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An Orange County Sheriff's deputy keeps watch over a group of immigrant detainees at the Theo Lacy Facility, where the federal government contracts detention space. Immigrant detention is among the issues being weighed by a Senate committee as it debates amendments to an immigration reform bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is still moving toward its much-anticipated showdown over immigrant visas and a path to legal status as it weighs a comprehensive immigration reform bill. But Monday, one highlight of the committee hearing was immigrant detention.
Committee members voted on amendments into the evening. But a handful of those addressed during the session concerned the solitary confinement of detainees, the fate of children of detained parents, and transparency:
- An amendment approved by voice vote from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) would restrict the use of solitary confinement in detention centers, among other guideleines prohibiting its use among minors under 18, and strictly limiting its use when detainees have mental health problems. The New York Times reported recently that as many as 300 detainees are held in solitary confinement around the country on any given day, many well past the 15 days that experts say could lead to psychological harm.
- An amendment approved 18-0 from a bipartisan group led by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) would allow immigrant parents held in detention centers to make necessary phone calls to arrange for their children's care, and to remain informed of what steps agencies take to care for their children if no one else can. It would also require government agencies to be trained to deal with these cases. The idea is to prevent the separations that have taken place in many cases when detained children enter the foster care system; an investigation in 2011 found that more than 5,000 detained immigrants' children were in foster care. Some have been adopted, resulting in bitter custody battles.
- An amendment approved by voice vote from Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) would require more transparency and record-keeping in the detention system. Federal agencies responsible for detaining immigrants would have to keep comprehensive records and produce periodic reports on detainees, including how long people are held. These reports would be available to the public without the need to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
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An amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill approved Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee would require fingerprinting systems at the nation's busiest airports to track foreigners leaving the country.
Senators working on immigration bill would require fingerprinting at 30 busiest airports - Washington Post As it weighs amendments to a comprehensive immigration bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved an amendment from Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah that would require foreigners leaving the country to be fingerprinted. There would be a fingerprinting system in the nation's 10 busiest airports within two years, and in the 30 busiest within six years.
National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council fights Senate bill - Politico The union representing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to come out in opposition to the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, saying the agency has turned into an "approval machine." The union, which represents about 12,000 employees, is the second union representing a Homeland Security agency to come out against the proposal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been debating amendments to a massive immigration reform bill since May 9, so far focusing on border security and non-immigrant visas. A debate over immigrant visas and other provisions affecting families is yet to come.
It's been more than a week since the Senate Judiciary Committee began digging into the 844-page immigration reform bill, and the end isn't in sight yet.
Since Thursday of last week, Senate committee members have been voting on amendments, starting with border security. This week they addressed non-immigrant visas, most visibly those for high-skilled foreign workers, but also for investors, lower-skilled workers and students.
The spotlight on the workplace also included E-Verify, an online database used by employers to confirm work authorization, which the Senate bill seeks to make mandatory. The committee's work is expected to continue next week when it takes up agricultural guest workers.
As for some of the bill's more emotional components — immigrant visas for family members (including for same-sex couples), detention, and the logistics of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants — debate on those is to come.
A banner calling for immigration reform at this year's May Day rally in Los Angeles. A group of House lawmakers announced a tentative deal on an immigration reform package late Thursday, with a bill anticipated next month. Meanwhile, A Senate committee continues debating amendments to a comprehensive reform bill introduced in April.
Bipartisan House group reaches preliminary immigration deal - New York Times After much stalling, a bipartisan group in the House has announced it's reached a deal "in principle" on immigration reform. A bill is expected in June. Like the bill now being debated in the Senate, it's anticipated to include a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants and plans for more border security. But it will likely be more conservative than the Senate measure.
How geography of U.S. immigration has changed over time - Washington Post A new Pew report finds that compared with two decades ago, immigrants arriving in the U.S. legally are more likely to come from Asia and Africa. In 1992, most were coming from Latin America and Europe.
Revived 'Trust Act' clears California Assembly, again - Southern California Public Radio A new version of a California bill that would limit the deportation of immigrants held by police has cleared its third Assembly vote in three years. It's on its way to the Senate again, but after a previous version was vetoed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown, there's no telling how far it will go.
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A shrine to Archbishop Oscar Romero at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where local Salvadoran-Americans gathered Thursday to talk about their hopes that he'll become a saint. Romero was assassinated in 1980 in El Salvador.
Pope Francis recently cleared the way for El Salvador's slain Archbishop Oscar Romero to be considered for sainthood. Thursday morning, Salvadoran Americans joined with clergy in Los Angeles' Pico-Union district to talk about their hopes that Romero will finally be canonized.
Pope Francis' "unblocking" of the canonization effort is a milestone in a years-long campaign by supporters of sainthood for Romero, a champion of the poor and critic of government violence who was assassinated in 1980. His death, gunned down as he celebrated mass, is regarded as a pivotal event in El Salvador’s bloody civil war, which lasted until 1992.
Among those voicing hope that Romero will be recognized as a saint was Oscar Dominguez, president of the El Salvador Community Corridor, an economic development project along Vermont Avenue between 11th Street and Adams Boulevard.