Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

Recently in immigration Category

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

The United States spends more to enforce immigration laws than it does on running the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, the ATF and the U.S. Secret Service -- combined.

In fact, according to a new report on immigration enforcement released today, the U.S. spends $18 billion on immigration enforcement, $4 billion more -- or 24 percent -- than the $14.4 billion spent on the other agencies.

The report from the Migration Policy Institute came out with 52 findings -- and at the top of its list was the dollars spent on enforcement: "The U.S. government spends more on its immigration agencies than on all of its principal federal law enforcement agencies combined."

The report was released amid discussions of an overhaul to immigration laws in Washington D.C. On Monday, immigration reform leader U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was in Chicago with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Gutierrez repeatedly cited that the United States has spent $18 billion on enforcement. Both Gutierrez and Ryan argued that it makes economic sense to revise its rules on enforcement.

Read the full report below.

While in Chicago today, onetime Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) declared that fixing a broken immigration system was key to safeguarding the country's economy and security.

Ryan and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) paired up to promote Congress' next big battle, with Ryan predicting it would take the bulk of the summer to hammer out an agreement suitable to both sides of the aisle.

When asked about the Boston Marathon bombings, Ryan again pointed to a need for reforming the system, saying it is a national security matter.

Ryan's argument: new legislation he and Gutierrez back would keep track of immigrant Visas and when they expire.

Ryan and Gutierrez appeared together at two events on Monday; the Erie Neighborhood House, followed by a talk at the City Club of Chicago.

This morning, a Mariachi band guided the two -- an unlikely political pair -- into the Erie Neighborhood House, where immigration rights groups, clergy, and others convened to rally behind substantial changes in the law that would give more immigrants a path to citizenship.

Gutierrez, a known national leader on immigration rights, said he and Ryan struck up a connection over their shared Catholic faith.

"Right now, we all must acknowledge that we have an immigration system that's broken," Ryan said. "It is not serving our interests as a nation. Our broken immigration system does not serve our national security interests. Our broken immigration system does not serve our economic security interests. Our broken immigration system does not serve our family interests ..."We need to fix it."

Gutierrez said though he campaigned hard against the Ryan/Romney ticket, Ryan held no hard feelings when last year's presidential election. When the two saw one another again afterward: "The first words out of his mouth were: 'It's good to see you again, Luis," according to Gutierrez.

When Ryan's remarks came to a close, the crowd began chanting "Si, se puede!" as the Mariachi band played "Cielito Lindo." One person waved a banner that read "Gracias Ryan," with Paul Ryan's photo in the middle.

Today, President Obama is in Las Vegas, Nevada where he will deliver remarks regarding his new pitch for new immigration reform. Just yesterday a bipartisan group of senators announced they had reached an agreement on a new proposal for immigration reform. Follow along above with Obama's speech and below with updates from Sun-Times D.C. correspondent Lynn Sweet.

Illinois Legislature.jpg
Illinois Rep. Edward J. Acevedo, D-Chicago, argues legislation while on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol during a session on Nov. 9, 2011 in Springfield. | Seth Perlman~AP

SPRINGFIELD-A bill granting undocumented immigrants temporary state driver's licenses cleared its first Illinois House hurdle Monday despite homeland security questions.

The House Transportation Vehicles & Safety Committee voted 6-3 to position the legislation favored by immigrant rights organizations for a full House vote later today, though its lead legislative advocate wouldn't commit to a roll call this afternoon.

The legislation "seeks to improve safety of our roads and make sure our motorists are trained, tested and insured," said Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago), the bill's chief House sponsor who estimates that 250,000 undocumented immigrants now drive on Illinois roads.

"Our entire state would benefit from Senate Bill 957. If only half the 250,000 get [temporary licenses] and get insured, Illinois insurance policy holders would save $46 million per year," Acevedo said. "Police officers would be able to know who they're stopping."

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has spearheaded passage of the new licensing system for immigrants.

Under the plan, which has already passed the Senate, undocumented immigrants who have lived in Illinois for one year would be eligible to receive a temporary visitors drivers license that would last for three years.

In exchange, those motorists would have to undergo rules-of-the-road training, take a vision test and show proof of auto insurance. The licenses couldn't be used to purchase firearms, to board aircraft or register to vote nor could applicants be licensed to drive semi-trailer trucks or school buses.

But in committee Monday, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police protested the legislation, saying it lacked the proper homeland security safeguards of requiring applicants to undergo fingerprinting and provide federal tax identification numbers.