Bipartisan group of 8 senators reach deal on immigration changes
A bipartisan group of eight senators plans to announce they have agreed on a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform.
The deal, which will be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles are Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
According to documents released early Monday, the senators will call for accomplishing four main goals:
-- Creating a path to citizenship for the estimated illegal immigrants already in the U.S., contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people here on visas.
-- Reforming the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, math, technology or engineering from an American university.
-- Creating an effective employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants.
-- Allowing more low-skill workers into the country and allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they couldn't recruit a U.S. citizen; and establishing an agricultural worker program.
The principles being released Monday are outlined on just over four pages, leaving plenty of details left to fill in.
A Senate aide tells Fox News the group's principles say important security triggers must be met before a pathway for citizenship is created for illegals. Even then, the principles explicitly state that illegals must go to the back of the line behind would-be legal immigrants, and they will not eligible for federal benefits while in the temporary legal status.
The aide tells Fox News that although many of the details of the bill still need to be worked out, those involved are encouraged by their progress and the support of senior senators. Members of the group on Sunday they are seeking to craft a one-step, all-encompassing bill based on the shared principles.
“We are committed to a comprehensive approach to immigration that we can live with,” Durbin told “Fox News Sunday.”
Citizenship has been a sticking point in previous efforts, particularly among Capitol Hill Republicans. However, they appear willing to accept the path to citizenship, in part, so long as the legislation also includes tighter border security.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker told Fox he is optimistic but “details matter.”
“We're at the talking points stage,” he said. “We need to get to the legislation.”
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, also part of the group, said more work is need on the legislation.
“I'm quietly optimistic we can get it done,” he told ABC's “This Week.”
McCain, a key player in the 2007 effort on immigration reform, also acknowledged that President Obama's overwhelming support among Hispanics in the November elections was a wakeup call to Republicans that they need to do more to reach out to that growing part of the population.
The group has been working since the November elections on the legislation and is expected to have a complete bill by March or April.
Several of these lawmakers have worked for years on the issue. McCain collaborated with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on comprehensive immigration legislation pushed by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, only to see it collapse in the Senate when it couldn't get enough GOP support.
Meanwhile, the president is scheduled to go to Las Vegas on Tuesday to talk about fixing “the broken immigration system this year,” according to the administration.
Wis. sheriff urges residents to get gun training
A sheriff who released a radio ad urging Milwaukee-area residents to learn to handle firearms so they can defend themselves while waiting for police said Friday that law enforcement cutbacks have changed the way police can respond to crime.
In the 30-second commercial, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. says personal safety is no longer a spectator sport.
"I need you in the game," he says.
"With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option," he adds. "You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. ... Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there."
The ad has generated sharp criticism from other area officials and anti-violence advocates. The president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association, Roy Felber, said it sounds like a call to vigilantism.
"That doesn't sound too smart," Felber said. "People have the right to defend themselves, but they don't have the right to take the law into their own hands."
Under Wisconsin's "castle doctrine," someone who uses deadly force against an unlawful intruder to their home, business or vehicle is presumed to have acted reasonably. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said that as of this week, there are about 155,000 concealed carry permits in Wisconsin.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Clarke said he just wants people to know what their options are. While self-defense isn't for everyone, some people see personal safety as their own responsibility, he said, and they should be trained properly.
"I'm not telling you to `Hey, pick up a gun and blast away.' ... People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves," he said.
But he also said he wanted to call on residents to be law enforcement "partners." He said he could either whine about budget cuts that forced him to lay off 48 deputies last year or he could get creative.
"People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement," Clarke said. "I'm here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We're not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression."
"After sitting down and thinking about this, I'm thinking `Hey, I've got an untapped reserve over here, and it's the public,"' Clarke said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's office released a statement criticizing the ad: "Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie."
Barrett was beaten up several years ago by someone with a tire iron, and Clarke said he thought that would make the mayor "a lot more sensitive to people being able to defend themselves in such instances. A firearm and a plan of defense would have come in handy for him that day."
Jeri Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, said Clarke took a dangerous position with his ad. She pointed to the case of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old following an altercation. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
"I feel like this is such an irresponsible thing for our chief public safety officer of a county to do," Bonavia said. "I think he owes this community an apology. And if he really believes that he's not capable of providing for our public safety he should get a different job."
Safety program gives away alarms to Ohio State students
by Brent Hankins
Danielle Zuercher doesn't always feel safe off campus.
“I haven't heard of anything happening on my street, but a few streets away, I've heard of break-ins, so it would be nice for that to never happen to me,” said the third-year in industrial and systems engineering.Crime reports in the off-campus area often leave students like Zuercher feeling uneasy about their safety.
One program operated by Neighborhood Services and Collaboration, a branch of the Office of Student Life, aims to give off-campus students a tool to guard themselves against crime by providing them with free window and door alarms.
“Students can basically come to our office with their BuckID in Room 3106 of the (Ohio) Union and they can get as many free alarms as they would like,” said Dilnavaz Cama , the department manager of Neighborhood Services and Collaboration.
The two-piece alarms attach to any door or window and go off when the pieces are separated if the door or window is opened. The alarms can be set to make two different alarm sounds or turned off via a small switch on the side.
“It's just a very simple device that you can literally stick on a door or window,” Cama said.
The alarm should alert the inhabitants of a house or apartment to a break-in but will not automatically notify the police, Cama said.
“It's not attached to the police department or an alarm company, but it does provide a really loud noise. If someone were downstairs and it triggered upstairs, they would hear it, or if you were sleeping, it would wake you up,” Cama said
While students can receive these alarms for free, they cost the university about $4 each, Cama said. Funding for the project comes from the Undergraduate Student Government, Neighborhood Services and Collaboration, local area landlords, and central university funding, Cama said. From 2011 to 2012, almost $34,000 was donated for the project, Cama said in an email.
Roughly 7,000 of these alarms were given out last academic year and about 3,300 were given out last semester, Cama said.
The free alarm program began in 2007 and more people are getting alarms every year, Cama said. However, Neighborhood Services and Collaboration has not kept exact records on the number of students receiving these alarms until recently.
While Zuercher said she sometimes feels unsafe off campus, other students said they haven't been overly concerned about their safety.
“It's not really a concern (to me), but I have heard some people have problems with it,” said Chuck Vaughan, a fourth-year in accounting. “I haven't been that worried about security or anything.”
Evan Sieradzki, a third-year in international studies and Russian, said his fraternity house has its own security system, but he said he thinks people without a security system should install the alarms.
“They wouldn't be taking full advantage of all the different opportunities that Ohio State has to make sure students are safe off campus if they don't take advantage of the free window alarms,” Sieradzki said.
While having the alarms installed is certainly a positive step, Cama said, students should not become complacent when it comes to safety.
“I think having a free window and door alarm on every window and door is great, but (students) still need to be smart about their safety,” Cama said.
The office is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Police reach out to community for crime communication
by JESSE MENDOZA -- Valley Morning Star Valley Morning Star
HARLINGEN — Seven recent vehicle burglaries in a west side Harlingen neighborhood have caught the attention of police.
The number may not sound alarming, but for police it marks a trend. That's because a year ago, during the same December to January time frame, the neighborhood had only one vehicle burglary.
“If we don't step in, chances are we are going to get a lot more before the 31st” of January, police Commander Myriam Anderson said.
Police are now using town hall meetings to reach out to communities throughout the city in an effort to stop such trends.
The first of those forums will be held Feb. 1 in that same west side neighborhood, just west of Coakley Middle School. The so-designated “District 65” is located just north of San Benito, west of Commerce Street and south of Rangerville Road.
Officers in the Community Policing unit will be listening to concerns the residents of District 65 have, and dole out information to help address the burglaries.
The location and time was not available as of Friday morning.
In an effort to address crime trends and issues in each police district, the department plans to hold similar meetings throughout the city regularly.
“We certainly recognize that a thousand pairs of eyes are better than a hundred pairs of eyes,” Police Chief Tom Whitten said. “If the public is confident in us and are trusting of us, they will bring more issues, hopefully, to our attention. And they will know that we in fact are going to address their issue and that we view them as partners.”
Police said they use their crime statistics, and other information gathered by officers, to identify trends and issues affecting residents. They then reach out to the community to give tips, listen to concerns, and address the underlying causes of crime.
Each forum will be led by community resource officers at locations and times announced to residents in various forms. Police said they will hand out flyers, talk to community leaders and more to let residents know of the meetings.
Previously, the department had four community resource officers, each responsible for two of eight police-drawn districts in the city.
The department is now in the process of adding two more community resource officers to the division, and each of the six officers will focus on one designated district.
After using an eight-district map for 2012, police are now moving to a six district approach.
“In essence, once the breakdown is completed, even though physically (districts) may look larger, the volume of calls is similar across the board,” Anderson said.
Anderson said residents can initiate meetings as well by informing the community resource unit of concerns they may have.
“The main goal is just to end up with significantly improved police-community partnerships,” Whitten said. “This is just another avenue to reach a broader mass of citizens to allow them to bring their concerns to our attention.”