Saturday, February 4, 2006

A New Naturalization Test?

Here is a link to an interim report on the Naturalization test design:


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Piling on the IJs

Immigration judges come under fire, Pamela A. MacLean, Staff reporter, National Law Journal 02-06-2006

An immigration judge in Newark, N.J., snores through a Colombian woman's testimony of fears for her life before denying her asylum.

A Los Angeles immigration judge refuses asylum to a victim of the Rwandan genocide, faulting his lack of emotion in describing seeing his mother and three siblings hacked to pieces.

A Philadelphia immigration judge so bullied and badgered a Ghanian woman held as a sex slave by her father that an appeals court ordered the judge off the case.

Despite these types of allegations of abusive conduct by immigration judges around the country-documented in court papers-discipline is nearly nonexistent, a review by The National Law Journal has found.

Ira Kurzban, a nationally known immigration lawyer at Miami's Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger & Tetzeli, said that "[t]here are judges who really have no business being judges. They are unfit and should be removed." He added: "The
problem is we don't have a system to respond in an adequate way to disciplining errant immigration judges."

For more, check out the Feb. 6 issue of teh National Law Journal


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Sensenbrenner on His Bill

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, January 25, 20006
House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, sat down with The Washington Times yesterday to discuss the immigration debate in Congress this year. This is a partial transcript:

Q. What is the fate of last year's bill, and how do you see the immigration debate this year?

Border security and internal enforcement of our immigration laws, and specifically the employer-sanctions law, are the key to making the country safer, as well as preventing the Congress from repeating the mistake of Simpson-Mazzoli 19 years ago -- it's now 20 years ago, because that was 1986. Simpson-Mazzoli was based on the flawed premise that we would solve the illegal-alien problem by granting those presently in the country amnesty and not having an employer-sanctions program that would turn off the magnet for new illegals to come across the border. And it didn't work because employer sanctions were not enforced. So, I think 2½ million illegals at that time, now the minimum estimate is that we have 11 million illegals. And the talk of an amnesty program -- the president denies his program is amnesty but I don't think people will go home under his program if they get their temporary cards here -- the talk of an amnesty program has increased the flow of illegals across the border. In 2004, there were an additional half-million.
In my opinion, the two big provisions of the bill in terms of increasing security on the border and the employer verification of Social Security numbers plan, plus increasing the fines, have got to be done and have got to be funded before Congress should even consider a guest-worker program. The border security program is based on the fence and also giving the local law enforcement officers in the 29 border counties the authority to enforce the immigration law, which state and local police do not have at the present time. I would like to see that done nationwide, but if it works in the counties where the problem is most acute, I think we will be able to get the support to have it go nationwide. ...
The verification of the validity of Social Security numbers is an essential tool to curtailing employment of illegal aliens, particularly in low-skilled, labor-intensive businesses where they congregate, like agriculture, hotels and restaurants, construction, landscaping and the like. And because a goodly number of the bad actors who hire the illegals are able to so reduce their labor cost that they either put their competition who's doing it right out of business or drag down the wages that are paid to legal aliens and U.S. citizens, that unless we do get tough with the people who are hiring lots of illegal aliens, we're not going to solve the problem, even with the fence and even with the sheriffs having the arrest powers for immigration violations in those 29 border counties. And coupled with the verification is an increase in the fines, starting with an increase from $100 apiece on the first offense to $2,500 apiece, so that the fines actually act as a deterrent rather than simply being viewed as paying the fine as a cost of doing business. I am very disturbed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce invited Mexican Foreign Minister [Luis Ernesto] Derbez to Chicago to attack my legislation and to attack me by name. And I sent a letter to him, which I did not release to the press, and I got a letter back, which I am giving to you, which admits that the Chicago speech that Derbez gave was organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They should be ashamed of themselves because essentially what they are doing is saying that it's OK to use fake Social Security numbers. I don't think that anybody who is in business ought to be condoning the use of false documentation. If they continue promoting speeches by Mexican government officials, then maybe they ought to register as an agent of a foreign government under the law.

Q. Was expanding to mandatory basic pilot program your first choice for enforcement for internal verification in the recent bill?

That's my first choice. As you know, a year ago, I was in the midst of fighting to get the Real ID Act passed. One of the things that was very helpful in that is the fact that there were 380,000 valid North Carolina driver's licenses with the same Social Security number, which was nines all the way across. And that's just in one state, and it's a medium-sized state. It's not the biggest or the smallest state in the union. And if you have 380,000 people who say they either don't have a Social Security card because they can't get one because they're an illegal alien or they, quote, "lost it," unquote, so they get the same number on their license, this shows how the Social Security numbers have been abused.
And one of the reasons why the Social Security Administration is now sending out annual Social Security statements to all of us with active accounts is so that we can verify whether or not somebody is using our Social Security numbers.

Q. Your bill passed with strong bipartisan support. What does that vote say about where support lies on this issue in the House, and how do you go forward with the Senate?

The House reflected the mood of the country. I can't go anywhere, whether it's in my district or anywhere in the country, without people coming up to me and saying that I'm doing the right thing on illegal aliens and immigration. I was in the Detroit airport yesterday on the way back here and there were a couple of people that said "Go to it, congressman." I don't know who they are. You know, they recognized me from C-SPAN or what's appeared on the network TV. This is going to be a question of whether the Senate listens to the people or whether the Senate listens to special-interest groups that want to keep low-paying illegal aliens in the United States for economic reasons.
And as an exercise of the sovereignty of this country, we are entitled to know which foreigners are here, why they are here, and if they do not have green cards, when they're going home.

Q. If the Senate does have a debate and pass a bill that has guest worker on it, can that conference with your bill?

Sure it can conference with my bill. But the American public will not stand for a guest-worker program that amounts to an amnesty. We tried that with Simpson-Mazzoli, and not only did it fail, but it made the problem worse. And it made the problem worse because of the absence of employer sanctions. The key to controlling illegal immigration in this country is not just enforcement on the border, but internal enforcement of immigration laws, principally the employer-sanctions law.

Q. Does the administration believe that last point?

You're going to have to ask them about that. We can spend billions of dollars more on the border, but if we don't turn off the magnet of employment in the United States -- albeit it illegal employment in the United States -- we're not going to be able to solve the problem. You know, if you look at the percentage increase in the presence of illegal aliens from 2003 to 2004, the two top states are Iowa and Wisconsin, about as far away from the southern border as you can find. Now one of the reasons why Iowa and Wisconsin had this increase is that the economy in the upper Midwest is going along well, but again, they concentrate in certain types of jobs that are low-skilled jobs and are labor-intensive jobs, which means, as I repeat, the people that are doing it the wrong way and getting such a terrific economic advantage in lowering their labor costs, that they either put out of business the people who are doing it the legal way or they drag down the wages of the U.S. citizens and green-card holders who are employed by them.

Q. On the administration, in the intelligence bill from 2004 you won increases in authorization for border patrol agents, detention beds, interior enforcement agents, and the administration funded only 210 border patrol agents out of 2,000.

One of the things I did in putting together this bill, which was done at the request of the leadership, is that I was very insistent that provisions in the bill before it was introduced would be funded by the administration when the budget comes out at the end of the month.
And Speaker [J. Dennis] Hastert was intimately involved in that. The commitments on funding were made to the speaker, and he's going to have to talk to that, because it was at a leadership retreat that committee chairs weren't invited to, so I was not there. But the speaker agrees 100 percent with me that what happened a year ago in the intelligence bill with large authorizations and no funding whatsoever was embarrassing both to the administration and those of us who fought for increased assets for border protection in the intelligence bill and then were let down.

Q. Even though your bill from last month isn't yet law, do you expect the administration will fund those positions from your bill in the upcoming budget?

They should start funding towards my bill because there is going to be a border security bill that is going to pass. Whether it has immigration provision or not remains to be seen. And the problem is that, if it passes in June or July of this year then the Appropriations Committee that is operating under allocations and caps is going to have to take away money from other programs in order to fund border security. By the administration putting the money for the border security in the budget that choice is not going to be forced on the Congress to make.

Q. What is an acceptable guest-worker program for you? Can it apply to illegal aliens currently here?

No, it cannot. Because a guest-worker program that applies to illegal aliens already here is an amnesty. Now the people who support that will say it's not an amnesty. But if it ends up saying that you're here illegally, and we're going to give you a guest-worker card, even if it does not ripen into citizenship, means that you are able to stay here notwithstanding the fact that you violated the law. And if you crossed the border illegally, you have committed a crime in doing so. One of the things in this debate and in my bill is that the overstays haven't committed a crime and that we make it into a crime, and 40 percent of the illegals in the country are overstays who entered the country legally and didn't go back home when they were supposed to. But it seems to me that if you give these people the temporary cards, and the president talked a little bit about that yesterday out in Kansas, whether they are three-year cards or six-year cards or any other term, how do you get them to go back home when they expire? And we end up simply postponing the decision on what to do about illegal aliens until the end of the validity of these cards.

Q. Is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ready to handle a guest-worker program right now?

No, it is not. I think that that's quite clear. The part of INS that CIS replaced ended up having their budget raided for more enforcement, and at the time of the abolition of INS, which was my bill, which was passed by the House, there were over 5 million pending petitions for immigration services for legal aliens.
Remember, CIS deals with the people who are trying to do it the right way and the legal way, rather than those who are illegal. That backlog has been cut by more than half, and we've been doing vigorous oversight, and I've been on the back of CIS. But to handle a guest-worker program, CIS is going to need to have a lot more money to be able to do that -- to process the applications promptly and to issue the cards, which I think should be issued outside the United States.
And I don't think that this should be financed by adding to the deficit. I think that those employers that do wish to hire temporary workers should pay a user fee for this service, and this way we can get the money into CIS for them to do the processing of the applications in a prompt and efficient manner, rather than simply sticking the taxpayers with the bill, which means our children and grandchildren, because you're going to be talking about increasing deficit financing.

Q. There are reports out of CIS that not all adjudicators have the right access to the right databases.

I understand that, and I can say that it's not the best, but it is much better than it was at the time the old immigration service was abolished on March 1, 2003. I visited old INS offices, and I don't know how they could ever find a file that they had to adjudicate because there were file folders that were piled from floor to ceiling. If somebody came in and asked for some information, how they would be able to find it and pull the file out and give the person the right answer? I don't know.
But again, you know, the long lines we've seen in front of immigration offices, those aren't illegal aliens, because an illegal alien doesn't want to be found within miles of any one of those places.

Q. Should legal immigration be increased, decreased or kept the same?

I can't answer that question, and I don't think anybody can answer that question, because when you've got this huge number of illegal aliens, the question is how many legal immigrants should we have. And illegal aliens provide cheap labor.
If we bring people in legally, there are not going to be as many jobs available because they've got green cards, they get Social Security numbers, they're going to have to be paid the minimum wage and have the withholding taken out for Social Security and state and federal taxes rather than simply driving by one of these worker centers with a pickup truck and a fist full of $20 bills and yelling out, "Who wants a job?"

Q. Can you go to conference with the Cornyn-Kyl bill?

Negotiating Cornyn-Kyl between the Senate bill and the House bill will be much easier to negotiate than dealing with McCain-Kennedy, because the differences aren't as great as with McCain-Kennedy.

Q. Are you in favor of a delayed enactment of the guest-worker provisions while the border security and interior enforcement are built up?

Border security and interior enforcement has got to come first. And the guest-worker provision won't work without interior enforcement and verification of Social Security numbers. It's as simple as that. Because, again, the market will work.
And if you've got the illegals out there with no interior enforcement of Social Security numbers, and interior enforcement of the employer-sanctions law, the illegal labor is the cheap labor, and the legal labor -- whether it's U.S. citizens or green-card holders, is much more expensive. Again, when you're dealing with labor-intensive segments of the economy where you've got to hire a lot of workers to get the job done, going the illegal route, which is the cheap route, gives you such a competitive advantage over people in the same part of the economy that you put them out of business.
I read something in your paper I think six or seven months ago where there was a Mexican boss with a green card that ran a house-painting business. And he can't get any jobs around here, and this is in the D.C. metropolitan area, anymore, because the people who are painting houses with illegal aliens come in with much lower estimates so they get the contracts. You can repeat that story probably several thousand times.

Q. So you could see a bill coming out that has guest worker?

Guest worker but no amnesty. Amnesty is not negotiable. The American public will not stand for amnesty, and amnesty didn't work in Simpson-Mazzoli, and it's not going to work here. The amnesty in Simpson-Mazzoli only increased the pressure of the flow across the border because the feeling was if they can't enforce their law now -- this was 20 years ago -- and have to grant an amnesty, they're not going to enforce the law in the future, and they're going to have to grant another amnesty. Here we are 20 years later, and that was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Q. And current illegal aliens would not be allowed to join?

Somebody who is here illegally now, if they wanted to become a legal guest worker, they'd have to go home and apply.

Q. How long should a temporary-worker period last?

I think that should be up to the employer making the application. And if the employer who makes the application for a temporary worker has to pay the fee for processing that card, he's got an incentive to keep that temporary worker employed.


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Immigration Conference at Fordham

Don't miss the 29th National Legal Conference on Immigration and Refugee Policy, sponsored by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) and the Fordham University School of Law, March 13-14, 2006. The theme of the conference is "Future Shock: Perspectives on Comprehensive Immigration Reform." The conference will be held at The Fordham University School of Law, 140 West 62nd Street, NewYork, NY 10023. For conference and registration information, please call
CMS at (718) 351-8800 or visit the CMS conference Web site at The Web site also contains the conference program. The registration fee is $125 per person for staff of nonprofit agencies. The conference is accredited for 9.5 non-transitional New York State Continuing Legal Education credits in the area of professional practice.


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Immigration Attorney Faces Disbarment

Nearly 200 attorneys are currently suspended or barred from appearing before the nation's immigration courts, including a dozen from the Bay Area. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears an increasing number of immigration cases every year, prosecuted seven immigration attorneys last year for failing to responsibly represent their clients and three are entering proceedings now.

Here's a story on one attorney who is facing disbarment in California.


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Feinstein on Sensenbrenner Bill

On January 25, Senator Dianne Feinstein sent this letter to a constituent in response to his concern over the passage of the Sensenbrenner bill:

Dear Mr. Siordia-Ortiz:

Thank you for writing to me about the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (H.R. 4437). I appreciate hearing your views on this bill and the issue of immigration, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4437 on December 16th and the bill was then referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. The Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, may consider immigration reform legislation this year. Chairman Specter has already expressed an interest in crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill based on pending Senate bills.

I do not support H.R. 4437, the House passed bill. Although this bill is not presently scheduled for hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, I do not anticipate that the Senate will pass it in its present form. Know that I will keep your comments in mind as the Senate moves forward on immigration reform.

Again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will continue to write to me on issues of importance to you. Best wishes for the New Year.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator

source: Immigrant Legal Resource Center


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Friday, February 3, 2006

Education and Immigration in Arizona

In Arizona, debates over how to fund English language education in pulbic schools are serving as a proxy for an immigration debate that is ratcheting up in that State:

"This whole education fight is clearly a proxy for the immigration debate," said Bruce Merrill, a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. "A lot of people here feel if you don't build it, they won't come."

The NYTimes story is here:


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Smuggler Trial in Texas: The Jury is Out!

Using graphic photos of the 19 illegal immigrants who died in a stifling trailer, prosecutors asked jurors Friday to remember what the defendants had done to the victims and find them guilty of human smuggling violations.

"These were people with hopes and dreams whose lives were ended," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Rodriguez said.

Defense attorneys blamed the deaths of the 19 on federal immigration laws, ignorance of others' actions and vengeful wayward sons and asked jurors to acquit their clients, on trial for their roles in United States' deadliest human smuggling attempt.

The jury began deliberating Friday afternoon. For the rest of the story, see


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Immigration in the News, Etc.

State And Local Enforcement

A Wall Street Journal article reports that federal immigration laws are increasingly becoming enforced at the state and local level as many counties and states are taking on the duty of verifying individuals' immigration status when they are stopped for traffic infractions and other violations. Requests to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for training on immigration law enforcement are coming from border states such as Texas and California as well as areas in New England and the Midwest. For the full story, see

Listen To Lead: Opponents Often Show The Way

Paul Donnelly writes "But there is hope: if immigration advocates were more willing to accept Sensenbrenner's insistence that legal and illegal reflect our national values, legislation could be written to make real choices.",0206-donnelly.shtm,0206-donnelly.shtm#bio

It Is Time To Tackle Immigration Reform

Stephen W. Yale-Loehr writes "President Bush's recent statements on immigration reform are a courageous first step toward resolving a complex problem. But do they go far enough?",0206-yaleloehr.shtm

CRS Report On L Visas

The Congressional Research Service issued a report including the following factoid: almost two-thirds of the 122,981 L visas were issued to aliens from India in FY2005. Great Britain (including Northern Ireland) and Japan followed with 10.5% and 9.8% respectively of all L visas issued.,0206-crs.pdf


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Tallest Nonimmigrant

Yao Ming, the tallest nonimmigrant in the United States (unconfirmed), edged Kobe Bryant as the top vote-getter in fan balloting for the upcoming NBA All-Star game scheduled in Houston, Feb. 19. Yao received 2.34 million votes to Bryant's 2.27 million. Fans from all over the world were able to cast votes online.


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Time Magazine Cover Story

The February 6 Time magazine cover story, "Inside America's Secret Workforce," is an interesting read. Written by Nathan Thornburgh, the story features the story of Mario Coria who was recruited by a vacationing restauranteur from Bridgehampton to work as a gardener in the Hamptoms. So Coria left Mexico 30 years ago to accept the offer, later obtaining a labor certification, LPR status and eventually US citizenship. Over the years, hundreds of other young workers from Coria's hometown of Tuxpan, Michoacan, followed, and the story discusses the impact that this has had on both East Hampton and Tuxpan.


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Halliburton Constructing Detention Centers

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was picking someone to plan and perhaps build centers to handle a crush of immigrants, it turned to a familiar name.

The Corps last week awarded a contract worth up to $385 million to KBR, a subsidiary of engineering and defense contractor Halliburton Co. KBR held a similar contract from 2000 through 2005.

The contract calls on KBR to set up temporary processing, detention and deportation facilities in case of a surge of people trying to enter the country, according to immigration officials.

"It's part of (the government's) planning should there be some sort of emergency, say some sort of upheaval in Latin America, that would cause a mass migration," said Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Zuieback called it a "contingency contract" and that the Halliburton unit might never be asked to build any such centers.

Halliburton said KBR might also be used to open more detention centers if they were needed for new government programs.

The Army Corps issued an open call for contractors, but only KBR bid for the work, said Clay Church, a Corps spokesman.

KBR has been paid just $5.9 million so far under the 2000-2005 contract, although up to several million dollars in additional claims from last year are awaiting routine auditing, Church said. That contract, like the new one, included a one-year base period and four one-year options.

Halliburton announced last week that it will sell a minority stake in KBR through an initial public offering of stock.

Houston-based Halliburton, which was led by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000, is the largest government contractor in Iraq. It recently passed $10 billion in orders to provide housing, meals and other services for U.S. troops and to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

Source: Associated Press, Jan. 30, 2006


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Thursday, February 2, 2006

Interview with Sen. Jon Kyl

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. met with The Republic's Editorial Board on Friday. Kyl, who is seeking a third term, serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees, and is chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. Here are excerpts from the meeting:

On prospects for immigration reform:

(The November elections) will make it very hard to do anything that is really comprehensive, but we've got to try. The problem is complex and in certain areas there are no right or wrong answers; you just have to try to work things out. You throw the political element in there and it's going to be very difficult.

One element of good news is that we have finally broken through the barrier of people not understanding that this requires a lot of funding. And we're now beginning to get the funding for the personnel, the infrastructure . . .

We have barely started to tackle interior enforcement, the idea that once you get 60 miles north of the border you're basically home free. Nor have we done anything but begin to think about the problem of workplace enforcement and how that would tie into temporary-worker programs.

On many states, including Arizona, looking at cracking down on illegal immigration:

To the extent there is criticism that the federal government hasn't done a good enough job of doing its job, that's a fair criticism. But I would also say that the state of Arizona could do a lot more in its area of jurisdiction.

Counties are political subdivisions of the states. Our four border counties are hurting. They get their money mostly from the state, and their criminal justice systems are not being adequately funded. Talk to any county prosecutor, defender, sheriff, judge, and they will tell you they are not being adequately funded because of the overwhelming number of cases that relate to illegal immigration. A lot of them are drug cases.

Source: Arizona Republic, Jan. 30, 2006


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Housing Fuels Immigration Debate

Overcrowded housing is emerging as a battleground in the national debate over immigration as towns and counties crack down on landlords who permit many unrelated people to occupy single-family homes.

Local officials in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Georgia have evicted residents, threatened landlords with fines or jail time or legally narrowed the definition of family to combat a problem they say disrupts neighborhoods.

"Our focus is on health and safety," says T. Dana Kauffman, a Democratic member of the board of supervisors in Fairfax County, Va., a suburb of Washington. "I've seen crawl spaces turned into bedrooms. ... We've had people tap into gas lines."

The board is asking the Virginia Legislature to allow it to punish landlords with up to a year in jail for violating local rules barring more than four unrelated people from living in a single-family home.

Some activists say measures limiting the number of unrelated people or extended family members in a home target immigrants, particularly Hispanics, who often need to share a home to afford the rent.

"We ... view it as an anti-immigrant issue," says Shanna Smith, president of the Washington-based National Fair Housing Alliance. "You can't have a deed restriction saying, 'No Latinos.' But they're trying to have local ordinances that say immediate families (only). ... Are they going back to the white families to see if a cousin is living there? The answer is no. It truly is directed at the new Latino immigrant population."

The dispute comes at a time when states and Congress are debating whether to impose new restrictions on people who entered the USA illegally. The nation has an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Among the hot spots:

•In Cobb County, Ga., in suburban Atlanta, commissioners are considering lowering from six to four the maximum number of unrelated people who can live in a single-family home. An influx of immigrants has helped increase the Latino population there from 2.1% in 1990 to 10% in 2004. "We're talking about a small house," Rob Hosack, Cobb County's community development director, says of neighborhood complaints about crowding. "And there's no way to mask the cars with five unrelated people living there."

•In Farmingville, N.Y., about 200 tenants, mostly immigrants, were evicted when local officials closed 11 homes last summer.

•The City Council in Manassas, Va., last month barred extended family members, such as nieces and nephews, from living together. The council decided to rescind the ordinance after an outcry by civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Source: USA Today, Jan. 31, 2006


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Former BIA Member on the Move

Lory Rosenberg has joined Paparelli & Partners LLP as Of Counsel. Lory is a featured columnist for Bender's Immigration Bulletin (Matthew Bender Co., Lexis-Nexis). Ms. Rosenberg served as an appellate immigration judge on the United States Board of Immigration Appeals for seven years (1995-2002). She initiated and directed the Defending Immigrants Partnership at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (2002-2004), and teaches as an adjunct professor at American University, Washington College of Law between 1997 and 2004. She is the co-author of the leading treatise, Immigration Law and Crimes (West) and the author of the forthcoming Immigration Consequences of Convictions: An Essential Resource and Training Manual, as well as the Fair Hearings Pleadings Manual (1992) and various journal articles, advisories, papers, and training guides.


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Will Local Enforcement of the Immigration laws Result in (More) Racial Profiling? You Bet!!!

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), February 2, 2006 Thursday,

Proposed state legislation has ingredients for racial profiling, Tina Griego, Rocky Mountain News

I know. Another column on illegal immigration. I feel your pain. But, I couldn't let the recent story about proposed state legislation requiring local police to act as federal immigration officials pass without getting something off my chest.

So, this one is for you, Pam, in Denver, and you, Judy, from Lakewood. It's for you, Ed, neighbor of mine who makes most pessimists look like a bunch of wide-eyed, flower-sniffing choirboys.

"Call me the prophet of doom," he says.

Ed has a thing about Mexicans. As I recall, his exact words were: "They ruin everything they touch."

It's one of his typical all-bark, no-bite comments, which he will later amend to "some Mexicans" and then to "some Mexicans living here illegally"

and then to "a lot of Mexicans are good people."

But, this is only after his wife says: "I'm a Chicano, but I'm ashamed of my race because of those Mexicans. People think we are all alike, but we're not."

She and Ed sing in Pam and Judy's choir. They are Hispanic or Latinos or Chicanos, or as Pam prefers, Spanish, because that's her lineage. They are not, each has told me, Mexicans, and they don't like me using the word Hispanic without saying, specifically, if the people are, in fact, Mexican.

That's "Mexican," with a hiss.

"It's important for people to know we're not the ones causing the problems.

They are," goes their typical line.

I almost feel bad for them. All that bowing and curtsying before the throne of public approval must be exhausting.

Anyway, I went to visit Ed about this proposed legislation.

"What do you think?"

"I think it's a good idea," he says. "We gotta do something."

Now, Ed is a nice, burnished shade of olive. He has a moustache. And did I mention the tattoos? If I have it right, they're stripped along the same forearm a cop might see through the window should he pull up parallel to Ed.

Ed, who one day might be sitting down to breakfast when he realizes, drat, they're out of coffee. Ed, who grabs some cash and hops into his van, leaving his wallet behind. Ed, who heads down Federal Boulevard and, impatient, because Ed is impatient, takes the left onto 26th Avenue after the light has turned red.

Why, hello, officer.


What the #@$!%$ do you mean am I a citizen?

Rep. Tom Tancredo is backing a federal version of these bills and, by his logic, Ed should be just fine. He speaks English. He has no outstanding warrants for which he would be arrested. As Tancredo said during a recent

debate: If police come in contact with someone who has an outstanding warrant and "they are not speaking English, and you ask them for ID and they cannot provide it, you get the pretty good idea they are here illegally."

If only it were that simple. These bills would require police to determine whether someone they've "encountered during routine law enforcement activity" is in this country illegally and, "when appropriate" to detain them for immigration. A dozen practical objections have been raised, most from police agencies.

"Maybe some people haven't noticed, but we have a hard time getting enough police officers out there catching the dangerous guys," Mayor John Hickenlooper said during the same debate with Tancredo.

"Where are we going to put them?" was the first question a cop I know asked.

His next question was whether "routine activity" means not only suspects, but witnesses and victims. This is the question most worrisome to people who help battered women here illegally.

The officer said he doubts cops would seek out suspected illegal immigrants, but if they, say, pull a speeder over and there's any doubt, "they'll probably detain them and let immigration figure it out. Unless, it's a cute chick with a British accent."

Which leads me to my point. The one I argued with Ed, who didn't need more than a couple minutes to recognize a recipe for racial profiling in the making. But, something has to be done, he repeated, recalling last year's killing of Denver police Detective Donald Young in which an illegal immigrant with several traffic violations is accused of the slaying. He's right. But this legislation is not the answer.

"If this is passed, we will have to prove our citizenship over and over and over again," said Butch Montoya, Denver's former manager of safety, who has long argued that enforcing immigration law is not the job of local police.

"I will be damned if I will show my citizenship to a cop who thinks I am an alien. I was born here, and if I happen to look like someone who is here illegally, well that's your problem.

"If you put five of us 'Latinos' with five Mexicanos and you ask someone to choose which ones are legal and which are not, it will be one out of 10 is legal and the rest are illegal."

And this is what I try to argue with Latinos so eager to draw a hard, bright line between us and them. Be careful. Which side of the line you're on always depends upon who is doing the drawing. or 303-892-2699


February 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article by Tamar Jacoby

Immigration Monthly: January 2006

The January issue of Immigration Monthly features an article by Tamar Jacoby, "The Immigration Temptation".,0203-IM.pdf


February 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New House Majority Leader May be Moderate on Immigration -- We Will See

Rep Boehner Is House Majority Leader

Rep. Boehner succeeded in winning the position of House Majority leader. According to The Hill, Rep. Boehner beat Rep. Blunt who was serving as the acting majority leader, 122 to 109, with one member absent on the second ballot. On the first ballot, Blunt attracted 110 votes, 7 shy of the necessary 117 to win. On immigration, Rep. Blunt was a major proponent of the Sensenbrenner bill while Rep. Boehner was one of the few Republicans who opposed Rep. Sensenbrenner's anti-immigration bill. Rep. Boehner's win possibly signals a positive change in the House leadership's position on immigration. For the full story, see here.


February 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Thinking about the State of the Union

As KJ noted in an earlier post, the President mentioned immigration in the State of the Union address, calling for a "rational, humane guest worker program."

Notably, the President eschewed "amnesty" in no uncertain terms. Nevertheless, his statements seem unabashedly pro-immigrant when juxtaposed with the Democratic response. The statements of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine pertaining to immigration were confined to border enforcement issues. On one hand, he noted that the patchwork of border enforcement regimes created by state action are not helpful -- specifically, he called them a "confusing patchwork of state and local efforts." (True -- and that's putting it mildly.) On the other, his "solution" was to call for coherent federal border enforcement. Full stop. No mention of the irrationality of our immigration laws; no call for reform of the substantive admission policy; no mention of the millions of people working here now; etc., etc.

Border enforcement is only a part of immigration reform. Most of the evidence supports the conclusion that border policies -- restrictive or otherwise -- have very little influence on the flow of migrants. This cannot be the sole focus of any real reform effort.

As many of our posts have shown, current immigration policies are bad for human rights, bad for low wage laborers and very good for smugglers and unscrupulous employers. In spite of this, at the moment, the Democrats would apparently rather talk tough, and focus on border enforcement. And the President seems unlikely to squander any of his scant political capital to keep the "humane" in "guest worker program." Perhaps there are other forces at work that can be counted on to steer the immigration debate in the right direction -- but we didn't hear about them in last night's speeches.


February 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Expedited Removal Along Canadian Border

Federal agents say they will speed up the removal of illegal immigrants caught near the northern U.S. border, extending a program already in effect along the Mexican border.

The practice, known as “expedited removal,” speeds up the pace of deportations and makes it less likely that illegal immigrants will slip into the country because immigrant detention centers lack bunk space.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the program part of a nationwide effort to “implement new tactics throughout the U.S. in order to gain control of our borders.”

Expedited removal has already cut the average length of detentions along the southern border from 90 days to 19, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Homeland Security Department.

The faster deportations apply to those immigrants who have been in the United States less than 14 days and are either found within 100 miles of the northern border or caught trying to enter the United States with phony documents. Those seeking asylum will still be granted an interview with an asylum officer, authorities said.

President Bush has increased pressure on Congress to embrace his plan for a guest-worker program while talking tough about illegal immigration and a need for secure U.S. borders.

Advocates for refugees said the expedited-removal program should not be expanded north.

“One of the biggest problems is that it lacks any meaningful safeguards, so that mistakes can and do happen,” said Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First, a New York-based group.

Acer cited a recent study that found that 15 percent of those affected by the program “were not given a chance to get interviewed by an asylum officer,” meaning they were deported before they could make their case.

Immigration officials often have to decide whether to detain illegal immigrants for months or release them into the United States with a later court date. Critics say those decisions often depend on the number of available beds at the nearest immigration detention center.

Along the southern border, about 4,750 illegal immigrants have been removed more quickly since expedited removal went into effect four months ago.

The northern border initiative likely will speed the removal of 400 to 500 illegal immigrants a year, Boyd said.

Source: Associated Press, Jan. 31, 2006


February 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)