Saturday, May 13, 2006
Miriam Cherry forwarded this news story on a Second Circuit opinion remanding a case to the BIA to consider whether the Guatemalan applicants could qualify for asylum for fear of persecution on account of being wealthy.
CBP Border Patrol agents at the I-25 traffic checkpoint in Las Cruces, New Mexico, seized 422 lbs. of marijuana over the weekend hidden inside jalapeno pepper cans. The cans of marijuana, valued at $338,000, were found in a 1994 Jeep Cherokee driven by two females. Click here for the full press release.
On the passing of Abe Rosenthal this week, I'm reminded of a column he wrote back in June 1993 following the arrival of the Golden Venture into NY harbor with a group of undocumented immigrants from Fujian Province, China. Rosenthal, the former managing editor of the NY Times, defended the Fujian refugees who were arrested and roundly chastised for attempting to break the immigration laws. He argued that these individuals were simply seeking freedom, and that Americans should welcome them. In fact, we should "give them a parade!"
Finally, in the past several weeks, we've witnessed parades in their honor as well as for other undocumented immigrants simply entering to better their lives.
As a Mother's Day special treat, the Social Security Administration released a list of the most popular names of newborns last year. The top 10 for girls in 2005: Emily, Emma, Madison, Abigail, Olivia, Isabella, Hannah, Samantha, Ava and Ashley. For boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan, Andrew, Daniel, Anthony, Christopher and Joseph.
The agency also releases separate lists for each state, and the most popular names in states along the U.S.-Mexico border reflect the impact of immigration. Jose is the most popular name for boys in Texas; in Arizona, it's Angel. Mia is the second most popular name for girls in those two states, and fifth in California.
Click here for the full story.
Friday, May 12, 2006
The LA Times reports on a "deadline alert" provided by US Customs and Immigration Services. On July 5, those individuals from Nicaragua and Honduras who obtained temporary protective status ("TPS") allowing them to lawfully remain in the US in the wake of Hurricane Mitch will be out of status unless they apply to renew their temporary protective status by JUNE 1. At this point, officials report that fewer that 20% of the 79,000 eligible noncitizens have applied for an extension. They attribute the low numbers to a combination of factors including:
-the fact that some noncitizens are trying to save money on the application fee, and simply hoping that the Senate will pass a bill that will allow them to obtain legal status in some other way (which is not a good idea); and
-the fact that Spanish media has been so focused on broader immigration legislation that these outlets have been less effective than usual in getting out the word on TPS.
The LA Times story is here.
Former Immigration Lawyer
Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has been representing California's 16th District encompassing San Jose and Silicon Valley since 1995. It may be of note to Immigration Daily readers that previously, in her professional career she practiced immigration law as a partner in the firm of Webber & Lofgren, 1978-1980 and taught immigration law at University of Santa Clara School of Law, 1981-1994. Her voting record on immigration (F-) in Congress (click here) as rated by an anti-immigration group reflects her understanding of the need for increased immigration and comprehensive immigration reform.
Ajit Natarajan for UniteFamilies writes "The US is a country built on immigration, but its laws are pulling immigrant families apart." Click here to read the article.
Immigrants, Skills, And Wages: Reassessing The Economic Gains From Immigration
Giovanni Peri for The Immigration Policy Center writes "Foreign- born workers do not substitute perfectly for, and therefore do not compete with, most native-born workers." Click here for the paper.
Bush to Address immigration in Address on Monday
President Bush will address the country Monday night to spur passage of legislation that could put millions of illegal immigrants on the path to American citizenship, the White House announced today. Mr. Bush will speak from the Oval Office beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said the president would speak for about 20 minutes, and that television networks had been asked to carry the speech live. "This is crunch time," Mr. Snow told reporters this morning. For the full New York Times story, click here.
Georgia and Immigration
With dozens of states rushing to fill the vacuum left by long-stalled Congressional action on immigration legislation, none have rushed faster and further than Georgia, which recently passed a law that all sides describe as among the most far-reaching in the nation. Rather than focusing tightly on restricting access to specific benefits or cracking down on employment or bogus identity documents, as other states tried to do, Georgia took the blunderbuss approach, passing a bill hitting as many areas as possible. The new law requires Georgia employers to use a federal database to verify that their workers are legal, instead of using a voluntary system that was widely ignored. Recipients of most state benefits, including welfare and Medicaid, must prove they are in the country legally, although some medical services are exempt. Workers who cannot provide a Social Security number or other taxpayer identification will be required to pay a 6 percent state withholding tax, taken from their paychecks. Jailers must inform the federal authorities if anyone incarcerated is in the country illegally, and the local authorities are specifically authorized to seek training to enforce federal immigration laws. And a new criminal offense, human trafficking, has been added to the books to crack down on those who bring in large groups of immigrants. The bill, known as the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, on April 17 and will begin to take effect on July 1, 2007, with various provisions taking effect over the next several years. Click here to see the story (registration required).
"Maybe You Should, Yes You Must, No You Can't: Shifting Standards and Practices for Assuring Document Reliability in Asylum Cases" by VIRGIL WIEBE, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota). Click here for the full text.
As the demand for corroborating evidence for asylum cases continues to rise, the question of the reliability of that evidence takes on ever increasing importance. This article addresses how the reliability of documentary evidence is evaluated at the various levels of the asylum process. With a growing concern by federal law enforcement about document fraud and its role in asylum claims, advocates must be proactive in testing whether documents provided by clients are reliable pieces of evidence.
The National Immigration Project invites you to attend a benefit reception in honor of Barbara Hines. The reception will be held on Friday, June 23, 2006, from 6 to 7:30 pm, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX, site of this year’s AILA conference. Even if you cannot attend the reception, we encourage you to show your support by ordering an ad in the reception program with a message of congratulations for Barbara. Information about the reception and purchasing ads in the program is available here.
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barbara has distinguished herself as an accomplished immigration attorney, advocate for immigrant rights, and, most recently, a clinical professor at the University of Texas School of Law. Among her many honors include the 1992 AILA Jack Wasserman Award for Excellence in Litigation and the Texas Law Fellowships Excellence in Public Interest Award in 2002. She served as the first co-director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of Texas, Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. Barbara is also the current chair of the National Immigration Project’s board of directors.
There is no charge to attend the reception. All advertisement proceeds will benefit the work of the National Immigration Project. For more information about the reception and purchasing ads, please contact Ki Kim, the Project’s development director at 617-227-9727, ext. 6 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
NPR ran a story on the use of a posse in southern Arizona to crack down on human smugglers. Here is an excerpt:
Confronted with illegal border crossing in Arizona, the Maricopa County Sherriff's office has turned to a traditional Western solution: the posse. Wednesday night, sheriff's deputies and members of the department's 300-member reserve force were sent to patrol the desert and round up illegal immigrants suspected of paying smugglers to cross the border. The new practice is based on a controversial interpretation of a state law making it a crime to smuggle illegal aliens. In the Maricopa interpretation, it is also a crime to pay a smuggler. The sheriff's office of Maricopa, which includes the city of Phoenix, is facing lawsuits and charges of racial profiling. NPR's Ted Robbins went along on the posse's first night out.
Click here to read or hear the story.
isn't this a horrible incident waiting to happen? The good news is that onemember of the posse acknowledged to the NPR reporter that "brown skin" did not necesssarily mean that a person was undocumented.
USCIS Memo On Legal And Discretionary Analysis
For Adjudication USCIS Acting Deputy Director Divine issued a memo dated May 3, 2006 on the importance of carefully analyzing the factual findings, legal requirements, and discretionary factors in adjudicating applications and petitions. Click here to see the memo.
USCIS Interim Guidance On Criminal History Disclosures
USCIS Acting Deputy Director Divine issued a memo dated May 3, 2006 to provide interim guidance to USCIS adjudicators regarding when it may be appropriate to disclose certain information relating to a visa petitioner's criminal history to potential visa beneficiaries. Click here to view the memo.
NPR Story on Immigration Act of 1965
NPR on May 9 ran the first of a three part series looking at legal immigration. The first story looks at the 1965 Immigration Act, along with a Q&A with Senator Ted Kennedy, who helped shepard the act through Congress. Here is an excerpt:
As Congress considers sweeping changes to immigration law, nearly all the debate has centered on the problem of illegal immigration. Little discussed are the many concerns of legal immigrants, the estimated 3 million to 4 million who are, as it's so often been put --"already standing in line." The current system of legal immigration dates to 1965. It marked a radical break with previous policy and has led to profound demographic changes in America. But that's not how the law was seen when it was passed -- at the height of the civil rights movement, at a time when ideals of freedom, democracy and equality had seized the nation. Against this backdrop, the manner in which the United States decided which foreigners could and could not enter the country had become an increasing embarrassment.
The Supreme Court split 5-4 Wednesday to let the Bush administration deport a British man for breaking the law in Mississippi. Kiren Kumar Bharti's request for a stay was supported by the court's four most liberal members: Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. They did not explain their votes. Bharti's case is similar to two appeals that justices agreed last month to consider. They ask whether immigrants can avoid deportation over some state drug convictions. Arguments will be late this year. To win a Supreme Court stay requires five votes. President Bush's two nominees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, backed the government Wednesday, as did Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Bharti was convicted in Tupelo, Miss., of marijuana possession charges in 1998, the same year he was awarded permanent resident status. The government began deportation proceedings after he got into more trouble, including convictions for domestic violence and resisting arrest.
For the full story, click here.
CNN is reporting that Senate leaders reached a deal Thursday on reviving a broad immigration bill that could provide millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become American citizens and said they'll try to pass it before Memorial Day. The agreement brokered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, breaks a political stalemate that has lingered for weeks while immigrants and their supporters held rallies, boycotts and protests to push for action. "We congratulate the Senate on reaching agreement, and we look forward to passage of a bill prior to Memorial Day," said Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary. Key to the agreement is who will be negotiating a compromise with the House, which in December passed an enforcement-only bill that would subject the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States to felony charges as well as deportation. For the CNN story, click here.
Matter of J-F-F-, 23 I&N 912 (AG 2006) can be found by clicking here. Download jff35321.pdf In the ruling, the Attorney General reviews and denies Convention against Torture protection to pro se respondent, who is ineligible for 212(c), where "the Government had introduced a psychiatric evaluation, dated February 19, 2004, in which the psychiatrist 'cleared [respondent] to stand trial,' although this report stated that respondent had schizoaffective and bipolar disorders and observed that respondent had been admitted to various hospitals as a result of his mental illness." AG review of BIA decisons are pretty rare and this one presumably tells us where Alberto Gonzales wants to draw the line.
The US Natitional Security has assembled the world's largest database of telephone records tracking the phone calls of tens of millions of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth customers, sources familiar with the program reportedly said. In an article published in USA Today, the daily said the NSA launched the secret program in 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks, to analyze calling patterns in a bid to detect terrorist activity. It said the plan does not involve listening in to phone conversations but consists of records of phone calls made across town or cross-country.
Clik here for the story.
Click here for a Washington Post (May 11) story on the human aspects of immigration and immigration enforcement. It starts like this:
A bus pulled into the garage of the Tucson courthouse and unloaded about 15 Mexican border crossers, all sweaty and dusty from their failed attempt to cross the desert. The courthouse guards stood in a line across from us. One of them made a joke: "Smells like chicken." They all laughed. Then they put on rubber gloves and searched us, patting around our ankles and belts. They put chains around our waists and cuffed our hands to the chains and then cuffed our ankles, too. As they cuffed the ankles of the Mexican man standing next to me, he started to sob. In a firm but gentle voice, the guard cuffing him whispered in Spanish " Calmate " -- be calm -- but the man couldn't control himself and kept on sobbing. The other guards were not so kind. They gave us hard stares, laughing among themselves. I was the odd man in the group, a white, middle-class journalist from New York arrested while covering a protest over a lion hunt. But I had to admit there was a certain rough justice to my presence. Every year when the leaves get thick on my lawn, I go down to the day-laborer waiting zone in the next town and hire a few Latino men to help me. I always ask their stories, and they always tell me the same tale of fleeing poverty or political oppression and slipping across the border and living for years away from their families, afraid to go home. But it had all been abstract until that moment. As the guards herded us into the building, we all quickly learned that the leg chain made it impossible to take a complete stride -- the chain came up short and jerked, cutting the cuff into your ankle. It took only a step or two to learn to shuffle, but something in that awkward shuffle broke the soul. I realized that this is what animals feel like when they are hobbled. Reduced to that helpless crippled motion, they know what it is to be dominated. That was my tiny glimpse of what the protesters who have been turning out in so many American cities are talking about -- the loss of human dignity. And the loss got deeper with each hobbled shuffle. As the guards herded us toward an elevator, we saw a small wire cage in the back. The formal purpose of the cage was clear, to separate the prisoners from the elevator controls and the guards. But there seemed to be another reason, too. "Pack it in, pack it in, pack it in," the guards said, over and over. Again, it was hard not to feel like so many cattle, and that seemed to be the point. It would have been easy enough to wait for the next elevator.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has sued DHS in federal court, asking that it accelerate the production of information that TRAC has sought from ICE under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The lawsuit is being handled with the pro bono support of Covington and Burling. In February and April, TRAC submitted FOIA requests asking ICE for criminal-related records. ICE did not respond to either request. The need for TRAC quickly to obtain such internal information increased in importance after the Supreme Court granted certiorari last month in the case of Lopez v. Gonzales, which involves LPRs with drug possession convictions. Through the FOIA requests, TRAC seeks unpublished information about non-citizens, including LPRs with drug possession arrests or convictions, including: their numbers, how long they have been in the US, how many have US citizen children, and the outcomes of their cases. TRAC hopes that the provision of such information will help guide the Supreme Court and the parties involved in Lopez. TRAC will disseminate information that it obtains through this effort on its immigration website.
To review court documents filed so far, please click here.
As any practitioner knows, the immigration consequences of criminal convictions have increased dramatically in recent years. A number of states have acted to ensure that noncitizens are advised of the potential adverse immigration consequences of guilty and no context pleas. Vermont is the latest:
ACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2005-2006 NO. 121. AN ACT RELATING TO ADVISEMENT OF IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES OF PLEADING GUILTY TO A CRIMINAL OFFENSE. (S.182)
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 13 V.S.A. § 6565 is amended to read: § 6565. PLEAS
* * * (c)(1) Prior to accepting a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere from a defendant in a criminal proceeding pursuant to Rule 11 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court shall address the defendant personally in open court, informing the defendant and determining that the defendant understands that, if he or she is not a citizen of the United States, admitting to facts sufficient to warrant a finding of guilt or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to a crime may have the consequences of deportation or denial of United States citizenship.
(2) If the court fails to advise the defendant in accordance with this subsection, and he or she later at any time shows that the plea and conviction may have or has had a negative consequence regarding his or her immigration status, the court, upon the defendant’s motion, shall vacate the judgment and permit the defendant to withdraw the plea or admission and enter a plea of not guilty. (d) Each state’s attorney shall submit an annual report to the office of the executive director of the state’s attorneys, in such form as he the executive director may require, providing information as to the use of plea agreements.
Sec. 2. Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 11(c) is amended to read:
(c) Advice to Defendant. The court shall not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere without first, by addressing the defendant personally in open court, informing him the defendant determining that he the defendant understands the following: * * * (5) if there is a plea agreement and the court has not accepted it pursuant to subdivision (e)(3) of this rule, that the court is not limited, within the maximum permissible penalty, in the sentence it may impose; and (6) if the court intends to question the defendant under oath, on the record, and in the presence of counsel about the offense to which he has pleaded, that his answers may later be used against him in a prosecution for perjury or false statement; and (7) if he or she is not a citizen of the United States, admitting to facts sufficient to warrant a finding of guilt or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to a crime may have the consequences of deportation or denial of United States citizenship.
Approved: May 2, 2006, Click here for a link to the entire law.
vs. Facts: Commonly used attacks against immigrants
Information provided by: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org
FACT: Immigrants pay taxes, in the form of income, property, sales, and taxes at the federal and state level. As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes. Undocumented immigrants pay income taxes as well, as evidenced by the Social Security Administrations suspense file (taxes that cannot be matched to workers names and social security numbers), which grew by $20 billion between 1990 and 1998.
FACT: Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members. Immigrant labor force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S. In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.
(Source: Questioning Immigration Policy Can We Afford to Open Our Arms?, Friends Committee on National Legislation Document ..G-606-DOM, January 25, 1996. http: www.fas.org/pub/gen/fcnl/immigra.html)
Myth: IMMIGRANTS SEND ALL THEIR MONEY BACK HOME
FACT: In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it is true that immigrants remit billions of dollars a year to their home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective forms of direct foreign investment.
Myth: IMMIGRANTS TAKE JOBS AWAY FROM AMERICANS...
FACT: The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open. While there has been no comprehensive study done of immigrant-owned businesses, we have countless examples: in Silicon Valley, companies begun by Chinese and Indian immigrants generated more than $19.5 billion in sales and nearly 73,000 jobs in 2000.
(Source: Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and Stephen Moore, Immigration and Unemployment: New Evidence, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Arlington, VA (Mar. 1994), p. 13.
Myth: IMMIGRANTS ARE A DRAIN ON THE ECONOMY
FACT: During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born, filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to a thriving economy. The net benefit of immigration to the U.S. is nearly $10 billion annually. As Alan Greenspan points out, 70% of immigrants arrive in prime working age. That means we havent spent a penny on their education, yet they are transplanted into our workforce and will contribute $500 billion toward our social security system over the next 20 years
(Source: Andrew Sum, Mykhaylo Trubskyy, Ishwar Khatiwada, et al., Immigrant Workers in the New England Labor Market: Implications for Workforce Development Policy, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Prepared for the New England Regional Office, the Employment and Training Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Boston, Massachusetts, October 2002.
Myth: IMMIGRANTS DONT WANT TO LEARN ENGLISH OR BECOME AMERICANS
FACT: Within ten years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak English well; moreover, demand for English classes at the adult level far exceeds supply. Greater than 33% of immigrants are naturalized citizens; given increased immigration in the 1990s, this figure will rise as more legal permanent residents become eligible for naturalization in the coming years. The number of immigrants naturalizing spiked sharply after two events: enactment of immigration and welfare reform laws in 1996, and the terrorist attacks in 2001.
(Source: American Immigration Lawyers Association, Myths & Facts in the Immigration Debate, 8/14/03. http://www.aila.org/contentViewer.aspx?bc=17,142..section4 )
(Source: Simon Romero and Janet Elder, Hispanics in the US Report Optimism New York Times, (Aug. 6, 2003).
Myth: TODAY'S IMMIGRANTS ARE DIFFERENT THAN THOSE 100 YEARS AGO
FACT: The percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born now stands at 11.5%; in the early 20th century it was approximately 15%. Similar to accusations about todays immigrants, those of 100 years ago initially often settled in mono-ethnic neighborhoods, spoke their native languages, and built up newspapers and businesses that catered to their fellow migrs. They also experienced the same types of discrimination that todays immigrants face, and integrated within American culture at a similar rate. If we view history objectively, we remember that every new wave of immigrants has been met with suspicion and doubt and yet, ultimately, every past wave of immigrants has been vindicated and saluted.
(Source: Census Data: http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/c2kprof00-us.pdf,http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/censr-4.pdf )
Myth: MOST IMMIGRANTS CROSS THE BORDER ILLEGALLY
FACT: Around 75% of todays immigrants have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the 25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (non-immigrant) visas. Undocumented immigrants estimated to be less than 2% of the US population.
(Source: Department of Homeland Security (http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/statistics/index.htm)
FACT: From 1986 to 1998, the Border Patrols budget increased six-fold and the number of agents stationed on our southwest border doubled to 8,500. The Border Patrol also toughened its enforcement strategy, heavily fortifying typical urban entry points and pushing migrants into dangerous desert areas, in hopes of deterring crossings. Instead, the undocumented immigrant population doubled in that timeframe, to 8 milliondespite the legalization of nearly 3 million immigrants after the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Insufficient legal avenues for immigrants to enter the U.S., compared with the number of jobs in need of workers, has significantly contributed to this current conundrum.
(Source: Immigration and Naturalization website: http://www.ncjrs.org/ondcppubs/publications/enforce/border/ins_3.html)
Myth: THE WAR ON TERRORISM CAN BE WON WITH IMMIGRANT RESTRICTIONS
FACT: No security expert since September 11th, 2001 has said that restrictive immigration measures would have prevented the terrorist attacksinstead, the key is effective use of good intelligence. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were here on legal visas. Since 9/11, the myriad of measures targeting immigrants in the name of national security have netted no terrorism prosecutions. In fact, several of these measures could have the opposite effect and actually make us less safe, as targeted communities of immigrants are afraid to come forward with information.
(Source: Associated Press/Dow Jones Newswires, US Senate Subcommittee Hears Immigration Testimony, Oct. 17, 2001.)
(Source: Cato Institute: Dont Blame Immigrants for Terrorism, Daniel Griswold, Assoc. Director of Cato Institutes Center for Trade Policy Studies (see: http://www.cato.org/dailys/10-23-01.html)