Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hunger Strike at Florence, AZ Detention Center


I received a disturbing call from an ICE detainee in Florence, Arizona this afternoon, September 7, 2007.  He informed me, and I’ve confirmed, that approximately two days ago, roughly 60 men were transferred from Florence Service Processing Center to the Pinal County Jail facility with which ICE holds a new contract for detainee bed space.   Over half of those men are on hunger strike as a result of the conditions they have been subject to as a result of the transfer. 

According to the individual I spoke to, the detainees were promised that their transfer to the Pinal County Jail facility would not result in any loss of rights or privileges, however they encountered a thoroughly different reality upon arrival.  The account has been that the new transferees have been on 23 hour lock down in 2-man cells, and that there is no outside recreation area.  There have also been very serious complaints about food and water quality.  Additionally, Pinal County Jail carries out family visitation in the form of video conferencing.  Some who had been ordered deported had planned family visits during which they believed they would have contact visits for the last time with their loved ones.  That is no longer an option as a result of this transfer. Detainees were woken up in the early hours of the morning and many were not allowed to gather their personal property.  Many were forced to leave behind legal documents relating to their ongoing cases.

Many seem to feel that as a result of their detention by ICE in a non-ICE facility, they are neither subject to compliance with the ICE standards nor to privileges available to county inmates.  This appears to leave detainees in a peculiar legal limbo with regards to conditions of their confinement.

As you all know, a hunger strike is a serious endeavor and an effort that would be sadly wasted without solidarity and support from advocates on the outside.  I urge you to disseminate this information to advocates, groups, and communities as you see fit.

I have been in direct contact with attorneys at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Florence, Arizona, who have further confirmed these accounts. 

Thank you for your attention to this.

Raha Jorjani
University of California, Davis
School of Law Clinical Programs
One Shields Avenue - TB 30
Davis, CA 95616


September 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

University of the Day: Arizona State

As the DREAM Act remains in limbo in Congress and some states are making it more difficult for undocumented students to attend, one university is stepping up to help undocumented students get a higher education.  As many as 200 undocumented immigrants who graduated from Arizona high schools have received private scholarship money through Arizona State University to help pay for out-of-state tuition this semester. University President Michael Crow said at a Friday luncheon that aid has gone to 150 to 200 students, and based on his estimate, the total amount disbursed is about $1.8 million. The program uses private money already in the university's coffers to help bridge the gap for Arizona high-school graduates ineligible for in-state tuition because of Proposition 300, a new voter-approved law that requires undocumented residents to pay the higher out-of-state tab, Crow said.

For more details, click here.


September 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Democratic Debate in Spanish on Sunday

As Kevin Johnson has previously noted, the Democratic presidential contenders have agreed to take part in a debate in Spanish.

This Sunday, September 9 at 7 p.m. (PST) on Univision television, there will be a Spanish debate of the Democratic candidates for the Presidency.  The majority if not all of the main candidates are going to participate.  They will be answering in English, and there will be translation.

Este domingo, el 9 de septiembre a las 7 p.m. (PST)  en Univision (Canal 14 localmente)  habra un debate en español de los precandidatos democraticas por la presidencia.  La mayoría si no todos de los candidatos principales van a participar.


September 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Perspective from India on U.S. Immigration Reform

Mitra Kalita , currently based in New Delhi, just published this interesting column on the U.S. immigration debate for Mint, a new financial newspaper in India.  Kalita is the author of Suburban Sahibs, a book that follows the lives of three Indian immigrant families in New Jersey.


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bob Barr -- Locals Should Stay Out of Immigration

In "Immigration Belongs At The Federal Level," Bob Barr, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia and a former U.S. Attorney, argues that the U.S. government, not local governments, should be dealimng with immigration.  He views the ruling of the federal court invalidating the Hazleton ordinance as a cautionary tale to all cities thinking about passing an immigration ordinance.


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

New Social Science Research Network Immigration Articles

"Closing the Border and Opening the Door: Mobility, Adjustment, and the Sequencing of Reform" Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 5, 2007 TIMOTHY A. CANOVA Chapman University - School of Law Full Text:

"Turkey's Invitations to Nazi Persecuted Intellectuals Circa 1933: A Bibiliographic Essay on History's Blind Spot" ARNOLD REISMAN Reisman and Associates Full Text:

"The Non-Legal Role of International Human Rights Law in Addressing Immigration" University of Chicago Legal Forum, Forthcoming LESLEY WEXLER Florida State University-College of Law Full Text:

"Brain Drain, Brain Circulation, Remittances and Development: Prospects for the Caribbean" Caribbean Working Paper No. 2, LAURA RITCHIE DAWSON Carleton University - Centre for Trade Policy and Law Full Text:

"Equality of Opportunity Globalized?" Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2006 : DAVID MOELLENDORF Affiliation Unknown Abstract:


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ILRC's Kathy Brady Wins NLG Carol King Award


Each year the National Immigration Project gives an award in memory of Carol King, a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild who devoted her life to pursuing social justice by organizing, litigating, and teaching.
Katherine Brady of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) of San Francisco, CA, is this year's recipient of the Carol King Award. Kathy will receive the award on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at the 70th Anniversary National Lawyers Guild Convention in Washington, D.C.

Please join us in recognizing our friend, ally, and staunch defender of immigrants' rights at the Guild's Dinner Journal. It is hard to imagine any immigration practitioner who has not been influenced and inspired by Kathy's work.

KATHY BRADY is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, where she has worked for twenty years as an author, trainer, consultant and advocate.  She began several special projects there, including the ILRC's project on Special Immigrant Juvenile and Family Law, and its project to support prosecution of dishonest unauthorized practitioners and attorneys.  She has worked extensively with detention centers, and worked as an interim Legal Director at Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen, Texas.   Increasingly she has written, taught and consulted on the intersection between immigration and criminal law.  Since 1990 Kathy has been the principal author of California Criminal Law and Immigration, which this year was expanded to include research on other states and retitled Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit.  She is fortunate to work collaboratively with many great advocates in this area, and in 2002 was one of the founders of the Defending Immigrants Partnership, a national collaborative to provide resources to indigent criminal defenders.
Kathy argued the landmark case Lujan-Armendariz v. Ashcroft, where the Ninth Circuit held that a state expungement will eliminate a first minor drug offense.   She was principal author of briefs that resulted in the Ninth Circuit reversing itself and publishing new opinions holding for the immigrant, in Valencia v. Gonzales (statutory rape is not a crime of violence) and Martinez-Perez v. Gonzales (categorical analysis). 
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LAPD Facing Possible Class Action Suit for Breaking Up May 1 Protests

The L.A. Times reports that the Los Angeles Police Department may be slapped with a class action suit for its conduct at May 1 immigration marches in downtown Los Angeles.  Civil rights lawyers have filed 164 more claims against the city of Los Angeles in connection with injuries or emotional harm allegedly suffered when the LAPD broke up a May 1 immigration protest.  Lawyer Carol Sobel, speaking for scores of people who were in or near the park on the day when police fired rubber bullets into the crowd, said she and other lawyers would pursue a class-action lawsuit against the city and the LAPD.  Sobel said claims were filed to give lawyers more time to identify all of the potential plaintiffs and to encourage people to come forward, regardless of their immigration status. Sobel submitted the claims along with lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

So far, 10 lawsuits have been filed over the incident and 258 legal claims have been submitted -- nine of them by journalists who covered the event that day.

The May 1 incident prompted investigations by the LAPD and the FBI, and forced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to return early from a trade mission to Mexico and Central America. Police Chief William J. Bratton responded by reassigning two high-level commanders.

The 33-page filing contains complaints from residents who said they were struck by batons, hit by rubber bullets or otherwise injured while fleeing from police -- including one woman who said she subsequently suffered a miscarriage. The filing also includes a number of people who said they suffered emotionally, including children and senior citizens who said they were traumatized. The plaintiffs collectively will seek monetary damages and changes at the LAPD, including the implementation of more frequent and consistent training on how to deal with crowds.


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Researcher Speaks on Hate Group Activity

Mark Potok, the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project and editor of the organization's Intelligence Report magazine, spoke yesterday at a conference on "Michigan Response to Hate: Building United Communities" in Lansing, Michigan organized by the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.  Potok, among other things, discussed the growth of the anti-immigrant movement and the increase in hate crimes after September 11:

"Potok explained that there has been a rise in "race-based" hate groups particularly in the post-9/11 climate. These groups have been motivated by fears about the United States no longer being a majority white nation, although it has been 9/11 and immigration that have been the driving factors accounting for growth in the movement. Racist groups have been able to take advantage of a general climate of anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiment to develop a movement centered on immigration. Potok asserted that this movement is "pretty well thriving" and has grown dramatically in the past five years.

Potok explained that the Southern Poverty Law Center first noticed this phenomenon in 1998. That year there was an anti-immigration rally held in Alabama that featured the burning of a Mexican flag. The rally was put on by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a group that positions itself as a "mainstream" entity despite its historic relationship with the racist movement. At that rally--which numbered only fifteen people--Potok explained that there was an unrobed member of the Ku Klux Klan as well as a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens."

For a fuller discussion of the presentation, click here.   For a report on one of the new anti-immigrant groups, the San Diego Minutemen, click here.


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Switzerland: Europe's heart of darkness?

From a story by Paul Vallely in The Independent:

"Switzerland is known as a haven of peace and neutrality. But today it is home to a new extremism that has alarmed the United Nations. Proposals for draconian new laws that target the country's immigrants have been condemned as unjust and racist. A poster campaign, the work of its leading political party, is decried as xenophobic. Has Switzerland become Europe's heart of darkness? . . .

At first sight, the poster looks like an innocent children's cartoon. Three white sheep stand beside a black sheep. The drawing makes it looks as though the animals are smiling. But then you notice that the three white beasts are standing on the Swiss flag. One of the white sheep is kicking the black one off the flag, with a crafty flick of its back legs. The poster is, according to the United Nations, the sinister symbol of the rise of a new racism and xenophobia in the heart of one of the world's oldest independent democracies."


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Maria Hinojosa (Mexico)

Mhinojosa Maria Hinojosa (born 1961 in Mexico City) is a journalist. Her first journalism experience was as host of a Latino radio show as a student at Barnard College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Latin American studies.

In 1995, Hinojosa began hosting the National Public Radio show Latino USA, which she still hosts. (For her NPR bio, click here.)  She hosted the WNBC-TV public affairs show Visiones before joining CNN in 1997, where she worked for the New York City bureau for eight years and became known for reporting urban issues.

Hinojosa has won many honors and awards, including being named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine, the Robert F. Kennedy award, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Radio Award, the New York Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Award, the National Council of La Raza's Ruben Salazar Communications Award, and an Associated Press award.

Hinojosa has published two books, Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son and Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa.

Hinojosa resides in New York City with her husband and their son and daughter.


September 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

USCIS Customer Service Input

The USCIS Information and Customer Service (ICS) Division is in the process of revamping the National Customer Service Center Interactive Voice Response (IVR) scripts. The IVR is the automated portion of the 1-800 number that applicants/petitioners listen to get information or to be led to a Customer Service Representative (somebody they can talk to).
There currently is a lot of info on the IVR about how to order a form, get case status info, change your address, etc.  ICS is reviewing how to streamline IVR to make it fit the needs of the callers. 

This is a good opportunity for you to provide input so that ICS can mold IVR scripts to fit your needs. Please send me your comments by September
14 so that I can bring it to ICS' attention.  You may wish to respond by answering the questions below...

* How would you like to see the IVR simplified?

* What do you LIKE or DON'T LIKE about the scripts

* What has been your general experience when using the IVR
(before it goes into tier 1, when you speak with a Service

* What is the frustration level and what is the source of that
frustration level?

* How would you like to see the IVR scripts improved?

* Do you use the IVR or do you hope to get a live person?

* If you use the IVR, what is the most useful feature?

* What feature(s) is a waste of time?

* How do you like the organization of the information?

* Is it user friendly?

* How could it be more user friendly?

Your input is greatly appreciated.
Lucee Rosemarie Fan
Community Relations Officer
Office of Communications
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
630 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lawsuit Challenges Meatpacking Raid

We regularly discuss the problems with racial profiling in immigration enforcement in the United States.  Here is the latest.  Forbes reports that a lawsuit earlier this week claims that federal immigration agents who raided a meatpacking plant detained Hispanic workers, hurled racial epithets at them and forced the women among them to take off their clothes, while white workers were spared the harsh treatment. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Centro Legal, an immigrant rights group, on behalf of 10 workers at Swift & Co.'s Worthington, Minnesota plant who are in the U.S. legally. More than 200 undocumented immigrants in Worthington were arrested Dec. 12 as part of a six-state raid of Swift plants that netted more than 1,200 undocumented workers.

September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

KKK Spreads Anti-Immigrant Fliers in VA

AP reports that the Ku Klux Klan has added a new twist to an already rancorous debate over illegal immigration in northern Virginia, distributing anti-immigrant fliers that have drawn condemnation from people on both sides of the issue. The Compton, Arkansas-based Ku Klux Klan left the leaflets in front of homes in a Manassas, Virginia, neighborhood over the weekend. The fliers, which were wrapped around an old issue of a Klan newspaper, warned of "gangs, drugs and pornography" brought by immigrants.The text of the flier warned:

"Mexico is invading the United States and soon will demand we cede the southwestern states to their control, they already wave the flag of Mexico in our faces! They are not here to assimilate, they are here to form their own nation. And unless we get busy right NOW they will succeed!"

The seccession and assimilation arguments are not limited to the KKK.  Both conservative Patrick Buchanan and Harvard professor Samuel Huntington have made similar arguments in books in recent years.


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Just Can't Win: Wins Before IJ But Remains in Detention

When he ruled that former Sierra Leonean coup leader Sam Kambo, now residing in Austin, Texas, should be granted permanent residency in the United States, an immigration judge last June soundly rejected the government's claim that Kambo had participated in a 1992 mass murder in his native country. But 69 days after Judge Gary Burkholder filed his opinion in the case, Kambo remains jailed in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.  Kambo's lawyer filed a federal lawsuit challenging Kambo's detention as a violation of his constitutional rights and cited the case as a symptom of a dysfunctional immigration law system and an abuse of government power.  For the full story by Ricardo B. Brazziell of the Austin AMERICAN-STATESMAN, click here

Thanks to Cappy White for the scoop!


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Books

Blasko, Larry Opening the borders : solving the Mexico/U.S. immigration problem for our sake and Mexico's 2007

Lewis, Mary Dewhurst The boundaries of the republic : migrant rights and the limits of universalism in France, 1918-1940 Stanford University Press, 2007

Migration happens : reasons, effects and opportunities of migration in the South Pacific / Katarina Ferro, Margot Wallner (eds.). 2006

Veney, Cassandra Rachel, Forced migration in Eastern Africa : democratization, structural adjustment, and refugees Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

Whose freedom, security and justice? : EU immigration and asylum law and policy / edited by Anneliese Baldaccini, Elspeth Guild, Helen Toner. Hart, 2007


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

BIA: Parent Not Automatically Eligible for Asylum Based on Child's Possible FGM

The contours of asylum claims for feared female genital mutilation continue to be defined by the courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals.  In Matter of A-K-, Interim Decision #3579 24 I&N Dec. 275 (BIA Sept. 5, 2007), the Board ruled that "[a]n alien may not establish eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal based solely on fear that his or her daughter will be harmed by being forced to undergo female genital mutilation upon returning to the alien's home country."


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

USCIS Information on U Visa Rules

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is publishing an interim final rule that grants immigrant benefits to certain victims of crimes who will assist government and law enforcement officials in investigating or prosecuting the criminal activity. 

“U” Nonimmigrant Status is set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse because of the crime and who not only have information regarding the activity, but also are willing to assist government officials in the investigation of the criminal activity.  USCIS can grant up to 10,000
U-visas each year authorizing the holder to remain in the United States for up to four years. 

Congress created the “U” nonimmigrant classification with passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000.  The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes while, at the same time, offering protection to victims of such crimes.  The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve immigrant crime victims.


Q:  How does one become eligible for U nonimmigrant status?

A:  There are four statutory eligibility requirements:  (1) the individual must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity; (2) he/she has information concerning that criminal activity; (3) he/she has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime; and (4) the criminal activity must have violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the U.S.

Q:  What qualifies as a “criminal activity?”

A:   Qualifying criminal activity is defined by statute as that being an activity involving one or more of a long list of activities that violate Federal, State, or local criminal law – from murder, rape, torture, sexual exploitation, and extortion to witness tampering, obstruction of justice, false imprisonment, etc.  This is not an exclusive list – in fact, the list of qualifying crimes represents the myriad types of behavior that can constitute domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, or other crimes which vulnerable immigrants are often targeted.
Q:  What are the procedures to request U Nonimmigrant status?

A:  Alien victims of crime must file a Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918).  The form requests information regarding the petitioner’s eligibility for such status, as well as admissibility to the United States.  Currently, USCIS has designated its Vermont Service Center as the centralized location to receive all U Nonimmigrant petitions.  Such centralization will allow USCIS officials to develop expertise in handling U nonimmigrant petitions. 

Q:  So, you’re saying that any alien can say they’re a victim of a crime and apply for this special status?

A.  Not quite.  The petition for U nonimmigrant status must be filed by the alien victim and also contain a certification of helpfulness from a certifying agency.  That means the victim must provide a U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B) from a federal, state, or local law enforcement official that demonstrates the petitioner “has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful” in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  Further, either the head of the agency or a supervisor designated with the authority to issue certifications on behalf of the agency must sign the certification.
Q:  What qualifies as a “certifying agency”?

A.  Certifying agencies include federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, or a prosecutor, judge, or other authority that has responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  The rule also includes other agencies such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor, since they have criminal investigative jurisdiction within their respective areas of expertise.
Q:  What makes this any different from the other nonimmigrant classifications, such as T immigrant?

A.  Other nonimmigrant classifications such as “T,” require an alien’s physical presence in the United States as a condition of eligibility.  USCIS has determined that the statutory framework for U nonimmigrant status permits alien victims of qualifying criminal activity to apply for such status from inside or outside the U.S. 

Q:  Can family members of the petitioner apply for U Nonimmigrant status? 

A.   While family members who accompany the petitioner can, under certain circumstances, obtain U nonimmigrant status, they cannot apply on their own behalf.  The principal petitioner (alien victim) must petition on behalf of qualifying family members.  If the principal petitioner is less than 21 years of age, qualifying family members include the principal’s spouse, children, unmarried siblings under 18, and parents.  If the principal is 21 or older, qualifying members include the spouse and children of the principal.  In order for a family member to obtain U nonimmigrant status, they must (1) be a qualifying family member (as described above), and (2) must be admissible to the U.S. 

The principal petitioner can file Form I-918, Supplement A, on behalf of their qualifying family members.
Q:  Is there a cap on the number of U Nonimmigrant Status grants the agency can approve?

A:  USCIS may grant not more than 10,000 principal aliens U nonimmigrant status in any given fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).  This limitation, however, does not apply to spouses, children, parents, and unmarried siblings who are accompanying or following to join the principal alien victim. 

The interim final rule will be available for public comment at until 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  More information on the new classification, plus instructions on submitting comments, is available in accompanying fact sheets. 


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Claudette Colbert (France)


Claudette Colbert (1903–1996) was an Academy Award-winning actress best known for the film starring with Clark Gable in "It Happened One Night." She was highly successful in Hollywood films, particularly during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1999, Colbert was ranked 12th by the American Film Institute in their list Greatest Female Stars of All Time.

Claudette Colbert was born Lily Claudette Chauchoin in Paris, France.  Her father was a banker and diplomat. The Colbert family immigrated to the United States when she was three years old and settled in New York City. Colbert later became a naturalized U.S citizen.

Here are a a list of Colbert's full works and a more complete bio.

September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference at Wake Forest University: Immigration: Recasting the Debate October 3-5, 2007

Immigration Wake Forest will host a conference on "Immigration: Recasting the Debate" on October 3-5, 2007.  The conference will feature major public figures and leading immigration policy experts and scholars. As a part of the Voices of Our Time series, the conference will feature some of the nation's leading thinkers on immigration and will present research and thought-provoking arguments not always in the forefront of media coverage.   Keynote Speakers are Ray Marshall, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Carter Administration, and Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).  Panelists include Ross Eisenbrey (Economic Policy Institute), Patricia Fernández Kelly (Princeton), Luis Fraga (University of Washington), Daniel Griswold (Cato Institute), Gordon Hanson (University of California, San Diego), Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (University of Southern California), Gary Segura (University of Washington), José Isasi (Que Pasa Media Network), Marisol Jiménez McGee (El Pueblo), Mark Miller (University of Delaware), Alejandro Portes (Princeton), Robert Rector (Heritage), Margaret Taylor (Wake Forest), and Michele Wucker (World Policy Institute).  The papers and proceedings presented at this event will be published in an edited volume.


September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)