Saturday, June 2, 2007

MAPA Opposition to Both the Grand Bargain and STRIVE Act

Mexican American Political Association
June 01, 2007
Greetings!

JOIN US TO PREVENT THE BETRAYAL OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS - NO TO THE U.S. SENATE "GRAND BARGAIN" - KENNEDY BILL (S.1348) AND NO TO THE GUTIERREZ-FLAKE IMMIGRATION BILL (STRIVE ACT - H.R.1645)
_
The Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana call on all organizations concerned about the rights of immigrants, concerned about the growing intensity of immigration raids and deportations, which target predominantly Latino communities and workplaces, concerned about the forced separation of families and the abandonment of children by undocumented parents detained by ICE, concerned about the increased militarization of the border and the continued incidents of death on the border, and concerned about the increase of interior enforcement and cooperation between local police authorities and ICE - to join us in opposing the U.S. Senate "grand bargain" - the Kennedy Bill (S.1348) and to definitively declare to the party leaders that the Gutierrez-Flake Immigration Bill, known as the STRIVE ACT - H.R.1645, does not reflect the legitimate aspirations of immigrant families throughout the U.S.
OUR DEMANDS -

In 2006, millions of families marched to demand LEGALIZATION FOR ALL, NO TO THE BORDER WALL and NO MILITARIZATION OF THE BORDER, NO BRACERO/GUESTWORKER programs, and PROTECTION OF LABOR and CIVIL RIGHTS and CIVIL LIBERTIES. Today we add demands to STOP IMMIGRATION RAIDS and DEPORTATIONS, and NO FORCED SEPARATION OF FAMILIES through the deportation of undocumented parents. Legalization to ALL for us means permanent resident visas, not temporary visas or temporary-worker programs.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PROPOSALS -

The grassroots immigrant coalitions and membership-based organizations represent the backbone of the immigrants' rights movement, and we must urgently convey to the Democratic Party (the DNC) and the national federal legislative leadership - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - that the Gutierrez-Flake legislation represents an incredible betrayal of the immigrant's interest, a rank strategic concession to the right-wing of the Republican Party that emphasizes enforcement- only or enforcement-first, over any form of fair and rational legalization of the estimated 12 million undocumented persons currently in the U.S., and the creation of a massive bracero-type program dubbed falsely as the "new worker visa." This initiative surfaced first, and now, leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate have cooked up their "grand bargain," - the Kennedy Bill (S.1348), which presents a similar faulty framework of heavy enforcement in exchange for some form of legalization and contract-workers. This is nothing short of a massive cheap labor management experiment to supply corporate America, large and small, urban and rural, but on their terms, low-wage vulnerable and exploitable (and in the case of the contract-workers, recyclable and disposable migrant workers) labor force of a second-class category status.

WE WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED -

We will not be intimidated by the argument used by Congressman Luis Gutierrez that if we don't accept his legislation the immigration raids will not only continue but intensify. We will not be bullied into accepting the argument that the only way to stop the separation of families and deportations is to embrace his proposal and the Senate's "grand bargain." We refuse to accept the rationale that in order to obtain a fair legalization program, we must accommodate ourselves to a loss of due process rights and the criminalization of our families. This is not a fair exchange. It is an unfair bargain.

THE PROPOSALS ARE ONLY DIFFERENT BY DEGREES -

The immigration proposals recently released by President George W. Bush are ten steps to the right of the Gutierrez-Flake Bill, but the framework is essentially the same. The "grand bargain" is only to the right of the STRIVE ACT by degrees. The emphasis is on enforcement and the creation of a massive guest-worker program - guaranteeing cheap and vulnerable labor for corporate America and depressing the prevailing wage for domestic labor.

We will not be forced to accept the supposedly less onerous legislative proposal due to the existence of a more draconian and extremist measure. In fact, Congressman Gutierrez has already used the White House proposals to buttress his own. "If you don't like my legislation, just look what the White House has in store for you." Neither proposal is a good choice for our families.

THE MAJORITY OF LATINOS ARE DEMOCRATS -

While the majority of Latinos are Democrats, and were incredibly loyal to the party in the November 2006 elections, which resulted in it assuming control of the U.S. Congress, the party has not demonstrated equivalent loyalty to the Latino electorate and immigrant communities of America on the issue of immigration.

The Latino and immigrant communities expect more from the party leadership. We must demand full legalization for our families without being hooked into a massive bracero-type program, not be forced to voluntarily deport ourselves and waive our legal rights (return and touch base to our countries of origin and then apply for legal permanent resident status), or be criminalized for having entered the country without inspection.

If we do not act immediately to stop the betrayal represented by the Kennedy Bill and the Gutierrez- Flake Bill, and the surrender of our legal rights, it will too late. We must impress upon the Democratic Party leadership that we will not be intimidated nor bullied.

WHY FOCUS ON THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

We have been asked - why focus on the Democratic Party? The answer is simple - it is the party in power and has the votes to prevent passage of any legislation that is not fair, humane, and rational. The repeated use of the term "comprehensive" does not mean fair, humane, or rational. In fact, the recent debate demonstrates that the use of the term "comprehensive" really means harsh enforcement combined with some form of regularization.

THE WASHINGTON DC-BASED LOBBYING GROUPS -

The Washington DC-based lobbying groups and foundation-financed immigrant "advocates" have inherently accepted this proposition or "bargain." They only quibble about aspects of the framework, but do not challenge the framework itself. They present the "lesser-of-two evils" and "something is better than nothing" arguments to convince the mass of immigrants to not oppose the current momentum building in the U.S. Congress that will ultimately criminalize our communities and pit native-born against foreign-born, and mortgage our future in this country. We are referring to the National Council of La Raza and the National Immigration Forum who present themselves as the inside national immigration advocates who represent our interest at the table with the legislators. Well, they absolutely DO NOT represent our interests and are 100 percent corporate-funded to do the work of the corporations - SELL these legislative proposals to the mass of immigrants as the best possible deal.

IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS

The debate on and the amendments to the "grand bargain" in the Senate will continue this week, but shortly the debate will move to the House. In reality, this is where we will have more leverage. The main focus of our attention should be on the House Subcommittee on Immigration, chaired by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. The majority of the members are Democrat and a number of them are considered left-of-center, and are generally friendly to our endeavors. These are the members who will have the most to say in relation to any House version. While the general marches throughout the country have had the effect of mass political pressure to prevent the passage of onerous immigration legislation, the political target and direction of our marches, protest, and movement NOW must be specific. They must be directed to the specific members who will have everything to say about any future immigration legislation. The majority of these members are Democrats, and we must not be shy about pressuring them for what we want, notwithstanding political party affiliation, loyalties, or patronage funding. We would be shy at the expense of our constituency. This is what we recommend, and what we have already begun implementing in California.

SENATORS HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON AND BARAK OBAMA

Additionally, it should not be lost on anyone that the pressure points in the U.S. Senate must be these two senators who also happen to be presidential candidate aspirants for the Democratic Party - Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barak Obama. We should remember that both of these senators voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Both individuals have bought into the framework for immigration reform mentioned above.

The observation is that this is the Achilles heel of the Democratic Party leadership, particularly the DNC, and the predominant centrist forces within the party that wants the issue of immigration to go away ASAP, and not become a stone in the shoe of these campaigns. Therefore, this is the immediate leverage that we have to defeat the bipartisan rightist legislation that they are committed to approve this year that will result in the destruction of our families and the demise of the real FAMILY VALUES.

This is what we recommend, and what we have already begun implementing in California.

Organize public hearings under the banner - SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON "IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD" PUBLIC HEARINGS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM AND FAMILY VALUES, bring forth mothers and fathers separated from their children, children and youth separated from their parents, to give testimony about the assault on the family and family values represented under the proposed legislation, and demand her and his opposition to the legislation (not just amendments); a big effort should be made to bring the media into the event; invite both Senators Clinton and Obama with press releases to that effect; organize a national call- in to their offices to demand their opposition; this campaign should continue over the next three to four months;
Senator Hillary Clinton (202) 224-4451
Senator Barak Obama (202) 224-2854

Launch a mass letter and visit campaign to each individual member of the house subcommittee on Immigration in the respective district. In other words, collect tens of thousands of letters within the district addressed to the member, and strongly encourage the individuals who sign the letter to take it personally to the member's office to demand fair, humane, and rational immigration reform (during the months of June, July, and August); For example, these include: Howard Berman, Maxine Waters, Linda Sanchez, but others as well, such as Xavier Becerra (Pelosi's leadership pick), Joe Baca (chairperson of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus), and Pelosi herself and Senator Harry Reid (Nevada);
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) (202) 225- 3072 - Subcommittee Chair
U.S. House Judiciary Committee website address:
http://judiciary.house.gov/. This address provides the list of the members of the subcommittee on immigration and each member has a website with the office address and telephone numbers. Go to this page and click under the title "committees" which will give the list of subcommittees, and the specific subcommittee on immigration, and the websites of each member;

For the complete list of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives go to: http://www.house.gov.

For the complete list of the members of the U.S. Senate go to: http://www.senate.gov

For those who do not have congress members from this subcommittee or the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by Congressman John Conyers, a historic ally and friend to immigrants) in their states, their letter and visit campaign can be directed to the Democratic members within their reach; you can also organize public hearings directed at Senators Clinton and Obama;

4. Organize mass mobilizations (marches and protests) during the latter part of June and early July at the offices of these members; general marches are good, specific marches directed at the members are better;

Launch a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS and DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS campaign within the immigrant communities to educate and organize against the ICE raids and deportations and separation of families, or continue if such has already been in effect;

Pressure the unions in your area to actively oppose any unfair immigration legislation, particularly any that proposes deficient legalization provisions and/or massive contract-worker programs; the unions must put up and make this a priority as they have on other issues; the unions are the institution that traditionally advocates in support of strengthening the prevailing wage, and therefore, have the most to lose if a massive contract-worker program is approved; additionally, this is the institution that has the most leverage and influence on the Democratic Party (in addition to the corporate financiers);

Present the Unity Blueprint on Immigration Reform to the Democratic members as the most rational alternative to the current debate and proposals in Congress.
Well, based on our years of experience in the fight to defend the rights of immigrants, these are the best recommendations that we can make about where and when appropriate political pressure can be applied to get what we want. It is only a question of conducting the campaign over the next three months and reaping the benefit of our work.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Join us in this prolonged campaign for driver's licenses and visas for our families. The first step in making change is to join an organization that pursues the change we desire. We welcome you to our ranks.

Other organizations leading this movement include: Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), MAPA Youth Leadership, Liberty and Justice for Immigrants Movement, National Alliance for Immigrant's Rights, and immigrant's rights coalitions throughout the U.S.

CONTACT:
Nativo V. Lopez, National President of MAPA (323) 269-1575

bh

June 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senate Vote Likely Next Week

Sarah Lueck of the Wall Street Journal, reports on Senate expectations next week:

The Senate faces a contentious debate next week on immigration, with backers of a compromise overhaul bill hopeful it will hold up.

The landmark immigration bill, the outcome of talks between congressional leaders and the White House last month, has stirred deep passions on both sides. During a recess last week, many senators' offices were bombarded with phone calls, emails and visitors critical of the legislation, while supporters organized their own postcard drives, rallies and opinion pieces in local newspapers.

The measure would tilt policy toward immigrants with skills, lay out a path for illegal immigrants here to gain citizenship and beef up border security.

Next week, the Senate is set to vote on more than a dozen amendments, including ones aimed at allowing more relatives of immigrants to join them in the U.S. and making it harder for illegal immigrants already here to gain legal status.

Some of the changes, should they pass, could be detrimental to the fragile compromise bill, which may come to a final vote at the end of the week or the following week. Still, business groups, immigrant-rights advocates, Senate aides and administration officials say the legislation has momentum. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

June 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007 and Women

Another response to my post last week regarding the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007:

Hola Bill,

I am furious with this immigration reform plan for several reasons many of which you mentioned in your e-mail, but also because it is more than obvious to me that the U.S. nation-state gives itself the power to select not only who may be an "acceptable" immigrant, but worse, who has no value as a member of a family unit. In other words, the state throughout history has defined family as the nucleus of society as the pillar of a social system that works to the advantage of the "whole." Again, like with the Programa Bracero where the Mexican nation-state was in compliance with the racist, classist and sexist processes to export Mexican labor to the U.S., there is a clear example of how the nation state has decided which families are not worth of participating in the polity of a society or worse in contributing to a society by participating as a family - and therefore deemed to be good candidates for  familial dislocation. Furthermore, with the Bracero Program the idea established was that men were workers but their female counterparts were either whores and prostitutes or dangerous breeding nucleus for transnational communities. This extraordinary sexist and overtly arrogant attitude from the U.S. - and Mexico as well - again comes back in the 21st century with a plan that, as you very well put it might as well be called the Latino and Asian Exclusion Act of 2007.

Engendering the importation of labor to the United States again to meet labor demands underlines the slave-owner mentality that allots no value whatsoever to the "Other's family." Just like with the Bracero Program, where neither the U.S. nor Mexico showed one iota of interest in finding out what happened to the families of braceros when mostly heads of households were extrapolated and imported to the United States. Mexico did not establish any kind of public services to mitigate the economic blow to Mexican women left behind to do most of their female-appropriate labor plus their male counterparts' labor in order to maintain their families afloat while their Mexican fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons ventured to the other side of the Rio Grande. Even with an "organized" structure for importation and exportation of labor, braceros on average, did not begin to send checks to their families until two months sometimes up to six months into their contracts. Most of these delays were due to the mismanagement and corruption embedded from the beginning in the program but mostly due to constant violations to their contracts by employers who mostly disregarded the stipulations of their contracts such as covering their traveling costs to the agricultural fields, food and lodging once they arrived to their destinations. Employers also more often than not would not comply with the arranged number of hours and payment. Many braceros would not get paid their hourly payment during rainy seasons for example or for various justified techniques of exploitation– even though the salary per hour was set, employers would find dirty and deceitful ways to not pay the full amount such as withholding from their paychecks up to $1.00 for blankets that when they left they had to leave behind, a few more dollars for their "savings," and some even withheld payment for braceros for their "retirement funds" when they knew that the braceros were there temporarily – or so was the goal of the program. Again the ultra-arrogance of this rogue state is evident when we become aware of who - in the eyes of the state - is deemed worth of being recognized as a family. Needless to say, the complete disregard of a member of a family as a member of a family with emotional and economic attachments to their loved ones only demonstrates again the overt racism, classism and sexism of the nation-state toward peoples who according to their legislation and discourse, have no value as husbands, brothers, sons, wives, mothers, daughters... but only as exploitable dehumanized and faceless beings.

Unfortunately, one more time, legislation toward immigration in this country will affect the most vulnerable and the least worth in the eyes of both states – women of color.

Saludos,

Dr. Luz María Gordillo
Assistant Professor
Department of Women's Studies
Washington State University Vancouver
14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98686-9600

bh

June 2, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 1, 2007

President's Remarks on Reform

June 1
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN BRIEFING ON COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Room 350 Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1:26 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all.  Please be seated.  First, I thank you very much for your hard work on a comprehensive immigration bill and your concern about our country.  And the two go hand-in-hand.  I believe that now is the time to address the issue of immigration.  I think it's in our national security interests, and I think it's in the interest of making sure America never loses sight of who we are.

     This is a difficult issue for a lot of folks.  I understand that.  But because it's difficult probably means we need to work doubly hard to get it done.  And now is the time to get it done.  No matter how difficult it may seem for some politically, I strongly believe it's in this nation's interest for people here in Washington to show courage and resolve and pass a comprehensive immigration reform.

     My administration is deeply involved in this issue.  I feel passionate about the issue.  I believe it's in this country's interest to solve the problem.  I believe it's in our interest when we find a system that is broken to fix it, and the immigration system today is broken.  And I've asked Michael and Carlos Gutierrez to work the issue on the Hill, and these men are doing good work.  They understand the issue, they understand the bill, and they understand they need to work with the Republicans and Democrats to get the job done.

     I say the system isn't working because there's a lot of Americans who say that the government is not enforcing our border.  I say the system is broken because there are people coming into America to do work that Americans are not doing, and there are good, decent employers who unknowingly are hiring them, which is against the law.

     The system is broken, in my judgment, because there are 11 million to 12 million people living in the shadows of a free society.  The system is broken because there are people who are exploiting human beings for material gain.  There are coyotes-- those are human smugglers -- charging decent people large sums of money to come and work to put food on the table for their families. 

     There's a document forgery industry in place, because the system is broken, providing people with false documentation so they can do work that Americans are not doing in order to provide for their families.  There are so-called innkeepers providing substandard hovels for people who are smuggled into our country.  In other words, we have got a system that is causing people -- good, decent people -- to be exploited.  And therefore, now is the time to get it fixed.

     For those concerned about border security, this bill focuses on border security.  For those concerned about making sure that we have workers available to do jobs -- decent jobs to make sure our economy continues to grow, this bill addresses that issue.  For those concerned that we must enable 11 million to 12 million people to come out of the shadows of our society, this bill addresses that.  To those concerned about whether or not America will still have the capacity to assimilate the newly arrived, it addresses that issue, too.

     This is a good piece of legislation.  I'm sure some of you in the audience here will say, well, it's not perfect, there are some aspects of the bill that I would like to see changed.  On a piece of legislation this complicated, the question people have to answer is, are we going to sacrifice the good for the sake of the perfect?  And my call to you is, is that we need to work on a comprehensive bill together.  First of all, I know you're already doing that, so I'm really here to thank you. 

     I want to address a couple of the key issues that people are addressing.  If you want to kill a bill, then you just go around America saying, this is amnesty.  In other words, there are some words that illicit strong reactions from our fellow citizens.  Amnesty is when a person breaks the law and is completely forgiven for having done so.  This bill isn't amnesty.  For those who call it amnesty, they're just trying to, in my judgment, frighten people about the bill. 

     This bill is one that says, we recognize that you're here illegally and there's a consequence for it.   We can argue about the consequences, but you can't argue about the fact that there are consequences in this bill for people who have broken our law.

     People say, well, the bill is really -- is not going to do much to enforce the border.  Well, the truth of the matter is, certain aspects of the law don't come into be until certain border measures are taken.  But I would remind people that you cannot fully enforce the border so long as people are trying to sneak in this country to do jobs Americans aren't doing.  You can try, but doesn't it make sense to help the Border Patrol do their job, by saying, if you're going to come and do a job, there is a legal way to do it, so you don't have to sneak across in the first place?  If you're interested in border security, you've got to recognize that giving people a chance to come and work here on a temporary basis makes it more likely the border will be enforced. 

     There are some who -- I don't know if they say this explicitly, but they certainly allege or hint that probably the best way to deal with 11 million to 12 million people is to get them to leave the country.  That's impossible.  That's the kind of statement that sometimes happens in the political process aimed to inflame passion, but it's completely unrealistic.  It's not going to happen.  And therefore, the fundamental question for those who disagree -- and there's some good folks who disagree on both political parties, I might add -- is, what's the solution?   

     This bill is not amnesty, but it recognizes that it is impossible for this country to rout people out of our society and "send them home."  It's just not going to happen.  And so good people have come together and derived a solution based upon compromises that addresses this problem in a humane way. 

     I recently gave a speech at the Coast Guard Academy, and I was preceded by a young man, a Latino, who stood up as the head of his class, addressing his classmates and their families and the President of the United States.  And he talked about his migrant grandfather, how proud the migrant grandfather would be.  It struck me again what a remarkable country it is where a person with a dream for his immediate family and future family could come to this country, work hard, make sacrifices, and have his grandson address the President and his class.

     This has been the American story for decades and decades -- waves of people looking for a better life, seeking something better for themselves and their families, willing to sacrifice and work hard.  And we've got to understand -- and great successes have resulted from that spirit.  And this country must never lose sight that what has made us unique and, in my judgment, great is that we welcome people like that in a legal way; that throughout our history there have been the stories of people who have enriched our soul and lifted our spirit by coming to America.   

     One of the great things about our country is we've had the capacity to welcome people throughout our history.  And we've become all Americans.  We've got different backgrounds, different heritages, our forefathers may have spoken different languages, but we're all American.  We've been able to assimilate under the laws and traditions of our country.  And as a result, we're a stronger nation for it. 

     America must not fear diversity.  We ought to welcome diversity.  We ought to have confidence in what we have done in the past, and not lose confidence about what we will do in the future.   

     And so I want to thank you all for joining on a really important piece of legislation.  It's the right thing to do.  It's the right approach to take.  It is right to address a problem.  It is right to work with people in both political parties.  It is right to argue for what you believe, and recognize that compromise might be necessary to move the bill along.  And it is right to take political risk for members of the United States Congress. 

     I say -- I don't think this is risky, frankly.  I don't view this as risk reward.  I, frankly, view it as doing what you ought to do.  See, people ought to be running for office to do what's right for the United States of America.  That's what I believe people run for office for.  And so I want you to know that you've got an administration that looks forward to working with people.  I will do my best to make sure that this debate does not denigrate into name-calling and finger-pointing.  And we'll spend energy and time and effort to help you advance a really important piece of legislation for the good of this country.

     I've come by to say thanks.  Chertoff and Gutierrez can tell you how the bill has gotten this far and what we see in the future.  But I'm looking forward to signing a bill, and I think we will.  I truly believe that when people with goodwill and good heart, and focus on helping this country come together, that we can get a good piece of legislation out.  And I'm looking forward to signing it.  I hope you'll be there when I do.

     God bless.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

                                   END           1:38 P.M. EDT

bh

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Romney on Immigration

Scott Helman of the Boston Globe sees mounting pressure on Mitt Romney to explain his position on immigration:

A blunt cliché best captures John McCain's rebuttal to persistent attacks from Mitt Romney over his immigration plan: Put up or shut up.

In his appeals to conservative voters, Romney has made the Arizona senator's work on immigration one of his favorite targets. When McCain and other senators unveiled the latest reform bill two weeks ago, Romney called it the "wrong approach" and immediately launched a television ad slamming "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.

But while Romney has been aggressive with his barbs, he has offered no specific solutions of his own to the immigration crisis. With McCain and his surrogates pushing the issue hard, Romney is facing increasing questions about what he would do about the problem.

Romney, in outlining his immigration position, advocates three broad principles. He says he wants to secure the borders, establish a fraud-proof employee verification system, and offer no special residency or citizenship privileges to the estimated 12 million immigrants in the United States illegally. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Good News from Waco, Texas: Two Baylor Students Create Area's First Immigration Legal Aid Center

Viviana Triana, who is pursing a dual master’s degree in social work and divinity at Baylor University, and classmate Tihara Vargas, an Iraq war veteran, are attempting to set up a permanent legal service center in Waco, Texas to help immigrants. In the Central Texas area, there is no such center for immigrants. The idea for the local center was born out of an internship requirement for a social work course Triana and Vargas took this past semester. The Waco Immigrant Service Center is aimed at helping eligible immigrants apply for permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. Its other focus is on helping legal immigrants bring family members to the United States. Services are free. For the local center to survive beyond the women’s internship, which ends in of June, Triana said they must raise enough money to hire an attorney and find a permanent location.

For more details, click here.  Thanks to Cappy White for the assist!

CORRECTION: Dan Kowalski informs me that there is another immigration center "in the Central Texas area,"  PAPA, the Political Asylum Project of Austin (here), a full-service immigration center that just celebrated 20 years of serving immigrants.

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

New Immigration Books

Borders and security governance : managing borders in a globalised world / Marina Caparini, Otwin Marenin (eds.). Zurich : Lit, 2006

The Europeanization of national policies and politics of immigration : between autonomy and the European Union / edited by Thomas Faist, Andreas Ette. New York, N.Y. : Palgrave, 2007

González, Arturo California's commitment to adult English learners : caught between funding and need / Public Policy Institute of California, 2007

Jacobsen, Karen The economic life of refugees Bloomfield, Conn. : Kumarian Press, Inc., 2005

Kinship matters / edited by Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Bridget Lindley, Martin Richards. Oxford Portland, Or. : Hart Pub., 2006

McWhirter, Robert James, The criminal lawyer's guide to immigration law : questions and answers 2nd ed Chicago, Ill. : Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association, 2006

Securing the future : US immigrant integration policy : a reader / edited by Michael Fix. Washington, DC : Migration Policy Institute, 2007

Women and immigration law : new variations on classical feminist themes / edited by Sarah van Walsum and Thomas Spijkerboer. Abingdon New York, N.Y. : Routledge-Cavendish, 2007

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Flying with TB

We have received many responses to our posts earlier this week about the truthfulness of Lou Dobbs' statements about the thousands of cases of leprosy allegedly brought by immigrants to the United States.  Well, a substantiated case of a communicable disease crossing crossing the U.S. borders hit the national news earlier this week.  You no doubt have all heard the news about the Atlanta lawyer infected with a rare, often fatal form of tuberculosis, who flew on commercial airlines around the world and exposed many passengers to this communicable disease. One wonders what was going on with U.S. border security. CNN (here) reports that

"On Thursday, a senior House member said he wants to know how Speaker got through U.S. Customs and Border Protection even though his passport had been flagged in its computer system. His passport was checked at the U.S.-Canada border, a Homeland Security official told CNN. An alert that Speaker should be detained and isolated, and public health officials should be contacted, showed up on the Customs and Border Protection's computers, but he was allowed to cross into the United States at Champlain, New York, anyway, the official said. Speaker was at the border crossing for less than two minutes."

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One Immigrant Story

On Memorial Day, we posted an entry (here) thanking immigrants for their military contributions to the United States.  Today, Grace O'Malley on Intlawgrrls has a fascinating post today (here) about one Italian immigrant obtaining citizenship through his service as part of the U.S. forces occupying Cuba a little over a century.  It is entitled "A story about: a) immigration; b) military service; c) family; d) America; e) all the above."

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration

For an article entitled “Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration,” which was published in a symposium issue of the Minnesota Law Review, Download johnson_trujillo_final.pdf

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Hakeem Olajuwon

Aacz031hakeemolajuwonphotofilepos_2 Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (born on January 21, 1963) is a retired American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association. Olajuwon played center for the Houston Rockets, whom he led to back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, and the Toronto Raptors. After a standout career at the University of Houston, which included three trips to the Final Four, Olajuwon was drafted by the Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA Draft. Olajuwon combined with the 7 ft 4 in Ralph Sampson, to form what was dubbed the "Twin Towers" duo. The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. Olajuwon led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and shot–blocking three times (1990, 1991, 1993). He ended his career the league's all-time leader in blocked shots. In the 1993-94 season Olajuwon became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP), Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season.

In 1996, Olajuwon assisted in the gold medal-winning performance of the United States national team and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Listed at 7 ft 0 in, Olajuwon is generally considered one of the five greatest centers to ever play the game, along with Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O'Neal.  Olajuwon is also a devout Muslim who observed Ramadan throughout his NBA career. He was reverentially nicknamed "Hakeem the Dream" for his grace on and off the court.

Olajuwon was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He was the third of his parents' six children. He credits his parents with instilling virtues of hard work and discipline into him and his siblings.  During his youth, Olajuwon was a soccer goalkeeper and handball player.

Olajuwon did not play basketball until the age of 15, when he entered a local tournament.

Olajuwon came to the United States from Nigeria to play basketball at the University of Houston. Olajuwon was not highly recruited and was merely offered a visit to the university to work out for the coaching staff.  While visiting Houston, his teammates (including Clyde Drexler) and he formed what was dubbed "Phi Slamma Jamma", the first slam-dunking "fraternity", so named because of its well-known above the rim prowess and tendency to frequently slam dunk the basketball.

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Recently Arrived Foreign Born in the United States

In "The Recently Arrived Foreign Born in the United States, "Jeanne Batalova and Aaron Matteo Terrazas of the Migration Policy Institute provide tons of factoids about recently arrived immigrants to the United States — those who came between 1990 and 2005. Here are a few tidbits:

Over half of the foreign born in the United States in 2005 were recent arrivals.

Four of the top-five sending countries of recent arrivals to the United States saw the size of their US communities more than double between 1990 and 2005.

Eight in 10 recently arrived foreign born in 2005 were of working age.

Among recently arrived foreign born, men slightly outnumbered women.

More than half of recently arrived foreign-born men and women age 16 and older were married in 2005.

Recently arrived foreign-born women were more likely to be naturalized US citizens than their male counterparts.

Forty-four percent of recent immigrants to the United States in 2005 completed at least some college.

Nearly 84 percent of recently arrived foreign-born men were in the labor force.

More than a quarter of recently arrived foreign-born men worked in construction, extraction, and transportation occupations.

Younger immigrants were more than three times likely than older immigrants to speak English "very well" or better.

Click here for much more.

KJ

June 1, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Accountability Gap in Refugee Protection

In "The Accountability Gap in Refugee Protection," Mauro De Lorenzo (here) writes thoughtfully about the problems in international refugee protection.  In his view, "[t]here is an accountability gap in refugee protection in the developing world. Host states consider refugees to be the responsibility of the `international community,' and are pleased to cede their sovereignty on this issue to [the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees], an unaccountable international organization. Yet, legally, host states are responsible for the human rights of refugees within their borders."

Thanks to the Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Temple) for the assist.

KJ

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Olga Korbut

Korbut_olga Olga Korbut was born on May 16th, 1955 in Grodno (Hrodna), Belarus. At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, her acrobatics and open display of emotion and raw enthusiasm captivated the Munich audiences, and there she became the first person ever to do a backward somersault on the balance beam. Korbut also was the first to do standing backward somersalt on bars, and a back somersalt to swingdown (Korbut Flip) on beam. During the Olympics, Korbut was one of the favorites for the all-around after her dynamic performance in the team competition. But memorably, she fell from bars and the title went to her teammate Ludmilla Tourischeva. Notwithstanding, she ended up winning three gold medals, for the balance beam, floor exercise and team, and one silver medal in the uneven bars. Korbut's Olympic achievement earned her the ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. The Soviet coaches and officials had designated Olga as the woman who could beat Romanian prodigy Nadia Comaneci in the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal. But Olga was injured and her performances were under-par. She was overshadowed not only by Comaneci but by her own teammate Nellie Kim. But she did collect a team gold medal and an individual silver medal for the balance beam. Korbut graduated from the Grodno Pedagogical Institute in 1977 and retired from Olympic competition.

Korbut married Leonid Bortkevich, who was a member of a popular Belarusan folk band.  In 1991, Korbut and her family immigrated to the United States. She now lives in Scottsdale (Arizona, USA).  For the official Olga Korbut website, click here.

KJ

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will the Nuclear Option Kill Immigration Reform?

The Hill (here) reports that House conservatives are ready to stop the Senate immigration reform bill  should the bill pass the Senater. The Constitution requires that revenue-related bills originate in the House. The Senate immigration measure requires that illegal immigrants pay back taxes before becoming legalizing, which arguably relates to revenue.  House Republicans used the same back-taxes mandate to derail last year’s immigration conference.

KJ

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lou Dobbs Responds

Yesterday, we had a couple of posts on the latest criticisms of Lou Dobbs for his "reporting" on immigration issues.  Click here to hear Lou's response.  In essence, he either defends his reporting, says its was't reporting, or the erro was only one in many rep[orts.  Lou further claims that he has been victimized by the left and the right.   But read for yourself.

KJ

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fourth Grade Class Develops Comprehensive Reform Proposals

The fourth grade class at Irish Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colorado (a class of native Spanish speakers in a bi-lingual program) has come up with an immigration plan that congress should look at more seriously than other pending legislation.

Dear Irish Staff,
As you may or may not know, my Spanish literacy class has been reading A LOT about immigration in the past few months in my usual immigration unit.  In the past month or so, we have been engulfed in reading current events about the proposed immigration reform happening in the Senate currently.  As you also know, I usually try to do a culminating project that allows students to express what they’ve learned and feel that they can have an impact on issues that are critical to them.  This e-mail is that culminating project—let me explain…

After reading the reform proposals, and then the amended and revised proposals, the students obviously have formed strong opinions about the shaping of this immigration reform.  In previous years we have written letters to key politicians and have held power point presentations to inform the public.  This year, things in the senate are simply moving too fast and we don’t have time to do that.  So this year the class decided to take advantage of email (fast and easily passed on).    The past week was devoted to students picking apart the reform proposals in “subcommittees” and then deciding if they were in agreement or disagreement with sections of the law.  They stated their opinion to the class which then opened up the whole class debate.  After the debate an opinion was added to the letter.  Then, for it to remain in the letter it had to receive a ¾ majority “blind” vote.  Therefore, this email truly represents the opinions of the 4th grade Spanish literacy class.  For some of the class’s reasons they make broad statements from reading that we have done with statistics to support them.

What do we ask of you?  That you read this email fully, that you research the issue yourself, that you form your own opinion and that you call your Senators and Representatives to express your opinion on an issue that will have immense ramifications.   If you don’t have time to research it yourself, call in with the opinions of the fourth grade class, you’ll simply be giving a voice to those that have none (many of our families are not comfortable calling up state officials given their legal status.) 

The 4th grade’s opinion on the immigration reform proposal:

1) We agree with the idea of giving undocumented individuals living in the country the opportunity to gain residency and citizenship.
a)  We believe this is the correct thing to do because undocumented individuals contribute to our society with their work, their taxes (yes, they pay sale and income tax, what they don’t usually do is risk claiming any refunds), and their cultural and linguistic contributions.  See La otra cara de América, Jorge Ramos, 2000
b) It is unfair to deny rights to those that contribute to a society. 
c) We do not believe that granting residency will increase the # of immigrants entering the U.S. as it did not in ’86.  See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12962057&dopt=Abstract 
2) We agree with the amendment of allowing all undocumented immigrants the opportunity to legalization from 2007 instead of the original 2004 date. 
a) This date allows the largest # of immigrants the opportunity to legalize their situation. 
b) 2004 is an arbitrary date.  Why 2004 if 2007 is just as good of a date?
3) We agree with the addition of the “Dream Act” to the legislation.  The Dream Act will allow minor children of undocumented individuals the right to legalization and study at the University level.
a) We believe this to be the correct thing to do because a country cannot survive in the future if it has a large population of uneducated individuals. 
b) Minor children had no choice but to come to the U.S. illegally with their parents, why should they be punished?
c) If the immigrant youth population is denied the right to an education, instead of spending their time studying, they might join gangs or start doing drugs.
d)  Without education, these immigrant children will be forced into low paying jobs.
e) WE WANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY AND HAVE A GOOD FUTURE!
4) We agree that no immigrant should be allowed to enter the country if they have committed any serious crimes. 
a) We believe this because if we did the country would fill up with criminals and the jails would fill up.  We don’t want to live in a country full of murderers, drug dealers, etc.
5) We agree with the $5,000 fine with the understanding that this money will go towards building parks, schools, etc. for everyone’s use.  Also, this money would have to be collected with reasonably small payments over a given period of time.
a)   We recognize that a law was broken (despite it be broken out of necessity) and therefore, there should be a fine like when one breaks other laws. 
b) We would be in disagreement with this fine if the money would be put towards war or more security measures along the border. 
6) We disagree with the idea of the “Temporary Worker” program.  This program would a certain # of workers (the exact number is being debated) to enter the country legally 2 years and then they would leave for a year and could return for another 2 years.  After working for 4 years they would have no possibility of returning to the country.
a) We believe that 4 years is insufficient for a worker to make any substantial gains to raise his family above the poverty level in his/her home country.
b) Many of our families have been working in this country for 7-9 years and if we had to leave the country we would return to Mexico almost as poor as we came. How would this be different for the “temporary workers?”
c) This system uses individuals.  It fulfills the economic needs of the U.S. but it does not help the immigrant, nor his family in the long run.
7) We strongly disagree with the fact that the “temporary workers” could not bring their families with them. We also disagree that one would not be able to legalize their family members based on this reform. 
a) Our number one reason is,  HOW WOULD ANYONE LIKE TO LEAVE THEIR FAMILY BEHIND FOR YEARS OR A LIFETIME?  DON’T TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD NOT LIKE TO BE TREATED.
b) In addition, it does not make sense economically for the U.S. to separate the families. 
i)    If you separate the head of the house from his family, he will send the majority of his money to his family in Mexico , the money will be spent in Mexico .  If the family is here, they will spend their money here improving the U.S. economy.
c) How can a father/mother raise his/her children if they are separated?  This separation will cause problems because the children without their father will more likely drop out of school, do drugs, join gangs, etc. 
8) The merit point system to gain legal papers has many flaws.
a) To earn points one must have done many things that are impossible or very difficult for a person without legal documents.
i)    Own a home.
ii) Have filed their taxes.
iii)        Own a business.
iv)         Show a high degree of education.
v)  Etc.
9) We do not agree with incrementing security around the boarder.  (The proposal calls for 18,000 new immigration agents, 4 unmanned planes, fences, motion sensors, etc.)
a) This does not address the problem.  Immigrants come to the U.S. for necessity and building fences does not address that necessity.  Starving people will risk coming anyways.
b) Immigrants will have to cross the border in more dangerous areas increasing the already high number of deaths along the border. 
c) Drug dealers and terrorists have money, guns, equipment and resources to get around these defenses, only the poor immigrants do not. 
d) This idea treats Mexicans like criminals and animals that need to be “fenced in.”
e) Could the money invested in this new “security” be used to solve the actual problem instead?
10)     We disagree with the idea of lowering the number of immigrants that can enter legally in the future.
a) There are many people who want to enter now that cannot and are forced to cross illegally.  Lowering the number will not help this.
b) The immigrants are coming because of great necessity and they do a service to the country by taking jobs that many U.S. citizens would not like to take or if they did take them their demanded salary would sky rocket prices on things such as fruits, vegetables, hotel and restaurant service, etc. 
c) We shouldn’t forget that this is a country of immigrants and to deny future immigrants would be unfair.  We are all here thanks to someone letting in our immigrant ancestors; we should be considerate to future generations. 
11)     We disagree with the idea that Z-Visa holders (those that are here illegally could receive this to become legal and work while waiting for their permanent residency) should have to leave the country after a few years and wait several years in their home country for their residency.
a) This would unnecessarily uproot entire families.  This disrupts the education of their children as they have been learning in English and then would be put in schools in another language and educational system.  Then they would be in a separate educational system years until they returned.  This will not prepare the students to work live in the U.S. effectively and get a good job.
b) What if the family can’t find work in their home country while they wait, how will they survive?
c) WHAT WOULD BE THE ADVANTAGE TO HAVING THEM LEAVE THE COUNTRY FOR A FEW YEARS?
12)     We disagree with the idea that immigrants caught trying to cross the border would have to spend up to a year in a U.S. prison. 
a) This practice is not practical for the U.S.
i)    The U.S. would have to build more jails and invest more money to maintain them and the immigrants for this year.  This would cost more $ to the tax payers. 
b) Again, this does not address the cause of the immigration problem and therefore, cannot be a valid solution. 
c) It is unfair to put people in jail when their only real crime is being poor.  If they are put in jail with real criminals they will be mistreated. 
d) Perhaps a fine would be a better punishment.  This might dissuade some immigration and it would increase money to the U.S. instead of take it away.  It would also be more humanitarian. 

Once you’ve studied the issues, please call your senators and congress men/women to express your opinion as we’ve expressed ours.  Please do not sit idly as one of the most important decisions of our time is being made. 

Then, please forward this message to your friends and relatives so that they can get involved as well.  We calculated that if you sent this to just 5 people and they sent it to 5 people and so on that just after just a few times we’d have reached thousands of individuals.  And thousands of calls from citizens about this important issue means that the senators and congress people will make the decision that the majority will support. 

Our deepest hope is that, whatever the final law may be we, and all immigrants, will be treated with respect.  We hope that the people of the United States and the senators and congress men/women will put themselves in our shoes for a moment while they make these critical decisions.  We hope that, in the end, we will be treated as fellow human beings.  Thank you again.

David Autenrieth
4th Grade Bilingual Teacher
Irish Elementary
Poudre School District

bh

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No Second Chance for Cambodian Aggravated Felon

Ngoc Nguyen of Inter Press Service News Agency, reports on the ongoing effects of the elimination of discretionary relief for aggravated felons from 1996 immigration reforms:

Kew Chea's college graduation party was also to celebrate the release of her older brother from prison.

"I had made music and a slideshow, and I invited everybody," recalled Chea. "Two months before the party and release, we found out he would be deported. My family had no clue what deportation was at the time."

Chea's family had fled Cambodia as political refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge regime. She was not yet one, and her brother was four when they arrived in the United States in 1981.

As U.S. legislators discuss the latest immigration proposal, called the STRIVE Act, immigrants rights advocates are closely considering the proposed bill's impact on family reunification policies. However, immigration policies enacted in 1996 which have led to the imminent deportation of thousands of Southeast Asians are not addressed in the bill.

Chea's brother's story is similar to that of many refugee children adjusting to life in a new country.

Their parents opened a convenience store and worked long hours to support the family, but had little time to watch over them. He got caught up with bad friends and landed himself in some trouble. When he turned 18, Chea's brother, along with four friends, were arrested for a crime they committed while still juveniles.

Due to bad legal advice, he was tried as an adult. His friends were sentenced to two to three years in the California Youth Authority, while he received triple the sentence in the state penitentiary.

His family believed that after he served his time, he would eventually return home as a free man. But, in 1996, immigration laws took effect that allowed non-citizens who were convicted of crimes labeled as "aggravated felonies" to be deported. Click here for the rest of the story.

This is an issue that I have been particularly troubled with for some time. See Chapter 2 in the book, Deporting Our Souls (Cambridge Press 2006).

bh

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Refugee Roulette

The “Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication" by Phil Schrag, Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Andrew Schoenholtz, forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review,  is available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=983946  The article shows the disparities in asylum adjudications between courts, applicants from different nations, and other factors.  The N.Y. Times (here) today has a nice article featuring the study.

KJ

May 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Growth of the Prison/Industrial Complex

A Wall Street Journal article (May 27) discusses the fact that jails and prisons are overcrowded.  This is a huge issue in California, with a federal judge closely overseeing the state prison system.  Among other reasons:

Tougher mandatory sentences were already straining the nation's jails. Now, the Department of Homeland Security's Border Initiative and its detention of undocumented immigrants has further burdened the system. Federal prisons already have 33% more inmates than they were designed to house and state prisons are similarly overcrowded. The upshot? A severe shortage of prison space -- and a robust outlook for the three biggest private jailers. . . . (emphasis added).

Click here for the full story.

Don't expect an end soon to widespread immigrant detention, jail and prison overcrowding, etc.

KJ

May 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)