Saturday, May 26, 2007

Filipinos Oppose the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007

More response relevant to my Tuesday post on the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007:

Dear Bill:

Filipinos for Affirmative Action (FAA) is opposed to the Senate Immigration Compromise introduced on May 21st, because: it continues to criminalize and scapegoat immigrants; it further militarizes the border; and ramps up interior enforcement measures including detentions, employer sanctions and an electronic ID requirement for all workers. The bill shifts immigration policy from a family-based focus to one that favors temporary employment and the implementation of a point system; this immigration bill does little to fix the backlog of family petitions, and proposes an unworkable legalization plan that would benefit few undocumented.

We urge pro-immigrant and justice-minded organizations to reject this bill.

FAA is opposed to the way the bill frames immigration as a national security issue. This framework has produced heavy-handed, misdirected and costly enforcement provisions that are at the forefront of the Senate bill. Illogically, the bill criminalizes the very people we trust to provide healthcare, childcare, build our homes, work in agricultural fields and meat packing, in high tech assembly, in hotels, restaurants and janitorial services, to name a few. The bill dramatically increases the number of temporary workers to 400,000-600,000 in spite of the inherently abusive and exploitative nature of these programs. See the report "Near Slavery" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

We oppose the shift away from permanent, family-based immigration toward a temporary employment system, and the implementation of an elitist point system, that favors people with higher levels of education, English speakers and high level technical skills, over family reunification. Family based immigration has been the bedrock of immigration policy since 1965, and should continue to be. Family based immigration is a rational approach for promoting stable immigrant communities. It is a product of the civil rights movement which sought to end discriminatory immigration laws and policies that, up until 1965 preferred immigrants from Europe, preventing the establishment of Asian and Latino families through racist exclusionary laws.

The point system will also exacerbate the economic instability of sending countries as people in their prime working years and the highly skilled and educated are "sucked out" of underdeveloped countries in what is another massive "brain drain."

The Senate Bill does not increase the number of available family visas to cure the backlogs that prevent nearly 5 million people with approved visa applications from reuniting with their families. This provision is aimed at slowing down the integration of American society by discouraging immigrants from sinking roots and building communities. A model proposal to fix the backlogs is offered by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who proposes to double the number of available family visas. Under the Senate bill, family members who have been waiting for a visa--in some cases like the Philippines, for 10 to 20 years--will continue to wait; it does not offer a timely solution.

The path to "legalization" for the 12 million undocumented in this plan is fraught with obstacles and is a serious deterrent to the much-needed enfranchisement of this population on the margins of society. The exorbitant fees (that can add up to $10k over time), the requirement of continuous employment and particularly the 'touch back' provision makes this plan unworkable and unrealistic. Applications for permanent status will not even begin (or be triggered) until the enforcement provisions are put into place; this could be two to three years.

The legalization proposal requires the undocumented to return to their country of origin (touch back) to apply for legal status based on the new point system. Since the point system favors the educated and highly skilled, millions of the undocumented will not be eligible. Many of the undocumented will likely view "touch back" as a potential trap and not avail of it. Even under the best circumstances, the proposed "legalization" process could take 10 to 15 years; during which time any number of variables could compromise the eligibility of applicants. This plan is not intended to legalize very many of the undocumented.

The Senate Bill also does not fix the the damage from the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, which gutted the basic rights of immigrants, denied immigrants a right to due process, and expanded the offenses for detention and deportation.

We are disappointed that the Democratic-majority that we celebrated last November has produced a sinister and harmful bill. The rights of immigrants should not be sacrificed or bartered away for political 'brownie points' to benefit either political party in their quest for the White House. We urge Congress to protect Family Reunification as the cornerstone of immigration policy, reject the expansion of temporary worker programs and the establishment of the proposed point system. Immigrants have a right to be treated equally, with full legal, employment, human and civil rights.

Immigrants are not to blame for the global forces that have driven us out of our home countries. Beefed-up interior enforcement, the construction of more detention centers and increased militarization of the border will not stop the migration of people and plans to do so should be rejected. These provisions are simply a huge profit-making opportunity for "favored" corporations at the national security trough.

We call upon our national leaders to address the root causes for the world migration of 200+ million people by ending unfair trade agreements (NAFTA, AFTA, etc), environmental degradation in underdeveloped countries, and war.

FAA urges the immigrant, civil rights, labor and faith community to persuade your Senators and Representatives to oppose the Senate Immigration Compromise.


May 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Giuliani Opposed to Senate Legislation

According to Holly Ramer of the Associated Press, Rudy Giuliani is critical of the Senate bill being debated:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday called the immigration bill championed by one of his presidential rivals (John McCain) a hodgepodge that won't accomplish what should be its central goal: tracking everyone who crosses the border.

"We need to know everyone who's in the United States who comes here from a foreign country. That has to be the goal of our immigration law," he said. "If you make that the objective of your law, you will clear up a lot of the confusion that presently exists both in our present immigration law and in what Congress is trying to do right now, which kind of goes in 10 different directions without any central focus." Click here for the rest of the story.


May 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 25, 2007

More on the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007

A couple more reactions to my blog post on Tuesday:

Hi Bill

I think the race and class analysis is incredibly important.

Regarding the work contributions of family-sponsored immigrants, it seems to me that another critical piece is the household labor--and child care in particular--that many FS immigrants perform, particularly grandparents.  Like the household labor of women, this is typically not captured in our economic analyses, but relatives are clearly doing much of the family labor necessary to enable others to work in the formal labor market.

I'm sure that people will start to address this in greater detail, but it would also be interesting to consider how exactly a minimum-wage (or sub-minimum wage) worker would go about putting together the $5k penalty.  As you point out, most will be unable to do so, but I imagine others will turn to loan sharks, brokers, coyotes, etc.

Muneeer Ahmad
Associate Professor of Law
American University Washington College of Law

Dear Bill:

As painful as it is to say it, I think that if the bill can't be improved it needs to fail. I'm not sure what's realistic in the House, but from the outside I don't see much hope of this improving a lot. Unfortunately, I think the right is smart enough not to kill this because they'd love to blame us if it dies and if it passes they're happy to legalize a lot of people to get a system that reflects their values in place.

This bill won't end unauthorized migration. If anything, the new system that will be left standing when the Zs are through is even more disconnected to the real economic and family pressures that give us unauthorized migration. The point system is simply not responsive to the types of jobs that most the 12 million (though I suspect many less than 12 million will really qualify when the dust clears) do now. There will be more of such jobs in the future as this is where job growth is, and many of the 12 million will move on to other things once they have legal status. Meanwhile, temporary workers will continue to be human and can be expected to create family ties and life ambitions here that will make them balk at leaving. The new bars will make it even more impossible to legalize status, and we'll build another larger undocumented population that will be even further marginalized. On top of that we'll have the "legal" marginalized population of Ys and Hs. The right may want the inequitable society this will create but I don't think we can accept it.

As to family unity, as I read the bill one critical gap in the Z program for workers who have close family outside the United States - they will not be able to bring them in as derivatives if they aren't already here. That means probably over a decade to reunify with a spouse or minor children. Also, the Z derivative provisions are lousy for kids who are dependent on parents to get and maintain status. The DREAM Act provisions are great, but dropout rates have been enormous (Latina girls dropout more than African American boys) and lots of kids won't make it and need Z. A noncollege-bound kid who has been here years but whose parent has enough DUIs to be ineligible will be left out in the cold since their status is tied to their parents (unless they turn 16 and get a full-time job - do labor laws permit full-time employment at 16?).

Am I right that there are no guarantees that Zs get LPR status eventually? People with Zs will have to get green cards, if at all, under the merit-based point system? I read the bill to say they are expressly prohibited from getting immigrant visas under the family system or any other way, except possibly as Us - in other words, a Z visa can't be a backdoor 245(i). The supplemental points available to those with Z visas, don't seem at all a guarantee that they will ever achieve enough points to "win" in any given year (and since all applications under this system are valid only for the year in which filed, if you don't have enough points to make the cut that year you have to reapply the next). This also is premised on the idea that the backlog will be gone in 8 years, and no backlog reduction program has ever worked in the past.

The immigration clinic has plenty of clients, or potential clients we've turned away because they had no relief under current law, who would benefit from a Z visa in the short-term. And the private immigration bar will make a fortune filing petitions for Z applicants if this goes through. But if this really is the historic opportunity for reform that we all seem to assume it is, i.e. there won't be another opportunity for major reform for some time, I have to say that I don't want the system that this will create to be the baseline for the next 20 to 50 years.

From a more cynical political perspective, by the time any of the Zs can vote there will be massive frustration from immigrants with this system so I wouldn't expect them to be fondly remembering the Democratics role in getting them Z status.

David Thronson
Associate Professor of Law
UNLV Boyd School of Law


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Nobel Laureate: Iran Holding Political Prisoners

An Iranian-American woman detained in Tehran is being held illegally and has been repeatedly denied access to attorneys, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi told CNN (here) on Friday. Haleh Esfandiari and other Iranian-Americans held in Iran are political prisoners, said Ebadi, one of Esfandiari's attorneys. Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and is the founder of the Center for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Reform Update from GCIR


MAY 24, 2007

The Senate debate on the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1348), which began earlier this week and concluded on Thursday, will not resume until after the Memorial week recess. This e-newsletter brings our membership and the broader philanthropic community up to date on the latest developments. Keep in mind, however, that the debate is extremely fast-moving, and this e-newsletter will have a shorter-than-usual shelf life. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) will be sending another e-update with the latest on the debate in early June. We welcome your comments and suggestions on how to make these updates more helpful to you.

· Articles: Articles and editorials on the latest developments

· Opinions and Editorials: Opinion pieces on current immigration reform proposals

· Analyses: Analyses of the immigration reform issues 


Senate Votes to Keep Plan to Make Immigrants Legal, by Robert Pear, New York Times, May 25, 2007. The Senate on Thursday turned aside the most significant challenge to the comprehensive immigration bill now under debate, voting 66 to 29 to keep a provision that offers legal status to most of the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants.

Divisive Immigration Measure on Hold, by The Associated Press, May 25, 2007.  The Senate debate over legalizing millions of immigrants is on hold as lawmakers brace for political blowback from unhappy liberals and conservatives.

Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support in Poll, by Julia Preston and Marjorie Connelly, New York Times, May 25, 2007. As opponents from the right and left challenge an immigration bill before Congress, there is broad support among Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike — for the major provisions in the legislation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Immigration Backers Beat Key Challenges, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Associated Press, May 24, 2007. Proponents of a broad immigration measure narrowly beat back potentially fatal challenges Thursday, including an effort to phase out the temporary worker program. The Senate rejected, 49-48, a proposal by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., to end the temporary worker program after five years. Earlier, by the same margin, senators voted down a proposal by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to allow government authorities to question someone about his immigration status if they had probable cause to suspect the person was in the U.S. illegally.

Clinton, Hagel, Menendez Introduce Measure to Remove Barriers to Reunification for Immigrant Families, Hillary Rodham Clinton Statements and Releases, May 23, 2007.  Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced an amendment to the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 that would remove barriers to reunification for the nuclear families of lawful permanent residents. The amendment would reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent immigrants as "immediate relatives," thereby exempting them from the visa caps.

Amendments May Jeopardize Immigration Bill, by Michelle Mittelstadt, Houston Chronicle, May 22, 2007. The Senate on Monday opened what's sure to be a bruising fight over immigration with many potential deal-killer amendments lurking in the weeds.

Critics in Senate Vowing to Alter Immigration Bill, by Robert Pear and Michael Luo, The New York Times, May 22, 2007. Lawmakers from both parties are seeking to alter a comprehensive immigration bill substantially.

With an Immigration Compromise Committed to Paper, the Time for Scrutiny Begins, by Julia Preston, The New York Times, May 22, 2007. A sweeping bipartisan bill is an ambitious package of interlocking components intended to work together to create a new immigration system.

Strife over Immigration Bill as Debate Begins in the Senate, by Nicole Gaouette, The Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2007. The Senate launched debate Monday on a sweeping bipartisan bill that could yield the most significant changes in the nation's immigration law in 20 years.

Foes on Right and Left Attack Immigration Bill, by Jonathan Weisman, The Washington Post, May 22, 2007. Senate votes 69-23 to move forward with debate on controversial overhaul of laws; action on undocumented workers unlikely before June.

The Presidential Candidates on Immigration, by Farhana Hossain, Ben Werschkul, and Sarah Wheaton, The New York Times, last updated May 21, 2007. As the Congress gets ready to debate a comprehensive immigration bill, the politics of the 2008 presidential campaign is playing a big role in the proceedings. Below is a look at what various candidates have said on the issue in the past. While many agree on the larger themes, disagreements about the details are likely to arise as the debate proceeds.

After Aiding Bill on Immigration, Employers Balk, by Robert Pear, The New York Times, May 21, 2007. Employers said that they were unhappy with the bill because it would not cure anticipated labor shortages.

Businesses, Families Have a Lot Riding on Immigration Change, by Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2007. As the U.S. Senate prepares this week to debate the most sweeping proposed change to the nation's immigration system in more than four decades, Irvine technology executive Bruce Warren and Los Angeles homemaker Monsorat Jaldon symbolize the high stakes looming for millions of families, businesses and workers.

Welcome to U.S.A.—If You’re a Shepherd, by Barry Newman, The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2007. A somber Peruvian in a floppy hat and an overlarge parka, Julio Cruz he works full-time under a special visa and three-year contract for a sheep grower named John Noh. Without Mr. Noh's permission, Mr. Cruz can't work for anyone else.

Penalties for Illegals Become Focus of Immigration Reform Debate, by Nicole Gaouette, The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2007. The ambitious proposal to revamp the U.S. immigration system negotiated by the White House and key senators will confront a critical question next week: How tough does it have to be on illegal immigrants to pass?

Opinions & Editorials

Immigration Agreement a Move Forward, But How Far?, by Marcela Sanchez, Special to, May 25, 2007. There is no shortage of critics of the bipartisan immigration agreement now being debated in the Senate. Even with its flaws, the agreement is a commendable step toward fixing a system of how people can come to live and work in the United States.

Immigrants and Politics, by Paul Krugman, New York Times, May 25, 2007. Analyzing the direct economic gains and losses from proposed reform isn’t enough. You also have to think about how the reform would affect the future political environment.

The Divide Over "Amnesty", NPR, May 24, 2007.  One source of contention in the immigration debate is the concept of amnesty — not punishing immigrants who came into the country illegally. The latest immigration overhaul proposal in Congress would offer a way for the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States to receive legal status. Here is a sampling of opinion about whether the proposal actually gives amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Coleman Amendment on Immigration Enforcement, by Bill Ong Hing, The Immigration Professors Blog, May 24, 2007.  Senator Coleman (R-MN) has filed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would force cities and police departments to put immigration law enforcement above protecting the health and safety of their communities.

Illegal Immigration Bill Won't Work, by Foy Evans, Houston Daily Journal, May 24, 2007.  Democrats are split over how effective the law will be, if enacted. Republicans are more impassioned in their disagreement over whether it will solve the problem of more than 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country and have any effect on how many more will come every day.

Immigration Bill's Basics Should Fly, But The Devil's in The Details, by Carl Leubsdorf, The Dallas Morning News, May 24. 2007.  The compromise immigration bill is a valiant effort to end the impasse over one of the nation's most difficult issues. But it may well fail because - while it does address the main substantive issues - it fails to satisfy the political realities.

Migrant Plan Stacks Deck Against Latins, by Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald, May 24, 2007.   Here's some potential fallout of the immigration reform package being debated in the U.S. Congress: Its merit-based admissions criteria may favor Asian immigrants over Latin Americans.

Immigration Deform (From The Politics Blog), by Henry Payne, The Detroit News, May 23, 2007. Because the reform bill gives America's 12 million, largely Hispanic, illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and nearly doubles the cap on badly needed H1-B (so-called skilled worker) visas, I was hopeful.

Southern Border, Bad Policy Exposed, by John Kass, The Chicago Tribune, May 24, 2007. Without a fence across our southern border with Mexico, without a border that is controlled and secure, can Americans have faith in what Washington politicians are doing with the so-called immigration reform bill?

America’s Admissions System, by David Brooks, The New York Times, May 22, 2007. The immigration deal reached in the Senate last week is, on balance, a good thing.

The Immigration Deal, The New York Times, May 20, 2007. The Senate last week seized a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul a broken system and emerged with a deeply flawed compromise.

Anti-family immigration?, by Bill Ong Hing, The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2007. A bipartisan group of senators and the White House struck a deal Thursday on a sweeping immigration reform plan. It seems on the face of it to have something for everyone: a path to citizenship for the country's 12 million undocumented immigrants, a guest worker program for industry and a redoubling of border security for enforcement-minded voters. But there's one group for whom this compromise isn't so grand: anyone in the U.S. with family overseas.


What's In the Senate Immigration Deal?,, May 21, 2007. A look at major provisions of the bipartisan immigration compromise.

Summary of Senate "Grand Bargain", AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 07051768, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), May 17th, 2007.  AILA has provided a comprehensive summary of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, outlining the triggers, enforcement, and penalties, as well as the proposed Y visa program and merit-based point system.

NILC's Statement on the Senate-White House Immigration Reform Proposal, National Immigration Law Center, May 21, 2007. The deal that Senate negotiators have consummated is a step in the wrong direction.  Although the deal includes the DREAM Act and AgJOBS and promises significant short-term benefits for many undocumented immigrants, the nation's experience suggests that the rest of the provisions would have dire long-term consequences for both immigrants and citizens.

Senate Immigration Bill Proposes Unworkable Employment Eligibility Verification System, National Immigration Law Center, May 21, 2007. The 2007 Senate-White House immigration reform proposal would require every employer in the United States to verify the employment eligibility of their workforce — immigrants and U.S.-born workers — through a new Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS). In contrast to the 2006 Senate immigration reform bill (S. 2611),the EEVS provided for in Title III of the 2007 Senate bill falls short on creating a workable system with strong due process, antidiscrimination, and privacy protections.

Preliminary Description of AgJOBS Compromise, Farmworker Justice Center, May 21, 2007. This document provides a preliminary analysis of the AgJOBS provisions that are likely to be in the bill that the White House negotiated with a bipartisan group of Senators.  Contact Bryan Rhodes at GCIR for the document.

MPI Releases New Resources on a US Points-Based Selection System for Immigrants, Migration Policy Institute, May 18, 2007. A bipartisan group of Senators and the White House have agreed upon a comprehensive immigration bill to be debated in the Senate next week.  The Migration Policy Institute has released new data and analysis to place the current proposal for a points-based system and overall reform in the context of the approximately 1.8 million immigrants the United States receives each year.

The Impact of Immigration on States and Localities, by Audrey Singer, The Brookings Institution, May 17, 2007. Before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Audrey Singer explained the impact of immigration on local communities, including how foreign-born settlement patterns have shifted during the past 15 years, the local role in integrating these newcomers, and, finally, a proposed federal response.

AILA Urges Support of Comprehensive Reform, but Not At Expense of Fundamental Principles, American Immigration Lawyers Association, May 17, 2007. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has emphatically supported the need to fix our broken immigration system by balancing the needs of families, employers, our economy, and our national security to make legality the norm in our country. Unfortunately, it appears that desperate times may have resulted in a cobbling of compromises, which is no grand bargain to the thousands of employers and families who will lose a voice in a hazily outlined process. AILA cannot support such a bargain.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Lighter Side to Immigration Reform: From the Daily Show

Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi (here) explains the new immigration bill's point system, concluding that the US has replaced "Give me you tired, your poor," etc, with "What can brown do for you?" Mandvi also denies that immigration reform is really about "the ethnicity of the Mexicans."  It would be far funnier if it was not SO true.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Comparative Look at Immigration "Point Systems"

NPR (here) has an interesting story on the experience of the UK, Canada, and Australia with a "point system" for immigrants, which blog readers know, is one of the more controversial aspects of the Senate immigration reform proposal.  Bottom line:  there is no silver bullet and point systems have a mixed track record.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll Shows That Americans Support Immigration Reform -- and "Amnesty"

Americans want to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a guest worker program, a Times/CBS News poll found.  Click here for a story on the poll and links to the poll data.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Slavery and Torture on Long Island

Robert E. Kessler, in an article in the L.A. Times (here), reports on recent develeopments in a case of an affluent Long Island couple charged with slavery and harboring illegal residents. The defendants, who operate a worldwide perfume business, have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors said that one of the defendant's mother recently had tried to bribe the son-in-law of one of the two Indonesian women who were allegedly enslaved and tortured. The $2,500 bribe was conditioned on the alleged victim's return to Indonesia, prosecutors said. Prosecutors have previously said the woman who is the subject of the purported bribe had been repeatedly tortured.

Unfortunately, claims of slavery and involuntary servitude are too common nowadays. For immigrants seeking entry at the U.S./Mexico border, smuggling fees have increased from a few hundred dollars in the 1990s to a few thousand dollars today. The cause -- the border enforcement build-up over the last decade, which has not stopped people from coming but has made the passage more difficult and dangerous. Today, smugglers may bring immigrants to this country and require them to work off their debt. While some of the noncitizens are forced to work in the sex industry, it is a general labor markert problem, as my colleague Jennifer Chacón has thoughtfully written.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Fernando Valenzuela

Fernandovalenzuela Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea (b. November 1, 1960) was a star left-handed pitcher for six different teams during his Major League Baseball career, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he pitched for eleven seasons, from 1980 to 1990. Thanks in part to his Mexican heritage, his "Ruthian physique," and a devastating screwball that helped him win his first eight straight decisions in 1981, Valenzuela touched off an early 80s craze dubbed "Fernandomania." That year, Valenzuela became only player in Major League history to win both the Rookie of The Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season. Valenzuela, the youngest of twelve children, was born in Etchohuaquila, a small town within the municipality of Navojoa, in the state of Sonora, Mexico.

One of the more amazing stats was Valenzuela's utter dominance against the much hated San Francisco Giants. He was an unbelievable 33-2 with a 1.15 E.R.A. He pitched 10 one hitters against the Giants.


May 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

President Bush Speaks On Immigration

During a press conference held today, President Bush responded to the query, "And how concerned are you that the immigration bill in particular is going to get caught up in electoral politics?"  Click here for his response, which is cautiously optimistic.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Coleman Amendment on Immigration Enforcement

Urgent Alert: Senate May Vote On Thursday On the Coleman Forced Immigration Enforcement Amendment (Amendment 1158 To the Immigration Reform Bill)

Senator Coleman (R-MN) has filed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would force cities and police departments to put immigration law enforcement above protecting the health and safety of their communities.

What the amendment would do:

Coleman 1158 would outlaw state and local policies that prevent their employees?including police and health and safety workers?from inquiring about the immigration status of those they serve if there is "probable cause" to believe the individual being questioned is undocumented.

There is no exception where such policies are necessary to protect the health and safety or promote the welfare of the community.

Here's what's wrong with this amendment:

Many cities, counties and police departments have decided that it's a matter of public health and safety NOT to ask about immigration status when people report crimes, or have been the victims of domestic abuse, or go to the hospital seeking emergency medical care.

That's why they have passed local laws and set policies limiting when police and city and county employees can ask people to prove their immigration status.

The police understand that community policing depends on respecting the confidentiality of local residents who will cooperate with police.

They understand that communities are hurt when their residents are afraid that their immigration status will be questioned when they seek refuge at a domestic violence shelter or ask the police for help in escaping an abusive spouse.

These aren't sanctuary ordinances; they are public health and safety ordinances.

The Coleman amendment will run roughshod over these policies, saying that Congress knows better than local governments what best protects their residents.

This amendment will encourage racial profiling. People who look or sound foreign will be the ones whose citizenship or immigration status will be questioned.

This amendment asks public hospital workers, teachers, police, social workers and all public employees to decide when there is "probable cause" to believe someone does not have lawful immigration status. That means treating anyone who looks or sounds foreign with suspicion. That's wrong.


For more information, contact Joan Friedland, Immigration Policy Director, at


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Isabelle Allende

Allende World renowned author Isabel Allende was born in 1942 in Lima, Peru to diplomat Tomás Allende, who was the Chilean ambassador there. Tomás Allende was the brother of Salvador Allende, the President of Chile from 1970 to 1973. In 1945, Allende's parents separated, and her mother relocated with their three children to Chile, where they lived until 1953, when they moved to Bolivia, then Lebanon. They returned to Chile in 1958 so that Allende could complete her secondary education. During a visit to California in 1988, Allende met her second husband, attorney Willie Gordon; they currently live in San Rafael. In 1994 she was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit- the first woman to receive this honor. In 2003, Allende obtained United States citizenship. In 2006, she was one of the eight flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Allende is a world renowned author and has taught literature at the University of Virginia, Montclair College, and UC Berkeley.  Click here for Allende's website.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wall Street Journal on Immigration

A Wall Street Journal, which traditionally has favored more open immigration laws (to keep the new workers flowing into the country), has an op/ed today (here) emphasizing that most new immigrants to the United States will pay at least as much in tax as they collect.

As I say often, the politics of immigration are complex.  Business can be pro-immigrant.  labor unions at times have been anti-immigrant.  Immigration is not easy to classify in Liberal/Conservative, Dem/Rep, Red/Blue State terms.  That is why we are likely to see some out of the ordinary alliances as Congess debates immigration reform over what looks like it will be a long (and perhaps hot) summer.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Graft and Labor Recruitment in Mexico

A guest worker program is one component of the Senate immigration bill under discussion in Congress.  The NY Times (here) today has an interesting article about graft in the recruitment of workers in Mexico that makes one pause.  One union organizer was killed was bound and beaten to death at the union’s office in Monterrey, in northern Mexico, allegedly over worker recruitment.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson on Immigration

Gov. Bill Richardson, the Democratic Governor of New Mexico Democrat, earlier this week announced that he is running for President.  Richardson, whose mother is Mexican, is the governor of a border state with the highest percentage of Hispanics in the country. He has been entangled in the issue of immigration at home and a player in the ongoing struggle in Washington over rewriting the nation’s immigration laws. He is the first Hispanic to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.  Click here for a NY Times article discussing Richardson's immigration positions.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DHS Model Immigration Detention Facility Hutto Again in the News

The Austin Statesman (here) reports that an employee of the private company that operates an immigrant detention center in Taylor, Texas has been fired after being accused of sexual contact with another adult at the facility, officials said Wednesday. The incident involved "relations between two adults" at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center and occurred over the weekend, Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement. Pruneda said the incident is being reviewed by the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility.

Hutto has been in the news because of, among other things, its use for detaining immigrant families. 

Thanks to Cappy White for finding this story.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Alberto Gonzales Aide: Immigration Judges and BIA Members Hired Based on Partisan Political Considerations

The hearings over the fired U.S. Attorneys continued on Wednesday and there were some fireworks.  A former Justice Department official said Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was "not fully candid" about the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys and described an "uncomfortable" conversation with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the shake-up. Monica Goodling, a former Gonzales aide and the Justice Department's White House liaison, also acknowledged Wednesday that she screened job applicants based on political ties. Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee under a grant of immunity.  Click here for the full CNN report.  Click here for her written testimony (and the carry-over paragraph on pp. 6-7 for the discussion of the appointment of IJs and BIA members.)s

Of particular interest to readers of this blog, Monica Goodling confessed that she used partisan political considerations in hiring Immigration Judges and members of the BIA. She allegedly did so because Kyle Sampson had told her that the Office of Legal Counsel "had provided guidance some years earlier indicating that Immigration Judge appointments were not subject to the civil service rules applicable to other career positions." Marty Lederman on Balkinization (here) writes the following about this part of Goodling's testimony:

[Goodling] acknowledges that she also "took political considerations into account in making recommendations for positions as Immigration Judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, and she thought that was permissible because Kyle Sampson had told her that OLC "had provided guidance some years earlier indicating that Immigration Judge appointments were not subject to the civil service rules applicable to other career positions. In late 2006, however, the Civil Division "expressed concerns that the civil service rules might apply" to such immigration judges. This is also an area for further investigation. Did OLC conclude that the civil service laws don't apply to immigration judges? If so, what was the theory? (I'm not aware of any such OLC Opinion; but that doesn't mean there isn't one out there somewhere. Anyone know offhand what the law is on this?) And how did the Civil Division come to express its concerns? On what grounds?


Lederman poses some interesting questions.  Please post to the comments if you know anything about this area of law.

Given the housecleaning of the BIA by Attorney General John Ashcroft in President Bush's first term, it should not be too surprising that politics went into BIA and IJ appointments.  Nonetheless, it is somewhat surprising that these issues were considered and discussed at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

P.S.  Marty Lederman writes more on this topic on Balkinization here.


May 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UCLA Opens Immigration Clinic

UCLA School of Law has opened an Immigration Law Clinic (here).  The Immigration Clinic is a joint venture between the law school and Public Counsel's Immigrants Rights Project (IRP). Students spend four hours each week in the classroom and an additional 8 hours per week on casework at IRP offices. The classroom portion of the course will include both substantive immigration law topics that are related to the student's clinical work and skills training such as interviewing, research and writing declarations, fact development and some trial advocacy. Students engage in tasks such as client intake; preparation of asylum petitions, applications for relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victim of Trafficking and Violent Crime Prevention Act (VTVPA); and possibly appearances before the asylum office and the immigration court.  The Clinic is limited to 12 students. The Immigration Law Clinic is taught by Professor Judy London.


May 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Rapporteur Report Statement on Human Rights of Migrants


21 May 2007: The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante, issued the following statement on 17 May:

“The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the Government of the United States of America for their official invitation to visit their country and their cooperation during his 18 day visit to the United States from 30 April to 17 May 2007. In the course of his visit, the Special Rapporteur met with senior government officials in charge of migration and human rights issues at the federal level.

While in the country, the Special Rapporteur traveled to the border areas in California and Arizona, witnessing firsthand the operations of the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He also met with migrants in South Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, New York and Washington DC and had the opportunity to speak with and hear from representatives of the civil society working on the human rights of migrants at the local, state, regional, and national level.

The Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to visit the Florence Detention Center in Florence, Arizona, taking note of the conditions of migrant detainees in that facility.

He was disappointed, however, that his scheduled and approved visits to the Hutto Detention Center in Texas and the Monmouth Detention Center in New Jersey were cancelled with no explanation.

His visit has shed light on a range of concerns regarding the rights of migrants, including arbitrary detention; separation of families; substandard conditions of detention; procedural violations in criminal and administrative law proceedings, racial and ethnic discrimination; arbitrary and collective expulsions and violations of children's and women's rights.

The Special Rapporteur especially noted his concern that there is no centralized system in the United States to obtain information regarding those arrested by immigration officials or where individuals are detained. Families may spend prolonged periods without information as to the whereabouts of detained relatives. Transfers of individuals in custody also may occur without notice to families or attorneys and may result in detention in remote locations, far from families and access to legal support.

Mandatory detention of individuals who are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community causes family separation and economic, emotional, psychological hardship for family members, particularly children.

The Special Rapporteur further noted that accompanied and unaccompanied children are temporarily detained in adult detention facilities which do not adequately protect the rights of child migrants.

The Special Rapporteur noted that migrants undergoing removal proceedings do not have the right to appointed legal Counsel and must therefore represent themselves in complex legal proceedings.

The Special Rapporteur also had the opportunity to hear the testimonies of many migrant workers affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, including guest workers and migrant workers. Human rights issues raised with the Special Rapporteur included the lack of adequate housing available to migrant workers, inhuman and degrading treatment of workers, disparate treatment of workers based on ethnic or national origin, coerced labor and the lack of a fair living wage for all workers. Of particular concern are migrant workers who were being exploited by subcontractors of US government offices in charge of cleaning and repairing tasks. These U.S. government offices ignore labor grievances about violations of migrants? labor rights including wage theft, and they deny their responsibility and pass it on to the subcontractors.

The Special Rapporteur encourages the United States Government:

-to ensure that domestic laws and immigration enforcement activities are consistent with its international obligations to protect the rights of migrant workers within the context of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and All Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

-to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families

The Special Rapporteur calls upon the U.S. authorities to promote and enforce national policies and practices that protect human rights and public welfare of migrants. He noted that an over-reliance on, and delegation of authority to local level law enforcement may compromise the ability of the U.S. Government to effectively address issues affecting migrants, and to comply with its human rights obligations under International Law.

The Special Rapporteur will provide the results of his fact finding mission and his recommendations in his report to the Human Rights Council”.

Professor Jorge Bustamante was appointed Special Rapporteur in August 2005. The mandate on the human rights of migrants was established in 1999 to examine ways and means to overcome the obstacles existing to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, including obstacles and difficulties for the return of migrants who are undocumented or in an irregular situation.


May 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)