Saturday, January 21, 2006

One View of Our Immigration System

January 20, 2006

A broken immigration system, By DAVID LEOPOLD

THOSE who followed the heartbreaking saga of my client, Manuel Bartsch, the German teenager who was locked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after he inquired about his citizenship status, have now seen how badly our nation's immigration system is broken.

Sadly, stories such as this one are not unique. Divided families, deaths in the southwestern desert, fake documents, and community tensions are just a few of the symptoms of a system so hobbled and inadequate nothing short of a complete overhaul will suffice.

The failed immigration system of United States is hardly a new problem. Nor is it a new idea that this problem can be solved, as some have suggested, simply by stepping up enforcement.

Over the past decade, the U.S. has quintupled the nation's immigration enforcement budget. All told, we have flushed more than $20 billion into attempts to plug the helplessly leak-riddled dike that is our current border control system.

The result? The number of illegal immigrants pouring into our country has risen steadily to a mind-numbing 11 million people. Pumping more money into enforcement-only measures won't change a thing, except the total dollar amount spent upon fruitless efforts.

But so far Congress has offered nothing more than mean-spirited legislation that focuses exclusively upon enforcement in an attempt to provide the appearance of getting tough.

HR 4437, passed by the House last month, does little to stop the flow of people entering the United States illegally. Instead it criminalizes the 11 million undocumented people and threatens the civil liberties of citizens and noncitizens alike.

Moreover, criminalizing and deporting the 11 million undocumented workers already in this country would prove an impossible and ridiculously unwise task.

Documented and undocumented workers make up 40 percent of farming, fishing, and forestry jobs in the United States, 33 percent of jobs in building and grounds maintenance, 22 percent of food preparation jobs, and 22 percent of construction jobs. Our economy relies heavily upon the contributions of these workers, who often take jobs Americans remain unwilling to take themselves.

Even if we wanted to jettison undocumented workers, the U.S. government simply doesn't have the resources to do so.

The Center for American Progress estimates it would cost roughly $206 billion to ferret them out and ship them home, roughly $41 billion per year over five years. That's more than the total annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security. Most Americans wouldn't even support such measures.

We need a fair, orderly, controlled system of immigration that reflects our nation's values and restores the rule of law. We need common sense and creative immigration policies that will remedy the broken immigration system and help our nation meet the economic challenges of the 21st century.

As the House bill moves to the Senate this spring, Ohioans should demand that our senators support measures that toughen security around our nation's borders and, at the same time, offer undocumented workers the opportunity to earn their way to legal status by working, paying taxes, learning English, and being committed to American values.

We need reforms that enhance our national security while reuniting families, some of whom have been separated for 20 years. I, for one, would rather know who is here and keep out those who mean us harm. Such reform would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods that is essential to our economy.

Tough talk may make us feel better but it does nothing to keep us safe, improve our quality of life, or bolster our economy. What we need is action.

It's time to pass real, common sense comprehensive immigration reform policies that will restore order and security to our nation's borders and all of America.

David Leopold is a Cleveland-based attorney who represents Manuel Bartsch. He also is adjunct professor of immigration law at the Case Western Reserve and Cleveland-Marshall Schools of Law.


January 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lopez Obrador Claims Fox is Soft on Border Issues

The leftist favored to win Mexico's presidential election in July accused President Vicente Fox of being too soft in opposing Washington's tough new efforts to prevent illegal immigration.

A plan by the U.S. Congress to build a fence on parts of the U.S.-Mexican border has upset many Mexicans and anger was compounded late last month when a Border Patrol agent in the San Diego area fatally shot a young Mexican man who had tried to enter the United States illegally.

Mexico has demanded an investigation into the shooting and Fox described the fence proposal as "shameful" but Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City who leads opinion polls, said that was not enough.

He said Fox's free-market policies caused slow economic growth, and aggravated mass emigration from Mexico.

"It's infuriating to see how President Fox, because he is dedicated to maintaining economic policies that only benefit the elite, does not have the moral or political authority to confront the disgrace of a wall on the border or to protest the deaths of migrants," he said.

Source: Reuters, Jan. 8, 2006


January 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Alito Follow Up Responses on His Testimony

Courtesy of Michael Olivas: Here are some followup answers that Judge Alito provided to the Judiciary Committee:

Among other things, Judge Alito discusses Plyer v. Doe and, for the most part, reieterates the law in the area of review of federal and state classifications of immgrants, including Mathews v. Diaz. He quotes plenary power language from Mathews but also quotes from Graham v. Richardson on immigrants as a discrete and insular minority.  Its worth a look.


January 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Record Mexican Remittances More than Tourism Dollars!

Remittances sent by Mexicans living abroad to their hometowns reached record numbers from January to November 2005, according to a report issued this week by Mexico's central bank.

The report shows that Mexicans sent almost $18.3 billion back to their country. That is an increase of 20.43 percent over the same period in 2004.

According to Banco de México, remittances continue as the second-greatest source of revenue for the country, behind petroleum. Between January and November 2005, oil revenues reached $25.7 billion.

Remittances exceeded revenues generated by tourism in Mexico, although exact figures for that part of the economy were not available.

Most of the money was sent by immigrants from the states of Zacatecas, Michoacán, Jalisco and Guanajuato. If this trend continued through the end of the year, 2005 remittances could exceed $20 billion.

Explanations experts offered for the increase in remittances included a new wave of immigrants and tracking improvements that make remittances easier to measure.

Source: Dallas Morning News, Jan. 20, 2006

January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Department of State Cable On FY 2006 Refugee Admissions

The Department of State issued a cable on Presidential determination of FY 2006 refugee admissions.,0123-cable5.shtm


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pew Hispanic center report on Mexican Immigration: The Economic Transition to America

Rakesh Kochhar for the Pew Hispanic Center writes "... [F]ailure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the US.",0123-kochhar.pdf


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Governor Pawlenty Calls for More Legal Immigration

After months of inflammatory rhetoric about the cost of illegal immigration, including a statement last week calling for a crackdown, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of MN showed the softer side of his personality this week, calling for an increase in legal immigration, accompanied by policies to help immigrants find jobs, learn English and become citizens.  A story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which includes more details on the proposal, is here.  The Governor's efforts earned mixed reviews, particular coming - as they did - after a wave of harsher rhetoric.  The policy initiative does signal at least a small step in a direction that acknowledges some of the benefits of immigration and challenges to new immigrants.

But the Pioneer Press quotes Alison Quito Ziegler, interim director of the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, who points out, "It's good that the governor is trying to do something positive to create legal paths of immigration. But the governor's proposal doesn't fully address the breadth of immigrants in Minnesota, the majority of whom are working in agriculture and the meatpacking industry."


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Mary Robinson, UNHCHR, in NYC

Few names are so closely connected with the cause of human rights as that of Mary Robinson. As former President of Ireland and more recently United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, she was ideally positioned for passionately and eloquently arguing the case for human rights around the world. Over five tumultuous years that included the tragic events of 9/11, she offered moral leadership and vision to the global human rights movement.

In celebration of the release of a new published collection of her speeches, A Voice for Human Rights, Mary Robinson will be appearing at the following:

Columbia University, Jan. 23, noon

United Nations Book Shop, Jan. 24, 1 pm


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CRS Report on Expedited Removal

The Congressional Research Service has issued a new report on expedited removal and its proposed expansion in a number of immigration reform proposals.  Check out th ereport at

Download crs_expedited_removal_jan_06_rl33109.pdf


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Go Get 'Em, Attorney General Gonzales!!!!!!!!!!!

January 20, 2006 


Attorney General Questions Quality of Work, Lack of Respect


The Byzantine process of applying for asylum in the U.S. has taken a new

twist with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' decision to seek a

"comprehensive review" of the immigration courts.

Appellate judges throughout the federal system have recently leveled a

barrage of criticism at immigration courts for the quality of their work.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals launched the latest

salvo Dec. 29 in Pasha v. Gonzales, No. 04-4166.

"At the risk of sounding like a broken record," Judge Richard Posner wrote

at the beginning of his ruling, "we reiterate our oft-expressed concern with

the adjudication of asylum claims by the Immigration Court and the Board of

Immigration Appeals and with the defense of the BIA's asylum decisions in

this court by the Justice Department's Office of Immigration Litigation.

.The performance of these federal agencies is too often inadequate."

Saying "this case has been poorly handled by the government at every stage,"

a three-judge panel of the Chicago-based court reversed a removal order

against Klodiana Pasha of Albania and remanded the case to the BIA.  For more, click on the link.

I wonder if John Ashcroft would have responded in the same way.?


January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

All kinds of strange bedfellows....

In a sign that the interesting immigration debate in Washington is about to get more interesting, a coalition has formed in opposition to the harsh immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives during the last session.  The coalition unites disparate groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Service Employees International Union, associations representing builders and contractors, health care providers, the hotel and restaurant industries, Latino organizations, farm workers, the American Jewish Committee, Catholic bishops and more.  The Reuters story is here.

Hopefully the diversity of the alliance will give advocates of more rational immigration reform some ammunition.  Clearly, this issue is not going to be resolved without a pitched battle.


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Migration Policy Institute Report

The Migration Policy Institute has published The New "Boat People":  Ensuring Safety and Determining Status (2006), which studies migarnts by seek to migrate by sea.  It includes information on the migration in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, as well as Australia, and Canada.


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Oppostion to Cert Petition in Immigration Case

Care of Debbie Anker

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and the Law Offices of Errol Horwitz have filed a Brief in Opposition to the Solicitor General's Certiorari Petition in Thomas v. Gonzales, 409 F.3d 1177 (9th Cir. 2005). The Opposition Brief is available in PDF format at's_Brief_in_Opposition_To_Petition_for_a_Writ_of_Certiorari.pdf

Other documents relating to the case can be found at

In its petition, the government argued that the Ninth Circuit contravened INS v.Ventura, 537 U.S. 12 (2002), and created far-reaching legal precedent when it found that (1) mistreatment of the Thomas family was connected to its immutable kinship ties, and (2) that those ties gave rise to a particular social group. According to the government, no Board or circuit court decision had ever held that family, "without more," may constitute a particular social group. The petition also argued that since the harm suffered by the Thomases involved criminal conduct by nonstate actors, recognizing the Thomas family as a particular social group opens the door for victims of "ordinary crimes" to receive asylum status. According to the petition, the court's inquiry should have ended upon finding that family *may* constitute a particular social group. It argues that the Ninth Circuit overreached by finding that the Thomas family did constitute a particular social group and that it had been harmed on this basis. The government alleged an ongoing practice by the Ninth Circuit of reaching out to decide issues unaddressed by the agency in immigration cases, and of creating far-reaching legal precedent on matters that the agency had not had the opportunity to consider in the first instance. The Opposition Brief points out that the Ninth Circuit had remanded all but the nexus and particular social group issues (both properly before the court) to the Board. Most significantly, the petition's concerns about crime were misplaced because they implicated the standard of protection due the Thomases by their government and the question of country-wide persecution, both encompassed within the "persecution" issue remanded to the Board. The Opposition Brief goes on to establish that Acosta's immutability framework is settled law, that the Board had specifically found kinship ties to give rise to a particular social group, and that no decision of the Board or federal courts has imposed additional requirements on the Acosta framework where the putative social group is a family. The brief argued that the Ninth Circuit fully complied with INS v. Ventura, and that other decisions cited by the government revealed no significant conflict with either Supreme Court precedent or the decisions of other circuit courts. Finally, it contended that in view of circuit courts' strong concerns about IJ adjudication and BIA streamlining, it would not be appropriate to grant the government's apparent request for a stronger form of deference in immigration matters. Respect for an agency's primary jurisdiction does not require circuit courts to ignore their responsibility to provide meaningful review of agency decisions.


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Interesting Website

Professor Art Leonard, a senior faculty member of my school's LEL program, is the editor and chief writer of the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes. The Lesbian/Gay Law Notes is a monthly publication that reports on lesbian/gay, transgender, bisexual, and AIDS related legal developments. It tracks significant new legislation, reports on new court decisions, administrative rulings, and executive actions, and highlights new publications of interest. We have just archived the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes at


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another IJ Faux Paux

Thanks to Cappy White for this tidbit!

Add this to the list of things Immigration Judges probably shouldn't say during an on-the-record hearing:

According to

an opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

issued today, Immigration Judge Donald Ferlise said on the record during an asylum hearing, "You have to understand, the whole world does not revolve around you and the other Indonesians that just want to live here because they enjoy the United States better than they enjoy living in Indonesia. It is not a world that revolves around you and your ethnic group." In a footnote to the Third Circuit's discussion of those remarks, the court notes, "This is not the first time we have been troubled by the conduct of the IJ who presided over the proceedings in this case."


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Yorker Immigration Article

Even the New Yorker is talking about immigration.  Check out Dan Baum's article on the diversity visa program at Download new_yorker_dv_lottery_article.pdf

Not to be Outdone, Mother jones also has an immigration article in its latest issue. 


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Border Crossings on the Rise?

According to a 1-19-06 press release from Humane Borders, "on January 11, more than 1,800 migrants pased through the El Tortugo checkpoint, approximately 21 miles south of Sasabe, Arizona. This is alarming because it is both early in the annual migration and the numbers are higher than in any previous year. The percentage of migrants who are women and children is also increasing." Humane Borders is concerned about the possible increase in the death toll due to an increase in crossings. To see the release, click Download humane_borders_press_release_11906.pdf


January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Border Travel Card

The Bush administration, bowing to grumbling from U.S. border communities, announced plans Tuesday to enable U.S. citizens to crisscross U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico with a $50 "travel card" similar to a driver's license rather than requiring a $97 U.S. passport.

Canada and Mexico, as well as U.S. border states and communities, have complained about administration plans to require U.S. citizens and foreigners crossing U.S. borders to carry passports or similarly secure documents by Dec. 31, 2007.

Currently, Americans present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and a photo ID, such as a driver's license, to return home from quick visits to Canada or Mexico.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Bush administration would begin issuing the border-crossing cards by the end of the year.

Each card eventually may include an electronic chip with individually identifying biometric information such as fingerprints, retinal scans or digitally measured facial features.

Could this be the precursor to a national identity card?

Source: Hearst Newspapers, Jan. 18, 2006


January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tancredo for President in 2008? DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) kicked off a nationwide tour as a possible Republican candidate for the 2008 presidency to call attention to his anti-immigration platform which includes building 700 miles of fence along the US-Mexico border, deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, and an end to birthright citizenship. For the full San Antonio Express-News story, see


January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chertoff Sets Border Security as Top Priority This Year By Tim Starks, CQ Staff

Jan. 18, 2006 - 12:41 p.m.

As Congress prepares to wrestle anew with immigration and border security issues, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday set border security as his department's top priority in 2006.

He avoided commenting directly on a sweeping border security bill passed by the House last year (HR 4437), which faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

But he said any strategy to address border security should also include President Bush's proposal for a "guest worker" visa program that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents and eventually even citizens.

"There has to be a guest worker program to address the economic pull, then you can focus on the national security threat," he said.

Chertoff vowed to bolster staffing, technology and detention policy as part of his comprehensive "Secure Border Initiative."

After the administration irritated appropriators last year with its budget for the Border Patrol - it proposed funding for just over 200 new agents, 10 percent of the annual number called for over five years by the 2004 intelligence overhaul law (PL 108-458) - the administration is expected to recommend funding for a greater number this year.

Congress shifted funding from first-responder grant programs to border security in the fiscal 2006 Homeland Security spending bill (PL 109-90), sparking complaints from cities and local governments. But Chertoff noted that some state and local government officials also have been calling for increased border security funding.

"If we take money to make that [border security ] a priority, does that mean we have to give less to the states themselves?" he said. "It may mean we just have to spend the money we have more wisely."

Chertoff said his other priorities for the year, besides strengthening border security, would be enhancing preparations for catastrophic disasters and restructuring the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Both the preparedness efforts and the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina have drawn blistering criticism from the public, state and local governments and Congress.

Source: CQ Today

January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)