Saturday, February 11, 2006

Announcing the Refugee Law Reader

The Editoral Board of The Refugee Reader

Rosemary Byrne, Editor-in-Chief

Maryellen Fullerton, Madeline Garlick, Elspeth Guild, Darina Macková, Boldizsár Nagy, Jens Vedsted-Hansen

We are happy to formally launch the third edition of The Refugee Law Reader. As you may be aware, The Reader, which is published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, is the first comprehensive on-line model curriculum for the study of international asylum and refugee law. Because of the rapid changes in the field, and in particular the legislative developments within the European Union, we have had to introduce new editions of The Reader at a rapid pace. The amount of material available within its easily accessible framework has doubled since the first publication of The Reader in 2004. As a 'living' case book, it offers access to an enormous wealth of primary source material and secondary literature that we hope will strengthen the teaching and research capacity in international refugee law.

For the many colleagues around the world who are using The Reader already, we hope that you will continue to find it a valuable resource. For those colleagues who have not recently visited the site, we warmly welcome you to do so. As always, we invite your comments and suggestions for future revisions.

To access The Refugee Law Reader, please go to


CONGRATS and thanks for this great resource!


February 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Border Plan Swells Bush Budget

The Bush administration wants billions of dollars for 1,500 more Border Patrol agents, 6,700 new beds in immigration detention facilities, increased prosecution of employers of undocumented workers and other border security measures.

The proposal was part of a $2.77 trillion budget for the fiscal year starting in October that the White House released Monday. It would increase spending on defense and homeland security while slowing Medicare growth and cutting other services and programs.

For Arizona, where Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and Republican lawmakers are sparring over how to slow illegal immigration through changes to state law, President Bush's plan could mean more federal help is on the way after years of frustration over the resources devoted to policing the state's 389-mile border with Mexico.

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Vermont Helps Refugees Integrate

When Jackie Abeneto arrived in Vermont as a refugee from the war-torn Congo, she knew no English and had been separated from her son. Over five years, she learned the language, went to school to become a licensed nursing assistant, and with help from the Red Cross, found her son in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Last year Abeneto, 47, opened her own business. She and her son now sell yam and plantain flour, mango nectar, dried fish, movies and vibrantly colored African dresses far from the Congo at their African market on North Street.

The Vermont Refugee Micro Enterprise program has assisted nearly 40 refugees from Africa, Vietnam and Bosnia get their own businesses started in their new homeland of Vermont. Nearly 60 refugees have received business education, with 40 of them receiving special credit.

Jackie's son, Eddi, 29, is one of them. He arrived in Vermont just two years ago. In that time he's picked up English, learned accounting from the refugee program, works full time at night and attends Champlain College. He now does all the books for the shop.

The program "has helped us how to open it, how to do everything, find the space," said Jackie. "Find the loan," Eddi added.

Vermont was one of a handful of recipients of the three-year grant from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, said Anne Peter, of the Micro Business Development Program, which offered the services.

The program succeeded because of a collaboration of agencies and providers that supplied bilingual counselors, many of whom are refugees themselves, to help the refugees get started.

"That enabled them basically to achieve success," said Denise Lamoureux, state refugee coordinator. "By understanding where they came from and their culture they were able to provide them with better understanding of how the business works in the United States."

Among the successes to come out of the program are a Congolese man who runs a taxi business in Burlington, a young Vietnamese women and her siblings who purchased a convenience store and gas station in Colchester and several Somali Bantu women who offer child care in their homes.

An average of 250 refugees settle in Vermont each year, said Lamoureux. The latest influx has been from Africa and the former Soviet Union, she said.
source: Associated Press, Feb. 4, 2006

February 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Targeting Juvenile Offenders in Virginia

Juveniles accused of committing an adult crime and believed to be undocumented immigrants would have to be reported to federal immigration officials under a bill passed by a Virginia House of Delegates committee.

Del. John S. "Jack" Reid (R-Henrico), who sponsored House Bill 1046, has said that the bill would help enforce immigration law and potentially help round up gang members who are in the United States illegally.

Opponents of the measure, which passed the Courts of Justice Committee, said the bill was drawn much too broadly because it targets youths who have not been convicted of a crime.

The bill, which goes to the House floor, is part of an effort by some members of the General Assembly to crack down on undocumented immigration. On Thursday, the House of Delegates gave final passage to a measure that would bar undocumented immigrants from Virginia public colleges and another that would bar them from receiving in-state tuition. Those bills go to the Senate, where they have been defeated in previous years.
Source: Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2006


February 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Life in the Secondary Labor Market,0,5435007.story

Widespread abuse of day laborers shows gap in legal aid By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer, February 11, 2006, 10:00 AM EST

KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Sergio de la Cruz says the abuse began when he was picked up at a day labor site in Yonkers.

He was taken to a construction site in the Bronx, where he says his boss took his Mexican identity papers and locked him in at night. For four months, de la Cruz says he was locked into three separate sites, most of the time sleeping on a plank bed and defecating into a plastic bag.

As America's use of day labor grows, legal aid experts say this is one of the more striking complaints. But just as striking, they say, is de la Cruz didn't know someone could help him.

In the first national survey of day laborers, released last month, nearly half of 2,660 workers interviewed said they'd been cheated out of pay in the past two months. Almost 45 percent said they hadn't been given food and water. More than one-fourth had been abandoned at a work site.

And 70 percent said they didn't know where to report such abuse, or how.

The survey illustrates a key problem in the story of day labor: About three-quarters of the estimated 117,000 day laborers in the United States are here illegally. What happens when they say they're treated illegally as well?

"Most people don't know employment law applies despite their immigration status," says Tricia Kakalec, co-founder of the Kingston-based Workers Rights Law Center. "They want the jobs, you know what I mean? They just want to get paid."

The center is one of a growing number that offer legal help to day laborers. The National Legal Aid and Defender Association in Washington, D.C., says there's no good estimate of such legal aid centers in the United States, but the national survey found 63 day labor worker centers offering legal or other services in 17 states.


February 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Double Standards in Immigration Law?!

Two Immigrants, Two Standards By Stacy Caplow and Lauren Kosseff Congress moved fast so a Canadian ice dancer could immigrate in time for the Olympics. Why can't it help a 14-year-old African girl who wants to join her mother in the U.S.? To view the entire article, go to


February 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Judy Golub Joins Immigrant Legal Resource Center

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director, Judith Golub, formerly of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  Given Judy’s professional experience, her leadership, presence, and skills promise to usher in important developments for the ILRC, as well as for immigrants throughout California and the rest of the United States. 

Judy joins the ILRC in San Francisco following nearly 20 years of policy advocacy in our nation’s capital. Among the many assets she brings to the organization is her ability to build bridges between the policy and advocacy communities in Washington D.C. and grassroots immigrants in California and other states.  Working together, we look forward to expanding our effectiveness in helping build the strength and raising the collective voice of the immigrant community.

Highlights of Accomplishments
As a leader herself, Judy believes strongly in empowering immigrants, having trained many on best practices in working with the Congress, the media, and in getting their stories out to the general public.  She understands that positive reform of our immigration laws can be achieved only with an empowered field that is working in concert with national organizations.  To that end, she created an Advocacy Training Institute held annually in Washington D.C., and developed a congressional and media training program that she brought to 20 cities nationwide.

Judy also is known as one of the premiere immigration lobbyists in Washington D.C., and has developed extensive relationships with Congressional offices.  Understanding the importance of the media in setting the terms of the debate on immigration, Judy has developed important contacts in the print and broadcast media. She has been quoted extensively in the national and regional media, and has created effective media outreach programs. She also is skilled in creating and leading coalitions and developing targeted communication strategies that integrate Congressional advocacy and grassroots initiatives with media outreach to promote legislative goals. Judy is an effective and creative strategist with the ability to spot issues and implement supporting tactical activities, and a skilled writer and speaker able to address the concerns of different audiences.

Advocating for the rights of immigrants is a necessary component to our advancing the promise of democracy.  It’s what the ILRC is all about, and it’s why we hope you’ll help us welcome our new Executive Director, continue to support the ILRC, utilize our expertise and many resources, and work with us to build a society that values diversity and respects the dignity and rights of all people.

The ILRC is a national resource center that provides trainings, materials and advocacy to advance immigrant rights. As a legal services organization, we train lawyers and paralegals on ever-changing and complex immigration law. We develop leadership by encouraging immigrants to play leading roles in confronting and reshaping the laws and policies that perpetuate racial, economic and social injustice. And we educate and empower those in the immigrant community so that they may organize and advocate for the rights and privileges that best define our democratic traditions.


February 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CRS Report On Mexico-US Border Issues

The Congressional Research Service issued a report on the interactions between Mexico and the US on migration and border issues during the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico.,0213-crs.pdf


February 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Agreement reached on Patriot Act

A band of Senate Republican holdouts reached agreement Thursday with the White House on changes in the Patriot Act designed to clear the way for passage of anti-terror legislation stalled in a dispute over civil liberties.

Sen. John Sununu, R-New Hampshire, said the changes, quickly endorsed by at least one leading Democrat, would better "protect civil liberties even as we give law enforcement important tools to conduct terrorism investigation."

The White House embraced the deal even before Sununu and several other senators outlined it.

Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said the agreement would "continue to build upon the civil liberties protections that are in place but do so in a way that doesn't compromise our national security priorities."

"We're pleased that this important legislation is moving forward," he said.

February 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bureaucrats at the Border

February 10, 2006
Seized With Heavy Hand at Border, for Paperwork Errors

The details in these cases vary, as do the technical visa infractions committed by each of the foreigners. But they all testify to a larger issue looming on the front lines of immigration enforcement: how low-level gatekeepers and prosecutors in the customs and immigration system are using their growing discretionary power over travelers who pose no security risk.


This seems a bit like old news but for the rest of the NY Times story, see


February 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Some Thoughts on Melquiades Estrada

The new film "The Three Buriels of Melquiades Estrada" inspires some personal ruminations by Carolyn Curiel, whose own immigrant Mexican grandfather "was buried twice" in this country. The subtle lament of undervalued immigrant life will feel hauntingly familiar to many children and grandchildren of recent immigrants. A link to her editorial in the NY Times is here:

The referenced film received a somewhat ambivalent write up in the New Yorker recently:

I'll reserve judgment until I've seen the movie. Yes, I know that's old-fashioned.


February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CRS Senior Specialist Under Fire for Criticizing Agency

Thursday, Feb. 9 , By John McArdle, Roll Call Staff
One of the top analysts at the Congressional Research Service said that Director Daniel Mulhollan has ordered him to apologize by close of business Friday for writing a memorandum that criticized Congress' nonpartisan research agency for an "incoherent" policy that advocates neutrality and suppresses the analytical skills of its researchers.

But CRS Senior Specialist Lou Fisher has indicated that an apology will not be forthcoming, and agency officials have not explicity outlined any punishment. Instead, the expert on separation of powers, who has written more than a dozen books on the subject and regularly testifies before Congress, has reached out to lawmakers to highlight what he believes to be growing problems at CRS.

In the past weeks, Fisher has sent letters to some 30 Members and a dozen Congressional committees expressing his concerns with the agency's direction.

"CRS is now in a dumb down mode telling analysts that they must be 'neutral' in what they say and write and must not take 'positions,'" he wrote a letter to one Senator.

"For my first 32 years at CRS I was encouraged to 'speak out' in defense of legislative prerogatives, separation of powers, checks and balances, and constitutional government," Fisher wrote. "For reasons I don't fully understand, the treatment within CRS is now punishment."

Fisher goes on to argue that CRS is in danger of violating its original charter under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, in which Congress formed the agency "to help keep the legislative institution strong and capable of functioning as a coequal branch."

CRS spokeswoman Janine D'Addario confirmed today that Fisher has been asked to apologize to his supervisor for the "intemprent and contemptuous remarks" in his January memorandum, "which he has publicized far and wide."

D'Addario called Fisher's memo "harsh and unprofessional" but said she was not prepared to comment on what would happen if Fisher did not apologize.

In his January memo to Mulhollan, Fisher wrote, "I have testified before congressional committees about 38 times ... I am invited because I have an expert opinion to share. ... I am certainly not partisan in my CRS work or in my outside writings. But I have always considered myself free to analyze an issue on the basis of all available information and reach a professional conclusion. That is what other analysts do. ... That is what the people I work with on the Hill - Republican and Democrat - expect. Anything short of that would be mere descriptive writing."

Fisher wrote that he's seen an increasing push by CRS administrators for "neutrality" in analytical work, a push that is against the agency's core mission.

"If we err on the side of caution at every turn, we risk legitimate and much more serious criticism that our products lack analytical rigor, interest, and value."

Fisher's memo to Mulhollan was in response to a rebuke from Robert Dilger, Fisher's supervisor in the Government and Finance Division, for comments Fisher made in a Jan. 10 article in Government Executive. Fisher was quoted as saying Congress and the court system "have overly deferred to the executive branch when it comes to punishing whistleblowers or suppressing information."

Dilger's memo to Fisher stated that the 35-year CRS veteran appeared "to compromise your ability to be perceived as meeting CRS standards of impartiality and objectivity."

In a statement issued Thursday, Mulhollan wrote, "CRS researchers are instructed from the time they are hired that their role is an educative one, not an advocative one. If CRS is to serve all Members of Congress and all congressional committees, it must be understood to be equally valuable to those on competing sides of an issue."

Mulhollan added that in their research and analysis for Congress, "CRS staff often reach conclusions that elucidate the issues presented. However, CRS must not suggest or appear to be suggesting that it has a policy position on an issue. If an appearance of imbalance or partisanship were to occur, those of our congressional clients with opposing views would understandably be less inclined to seek CRS services on that subject, or any other, in the future."

In his January memo Fisher made it clear to Mulhollan that he knew his outspoken views on the direction in which CRS administrators are moving the agency could lead to punishment.

"I imagine in my status as a Senior Specialist I have few if any rights," Fisher wrote to Mulhollan. "Clearly the leverage is with you and your aides. You can take steps to fire me. ... If it comes to that we can go through the process and see what happens."

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), one of the Members to whom Fisher sent a letter, came to the specialist's defense.

"Lou Fisher is a scholar of integrity and insight," Byrd said in a release today. "He has assisted me on many occasions. ... The Republic needs people who understand the role of the Congress, who share a determination to protect the people's liberties, and who are unafraid to point out when Congress abdicates that role or when another branch of government tries to steal it away. Quite simply, the Congress needs people like Lou Fisher with the brains and the backbone to help us do our work. I only wish that more people, including some who have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, shared his passion."


February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush Calls for More H-1Bs

For President Bush, last Thursday was a day of prayer and Post-its.

By the time it was over, he had heard a polite pitch from rock star Bono to expand U.S. aid to the world's poor, and had made a pitch himself to expand high-tech research.

The president encountered U2's Irish frontman at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

He then traveled to the 3M Co. — manufacturer of products such as Scotch tape and Post-its — seeking support for policy initiatives built around what he is presenting as the reality of the changing global economy: that competition is coming from new corners, and that a surge in scientific education is necessary to guarantee continued U.S. leadership.

And with more high-tech jobs available in the United States than people to fill them, Bush said, the country should admit more foreigners seeking jobs in those fields.

He called for expanding the H-1B visa program — which allows a specified number of foreign scientists and high-tech specialists to take jobs that Americans haven't filled — a position Bush has taken since the 2000 presidential campaign, but one that he has not addressed frequently.

"There's a lot of bright engineers and chemists and physicists from other lands that are either educated here or received an education elsewhere but want to work here," Bush said to about 500 engineers, chemists and other employees.

He said Congress should "be realistic and reasonable" and raise the cap on H-1B visas.

Source: LA Times, Feb. 3, 2006


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Operation Streamline Prosecutions

A U.S. Border Patrol initiative to press charges against all illegal border crossers caught in a section of West Texas curtailed the number of crossings, officials said.

Under Operation Streamline II, the Border Patrol is working with other agencies to enforce a "zero-tolerance" policy for illegal immigrants apprehended in the highly trafficked area of Eagle Pass.

"The message is to deter entry in the West Texas corridor," said Hilario Leal, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's Del Rio sector.

Officials said the zero-tolerance approach could be extended to other sectors of the border.

In the first six weeks of the operation, 917 immigrants were prosecuted and sentenced to an average of 90 days in prison, he said. Last month, border agents in the area saw a drop in the daily number of non-Mexican illegal crossers – from 40 in January 2005 to 20.

Authorities usually prosecute only a small fraction of the more than 1 million illegal crossers apprehended each year along the Mexican border.

Usually undocumented Mexicans who are not repeat offenders are allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico, and non-Mexicans are typically released until their hearings. Most don't return for the hearings, officials said.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 3, 2006


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Video on Vigilante Action on Border

For a video by the American freinds Service Committee on vigilante activity along the U.S./mexico border, see,com_rightsalert/Itemid,178/task,view/alert_id,43/


February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DHS expects companies will have to verify workers' immigration status ?

DHS expects companies will have to verify workers' immigration status By Chris Strohm, February 7, 2006

The Homeland Security Department's budget for 2007 anticipates that employers will be required to verify the immigration status of their workers, according to officials and recently released documents.

Companies can currently voluntarily check the legal status of workers through the Basic Pilot employment eligibility verification system, which is managed by DHS' Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau. About 5,000 companies now participate in the program.

But the department expects Congress to pass a temporary worker program this year and to make it mandatory for employers to check the immigration status of employees, said Bill Strassberger, a CIS spokesman.

Accordingly, the department is requesting additional funding in its 2007 budget to establish a mandatory employment eligibility verification program.

About $135 million is being requested for the program and for compliance with the 2005 Real ID Act, which requires state driver's license bureaus to verify the status of noncitizens before issuing federally recognized documents.

The 2007 budget seeks about $2 billion overall for CIS. The bureau got about

$1.9 billion for fiscal 2006.

The House passed a border security bill last December that would require employers to check the legal status of their workers. The House bill does not include a program allowing migrants to legally enter the country for work.

The Senate is expected to take up its version of the legislation in the next few months, and is likely to approve a temporary worker program, setting up tough conference negotiations.

DHS heavily supports such a program and is working with members of Congress to get one enacted. But Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke would not say the department's position on making it mandatory for employers to verify the status of their workers.

'I'm not going to address a number of the issues we are discussing with Congress in the press,' Knocke said. 'I'll just tell you that we are committed to strengthening work site enforcement.'

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff also did not directly answer a question from a reporter during a press conference Monday on whether the department wants to make it mandatory for companies to check the legal status of their employees.

Instead, Chertoff said the department plans to give employers the tools to do so. Companies that are found to knowingly hire illegal immigrants will be punished, the secretary promised.

'We're looking at work site enforcement as a two-part strategy,' Chertoff said. 'One part is giving employers increased ability to verify the status of their workers. But the second part is to hold them increasingly accountable, and be tougher about what we expect them to do and be tougher with the sanctions that we apply to them if they don't do what's expected.'

The department also plans to overhaul CIS business practices in order for the agency to handle new responsibilities as part of a temporary worker program.

The 2007 budget request seeks $112 million for a CIS business transformation program. 'The reforms are going to be extensive,' Strassberger said.

CIS also plans to continue reforming its fee structure, according to the budget proposal.

'Along with transforming its business processes, redesigning forms and improving service delivery and value to its customers, USCIS will reform its fee structure to ensure the recovery of operational costs in line with federal fee guidelines,' the budget states.

'This effort becomes even more important as USCIS operations are automated, forms are reduced and simplified, and USCIS prepares to take on substantial new activities including the president's temporary worker program and a mandatory employment eligibility verification system.'


February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


3rd ANNUAL IMMIGRATION LAW AND POLICY CONFERENCE:  Sponsored by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Georgetown University Law Center, Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Friday, April 28, 2006, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Georgetown University Law Center, Hart Auditorium. The conference will offer law and policy analysis and discussion on cutting-edge immigration issues. Featured panelists will include high-ranking government officials, academics, advocates, and other immigration experts. More info will follow soon.


February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 7, 2006: DHS Names Senior Advisor for Refugee and Asylum Policy

WASHINGTON- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today the appointment of Igor V. Timofeyev as senior advisor for refugee and asylum policy, within the new Policy Directorate. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called for this senior policy position as part of his six-point agenda for the department, outlined last summer following a Second Stage Review of DHS policies, operations and organization.

"The Administration has appointed a highly-qualified and committed professional, in Igor, to this new and important position," said Stewart Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy. "This country has a deep-rooted tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing from persecution. We're a better country for it, as Igor's accomplishments show. I look forward to Igor's contributions to that legacy."

Timofeyev, a native of Russia and himself a refugee, brings considerable expertise to the department. He joins the department from the firm of Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C., and previously served as associate legal officer for the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court and clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Timofeyev holds a juris doctorate from Yale and a master's of philosophy in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Oxford, and he graduated summa cum laude from Williams College. At Yale, Timofeyev was articles editor of the Yale Law Journal, co-director of the Forum on the Practice of International Law and president of the Russian and East European Law Forum.

As senior advisor for refugee and asylum policy, Timofeyev will help to guide the department's policies that protect legitimate asylum and refugee seekers and uphold our nation's deep commitment to human rights.


Query -- who is going to teach this Yalie the law?  :)


P.S. For what it's worth, Trevor Morrison reports that Timofeyev clerked for Judge Alex Kozinsk of the Ninth Circuiti, then Justice Kennedy (during the 2002 Term, the year of Demore v. Kim), and then (Trevor thinks) for the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. P.S.S. FROM Alberto Beneitiz Igor Timofeyev was born in Moscow, Russia in 1974 and came to the United States at the age of 16. While in Moscow, he has been involved in the early pro-democracy movements. Igor graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in 1996, with a major in history. He subsequently spent two years at Oxford University in England, receiving the MPhil degree in Russian and East European Studies in 1998. A reworked part of his master's thesis will appear as a chapter in an edited volume on the demise of Marxism-Leninism in the USSR. Igor graduated from Yale Law School in 2001, where he was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal and a co-director of the Forum on the Practice of International Law. He has clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the US Supreme Court, and for Judge Theodore Meron, the president of the International Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He is now an associate at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in Washington, DC.

February 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Verdict in Texas Smuggling Trial

Today, a Texas jury handed down convictions in the human smuggling incident that resulted in the death of 19 undocumented migrants in 2003. A full story on the verdict is here:

Sentencing is set for May 1.


February 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Civil Rights Leaders Meet with Alberto Gonzales

A diverse group of prominent civil rights leaders met today with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss civil rights issues of concern to all Americans.

Among the topics discussed at today’s meeting were the reauthorization and restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, federal civil rights enforcement (including the protection of voting rights for displaced citizens of Louisiana), immigration policy, and the wiretapping and surveillance of American citizens.

“We urged the attorney general to actively support the reauthorization and strengthening of the Voting Rights Act,” said Theodore M. Shaw, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (NAACP LDEF). “We also shared our deep concerns about the Justice Department’s lack of civil rights enforcement in recent years and the electronic surveillance of American citizens, a practice that has a history of being used to harass and undercut the civil rights community.”

“This meeting offered an excellent opportunity to thank the attorney general for reviewing the functioning of the immigration courts and to call upon the Justice Department to address the erosion of due process rights accorded to immigrants and the alarming increase in using immigrants as scapegoats,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC).

“We carried the message that all of these issues are of paramount importance to Americans and that the civil rights community is united in its commitment to ensure that we are working together with the administration to address them,” said Ann Marie Tallman, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

The group encouraged the attorney general to meet regularly with civil rights leaders in the future.

“Obtaining input from the civil rights community should be a standard practice, not an occasional occurrence,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League (NUL). “Enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws is part of the attorney general’s constitutional responsibility and cannot be done in a vacuum. We hope today’s meeting is the beginning of an on-going and productive dialogue between the attorney general and the civil rights community.”

Attending the meeting were: Wade Henderson, executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer, National Urban League; Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director, Asian American Justice Center; Theodore M. Shaw, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Hilary O. Shelton, representing NAACP president Bruce Gordon who participated by phone; and Ann Marie Tallman, president and general counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Source: Asian American Justice Center


February 8, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)