Saturday, March 24, 2007
The LA Times (here) reports that Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist and his opponents within the anti-illegal-immigration group both claimed victory Friday after an Orange County Superior Court judge put Gilchrist back in charge of the organization's funds but indicated that those assets might soon be put into receivership. Judge Randell L. Wilkinson wrote Thursday that the court found "serious issues concerning the credibility of the claims of both Jim Gilchrist and the defendants to control the affairs of the Minuteman Project." Wilkinson will consider April 25 whether a court-appointed third party should manage the Minuteman Project's assets until the issue of who controls the organization is decided.
Gilchrist, who ran for Congress last year, filed the lawsuit in February after three board members voted to oust him, alleging financial mismanagement.
Democrats may have support from President Bush on immigration, but they face other obstacles in getting a bill through Congress.
The Democrats lack enough votes within their party and must overcome lingering Republican disdain for what some consider "amnesty" for some people in the U.S. illegally, as well as union opposition.
The difficulty of their predicament is showing.
The bill's Senate sponsors couldn't agree and gave up their alliance on joint legislation, while its House sponsors introduced their own version, knowing its prospects are heavily dependent on Bush.
"We need to get a bill and he needs to start twisting a few arms," said the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Although Bush supported last year's Senate bill, he also signed a House Republican bill calling for a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexican border. And he did little to persuade Republicans to negotiate an immigration bill.
Originally, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., planned to introduce a sweeping immigration reform bill with their House partners, Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. an Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
McCain's enthusiasm withered as he faced a mounting challenge from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and conservatives on the presidential campaign trail unwilling to accept anything less than deportation of undocumented immigrants.
In response, McCain broke with Kennedy and said he is looking at proposals that could pass, including one requiring undocumented immigrants to self deport and apply for jobs in the U.S. through private employment centers set up in certain countries. Click here.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of an historic event – The Night of 1,000 Conversations. (see special offer below)
Community members are gathering on Thursday, April 5th, 2007 to consider a key question in today’s debate over immigration reform: How do our core values compare to the actions of a government that locks people up without due process?
There are hundreds of conversations being organized by our allies and friends. Contact them through the website below to find a conversation near you.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (Washington, DC) - Laila Al-Qatami
Arab American Institute (Washington, DC) – Valerie Smith
Asian American Justice Center (Washington, DC) – Pang Houa Moua
Breakthrough: Building a Human Rights Culture (NY) – Carly Castania-Fox
Center for Intercultural Organizing (OR) – Kayse Jama
Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (AZ) – Kat Rodriguez
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA) – Sara Sadhwani
Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (Chicago, IL) – Khemarey Nuth
Desis Rising Up and Moving (NY) – Monami Maulik
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Coalition (FL) – Maria Rodriguez
Hate Free Zone (WA) – Hari Kondabolu
Idaho Community Action Network (ID) – Leo Morales
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (IL) – Mehrdad Azemun
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (CA) – Juhyung Lee
National Network for Arab American Communities (MI) – Nadia El-Zein
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CA) – Arnoldo Garcia
New York Immigration Coalition (NY) – Avideh Moussavian
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PA) – Regan Cooper
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (MD) – Deepa Iyer
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TN) – Stephen Fotopulos
United Farm Workers Foundation (CA) – Oscar Gonzalez
University of New Mexico, School of Law - ACLU Student Chapter – Pamela Hernandez (Albuquerque, NM)
Special Offer: If you host a conversation and register your event through the website below (include your street address), Breakthrough will send you their full-color resource packet – Restoring the Right to Due Process. This highly-coveted multi-media toolkit includes a DVD of personal stories, talking points, and suggested activities to make your conversation successful.
Register today at this website.
With the STRIVE act introduced in the House, reports claim that John McCain has pulled back from re-introducing a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate with Ted Kennedy. It's still unclear whether McCain will throw in with the group of Republicans (which includes McCain's colleague and presidential rival, Sam Brownback who are currently working directly with the administration to craft a comprehensive bill that would not only pass the Senate but be acceptable to the majority of House Republicans as well. Click here.
"Jailing Kids Is Wrong." So says immigration guru Daniel M. Kowalski. See his short piece on juvenile detention by clicking here. the punch line: "We've been putting kids in immigration jail for decades. When will we stop? Now would be a good time."
March 25, 2007 is National Medal of Honor Day. The national holiday seeks to recognize the heroism and sacrifice of the nation's Medal of Honor recipients. Many people may not be aware that immigrants are disproportionately represented among the 3,425 identified Medal of Honor recipients (for the Medal of Honor Roll by state, see here). http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/states/1_states.html In fact, immigrants have long contributed to our nation's homeland security throughout history.
Mark your calendars! In October, NYU Press will publish Laura Gomez's new book Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Races in October. For a description, click Download abstract.manifestdestinies.gomez.doc Download Gomez_Manifest_B.pdf
During a congressional showdown over undocumented immigration last spring, Justice Department officials found themselves scrambling to answer Republicans' pointed questions about low immigration-related prosecution rates by U.S. attorneys on the southwest border. Republicans, including Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., had honed in on Southern California's U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, demanding to know why they were hearing she had refused to prosecute undocumented immigrants unless they had previously been convicted of two felonies.
Internal e-mails released as a part of a congressional investigation show Justice Department officials conceded among themselves that they had “some concerns about asserting that the SO Cal U.S. attorney's office has a strong record in this area.”
The e-mail exchange – between Associate Deputy Attorney General Lee Otis and other Justice officials in April 2006 – is one of several contained in more than 3,000 pages of documents released over the past week. The newest batch, released Wednesday, includes further references to intense criticism from Republican lawmakers about the priorities of several border-state U.S. attorneys. Click here.
The N.Y. Times (here) yesterday reported that lawyers for some of the 350 immigrants arrested in an immigration raid in New Bedford, Massachusetts, appeared before a federal judge Wednesday, charging that the government had acted in bad faith, moving the immigrants to detention centers in Texas too quickly and denying them adequate access to lawyers. The arrest, detention, and transfer of immigrants away from home, family, and friends sounds eerily reminiscent of the policy directed at Central American asylum seekers in the Southwest in the 1980s, which was successfully challenged in Orantes-Hernandez v. Thornburgh, 919 F.2d 549 (9th Cir. 1990); for an unsuccessful challenge, see Committee of Central American Refugees v. INS, 795 F.2d 1434 (9th Cir. 1986). Somethings do not change.
For a copy of the class action complaint in the new Bedford case, click Download sandoval_amended_complaint.pdf. Foley Hoag LLp and teh ACLU Foundation of Massachustts filed the complaint. indeed, because some of the class members are Central Americans, the complaint alleges that their treatment is bound by some of the injunctive relief provisions issued in Orantes-Hernandez. Thanks to ace reporter Cappy White for locating the complaint!
The first comprehensive immigration reform bill of the new Congress has just been introduced, and already, commentators are raising doubts about whether reform is possible. Rachel Swarns writes in today's NYTimes:
Three months into the new Congress, immigration legislation is hitting some unexpected roadblocks. A mix of presidential politics and unforeseen fissures between Democrats and their Republican allies has stalled movement in the Senate.
*** Now there are doubts as to whether Congress will actually send an immigration bill to President Bush this year.
As previously announced on this blog, Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the first bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill of the 110th Congress. If enacted, the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act would be the most complete overhaul of our nation's immigration system since 1965. This first step in the long and uncertain process that could lead to the passage of immigration reform this year. The STRIVE Act will be referred to the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Zoe Lofgren. The Subcommittee could work off of the STRIVE Act, or Lofgren could introduce a modified version or she could start from scratch with a different bill that would then become the focus of committee consideration.
As of this writing, the text of the STRIVE Act is not yet available. We have seen summaries of the bill and will soon post a copy of one.
For an NPR story on the bill, click here.
Prominent Global Leaders to Tackle Immigration and Integration Challenges in the E.U. and U.S.: Launch of Transatlantic Task Force Marks 50th Anniversary of the E.U.
The Migration Policy Institute and Bertelsmann Stiftung are marking the 50th anniversary of the European Union with the launch of a transatlantic task force of prominent leaders to promote new thinking on immigration and integration. “Europe has changed dramatically since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, not least due to large-scale migration,” said Demetrios G. Papademetriou, Task Force co-convener and president of the Migration Policy Institute, the leading global think tank on migration. He continued, “Our aim is to assess and respond to the profound challenges of integrating immigrants and building stronger communities on both sides of the Atlantic for the next 50 years.” “We need a coherent strategy to address the challenge of integration and, thereby, contribute to the sustainability of the E.U.,” declared Werner Weidenfeld, Task Force co-convener and member of the Executive Board of the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, one of the leading European foundations. The Task Force is composed of the following senior figures: Lamar Alexander(U.S. Senator, Tennessee, and former U.S. Secretary of Education); Xavier Becerra (U.S. Congressman); Ana Palacio, Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, World Bank; George Papandreou, leader of the Greek opposition party (PASOK); and others. In its initial stages, the Task Force is focusing on the political and civic participation of immigrants; intercultural dialogue, particularly with Muslim communities; and education. It will address its recommendations to European Union institutions and Member State governments, the governments of the United States and Canada, and state and local governments and civil society everywhere. The Task Force’s first meeting is being held in Berlin on March 23, the day after the high-level conference on “Integration and Islam,” co-hosted by the Migration Policy Institute, the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Weidenfeld Strategic Institute. The day-long conference includes such notable attendees as Bertel Haarder, Minister for Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Denmark; Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Emine Bozkurt, Member of the European Parliament; Karen Volker, Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, U.S. State Department; and Zeyno Baran, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy, Hudson Institute. The event will conclude with a dinner address from Germany’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. For more information about the Task Force, please visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/transatlantic/
We previously reported that the Solicitor General sought cert in a Second Circuit case involving a Chinese woman seeking asylum based on a forced marraige. Click here. The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting story about the case, which tells a bit about the facts:
When Hong Ying Gao arrived in the US from China in 2001, she pleaded with authorities for asylum, expressing fear that if deported, she'd face abuse and even torture. But what separates Ms. Gao's case from thousands of other asylum seekers is that her fear of abuse is not tied to iron-fisted tactics of the Chinese government. Rather, it stems from anticipated mistreatment at the hands of her future husband. At age 19, Gao was sold by her mother for the equivalent of $2,200 to become the wife of a man in her home village who, Gao says, will physically abuse her. Instead of facing that prospect, she fled China. Is Gao a legitimate refugee deserving US protection? Or should she be returned to China and a future husband who has already paid for her? An immigration judge said that Gao had no claim to asylum in the US. But an appeals court panel reversed that judgment, ruling that the woman had a valid fear of persecution and was entitled to remain in the US.
In the cert petition, US Solicitor General Paul Clement urges the high court to reverse the appeals court decision. Mr. Clement says the decision threatens to transform American asylum law into a worldwide haven for women trapped in potentially abusive relationships after being sold into forced marriages. According to the SG, such policy decisions should be made by the executive branch, not unelected members of the judiciary. "The court of appeals' error is especially significant because it reached out to identify a broad new category of aliens (women in arranged marriages) entitled to seek asylum," the cert petition contends. The appeals court decision "has far-reaching ramifications for immigration policy in light of the fact that approximately 60 percent of marriages worldwide are arranged."
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The trial over the immigration-related local ordinance passed in Hazleton, PA ended today. As the AP notes today:
Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act, which the city council revised several times for legal reasons, would impose fines on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. A companion ordinance would require tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit.
The act has been emulated by towns around the nation that believe the federal government hasn't done enough to stop illegal immigration. Enforcement of the Hazleton restrictions was barred pending the trial, the first in the nation to examine local efforts to curb illegal immigration.
The AP report, which also summarizes some of the closing remarks made by counsel for the ACLU the organization that filed the lawsuit), is linked here.
An FM radio station in New Jersey is encouraging its listening audience to report suspected "illegal aliens" to their radio station known as New Jersey radio station or to the federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). The two radio jocks who run the radio show call themselves the "Jersey Guys." They call their effort "Operation Cuca Gotcha". "Cuca" is another name for the insect cucaracha. New Jersey area political and community leaders are concerned about the show because it may encourage racial profiling and other bias incidents against Latinos as similar radio programming has done in the Los Angeles area. Similar anti-Mexican radio hate programming at a Los Angeles station against an elementary school that serves children of Mexican descent caused an arson threat and a bomb threat to be left on the school's telephone recorder. The racist "Operation Cuca Gotcha" campaign has mobilized many New Jersey Latino organizations and elected officials. Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo of Newark ( http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/Carabal.asp ) said, "It's a despicable campaign and clearly slanted at Hispanics. The campaign describes us as bugs that have to be stamped out." Assemblyman Caraballo added that the campaign "encourages a vigilante movement against illegal immigrants, or people who look different."
The Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Website (here) reports the following about the radio promotion:
Proclaiming their "Jersey Guys" to be "America's most listened-to FM afternoon show," the radio station that defended its deejays attacking "damn Orientals and Indians" in 2005 recently faxed newspapers about their new "La Cuca Gotcha" feature, timed "to coincide with Cinco de Mayo." A derogatory pun of the folk song title La Cucaracha—which means cockroach in Spanish—the event encourages listeners to notify the station and immigration authorities about people they perceive to be undocumented immigrants. Even an editor who thinks his state has "a real problem with illegal immigrants" knows that "something as stupid and offensive as 'Operation La Cuca Gotcha' will do absolutely nothing to solve it." The object of this program is apparently to get the day laborers waiting in the cold for work... arrested and sent back to where they came from. And in order to make that happen, the station wants their listeners to become snitches and stoolies for the feds.... It will not make us one bit "safer" as the station suggests. It only feeds from the vein of ugly racism that lies much too close to the surface... and provides both affirmation and expression for that bigotry and lynch mob mentality.
California Court Finds Undocumented May Sue for Prevailing Wages
The federal Immigration Reform and Control Act and the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hoffman Plastics v. NLRB prohibiting the awarding of back pay to undocumented aliens for violations of federal labor law do not preclude undocumented workers from suing an employer for failure to pay the prevailing wage rate on public works jobs, the California Court of Appeal decides (Reyes v. Van Elk Ltd., Cal. Ct. App., No. B182068, 3/14/07).
In reversing a California trial court's award of summary judgment in favor of the employer, Van Elk Ltd., the three-judge panel of the appellate court also finds that the IRCA does not preempt California statutes declaring immigration status irrelevant to claims under the state's labor and employment laws.
The appeal was brought by Jose Reyes and three other employees who performed welding-related work for Van Elk on different construction projects in Los Angeles County. The four workers filed the initial lawsuit, claiming, among other things, that Van Elk failed to pay them the prevailing wage rate required by California law on public works projects.
Matter of KOTLIAR-, 24 I&N Dec. 124 (BIA 2007)
(1) An alien who has been apprehended at home while on probation for criminal convictions is subject to mandatory detention under section 236(c)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1226(c)(1) (2000), regardless of the reason for the most recent criminal custody, provided it can be ascertained from the facts that he was released from criminal custody after October 8, 1998, the expiration date of the Transition Period Custody Rules.
(2) An alien need not be charged with the ground that provides the basis for mandatory detention under section 236(c)(1) of the Act in order to be considered an alien who is deportable on that ground.
For the link to the full decision click here.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) enthusiastically welcomes today's unveiling of the STRIVE Act, a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and other leading House Democrats and Republicans. "Introduction of this important bill creates a launching pad for the legislative process to take flight. Never has the need for a comprehensive overhaul of our system been more urgent and never has the legislative opportunity been so great," said Marshall Fitz, AILA Director of Advocacy. AILA believes that we are far beyond the point where a piecemeal approach to fixing our immigration system represents a viable solution. The daunting immigration policy challenge confronting our country requires a bold, comprehensive approach like the one reflected in the STRIVE Act. "I believe this legislation contains the policy architecture needed to restore the integrity of our immigration system. It is both tough and fair and strikes the right balance between protecting our security, strengthening our economy, and treating people fairly and humanely," remarked Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of AILA. AILA maintains that to succeed in overcoming the chaos that characterizes the system today and restoring the rule of law, any serious legislative package must include: a new, flexible worker program to channel current migration flows into legal avenues, a tough but realistic path for undocumented workers to earn legal status, elimination of the unconscionable backlogs in family immigration, strong border security and worksite enforcement measures, and the restoration of basic legal protections for all non-citizens in this country. "We urge the leaders on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress to push beyond politics as usual and seize this historic opportunity. The status quo is failing American communities, businesses, and families and the American public is thirsting for a solution that this Congress and this President can and must deliver," said Tapia-Ruano. "The alternative - more suffering, more insecurity, more economic uncertainty, and more division - is untenable. I fervently hope that today's introduction of the STRIVE Act marks the beginning of the end of this failure."