Friday, March 24, 2006

Immigration Tidbits

As American As Apple Pie (Produced Abroad)

Bob Stallman writes "And if our lawmakers don't act quickly, billions of dollars worth of agricultural production could soon slip through our fingers and across our borders.",0327-stallman.shtm

Thank God For The Mexicans

Thomas W. Roach writes "Thank God for the Mexicans. While many in America continue to wring their hands and shout their concern about illegal aliens in America, I say, "You don't know how lucky you are".,0327-roach.shtm

(a) President Bush Discusses Immigration Reform

During a meeting on immigration reform, President Bush said, "But part of enforcing our borders is to have a guest worker program that encourages people to register their presence so that we know who they are, and says to them, if you're doing a job an American won't do, you're welcome here for a period of time to do that job.",0327-bush.shtm


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Special Issue of Amerasia Journal

Make sure and check out the special issue of Amerasia Journal, vol. 31, no. 3 (2005) on Deporting Our Souls and Defending Our Immigrants.  It includings a collection of great articles on the topic by a great group of scholars.  Professor and Blogster extraordinaire Bill Ong Hing is the guest editor of the issue.


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latinos in Chicago

The Mexican motor
Mar 16th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Latinos are now the region's biggest minority

CHICAGO'S recovery from decline is measured not just in jobs and dollars, but also in people. In America, at least, a city is considered moribund if its population is not growing. By that measure, greater Chicago is prospering; but the story is more complicated than it seems.

The 2000 census was greeted with delight by the city. It showed that, after decades of losing people both to the suburbs and to other parts of the country, it had increased its population by 4% since 1990. The vast conurbation around Chicago—what the Census Bureau calls the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metropolitan area, which includes bits of Indiana and Wisconsin—had grown by 11.2%. And though the suburbs had been the big gainers (up 14%), even the cities (towns of over 100,000 people) in that conurbation had grown by 6.3%. Urban life was evidently flourishing.

The trend, though, has not been sustained. In 2000-04, the metropolitan area grew by just 3%, less than the rate of natural increase. The big towns lost population (by 0.1%), whereas the suburbs continued to grow (by 4.6%). Chicago itself shrank by over 1%.

The shrinkage in the towns would have been much greater, and the growth in the suburbs much smaller, but for one thing: immigration, nearly all of it by Latinos. Between 1970 and 2004, Latinos accounted for 96% of the growth of the six counties round Chicago. The average increase during the 1990s was 57,000 people a year.

The accompanying changes are already dramatic. In the city itself, more than one person in four is now a Latino, and Chicago has more Hispanics than any other city but Los Angeles. With such neighbourhoods as Greektown, Little Italy and Ukrainian Village, Chicago has never disguised its long history as a home for immigrants, many of whom cluster together for decades after their arrival. Native-born migrants have come, too, notably Midwesterners and black southerners, but for years the foreigners were mostly Europeans.

Many more where they came from

In the 1960s that began to change, and the trickle of Mexicans who had first arrived in the 19th century—Chicago's Mexican consulate was set up in 1884—began to turn into a flood. The points of entry for many are now Little Village and Pilsen, two neighbourhoods in the south-western stretch of the "bungalow belt" which were first settled by immigrants from, respectively, Germany and Bohemia, but which are now the heart of a Latino community of 1.6m. Four-fifths are of Mexican origin.

The economic consequences of this influx are huge. Though Latinos are individually poorer than other Chicagoans, their collective household income of $20 billion a year makes up nearly 10% of the six-county area's total. The sales-tax revenues generated in the shops of Little Village's 26th Street are, it is said, greater than those of any other retail corridor in Chicago but Magnificent Mile. Latinos are also a driving force in the region's property market.

Since 1990, the growth in the number of Latino workers has just about matched the growth in jobs in the region. And the numerical match has paralleled a geographical one: many Latinos go straight to the jobs, which are mostly in the suburbs, bypassing the inner city altogether. Thus one person in five in the six-county area is now a Latino, making a living, likely as not, as a gardener, labourer, office cleaner or waiter. In the 1990s, the Latino population doubled in each of the five suburban counties around Chicago.

The region's Latinos are thus dispersed, yet even in the suburbs they tend to gather together in groups. They can be found living hugger-mugger in the older housing of the older towns, such as Aurora to the west, where the railways and manufacturing long provided employment, and Waukegan to the north. From these bases they may travel to work in other, more prosperous suburbs, such as fast-growing Naperville (next to Aurora) or posh Lake Forest (near Waukegan), but few can afford to live in such
places. They may not be welcome, either. According to a study cited by Notre Dame University's Institute for Latino Studies, Latino-white segregation increased in the suburbs during the 1990s, even as it decreased slightly in the city.

Still, employers like Latinos. They work hard, and they can be paid at or below the minimum wage, especially if they are undocumented, as many may be. It is said that many jobs are never advertised: employers simply put the word out among their existing workers that they need more and, lo, more appear. This does not endear Latinos to some African-Americans, many
of whom have trouble finding work. For their part, many Latinos feel excluded from Chicago's public housing, which was long almost entirely black, though it has recently become more open. And Latino children—who make up 38% of those in the city's schools (29% in the area's)—are often taught in badly overcrowded classes.

So far, despite a handful of aldermen in the city, a few officials in the suburbs and one Puerto Rican member of Congress, relatively few Latinos hold public office. That will no doubt change as more and more become politically active and as their children, nearly all of whom are American citizens, grow older. Latinos are already the biggest minority in the region, outnumbering blacks. As their numbers increase further, they will surely transform Chicago.


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Films

My colloeague Joel Dobris suggested that we invite readers to help create a filmography of immigration films.  He offers one: La Promesse (The Promise).  Send your suggestions to me at and I will add to the list. This is a short (5 min) film about immigrant detention in DC under the '97 law. Here is a list of films compiled from the Immprof listserve: Download immigration_films.doc Seattle attorney Dan Smith provided the following list: Head On (Gegen Die Wand)(2004, Germany/Turkey) Cahit Tomruk (Birol Unel) and Sibel Guner (Sibel Kekilli) are immigrant Germans who live and work in the port town of Hamburg. In a bid to help Sibel break free of her family (which strictly adheres to Turkish customs, religious and otherwise), the couple decide to marry. But straitlaced families are just part of the problem; Cahit and Sibel find that western democracy has its dark side, and a return to Turkey adds another layer of complexity to their relationship. Fatih Akin directs. El Norte (Dir. Gregory Nava) Synopsis: El Norte is a realistic picture of both the Guatemalan government's oppression of the Quiche Indians and the hard life of illegal immigrants in the United States. After the Guatemalan army destroys their village of San Pedro, two teenage Quiche Mayan Indian siblings journey north (hence El Norte) through Mexico to the United States to start a new life. The film opens with the destruction of the village and the peasants' pointless appeals to the authorities for justice. Realizing that the government is seizing their land, Enrique and Rosa make the difficult decision to leave their people behind. As they journey through Mexico, the siblings encounter a number of helpful individuals who direct them towards the U.S./Mexican border. There they find a "coyote" (a professional human smuggler) and make the frightening run across border. Once across, Enrique and Rosa are introduced to the impossible realities of life as an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles. Living in constant fear of deportation, they struggle to survive as they are exploited by a series of employers. Eventually, their luck takes a turn for the better when the manager of their motel offers Enrique a job. The Boat is Full (1981) (Das Boot ist Voll) Markus Imhoff, Dir. During World War II, Switzerland severely limited refugees: "Our boat is full." A train from Germany halts briefly in an isolated corner of Switzerland. Six people jump off seeking asylum: four Jews, a French child, and a German soldier. They seek temporary refuge with a couple who run a village inn. They pose as a family: the deserter as husband, Judith as his wife, an old man from Vienna as her father, his granddaughter and the French lad, whom they beg to keep silent, as their children. Judith's teenage brother poses as a soldier. The fabrication unravels through chance and the local constable's exact investigation. Whom will the Swiss allow to stay? Who gets deported? The Border (1982) This is one of Jack Nicholson's most underrated performances and director Tony Richardson's most overlooked films. Nicholson is a member of the U.S. Border Patrol who moves with his materialistic wife (Valerie Perrine) to a small Texas town. There, his new colleagues try to pull him into the web of corruption that runs through the local department and he's tempted, because the illicit cash will help pay the bills that his charge-happy wife is running up. But his conscience gets the better of him when he gets involved in a case of a young Mexican woman whose baby is stolen to be sold for adoption. Nicholson simmers, stews, and eventually explodes. The superior cast includes Perrine, Harvey Keitel, and Warren Oates. The Emigrants; The New Land (sequel) (1972, Jan Troell Dir.) A diverse group of Swedish peasants (among them a married couple, a priest, a prostitute, and a young upstart) endure back-breaking labor in their homeland to little profit. They decide to move to the states after being influenced by the exaggerated stories spread abroad (everyone has more than enough food, everyone is filthy rich, etc.). The audience sympathizes with them not just because they endure so much in Sweden, but also because they believe the stories they hear about frontier life in America. Yes, they will obviously have to strive and struggle to survive in their new home, but they are all the more admirable because of their adherence to the American dream. "The Emigrants" is harsh and often unrelenting in the straightforward way it depicts the realities encountered by the Swedish settlers. Dirty Pretty Things (2002) Okwe (Chjwetel Ejiofor), an illegal immigrant working as a night porter at a posh London hotel, stumbles across evidence of a bizarre murder. He and Senay (Audrey Tautou), a Turkish chambermaid -- and fellow undocumented worker -- venture into the city's seedy underworld to find out what happened. Stephen Frears directs this gritty urban thriller. Casa de Los Babys (Sayles, 2003) Six American women (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Marcia Gay Harden, Susan Lynch, Mary Steenburgen and Lili Taylor) from varying backgrounds travel to a Latin American country to pick up their newly adopted babies. The Official Story This is one of those rare political films that transcend politics with a stirring emotional story. Argentinean first-time director Luis Puenzo tells the story of a strong-willed teacher who tries to learn the true identity of her adopted daughter's father, coming to suspect that he was a political prisoner. Her political awakening is actually an emotional one as well because of her detached persona. Ironically, even though she is a teacher, she doesn't connect with people very well, thinking of history in the most abstract terms. But she learns the painful truth of present-day life. Tautly directed by Puenzo, The Official Story was a 1985 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Film, with a riveting performance by Norma Aleandro. Daughter from Danang This documentary follows an adopted American woman -- one of thousands of Vietnamese children who were separated from their families and flown to America in 1975 -- who gets more than she bargained for when she's reunited with her birth mother. The film emphasizes how much culture, rather than innate physical characteristics, can shape an individual. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Crash Irish in America (A&E Home Video 1998) Mi Familia Maria Full of Grace Missing


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bithright Citizenship in a Nutshell

Now that there again is congressional debate about birthright citizenship, do not forget to remember the great analysis of the issue in Gerald Neuman, Strangers To the Constitution: Immigrants, Borders and Fundamental Law (Princeton, 1996), Chapter 9: "Limits of the Nation: Birthright Citizenship and Undocumented Children," and David A. Martin, Membership and Consent: Abstract or Organic, 11 Yale J. Int'l L. 278 (1985).

Thanks to Linda Bosniak for the reminder.


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Milwaukee March

Demonstrators in Milwaukee marched yesterday in opposition to Congress' proposed immigration measures. The theme of the March was "A Day Without Latinos." A link to the story from the Journal Sentinal of Milwaukee is here:

The article estimates a turn out of 10,000 although organizers say that the crowd was three times that large.

A photo slideshow of the march is linked to the story.


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Voices on Immigration Reform

Thanks to Matt Muller for the following documentes:

1. Immigration Law Professors and Scholars Voice Opposition to Judicial Review Provisions of Specter's Mark


A group of immigration professors and scholars delivered a letter to the Judiciary Committee and Congressional leaders Tuesday urging that certain judicial review provisions of the Chairman’s Mark be withdrawn. The signatories included 68 professors and scholars at 47 public, private, and religious institutions in 24 states.


Download Final_Letter_to_Judiciary_Committee.pdf


2. U.S. Judicial Conference Joins Scholars, Advocates in Opposition to Judicial Review Provisions of Specter’s Mark


In a March 23, 2006 letter to Senator Specter, the Judicial Conference stated its opposition to Section 701 of the Chairman’s Mark, which would consolidate all immigration appeals in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. According to the letter, "[n]o sufficient justification to support changing the status quo and shifting these cases from the regional courts to the Federal Circuit has been provided." The Judicial Conference also expressed concern that the proposed jurisdiction shift would overwhelm the Federal Circuit’s docket. It noted that the regional circuits have experience deciding immigration appeals and "have worked diligently to establish court management procedures…enabling the courts to process significantly larger numbers of cases than in prior years." The letter also stated that recent problems with immigration appeals stem not from the circuits’ varying interpretations of immigration law, but from the agency’s failure to fully develop the issues for appellate review.

The Judicial Conference also addressed Section 707’s "certificate of reviewability" requirement, writing that "such a significant change calls for careful analysis to ensure that it would not interfere with the ability of the courts of appeals to manage their caseload and provide meaningful review of such cases, and would not impose an unwarranted burden on the judiciary or litigants."

Download Judicial_Conference_Letter.pdf

3. As expected, Senator Coburn will seek a vote Monday on a controversial amendment to Specter's mark that would deny U.S. citizenship to children of certain noncitizens. The proposal specifies that a person born in the U.S. is only "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" if the person is born in wedlock to a parent who is a citizen or LPR, or born out of wedlock to a mother who is a citizen or LPR.

Download Coburn_Citizenship_Amendment.pdf


March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

AILA Comments On USCIS Proposed Streamlined Processing

We present AILA's response to USCIS's request for comments on its planned efforts to streamline benefits processing and eliminate the capture and processing of redundant data by moving from an exclusively transaction based focus to customer accounts (courtesy of AILA).,0324-AILA.pdf


March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supremes On Permanent Bar Applicability

An Associated Press news story reports "in a case that could determine how the U.S. deals with longtime illegal residents,
Supreme Court justices considered Wednesday whether a deported Mexican man should be allowed to join his family in Utah". For the full story, see here. Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales, No. 04-1376 (Sup. Ct. Mar. 22, 2006). The Supreme Court granted certiorari to answer "whetherand under what circumstances INA 241(a)(5) applies to an alien who reentered the US illegally before the effective date of IIRIRA, April 1, 1997." The decision below was Fernandez-Vargasv. Gonzales, No. 03-394 (10th Cir. Jan. 12, 2005).


March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Farmers Want Access to Immigrant Labor

Several hundred farmers from around the country— including more than a dozen from Florida — gathered outside the Capitol earlier this month to protest an immigration law they say could kill the U.S. agriculture industry.

Standing before crates of oranges, broccoli, carrots and other produce, the farmers urged lawmakers to find ways of securing the country's agriculture economy that is heavily dependent on immigrant workers.

The farmers said they understood the need to secure U.S. borders. At the same time, however, they urged lawmakers to consider a law enabling guest workers to come to the country and fill thousands of otherwise unwanted agricultural jobs.

"Without these workers, you wouldn't have an industry," said Walter Kates, of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. "I don't think people realize that Americans won't take these jobs."

The immigrant workers, Kates said, "are here to make money, not to get on welfare."

Michael Bartos, of Consolidated Citrus in Fort Myers, agreed.

Bartos made the day-trip to Washington to attend the rally and meet with Florida's Sens. Mel Martinez, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, to press the issue.

"I think there's a very good chance we would not have enough workers to harvest our fruit and there wouldn't be enough workers for the other industries, like construction and hospitality," he said.

Sens. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who attended the rally, said they understood those concerns.

Both senators said they are working with their colleagues on a comprehensive immigration reform that would include a guest worker program. The legislation is currently being ironed out in the Judiciary Committee and is expected to be taken up on the Senate floor later this month.

The House passed border security legislation last year but lawmakers were criticized for not including a guest worker provision.

The Senate seems more receptive to the idea, with President Bush's blessing.

"It is about the border," Martinez said. "It is also about comprehensive reform. We need to ensure we don't look just to the border.

"For our economy, our food supply and fairness, it is essential that we address the needs of our agriculture industry," Martinez added.

Source: Scripps Howard News Service, Mar. 16, 2006


March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Says "No" to Undocumented in Census

The Ohio House on Tuesday decisively said illegal immigrants and noncitizens should not be counted in the U.S. census when congressional seats are being determined.

Over sharp objections from a few lawmakers who raised discrimination arguments, the House voted 71 to 24 for a resolution that backs a proposal in Washington to change the U.S. Constitution's 14th amendment.

The resolution has upset Ohio's Latino and immigrant communities.

But without the change, Ohioans have a diminished voice in Washington, said State Rep. Kevin DeWine, a suburban Dayton Republican, who sponsored the House resolution.

While not allowed to vote, illegal immigrants and noncitizens are included in the census used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House.

Michigan Republican Rep. Candice Miller introduced a constitutional amendment last year that would change the 14th amendment to allow only "citizens" to be counted instead of "persons." DeWine's resolution would make Ohio the first state to support Miller's proposal.

The system now benefits California, Texas and Florida, which have high numbers of illegal immigrants and noncitizens.

Miller's proposal needs a two-thirds vote of Congress and to be ratified by 38 states - both longshot scenarios.

But DeWine figures it's worth a shot. If 2010 census projections hold true, Ohio would lose two congressional seats.

Fighting for those two seats, however, appears to come at the risk of alienating groups of people - especially those who are here legally but have not yet achieved citizenship.

"They are not even considering people who are already residents, who have jobs, and pay taxes and have green cards and have been here a long time," said Pastor Jesus Laboy, president of the Coalition of Latino Ministers of Ohio.

"The message they are sending is that noncitizens and members of the Latino community do not count, and that is really sad," said Veronica Dahlberg, of HOLA, the Hispanic Organizations of Lake and Ashtabula.

"The census is one of the most important tools used by historians to document growth and change," Dahlberg said. "And I don't like it that they would try to leave us out of the history books."

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mar. 22, 2006


March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Growth In Latino-Owned Businesses

Fueled by a rapidly expanding Hispanic consumer market, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses is growing much faster than the national rate for other companies.

Hispanics owned nearly 1.6 million businesses in 2002, a 31 percent increase from five years earlier, according to a report Tuesday by the Census Bureau. The number of all U.S. companies grew by 10 percent, to about 23 million, during the same period.

"The Hispanic consumer market is exploding," said Michael Barrera, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "Who knows that consumer market best?"

Hispanic consumers spend $700 billion a year, a figure that is expected to climb to $1 trillion by the end of the decade, Barrera said at a news conference.

Ronald Langston, director of the Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency, said immigration is helping to increase the diversity of America's economy.

He noted that one in 10 U.S. workers is Hispanic, a figure that is expected to grow to one in four by 2050.

"The United States will once again become a nation of immigrants," Langston said.

The overwhelming majority of Hispanic-owned businesses were one-person enterprises, according to the report. Only 13 percent had any employees other than the owner. About a fourth of all U.S. businesses had employees in 2002, the report said.

New businesses started by Hispanics face many of the same problems as those started by non-Hispanics, said Louis Olivas, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Arizona State University. Money to start and expand is usually the biggest hurdle, he said.

"All startup businesses face funding issues," Olivas said.

Some Hispanic business owners also face language barriers, but those who speak both Spanish and English have advantages, he said.

The report is based on administrative records and a survey of 2.4 million businesses. The Census Bureau defines Hispanic-owned businesses as private companies in which Hispanics hold at least 51 percent of stock or interest. The report does not classify public companies, with publicly traded stock, because they can be owned by many stockholders of unknown ethnicities.

Hispanics owned nearly 7 percent of all businesses in 2002, up from about 6 percent in 1997.

They made up a little more than 13 percent of the population in 2002, but they have accounted for half of the nation's population growth since the start of the decade, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Source: AP, Mar. 21, 2006


March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cardinal Roger Mahoney on Immigration Reform

Called by God to Help
Published: March 22, 2006

I'VE received a lot of criticism for stating last month that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, would among other things subject to five years in prison anyone who "assists" an undocumented immigrant "to remain in the United States."

Some supporters of the bill have even accused the church of encouraging illegal immigration and meddling in politics. But I stand by my statement. Part of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church is to help people in need. It is our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger. Indeed, the Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities agencies around the country, is one of the largest nonprofit providers of social services in the nation, serving both citizens and immigrants.

Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.

Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress — the law of God.

That does not mean that the Catholic Church encourages or supports illegal immigration. Every day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals and schools, we witness the baleful consequences of illegal immigration. Families are separated, workers are exploited and migrants are left by smugglers to die in the desert. Illegal immigration serves neither the migrant nor the common good.

What the church supports is an overhaul of the immigration system so that legal status and legal channels for migration replace illegal status and illegal immigration. Creating legal structures for migration protects not only those who migrate but also our nation, by giving the government the ability to better identify who is in the country as well as to control who enters it.

Only comprehensive reform of the immigration system, embodied in the principles of another proposal in Congress, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration bill, will help solve our current immigration crisis.

Enforcement-only proposals like the Border Protection act take the country in the opposite direction. Increasing penalties, building more detention centers and erecting walls along our border with Mexico, as the act provides, will not solve the problem.

The legislation will not deter migrants who are desperate to survive and support their families from seeking jobs in the United States. It will only drive them further into the shadows, encourage the creation of more elaborate smuggling networks and cause hardship and suffering. I hope that the Senate will not take the same enforcement-only road as the House.

The unspoken truth of the immigration debate is that at the same time our nation benefits economically from the presence of undocumented workers, we turn a blind eye when they are exploited by employers. They work in industries that are vital to our economy yet they have little legal protection and no opportunity to contribute fully to our nation.

While we gladly accept their taxes and sweat, we do not acknowledge or uphold their basic labor rights. At the same time, we scapegoat them for our social ills and label them as security threats and criminals to justify the passage of anti-immigrant bills.

This situation affects the dignity of millions of our fellow human beings and makes immigration, ultimately, a moral and ethical issue. That is why the church is compelled to take a stand against harmful legislation and to work toward positive change.

It is my hope that our elected officials will understand this and enact immigration reform that respects our common humanity and reflects the values — fairness, compassion and opportunity — upon which our nation, a nation of immigrants, was built.

Roger Mahony is the cardinal archbishop of Los Angeles.

March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Minutemen Headed Back to Arizona

The controversial civilian Minuteman border patrol group is planning a return to Arizona in two weeks to again confront the problem of illegal immigration.

Some say the original Minuteman Project conducted in April 2005 in Cochise County and a subsequent patrol in October brought increased national attention to the Arizona stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I think we've clearly been the catalyst that has sparked the national debate," said Minuteman president Chris Simcox. "That's been our goal, to bring national attention to the fact that the government has failed miserably to bring control to the southern border."

However many Hispanic groups and advocates for immigrant rights still call the Minuteman group racist or vigilantes.

"The thing we objected to here is it brought out a lot of nativist sentiment and that's not America at its best," said the Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Tucson-based Humane Borders.

Simcox said his group will continue to plan monthlong patrols every six months until the federal government gains control of the border.

"If the Senate does not pass a border security bill soon, you are going to see our numbers double probably by the end of the summer," he said. "People are frustrated and I think this political process of coming to the border and setting up a lawn chair and saying, `We have the will to do it,' sends a strong message to Washington, D.C."

Simcox said he is expecting about 1,000 Minuteman Civil Defense Corps volunteers in Arizona for the next patrol, expected to start April 1 and last for one month.

He said the group counts 6,500 volunteers in 31 chapters, although the number is unsubstantiated.

Each volunteer passes a criminal background check, interview and training, according to Simcox.

He said the group chose to patrol the Altar Valley this time because it is the most heavily trafficked corridor this fiscal year.

The group will also conduct patrols in New Mexico, Texas and California on the U.S.-Mexico border, and in Washington state, New York and Vermont on the U.S.-Canada border, Simcox added.

Border Patrol spokesman Johnny Bernal said Minuteman Civil Defense Corps volunteers have not broken laws or violated civil rights in their past patrols. President George W. Bush has expressed opposition to what he called border "vigilantes."

Simcox called the claims that his group represents a threat to illegal immigrants "outrageous" and said none of the group's members has attacked anyone.

But Hoover said the group's patrols are unrealistic and ineffective. He would like to see them set up camp in remote areas rather than close to highways and towns.

"We have 300 miles (480 kilometers) of border down here and they are playing around on five miles (eight kilometers)," Hoover said.

Source: AP, Mar. 21, 2006


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mexican Ads on Immigration Reform

Mexico published advertisements in major newspapers in Mexico and in the United States on Monday saying migrants should have the same rights as everyone else and calling it "indispensable" that the two countries reach a migration accord.

Published in English in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, and in Spanish in leading Mexico City newspapers, the full-page ads coincide with expected U.S. Senate debate on a bill that would extend fences along the U.S.-Mexico border crack down on illegal immigration with law enforcement and the military.

"Acknowledging the sovereign right of each country to regulate the entrance of foreigners, it is indispensable to find a solution for the undocumented population that lives in the United States and contributes to the development of the country, so that people can be fully incorporated into their actual communities, with the same rights and duties," the ad read.

The ad's content was taken primarily from a report outlining the goals and recommendations of a committee of Mexican legislators, executive branch officials, diplomats, academics, foreign policy experts and social group leaders.

The ad states that Mexico wants "a far-reaching guest workers scheme" and that "in order for a guest workers program to be viable, Mexico should participate in its design, management, supervision and evaluation."

"Mexico does not promote undocumented migration," it read, adding that Mexico "is committed to fighting all forms of human smuggling and related criminal activities."

But both countries share the responsibility in dealing with the issue - which was complicated immensely after the Sept. 11 attacks and Washington's subsequent moves to beef up security along its borders, Mexico said in the ads.

It also acknowledged that it needs to create incentives for its citizens to return home, and suggested offering housing credits.

And it called for the creation of a cross-border medical insurance system, while proposing that Mexicans living and working in the United States continue to qualify for pension programs in their native country.

President Vicente Fox's spokesman Ruben Aguilar said Monday that Mexico published the ads to make the government's views "better known and evaluated by relevant actors who participate in the migration debate."

Source: AP, Mar. 20, 2006


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Golden Venture Smuggler Sentenced

The Chinatown businesswoman who calls herself Sister Ping was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for running one of New York City's most lucrative immigrant smuggling rings and for financing the infamous voyage of the Golden Venture, the rusting freighter that ran aground off Queens in 1993 with nearly 300 starving immigrants in its fetid hold.

Ten of the immigrants died after they leaped into chilly waves off the Rockaways in a final effort to reach American soil.

Sister Ping, whose given name is Cheng Chui Ping, was handed the maximum penalty by the judge after she ignored her lawyers' advice and delivered a meandering speech for more than an hour, saying she was just another honest victim of Chinatown's vicious gangs and snakeheads, as immigrant smugglers are known.

Ms. Cheng, 57, was convicted on June 23 after a monthlong trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan on three counts of immigrant smuggling, money-laundering and trafficking in kidnapping proceeds. Judge Michael B. Mukasey was clearly angered by what he called her "lengthy exercise in self-justification," and as he announced the sentence he said "it defies belief" that Ms. Cheng suggested she was unjustly convicted.

"You are not the victim of fabricated evidence," Judge Mukasey told her, his tone prickling with indignation. "You were willing to take advantage of the attraction of the United States for thousands of other people and turn it to your financial advantage." He said this in response to Ms. Cheng's repeated statements that she loved the United States.

The tough sentence marked the end of a 12-year effort to catch and prosecute Ms. Cheng and, with the exception of appeals, the end of the case of the Golden Venture. Martin D. Ficke, the special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for New York, said Ms. Cheng's was the biggest immigrant smuggling operation ever investigated in New York. He said the operation had been shut down.

An assistant United States attorney, Leslie C. Brown, said at the beginning of the hearing that Ms. Cheng had run an "extraordinarily lucrative" operation that carried people from China aboard barely seaworthy tramp vessels. In a two-decade smuggling career, the prosecutor said, Ms. Cheng charged exorbitant rates for a sea trip in which passengers were given little food and sometimes only two sips of water a day. Once they arrived in the United States she hired gang members to ensure that they paid their debts to her, Ms. Brown said.

Source: NY Times, Mar. 17, 2006


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

8th Circuit Says BIA Has Authority To Issue Orders Of Removal, Splits From 9th Circuit

In Solano-Chicas v. Gonzales, No. 04-3373/3755 (8th Cir. Mar. 17, 2006), the court parted with the 9th Circuit's holding, and said that where the BIA reversed the IJ's order granting cancellation of removal, the BIA had authority to issue orders of removal. The court also noted that it was troubled by the DHS's apparent lack of candor.,0323-solano.pdf


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

USCIS Director Gonzalez

A San Jose Mercury News report spotlights newly appointed USCIS Director Gonzalez's experiences, including his family's arrival to the US as refugees, serving in the US military as a US army colonel, and more. For the full story, see here.


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unaccompanied minors

An important conference to discuss the issues faced by unaccompanied children will be held in El Paso, Texas this April 20-22. A registration form is attached: Download el_paso_uc_registation_form.pdf


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Posner Strikes Again!

Judge Posner wrote an opinion for the Seventh Circuit, which was issued on March 22, on the meaning of "aggravated felony" under the Immigration & Nationality Act.   According to Posner, "The only consistency that we can see in the government's treatment of the meaning of "aggravated felony" is that the alien always loses." Hats off to Rebecca M. Reyes and Kevin A. Raica of AZULAY, HORN & SEIDEN, Chicago.  Download gonzalesgomez_v. Achim.pdf


March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)