Saturday, December 30, 2006
As many of you know, when arriving asylum seekers are detained in US immigration jails, they are not given access to bond hearings or to a fair and independent procedure under which they can seek release from immigration jail. As this process is inconsistent with US commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights First has urged the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit the United States to review this situation – as have other groups too.
The Working Group has already made a request to the United States to visit and they are currently awaiting a formal invitation from the U.S. government before they can proceed with this potential visit.
We have drafted a letter to the U.S. State Department urging them to extend the invitation to the U.N. Working Group as soon as possible. That letter is below – please let us know if your organization would want to join in this letter.
Please email Aisling Ryan at email@example.com if your organization would like to sign-on to this letter or if you have any suggestions.
Eleanor Acer & Aisling Ryan
Director, Refugee Protection Program
Tel: (212) 845-5227
Fax: (212) 845-5299
December 13, 2006
Mr. Robert K. Harris
Assistant Legal Adviser for Refugees
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Legal Adviser
2201 C Street NW, Room 3422
Washington, DC 20520-6419
Mr. Dan Sutherland
Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Re: Request for Field Visit from the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Dear Mr. Harris and Mr. Sutherland:
We are writing to urge that the United States invite the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit the United States in order to assess the situation of asylum seekers being detained here. As faith-based, human rights and other organizations across the United States working on behalf of refugees seeking asylum, we are deeply concerned that current U.S. policy is resulting in asylum seekers being detained unfairly and in violation of U.S. commitments under international human rights law.
As you know, nearly two years ago the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom concluded that there are significant problems in implementing and
maintaining safeguards for asylum seekers in the expedited removal process. The Commission found that asylum seekers are detained in jails and jail-like facilities that are inappropriate for them, that these detention conditions create a serious risk of
psychological harm, and that release rates vary widely across the country, with parole rates as low as 0.5 % in New Orleans, 8.4% in New York and 3.8% in Newark, New Jersey.
For example, a Burmese woman, a member of a religious and ethnic minority group, was detained for nearly two years in a Texas immigration jail, even though she would clearly face torture and persecution because of her political views if returned to Burma. Similarly, a pastor, who fled Liberia after criticizing the use and abuse of child soldiers, was detained for three months in a New Jersey immigration jail.
The Commission’s recommendations relating to the detention and parole of asylum seekers have still not been implemented by U.S. immigration authorities. We have attached a briefing paper, prepared by Human Rights First, which outlines some of the ways in which U.S. detention practices regarding asylum seekers are inconsistent with this country’s commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States ratified on June 8, 1992.
We note that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has made a request to visit the United States, in order to assess the situation of all detainees in U.S. facilities, including asylum seekers (Report to the Economic and Social Council, 12 December 2005, E/CN.4/2006/7, page 12, paragraph 25). We understand that the Working Group is awaiting a positive consideration of this request.
We urge the United States to respond to the Working Group’s request for a visit that would include an assessment of the U.S. detention of asylum seekers.
We look forward to your response. If you should need any additional information on this matter, please contact Jay Staunton or Alexandra Wisotsky of Human Rights First at 202-547-5692.
Human Rights First
Winter Quarter 2007
Tuesday, January 23 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)
THE TRANSFORMATION OF ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS INTO PLACES OF LEISURE AND CONSUMPTION
Jan Rath, Director, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam ______________________________________________________________________________________
Wednesday, January 31 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)
HEALTH OF HISPANICS IN THE U.S.: What We Can Learn from Looking at Mexico and the U.S. Combined
Rebecca Wong, Demographer, University of Maryland
This is a joint seminar with Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies ______________________________________________________________________________________
Tuesday, February 6 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)
MEXICAN NEW YORK: An Ethnography of Mexican Immigrants in a Non-Traditional Destination
Robert Smith, Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College/CUNY ______________________________________________________________________________________
Tuesday, February 27 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)
WEIGHING THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF MEXICAN IMMIGRATION: The Mexican American Perspective
Tomás Jiménez, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UCSD, Visiting Research Fellow, CCIS ______________________________________________________________________________________
Tuesday, March 13 (3:00-5:00 p.m.)
“OAXACANS LIKE TO WORK BENT OVER”: The Naturalization of Social Suffering Among Indigenous Migrant Farmworkers
Seth M. Holmes, M.D./Ph.D. in Anthropology, UC San Francisco
All events (unless otherwise noted) will be held in Conference Room 115 on the first floor of the Eleanor Roosevelt College Administration Building, UCSD campus. Refreshments follow the seminar presentation. For directions go to http://www.ccis-ucsd.org/directions.htm or call (858) 822-4447. Parking permits can be purchased at the information booth on North Point Drive (north end of campus). Visitors may also use metered parking spaces (max. 2 hours) in the north side parking lot. Papers presented at previous CCIS seminars can be downloaded from http://www.ccis-ucsd.org/PUBLICATIONS/working_papers.htm
Friday, December 29, 2006
Opponents of a city ordinance prohibiting landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants have collected enough valid signatures to force the City Council to repeal the measure or put it to a city vote.
The petition drive gathered at least 908 valid signatures, more than the 721 required, city spokesman Tom Bryson said.
The Farmers Branch City Council in November unanimously adopted a policy requiring property managers or owners to verify the immigration or citizenship status of apartment renters.
The ordinance was part of a series of anti-undocumentedimmigration rules. The council also approved resolutions making English the city's official language and allowing local police to participate in a federal program to enforce immigration laws.
The Dallas suburb is one of more than 50 cities or counties around the country that have considered, passed or rejected similar laws meant to discourage undocumented immigration.
The petitioners needed to collect the signatures of at least 5 percent of the voters registered for the May election.
Bryson said the council will discuss the petition at its Jan. 8 meeting. The city charter requires that the council now repeal the measure or call a special election on the issue. Click here.
What a difference it made when California actually wanted to be in the Holiday Bowl. Two years after a BCS snub led to an uninspired trip to San Diego, the No. 21 Golden Bears dominated the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies 45-10 behind Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns. For details, http://calbears.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/recaps/122806aaa.html
This immigration blogster made it down for the game and enjoyed the thrashing of a Texas "powerhouse."!
Thanks to our loyal reader George for these news tips! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
World Trade Bridge has changed the U.S.-Mexico border, for good and bad
During the day, literally thousands of trucks cross the span into the U.S., headed for destinations scattered throughout the Midwest and East and north into Canada.Traffic between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, on Mexico's side of the bridge, is only expected to increase in coming years with Mexico anticipating billions of dollars in new trade, mainly from China, on its way to the United States, according to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration executive summary. Increasing trade has, however, been matched by growth in corruption and death in both border cities, though U.S. and Mexican officials are loathe to admit it. http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_4906294
One wonders whether anything would truly be different without freer trade between the NAFTA nations. I bet not.
Mexican woman with Down Syndrome not allowed to visit Mickey
Living in Durango, Mexico, Teru Rodriguez dreamed of visiting Disneyland. This year, her dream was almost fulfilled. But the 27-year-old, who has Down syndrome, was denied her nonimmigrant visa by the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Ju rez on the grounds that officials could not trust she would return home. http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_4906030
One can only wonder hos a case like this promotes faith in the legitimacy of the U.S. immigration laws, at home as well as abroad.
Beaufort County passes tough immigration law
A company that knowingly hires illegal immigrants could lose its business license under a county law given final approval Wednesday evening. Beaufort County Council unanimously approved the local law, dubbed the “Lawful Employment Ordinance,” 9-0, following a public hearing. It is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2008. Under the ordinance, people who apply for a county business license must sign a form verifying, under penalty of perjury, they do not knowingly employ or plan to hire an illegal immigrant. Licensed companies would be subject to county audits of their employees’ documentation. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/business/16332164.htm
Despite repeated failures in the courts, local governments keep passing immigration-related laws. Whatever one thinks of these local initiatives, we must acknowledge that a vocal segment of the public wants action on immigration now.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
European integration as well as Switzerland's laws on asylum and immigration were among the top political issues in nationwide ballots over the past year.
The votes on tightening Swiss laws on asylum and further limiting immigration, particularly for people from outside the EU and the European Free Trade Association (Efta), were arguably among the most emotionally fraught subjects at the ballot box. Click here.
More than two weeks after immigration raids resulted in the detention of 1,282 Swift & Co. workers, the company's pork plants still have not returned to full capacity and the slowdown has caused hog prices to drop.
"Output levels are expected to be below normal over the short-term," said Swift spokesman Sean McHugh. He said the Swift production facilities are operating on all shifts, though.
With Swift running below capacity, hog farmers who need to sell their animals have had fewer buyers, driving prices down. David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, estimates that the raids are costing pork producers $6 per pig. Click here.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Immigration to Israel fell to its lowest in 18 years in 2006, new figures show.
Israeli officials attributed this to a drop in the number of Jews arriving from former Soviet states, although immigration from North America also edged higher, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.
Some 21,000 Jews made "aliya", the Hebrew word for immigrating to Israel, according to the Jewish Agency, which promotes immigration to Israel.
The 2006 figure was the lowest since 13,000 in 1988. A total of 22,657 people moved to Israel in 2005. Click here.
A Dallas suburb that has barred landlords from renting to illegal immigrants was sued Tuesday by two civil rights groups that allege the controversial ordinance turns property owners into immigration agents and violates federal law. The challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund seeks to derail a new law that would require property managers to check the immigration status of apartment renters in Farmers Branch, Texas. The ordinance, approved last month, is set to take effect Jan. 12. Click here for the LA Times report.
Appropo of nothing, isn't it appropriate that the University of Texas is playing in the Alamo Bowl this year?
The International Herald Tribune repoirts that the armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks, including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and put more immigrants on a faster track to U.S. citizenship if they volunteer, according to Pentagon officials. Click here for the story.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents removed more than 2,300 illegal aliens from the country in the past two weeks on 35 flights to the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and Africa -- one of the busiest periods of the year for ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE, said 852 of those removed had criminal records, and that another 21 flights this week will take 2,087 aliens to Central America and the Caribbean, including 515 who are criminal aliens. http://washingtontimes.com/national/20061222-111820-9184r.htm
Why all of a sudden this surge of enforcement fervor?
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Reaching into the back of a truck, U.S. anti-immigration activist Don Pauly grabs a Mexican flag, a can of lighter fuel and an aluminum baking tray and heads to the curbside outside the Mexican consulate.
As a small group of police officers, protesters and puzzled bystanders look on, he douses the green, red and white flag with fuel and spits on it for good measure, while an eye-patch wearing accomplice strikes a match.
"We need to get rid of all those who are destroying our country," Pauly said as the national colors of United States' southern neighbor flamed out on the sidewalk in central Phoenix earlier this month. "We are being invaded."
The founder of the Emigration Party of Nevada is among a growing number of nativists from across the United States that have been stepping up direct action in recent months to make a stand on the issues of illegal immigration and border security. Click here.
In an upcoming "Tom Brokaw Reports," airing Tues., Dec. 26 at 8 p.m., Brokaw travels to an unlikely place where the debate over illegal immigration is raging — the Colorado Rockies. NBC News spent eight months reporting on the myths and truths about illegal immigration in this pristine stretch between Aspen and Vail, a historically white population that has seen an influx of thousands of Hispanics, mostly from Mexico. The hour-long documentary follows a booming economy attracting illegal workers willing to do unskilled labor, questioning what happens to American culture and America's laws when hundreds of thousands of people enter the country illegally.
The MSNBC website claims that "several points are indisputable: In many parts of the country":
1. immigrants are doing the work Americans no longer want to do, especially the hard work of manual labor at construction sites.
2. In our reporting we discovered that most of them are paid a fair wage — $14.00 an hour for an entry level construction job, and that they are paying state and federal taxes through withholding. (Sure, some employers pay cash off the books but most we encountered are trying to play by the rules).
3. While local residents are conflicted about the spreading Hispanic culture - language and music - they agree the immigrants are very hard workers and in general have good family values.
4. But it is also clear the immigrants are straining the public and health systems without paying their fair share.
5. They live in overcrowded, often sub-standard housing in clear violation of local laws.
6. They're brazen about acquiring forged documents — from Social Security cards to driver's licenses — to get work.
7. And, most important, this complicated problem won't be solved until Mexico becomes a reliable partner in improving its own economy and enforcing the rules at its border.
Click here for the full story.
Judge for yourself whether these "facts" are "facts."
The NY Times reports that, counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring. The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship. The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support. Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats. Click here for the full story.
Sounds like a bit more lebient version of the Senate "comprehensive" immigration reform bill, with a bit of something (even a border fence extension?) for everybody.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Last week, one of your blog editors posted a commentary from the Legal Television Network on open borders. Imran Anwar issued a bluntresponse on Christmas Eve, which begins like this:
As a proud, and legal immigrant to the United States, I deeply appreciate the "land of the free" and the contributions that immigrants have made to shape the beautiful society in which we live. But those who would forgive "illegal" immigration, and open the door to everyone that knocks would unwittingly thwart these accomplishments and declare open season on our own liberties. Apologists for illegal behavior, bleeding heart liberals, and unethical politicians only interested in keeping some voting groups happy are more than eager to sell out our interests. Kevin Johnson's proposal to open up the borders would do precisely the same thing. In proposing a scheme of "comprehensive immigration reform" on LegalNews.TV, Dean Johnson admits that his open door policy is "radical." In my humble opinion, it is similarly nonsensical.
Click here for more.
There is an interesting story from a Greeley, Colorado newspaper about the history of reliance on immigrant labor by meatpacking companies such as Swift. The report concludes that "As long as there is a need for cheap labor -- in a competitive industry like meatpacking, Swift can hardly be expected to raise its wages and benefits-- and without substantive changes to existing immigration policy to legally fill that need, Greeley will continue to be a destination for illegal immigrants regardless of how many raids are conducted at Swift. " Click here for the full story.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
If Republicans hope to remain a force in Maryland politics despite losing top posts and legislative seats in the November elections, immigration questions may give them their opportunity.
When Democratic Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley takes office next year -- with a legislature even more strongly in Democratic control -- some Republican lawmakers say they'll be seeking answers to those questions.
They plan to push O'Malley and the Democratic leadership to outline how Maryland plans to comply with the federal requirement for tamperproof driver's licenses starting next year, a requirement called Real ID that could cost states $11 billion. The Real ID requirements will force Maryland to decide whether undocumented residents should be licensed to drive, a sore subject for some who worry about undocumented immigration. Click here.
The Editorial Board of the Human Rights Law Commentary, affiliated to the Human Rights Law Centre at the University of Nottingham, is calling for the submission of academic papers for consideration for publication in Volume 3 of the Commentary, to be published in 2007. The Commentary is legally-oriented, informed by human rights practice and related disciplines. Papers may address any human rights issue. Please refer to format and style requirements at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/law/hrlc/student-activities/hrl-commentary.php **Deadline for submissions: 18 January 2007** Send your papers to firstname.lastname@example.org
For a review of IMMIGRANT AMERICA: A PORTRAIT, by Alejandro Portes and Rubén G. Rumbaut. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006, click here. The inytroduction should give you a flavor of the review:
Although it perhaps is cliché for a review to characterize a book in this way, IMMIGRANT AMERICA: A PORTRAIT truly is a “must read” for any serious student of immigration law and policy. This volume is chock full of facts and information about immigration based on Census 2000, a wealth of current research studies on immigrants, and insightful analysis by two most influential sociologists. The third edition is substantially revised, expanded, and updated from the second edition published a decade ago. Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut have done an excellent job to ensure that the book is as up-to-date and complete as possible.