Saturday, November 25, 2006

Skilled Immigrants Face Challenges in Canada

Every year about 20,000 foreign-trained professionals immigrate to this province. Back home, they were doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, nurses, teachers, and so on. But, more often than not, here they end up driving cabs or serving fast food — and becoming more bitter by the day.

In extreme cases, they kill themselves. Two suicides in the Chinese Canadian community over the past two years have been linked to underemployment. Click here.


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Calinfornia anti-trafficking law hits snags

Today's LA Times has a story by Garrett Therolf discussing the unexpected difficulties that have snagged California's anti-trafficking law. He writes:

"11 months since the law went into effect, not a single human trafficking case has been prosecuted, according to the law's sponsor, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View). Police complain the law makes it too difficult to prove that human trafficking has taken place.

The problem is that seldom is the evidence black and white. Were the workers being kept against their will, or were they enduring their hardships willingly as a step up the economic pecking order?

Another problem is persuading people to tell their stories of involuntary servitude."

As I noted in my article in the Fordham Law Journal in May, similar troubles have plagued the implementation of the federal antitrafficking laws.

The link to the full LA Times story is here:,1,3428775.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Border group's finances scrutinized: Minuteman founder reveals figures, but some still wonder where the money went

For the Houston Chronice story on the many questions being raised about the finances of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, click here.  According to the story, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has revealed a smattering of intriguing details on its finances.  Chris Simcox, founder of the nonprofit border watch group, posted IRS forms and an audit on his Internet site Nov. 15 in response to media reports raising concerns about how the organization was handling its contributions. The new documents offer a glimpse into the group's finances, former Minuteman loyalists say, but leave unanswered questions. Among them: How is the group spending thousands of dollars in membership fees they've collected in the past 19 months? And what companies or other nonprofits received $277,000 - amounting to more than half the group's contributions in 2005 - for unspecified "personnel services?"


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wall Street Journal Story on New Immigration Study

A story entitled "Immigrant Entrepreneurs" in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 24), begins:  "Everyone knows that Intel, Yahoo, Google, eBay and Sun Microsystems are wildly successful U.S. technology companies. Less well known is that immigrant entrepreneurs played a role in founding each one -- and a whole lot of others."  The article proceeds to discuss a new study from the National Venture Capital Association is a welcome reminder that foreign workers make their fair share of important contributions to our economy.


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Analysis of Role of States in Immigration Enforcement

For a relatively straight-forward paper outlining of the various issues raised by, and proposals for, increased role of the states in immigration enforcement prepared by a researcher for the House of Representatives House Research Organization, click here.   Given all of the politicking on immigration on the state and local level, this issue is unlikely to go away for a while.


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Robert Samuelson on Guestworkers

In March, 2006, Robert J. Samuelson wrote a commentary in the Washington Post questioning the need for guestworkers.  The arguments coninue to be relevant to the immigration reform debate.  Click here to read Samuelson's commentary.

One question that always has perplexed me.  Can the United States fashion a guestworker program that ensures the enforcement of wage and labor protections for the guests?  Given past experience, I am pessimistice.  The Bracero Program failed to protect the workers in important ways while employers were able to secure a ready supply of labor.


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Refugee Law and Policy : A Comparative and International Approach Third Edition. By Karen Musalo, Jennifer Moore, Richard A. Boswell

Refugee Law and Policy : A Comparative and International Approach Third Edition. By Karen Musalo, Jennifer Moore, Richard A. Boswell

The third edition of Refugee Law and Policy, which includes all legal developments through mid-2006, provides a thoughtful scholarly analysis of refugee law, and related protections such as that available under the Convention against Torture. The book is rooted in an international law perspective, enhanced by a comparative approach. Starting with ancient precursors to asylum, the casebook portrays refugee law as dynamic across time and cultural contexts. Although Refugee Law and Policy is directed to students of U.S. law, it draws on the legislation, jurisprudence and guidelines of other Refugee Convention and Protocol signatories, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The casebook is up to date on developments to harmonize refugee policy within the European Union, and includes discussion of relevant E.U. directives. In its treatment of U.S., as well as global trends, Refugee Law and Policy examines and contrasts some of the most controversial contemporary issues in refugee law, such as the denial of access to the territory of the country of asylum, through use of expedited removal and similar “accelerated” procedures, the increased use of detention, and the ongoing debate over gender-based claims for protection. Refugee Law and Policy also compares current trends in refugee law to parallel trends in human rights and humanitarian and international criminal law, with special reference to the work of the International Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The materials Musalo, Moore and Boswell present in the book are more fully examined through the extensive use of notes and comments, which also serve to highlight essential themes and concepts of the text and to make them more accessible to the reader. Since the casebook addresses both substance and procedure, with a focus on practice as well as theory, it is an excellent text not only for students, but for practitioners and those in government agencies as well. Orders and Examination Copies -- Save 10% when you order online! Order online at or call (800) 489-7486. If you teach and wish to request an examination copy of a book, please e-mail your request to or call us at (800) 489-7486. You may also request examination copies by clicking on the links in this e-mail or online at Examination copy requests should include the following information: course(s) name(s) for which the book is being considered; semester(s) the course is taught; projected enrollment for the course(s); and institutional address and phone number.

Congrats Karen, Jennifer, and Richard!


November 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Analysis of Voters' Reactions

For additional analyses of voters reactions to candidates who tried to use immigration as a political wedge issue, visit these websites:

The National Immigration Forum  has published a voter survey by The Tarrance Group that finds that immigration is not a top vote determining issue and that voters remain supportive of comprehensive immigration reform and expect Congress to take action... next year. summarizes and links to analyses by members of Congress, political pundits, and editorial boards of major newspapers on the impact of the immigration issue on the elections.


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

Prospects for Reform

An essay by Benjamin Johnson, director of the Immigration Policy Center:

Voters rebuffed anti-immigration hardliners in this months midterm elections. Despite their best efforts to use immigration as a wedge issue, many of the hardliners were rejected by voters who want more than just tough talk and a 700-mile fence to nowhere. As a result, the stage is set for Congress to find a workable solution to the immigration issues we face. And, with a bit of luck, Congress will be able to deal with a host of other social and economic issues that, in the past, have been linked falsely to immigration.

Read the entire essay here.


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

Democrats Divided on Immigration Strategy

As the Democratic Party prepares to take power on Capitol Hill in January, tensions are surfacing over the details of plans to overhaul the nation's immigration policies.

Statements by incoming members such as Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator-elect from Missouri, could provide an early warning of the difficulties ahead.

In a September television spot, McCaskill sat at a kitchen table and looked directly into the camera. "Let me tell you what I believe in," she said. "No amnesty for illegal immigrants."

Democratic leaders presented a largely united front on immigration this year, providing crucial support for a measure that would have allowed illegal immigrants to gain citizenship -- a bill critics attacked as "amnesty."

Now, the citizenship provision is just one of several aspects of the complex debate that are being questioned by some members. Click here.


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

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jury Verdict Against Border Vigilante

Jury Orders AZ Border Vigilante to pay nearly $100,000 in damages to families

After years of feeling like they were banging their heads against a brick wall trying to get Cochise County and Arizona state officials to file criminal charges against Roger Barnett, the godfather of border vigilantism, two Mexican-American families from Douglas, Arizona are finally celebrating.

After three hours of deliberations in the Superior Court in Bisbee, Arizona, the jury in the civil trial found Roger Barnett guilty of intentionally inflicting emotional distress, negligence, unlawful imprisonment and assault and ordered that Barnett pay the group close to $100,000 in damages.

The charges stem from an October 30, 2004 incident when Roger Barnett, his wife and brother, Donald Barnett stopped Arturo, Ronald, Vanese and Angelique Morales and the girls' friend, Emma English, while the group was on a hunting trip. Upon finding the group on land he leases for grazing livestock from the Arizona State Land Department, Barnett yelled racist obscenities and pointed his chambered, AR-15 assault rifle at the three young girls (ages 11 and 9) and the two men and threatened to kill them.

The trial began on November 14th and included emotional and intense testimony from the children, their parents, psychologists, land surveyors, sheriffs' deputy, Arizona Game and Fish employee, and other bow hunters who had also been physically assaulted and barraged with racist insults by Barnett. The families were represented by Jesus Romo Vejar, a long-time civil rights and immigrant rights attorney.

"The real impact of this terrific decision has not hit me yet," commented Ronald Morales. "The girls, Vanese and Angelique, feel like it was all worth it. Finally, they can see that we do have a justice system that works and that no one, not even Roger Barnett, is above the law."

The Morales and English families, with the support of the Border Action Network, a human rights community organization based in southern Arizona, uncovered a vicious cycle of public officials who demonstrated no political will or interest in supporting Arizona border communities' calls for prosecuting Barnett and others for assaulting not only undocumented immigrants, but U.S. citizens.

"This is an historic moment," reflects Jennifer Allen, Director of the Border Action Network. "This victory is just the beginning. We can guarantee that every official who tried to sweep this case and issue under the rug and who still has the capacity of bringing criminal charges will hear from us."

The human rights group presented an extensive petition to the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in April 2005 charging the U.S. government with human rights violations for failing to prosecute border vigilante groups and activities. That petition is supported by the University of Arizona's Human Rights Workshop and is still pending. Also on the horizon is civil suit filed by MALDEF against the Barnetts that has not yet gone to trial.

"The door has been opened by this very important decision condemning the violence and trauma caused by border vigilantism," continues Allen. "We've already seen the courage the Morales and English girls as well as the jury had for standing up for what is right and fair. Now we are looking for the courage of our public officials to uphold human dignity and end vigilante impunity."

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Allen, Executive Director
Border Action Network
P.O. Box 384
Tucson, AZ 85702
Ph 520.623.4944
Fax 520.792.2097


P.S.  For the N.Y. Times story on the verdict and Barnett, click here.


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

A Native Person's Thanksgiving Perspective

Speech by Barry White Crow Higgins

I have been asked here to day to speak of Thanksgiving from the    Native perspective. I am grateful for this opportunity. It is a however a difficult story to be told as it shakes the history most of us have grown to know. It had little to do with turkey, potatoes, or pie. Mid winter of 1620 the Americas saw the landing of the Pilgrims in the area known today as Plymouth MA. They were however not the first to land on these shores. In 1614 a British expedition had already landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox, syphilis and gonorrhea behind. That plague swept the so-called "tribes of New England", and destroyed some of the villages totally.

The new 1620 settlers were not farmers so their crop failed miserably. Were it not for the guidance of a Pawtuxet named Squanto they would have surely perished. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty with the Wampanoag people. The next year William Bradford declared a three-day feast after the first harvest. It would later become a part of the myth known as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims did not call it that nor were the Indians who attended the feast even invited. The invitation was only to Squanto and Chief Massasoit. They then invited over 90 brothers and sisters to the affair much to the distaste of the Europeans.

There were no prayers and the "Indians" were never invited back again. So contrary to popular myth the Puritans were not friends to the Natives. For they believed they were the chosen people of the infinite God, granting them heavenly dispensation for any actions against a people predestined for damnation. Bradford later wrote "It pleased God to visit these Indians with a great sickness though in this regard God was not perfect for 50 of every thousand Indians has survived."

By 1641 things had really begun to deteriorate and the forth coming of the Natives people forgotten.  A 1641 massacre of the Pequot's in CT was very successful so much so the churches declared a day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the now heathen first peoples. This was the first real use of the term of thanksgiving to mark a day of celebration. The celebration included the decapitation of the heads of eighty Natives, which were tossed into the streets for the New Settlers to kick about as a sign of power and defiance.

Also at this time the Governor Kieft of Manhattan offered the first use of scalping as a form of bounty of 20 shillings per scalp and 40 for each prisoners they could use to sell into slavery. Permission was given to rape or enslave any Native women and enslave any child under 14. Law gave permission to "kill savages on sight at will". By 1675 the Native people under Metacomet fought back with vengeance. But even Metacomet would meet his fate at the hands of the Europeans when he was hunted down and killed, body dismembered, hands sent to Boston, head to Plymouth to be placed on a pole on a Thanksgiving Day in 1767.

Early American history goes on to honor those who would contribute to the genocide of the First Peoples of the Americas. George Washington ordered the attacks on the six nations of the Iroquois despite the gift of 700 bushels of corn he and his men at Valley Forge received from the Oneida peoples. Survival of the troops was at the fate of the saviors themselves. Lord Jeffery Amherst the conceiver and first American user of biological warfare with his inspired use of smallpox infected blankets. Andrew Jackson late repeated this action with the Seminoles. Locally (here in New England) we know the massacre at what we now call Wissatinnewaq by Captain Turner against elders, women, and children. This history would repeat itself with the truth poorly documented and rarely spoken. As recent as 1967, the State of Vermont performed involuntary sterilization of Native females without their permission.

5 to 6 Million Jews and Gypsies were decimated by the Nazi regime in World War II. These facts are well remembered and the world mourns these events. Not to minimize these events or the souls of those victimized, these numbers pale in comparison to the events of the Americas. It has been estimated that over 100 million Native Americans were killed by the European invaders during the establishment of the nation we know today.

Thanksgiving was, without the declared name, a tradition of the    Native Peoples a time to give thanks to the Creator for the bounty of the harvest and their lives. As the last crops were harvested time was taken to reflect and give thanks. Although short lived, for three days peace and fellowship was shared in New England back in 1621, a gratefulness was shown for the compassion of one peoples to another and the gifts of Grandfather and Mother Earth acknowledged and shared unconditionally.

I do not speak these truths to solicit sympathy or the righting of ancestral wrongs. Histories cannot be changed but truth is tool that will give us an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and use this knowledge to prevent them from happening again. We know genocide is happening in many areas of the world today. We can pray for these victim souls and by living a better example we can effect change. I would suggest that Thanksgiving, go beyond the gratefulness of the harvest and should be dedicated as well to all our ancestors and give thanks for the things they have taught us with their lives of triumph and failure.

By awakening I pray we may learn to make a better tomorrow.


November 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Thanksgiving!

From KJ, BH, and JMC

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

Supreme Court Oral Argument Previews Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez

Supreme Court Oral Argument Previews Gonzales v. Duenas-Alvarez (05-1629) Oral Argument: December 5, 2006

Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

in 2002, Duenas-Alvarez, a Peruvian national, was found guilty of a violation of California Vehicle Code § 10851(a), which makes it illegal to take a vehicle without the owner’s consent or to aid or abet in such a taking. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought Duenas-Alvarez’s deportation based on the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which allows the government to deport aliens convicted of an “aggravated felony.” “Theft offenses” are one type of crime included in the category of aggravated felonies. The Ninth Circuit overturned the deportation order, reasoning that because the California statute allows for convictions based solely on aiding and abetting, conviction under the statute did not necessarily mean that Duenas-Alvarez had committed a “theft offense.” The DHS contends that simply because accomplice liability involves a lower level of involvement in an offense, that does not remove it from the category of “theft offenses.” The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will affect the immigration status of over 8,000 resident aliens who currently face deportation.

Question(s) presented Whether a “theft offense,” which is an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)((G), includes aiding and abetting.

For much more information about this case, click here.


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

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lou Dobbs on On the Media

On November 17, Bob Garfield of the radio show "On the Media" interviewed Lou Dobbs, focusing on his coverage of illegal immigration.

Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

BOB GARFIELD: You do polls on your show.

LOU DOBBS: All the time.

BOB GARFIELD: But they aren't really polls.

LOU DOBBS: Of course they are.


LOU DOBBS: No, they really are.

BOB GARFIELD: They're leading questions, Lou. They're more like the push polls that you hear about in political campaigns. Is this research?

LOU DOBBS: It is. It's a fair reading, I believe, of what our audience is thinking. Yes.

BOB GARFIELD: Here's a poll question from Tuesday's broadcast. It was about [LAUGHS] the Vatican declaring that -

LOU DOBBS: Oh, yes.

BOB GARFIELD: - the border wall is

LOU DOBBS: Oh, I, I plead -

BOB GARFIELD: - inhuman.

LOU DOBBS: Absolutely.

BOB GARFIELD: Do you believe, as the Vatican asserts in a statement from within its walled city, that building a fence on the U.S. border with Mexico is inhuman? Now, oddly enough, Lou, that got a 90 percent no vote. That must have shocked you.

LOU DOBBS: Was it only 90? {BOB LAUGHS} It was only 90?

BOB GARFIELD: Here's a –

LOU DOBBS: I'm disappointed, because I thought it would be much higher than that.


Links to the audio program and the transcript can be found here:


November 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Voices--American Stories

Watch the premiere of Immigrant Voices—American Stories on Friday, November 24 at 7:30pm on KQED 9 (San Francisco Bay Area PBS Station).

KQED’s Immigrant Voices – American Stories is an original 30-minute documentary examining the growing political awareness and power of eight immigrants living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film takes a look at how and why they decided to get involved in their communities, as well as the obstacles they faced in becoming civically and politically active.

The documentary will also be available for viewing at after Friday’s broadcast.


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

Former Justice Department Officials File Amicus Brief in Terrorism Case

Former Attorney General Janet Reno has taken the unusual step of openly criticizing the Bush administration's anti-terrorism strategy -- joining seven other former Justice Department officials in warning that the indefinite detention of U.S. terrorism suspects could become commonplace unless the courts intervene. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case of alleged enemy combatant Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the former prosecutors assert that criminal courts are well equipped to prosecute terrorism suspects while guaranteeing the constitutional rights of defendants arrested on U.S. soil.

For a copy of the Washington Post story, click here.  For a link to the amicus brief of the former DOJ officials , click here.  For much more about this case, check out SCOTUS blog at  This blog has links to all of the amicus briefs in the case, including the Brief of Amici Curiae U.S. Criminal Scholars and Historians Advocating Reversal in Support of Petitioners.  This intriguing brief relies heavily on my colleague Carlton Larson's recent article, The Forgotten Constitutional Law of Treason and the Enemy Combatant Problem, 154 U. Pa. L. Rev. 863 (2006). And who ever said that legal history -- or, for that matter, legal scholarship generally -- was not "relevant"?  :)


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

Cactus, Texas - An Immigrant Haven On The High Plains

For an excellent three-part series from the Dallas Morning News (Nov. 19-21, 2006) on Cactus, Texas, "an immigrant haven, " that includes many news items, graphics, video and more, click here.

It is always nice to hear something good coming out of Texas!  Thanks to Dan Kowalski for the news tip.


P.S.  I cannot resist.  Will we next see a story about the immigrant mecca known as Weed, California?  I doubt it but you never know.   

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

Muslim Imams Removed From Airplane for "Suspicious" Activities

Six Muslim imams flying home to Phoenix say they were removed from a plane for no reason and were humiliated in front of the other passengers. For a television news report, click here.

Muslim leaders expressed outrage on Tuesday after six imams were removed from a commercial airline flight in Minnesota for what they said was nothing more than trying to say evening prayers. "They were treated like terrorists ... humiliated," said Abu Hannoud, civil rights director for the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said the men were taken off the US Airways flight in handcuffs. He said the men were still trying to find a flight back to Phoenix where most are affiliated with a major mosque after the carrier refused them passage following the incident on Monday evening. "We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam," added Nihad Awad, executive director of the council, in a statement from the group's Washington headquarters. "We call on relevant authorities to investigate whether proper procedures were followed by security personnel and members of the US Airways flight crew," he said. The group said the men told it they were accused of "suspicious activity," which they believed was only their attempt to pray.

Ironically enough, Hannoud said in an interview that the men had been attending a three-day meeting of the North American Imams Federation in the Minneapolis area "discussing how to build bridges" between Muslims and American society, and that the FBI and local police had been informed in advance about the meeting. "They were rewarded by being treated like terrorists," he said. "Their humiliation is really a humiliation for the entire Muslim community," he added, and further proof that Islam phobia is a growing problem in the United States.

For the full Reuters story, click here.


November 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Suit to Challenge Arizona Conspiracy Policy


Press Conference: Wednesday, November 22, 2006, 11 AM
Location: Senate Lawn, 1700 W. Washington Phoenix 85007

Roberto Reveles (We Are America Coalition/Arizona) (480) 983-8611
Marianne Gunko (Friendly House) (602) 257-1870, ext. 230
Peter Schey, Esq. (Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law and counsel in the lawsuit) (323) 251-3223
Ray Velarde, Esq. (LULAC) (915) 373-6003.

A coalition of organizations in Maricopa County, joined by several State Representatives and other Arizona taxpayers, and a group of immigrants facing felony charges for “conspiring” to have themselves transported through Maricopa County, today announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit challenge to the controversial migrant conspiracy policy.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include We Are America/Somos America Coalition of Arizona, Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, League of United Latin American Citizens, Friendly House, Arizona State Representatives Kyrsten Sinema, Steve Gallardo, and Steve Lujan, Arizona State University Associate Professors Cecilia Menjivar and LaDawn Haglund, and six immigrants charged with felony conspiracy under the Maricopa County policy.

The lawsuit is brought as a class action on behalf of “all individuals stopped, detained, arrested, incarcerated, prosecuted, or penalized for conspiring to transport themselves” in Maricopa County.

Maricopa County is the only local government in the United States to initiate a program to charge all suspected undocumented migrants being transported through the county with felony crimes. To date, over 300 immigrants have been arrested, jailed, and charged under the policy. According to the lawsuit, most plead guilty in order to avoid lengthy stays in Maricopa‚s notoriously harsh jails.

In March 2006 Maricopa County started to arrest large numbers of suspected undocumented immigrants and charging them with conspiracy to transport themselves with the aid of a smuggler. County officials base their policy on a State anti-coyote law passed in 2005 that makes it a crime to smuggle undocumented immigrants for gain in Arizona. However, legislators who proposed and supported the state law, have publicly criticized the Maricopa County policy saying they never intended it to be used against migrants being smuggled.

The Maricopa County policy is one of hundreds of local initiatives that have recently been enacted in response to what local officials see as a failure of the Congress to adequately grapple with national immigration reform. Defenders of immigrant communities view the Maricopa County policy as the harshest and most discriminatory measure initiated in the country.

The plaintiffs are represented by a team of lawyers, including three firms based in Phoenix, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law based in Los Angeles, California, and the LULAC National Legal Advisor based in El Paso, Texas.

Roberto Reveles, Executive Director of the We Are America Coalition of Arizona, issued the following statement: “The legality of the Maricopa County conspiracy policy should be ruled upon by the federal courts before more lives are destroyed, people needlessly jailed for months at a time, and tax-payers billed for a program that may be unconstitutional and has no measurable impact on the immigration crisis.”

Rosa Rosales, National President of LULAC, issued the following statement: “As the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country, we are appalled at the short-term political gains certain Maricopa County officials have sought to make by charging immigrants with serious felonies. The vast majority of these immigrants come to the United States to satisfy the demand for labor here and to join their families. They are hard working and in no way a threat to national security. Treating them like serious criminals is not only irrational, it is shameful and disgraceful.”

Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and counsel for the plaintiffs, issued the following statement on behalf of the plaintiffs: “Instead of participating in the on-going national debate over immigration reform, as many other counties are doing, Maricopa County has spoken with a voice of intolerance and divisiveness. It has all but shut itself out of the national debate. The Maricopa County policy is a far more serious violation of the law than anything the jailed migrants have engaged in. It appears to be a conspiracy to violate the federal constitution and laws, unwittingly underwritten by Arizona taxpayers. We have little doubt that in the end the policy will be declared illegal and enjoined from further implementation by the federal courts. If that is the outcome, the Arizona taxpayers may then face hundreds of lawsuits for false arrest and imprisonment. Maricopa County would be well advised to at least temporarily suspend its policy while the courts decide its legality. That would be the prudent course for the county to adopt in light of the serious claims raised in this litigation.”

Marianna Gonko, Immigration Director of Friendly House, a Phoenix non-profit serving low-income families, issued the following statement: “The Maricopa County conspiracy policy not only has a devastating impact on the lives of immigrants, it also forces non-profit organizations to divert their limited resources to serving this jailed population. The migrants we have interviewed in jail wanted nothing more than to come to this country to engage in hard work, to support their families, and to be reunited with their families. Keeping them in jail for many months and charging them with serious felonies does absolutely nothing to address the underlying causes of undocumented migration.”

# # # #


The plaintiffs:

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include We Are America/Somos America Coalition of Arizona, Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, League of United Latin American Citizens, Friendly House, Arizona State Representatives Kyrsten Sinema, Steve Gallardo, and Steve Lujan, Arizona State University Associate Professors Cecilia Menjivar and LaDawn Haglund, and six immigrants charged with felony conspiracy under the Maricopa County policy.

Status of the six migrant plaintiffs:

Two of the immigrants, Rosa Flor Diaz Godines and Adriana Rodriguez Espiritu, both from Mexico, were arrested by Maricopa County sheriff deputies on September 18, 2006, and remain in jail awaiting felony criminal proceedings. They are very afraid of their current circumstances, feel extremely isolated, have virtually no contact with family or friends, find their jail conditions extremely harsh even though they have yet to be convicted of any crimes, had no prior knowledge of Maricopa‚s „conspiracy‰ policy, and had no intention to violate any laws of any kind in Maricopa County.

Two of the immigrants arrested in September, Plaintiffs Raul Bomaye and Javier Encino, were jailed for several weeks and then turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after posting bail. They were promptly removed from the country to Mexico while their criminal charges were still pending. The charges remain pending and the Maricopa County Court will probably issue a warrant for their arrest. They have effectively been prevented from appearing in court and defending against the criminal charges.

Two plaintiffs Cortez-Cuellar and Sanchez-Diego, father and son, were arrested in May 2006. After a few months in jail, they were released on bail and are presently living in Phoenix, Arizona and have pending conspiracy charges. They have been living in the U.S. for about 17 years. Their right to continue residing in the U.S. will eventually be determined by federal authorities. A felony conviction under the Maricopa County policy could destroy whatever rights they may possess to continue residing in the U.S.

The legal team:

The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (Los Angeles), Perkins Coie Brown & Bain P.A (Phoenix), Ray Velarde, LULAC National Legal Advisor, Dan Ballecer (Phoenix), and Antonio Bustamante (Phoenix).

The State law:

In 2005 the Arizona legislature passed an anti-coyote (anti-smuggling) law. 34. Ariz. Rev. Stat.  § 13-2319: „It is unlawful for a person to intentionally engage in the smuggling of human beings for profit or commercial purpose. . . . . For the purposes of this section ... smuggling of human beings‚ means ... that the person or persons transported ... are not ... lawfully in this state.”

The Maricopa County “conspiracy” policy:

On September 29, 2005, the Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas issued a statement declaring that, in his view, § 13-2319 makes a crime not only smugglers‚ transporting persons for profit, but also non-smuggler migrants‚ agreeing to pay for transport or on whose behalf others had agreed to pay for transport.

According to defendant Thomas: “If [law enforcement has] probable cause to believe that illegal immigrants have intentionally allowed themselves to be smuggled by a paid human smuggler . . . [law enforcement] may arrest the illegal immigrants as well as the coyote.” Maricopa County Attorney Opinion 2005-002, Sept. 29, 2005.

How State legislators reacted to defendant Thomas‚ policy:

On March 6, 2006, the Associated Press reported lawmakers‚ astonishment at defendant Thomas‚ adoption of the Maricopa conspiracy policy:

[T]wo of the law's authors said Friday that it was never their intent for illegal immigrants to be prosecuted under the law.
“This is something the county attorney came up with himself,” said Rep. Jonathon Paton, R-Tucson. “I never intended that immigrants would be arrested . . . That's not what I sold the bill as, and that's not what our attorneys at the time told us. It was pretty clear.”
When Sen. Timothy Bee, R-Tucson, was contacted about the arrests, he hadn't heard Thomas was seeking to charge the immigrants under the human smuggling law.
“Wow,” he said. “That's the first time I've seen that interpretation of the law. The law was designed to go after those who are involved in drug trafficking and human trafficking for a profit.”

Who is the lawsuit brought on behalf of:

The lawsuit is brought as a class action on behalf of “all individuals stopped, detained, arrested, incarcerated, prosecuted, or penalized for conspiring to transport themselves” in Maricopa County.

The legal theories:

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joseph Arpaio have publicly expressed their frustration with the failure of the federal Government to control immigration and decided to take matters into their own hands to control undocumented immigration through their “conspiracy‰ program.

1.  Regulating international migration is a matter of exclusive federal authority. The conspiracy policy and the arrests that it promotes violate “federal preemption.” U.S. Const. Article I, § 8, cl. 4 (the federal power to establish uniform rules regarding immigration).

2. The arrest policy also promotes racial profiling and discriminatory detentions because Sheriff Deputies have no training in and cannot easily tell whether someone is not “not lawfully in this state” without first detaining and interrogating them.

3. The lawsuit also argues that the conspiracy policy is inconsistent with and violates the State‚s anti-coyote law (this is called a “pendent state claim” raised in the lawsuit).

What the lawsuit seeks to achieve:

The plaintiffs want the federal courts to determine whether the Maricopa County conspiracy arrest policy is constitutional. The plaintiffs seek an injunction blocking further enforcement of the policy.


November 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)