Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tom Tancredo in the mainstream

Today's NYTimes has a front page story highlighting Tom Tancredo's evolution from a fringe radical on immigration issues in the House to an influential voice on immigration issues. The story is here:

The article notes that many of his ideas -- a border fence; the criminalization physical presence in the US for undocumented noncitizens; and the criminalization of organizatons that assist the undocumented -- are in the recently passed House immigration bill. (Of course, the aricle notes, even in the startling House immigration bill, Tancredo did not get some of his wishes, including "a moratorium on legal immigration, soldiers on the border a longer fence.... as well as a law that would deny citizenship to children born to parents who are not citizens or permanent residents.")

Our focus should be on improving the process for legal immigration and developing realistic solutions to deal with the fact that our national economy is undeniably propped up on the backs millions of people who live in the shadows. Yet Tancredo, and others like him, have managed to shift the terms of the immigration debate to such an extent that even a bracero-style guest worker program is apparently too "soft" to garner House approval.

These lawmakers' efforts to prey on their constituents' political, cultural and economic insecurities do not actually make any of us more secure. It is my holiday wish that responsible lawmakers (and their constituents) will reignite immigration discussions that shift from hysterical hyperbole to economic reality. These discussions ought to take into account the fact that immigration contributions to the economy and that there is a demographic need for immigration. There are practical ways to ensure that we share the costs and enjoy the benefits immigration -- but we're not even having these important discussions.

More fundamentally, we should at least be trying to shift the tone of our immigration debates, so that our discussions become grounded in a recognition of and respect for the humanity of all people. And what better time to think about this than the holidays?


December 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants in Connecticut

The hotel and food industry is the most common sector for Connecticut's immigrant workers, a new report has found. By analyzing everything form earnings to countries of origins, the study has helped paint a picture of Connecticut's immigrant work force. This growing population is more diverse, earns more and is more likely to achieve citizenship status than the foreign-born in other states. And though the state's immigrants are more concentrated in lower-wage industries than US-born workers, the report found that the number of highly-skilled Connecticut immigrants is growing fast.

Stamford has the largest number of immigrants in Connecticut--35,000--as well as the largest share of immigrants out of its total population--30%. Norwalk had the fourth largest share of immigrants, with 20% of thepopulation, followed Greenwich's 19%.

In the US, about 12% of the population is foreign-born, which is comparable with Connecticut's immigrant population. But nationwide, Latin American and Caribbean immigrants account for more than half and Mexicans make up about a third of all immigrants. In Connecticut, nearly 40% of the foreign-born came from Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Poland topped the list of countries of orgin, but no single nation accounts for more than 10% of the state's immigrants.

Source: Stamford Advocate, Dec. 22, 2005

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 23, 2005

When "Shawled Refugees Deport Judges"

In this poem for the new year by Martin Espada, these lines struck me:

This is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges

For the full poem, "Imagine the Angels of Bread," see:


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

50-Foot Wall and 51-Foot Ladder

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is panning a provision in federal legislation to add about 700 miles to existing walls between the United States and Mexico. The governor said Wednesday the proposal, part of the House Sensenbrenner bill approved by a 239-182 vote, would be a waste of money. "You show me a 50 foot wall, I'll show you a 51-foot ladder," she said.

Several months ago, the governors of Arizona and New Mexico declared states of emergency due to the number of undocumented immigrants in those states.

Source: Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 21, 2005

December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speedy Naturalization for Skater

Belbin could compete in Turin

Friday, December 23, 2005 11:29:47 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World silver medal-winning ice dancer Tanith Belbin took a step closer to competing in February's Turin Olympics after a fast-track U.S. citizenship process was approved by Congress.

Canadian-born Belbin, who with her American partner Ben Agosto finished second at the world championships in Moscow this year, needs to be granted U.S. citizenship before January 28 to eligible for the 2006 U.S. Olympic figure skating team.

Her application is being considered under a bill containing a provision for "aliens of extraordinary ability" and she is now hopeful that she will be able to compete at the Winter Games once the Bill has been signed by President George Bush.

"I've always felt comfortable and proud to be a part of the U.S. Team," Belbin said in a statement released by U.S. Figure Skating on Friday from their base in Colorado Springs.

"Ben and I have always strived to represent the country as best we can. Now that this last little bit is over, I know we will make the most of this opportunity.

"I'm just so glad to be a part of this country through and through, and I'm very proud."

Belbin, who moved to the United States from Canada in 1998, and Agosto have also won two U.S. national titles, two Four Continents crowns and three
Skate America gold medals.

Another ice dancer, Maxim Zavozin, could also be granted citizenship in time for the Olympics under the same process.

Zavozin, who emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1998, and his partner Morgan Matthews are the 2005 World Junior champions. They will also be hoping for one of three ice dancing spots on the American Olympic team.

(Writing by Pritha Sarkar in London)


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

News From CLINIC's Case Files

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.'s Division of Public Education and Advocacy provides examples of vulnerable immigrants and developments that negatively impact the population served by its affiliate agencies.,1227-clinic.shtm


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest decision on Two Gitmo Detainees

Two Guantanamo Detainees To Stay In Custody by Elisabeth Goodridge, Associated Press, Dec. 23, 2005

Two Chinese Muslims can be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay even though their imprisonment is unlawful, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim, who were captured in Pakistan in 2001, had asked to be released after the government nine months ago determined they were not enemy combatants.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who repeatedly has criticized the government for holding the two ethnic Uighurs, said their "indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."

At the same time, he said, the federal courts have "no relief to offer" the two men.

While the Supreme Court has said the courts can determine the legality of holding enemy combatants indefinitely, Robertson said there is no guidance on what to do with detainees who are no longer considered enemy combatants and have no country to return to.

Qassim and al-Hakim were captured in 2001 as they fled a Taliban military training camp where they were learning techniques they planned to use against the Chinese government. As Uighurs, the two say they fear torture or death if they are returned to China.

Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims in western China, who have a language and culture distinct from the majority Chinese. The two men have said they have no quarrel with the United States.

Robertson earlier this month raised the possibility of releasing them in the United States, which would have been an unprecedented step in the legal battles surrounding the Bush administration's treatment of detainees.

"An order requiring their release into the United States even into some kind of parole 'bubble,' some legal-fictional status in which they would be here but would not have been 'admitted' would have national security and diplomatic implications beyond the competence or the authority of this court," Robertson said in a memorandum accompanying Thursday's ruling.

"It appears to be undisputed that the government cannot find, or has yet not found, another country that will accept the petitioners," Robertson said.


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Non-Immigration News!!!!!!!!!!

On Dec. 22, the Cal Bears beat BYU 35-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Can't wait until next year.

Happy Holidays!


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shocking "News": Immigrant Workers Exploited in Reconstruction of Gulf After Katrina

Katrina jobs expose plight of day laborers: Immigrants doing the dirty work in cleanup subject to exploitation and risk deportation

By Jonathan Tilove
Friday, December 23, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - Day laborer Edgar Antonio was getting his jobs in the parking lot of the Shell station at Robert E. Lee Circle, where on a recent morning he wondered about his place in America.

Since shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the 26-year-old Honduran had done America's dirtiest work, cleaning this city's muck- and mold-caked schools and offices and gutting its fetid houses.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article.


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

From Open Borders and Closed Trade to Closed Borders and Free Trade

A Dual Policy Paradox: Why Have Trade and Immigration Policies
Always Differed in Labor-Scarce Economies
by Timothy J. Hatton, Jeffrey G. Williamson - #11866 (DAE ITI LS)

Abstract: Today's labor-scarce economies have open trade and closed immigration policies, while a century ago they had just the opposite, open immigration and closed trade policies. Why the inverse policy correlation, and why has it persisted for almost two centuries? This paper seeks answers to this dual policy paradox by exploring the fundamentals which have influenced the evolution of policy: the decline in the costs of migration and its impact on immigrant selectivity, a secular switch in the net fiscal impact of trade relative to immigration, and changes in the median voter. The paper also offers explanations for the between-country variance in voter anti-trade and anti-migration attitude, and links this to the fundamentals pushing policy.



December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Missing Piece of the Immigration Debate


EDITOR'S NOTE: As Congress debates radical immigration reform, the voices of immigrants themselves continue to be conspicuously absent from the debate, reports PNS contributor Eduardo Stanley hosts the bilingual "Nuestro Foro" weekly radio program on KFCF in Fresno, Calif.


FRESNO, Calif.--The House last week passed a highly punitive immigration bill, heightening the controversy over the issue of immigration reform. But even as the debate over immigration policy promises to be a divisive issue in the coming midterm elections, the voices of immigrants themselves are missing from the discussion.

"We're not participating," says Claudia (not her real name), a Fresno resident and mother of one. "We don't know whom to talk to about it."

"We are worried about what's going to happen," says Rosa (not her real name) of Madera, an agricultural worker and mother of four. To her, proposals in other bills for a new guest worker plan that leave out the nearly 11 million immigrants who are already here don't make sense.

"We know they want to bring workers, so what will happen to us?" she asks.

Rosa, who has been in the United States for 15 years, says she hasn't participated in the immigration debate because she doesn't know how or where to voice her concerns. She's also critical of activists who are supporting immigrants. "The people who know the laws don't explain them to us," she says. "We need more information."

Both women share a sense of frustration. For years they have worked hard to support their families, aware of their role in the economies of the two countries, yet knowing that no one will ask for their opinion, even when the policy being discussed will decide their own fate.

"I talk about it at work and with my friends and family," says José (not his real name) of Madera, a father of four children. "But in public it's different because you're afraid of the police. If something happens, they can deport you."

The bill recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 239 to 182 tightens border enforcement, eases deportations and stiffens sanctions against businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. It calls for a 700 mile-long fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

More drastic, it would convert almost 11 million immigrants into felons. The bill sponsored by Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Peter King (R-NY), would penalize anyone -- whether they are relatives, clergy or others -- who helps an undocumented immigrant.

The bill drew harsh criticism from numerous religious organizations, immigrant rights groups and Democrats, while President George W. Bush focused on pushing for a guest worker program to be included, without giving amnesty or legal regulation to those who already live and work in the country. Political analysts predict that the U.S. Senate will not approve the bill, but it will no doubt set the tone for the immigration debate in 2006.

The immigrants interviewed by New America Media agree that an amnesty is the only way they could come out from under the shadows, where live in constant fear and shame. They see the importance of expressing their own views on immigration but, Claudia says, "The people who are proposing laws don't ask us what we think either."

For José, the most important vehicle for immigrants' voices is the ethnic media that serve them. They need to speak with journalists, he says, "so they know how we feel and can publish it."

Miguel Báez, editor of they Spanish-language newspaper Noticiero Semanal in Porterville, publishes immigrants' perspectives on the debate in its Letters to the Editor section. "When we ask people, they say they don't agree with a guest worker plan; they support amnesty," he says. "Wherever you go, that's what they say."

"Our audience doesn't participate very much (in any political debate), not just about immigration issues," says Carlos Ortíz of Radio Campesina in Bakersfield. "We come from a culture of very low political participation and from societies where politicians have failed the people."

Ortiz adds that Spanish-language media are also partly to blame. "As media outlets, we have the responsibility in the information process, but the majority of media are only interested in their ratings and how much money they're making. They don't inform the public or promote social participation," he says, referring to new Spanish radio stations cropping up across the country.

Many immigrants are not so quick to fault Spanish media. "Many immigrants in California's Central Valley are indigenous people who don't know how to read or write in Spanish," explains Claudia.

José adds that Spanish television doesn't always reach populations of immigrant workers. "We work all day and when we get home, they've already aired (the evening news) and we are already asleep by the time they broadcast the late news."

The best way to stay informed, some say, is through community meetings.

But Leonel Flores, a Fresno activist with the Union of Ex-Braceros and Immigrants in the Valley, says immigrants often don't have a voice even within many of the organizations that claim to defend them.

"Organizations don't represent us well," agrees Claudia. "But we need to demand more of them."

To make their voices heard, Flores stresses the need for immigrant rights groups to establish a common agenda and to put pressure on Congress, something he says they have not yet been able to accomplish.

Some immigrants cite weak leadership by activists in immigrant rights. "I think this movement should be led by immigrants," Flores says.

Others are also self-critical. "Many people think activism is the responsibility of organizations, so they become disengaged and don't participate," says Claudia, who adds that immigrants should make a greater effort to be heard.

"The economy of this country would not be the same without us," she says. "It's time they listened to us."


December 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Disturbing immigration news out of Sweden

The head of Sweden's Migration Board is facing calls to step down after the media reported that employees celebrated the deportation of asylum-seekers with cakes and champagne and yelled in a demeaning manner at another asylum applicant. The NY Times story is here:

This is not just a Swedish problem. A handful of U.S. immigration judges have been criticized by appellate courts for their demeaning or biased treatment of asylum applicants in recent times. It is sobering to see the ways in which anti-immigrant sentiment -- which seems to be spiking in Europe and the US -- infects the legal process.


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CRS Report On UN Convention Against Torture (CAT)

The Congressional Research Service issued a report on the U.N. Convention Against Torture.,1223-crs.pdf


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Response to Judicial Criticism?

According to the L.A. Daily Journal, in February, the Justice Department quietly began a new policy that allows DOJ attorneys to remand cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals instead of arguing them before federal appeals courts. Previously, government attorneys had little discretion to settle cases which led to a sizable increase in appeals by immigrants to federal circuit courts. But some immigration experts say this policy change will not resolve the burgeoning immigration backlog problem. From 1998-2005, the BIA's caseload increased 63% from 29,000 to 46,300.


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Salazar-Regino Cert Petition

For the cert petition filed in the Salazar-Regino case, which involves whether a non-trafficking drug crime constitutes an "aggravated felony," see Download salazarregino_cert_petition.txt


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Economic Impact of Immigrants on Native Workers

Immigrant workers have long contributed to the power behind the motor of the U.S. economy. However, concerns that immigrants compete with native workers to the latter's detriment still abound in the public mind. A review of the literature about immigration's impact on native wages and job displacement is a starting place to resolve this question. But before doing so, any serious observer has to acknowledge that immigrants affect the economy in ways that are not reflected by wage and job displacment studies. Immigrant entrepreneurship may create jobs; immigrants are increasingly associated with further openings to trade and other forms of exchange; high-skilled immigrants innovate in key sectors of the economy; immigrants make tax contributions and receive public services; the presence of significant numbers of immigrants in a sector helps make that sector's products and services cheaper--and thus more affordable by all consumers; and immigrant workers both produce and, in turn, consume goods and services--thus having much wider ripple economic effects.

Most economic competition discussions generally focus on the short- and medium-term impacts of immigration. When immigrant workers enter a labor market, there may be initial pains to accommodate them, and in response to those difficulties, the labor market may adjust, perhaps by creating more jobs that immigrants and/or natives could fill, or inducing natives to move. However, in the long-term, the impact of an immigrant cohort depends on the degree to which immigrants assimilate into U.S. society (i.e., become like native workers in terms of the skills they have). If they, or perhaps more importantly their children, assimilate economically, a given immigrant cohort will tend to make the economy larger without putting downward pressure on natives' wages. Also, keep in mind the possibility that immigrant employment often complements that of native workers.

Immigrants are an important and growing part of the U.S. labor force. Estimates indicate that one of every two new workers in the 1990s was foreign-born. As a result of these flows, from 1990 to 2002, the immigrant share of the workforce rose from 9.4 to 14 percent. Immigrants are also disproportionately low-wage workers, comprising 20 percent of the low-wage population, though they also make up much higher proportions in several high-skill occupations and sectors.

In 1997, the National Research Council concluded that immigration had a small effect on the wages of native workers. Evidence showed that immigration reduced the wages of competing natives by only 1 or 2 percent. Effects were also weak for native black workers, a group often assumed to be in competition with immigrant workers. Earlier immigrant cohorts were more significantly affected: they could expect 2 to 4 or more percent wage decline for every 10 percent increase in the number of immigrant workers. The report also noted that immigration, as a whole, resulted in a net benefit to the economy of between $1 and $10 billion annually, a small but still significant positive impact. Certain groups within the economy, such as those with capital or high-level skills or those consuming immigrants' goods or services, benefited from immigration, even if low-skilled natives stood to lose in the process.

While there is still general agreement that some native groups, particularly the high-skilled or those with capital, benefit from overall immigration flows, since 1997, the assertion that immigrants do not significantly affect natives' wages is now more broadly contested. Many studies continue to find no effect or only weak negative effects of immigration on low-skilled workers or workers in general. Others suggest that newly arriving immigrants do not have a statistically significant impact, but the degree to which immigrants substitute for natives increases with time spent in the United States. Still others contend that the negative wage effects are larger, perhaps on the order of a 3 or 4 p4ercent wage decline for competing wokrers for every 10 percent increase in immigrants with similar skills. Other the other hand, some research found that immigration actually had a slightly positive and statistically significant effect on all natives' self-employment earnings.

Findings now are contested regarding immigrants' wage effects for highly-skilled native workers. Some researchers estimate that immigration during the last two decades depressed wages by 4.9 percent for native college graduates. In contrast, others have found that high-skilled immigrants actually raise native wages, for example that a 10 percent increase in high-skilled immigrants raised native skilled workers' earnings by 2.6 percent.

In essence, the literature indicates that the impact of immigration on native workers is an isue that is still up for debate, perhaps now more than ever. Some researchers have found divergent, large negative, small negative to non-existent, and positive impacts from immigration on native relative wages, even among the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, most research has found some job displacement or native exclusion within given sectors or cities as a result of immigration, but the criticism that many of these studies have looked where they would expect to find impacts is a valid one to keep in mind when viewing this literature convergence. Certainly, immigration's impact on the most vulnerable native workers is increasingly contested ground, which makes predicting future impacts doubly difficult.

In the end, whether or not immigrants actually depress wages or displace some workers may be only one consideration within a larger policymaking context. Whether the effects are slightly negative, somewhat positive, or tend toward zero, they may be far outweighed by other impacts, both positive and negative, that immigrants have on the United States.

Source: Migration Policy Institute

December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Fourth Circuit on Jose Padilla

4th Circuit Refuses to Transfer Padilla to Civilian Custody

Toni Locy

The Associated Press


In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court denied Wednesday a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody.

The three-judge panel of the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also refused the administration's request to vacate a September

ruling that gave President Bush wide authority to detain "enemy combatants" indefinitely without charges on U.S. soil.

The decision, written by Judge J. Michael Luttig, questioned why the administration used one set of facts before the court for 3 1/2 years to

justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month.

Luttig said the administration has risked its "credibility before the courts" by appearing to try to keep the Supreme Court from reviewing the

extent of the president's power to hold enemy combatants without charges.

Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as he returned to the United States from Afghanistan.

Initially, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft alleged Padilla planned to set off a radiological device known as a "dirty bomb."

But before federal courts in New York and Virginia, the administration argued that Padilla should be held without charges because he had come home

to carry out an al-Qaida backed plot to blow up apartment buildings in New York, Washington or Florida.

Last month, a grand jury in Miami charged Padilla with being part of a North American terror support cell that allegedly raised funds and recruited

fighters to wage violent jihad outside the United States.

Administration lawyers immediately asked the appeals court to transfer Padilla from a U.S. military brig in South Carolina to the custody of law

enforcement authorities in Miami.

Luttig said the Supreme Court must sort out Padilla's fate, either by accepting or rejecting an appeal by his lawyers of the appellate court's

decision in September that the president has the authority to order his detention indefinitely.

Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the agency is disappointed by the appellate court's decision. She said the government

should be able to charge suspected terrorists with crimes, as well as hold them indefinitely as enemy combatants.

"The department is in the process of reviewing the court's order and will continue to consider all options with respect to pursuing the criminal

charges as expeditiously as possible," Scolinos said.

Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman, said she had "little to add" to what Luttig had written. "He says things better than I," she said. "I just hope

that it's an incentive for the Supreme Court to grant our petition ... and hear this matter, which is of extreme public importance."

Luttig also chastised the administration for failing to explain why it is using a different set of allegations against Padilla and forcing the appeals

court to rely on media reports about the government's motivations.

The appellate judge pointed out that anonymous government officials were quoted in news reports saying Padilla was charged in Miami because the

administration didn't want the Supreme Court to review the appeals court's September decision.

In a filing with the appeals court, the administration said it was willing to walk away from that ruling -- considered a major victory for its legal

war on terrorism -- to justify its argument before the Supreme Court that Padilla's appeal is now irrelevant.

Luttig said the administration's actions leave the impression that Padilla has been held "by mistake," and that its tactics could prove costly.

"These impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be a substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts, to

whom it will one day need to argue again in support of a principle of assertedly like importance and necessity to the one that it seems to abandon

today," he wrote.

"While there could be an objective that could command such a price as all of this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be."

For the opinion, written by Judge Michael Luttig, a noted conservative jurist, see


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Blogger Elected to High Post

Professor Bill Ong Hing has been elected to the Board of the Clinical Legal Education Association.


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Tidbits

For an account of the human costs of the security measures directed at immigrant communities in the name of national security after September 11, see Tram Nguyen, We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories From Immigrant Communities After 9/11 (2005).

Guess its good news that Congress has only temporarily reauthorized the the USA PATRIOT Act for six months.  I find it hard to celebrate, however.  Who knows what will happen in the next six months with the war, the President's popularity, etc.


December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)