Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 20, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Deferred Action Status

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  • The U.S. government is now accepting applications for Deferred Action status from certain young illegal immigrants who were brought to America as children. Individuals who are granted Deferred Action status are protected from deportation for two years, and are eligible for employment authorization. Immigration attorney Regina Jefferies talks about the program and an executive order by Governor Jan Brewer denying driver licenses and other public benefits to Deferred Action grantees.
Guests:
  • Regina Jefferies - Immigration Attorney
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: deferred, action, government, immigration, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Last week the federal government began accepting applications for a program that temporarily protects certain childhood immigrants from deportation. The deferred action program also gives these immigrants an opportunity to seek employment authorization. Soon after the program was announced Governor Brewer issued an executive order stating that deferred action status does not qualify individuals for a drivers license and other state services. Here to share her views on all this is immigration attorney Regina Jeffries, who chairs the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Regina Jefferies: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Let’s define terms. Deferred action status. Who can apply?

Regina Jefferies: Under the president's new program the individuals that can apply are individuals that might otherwise be known as dreamers so they were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, they have been present in the U.S. at least the last five years, they haven't been convicted of a felony or other significant crime and they have graduated from school. They have graduated from high school or are currently enrolled in school.

Ted Simons: How do they get the applications? Correct me if I'm wrong, they get one shot at this and one shot only, correct?

Regina Jefferies: That’s right. That is a great point. This is a one-shot deal. You don't get an appeal. You have to make sure the application is correct when you send it in and that you have sufficient supporting evidence. It's absolutely critical that it be done right the first time. The forms are actually available online at the Immigration Services website and that’s www.USCIS.gov. You shouldn't be paying for forms. Forms are free. They can be gotten on that website. Individuals can fill them out from there.

Ted Simons: What if someone fails? Is that immediate deportation? What happens here?

Regina Jefferies: Not necessarily. If you have someone that may have a criminal issue or another red flag, the best advice that I can give those individuals is to absolutely speak to a reputable licensed attorney prior to applying or a BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals Accredited Representative. They need to be seeking legal advice before filing anything. Someone that falls within the enforcement priorities of the immigration service, like someone with a serious criminal history, that could ultimately end them up in a deportation proceeding. However, for the vast majority of individuals who will be applying for this program, they will not be placed in a deportation proceeding if their application is denied.

Ted Simons: How about a time frame here? How long before deferment is granted and who decides whether or not that deferment is granted?

Regina Jefferies: That's the million dollar question. The Immigration Services are saying they will attempt to have these application adjudicated within about four months. Typically it takes three months to adjudicate the work permit application as well. The total we’re hoping will be around four months. The individuals that will be adjudicating the vast majority of the cases are immigration service officials.

Ted Simons: Okay. Eligible for employment authorization? Is that just a long way of saying work permits?

Regina Jefferies: That is, yes, you could say it as work permitted. It is absolutely a work permit. It place as person in an authorized period of stay, so they are allowed to be in the United States to work and with that work permit which is a valid form of federal photo identification are allowed to get a Social Security card as well.

Ted Simons: I want to talk about the Governor's executive order. Because it seems to me if you have a work permit in Arizona you can apply for and receive a driver’s license. Her executive order says no drivers license to these folks. What's going on here?

Regina Jefferies: Well, unfortunately the governor, maybe unfortunately for her, the Governor's order conflicts with state law. Arizona state law is really clear on this point that if someone can provide an Employment Authorization document and Social Security card they are eligible to receive an Arizona state driver’s license. The language of the statute is very clear saying someone who is lawfully present or within an authorized period of stay can receive a driver's license and that's what these individuals have, an authorized period of stay. They don't have legal status, but they are in an authorized period of stay.

Ted Simons: What is Motor Vehicles Division going to do about this? Do we know?

Regina Jefferies: To be honest I'm not sure. I think there's a lot of confusion out there and I think this is one of the main things. It's going to be very difficult for them to do what they need to do because on the one hand they are required to follow Arizona state law and the Governor's order does not comport with Arizona state law or regulations. I think it's going to have to be something that will have to be resolved in the courts.

Ted Simons: There are other public benefits involving this executive order. What does that involve?

Regina Jefferies: Things like in-state tuition. I believe the governor's order makes reference to things like snap or food stamp benefits, but to be honest none of these individuals would have otherwise qualified for those benefits under either federal or state law.

Ted Simons: Obviously busy time for you. A lot of folks have a lot of questions and concerns. What are you hearing the most from people that you're in contact with, the dreamers, if you will? What are their biggest concerns?

Regina Jefferies: One of the main questions is, is it still worth it to go forward and do my Employment Authorization application and my Deferred Action application even though I can't get a driver's license? And I think for the vast majority the answer is yes. The state doesn't have any control over whether the federal government is going to issue employment authorization or whether the federal government issues a Social Security card. Those two things are really critical for these individuals who really want to continue to be productive citizens and to continue to expand their own horizons and do the things they couldn't otherwise do.

Ted Simons: Are you hearing a bit of fear regarding the fact that folks that may have been bouncing around in the shadows, moving from one shadow to another, are being asked and perhaps considering coming out from those shadows for a two-year trial period, are you hearing some concern about that? That would change an awful lot of folks in a lot of ways.

Regina Jefferies: Honestly, no. The vast majority of individuals that I speak with are ready to come forward and to take the step. They recognize that even though this isn't a permanent solution or anything, they do recognize that it's a benefit that they wouldn't otherwise be able to get. They are ready to step forward because honestly, they could be picked up at any time otherwise. So it's a risk one way or the other.

Ted Simons: You gave a website to address earlier in the program. Give that address again and talk to us about the fact that you can go here for information. You don't have to go to folks who want money for information.

Regina Jefferies: Right. Well, the immigration service is WWW.USCIS.gov. That's the official source of information for this program. It's a great source of information. There are also reputable immigration attorneys and other individuals that are out there that are providing the service to people. So especially for someone with a problem area potentially or someone that's not really sure if they meet the requirements it's a good idea to speak to an attorney. Attorneys typically charge. The better option is to go and speak to someone to make sure of your qualifications rather than to take the chance and maybe get denied.

Ted Simons: But watch out for scams out there.

Regina Jefferies: Watch out for scams. Definitely.
Ted Simons: All right, well it is good to have you here. Good information. We are going to run a little piece with more information on who actually is eligible for this particular program. Thanks for joining us on "Arizona Horizon."

Regina Jefferies: Thank you for having me.

(Deferred Action Video)

Megapolitan Impacts on Climate

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  • Arizona State University, along with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have conducted a first-of-its-kind study on the impacts of megapolitan areas on regional climate. The study found that the Sun Corridor, a megapolitan area running from Prescott to Nogales and expected to be home to nine million people by 2040, could raise temperatures by four degrees Celsius. Matei Georgescu, lead author and assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will talk about the study.
Guests:
  • Matei Georgescu - Lead Author, Assistant Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: megapolitan, impact, climate, science, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Temperatures in Arizona are expected to increase as the state's urban population grows and more of the desert is covered with concrete. Scientists at ASU and the National Center for Atmospheric Research recently completed a study on rapid urban growth and its impact on climate change. Their study focused on the sun corridor, Arizona’s fast growing megapolitan area that includes Nogales, Tucson, Phoenix and Prescott. Here to talk about the study is lead author Dr. Matei Georgescu. He's an assistant professor for ASU’s school of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Good to have you here.

Matei Georgescu: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What did you look at with this research and why?

Matei Georgescu: Well, our principal question was to try to answer the following research question. It's a very rapidly growing megapolitan area, the fastest growing megapolitan area in the United States. We wanted to know if warming impacts owing to this rapid urban expansion are as important as global climate change impacts. Because much of the policy governing global warming is really focusing on carbon emissions, not so much focusing on urbanization induced warming. If we can say urban induced warming is of the same order of magnitude, maybe we need to refocus the question and look at possible adaptation strategies where people live in urban locales.

Ted Simons: You found it was not only at the same magnitude, it was more so, correct?

Matei Georgescu: Correct. Depending on the exact path or trajectory of urban expansion, relative to climate change, differing scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions, the impact can be as large, or even larger than greenhouse gas and disclimate change.

Ted Simons: We're talking two to seven degrees warmer in the coming years, decades? How long?

Matei Georgescu: Our focus was up to about mid century. We used different scenarios of sun corridor expansion out to mid century. So 2050 we're talking about. We used this data courtesy of the Maricopa Association of Governments. We didn't develop that data ourselves. We input that data into our climate model and we diagnosed these warming impacts. I should say the warming impacts are during the summertime only. During that time of the year where humans are most stressed.

Ted Simons: As far as the study and what you input, what metrics were involved? How do you get A plus B equals C.

Matei Georgescu: Relative to what, seven degrees warmer relative to what. So a first step is as you said, to develop a baseline scenario. What we did was we conducted simulations, experiments with a numerical model using central Arizona urbanization from 2006. Then we repeated that simulation but we modified the sun corridor urban land use representation and we used this input data from Maricopa Association of Governments. These different scenarios of urban expansion.

Ted Simons: The two to seven degree increase possible here by mid century, the same for Prescott as it is for Nogales as it is for Phoenix as it is for Tucson?

Matei Georgescu: No, there are differing regional impacts of course. It's difficult to say exactly who is going to feel what sort of warmth. We haven't looked at it in that excruciating detail that is obviously a next step. What our work tries to address is what we need to look at urban heat island more deeply rather than just focus our policies on climate change.

Ted Simons: When we look at it more deeply, what should we be looking at?

Matei Georgescu: Basically the idea behind the whole urban heat island impact is the following: A lot of the incoming radiation during the daytime comes and is absorbed within the built environment. The built environment has a very high heat capacity. That means that that absorption of radiation doesn't necessarily translate into additional heating during the day, but that energy, that excess stored energy is then released during the nighttime, which means the following. At night there's not as much cooling as there would be normally.

Ted Simons: Basically if you're talking -- you mentioned something along the lines of painting rooftops white and these sorts of things. If everyone had a white rooftop and pavement were lighter at least, the stuff bounces off during the day, doesn't sit there waiting to make nighttimes warmer.

Matei Georgescu: Exactly. There's even less absorption during the daytime so you're cooler and are cooler during the nighttime.

Ted Simons: What about trees, grass, those sorts of things?

Matei Georgescu: That's also very important. We haven't looked at that directly. Of course in the Arizona, our geography doesn't lend itself so much because of irrigation, there's tradeoffs you have to associate here. You can plant more trees and more grass but what are the tradeoffs associated with that? How much water do you need? How much is it going to cost to use this water? What sort of scales do you need to water to plant trees to offset some of this warming?

Ted Simons: Are you getting some municipal urban planners and the light taking a look at this?

Matei Georgescu: We have had the media taking a look at this, but we have not yet been contacted by any municipal planners. We hope that's the next step and that we can work in concert with them to answer some of these issues.

Ted Simons: What do we take in general from this report? What is the bottom line, if you will?

Matei Georgescu: The bottom line, I'll segue a little bit. I had an interesting conversation with a buddy of mine in New Jersey who I correspond with frequently. New Jersey because I came here from New Jersey. I mentioned this study to him. He said that's interesting about the white roofs. What if you colored during the winter your roofs black and I said, why black? Because during the winter you have to go to warming. That's the sort of the community-level thinking we need to approach, all the way from the bottom from the local community all the way to regional agencies and on the way up. I'm trying to say we need to work together to address some of these issues.

Ted Simons: Are you feeling as though folks are not working together as much as they should?

Matei Georgescu: I'm definitely feeling, that yes. With the sort of anticipated growth in the sun corridor this is a great opportunity for us as residents of the fastest growing megapolitan area to work in concert to try to address some of these issues.

Ted Simons: Well it’s an interesting study. Thank you for joining us.

Matei Georgescu: Thank you for having me.

VOTE 2012: News21 Voting Rights Investigation

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  • Student journalists from ASU andten other universities across the county spent months investigating voting rights as part ofthe national Carnegie-Knight News21 program. Their work included an exhaustive investigation into voter fraud, which has gained a great deal of national attention. Learn more about the News21 program, and its voting rights investigation, from Kristin Gilger, Associate Dean of ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Guests:
  • Kristin Gilger - Associate Dean, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: ASU, Dean, Gilger, Cronkite, voting, vote, 2012, vote 2012, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In the last decade Arizona and many other states have adopted voter I.D. laws to fight election fraud but those laws may be solutions in search of a problem according to a nationwide analysis conducted by News21, an investigative journalism program for student reporters based at ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism. Here to talk about News21 look at voting rights is the Cronkite School’s Associate Dean, Kristin Gilger. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Kristin Gilger: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What is the Carnegie Knight News21 program? What are we talking about here?

Kristin Gilger: This is a program that was started six years ago and moved to the Cronkite School three years ago and basically brings together top journalism students from around the country to do in depth, innovative multi-media journalism. It's been at the school for three years and we did voting rights this year.

Ted Simons: And how come you did voting rights this year? What were you looking at, what were you looking to find, and let's talk about what you found?

Kristin Gilger: The topic was very pertinent to what's going on now coming into an election season, so we thought that was sort of a natural. So the students did like 20 different stories, but one of the big efforts was to compile the most comprehensive database ever created on voter fraud. So they went back to 2000. They looked through 2,000 records, did hundreds of public information requests from throughout the states, and they found 10 cases of in-person impersonation voter fraud.

Ted Simons: And we should say there were other cases. We should define voter fraud and election fraud. It’s a big umbrella. One thing you focused on was voter impersonation, correct?

Kristin Gilger: Voter impersonation because that is what has driven many states, 37 states I think at this point, to actually pass voter photo I.D. laws. So that you're prevented from pretending you're somebody else and going to the polls to vote. That seems to be the issue that is most at the top of mind. But actually, they found more cases of voter fraud in mail balloting, for example, than in in-person.

Ted Simons: Looked like, what, 400 some odd alleged absentee ballot and registration fraud?

Kristin Gilger: Yes.

Ted Simons: Those are through the mail kind of problems. Nothing to do with voter impersonation.

Kristin Gilger: There's nothing that a voter I.D. is going to do to prevent that kind of fraud.

Ted Simons: Looking through the report, it looked like simple mistakes were behind a lot of the allegations of fraud.

Kristin Gilger: Yes. Voters make mistakes. They go to the wrong poll. They do something else wrong. Election workers make mistakes. Sometimes inadvertently giving somebody a ballot when they have already had a ballot or sending them to the wrong place. Those sorts of things happen. Over all they found the students found a pretty infinitesimal amount of voter fraud over all.

Ted Simons: In the report I saw something along the lines actually in stories on the report Republican National Lawyers Association has a list of 375 some odd cases of election fraud. That’s more than 10. What's going on there?

Kristin Gilger: It's how you define it and how you can document it. When the students looked at it they started with that database. But much of it is things that are repeated or newspaper articles or other kinds of articles that just say this happened. So what the students did was they went to state and county election officers and they asked for the data. When you get the actual documents, this is what you get.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, how was the investigation conducted? This would be a great learning experience on getting public records searching through public records and how difficult and long a process that can be.

Kristin Gilger: Exactly. It's a perfect educational opportunity. I think every journalism student should go through it. It can be very difficult and frustrating.

Ted Simons: They basically went to a variety of places, sat down, and went through them.

Kristin Gilger: Sometimes it was doing a public records request. Often it was talking to people over the phone, going through multiple, multiple documents. The students also traveled to something like 22 different states. They came from all over the country, so some of this they did prior to coming here in the summer. In some cases they were able to do this in person.

Ted Simons: So 10 cases out of 2,000 alleged cases regarding voter impersonation, what kind of response are you getting from this, not only response from the news media, but just response overall?

Kristin Gilger: From people. Right. A lot of response. This project is on our website, which is votingrights.news21.com. A big part of this whole initiative was the Carnegie night News21 is to share this material and get it out as widely as possible. So "The Washington Post" has run some of the stories and did an editorial on this. The Philadelphia Enquirer, NBC.com, and the Huffington post, min post, and The Arizona Republic on the front page today. All of that is sort of hard to get a handle on how many comments we're getting, but I can tell you that NBC.com got 10,000 comments on the main voter fraud story. There's a lot, a lot of interest in it. A lot of people who still have serious concerns about voter fraud and legitimately serious concerns about voter fraud, and one of the things we hear is, but you haven't proven what they didn't catch. Well, we can't prove a negative. We can't say here are some people who did commit voter fraud but they weren't caught. We can only go with those who are actually prosecuted in some way.

Ted Simons: I have seen some of the criticisms, why not? Regardless of the numbers, why not just have to show I.D. at the polls?

Kristin Gilger: Well, that's a great question. There are two sides to it. Some people say most everybody has some kind of identification, how hard could this be? But the students did specific stories on some groups that are adversely and disproportionately impacted. That includes minorities, it includes elderly, it includes disabled, it includes college students who seem to be disproportionately affected by these sorts of photo I.D. laws.

Ted Simons: Last question on this. The idea of doing a news story, obviously great work, and a great teaching experience here for the students. It also opens up the idea of raising an issue to the public consciousness. Again I'm hearing critics of the report saying just talking about voter suppression; just even hinting that it exists or could exist could suppress the vote. Does that make sense?

Kristin Gilger: Yes, I think it does. The more that we have the facts on the table and the more we have a discussion about this, the better off we're going to be as we move forward with how in this country are we going to both encourage people to vote, we want people to vote but make sure it's legitimate voting.

Ted Simons: Great work. Congratulations on the success of that investigation. We'll look forward to more stories from the Carnegie Knight News21 program.

Kristin Gilger: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

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