Saturday, November 18, 2006

Myths About Undocumented Immigrants

by Marisa Trevino,
November 15, 2006

As more and more towns join in the hysteria of proclaiming undocumented immigrants Public Enemy #1, it's more and more obvious these politicians and citizens don't want to know the people behind the label.

Who knows what would happen then?

Well, one University of South Carolina researcher thought it was time to get to know the people who were making her state one of the fastest growing destinations for undocumented Hispanic immigrants.

Dr. Elaine Lacy, research director for the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, delivered tonight the results of her two-year study on the Mexican immigrant population in South Carolina, titled "Mexican Immigrants to South Carolina: A Profile."

When Dr. Lacy and her team of graduate students interviewed the 181 Mexican immigrants, ages 17 and up in 15 counties across North Carolina, they were surprised to learn a few things that, in essence, dispelled four common myths held about Latino immigrants.

Myth No. 1: Latino immigrants want to move to the United States permanently and will remain here unless they are forced to leave.

Lacy said 60 percent of Mexicans plan to return to Mexico, where they prefer to live. They were in the United States to earn money. Only 28 percent of Mexican immigrants indicated they want to remain in the United States and would do so only if family members were with them.

That's no surprise finding to those of us of any Latino community in the nation. How arrogant some are to think that over 12 million people are so in love with another country that they would leave behind their children and loved ones.

It's all about survival and working and earning money - and it always has been.

It was only when the U.S. government tried so hard to keep people out that they were actually keeping them in, and that is the reason why 12 million people are stuck in a political limbo because most have been here too long, unable to return home — and now home is on this side of the border.

Myth No. 2: Latino immigrants overuse public benefits and make little economic contribution.

Of the 181 immigrants interviewed, only four were unemployed. "They came here to work," Lacy said. "They want to help with living expenses for family members in Mexico and to save money for housing, businesses and retirement in Mexico."

Other than public education, the only other public service utilized was WIC, a Medicaid program available to qualifying families when their children are born in the United States. Only 15 percent of the families interviewed had children born in the U.S., but not all of those qualified for the WIC program.

Lacy said undocumented immigrants are ineligible for any public assistance, and approximately 70 percent of the Mexican immigrants interviewed were undocumented.

Again, what person in their right mind who is here illegally would put themselves on the public radar by applying for services they know they aren't eligible for.

As painful as it is to say, further research warrants discovering if the majority of Latinos that people claim are taking advantage of public assistance are Latinos who are legal citizens.

The U.S. Census reports that 21.8 percent of Hispanics live in poverty and 32.7 percent lack health insurance. Common sense tells us those percentages are not all comprised from the undocumented population.

Myth No. 3: Latino immigrants refuse to learn English and do not want to assimilate into U.S. culture.

Nearly half the respondents said they were making efforts to learn English. One-quarter said they were taking formal English classes, while nearly an additional 25 percent said they were learning from purchased tapes, watching English television and reading English publications. Lacy said 30 percent cited learning the language as the biggest need of the Mexican community.

This myth is so easy to prove false in any community in the nation by just picking up the phone and calling those churches and organizations that offer English classes.

In Texas, these classes routinely have waiting lists. The same is being reported throughout the country. The undocumented want to learn English. Some are shier than others in trying to speak it, but the desire is there and was there when the decision was first made to come to this country.

Myth No. 4: Many immigrants are criminals who have no respect for the law.

Only two of the 181 interviewed reported any problems with law enforcement. Both cases were related to driving without a license. Lacy said many immigrants said they admired Americans for their belief in, and respect, for the law.

And who wouldn't when all they've known are corrupt law enforcement officials who will do anything for money?

Dr. Lacy discovered other information that was a surprise to her and her team but sadly have been known to the rest of us: there is a high incidence of depression among the undocumented because of the separation from their families and the stress of living in the United States.

Most of the undocumented live below or at the poverty level by earning $20,000 a year, don't have health insurance and live in overcrowded, sub-standard housing.

But perhaps the biggest revelation from Dr. Lacy's research that she fails to mention is that the undocumented, for all that they suffer, still have the ganas to keep going - and that says something about the human spirit.


November 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Democrats and Immigration

Interesting column by Marcel Sanchez in the Washington Post:

Will Democrats take the lead on immigration?

One of the quick and easy conclusions drawn from the Republican defeat in last week's midterm elections is that immigration as an issue failed to galvanize voters. It was "the dog that didn't bark," immigration advocates quipped, or, as The Wall Street Journal put it, the "fool's gold of American politics." Few races were decided because of what candidates did or failed to do on immigration. Click here.


November 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Impact of the Elections on the Republican Party

An article entitled "Republican Border Wars A House caucus divided against itself," by Duncan Currie in the Weekly Standard (11/27/2006, Volume 012, Issue 11), suggests that the elections may have a great impact on the view of immigration by the Republican leadership.    Currie writes tat by appointing Florida senator Mel Martinez to chair the Republican National Committee, President Bush sent a blunt message to conservatives: "Drop dead." That's the opinion of Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who has lobbied hard against Bush's "comprehensive" immigration reform package. Hyperbole, perhaps, but it highlights the GOP fissure on immigration--one deepened by the recent election. Martinez, a Cuban refugee who fled the island in 1962, supports the Bush vision of a guest-worker program for future immigrants and a "path to citizenship" for illegal aliens. He is also a prominent GOP envoy to the Latino community. His elevation to RNC chief, says Krikorian, shows how "emotionally" invested Bush is in passing an "amnesty" bill. "This is something the president can't let go."   Click here for the full analysis.


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

Only in Texas? Unfortunately Not -- Birthright Citizenship Challenged by Texas Bill

Anyone born in the United States is an American citizen, a right with post-Civil War roots and defined in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But a controversial bill filed for the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature, one of a flurry of measures seeking crackdowns on illegal immigration, is challenging this long-held tenet of U.S. citizenship. House Bill 28, filed Monday by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, would exclude U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants from access to public education and health care, unemployment, public housing, disability and other state benefits. Analysts think it is the first-ever state challenge of birthright citizenship. With the start of the legislative session still more than seven weeks away, the bill is stirring an outcry among critics, who say it is blatantly unconstitutional and who question the fairness of punishing U.S. citizen children for their parents' decisions to enter the country illegally. The dust-up is rekindling a bitter debate about birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment that provides it.   For the full story, click here.

It seems that there is a lot of this type of stuff going on at the state and local levels.  Even the Sensenbrenner Bill did not go as far as Hazlton and Escondido went.  Hopefully, the next Congress will seriously consider comprehensive immigration reform and possibly relieve the nation of the state and local outbursts against immigrants -- and some U.S. citizens.


November 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Child Immigrants

Family200 More and more of the illegal immigrants detained in the United States are children who've come here alone. Last year, there were about 8,000 in custody, up from 4,500 in 2000. Until recently, the federal immigration agency housed these young migrants in juvenile detention centers. But a 2002 court settlement deemed children were being treated too harshly, so Congress asked the Department of Health and Human Services to take custody of them.   To hear the NPR story, as well as access to links with much information about child immigrants, click here.


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

Friday, November 17, 2006

Human Rights Films

At, you will find a list of professionally-produced films (some have won prizes) that cover multiple subjects, such as child labour in Tanzania, gender-based violence in conflict, refugee repatriation to Angola, Israel's use of cluster munitions in Lebanon, etc. They are all streamed on-line, but you can also order copies of the DVDs. Thanks to Jeff Handmaker for posting this information to the Immprof listserve.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Workers Strike at Slaughtering Plant

Immigrant workers are often thought as being unwilling to "talk back" to employers.  However, about 1,000 nonunion workers, mostly Hispanics upset with the recent firing of immigrants for allegedly providing false documents, walked off their jobs at a Smithfield Foods Inc. slaughtering plant, a union spokeswoman said. About 300 workers were protesting Friday morning outside the plant, said Libby Manly, a representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which helped organize the protest and has been trying for years to form a union at the plant. The plant is considered the world's largest hog slaughtering plant.   Click here for the full story.

After the spring marches, will we see more activism among immigrant workers?  Stay tuned.

On November 18, the union involved in this labor dispute released the following press release:


Workers at Tar Heel plant ignite widespread call for justice at world’s largest pork plant Tar Heel, North Carolina--After a two-day walk out by hundreds of workers, Smithfield Packing agreed to workers’ demands to halt the wholesale firings of employees and agreed to reconsider their implementation of immigration policies in the plant. The company, for the first time, also agreed to meet with a group of workers elected by the workers themselves to further negotiate about plant issues and employee concerns on Tuesday. The catalyst for the protest was a disagreement between the workers and the company about Smithfield’s improper use of social security data to wrongfully terminate employees. Social security data is no determinant of work authorization or immigration status. In other Smithfield operations where workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), contract language provides for a systematic and constructive process for workers and the employer to resolve issues such as immigration and work status. Workers at the Smithfield Tar Heel plant have been struggling for the protection of a union contract for over a decade. The walk-out generated thousands of calls to the company from national religious, civil rights and immigrant rights organizations demanding that the workers’ rights be respected. Organizations included the National Baptist Convention, the Progressive Baptist Convention, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the North Carolina NAACP, National Council of Churches and Rainbow Push. Eric Schlosser, whose new movie Fast Food Nation opens this weekend, issued a public statement condemning the company for its victimization of the workers. Following the walk out, the company agreed to negotiate around the workers’ issues through the Catholic Church and its attorneys. The company acknowledged that they had misinterpreted the law and agreed to make appropriate adjustments to comply. “We’re glad the company did the right thing and recognized that they were mistaken in the way that they were applying these policies. The fact that they sat down and negotiated over the workers’ concerns is an example of the kind of process that benefits everyone, the company, community and employees allowing all to resolve differences. This is a historic break from Smithfield Packing’s long history of confrontation and intimidation of their workers in Tar Heel and we hope this will continue” says Gene Bruskin, UFCW Director of the Smithfield Justice campaign, a coalition of labor, immigrant rights, civil rights, faith and student groups.

Specifically, the workers and the company have already agreed to the following: 1. Smithfield has agreed to increase the time allowed for employees to respond to "no match" letters from the Social Security Administration. 2. Employees who have been laid off for failure to resolve Social Security issues may return to work while they sort out these issues. 3. Smithfield's Human Resources Department will designate a staff member to help process "no match" Social Security issues and respond to questions. 4. Smithfield has agreed that if mistakes have been made, they will be addressed. 5. No disciplinary actions of any kind will be taken against those employees who participated in the walkout. 6. Tar Heel plant manager Larry Johnson will meet again with a group of Smithfield employees on Tuesday, November 21 at 2:00 pm. Employees will return to work on Saturday, November 18th.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Youth Gangs in Central America

For an interesting report on Youth Gangs in Central America, which may be relevant to asylum cases, click here.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Court News

The First Circuit Jumps on the Immigration Reform Bandwagon


Kim v. Gonzales, 05-2462 (1st Cir., Nov. 16, 2006) Criticizing the immigration system is no longer the exclusive province of the nutty Ninth. Posner’s doing it. The Second and Third Circuits have shown that they are keeping score of immigration judges. And today, Chief Judge Boudin brings the First Circuit into the fray. But rather than criticizing the Department of Homeland Security or its hapless apparachniks, Judge Boudin lays the blame at Congress’s feet. His opinion, which affirms the deportation of an alien who was convicted of manslaughter, concludes: "It is not the business of the courts to tell Congress what to do about public policy choices, but we are entitled to warn when the machinery that we help administer is breaking down. The current structure of deportation law, greatly complicated by rapid amendments and loop-hole plugging, is now something closer to a many-layered archeological dig than a rational construct. The regime is badly in need of an overhaul."

Check out the decision at or

Federal Judge Denies Guantanamo Detainee Access to Counsel:  Majid Khan Must Await Decision from Court of Appeals on Federal Courts' Jurisdiction over Detainee Cases In the Meantime, Judge Urges Gov't to Evaluate Khan's Mental and Physical Health

Today a federal judge denied attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) access to their client, Guantánamo detainee Majid Khan a Baltimore, Maryland resident recently transferred to detention in Guantánamo after three years imprisonment in secret CIA black sites. The court ruled that it could not order the government to allow Mr. Khan's attorney to meet with him until the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decides whether federal courts still have jurisdiction over Guantánamo detainees' habeas cases after the passage of the Military Commission Act of 2006. This question is before the Court of Appeals in the consolidated cases Al Odah v. United States of America and Boumediene v. Bush, litigated by CCR along with co-counsel. The jurisdictional question will be fully briefed before the Court of Appeals on November 20, 2006.   Click here for the full press release.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why We need a Guest Worker Program?

When the party's over at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, after all the kids have gone home to eat their candy, Hernandez will break down the folding chairs and tables he helped set up earlier. He'll empty and clean the port-a-potties, tend to the trash cans once more, stroll the grounds looking for any loose garbage. He may shovel some horseshit, too. And then Hernandez will go back to the trailer that has been a temporary home for him and several other workers, including his 26-year-old son, since they arrived at the facility this spring. With the season finally over, Hernandez will fill his two backpacks and grab the little television he brought with him, and then he and his son will head for the bus. Forty-eight hours later, they'll be back in Veracruz, Mexico. But if Hernandez's God and his boss, Helen Krieble, are willing, next year he'll return to Colorado. For years now, Krieble has hired people from outside the country to do the horse park's worst work. She always looks for American workers first, but few seem to want these low-paying, far-from-glorious jobs. Plenty of illegal immigrants apply every year, but Krieble refuses to break the law by hiring them. For years now, Krieble has hired people from outside the country to do the horse park's worst work. She always looks for American workers first, but few seem to want these low-paying, far-from-glorious jobs. Plenty of illegal immigrants apply every year, but Krieble refuses to break the law by hiring them. "We need a guest-worker program, badly, to eliminate all these illegal people who are coming in here," Krieble says. "Then we wouldn't need that damn fence that they're building on the border." Click here for Dan Kowalski's read on the story.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Local Ordinance News

Escondido Ordinance Enjoined

A federal judge temporarily blocked the city of Escondido on Thursday from enforcing a law that punishes landlords for renting to illegal immigrants. U.S. District Judge John Houston said that he had serious questions about whether the law would survive legal scrutiny and that it may inflict "irreparable harm" on tenants and landlords. The law had been scheduled to take effect Friday in the suburb 30 miles north of San Diego, where Hispanics make up 42 percent of the 142,000 residents. Houston did not say how long his order would last, but said he would schedule a hearing within four months.  Click here for the AP story.

Farmer's Branch (near Dallas) Ordinance Materials

Here is a copy of the recent anti-immigrant ordinance passed in Farmer’s Branch, Texas, (near Dallas) and the recent New York Times story about it. Download city_of_farmers_branch_ordinance_no_2892_2.pdf Download NYTimes_immigration_texas_nov.16.doc Thanks to Michale Olivas for the materials.


November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CRS Report on Border Security

For a report of the Congressional Research Service on fences, barriers, etc. along the international border, click here.  With passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, we may see an extension of the fence along the southern border with Mexico.


November 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Trent Lott on Immigration

Now that Trent Lott is back in action in the Senate his views on immigration will certainly help to shape the legislative debate in the coming years.  His comments on the immigration protests, made last May to Fox News, suggest that this may not be a good thing for immigrants rights advocates.  Addressing the national protests, Lott said, "I view it as intimidation and extortion. I’m highly offended when illegal people come into this country, take jobs illegally and then protest and wave foreign flags."


P.S.  Here is a website collecting some of Senator Lott's views on immigration.  It seems to me that JMC's intuition is exactly right.

November 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some Common Sense on Immigration

Jdowell Here is some common sense coming from Arizona, which has seeen its share of immigration hysteria in recent months, if not years. Jeremy Dowell, a community editorial page editor with the Arizona Republic penned the following column entitled "Nationalism won't solve illegal immigration."  Here is a snippet:

Nationalism is a dangerous thing. Militant nationalism even more so. That’s probably the most disturbing aspect of the current “debate” over illegal immigration. Some Americans favor building a wall on our southern border. Others want to deploy the military. Some even advocate massive roundups of suspected illegal aliens – no matter how likely such a roundup is to trample on the Constitutional rights of American Hispanics. After all, how does one differentiate an “illegal Hispanic” from an American Hispanic without demanding proof of citizenship? Those who think mass roundups and deportations sound reasonable should imagine how they would feel if they were challenged by a police officer to produce proof of American citizenship while walking down the street, or shopping with their families or otherwise minding their own business. Such a program would be racist and un-American. And it would solve nothing. Illegal immigration is primarily an economic issue. America has more jobs and opportunities than countries to our south. People migrate from those countries to America for the same reason anyone has ever come here – to carve out better lives for themselves and their families.

For the rest, click here.  Not surprisingly, the comments currently are running 3-1 against the views expressed by Dowell.


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Study Shows that Immigrant Venture Capitalists Benefit U.S. Economy

Venture capitalists hoping to strike it rich are increasingly betting on the entrepreneurial skills of U.S. immigrants — a melting pot that has already cooked up more than $500 billion in shareholder wealth, according to a study to be released Wednesday. Immigrants launched nearly one in every five U.S. startups that relied on venture capital before turning to the stock market during a 35-year period ended in 2005, based on data compiled by two research groups, the National Foundation for American Policy and Content First. The lucrative partnerships between immigrants and venture capitalists have become even more prevalent in recent years, the study found. Since 1990, one in every four venture-backed companies that have completed initial public offerings of stock had at least one immigrant founder, including Internet stars like Google Inc.'s Sergey Brin and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news)'s Jerry Yang.  Click here for more of this story.  Here is a link to press release and to the study


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Silicon Valley Report Urges More Hi-Tech Immigration

The high-tech industry is touting a new study that showcases the economic contributions of talented immigrants as part of an orchestrated campaign to alter the nation's immigration laws to expand the number of highly skilled, foreign-born professionals allowed to work here.

Making the case that high-tech immigration creates greater economic opportunity for Americans, the National Venture Capital Association plans to release a study today that concludes that immigrants had a hand in starting 1 in 5 venture-backed public companies in the United States during the past 15 years. These companies have created thousands of jobs and have a combined market capitalization of $500 billion, the study found. Click here.


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Linking Abortion to Undocumented Immigration!!??!!

Incredulously, a Republican-led legislative panel in Missouri claims in a new report on undocumented immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers.
The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also claims "liberal social welfare policies" have discouraged Americans from working and encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally. Click here.


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Musings on Detention, Habeas, Etc.

The US Department of Justice argued Monday that immigrants arrested while in the US and labeled as enemy combatants under an expansive definition in the new Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), can be indefinitely detained and are prohibited from challenging their detention in civilian courts. This is the argument made in a motion to dismiss filed Monday in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a Qatari citizen detained while studying in the US.  Click here for the full Jurist article on th topic.

Jack Balkin's blog considers whether Congress unconstitutionally suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the Military Commissions Act's (MCA). Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." According to balkin, if the MCA's habeas stripping provisions are unconstitutional, it might be because it violates this clause. That would be because we are not currently in invasion or rebellion, or the public safety does not require it. Click here for the full analysis.


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit Credibility Case

In Huang v. Gonzales (2nd Cir., June 29, 2006), the Second Circuit concludes that a Immigration Judge impermissibly impugned the credibility of Chinese noncitizens generally in rejecting the testimony of a Chinese noncitizen.  See discussion of the case at Click here for the Second Circuit's opinion.

Thanks to Cappy White for the tip!


November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Call for Papers (revised)

The due date on the following Call for Papers has been revised and is now January 2; the symposium will be on February 23rd.

CALL FOR PAPERS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy announces a call for articles on "Reforming U.S. Immigration Policy in the Post 9-11 World." Articles will be selected for their scholarly merits and their likelihood of provoking debate, regardless of ideology. The articles must be at least 3,000 words (about 10 double-spaced pages) in length, including footnotes, and are due by January 2, 2007. There is no maximum page limit. Articles selected for publication will appear in the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy's 2007 Symposium issue. Selected authors will also have the opportunity to present their papers at a symposium hosted by the University of Arizona American Constitution Society and the University of Arizona Federalist Society. The symposium will be held at the University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona on February 23, 2007. Please submit materials electronically to Questions concerning submissions should be directed to Jed Borghei ( and questions concerning the February 23rd Symposium event should be directed to Jonathan Millet ( or Robin Quarrier (

Download call_for_papers.pdf


November 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)