for a proposed new Department of Labor rule protecting migrant farm workers — specifically, those who hold H2A visas granted by the federal government.

“At a time when our nation’s agriculture industry faces a severe labor crisis, this proposed rule by the Biden Administration makes it difficult and costly for our Ag businesses to keep and recruit H2A visa holders,” Marshall said in the release. “We need substantial and productive reforms to our nation’s immigration policy, not government regulations that further penalize hard-working farmers and ranchers.”

Sounds bad! But also incredibly vague. Marshall and his media team “slammed” the president without saying what, specifically, was objectionable about the proposed rule. We’re left to guess the actual problem.

So what would the new rule actually do?

Well, it includes some anti-trafficking provisions. And it would require farms that employ the visa holders to provide seat belts on the vans that transport their workers. That makes sense: Transportation deaths are one of the leading causes of farmworker deaths.

That’s probably not the source of Marshall’s objection, though. Who is against seat belts in this day and age? Which leads us to the other thing the proposed new rule does: It makes it easier for those temporary farm workers to unionize.


The rule doesn’t require big farms to unionize, of course. But it does allow workers to meet with labor representatives in employer-provided housing, and protects them from employer retaliation for those meetings. The idea is to give migrant workers — the folks who are most vulnerable to exploitation — the tools to improve their sometimes dangerous places of employment.

“The goal is to have some other eyes on the workplace,” Ruben Garcia, a UNLV law professor, told Bloomberg Law. “In most cases, a labor organization, a union does that monitoring when a government can’t or won’t.”

The odd part of Marshall’s objection is that it’s not at all clear that Kansas farmers — the folks he ostensibly represents in the Senate — would be much affected much by the rule.

It’s true that the number of H2A visa holders has exploded nationally, doubling between 2016 and 2022 to 370,000 workers. But there were just 849 H2A workers in Kansas in 2020. That’s a minuscule percentage of the state’s agricultural labor force. And farmworker unions aren’t all that active in Kansas.

So it’s not clear why Marshall is throwing himself into this fight.

Then again, he rarely resists the opportunity to take a shot at migrant workers — even the ones who help build the Sunflower State’s economy. Recall that late last year, he raised objections to granting permanent residence to immigrants who had ever used food stamp benefits to feed their families — even though large numbers of migrant workers in Southwest Kansas meatpacking plants rely on charitable food pantries to make ends meet.

Put these examples together, and Marshall’s approach would require migrant workers to be self-sufficient — but not too self-sufficient. Which means they can’t win. And you have to wonder if that’s the point.


Florida defends immigration law that targets people who transport undocumented migrants

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Friday urged a federal judge to reject an attempt to block part of a new state law targeting people who transport undocumented immigrants into the state.

Lawyers in Moody’s office argued that U.S. District Judge Roy Altman should deny a request for a preliminary injunction sought by the Farmworker Association of Florida and individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in July.

The case centers on part of a broader immigration law that threatens felony charges for people who transport an immigrant who “entered the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the federal government since his or her unlawful entry.”

In seeking the preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs contend that federal immigration law trumps — or “preempts” — the state measure. Also, they contend that the state law is unconstitutionally vague.

But Moody’s office Friday tried to refute the arguments, in part focusing on the word “inspected” in the law.

“The challenged statute prohibits knowingly transporting individuals across state lines — both aliens and U.S. citizens alike — when the federal government has had no opportunity to inspect them following an illegal border crossing,” the state’s lawyers wrote. “Inspections serve several important purposes, including screening for communicable diseases, searching for contraband such as illicit fentanyl and determining if a person is a threat to national security. A person who has not been inspected should be reported to the federal government, not intentionally moved across the country, and Florida’s law codifying that commonsense proposition is neither preempted nor vague.”

The document also said the plaintiffs’ concerns about the law are “simply misplaced.”

“Visa holders, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) recipients and aliens with pending applications for asylum or removal proceedings have all been ‘inspected’ because they have notified the federal government of their presence, and the federal government can decide whether to take immediate action,” the state’s lawyers wrote.

But in the motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the law “imposes a staggering hardship on plaintiffs, other Floridians and travelers to Florida, who now face criminal penalties for visiting their families, doing their jobs, seeking medical care and engaging in other everyday activities.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued, in part, that the state’s category of “inspected” migrants is not included in a federal law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and that it was “created out of whole cloth.”

“Because the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) does not answer whether a person has been ‘inspected’ ‘since’ entry, Section 10 (the part of the law) puts state and local officials in the untenable position of determining this classification themselves,” the motion said. “To enforce Section 10, Florida police, prosecutors, judges, and juries would have to examine a passenger’s entire immigration history, and then determine whether that history includes ‘inspection’ ‘since’ entry, without any federal definition to consult. There is no federally issued document that confirms whether a person has been ‘inspected’ since entry. There is no federal official to call, because federal officials cannot determine whether a person meets a classification that does not exist in federal law.”

The transportation restriction was included in a immigration bill that spurred heavy debate before it was approved this spring by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law (SB 1718) also includes changes such as requiring businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers.

In arguing for the transportation restrictions, supporters said, in part, that it would help prevent human smuggling. But opponents and the lawsuit have contended that it could prevent friends and family from visiting each other, hamper parents from seeking health care for their children and affect churches that work with migrants.

DeSantis, who is running for president in 2024, and Moody have made immigration policy a high-profile issue in recent years. That includes the state filing lawsuits challenging the Biden administration over its handling of migrants crossing the country’s southern border.

The governor also has drawn national headlines for Florida-sponsored charter flights that brought migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in September 2022 and Sacramento, Calif., in June. Alianza Americas and other plaintiffs filed a potential class-action lawsuit challenging the Massachusetts flights.

Leave a comment