Saturday, September 17, 2005

"Operation Linebacker"

The Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition reportedly unveiled a plan on Friday to increase the number of deputies and equipment in the sheriffs' offices of El Paso, Texas, and 15 other Texas counties near the border. The additional resources are intended to support an effort that is being promoted as a "second line of security" to back up the efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol.

An article from the El Paso Times indicates that local government officials are seeking a large infusion of federal funds to support the initiative. That article can be found at:

The plan provides yet another example of the conflation of immigration and crime control efforts. The implications of this fact are not explored in the El Paso Times article, but are worth contemplating.

September 17, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants in the News

Hmong Refugee Convicted of Murder in Hunting Dispute

Governor Arnold to Run for Re-election tttp://

September 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Immigration Monthly --

Immigration Monthly: September 2005 This month's issue features a book excerpt by Robert Lee Maril, Patrolling Chaos: The U.S. Border Patrol In Deep South Texas.,0919-IM.pdf,0919-maril1.shtm

For a description of the book excerpted in this issue of Immigartion Monthly (Patrolling Chaos: The U.S. Border Patrol in Deep South Texas (Texas Tech University Press), see

September 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lawmakers, Rove talk immigration

By Patrick O'Connor

September 15, 2005

Two House Republicans met with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove yesterday to discuss immigration reform one week after the House chairman with jurisdiction over that issue predicted that Hurricane Katrina could delay it until next year.

Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) met with Rove at the White House to discuss immigration reform, Flake said yesterday. Neither member had returned from the afternoon meeting by press time.

The meeting comes as congressional leaders reshuffle their fall agenda after a glut of emergency legislation responding to the damage caused by Katrina. It also comes days after House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “I think immigration is off until next year.”

Immigration reform is a particularly difficult issue for congressional Republicans because it divides supporters of the business community from those social conservatives whose goal is to shut down the borders and prohibit employers from hiring illegal immigrants.

The business community, on the other hand, argues that the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants employed in this country fill jobs U.S. citizens would not otherwise take. This broad coalition, which includes large corporate interests such as the Chamber of Commerce as well as regional businesses such as seasonal crab farmers in Maryland, also argues that the relocation costs would be too high.

While the political climate favors a strong border-security measure, the business lobby could be essential in creating the political momentum to pass a broader bill through the Senate.

Kolbe and Flake have introduced a bill, along with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), to register illegal immigrants currently employed in the United States as part of a national database for prospective employers. Their legislation does not require those immigrants to return to their countries of origin before gaining temporary residency.

Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, have offered companion legislation in the Senate, while Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have offered competing legislation that would require immigrants to return to their countries of origin to register as guest workers.

Both bills have provisions that would expand border security and increase fines for employers caught violating the law.

GOP House leaders made immigration reform a priority early in the 109th Congress. Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) tapped Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) to coordinate the divergent member views on this issue in anticipation of a floor vote this year.

Shadegg was to hold the fourth of his Unity Dinners to discuss the subject last night. The Arizona Republican has used these Unity Dinners, which were established by former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), to find consensus on fractious issues within the conference.

In the wake of Katrina, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has maintained his commitment to passing an immigration and border-security package that could be either one bill or multiple pieces of legislation. DeLay has recently hinted that he would like to pass a border-security bill first and then address the issue of illegal immigrants employed in this country. He is working with Sensenbrenner, whose Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the legislation.

Flake said he believes the practical details of enforcement, such as locating illegal workers, will eventually require lawmakers to address instead the question of registering these employees before passing a separate enforcement bill.

“If you want enforcement, you’ve got to have a law you can enforce,” Flake said.

The Judiciary Committee already had a full schedule of legislation on its plate heading into the fall, including the child-safety bill that passed yesterday, an update of the Voting Rights Act that may spark a fight about redistricting and a House-Senate conference negotiation about reauthorizing the USA Patriot Act.

Sensenbrenner made his remarks about postponement in response to a question about the fall legislative agenda.

After the damage wrought by Katrina, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group strongly opposed to illegal immigration, released a report illustrating how immigration loopholes could lead to another massive terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security last week relaxed document requirements for employers hiring workers who have been displaced by the hurricane. The department will not fine any businesses that hire any of these workers within 45 days of last Tuesday, which could create a major immigration loophole.

Washington lobbying firm Quinn-Gillespie has organized a large coalition of business lobbies, including the Chamber, to work with the White House to pass a broader immigration bill, which would allow for more flexibility for employers to retain those workers already in this country.

September 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What Immigrants Need To Know About John Roberts

For an interesting article titled "What Immigrants Need to Know About Roberts", click on the link for the story at

September 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

ICE Sting

Comment from

On July 6, 2005, ICE agents misrepresented themselves as OSHA officials as part of a sting operation in an investigation targeting unauthorized contract workers at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, resulting in the arrest of 48 undocumented aliens. According to a DOL spokesperson, "This is not something [OSHA] was involved in and we do not condone the use of OSHA's name in this type of activity." ICE offered no apology and defended its actions in a press statement stating "When individuals use false documents to hide their identity, the security and safety of our country is at risk. ICE and its law enforcement partners will continue to identify, arrest, and deport those who break our laws and hide among us." All this comes back to the issue of busboys vs. terrorists. If it is ICE's intention to find terrorists, surely at a time of war, ICE is entitled to some deference. On the other hand, if ICE is using the state of war to hound busboys then ICE is overstepping its mandate and someone at ICE will eventually pay the price.

We welcome readers to share their opinion and ideas with us by writing to

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Immigration Daily Article on an ICE Sting,0916.shtm

On July 6, 2005, ICE agents misrepresented themselves as OSHA officials as part of a sting operation in an investigation targeting unauthorized contract workers at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, resulting in the arrest of 48 undocumented aliens. According to a DOL sokesperson, "This is not something [OSHA] was involved in and we do not condone the use of OSHA's name in this type of activity." ICE offered no apology and defended its actions in a press statement stating "When individuals use false documents to hide their identity, the security and safety of our country is at risk. ICE and its law enforcement partners will continue to identify, arrest, and deport those who break our laws and hide among us." All this comes back to the issue of busboys vs. terrorists. If it is ICE's intention to find terrorists, surely at a time of war, ICE is entitled to some deference. On the other hand, if ICE is using the state of war to hound busboys then ICE is overstepping its mandate and someone at ICE will eventually pay the price. ILW welcomes readers to share their opinion and ideas writing to

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Jan Ting's Latest on Immigration and National Security

For an essay by Professor Jan Ting on the need for tightening the borders to protect national security, see

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Findlaw Story on Jose Padilla

For an interesting story on the detention of Jose Padilla, see

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hispanic National Bar Association Report on John Roberts' Nomination

For the report of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HBNA) on the Roberts' nomination, see and press the link for the HNBA report on the front page.

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Roberts Confirmation Hearings: Testimony on Plyler v. Doe

On September 14, Senator Dick Durbin questioned John Roberts on Plyler v. Doe:

DURBIN: Many of the organizations that oppose your nomination represent minorities in America. You have the distinction of being opposed by LULAC. This, of course, is the first time this Hispanic organization has ever opposed a Supreme Court nominee. You're also opposed by MALDEF. I personally think that their feelings go beyond the comment, "illegal amigos," that you talked about yesterday. And I want to point you to one particular area that they find troubling when I speak to them and I find troubling, and it goes back to the case of Plyler v. Doe: a 1982 Supreme Court case that held it unconstitutional to deny elementary education to children on the basis of their immigration status. It was a Texas case. The court struck down the Texas law that allowed elementary schools 23 years ago to refuse entrance to undocumented children. On the day the case was decided -- and I think the timing is important here, because it appears to be kind of a gratuitous comment; it isn't as if you were asked for an opinion. On the day it was decided, you co-authored a memo that criticizes the solicitor's general's office for failing to file a brief supporting the Texas law, which would have refused education to these children. Your memo disagreed with the administration's position on the case, so it isn't as if you were arguing the Reagan administration's position. They had taken a different position on the case. Can you describe your involvement in the case, and I guess more importantly, can you describe now how you feel about this today 23 years later -- I'll just finish and I'll leave you the time you need to answer -- when the largest, fastest growing segment of America's population is Hispanic; when the major Hispanic organizations feel that this showed real insensitivity to who they were and what their children needed? Can you explain that memo that really wasn't part of the Reagan agenda? Why did you say this?

ROBERTS: Well, I think, Senator, if I'm remembering the memo, and it was 23 years ago, and the case that was decided was, I believe, again, a divided decision by the Supreme Court, if I'm remembering the memo correctly, it was making the point that the position was inconsistent with the attorney general's litigation policy approach, if that's the right memorandum.

DURBIN: It is.

ROBERTS: Well, in that case, again, as a staff lawyer I thought it was my obligation to call to the attorney general's attention activities in the department that I thought were inconsistent with what he had articulated as his approach. And that's what I would have been doing in that case. And, again, it would have been apparently supporting the state of Texas in its legislative determination in that area.

DURBIN: Well, did you agree with the decision now -- or, pardon me, then? Or do you agree with it now?

ROBERTS: I haven't looked at the decision in Plyler v. Doe in 23 years, Senator. And there's nothing gratuitous about the memorandum. It obviously came out because the decision came out. That would have been why I was advising the attorney general with respect to it. Obviously, the importance of the availability of education for all is vital. That's a different question than the legal issues involved in whether a state law should be struck down..

DURBIN: So let me say this. Twenty-three years later, millions of children have benefited from this decision. They have been educated in America. Many have gone on to become citizens. Some are business people, some are professionals, some are serving in our military today because Plyler was decided in a way that you apparently disagreed with 23 years ago. So my question to you, for the Hispanic groups that oppose your candidacy at this point -- or your nomination, I should say -- what is your feeling? Is this settled law, as far as you are concerned, about our commitment in education.

ROBERTS: Senator, as I said, I have not looked at the decision in Plyler v. Doe in 23 years. It's not an area that I focused on. And the issue is not my policy view about what is a good idea for educational policy or national policy or whether what the Texas legislators determined was a good idea for Texas policy. The question was a particular legal issue. And, again, the Supreme Court was divided on that, so it's not as if we're talking about a position outside the mainstream. And what I was explaining, this was viewed, as the memo states, if it were looked at in full, it was something that I thought was nconsistent with what I understood the attorney general's approach to be, and it was my job to call that to his attention, which is what I did.

DURBIN: OK. I think you have accurately taken refuge in the fact that you were working for someone. The fact that this memo came out the day after the decision I think is an important circumstance. But let me go back to the beginning, the first question, the first day, with Senator Specter. Wouldn't it be a jolt to the system in America if we decided that we would no longer offer education to these children?

ROBERTS: Of course. Well, of course, Senator.

DURBIN: And so...

ROBERTS: And the decision in Plyler is a precedent of the court. I don't think -- I'm not aware that it's been called into question in the intervening 23 years that have passed since the time I wrote those two paragraphs in the memo. And that, as a precedent, is entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. And it's something that is where I would begin if an issue arose in this area. I'm not aware that any is arising in this area, but if an issue were to arise, that's where I would begin...

DURBIN: I just think millions of Americans would like to have heard you say, "I think it's a good idea. I'm glad we did it for America." But if you can't say it, you can't.

ROBERTS: Well, Senator, if I could just make the point that the issue is not whether or not I thought it was a good idea. That's not the job of a lawyer presenting legal advice and legal -- the legal implications of an issue to his boss, the attorney general

ROBERTS: He wasn't interested in whether I thought it was a good idea or not. He was interested in the legal question of whether or not this was consistent with his policy and his approach. That's not taking refuge; that's explaining the circumstances of a memorandum. And it's not avoiding an expression about whether it's a good idea or not. It's explaining that what we're dealing with...

DURBIN: But you've been unequivocal in your statement supporting Brown v. Board of Education. No one has suggested, in any respectful way, that we should return to the bad old days of separate but equal. I mean, you've accepted that's part of America. And the point I'm trying to make to you is whether we're talking about millions of uninsured people or millions of Hispanic children, I would think that it would be a basic value, you'd say, this is good for America, for people to have insurance, and bad for them to be denied. It is good for America to see children with education, rather than to see them in the streets, ignorant. It seems so fundamental.

ROBERTS: Senator, I don't think you want judges who will decide cases before them under the law on what they think is good - simply good policy for America. There are legal questions there. And I'm sure there are clients that I have represented in court that you would agree with; you would say, "That's the right side of the cause to be on," whether it's the environmental interests I represented in the Tahoe case, whether it's the welfare recipients I represented pro bono in the Bivens case, whether it's the cause of the inmate on death row that I assisted in in Florida, whether it's the environmental interest in Glacier Bay that I represented or in the Grand Canyon on a pro bono basis. I am sure I could go down my list of clients and find clients that you would say, "That's the right side. That's the cause of justice." And there are others with whom you'd disagree. My point is simply this, that in representing clients, in serving as a lawyer, it's not my job to decide whether that's a good idea or a bad idea. The job of the lawyer is to articulate the legal arguments on behalf of the client.

DURBIN: I'm just trying to get to the bottom line about your values. And if it is strictly a question about whether this is a legal and ethical legal question, or an ethical legal question, that can be contested, then there are many positions you can take in the law. Some I wouldn't be comfortable with. Some you may not becomfortable with.

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Immigrant Orientation Guide

USCIS has published a New Immigrant Orientation Guide that serves as a "welcome to America" type of document, containing information on how to open bank accounts and other information that newcomers should know. The Guide is available electronically in Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish and English at At this time, only the English and Spanish editions are available in hard copies; these may be purchased from the Government Printing Office.

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Anti-Immigration Forces

John Roberts Confirmation Hearings

MALDEF President and General Counsel Ann Marie Tallman will be on C-Span and on Thursday, September 15, 2005, testifying against the nomination of Judge John Roberts. The hearing begins at 9:30am EST live. Tallman is on the third panel. Her prepared statement opposes the Roberts' nomination and relies in large part on his views on Plyler v. Doe.

Download MALDEF testimony.pdf | Download Witness Panel List.pdf

September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration in the Midwest

Immigration and internal migration have been changing the face of the "heartland" for years.  A new book by Dale Maharidge provides one anecdotal picture of the impact this has had on a small Iowa town.  William Grimes' (somewhat mixed) review of the book for the New York Times can be found here: Review.

September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Authority of local police to enforce immigration laws.

Advocates have been trying for years to get access to the 2002 legal opinion from the Department of Justice that reportedly found that state and local police have the "inherent authority" to enforce federal immigration laws.  Thanks to the dedicated and brilliant team at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, this secret opinion has now been released, and its flaws exposed.  Read on for a memo from the National Immigration Forum on this topic, as well as a story that ran in the Associated Press announcing the opinion's release.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2005

Under court order, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has finally released a legal opinion that generated considerable controversy among state and local police since its existence was leaked in 2002. 

The memo, written by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), asserts that state and local police have the “inherent authority” to enforce all federal laws, including civil immigration laws.  This one memo reversed decades of law enforcement policy and practice, including previous DOJ legal opinions (issued in 1996 and 1989) that held police could assist in criminal enforcement, but not in the enforcement of civil immigration laws.

In recent years there have been numerous attempts by Congress and the Bush Administration to involve state and local police agencies in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law.  Many individuals and organizations—including law enforcement officials—have opposed these proposals.  Their primary mission is public safety, and they know that local enforcement of federal immigration laws destroys relationships between immigrant communities and police. Immigrants are less likely to report crimes or suspicious activity to police if they fear their immigration status or that of a loved one could become known.  Local enforcement of federal immigration laws is bad public policy and would divert scarce resources away from necessary law enforcement priorities, place a tremendous financial burden on states and localities, and result in racial profiling, discrimination, and as a result, costly litigation.

To help fight these proposals, law enforcement agencies, members of Congress, and immigrant advocates have tried for three years to obtain a copy of the legal rationale behind this radical policy shift at DOJ.  It took a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the National Council of La Raza, New York Immigration Coalition, American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Forum, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and National Employment Law Project to pry the legal opinion from DOJ’s secret files.  Now we know why the Department guarded its legal analysis so closely. 

The 2002 OLC opinion on police authority to enforce immigration laws is a conclusion in search of a basis.  We are pleased to make this legal analysis available to the public, so that all can see its shoddy reasoning and glaring omissions.  In short, the opinion:

1) Selectively reads case law, incomprehensively arguing that the federal government has not preempted local authority to enforce complicated, multi-layered immigration laws.

2) Misconstrues decisions in cases where police assisted in criminal enforcement to extend them authority to enforce civil laws as well.

3) Repeatedly ignores instances in which Congress authorized authority for police to assist in immigration enforcement under specific situations, even when the Congressional Record reflects the fact that lawmakers intended such provisions to grant new authority that police did not already possess.

The now-public version of the 2002 legal memo (redacted in part by DOJ) can be found at  A detailed refutation of its findings (written by ACLU lawyers) can be found at  One previous OLC memorandum on the topic (from 1996) is available by contacting the National Immigration Forum (obtaining access to the 1989 opinion is the subject of yet another FOIA suit).  A legal opinion from the Migration Policy Institute supporting the DOJ’s 1996 conclusion is available at

It is important to note that absent the new authority "justified" in this flawed opinion, police departments have the authority to notify federal immigration authorities if they have a criminal in custody who is also an immigrant, and do so regularly.  They routinely assist in the transfer to federal custody of convicts who are also immigration violators, and work hand in glove with federal agents on task forces targeting terrorists, gangs, and smugglers.  However, treating all immigration violators—students who fall short of necessary credits, persons who fail to comply with change-of-address requirements—like hardened criminals would be a tremendous misuse of law enforcement resources and would undermine the relationships necessary for community policing. 

It is clear that the current immigration system is broken and in need of fundamental reform.  Millions of people who live in the United States have committed civil immigration law violations.  Federal immigration enforcement resources will never be able to search out and find them all.  But enforcing the current laws is not the solution; new laws are needed that are in tune with U.S. social and economic realities.  Within a new legal immigration system in which everyone has incentive to abide by the law, law enforcement can devote their resources to truly egregious and dangerous criminal behavior.

Only by enacting comprehensive immigration reform, including a reasonable accounting of undocumented immigrants living and working here, will we restore control to the immigration system.  Scattershot policies like encouraging local enforcement of immigration laws, especially when supported by faulty legal reasoning and veiled in secrecy, are simply not the answer.  

ASSOCIATED PRESS: ACLU: Govt. memo exaggerates police rights 

By Michael Weissenstein
Associated Press

September 7, 2005

NEW YORK - The Justice Department believes state and local police have the right to enforce federal immigration laws, according to a government memo released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU said the Justice Department opinion makes the "sweeping and unprecedented" legal argument that state and local law enforcement officers can arrest anyone who violates a federal law.

"We therefore do not believe that the authority of state police to make arrests for violation of federal law is limited to those instances in which they are exercising delegated federal power," the memo says.

A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment.

A coalition of civil and immigrants’ rights groups received the memo under court order in July after suing under the Freedom of Information Act.

Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his staff had repeatedly used the memo to justify a decision to start letting local police arrest people after traffic stops and other encounters if they were found to have committed civil immigration violations, such as overstaying a visa.

The ACLU said the memo, by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, stretched the definition of local law enforcers’ roles so far that it could be used to justify giving them the right to enforce the U.S. tax code, environmental rules and other federal laws.

"That result is simply absurd," the group said in a statement released with a government-redacted copy of the memo.

The 2002 opinion reversed a 1996 letter of advice from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which said that state and local police could enforce only criminal immigration violations such as sneaking across a border.

Bybee wrote Ashcroft three years ago that the Office of Legal Counsel had determined that its initial decision was wrong. It was based on three state and federal appeals court rulings, a federal law and a previous internal opinion.

"We believe that the authorities we cited in the 1996 OLC opinion provide no support for our opinion," that state police could not enforce civil immigration laws, wrote Bybee, who later became a federal judge.

Bybee made headlines around the world by arguing in a Jan. 22, 2002, memo that the president has the power to issue orders that violate the Geneva Conventions and international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture.

The government argued that the Justice Department was not required to release Bybee’s immigration memo because it had not formally adopted the document and because of attorney-client privilege.

An appeals court rejected both arguments, saying it could not let the government "make public use of the memorandum when it serves the department’s ends but claim the attorney-client privilege when it does not."

The court noted that Ashcroft and his representatives used the memorandum to justify and explain the department’s policy of expanded local immigration powers.

September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Roberts Hearings and Plyler v. Doe

In the confirmation hearings of Judge John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, there has been criticism of the Court's reliance of foreign law in its interpretation of the Constitution, which was a topic discussed in a fascinating recent New Yorker on Justice Kennedy. Judge Roberts disavowed Korematsu and sees the right to privacy (and perhaps the right to choose) as settled by precedent. But will any member of the Judiciary Committee ask him about his views on Plyler v. Doe? The position he took in a memorandum for then-Attorney General William French Smith criticized the Solicitor General for filing a brief siding with the state of Texas. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund cites Roberts' position in this memorandum as one of its chief reasons for opposing his confirmation.

Will any Senator mention the issue? Or will it be left to Anne Marie Tallman, head of MALDEF, to raise it in her testimony?

September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Have all the Undocumented Immigrants Gone?

Weeks after 9/11, people started talking about the immigrants affected by the tragedy. Undocumented immigrants unquestionably have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. For an article from the Pacific News Service on this topic, see

After Katrina, Where Have All the Hondurans Gone? by Daffodil Altan, Pacific News Service, Sep 13, 2005.

September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New Immigration Clinics

Congratulations to Evelyn Cruz (formerly of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, now at Arizona State University) and Fernando Nunez (Stetson) who are starting new immigration clinics at their respective institutions.

September 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Katrina and Undocumented immigrants

Q & A's from FEMA

Questions and Answers for Undocumented Immigrants

Regarding FEMA Assistance

1.         If I am an undocumented immigrant, am I eligible for assistance for needs related to the recent storms, tornadoes, and flooding?

·                    Yes, you may be eligible under many different programs run by State and local agencies and voluntary agencies for various types of cash assistance.

American Red Cross 1-866-438-4636 (English) 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish)

Catholic Charities Farmworkers’ Ministry 386-698-4234 (Spanish)

Lutheran Services of Florida 1-800-651-1853

2.         If I am an undocumented immigrant, am I eligible for any assistance from FEMA?

·                    You may be eligible for Crisis Counseling or Disaster Legal Services, and other short-term, non-cash, emergency aid.

·                    You will not be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

·                    You will not be personally eligible for FEMA cash assistance programs (Individuals and Households Program Assistance). You may, however, apply on behalf of your U.S. citizen child, or another adult household member may qualify the household for assistance.

·                    Even if you or your family does not qualify for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance), please call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or

·                    1-800-462-7585 (TTY for hearing/speech-impaired) for information and to be referred to other programs that can assist you regardless of your immigration status. 


3.         If I am an undocumented immigrant, can I apply on behalf of my child who was born in the United States?

§                    Yes, you can apply on behalf of your minor child (under 18 years of age) for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance) if you live together.

§                    You will not have to provide any information on your immigration status or sign any documents regarding your status.

4.         Do I need a Social Security Number to register for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance)?

·                    If you are applying on your minor child’s behalf, you should provide his/her Social Security Number.

5.         If I have a Social Security Number, am I eligible for FEMA cash assistance (Individuals and Households Program Assistance) as a “Qualified Alien”?

·                    Not necessarily, because having a Social Security Number does not automatically mean that you are a Qualified Alien.  You may be legally present in the U.S. and have a Social Security Number, but not be a Qualified Alien.

6.         What are FEMA’s citizenship/immigration requirements?

·                    You must be must be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien1 in order to be eligible for FEMA cash assistance:  Individuals and Households Program Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

·                    A Qualified Alien1 includes anyone with legal permanent residence (“green card”).

·                    You will be asked to sign a Declaration and Release (FEMA Form 90-69 B) that you are a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien. 

·                    If you cannot sign the Declaration and Release form, another adult household member who is eligible can sign it and no information regarding your status will be gathered.

·                    If you have a minor child who is a U.S. Citizen or a Qualified Alien, you can apply for assistance on your child’s behalf and sign the Declaration and Release.  No information regarding your status will be gathered.

·                    You do not have to be U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National or a Qualified Alien for Crisis Counseling or Disaster Legal Services or other short-term, non-cash emergency assistance.

1 A “Qualified Alien” includes anyone who has been granted legal permanent residence (“green card”), refugee or asylee status, withholding of deportation, conditional entry, parole into the U. S. for at least 1 year; or a Cuban-Haitian Entrant; or a battered spouse or child(ren) with a pending or approved spousal petition or petition for relief.

September 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)