West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Questions (From Page 1)
Arizona Democrats praised the move as “long overdue” and a step in the right direction. But critics quickly jumped on the plan, which they said was little more than a “backdoor amnesty plan” and a politically motivated, pre-emptive strike in advance of an expected Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law. “It doesn’t take a cynic to recognize this action for what it is: blatant political pandering by a president desperate to shore up his political base,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement Friday.
Napolitano said the policy takes effect immediately and applies to individuals currently in deportation proceedings as well as any future cases. She said the policy was sensible and allowed the department to put its resources where they are more urgently needed. The policy applies to those who are less than 30 years old who can prove that they arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday and have been living here continuously for at least the last five years. They must be in high school, or have graduated, or have an honorable discharge from the military. They cannot have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, or pose any threat to public safety. Immigrants who meet the criteria can apply for a two-year deferment of their deportation, which Homeland Security will consider approving on a case-by-case basis. If they are given a deferral, they can also apply for a two-year work visa, with no guarantees.
has failed repeatedly in Congress. The DREAM — Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors —
The language mirrors that of the DREAM Act, which
The Department of Homeland Security said it will consider deferring the deportation of low-risk, undocumented aliens who meet these criteria:
• Came to the United States younger than age 16. • Have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years before June 15, 2012, and are currently in this country. • Are currently either in school, have
graduated from high school or obtained a development certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces. • Have not been convicted of a felony
offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses; do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. • Are not above the age of 30.
Act targeted the same group of young immigrants, those brought here by their parents. But it would have given those immigrants a route to citizenship, something the new Homeland Security policy does not. Obama invoked the DREAM Act Friday, but said partisan squabbling has blocked the bill. “The need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to
do,” he said of the act. “The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics.” But Republicans said it was Obama playing politics now.
“I find it interesting that after promising to enact comprehensive reform in the first year of his presidency, the president chose to make this announcement in the middle of his heated re-election campaign,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a prepared statement.
He said the president should “reach out to Congress and propose legislation on this important issue” instead of unilaterally deciding the issue. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Scottsdale, called the policy a “backdoor amnesty plan” that would increase the competition faced by unemployed Arizonans who are trying to find work. The state’s unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent in May, with more than 247,000 people out of a job, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, praised the policy,
even though he said it is not a permanent solution to the immigration problem. “It’s a major step in the right direction,” said Grijalva, who called it a wonderful day for “millions who believe in fairness.”
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, challenged the suggestion that the policy would harm unemployed citizens by giving work visas to undocumented immigrants. It could do the reverse, he said, by forcing “unscrupulous employers” who would otherwise exploit young, undocumented workers to hire legal workers instead.
“So this may very well be one of the better things that this administration can do for the economy in terms of just … leveling the playing field within the job market,” Noorani said.
He said the promise of a deferment alone is worthwhile for those young immigrants who live in fear of deportation, even if a work visa isn’t granted.
“There is a peace that comes with knowing that you cannot be deported,” Noorani said.
Ariz. high school grad rate improvement among best in nation
by Ryan Clark Cronkite News
Arizona high schools have increased their graduation rate by 24 percentage points in the last decade, the biggest increase in the country, according to a national report released June 8. While the state has improved, it still ranks only in the middle of the pack nationally, according to the report from Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. It said Arizona graduated 72 percent of its high school students in 2009, putting the state “a hair below” the national average for the year.
The most striking fact about Arizona’s “whopping improvement” is that graduation rates have improved more than three times faster than the national average of 7.3 percentage points, said Sterling Lloyd, a senior research associate for the center. State officials said one of the chief reasons for Arizona’s increase has been the rise in the number of Latino students graduating from high school. Arizona
Department of Education spokesman Ryan Ducharme said the state has one of the largest concentrations of Latino students in the nation, at nearly 45 percent, and has seen their graduation rate increase from 60 percent in 2005 to nearly 70 percent in 2011. “That’s our fastest growing population of students in Arizona and we made a concerted effort to create programs and help schools improve those graduation rates,” Ducharme said. “We attribute a lot of success to those schools who serve those populations, they do a lot of great work.”
Because of Arizona’s sizable Latino population, any improvements in that group considerably affect the overall graduation numbers for the entire state, Lloyd said.
Arizona continues to struggle with students dropping out of school. An average of 119 students are lost each school day in Arizona, the 14th-highest total in the country. Lloyd said there has been greater
have better data to track true graduation rates now.” Even though Arizona made the most
awareness about the dropout crises over the past decade and a number of community leaders, educators and policy makers are starting to take this issue more seriously.
“There has been a great focus on the achievement gap over the last decade with efforts to improve, not just graduation rates, but overall academic results for students of color,” said Lloyd, a co-author of the report. Despite steady graduation gains,
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significant strides in improving its graduation rate, the state still ranks 29th nationally. But the overall rankings depend not only on how Arizona is doing, but how all other states are doing. Sizable increases or decreases from another state could potentially have huge impacts on Arizona’s rankings, said Amy Hightower, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. “Arizona’s average is just a hair below the national average [of 73.4 percent] at 72.3 percentage points,” she said. “That’s just how the dice rolled for Arizona in terms of the rankings this year.” Ducharme said he absolutely expects the improvement to continue as Arizona continues to focus on keeping kids in school. “The ultimate goal at the department is to better prepare students for college and career success,” he said. “If you’re not graduating from high school, then you are limiting your opportunities for later in life.”
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