Saturday, October 28, 2006
Click here for a video of an interesting Oct. 19, 2006 U.S. Immigration Policy Debate co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Hartford, Connecticut. The debaters are Margaret Stock and Michael Cutler. Thanks to Dan Kowalski for the tip!
POPE Benedict XVI today urged European Union countries to respect the rights of immigrant communities, saying dialogue between members of different faiths was essential to avoid a rise in xenophobia.
Without referring to his speech in September when he offended Muslims by appearing to link Islam with violence, Benedict said Europe must make more effort to respect foreign customs and people's rights.
"Today the ever more numerous arrival of immigrants and the multiplication of communities of a different culture or country of origin on the same soil makes it absolutely necessary in our societies (to have) a dialogue between cultures and religions," he said. Click here.
Friday, October 27, 2006
District Court Directs Department of Homeland Security to Stop Unlawful Deportation of Foreign Nationals in Process of Applying to Adjust Their Immigration Status
On October 11, 2006, a U.S. District Court Judge in Seattle, Washington issued a temporary restraining order directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to comply with a 2004 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The order, applicable to DHS in states within the Ninth Circuit, prohibits DHS from deporting foreign nationals who entered the country unlawfully to reunite with family members, if the individuals have filed pending applications to adjust their immigration status. Aurelio Duran Gonzalez, who is married to a lawful permanent resident and has four U.S. citizen children, filed the lawsuit on September 28, 2006. Even though Gonzalez had filed an application to adjust his immigration status, he was at risk of being deported because he had entered the United States unlawfully to reunite with his family. Gonzalez is represented by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project based in Seattle, Washington, the American Immigration Law Foundation based in Washington, D.C., and a private law firm. The court’s order will remain in place until the next hearing before the District Court on November 6, 2006.
Thanks to Cappy White for this scoop!
HAITIAN DEATH SQUAD LEADER ORDERED TO PAY $19 MILLION TO TORTURE SURVIVORS
JUDGE AWARDS DAMAGES TO THREE WOMEN FOR TORTURE AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
(NEW YORK, October 25, 2006). Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, the former leader of Haiti’s notorious death squad known as FRAPH, has been ordered to pay $15 million in punitive and $4 million in compensatory damages to three women who survived rape, other torture and attempted killing committed by paramilitary forces under his command. U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein, of the Southern District of New York, awarded the survivors a total of $19 million in damages after hearing testimony from the women and expert witnesses. The damages award was entered late yesterday.
The Court previously found Constant liable for torture, including rape, attempted extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity carried out as part of FRAPH’s reign of terror during the period of military rule in Haiti from 1991 to 1994. The judgment, entered August 16, 2006, marks the first judgment where someone has been held accountable for the state-sponsored campaign of rape in Haiti. In yesterday’s order, Judge Stein stated, “Though no price tag can be placed on the atrocities visited upon these plaintiffs and other innocent civilians by FRAPH, plaintiffs are indeed entitled to monetary compensation and the Court will therefore grant it. . . .”
Constant fled to the United States in December 1994. Despite the outcry from the Haitian community and human rights organizations, he lived and worked freely in New York until he was arrested in July 2006 in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in Suffolk County, NY. He remains in jail awaiting a criminal trial on charges of grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records.
The U.S. government moved to deport Constant in 1995. However, after he disclosed on 60 Minutes that he had been on the CIA payroll during the period when FRAPH was formed, he was released from detention and has been allowed to remain in the U.S.
The lawsuit was filed in December 2004 by the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the three women, all survivors of torture at the hands of FRAPH. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP acted as pro bono co-counsel in this matter. Due to an on-going fear of reprisals, the plaintiffs had to submit their testimony anonymously. Two of the women testified in open court behind a screen.
During the hearing, Trinity University professor Robert Maguire testified that FRAPH worked closely with the Haitian Armed Forces and did the military’s “dirty work” in committing widespread human rights abuses and that FRAPH was “the muscle.” Ivor Samson of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP argued in his closing that in addition to compensatory damages, the court should also award punitive damages to punish Constant for his wanton, oppressive and malicious actions. A punitive damages award would send a message from the international community that Constant’s conduct will not be tolerated, and that U.S. courts, through laws such as the Alien Tort Statue and the Torture Victim Protection Act, can play an important role in discouraging and deterring future abuses.
Judge Stein agreed, finding that “Constant’s conduct was clearly malicious. As commander of FRAPH, Constant founded and oversaw an organization that was dedicated principally towards terrorizing and torturing political opponents of the military regime. His direction – or at a minimum, approval – of FRAPH’s state-backed campaign of violence constitutes an inexcusable violation of international law and merits a stiff punishment.”
Upon hearing the ruling, one of the plaintiffs stated, “Although this case is about justice, not money, I am very pleased that the court has held Toto Constant responsible for what happened to us. This is a victory for all the Haitian people.”
CJA’s lead attorney on the case, Moira Feeney, commented, “Yesterday’s ruling is a momentous step for accountability in Haiti. I hope that this case against Toto Constant will lead to other prosecutions and will assist the Haitian government in bringing other human rights abusers to justice.”
"Judge Stein's ruling on the monetary damages to be awarded to our clients is a terrific victory for the rule of law," says Ivor Samson, Partner and Head of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP's San Francisco Litigation Practice. "While there is no price that can truly be put on our clients suffering, it is wonderful that they have had their day in court."
Added Jennie Green, Senior Attorney at CCR, "In holding that rape is a form of torture, this decision is an important addition to the body of law prohibiting sexual violence. The courageous women who brought this case have sent a message that torturers cannot live freely in the United States and will be held accountable. We also wish to thank all of the members of the Haitian community, especially in New York, who fought so hard over the years, often endangering their own security, to hold Constant accountable."
The Center for Justice and Accountability is a San Francisco based human rights organization dedicated to ending torture and other severe human rights abuses through litigation, education and outreach.
For additional information about the case, please see CJA’s website: www.cja.org.
DNA testing has emerged as a powerful and sometimes controversial tool for U.S. residents seeking to help overseas relatives enter the country legally.
The tests have been invaluable for thousands of citizens or permanent residents who want to sponsor relatives but lack birth certificates or other documents to prove the family relationship. But some immigration lawyers worry that U.S. authorities are increasingly requiring DNA tests even when the paperwork is in order -- adding substantial costs and delays to an arduous process. "What's troubling is that it seems like the availability of DNA testing is leading to a greater level of mistrust of identity documents that otherwise would have been readily accepted," said Alison Brown, a lawyer based in Silver Spring. Click here.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The November 2006 Issue of the Texas Monthly has an article entitled "The Desert of the Dead" by Pamela Coloff reports that undocumented immigrants are dying in record numbers along a desolate stretch of south Texas scrubland. For the ranchers and border patrol agents who find them, it’s a nightmare without end. Click here for the story.
President Bush signed a bill Thursday authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, hoping to give Republican candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they're tough on illegal immigration. For the President's comments at the signing ceremony click here.
The Grits for Breakfast Blog asks a very good question: Does anybody know specifications for the new border "fence"?
Professor Michael Olivas (Houston), seen smiling below (before the signing), has commentary on the Jurist on the fence. here is the punch line: "As with any other such complex issue, a one-sided, enforcement-only measure cannot work, and these policymakers and elected officials know better. Shame on them." Click here for the full commentary.
Immigration will be highlighted again as an issue for the midterm election campaigns today when President George W. Bush signs the Secure Fence Act, but its effectiveness as a winning issue for Republican candidates remains unproven, according to analysts and polls.
The new law, which calls for the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border, was tailor-made for the election season in last month's session of Congress by the House GOP leadership.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) yesterday used the signing to attack Democrats for voting against the fence act, accusing them of wanting to "leave the borders open" and to "grant amnesty" to the millions of illegal immigrants here. Click here.
His clandestine existence came to an end Wednesday, when federal authorities announced that they had arrested him as an illegal immigrant who was a human rights violator. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said Guevara Cerritos was one of nine Salvadoran officers and soldiers implicated in one of the most notorious massacres in El Salvador's history: the 1989 death squad murders of six Jesuit priests whom some in the army viewed as subversives. Click here for the L.A. Times story. Dan Kowalski's blogs on the arrest at here.
In Arizona, a state where the wave of border crossers is so great that it washes over every aspect of life, illegal immigration is a flash point in virtually every political race this fall. Moreover, there's a candidate for every view - from those saying "send 'em back and bar the door" to those who'd provide a path for citizenship for some undocumented workers. See the Christian Science Monitor(Oct. 26) story on Arizona immigration politics by clicking here.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
A controversial rule requiring U.S. citizens and foreigners entering the country from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean by air to carry passports will soon go into effect, even as complaints that the rule will slow international trade and befuddle tourists continue to be raised.
The State Department's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative mandates the use of passports as of Jan. 8 for air travelers from neighboring countries in place of rules that allowed driver's licenses and birth certificates to do the job.
Moreover, as early as Jan. 1, 2008 -- and not later than June 1, 2009 -- the passport rule will go into effect for travelers arriving by land and sea from previously exempt neighboring countries. Click here.
Bribery of federal and local officials by Mexican smugglers is rising sharply, and with it the fear that a culture of corruption is taking hold along the 2,000-mile border from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego.
At least 200 public employees have been charged with helping to move narcotics or undocumented immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border since 2004, at least double the illicit activity documented in prior years, a Los Angeles Times examination of public records has found. Thousands more are under investigation. Click here.
The U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration is sending a delegation to the U.S./Mexico border region to study the plight of unaccompanied minors and human trafficking victims. The ever-growing problems with these populations are some of the gravest and many times most overlooked symptoms of the broken and out-dated immigration system currently employed by the United States. The delegation will attempt to meet with a broad cross-section of agencies and individuals involved with or knowledgeable of these populations to gain critical insights and to understand their needs. The delegation will meet with Church officials, government officials, community-based organization, and other with important perspectives. Programs established to serve these populations will also be visited. Efforts will be made to connect with the bishops and other Church leaders on the Mexican side of the border in order to better understand the circumstances and perspectives there. Particular attention will be paid to potential areas of collaboration between Church programs and others in Mexico and the U.S. The delegation's trip will begin in Tucson, AZ on Monday, October 23rd 2006. The second leg of the trip will take place in Houston, TX from Oct. 24th to the 26th. The bishops will finish their border delegation in El Paso, TX from Oct. 26th to the 29th. For a more detailed version of where and what the delegation will be doing, go to Delegation's Itinerary. This blog has been designed to allow its viewers to follow the bishops on their trip, to learn what they are learning, see what they are seeing, and to hear in their own words their impressions, thoughts, and conclusions. Click here for the blog.
The Houston Chronicle has been running an interesting five-day series, which started Sunday, that uses Morristown Tennessee as a microcosm of the reaction to Latino immigration in Appalachia. The five installments and a narrated slide show entitled "Our Town: Special Report" can be found at www.houstonchronicle.com/immigration.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The feds make more than half a million arrests of border jumpers in Arizona each year, and analysts believe that at least two succeed for every one who's caught. Reflecting the views of their constituents, candidates blame undocumented immigrants for raising the state's crime rate (the worst in the nation), lowering its public schools' test scores and crowding its hospitals' emergency rooms, among other ills.
What to do about the problem, however, is a question that divides voters and candidates alike, even those in the same party. There's no better illustration of this than Arizona's 8th Congressional District, a 9,000-square-mile, rough-hewn expanse that stretches from Tucson east to Willcox and south to an 80-mile stretch along the Mexican border. The Republican nominee is former state Rep. Randy Graf of Green Valley, a retiree-heavy enclave south of Tucson. Graf has made illegal immigration the central issue of his political career. Quite unrealistically, he wants to seal the borders and force undocumented aliens to leave the country to obtain a visa. A new guest worker program, he said at a recent debate with his three opponents, would "wave a white flag" on immigration and "allow the 20 million illegals to be here legally." Click here.
Hazleton Mayor Louis J. Barletta said illegal immigrants have brought gangs, drugs, graffiti and murders to his city, draining police and fire resources and taking services away from legal residents. Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act -- slated to take effect Nov. 1 -- would suspend the licenses of companies that hire illegal immigrants, hold landlords accountable for renting to illegal immigrants and -- in a separate ordinance -- make English the official language of education and government. Barletta wanted the act to protect the city's legal citizens, he told members of the Pennsylvania Press Club at a luncheon yesterday. A few hours later, Hazleton ophthalmologist Dr. Agapito Lopez-Rivera told a group at Widener University that Hazleton's act has prompted Latinos --legal and illegal -- to leave the city, depressing property values and hurting business.
Click here for the full story.
Thanks to Jill Family for this tip!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Randy Graf is a tough-on-immigration Republican in a district that is fed up with people pouring illegally across the border and hasn't elected a Democrat to the House in two decades.
Yet Graf's national party is turning its back on him, the retiring Republican congressman he wants to succeed has disavowed his candidacy and he's finding trouble getting traction beyond the most secure GOP voters _ and a border militia that's backing him.
Voters such as Sue Malusa, a mother of four from Tucson, think Graf and his supporters go too far. Graf is backed by the Minutemen, self-appointed border-watchers. Malusa will vote for a candidate who supports "a humane and fair way of controlling the border," she said. "That's important."
Arizona's 8th District, which stretches from Tucson to the Mexican border, has returned moderate Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe to office for 22 years, faithfully backing him even after he revealed in 1996 that he was gay. Click here.
Immigration law has long been the domain of the federal government in the United States. Arguments are increasingly being made both for state-federal cooperation in the enforcement of federal immigration law, with the suggestion that state law enforcement officials are necessary "force multipliers." On the other side are those who argue that state officials have neither the constitutional authority nor the practical expertise to enforce federal immigration law.
But here's another twist on the question (two twists, really): do state judicial officers have any power to banish? And can they banish citizens?
A judge in Cheektowaga Town Court in New York apparently thought so. He ordered a US citizen to depart the country and reside in Canada with his wife and children. The citizen, Malcolm Watson, chose Canada over a year-long jail sentence. You can read more about that here.
Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans (2006) by Martha Menchaca
This volume is an examination of the history of Mexicans in the territory of the present-day United States, emphasizing the role of legal systems in restricting racial groups and establishing a second-class political, economic, and social level for the Mexican American minority population. Using the theoretical framework developed by Michael Omi and Howard Winant in Racial Formation in the United States, Menchaca (anthropology, Univ. of Texas, Austin) suggests that the dominant white populations in colonial Spanish America, independent Mexico, and the United States have used the rule of law to discriminate against those descended from African and Indian populations. One significant contribution of the book is an attempt to examine the mostly forgotten role of Mexicans of African descent in the Mexican American population of the United States. The author's focus on this population is important if overemphasized. This volume will be of interest to academic libraries and public libraries with Latino collections.