March 31, 2007
Texas Employers for Immigration Reform
A new organization offers an idea about how many employers want immigration reform. The Texas Employers for Immigration Reform (TEIR) supports a realistic, comprehensive solution over "piecemeal failure." Its website (here) states "We can't just build walls around a broken system – we need to fix the system to make sure we achieve real security, restore law & order and have enough workers to continue growing our economy. That's why we support a temporary guest worker program combined with clear, sensible workplace enforcement." TEIR claims to represent "a broad base of Texas businesses, including everyone from farmers to hotels to restaurant associations and owners."
Tanks to Dan Kowalski for this assist (as well as many others).
Newt is Back!
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been rumored to be a possible Republican presidential candidate. And he is back to his old tricks! AP reports (here) that, on Saturday, Gingrich equated bilingual education Saturday with "the language of living in a ghetto" and mocked requirements that ballots be printed in multiple languages. So much for efforts to appeal to Latino (and Asian American) voters?
The U.S. vs. John Lennon
John Lennon of the Beatles had some much publicized brushes with U.S. immigration authorities. The U.S. vs. John Lennon, a feature documentary released last fall, now is available on DVD. The film traces Lennon's life from the period 1966 to 1976, where Lennon transforms into an antiwar activist, one in constant conflict with the U.S. government and its views. John. Scheinfeld cowrote, coproduced, and codirected the film. For more about Scheinfeld, see here. The official website, with a trailer, is here.
The Meaning of the Recent Flurry of Immigration Enforcement Efforts
As immigration reform heats up in Congress, immigration enforcement efforts continue to make headlines. For example, USA Today ran (1) a front page story (here) on Friday about state and local law enforcement agencies across the country are teaming up with the federal government to gain the power to help enforce the immigration laws; and (2) a story (here) about the arrest of 69 people in raids on a temporary employment agency's offices and places where it hired out undocumented, including the port of Baltimore. Earlier today, I poseted a story about the increased immigration detentions in Orange County.
One can only wonder what will happen to immigration enforcement will mean after the flurry of immigration reform proposals are acted upon one way or another.
Immigrant Detentions Up in the OC
The L.A. Times reports (here) that the number of immigrants detained in Orange County has tripled since December, leaving the Mexican Consulate overwhelmed with requests to find relatives and help immigrants who within weeks reenter the United States illegally. The jump in cases comes after Orange County jails and the Costa Mesa police have begun checking the immigration status of people who have been arrested.
March 30, 2007
Ugandan Lesbian Seeks U.S. Asylum
The Associated Press (here) reports on a novel asylum claim by a Ugandan woman who claims that her family in Uganda was so angry and ashamed to learn she was a lesbian that her relatives hurled insults at her, pummeled her and, finally, stripped her and held her down while a stranger raped her. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit remanded the case for application of the proper legal standard.
Asylum cases premised on persecution based on sexual orientation are rare. Most involve gay men persecuted by the government. There are few cases involving women, who are more likely to be persecuted by family members, said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a gay rights group that represents immigrants. Immigration Equality (here), based in New York, said that last year it won 18 asylum cases for gay men and transgender women from the Congo, Algeria, Jamaica, Russia, Egypt, Peru, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Colombia. It said it lost two such asylum cases.
"This is a lamentable case," Begins Chief Judge Hogan
For a copy of the decision released earlier this week dismissing the claims against Donald Rumsfeld et al. for alleged torture and other mistreatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.
The Christian Science Monitor (March 30) (here) reports that, after years of dispute, legal wrangling, and false starts, the makeshift military justice system set up at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, naval base is rolling into action. Military officials have achieved a string of recent successes with the guilty plea earlier this week of Australian David Hicks and public admissions two weeks earlier from alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and two other Al Qaeda suspects. But behind these developments lurks a fundamental question. Can America's terror detention camp with its controversial reputation for harsh treatment remake itself into a bastion of fairness and justice? Defense Department officials are hailing the Hicks guilty plea as an important milestone, marking the first conviction of a defendant facing a military commission trial. But human rights advocates and many legal analysts say Mr. Hicks appears to have pleaded guilty to avoid a trial he knew would never be fair. "I think it is easy to read his guilty plea as simply a surrender to a system that had been detaining him without a possibility of any kind of resolution for a very long time," says my UC Davis colleague Diane Amann, a war crimes and international law expert. "I don't think we can say [the plea] proves the commissions are legitimate and that they are going to operate fairly."
Wrestling News? Truth or Parody?
The Onion (here) reports that, in response to criticism over World Wrestling Entertainment hiring policies, World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon defended the league's reliance on Mexican wrestlers as "the only way fans can witness the grueling, bone-crunching maneuvers that American wrestlers want nothing to do with."
I guess that the story is saying that the immigrant wrestlers are doing "jobs" that Americans will not do. :)
Thanks to George W for the tip!
A View From the Border (Day 5): El Paso/Ciudad Juarez
Last week, a group of UC Davis law students visited the U.S./Mexico border. We have posted a series of their "views of the border." Here is the group's latest installment:
Today we left the Blue Mist Motel in Florence and drove across the border between the United States and Mexico. We traveled through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to border town of El Paso and then on to our final destination – Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The drive totaled approximately eight hours. The striking scene of a massive Mexican flag billowing against the overcast sky greeted us as we drove through Mexico’s port of entry. It was the largest flag I had ever seen. As we drove toward the flag, we were surprised by how easy it was to enter Mexico from the United States. We moved quickly through the checkpoint without stopping. No one asked us to slow down, to verify our passports or to check our vehicle. There were no barriers past the Mexican port of entry. In contrast, those in opposing lanes of traffic met heightened security as they entered the United States. U.S. government agents stopped each car, checked passports, questioned drivers, searched vehicles and removed undesirable items from some of the cars. The process caused a mile-long traffic gridlock and a forty-five minute delay to the border. When the vehicles finally left the U.S. checkpoint, they maneuvered through several cement barricades that were arranged like an obstacle course so as to prevent a speedy entry. We realized how effortlessly most U.S. citizens enter Mexico compared to many Mexican citizens who must answer numerous questions and overcome other difficulties before admittance into the United States. We looked behind us at the modern American scene, the other side of the border. A McDonald’s fast food restaurant, an American flag, a Wells Fargo skyscraper and several prevalent buildings cluttered the landscape, signifying a wealthy nation to many. In stunning contrast, before us stretched a blanket of small structures that covered the rolling hills of Ciudad Juarez. A few larger buildings marked the center of the city. As we weaved through traffic and exited the highway, one student filmed the view – foreign cars, billboards with Spanish messages, Mexico license plates, small shops, weary old buildings and the people of Ciudad Juarez milling about the streets. As we witnessed the changes in scenery, we were intrigued by the socioeconomic disparity between the two countries within mere moments of crossing the border. Shortly after our entrance into Mexico, we met Israel Melero, our host and a local law student in Ciudad Juarez. We followed Israel to his home where we would stay the next two nights. After arriving at our room, we prepared for tomorrow, anticipating our first day of border delegation activities in Mexico.
Johnny Sutton Interview
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, whose office has come under fire for the prosecutions of two Border Patrol agents and a former Texas deputy sheriff, defended his handling of the cases in an hourlong interview with Dave Montgomery of the Star-Telegram last week. He also looked back on his career as a prosecutor, his association with President Bush, his love of foreign languages, his religious faith and his days as a college baseball teammate of Roger Clemens. Here are excerpts.
thanks to Texas correspondent Cappy White for the story.
Immigration Daily Tidbits
Immigration Daily has several interesting tidbits in today's edition
REAL ID Consequences
The Anchorage Daily News recently featured a story about a woman who tried to renew her driver's license and was informed that the name she had been using for 25 years was not legal. See here. Her story provides a clear illustration of the unforseen consequences of REAL ID, i.e. the brunt of REAL ID's impact will be felt not by immigrants, but by Americans who will become ensared in beaucratic snafus during REAL ID checks that go awry.
The Rise In Remittances To India: A Closer Look
Muzaffar Chishti for the Migration Policy Institute explores the relative importance of these remittances in India's economy, then explains the reasons for this exponential gain, focusing on the effects of government and commercial bank polices, the profile of recent emigrants, and the strength of the Indian economy. http://www.ilw.com/articles/2007,0402-chishti.shtm
Bill Dahl writes "This is the reality of living the continuing nightmare for millions of undocumented Hispanic immigrants in the US." http://www.ilw.com/articles/2007,0402-dahl.shtm
CRS On Expedited Removal Of Aliens
The Congressional Research Service issued an updated report discussing immigration policy and expedited removal of aliens. http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/news/2007,0402-crs.pdf
More on White House Reform Proposal
As Bill Hing reported, the White House has floated an immigration reform proposal. See Download white_house_republican_immigration_principles.pdf The criticism has begun. The Service Employees International Union isued a statement captioned "WHITE HOUSE IMMIGRATION REFORM `PRINCIPLES' DEAD ON ARRIVAL." It reads as follows:
For several weeks, the White House has been working on a set of immigration principles with Senate Republicans. Yesterday these principles were leaked to the press. The following is a statement by SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina condemning the proposed plan: “SEIU is alarmed by the White House’s proposed immigration reform plan which fails to address any of the key elements needed to pass practical, humane solutions to the current broken system. Taking a major step away from our nation’s values and our history as a nation of immigrants, the White House plan would make inequality – rather than opportunity – the centerpiece of our immigration system and deny basic rights to our hardest workers. The so-called ‘merit’ system for gaining permanent legal status would favor the rich and well-connected, but would create a bar to entry for the millions of hard-working janitors, child care providers, and construction workers that our economy and society depend on. Any program that fails to bring all undocumented immigrants out of the shadows is unworkable, and would be a train wreck to implement. Likewise, the proposed guest worker program would further stratify our labor force and create a disturbing loophole to long-established labor protections. This is a particularly bad proposal at a time when recent reports warn of growing wealth inequality in this country. And for an Administration that professes to embrace family values, the proposed elimination of visas to reunite close family members is outrageous. If we are to fix our broken system and restore the rule of law, we need legislation that creates a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants working and putting down roots in the U.S. We must reject exploitative guest worker programs, and create a new system that guarantees immigrant workers long-term visas, full labor and civil rights protections, and a road to U.S. citizenship. If we follow this sensible path, we will break the cycle of border deaths, worker abuse, and economic exploitation. The White House ‘proposal’ fails to address any of these key principles for reform. Not only is the legislation impractical but it ignores the values of equal opportunity and rewards for honest hard work that have made our Nation great. If the White House is as serious as we are about passing comprehensive immigration reform this year, we urge them to adjust their course and do it now.
The problem of questionable counsel
Immigrants to this country -- whether they enter with or without authorization -- face many barriers. Often, one of those barriers is finding legitimate and competent counsel to help them navigate the complexities of our immigration laws. Lawyers and nonlawyers sometimes exploit vulnerable immigrant populations and provide inadequate counsel in exchange for significant sums of money. One apparent example: on March 22, NY State Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Dolan issued his second judgment against Christine Owad, a Greene County woman who posed as an immigration consultant and took large payments from dozens of people, mostly of Irish descent, seeking U.S. green cards. More on that story can be found on the Attorney General's website, here.
More on White House Immigration Proposal
The Bush administration floated elements of an immigration plan on Wednesday that would make it harder for millions of undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship than under legislation passed by the Senate last year, according to officials in both parties. These officials said the administration also suggested barring future guest workers who enter the country legally from bringing family members with them – a proposal unlikely to survive intact. Another part of the proposal apparently seeks to cut back on family reunification immigration.
President Bush and Democratic leaders of Congress have both pledged to seek a compromise on immigration legislation this year, and the administration's point men, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, sat down in the Capitol with key senators of both parties for an initial meeting.
Efforts to pass compromise legislation last year collapsed when Republican lawmakers objected to a Senate-passed bill that created a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million to 12 million men women and children in the country illegally. Bush spoke favorably of the measure, even making a prime-time televised speech at one point backing a plan to allow millions of immigrants an eventual chance at citizenship as part of a comprehensive approach to the issue.
But conservative critics attacked it as amnesty, and it died last fall when the expiring Republican-controlled Congress adjourned without taking final action.
Administration officials have been meeting privately in recent weeks with key Republicans, including some who opposed the 2006 legislation, in hopes of forging a general agreement within the party. Click here.
Twist on Local Laws
A state legislator from Chico, California (Keane), has proposed that California issue employment authorization cards for undocumented workers in California valid for three years. If, by the end of the three-year period, the worker has not applied for law residence in the United States, the worker would have to leave the country. More details to follow.
March 29, 2007
Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and Social Justice Summit
The American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy will hold a summit on civil rights, civil liberties, and social justice issues. The conference will bring together lawyers from across the country who work on or are interested in issues of civil liberties, civil rights, and social justice matters. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss and debate important legal matters, and establish resources and develop strategies for policy and development and legislative activities by the bar. Conference plenaries will feature expert panelists presenting on over-arching issues such as civil liberties and national security. Break-out sessions will offer in-depth discussions about the most pressing federal and state-based issues in areas such as immigration, women's rights, access to courts, and criminal justice matters. Registration is free, but space is limited. To register, please click here. Keynote Speaker will be Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.
CRS On US Immigration Policy And Temporary Admissions
The Congressional Research Service issued a report describing the circumstances under which nonimmigrants may work in the US, an analysis of nonimmigrant admissions, and discussion of concern issues. http://www.ilw.com/immigdaily/news/2007,0330-crs.pdf
Immigration Related Films
Immigration Bao Lo provides a select list of films related to immigration culled from syllabi of instructors teaching immigration, race and ethnicity. http://www.ilw.com/articles/2007,0330-lo.shtm or http://www.iir.berkeley.edu/immigration/teachers/films.html
Pew Hispanic Center: Great Increase in Naturalization Rates
The Pew Hispanic Center, in a report (here) by Jeffrey S. Passel, found that the proportion of all legal foreign-born residents who have become naturalized U.S. citizens rose to 52% in 2005, the highest level in a quarter of a century and a 14 percentage point increase since 1990, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center. Mexicans still have a comparatively lower tendency to become U.S. citizens, but the number of naturalized citizens from Mexico rose by 144% from 1995 to 2005--the sharpest increase among immigrants from any major sending country.
For the N.Y. Times report on the study, click here.