Saturday, April 14, 2007
NPR's Talk of the Nation (here) had story on the real lofe impacts on the U.S./Mexico border in southern Arizona. If you live and work in southern Arizona, immigration isn't an abstract issue, it is part of your life. If you're coming across the desert from Mexico, it can be a question of life or death.
NPR (here) recently posted the results to an Ethics and Values quiz. It included some interesting responses on issues of undocumented immigration:
2. I would hire someone I knew was an undocumented immigrant to do yard work at my home.
Yes 61.5% 1408
No 38.5% 881
Total Respondents 2289
Skipped This Question 0
3. I would file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security if I knew that my neighbors' nanny was an undocumented immigrant. Yes 4.6% 105
No 95.4% 2184
Total Respondents 2289
Skipped This Question 0
4. If I was driving near the border and saw what appeared to be an undocumented immigrant in distress, I would stop and offer help.
Yes 76.1% 1742
No 23.9% 547
Total Respondents 2289
5. If I was driving near the border and saw what appeared to be an undocumented immigrant in distress, I would call the U.S. Border Patrol
Yes 37.1% 849
No 62.9% 1439
Total Respondents 2289
The Associated Press (here) reports that many immigrants, including undocumented ones, are filing tax returns either because of requirements showing a five-year record of tax payments when applying for a green card or a simple desire to get a refund. It is difficult to determine how many immigrants are filing income tax returns in the U.S. because the Internal Revenue Service doesn't track tax filers by their immigration status. But paid tax preparation chains, such as H&R Block Inc. and Liberty Tax Service, say they have seen anecdotal growth and are working hard to attract more of them through targeted offices or greater marketing in their native languages.
Professor Francine J. Lipman in Taxing undocumented immigrants: separate, unequal, and without representation. 59 Tax Law. 813-866 (2006) (also published in the Harvard Latino Law Review), analyzes the billions of dollars contributed in taxes by undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for many tax benefits available to poor and working people generally, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Mike Walbert of the Arizona Republic writes that Jeff Flake is questioned in parts of his own district on his views of immigration reform:
"Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is at the forefront of a bipartisan immigration reform push in Washington. On Thursday, Flake met some of his toughest critics in conservative Gilbert to talk about his legislative proposal. Flake was peppered with questions as he spoke before about 50 people at a meeting of the District 22 Republican Committee at Freestone Recreation Center." Click here for the rest of the story.
THE DISHONEST DEBATE: The Cable News Immigration Debate by Monty Berns
Watching cable news one might assume that the immigration debate is being fought between those trying to protect us from criminals and those in favor of open border anarchy. Primetime talk show hosts like Lou Dobbs or Bill O’ Reilly base large segments of their respective shows highlighting isolated illegal immigrant crime. Then when it is argued that these incidents are being used to vilify an entire group of people, O’ Reilly or Dobbs angrily reply that those concerned with human rights are open border anarchists who welcome criminals and drunks to our country. Instead of honestly debating a practical approach to our immigration quagmire, this vicious cycle has, frustratingly, become the norm of our national immigration debate. In reality the sticking point of immigration reform is the treatment of the existing 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the country. There are those who are dishonestly pushing for a cruel enforcement only approach. On the other hand, are those who realize that immigration is not a black and white issue and recognize the human factor involved. Both groups actually agree that our current immigration quagmire is largely the fault of years of administrative neglect. Principally through a lack of enforcement we turned a blind eye so that business, small and large, had access to an endless supply of cheap labor. We left the door open, we shouted over the fence for those hardworking people and they came in numbers. So we let them work, let them bring over their families and we turned the other way when it came to enforcement. Surely any reasonable person would agree that to deport a hard working person who has settled and lived here for many years would be inhumane? Many illegals have been here so long and are so rooted in our society that deportation or loss of employment might truly be catastrophic to them. And it is this human factor that the O’ Reilly, Dobbs, Tancredo mob are attempting to obscure. They dishonestly use individual instances of illegal immigrant crime to justify an enforcement only crackdown on all illegals. Drunk driving, child molestation and other sordid crimes are universal problems and should NEVER be used as reason to target a general group of people. The goal behind this tactic is to avoid, at all costs, dealing with our existing illegal immigrant population in a fair & humane way. In Germany in the 30’s the Nazi propaganda machine highlighted specific isolated instances of universal crimes committed by Jews with the goal of demonizing the entire Jewish population. Since the majority of Germans were led to believe that Jews were a danger & a burden to society it was surprisingly easy for the Nazis to brutally crackdown on the entire jewish population. Even though this Nazi Germany correlation is extreme I have no doubt that the intention of these enforcement only advocates is similar in that they also use isolated instances of universal crime/behavior to promote the harsh unfair enforcement of an entire group of people. And it is the context in which these crimes are discussed which confirms their deceptive heartless intentions. It seems that the subject of comprehensive reform is hardly ever addressed when these crimes are highlighted. Instead, the debate is manipulated into a pro/anti crime prevention argument. Well guess what…. EVERY SANE PERSON WANTS TO PREVENT CRIME & RESTRICT CRIMINALS ENTERING OUR COUNTRY! Comprehensive reform actually addresses the very concerns of which these public figures complain. Strict screening, harsh workplace enforcement and better border security will make sure criminals are dealt with appropriately as well as severely curtail future illegal immigration. At the same time comprehensive reform addresses our basic humanitarian concerns. People who have been here for many years will be treated fairly. Not surprisingly, according to a field poll released Tuesday over 80% of Californians support a legalization plan for many, together with stricter enforcement. O' Reilly might claim that his 'sanctuary' city crusade targets criminals but, in reality, this type of rhetoric is a blatant call for immediate catch one & all enforcement measures. One would think that these public figures, who claim to represent the majority of Americans, would instead call for immediate comprehensive reform(insert crickets sound effect please)!
The UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute has released a research brief entitled "Children in Immigrant Families--The U.S. and 50 States: National Origins, Language, and Early Education." Here is an abstract:
The huge influx of immigrants coming to the United States from every corner of the globe has helped propel the issue of immigration high up on the national agenda. Most of the attention has focused on the legal side of the issue, especially with Congress set to tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year. In contrast, relatively little attention has focused on the side of the nation’s immigration story that represents the future: children. This Research Brief draws on new results of Census 2000 data to take a closer look at children in immigrant families, that is, children with at least one foreign-born parent. For example, the brief reports that children in newcomer families are driving the nation’s racial and ethnic transformation. Moreover, these children constitute a very diverse group in terms of their national origin, as well as the places that they now call home. Children in newcomer families also have strong ties to their adopted country; four out of five are American citizens and three out of four are fluent in English. At the same time, children of immigrants are less likely to be enrolled in preschool programs, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to the cognitive aspects of school readiness and English-language fluency. To see the research brief, click here.
A new website – www.immigrantslist.org -- is devoted to sharing the word on immigration reform. The designers of the website allows visitors to contribute, blog, spread the word, share their story, write a letter to their representatives, and stay up to date with current news and legislation.
James Parks on the AFL-CIO blog (here) reports that AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) President Baldemar Velásquez called for a complete investigation into the murder of Santiago Rafael Cruz and pledged to keep fighting for the rights of workers in the United States and Mexico. Cruz, 29, a FLOC organizer, was found beaten to death on April 9 in the union’s office in Monterrey, Mexico. Velásquez says FLOC investigations have uncovered widespread corruption among Mexican labor recruiters who hire for U.S. agribusiness. FLOC opened an office in Monterrey next to the U.S. Consulate in 2005 to help members coming to North Carolina as guest workers in processing their visas, to fight corruption in the recruitment process and to develop leaders and train members. The office also helps workers who live part of the year in Mexico enforce their rights under a collective agreement that FLOC signed with North Carolina growers in 2005. The workers won the unique agreement after a 10-year campaign for recognition. The office has been the target of break-ins with files and equipment destroyed.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
It has often been said in recent years that immigration today is a phenomenon in all regions of the United States, from the West to the Midwest to the East and the South. And even in North Dakota! Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents and state and local law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at a dairy in North Dakota on Tuesday and arrested 13 of the 20 people employed at the dairy on charges of being in the country illegally. For details, including how the dairy may have to close, click here.
Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina have a story in today's NYTimes about voter fraud. The lede:
Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.
The article highlights the ways in which concerns about voter fraud and concerns about immigration are intertwined. Given the small number of people who have been accused and convicted, perhaps these concerns are overstated.
Of the 86 people convicted of voter fraud last year, some where immigrants. As the article points out, the consequences of voter fraud are severe:
For some convicted people, the consequences have been significant. Kimberly Prude, 43, has been jailed in Milwaukee for more than a year after being convicted of voting while on probation, an offense that she attributes to confusion over eligibility.
In Pakistan, Usman Ali is trying to rebuild his life after being deported from Florida, his legal home of more than a decade, for improperly filling out a voter-registration card while renewing his driver’s license.
In Alaska, Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez, a Mexican who legally lives in the United States, may soon face a similar fate, because he voted even though he was not eligible.
Thomas Adcock writes in the New York Lawyer (here) that a new partnership between the City (of New York) Bar Justice Center and Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy aims to create a rotating fellowship model for pro bono involvement by large firms in the pressing need of volunteer lawyers to help low-income individuals with immigration matters. Fragomen, which specializes in corporate immigration law, recently hired associate Myriam Jaidi, a ex-litigator in Seattle and a former court attorney in Brooklyn who dealt frequently with immigrants in pro se appearances. She has been assigned to work for the next six months as a full-time fellow at the Justice Center, the pro bono arm of the New York City Bar Association.
In an op/ed in the LA. Times entitled "Guest workers: a worn-out labor idea -- Such programs are bad for immigrants and hurt U.S. workers as well" (here), JOHN J. SWEENEY, president of the AFL-CIO, and PABLO ALVARADO, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, take aim at a proposed guets worker program.
I recently had occasion to visit New Orleans, my first visit there since August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Conditions remain bad there. Many others have documented the misery in the region and I will not repeat what has been said here. Professor Bill Quigley (Loyola) has a nice power point on the city 18 months after Katrina (click here). Eleven UC Davis law students joined other law students during spring break to help provide legal assistance to persons victimized by the hurricane. For their blog, with pictures, click here.
As has been reported often, many Mexican migrants have moved to the region to labor in the reconstruction efforts. Unfortunately, they have not always been warmly received. Indeed, as in many cities across the United States, immigrant/African American conflict has been on the rise. That is what I wanted to talk about on this blog today.
The rebuilding of New Orleans – and the ready availability of jobs – attracted many Latina/o immigrants to the Big Easy, especially in the construction industries. Not long after the hurricane hit, President Bush suspended the minimum wage laws applicable to federally financed reconstruction projects, which presumably drove down wages, increased the demand for labor, and brought more migrants to the Gulf region. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would not enforce the employers sanctions provisions of the immigration laws that bar employment of undocumented immigrants. As is characteristic of the treatment of undocumented labor in the United States, many workers were exploited by employers and paid low wages to work for long hours in poor, often unsafe, conditions, and found themselves in substandard and unhealthy housing. Several reports documented the shoddy treatment of immigrant labor rebuilding New Orleans. See, for example, Advancement Project, National Immigration Law Center, & New Orleans Worker Justice Coalition, And Injustice for All: Workers’ Lives in the Reconstruction of New Orleans (2006); Tomás Aguilar with Laura Podolsky, Risk Amid Occupational and Safety of Latino Immigrant Workers in the Aftermath of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes (June 2006) (documenting health and safety risks experienced by Latina/o immigrant workers in the reconstruction efforts). It was estimated that more than half of the reconstruction workforce was undocumented who, along with other workers, “are vulnerable to exploitation by their employers because of inadequate legal protection and the failure on the part of the federal and local authorities to monitor construction sites.” More than one-third of the undocumented workers surveyed reported receiving less money than they expected to be paid. Less than half of all workers had health insurance and the undocumented workers are very unlikely to seek medical treatment.
In essence, Latina/o immigrant workers suffered exploitation and received little assistance from the government. At the same time, they were vilified by the public and policy-makers as part of the Hurricane Katrina “problem,” as opposed to part of the solution. Rather than encouraging immigrants to help in the rebuilding efforts, a backlash emerged over the feared Latinization of the Gulf region. Indeed, no doubt responding to citizen complaints, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu asked the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to investigate the use of undocumented immigrants by contractors in the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding effort; ICE responded by detaining immigrant workers. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin expressed fear about the future prospects of his city: “How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?” Coming from a prominent African American political leader, this statement tapped into a history of anti-immigrant sentiment.
It, of course, is evident that the region had been changing demographically and that a rebuilt Gulf region might accelerate the changes, rendering it different from that which existed before Hurricane Katrina. Outside the Gulf region, New Orleans was characterized tongue-in-cheek as La Nueva (The New) Orleans as African Americans fled the devastation of the town while Latina/o workers moved there to rebuild the city.
Conflicts between African Americans and immigrants, particularly Latina/o immigrants, unfortunately are nothing new. It re-emerged in parts of the South, which for the first time in recent years had seen substantial Latina/o immigration. African Americans long have worried (understandably) about the negative impacts of immigration on their community. Recent years had sporadic incidents of friction between African Americans and Latino immigrants. Stresses in society are likely to bring such tensions to the surface. It is not surprising then that the immigrants who came to New Orleans to help rebuild were accused of taking jobs from African Americans, as well as threatening the future racial identity of the city.
Interracial conflict in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina also could be seen in the protest over media characterization of the persons who fled New Orleans as “refugees.” Jesse Jackson bluntly declared that the classification of Black citizens as “refugees” was “racist.” One displaced person from New Orleans emphasized on an NPR show that
I am not a “refugee.” I wasn’t shipped here. . . .We are not refugees. You hold your head up. We are United States citizens, and you be proud of that. A lot of us are taxpaying, honest, hardworking people. I’m like, when did I come from another country? That’s what they used to call people that was in boats, and that was sneaking over here. I am a survivor. They need to say, “the survivors of Katrina.”
The President agreed that refugees was not the proper term to describe persons fleeing the Gulf region. The controversy over terminology lingered. The angry response at some level amounted to the claim from Black America that “we are citizens deserving of assistance, not foreigners who do not.” The claim in effect was that citizenship bestowed superior rights over those possessed by noncitizens in the wake of a mass disaster. In demanding the full benefits of citizenship, the African American community consciously distanced itself from immigrants and, at some level, played on nativist sympathies.
Ultimately, the stress of the mass disaster drove apart two minority communities that, in certain ways, need each other – and will need each other more in the future if they hope to secure mutually beneficial social change. As it has been for generations, at the heart of the friction between African Americans and Latina/o immigrants is a struggle for economic survival and social membership. Rather than efforts by government to calm the tensions, leading governmental officials made matters worse by vocally attacking immigrant workers for threatening African Americans economically, socially, and politically.
One of the unaddressed problems is that nativism exists within the African American community, just as anti-Black sentiment can be found among some Latina/os. Such biases unfortunately led to conflict. Conflict often comes to the fore in times of societal stress, such as after September 11 or Hurricane Katrina. It is essential that communities of color address these issues if there is any hope of building multiracial coalitions for social change.
There is some reason for hope, however. New Orleans has not been deserted and parts are up-and-running in a somewhat "normal" fashion. And many leaders are committed to its reconstruction. For example, the President of Loyola New Orleans, the Reverend Kevin Wildes, in recent weeks has held well-attended community forums on racism and immigration. The clinics at Loyola Law School has been operating and, through students and professors (like Luz Molina), have been providing much-meeded assistance to immigrants and others in need.
Nonetheless. it seems clear that the reconstruction of New Orleans will require years of work at many different levels. It is difficult work yet important work.
Peter Prengaman of the Associated Press reports on a case filed against the LAPD for not questioning suspects about their immigration status:
"Illegal immigration opponents have sued the Los Angeles Police Department, taking aim at its long-standing policy of ignoring most suspects' immigration status.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Superior Court seeks to force officers to inform federal immigration officials when illegal immigrants are arrested on drug charges.
"The department prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects, a policy strongly supported by Police Chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of unidentified police officers who are afraid to speak out but argue the policy creates a situation where the same illegal immigrants are repeatedly arrested when they could have been deported, lawyer David Klehm said." Click here for the rest of the story.
We have posted much about cities passing immigration enforcement-related ordinances and assisting the federal government in immigration enforcement. But the Santa Cruz Sentinal (here) reports the Santa Cruz City Council is considering a proposal that would prohibit using city funds or resources to assist immigration enforcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcment. The proposal's advocates want to be prepared if the federal government asks for the city's assistance. The policy, written by Councilman Tony Madrigal, was created in response to the countywide raids that took place in September, an operation dubbed "Return to Sender" The effort resulted in the arrests of 107 undocumented residents from Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Hollister. "This resolution sends a message that Santa Cruz values its immigration community," Madrigal said. "We don't want immigration officials to come into our community to tear apart families like they did in fall 2006" The policy comes on the heels of an uptick in crackdowns statewide since December. More than 300 illegal immigrants were arrested last week in San Diego and Imperial counties.
ALFREDO CORCHADO reported in the Dallas Morning News that Mexico's new ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, expressed support for proposed changes in U.S. immigration policy but said in an interview that even if they win the backing of Congress, waves of immigration will continue because Mexico is failing to provide adequate opportunities for its people. For more on this story, click here.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Roger Tsai, Esq. (here) provides a detailed overview of recent developments on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and worksite enforcement. With all the workplace and other raids that we have seen in recent months, this article is especially topical.
During spring break, a group of UC Law students visted the U.S./Mexico border. We included blog entries from the trip. Here are three pictures from the trip. The first picture is a note found on the ground near the shrine - it offers encouragement and tries to remind the reader to press on, to remember the reasons why he/she is crossing. The second and third pictures are of a make-shift shrine that they came across when hiking the migrant trails. The shrine consisted of religious candles, cards, symbols, rosaries - and mixed in were family photographs (weddings, baptisms, children).
Demetrios Papademetriou of the Migration Policy Institute has released an interesting paper entitled "THE AGE OF MOBILITY: How to Get More Out of Migration in the 21st Century." Click here to read it. teh paper is well worth reading as the nation discusses immigration reform.
Earlier this week, Immigration Daily (www.ilw.com) posted a thoughtful entry on Unions And Immigrants:
About two years ago, the country's labor unions split into two: a coalition of unions with millions of union members bolted from the ranks of the old AFL-CIO, and formed the Change to Win coalition. The AFL-CIO that remained was about a third smaller than its former self. This has had important consequences for immigration, particularly the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) battle currently underway on Capitol Hill, here's why. Historically, the largest organized opposition to immigration in the US was big labor. This was true in the late 1800s, and remained true through almost all of the 1900s. The switch of the unions from the "anti" side to the "pro" side in the late 1990s was thus a momentous change and was spear-headed within the old AFL-CIO by the leaders of the unions that have since bolted to form the Change to Win coalition. The new AFL-CIO has been reverting to a bit of the old union behavior - for example, while the SEIU and UNITE HERE (members of the Change to Win coalition) are part of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, http://www.cirnow.org/ the AFL-CIO is conspicuously absent. There is good reason why. Generalizing a bit broadly, the Change to Win coalition unions largely organize occupations that cannot be globalized easily (e.g. waiters, hotel staff, laundry workers), while the new AFL- CIO unions largely organize occupations that are subject to strong global competition (e.g. steel workers, auto workers). Put another way, while we can import a car from Japan, dirty dishes cannot be sent to Mexico to be cleaned. Again generalizing a bit broadly, the Change to Win coalition sees immigrants as future union members, while the new AFL-CIO views foreign workers, both overseas and migrants, as potential competitors for jobs. For those who keep the lessons of history in mind, the fear that the AFL-CIO might soon join the Pat Buchanan-Lou Dobbs anti- immigration gang is reasonable. Recent events illustrate how this new union landscape is affecting events currently on the Hill. Everyone expected that Senators McCain and Kennedy would join this year, as they did last year, in leading the CIR battle on the Hill. To everyone's surprise, this has not happened, and despite three full months having already passed, the Senate has not had any major bill introduced, nor is any markup currently scheduled. Rumor has it that the fall-out between Mr. McCain and Mr. Kennedy happened over Mr. Kennedy's insistence that undocumented immigrants be covered under Davis-Bacon wages, and Mr. McCain's demurrer thereto. With the Democrats in charge of the agenda on the Hill, Mr. Kennedy apparently thought he could achieve a long-sought- after goal of his friends at the AFL-CIO and extend Davis-Bacon to cover a large swath of the US workforce. Naturally, Mr. McCain did not see this as part of any immigration compromise, and the result has been not just a lost opportunity, but deadlock on Capitol Hill, giving more time for the anti-immigrationists to organize in opposition to CIR. Since Republican votes will be essential for CIR to become a reality, it will be impossible to avoid enriching corporations in the process of legalizing workers and worker flows. Going for worker protections beyond seeking true portability will likely be self-defeating. Liberal Democrats will have to choose between their old friends in the unions and immigrants. In other words, if CIR does not happen, liberal Democrats will likely be most responsible (much as they will blame the anti-immigrationists, the reality will be otherwise). Swing votes in politics have a disproportionate power, and the few Republican votes necessary for CIR will surely exact a high price. When Congress returns from its Easter break, the future of our nation, and its immigrants, will be in its hands. We welcome readers to share their opinion and ideas with us by writing to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org