April 21, 2007
UK Cultural Debate over Immigration
Sky News reports on a British version of the debate over immigration.
Immigration may be threatening Britain's status as a country, it has been claimed. A pamphlet by social policy think-tank Civitas says the UK may already no longer be a single nation. Author David Conway said that if Britain has become a "nation of immigrants" it could lead to political disintegration.
The 100-page booklet claims immigration has been allowed to continue at a "seemingly reckless pace. "As a result of it, the country may possibly have already reached a tipping point beyond which it can no longer be said to contain a single nation.
"Should that point have been reached, then, ironically in the course of Britain having become a nation of immigrants, it would have ceased to be a nation."
Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "We know that unchecked immigration is putting pressure on housing and local services. Now this report shows that its effects are potentially even more serious." He added: "Given the limited number of schools, hospitals and houses, the Government must apply a limit on the amount of people entering the country."
A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government supports legal migration to the UK, which has been of great benefit to the economy. The Government is committed to pursuing a balanced migration policy."
The spokesman added the number of people claiming asylum in th UK is now at its lowest level since 1993.
Profiling Case in the Second Circuit
The Associated Press (here) reported on oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a case raising the question whether authorities went too far in instructing border agents to detain and search American Muslims returning from an Islamic religious conference in Canada. In late 2004, U.S. law enforcement agents became concerned that supporters of terror groups might try to attend several Islamic religious conferences, including the "Reviving Islamic Spirit" conference that drew 13,000 people to Toronto's SkyDome. So, as a precautionary measure, they instituted an unusual dragnet, instructing border agents to detain and search anyone entering the U.S. after attending one of these conferences abroad. At a border crossing in Lewiston, New York, some law-abiding citizens trying to return home from Toronto were held for up to 6 1/2 hours while they were fingerprinted, photographed, searched and questioned by agents who never explained why they had been detained. The New York Civil Liberties Union argued during a court hearing Thursday that the government acted unconstitutionally when it singled out such a large group of Muslims for aggressive inspection. According to AP, the two of the three judges sounded skeptical of the plaintiffs claims that the government had infringed on their religious liberties and right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
In December 2005, a district court had denied a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. government from engaging in such practices. See Tabbaa v. Chertoff, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38189 (W.D.N.Y. 2005).
April 20, 2007
Immigration Profs Testify Before House Judiciary Committee
Professor Steve Legomsky (Wash U) (here) testified before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary today on the shortfalls of the Immigration reform and Control Act of 1986. Professor Hiroshi Motomura testifed as well and a link to his testimony will be added as soon as I get it.
P.S. Here is more testimony.
Hiroshi Motomura http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Motomura070420.pdf
Changes Proposed for Religious Workers
USCIS Proposes Revisions for Religious Worker Visa Classifications
Proposed Rule Highlights Steps to Eliminate Fraud in the Religious Worker Program
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing significant revisions to its regulations related to the special immigrant (SR/SD) and nonimmigrant (R-1) religious worker visa classifications. The proposed rule highlights ways to ensure the integrity of the religious worker program while at the same time streamlining the process for legitimate petitioners.
“USCIS remains committed to seeking out and eliminating fraud and misrepresentation in the immigration system,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. “We recognize the importance of the religious worker program and the valuable service it provides to genuine religious organizations. Part of our effort to ensure a secure and efficient immigration system is detecting and combating deception that, in this instance, ultimately deprives legitimate organizations from participating in a worthwhile program. We’re confident that this rule will go a long way to eliminate the opportunities for fraud in the program.”
Currently, non-immigrants may request a religious worker visa at a consular post or a port-of-entry without any prior, stateside review of the petition. One of the key changes to the regulations include an across the board petition requirement that will allow USCIS to verify the legitimacy of the petitioner and the job offer before a visa is issued or the worker is admitted into the United States.
The rule also reduces the initial period of admission for a non-immigrant from three years to one, giving the agency an opportunity to review whether or not the terms of the visa have been met during the initial year before extending the worker’s stay in the United States.
USCIS is also proposing to add new definitions, or amend current ones, to better describe the statutory eligibility criteria. The rule streamlines the petition process by requiring an attestation and requesting less supporting evidence. The rule includes detailed interpretations of the statutory requirements and clear guidelines for supporting documentation aimed at making the process easier to understand.
USCIS will accept public comments until June 25, 2007.
UK Adopts Point System
Jamaica-Gleamer.com reports on the immigration point system Britain is about to adopt.
The new five-tier points system aimed at regulating workers who will compete with British workers for unskilled jobs will become effective in the New Year based on a timetable revealed by Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, this week. The system, copied from an Australian model, will only allow workers with skills needed in Britain to enter and remain in that country.
The system is being implemented alongside other measures that will make it more difficult for immigrants to enter Britain or those there to gain British citizenship.
Washington State Rejects Real ID
David Ammons of the Associated Press reports that Washington State has passed legislation expressing opposition to Real ID.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is developing a high-tech state driver's license that can serve as a border-crossing document, on Wednesday signed legislation rejecting Real ID, a federal identification requirement that would essentially create a national ID card.
The Washington state legislation is part of a growing rebellion against an expensive federal mandate that the American Civil Liberties Union says would threaten personal privacy.
The new state law says Washington will not implement the new Real ID system unless: Uncle Sam foots the bill, the government takes steps to ensure that privacy and data security concerns are addressed and the system doesn't place unreasonable costs or recordkeeping burdens on the average citizen.
The measure also gives the state attorney general the authority, if the governor concurs, to go to court to challenge the federal law.
The system was adopted by Congress in 2005, growing out of homeland security concerns. It requires states to develop a new driver's license and personal identification card that allows information to be stored and checked by national databases. It requires the applicant to show a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, proof of state residency and other information. The person's driving history and other information must be stored electronically by the state.
The new system, which is supposed to be a requirement in 2008, would cost the state $250 million to develop and implement, the governor said. Click here for the rest of the story.
Montana has enacted similar legislation.
April 19, 2007
State Legislatures are on an Immigration Roll!
Earlier this week, I posted stories about immigration-related bills were percolating in the Texas and Oklahoma legislatures. But state and local governments, as well all know, have been engaged in a truly explosive amount of immigration legislation activity in the last year -- at the same time that immigration reform legislation has been pending in Congress. A study by the National Conference of State Legislatures on "2007 State Legislation Immigration" (here) shows that, as of April 13, 2007, state legislators in all of the 50 states had introduced at least 1169 bills and resolutions related to immigration or immigrants and refugees. This is more than twice the total number of introduced bills (570) in 2006.
A Failure of Assimilation? Immigrant Cabbies Who Refuse to Give Rides to Customers Carrying Alcohol?
AP (here) reported earlier in the week about how taxi drivers who refuse service to travelers carrying alcohol at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will face tougher penalties despite protests from Muslim cabbies who sought a compromise for religious reasons. The Metropolitan Airports Commission said new penalties were needed to ensure customers get safe and reliable taxi service, and voted to suspend a driver's airport taxi license for 30 days for the first offense and revoke it for two years for a second offense.
Airport officials say more than 70 percent of the cabbies at the airport are Muslim, and many of them say Islamic law forbids them from giving rides to people carrying alcohol.
Commissioners said the old rules didn't prevent customers from being stranded at the curb or — as reported in a few cases — dropped off before their destination after drivers learned of their alcohol on board. AP quotes Hassan Mohamud, an imam and adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law, as saying that:"'We see this as a penalty against a group of Americans only for practicing their faith." The airport had proposed one pilot program that had drivers who wouldn't transport alcohol display a different top light on their cab, but the public's reaction was overwhelmingly negative and taxi drivers feared it would make travelers avoid taxis altogether.
This story raises some fascinating religious freedom issues. indeed, it may give some con law professors some final exam ideas! However, the reader who flagged the story for me did not read it that way but sent the article with these comments: "Sanity prevails, for a change. Will these new immigrants ever fit into our society?" To assimilate, must immigrant cabbies give rides to alcohol-carrying passengers? That is a new one to me!
The Housing Slump and the Declining Border Apprehensions
A few days ago, Eduardo Porter wrote a story for the NYTimes discussing the impact of the contracting housing market on undocumented workers, many of whom have found jobs in construction over the past decade. Porter's story is here. This news comes at the same time that DHS Secretary Chertoff and others in the Bush administration have been touting decreased apprehensions along the southern border as evidence of the success of the administration's enforcement efforts. Given the body of scholarship linking decreased migration to economic contraction in receiving countries, the Porter article made me wonder to what extent these recent decreases in apprehensions are actually manifestation of the typical contraction of migration that occurs in response to economic slowdowns.
Alberto Gonzales Testifies Before Judiciary Committee
Glenn Greenwald (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/) is covering the testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Greenwald's blog also includes a link to a video feed. Here are some of Greenwald's thoughts:
The reason some of them are being hostile to Gonzales here, and the reason some Congressional Republicans beyond this Committee have called for Gonzales' resignation, is not because they suddenly decided that it is important that the Justice Department act ethically or that lying to Congress is a bad thing. Instead, it is because they have long disliked Gonzales because they perceive that he has been insufficiently aggressive in enforcing immigration laws -- they see him as a symbol of all that they dislike in what they perceive to be the Bush administration's lax enforcement efforts. Some of them are dissatisfied because they perceive he has been insufficiently aggressive in enforcing obscenity laws.
What do our readers think? I must admit that I am not sure what to think about all of this.
Restrictionist Peter Brimelow Seeks to Promote Anti-Immigrant Agenda by Exploiting VT Tragedy
It did not take long for restrictionists to seek to capitalize on the tragedy earlier this week in Blacksburg, Virginia. On V-Dare (here), journalist Peter Brimelow, author the book "Alien Nation," penned an article entitled "Virginia Tech Massacre: Gun Control—Or Immigration Control?" It starts off predictably:
There is one indisputable fact about Monday’s shootings at Virginia Tech: if Seung-Hui Cho had not been allowed to immigrate to the U.S. in 1992, he would not have been able to murder 33 innocent people here in 2007.
I fear that others may jump on this bandwagon. It seems to me like we should be focusing on guns, student depression and alienation, and related issues, not trying to exploit the grief over the loss of many young people in the name of pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda. That, I think, is a tragedy of an entirely other sort.
UNESCO Migration and Integration Conference
About 185-192 million of men and women are “on the move”, searching for a better life far away from their home countries. These enormous migration flows present a challenge to politics and society. How can this challenge be best addressed? This is a crucial topic for Europe today and will be the decisive one for its future. UNESCO in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Goethe-Institute Paris will discuss this issue during a Conference entitled « Europe: Development through Migration and Integration » organized on May 10th at UNESCO’s Headquarter. The conference will put the global geopolitical situation into perspective and will also discuss political, sociological and demographic aspects of migration. Findings from empirical research in Paris and Berlin will be presented and the gender dimensions of international migration will be highlighted to make the “invisible half” of migrants – women who for a long time were not being considered by research on migration – visible. Experts from scientific, political and cultural background, both from the north and the south, will participate in the conference. For the detailed programme and list of speakers, click here. Registration is compulsory. Contact: email@example.com
National Geographic at the Border
The May issue of National Geographic has a feature story oin the U.S./Mexico border that, as one would expect, includes some nice pictures. The story incudes interviews of border residents who express ambivalence about the ever-expanding border wall. For more, click here.
Thanks to Steve B for the assist.
Human Trafficking in Mississippi
Lindsay Beyerstein and Larisa Alexandrovna report on human trafficking in Mississippi. Indian guest workers are paid up to $18.50 an hour, but are crammed into windowless trailers and threatened with deportation if they report abuses. Click here to read the story.
April 18, 2007
ABA Lauds the STRIVE Act
The American Bar Association has submitted a letter in support in principle (with a few constructive criticisms) of the STRIVE Act as a move toward "comprehensive immigration reform." See Download strive_letter_41707_final.pdf I am much less than sure that the proposal will solve our immigration woes.
Judge Posner's Latest on Salvadoran Asylum Claim
Judge Richard Posner wrote the decision for the Seventh Circuit vacating the denial of asylum to a former Salvadoran Army officer. The officer was involved with the military that was responsible for the infamous killings of nuns and Jesuit priests during the 1980s civil war in Salvador. Download doe_7_41707.pdf
Dan Saxon, To Save Her Life Disappearance, Deliverance, and the United States in Guatemala (UC PRESS)
Part human rights drama, part political thriller, part love story, this riveting narrative chronicles the disappearance of one woman as it tells the larger story of the past fifty years of violence and struggle for social justice and democracy, and U.S. intervention in Guatemala. Maritza Urrutia was abducted from a middle-class neighborhood while taking her son to school in 1992. To Save Her Life tells the story of her ordeal which included being interrogated in secret by army intelligence officers about her activities as part of a political opposition group. Chained to a bed, blindfolded, and deprived of sleep, Maritza was ultimately spared because her family was able to contact influential intermediaries, including author Dan Saxon, who was in Guatemala working for the Catholic Church's Human Rights Office. Here Saxon brings to life the web of players who achieved her release: the Church, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Congress, numerous NGOs, guerrilla groups, politicians, students, and the media. Reaching back to 1954, when Maritza's grandparents were activists, the book is a study of the complex and often cruel politics of human rights, and its themes reverberate from Guatemala to Guantánamo to Iraq.
The author, Dan Saxon, a UC Davis School of Law alum, is a prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
For more information about the book, click here.
Woman Threatened By Gang Granted Asylum
David Cleveland has written an interesting article on Immigration Daily (here) about a recent asylum case on which the claim was predicated on fear of gang violence. He writes that "[a]n immigration judge in Baltimore, MD recently granted asylum to a woman from Guatemala who was a member of this particular social group: `young women who refuse to be the victims of violent sexual predation of gang members.'"
Immigration Reform Debate in the UK
ThisisLondon (here) reports on concerns with immigration in the UK that mirror those in the United States. Mass immigration into Britain in recent years has left the country "deeply unsettled", Labour's immigration minister has admitted. Writing in a think tank report Liam Byrne openly acknowledged that the pace of immigration was causing problems for some public services in the UK and said "laissez-faire immigration" risked damaging communities. He urged tougher action to crack down on immigration crime, and concluded: "It's not racist for Labour to debate immigration; it's the real world - the world in which the people we represent live in [sic]."
USCIS Citizens Almanac
If you have not already done so, please visit our website and take a look at the new Citizen's Almanac, a hard copy of which is to be presented to each new citizen at their naturalization ceremony. I believe some time ago I alerted adult educators about this excellent publication. You can read the online version by going to our website www.uscis.gov, click on the 5th horizontal tab "Education & Resources", then select "Civics and Citizenship Study Materials (first link on the left of the page). Scroll down page to get to the link of the PDF file. New citizens will also receive the Pocket Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (last link on the same page).
Your friendly Community Relations Officer Lucee Rosemarie Fan, San Francisco District