September 15, 2007
Death on the Border, Chapter 1001
I am not sure whether anyone cares but the N.Y. Times has another article today about the deaths along the U.S./Mexico border. I know I have said it many times but the thousands of deaths are a tragedy that should make us all think hard about the human impacts of border fences, more border enforcement, etc.
ACLU Criticizes Border Raids
LAS CRUCES, NM—The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico condemned recent immigration raids by Otero and Doña Ana County Sheriff's deputies in the border towns of Chaparral and Vado today. The local police agencies are assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to conduct sweeps of immigrant neighborhoods, knocking on doors and checking identification. Authorities also are stopping motorists and entering private businesses.
The ACLU is investigating multiple reports that sheriff's deputies retrieved children from schools and entered homes without consent or warrants. The ACLU has filed public records requests with both sheriff’s departments seeking information about the collaboration with federal immigration agencies.
“This is irresponsible policing,” said Maria Nape, Director of the ACLU's Border Rights office. “Immigrants in these communities may never again trust that they can report crimes to sheriff’s deputies, even if they are the victims. When local police become border patrol agents, it rips a hole in the fabric of public safety that takes years to mend. It’s not just immigrants that are affected.”
The raids stem from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program called “Operation Stonegarden” which gave New Mexico roughly $1.6 million in support of local law enforcement participation in immigration enforcement along the border. In total, the four Southwest border states received $12 million in grant awards.
“These raids are symptomatic of the same reactionary policies that have failed to address nationwide concerns about immigration for decades,” Nape said. “Do we want to live in a country that makes life so intolerable for hundreds of thousands of families who live and work here that they leave? Or would we rather live in an America that brings immigrants out of the shadows of society and enables them to be taxpaying, contributing citizens?
American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico
PO BOX 566, Albuquerque, NM 87103
Tel: (505) 266-5915 ext 1003 | Fax: (505) 266-5916 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web: aclu-nm.org
Comment on JLo Movies
Yesterday, Kevin Johnson posted a notice on an upcoming Jennifer Lopez movie. I hope this one is better than one of her old film's U-Turn. That was an Oliver Stone film that, besides JLo, featured several big stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Sean Penn, Claire Danes, Nick Nolte, John Voight, Liv Tyler, and Joaquin Phoenix. Why such a big deal to me? The 1997 movie trashed (literally and figuratively) my home town of Superior, Arizona! The towns people were pretty irate. This was not one of Stone's better films. It got pretty lousy reviews.
September 14, 2007
JLo Stars in Bordertown: The Tragedy of Ciudad Juárez
Later this month, Gregory Nava's movie on the mass murder and torture of women in Ciudad Juárez will be released. According to the official movie website, "BORDERTOWN is the story of one woman's passionate struggle for justice in a town gripped by fear. American journalist Lauren [(JLo)] arrives in Mexico determined to find out the truth about hundreds of local murders. Nothing is what it seems as she uncovers some shocking truths and puts her own life in danger."
Bordertown is directed by Oscar-nominated Gregory Nava. The movie stars Jennifer Lopez (also credited as producer), Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen, and others. The film tells the story of the numerous women murdered in Ciudad Juárez and the inquisitive American reporter sent in by her American newspaper. For more about the film, click here.
According to the Organization of American States's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights:
The victims of these crimes have preponderantly been young women, between 17 and 22 years of age. Many were students, and most were maquiladora [workers in foreign owned factories]. A number were relative newcomers to Ciudad Juarez who had migrated from other areas of Mexico. The victims were generally reported missing by their families, with their bodies found days or months later abandoned in vacant lots or outlying areas. In most of these cases there were signs of sexual violence, abuse, torture or in some cases mutilation.
According to Amnesty International, as of February 2005 more than 370 bodies had been found, and over 400 women were still missing. In November 2005, BBC News reported Mexico's human rights ombudsman Jose Luis Soberanes as saying that 28 women had been murdered so far in 2005. Despite past and current unsolved murders, in August 2006 the Mexican federal government dropped its investigation. Amnesty International has lauded the film's effort to bring the Juarez killings to public attention.
ImmigrationProf Blog Hits 200,000 Hits!
Today, we hit 200,000 hits on the ImmigrationProf blog. We unveiled it as an experiment in September 2005 and have had great fun over the last two years. Thanks to our loyal readers for your support and comments!
Policy Center Article on Local Housing Ordinances
From the Immigration Policy Center
Division and Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances
by Jill Esbenshade, Ph.D.
The last two years have seen an intensified public debate over the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States. However, Congress and the White House have repeatedly failed to enact immigration reform legislation that might effectively address the problem of undocumented immigration. This inaction by the federal government has led to heightened frustration at the local level. One way in which some policymakers and activists have expressed this frustration is through support for ordinances that target undocumented immigrants. As of March 10, 2007, such ordinances had been proposed, debated, or adopted in at least 104 cities and counties in 28 states. These ordinances encompass a number of measures—most notably prohibitions on renting to or employing undocumented immigrants and the adoption of English as the official language of the local government. Forty-three of the 104 localities have debated or passed rental restrictions alone or as part of broader ordinances.
According to the judges who so far have heard cases involving the ordinances, a local ordinance that regulates immigration or otherwise conflicts with federal immigration law is unconstitutional. Regulating immigration has long been within the exclusive purview of the federal government. The ordinances also have been found to deny "due process" rights to renters and landlords. Local ordinances that target undocumented immigrants needlessly foster anti-immigrant and anti-Latino discrimination, divide communities, and undermine the economic prosperity of the locales that adopt them. Most cities and counties already have the ability to deal with problems such as crime and overcrowding through existing laws. Rather than championing anti-immigrant ordinances that claim to deal with these problems without actually doing so, local policymakers would be well advised to focus their energies instead on addressing the concerns of their residents that actually fall within the range of local power.
Among the findings of this report:
Over 40 percent of the households targeted by the ordinances include children and almost one-third include U.S.-citizen children. Roughly 4.9 million children in the United States live in households headed by undocumented immigrants. About 3.1 million of these children are U.S.-born citizens.
Ordinance initiatives are not correlated with the size of a locality's foreign-born or Latino population, but with a rapid increase in the foreign-born or Latino share of the population, especially since 2000. The increase, rather than the number itself, is shaping popular perceptions of an immigration "crisis."
In 2000, only 20.2 percent of localities with ordinance initiatives had Latino population shares over the national average of 12.5 percent. Only 16.3 percent had foreign-born population shares above the national average of 11.1 percent. More recent data for 28 larger cities and counties show that only 35.7 percent had either Latino or foreign-born population shares above the national average.
In most localities, a significant amount of the increase in the Latino population appears to consist of native-born citizens moving from one part of the country to another, as well as children born to Latinos already living in the locale. Between 1990 and 2000, the Latino population share of the average ordinance locality increased in size by 4.1 percent, while the foreign-born share grew by 2.8 percent. Similarly, among the 28 largest ordinance localities, the Latino share of the population rose by 3.5 percent between 2000 and 2005, while the foreign-born population increased by only 2.1 percent.
Ordinances are not correlated with high local unemployment rates. Around two-thirds of ordinance locales (68 percent) had unemployment rates at or below the national average in 2000, as did 64 percent of the 25 largest localities in 2005 for which unemployment data was available.
Implementation of the housing ordinances relies on the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. According to several reports by federal and state agencies, SAVE has problems with accuracy and timeliness and cannot currently be expanded to meet new demand.
Read the entire report here.
For more information contact Tim Vettel (at 202-742-5608 or email@example.com) or visit the Immigration Policy Center website at www.immigrationpolicy.org.
The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States. The IPC is a division of the American Immigration Law Foundation.
Immigrant of the Day: Marco Antonio Firebaugh (Mexico)
Marco Antonio Firebaugh (1966–2006) was a Democratic member of the California State Assembly from 1998 until 2004. Born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Firebaugh received a B.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from UCLA. In his final term in the Assembly, Firebaugh served concurrently as Assembly Majority Leader and Chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. At the time of his death, Firebaugh had been seeking the Democratic nomination for a seat in the California State Senate. He had been endorsed for the seat by the term limited incumbent, Martha Escutia.
September 13, 2007
The Impacts of Immigration Raids on School Children -- and School Districts
We previously reported on the fallout of an immigration raid in Butler County, Ohio. Joe Hodnicki of thr Law Librarian Blog provided this link to a story about a sad story of the efforts of a school district dealing with schoolchildren whose parents may have gotten caught up in the raid.
Nonimmigrant Admissions into the US
The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) would like to announce the release of *Temporary Admissions of Nonimmigrants to the United States: 2006*. This report examines the number and characteristics of nonimmigrant admissions in fiscal year 2006. The PDF is available on the OIS web site at:
Activism Among Undocumented Immigrants
Emily Bazar writes in USA Today:
Illegal immigrants, who for years have been largely silent and sometimes off-the-books providers of labor in local economies, now increasingly are standing up to be heard. Many figure that the risk of speaking out is outweighed by fears they will lose their jobs or even be deported if they don't make their case to the public.
The in-your-face activism is in response to intensifying crackdowns on illegal immigrants by local and federal authorities in recent months. Dozens of cities and counties, frustrated by Congress' failure to pass a law to revamp the overwhelmed immigration system, have adopted their own policies aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. Most of the local measures have penalized landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and businesses that hire them.
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates reduced immigration, says the burst of activism signals desperation among immigrants disappointed that a proposed congressional overhaul of the immigration system collapsed in June. The plan would have created a process for some illegal immigrants to earn legal status.
Bill Hing, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in immigration, says legal immigrants are participating because some of their loved ones are here illegally. "The community is made up of a lot of mixed families," Hing says. "There might be 10-to-13 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. You can multiply that five or six times to determine the number of people it affects, because of relatives and employers and co-workers and friends. There are a lot of people frustrated that nothing was done" by Congress.
Yesenia Rivas' family is an example. Twelve of her relatives, legal and illegal immigrants from El Salvador, participated in the Prince William boycott, she says. The guidelines were simple: Spend money only at immigrant-owned businesses or those displaying a "pro-immigrant" poster. Click here for the whole story.
A DREAM Act Appeal
As part of the National Dream Act Campaign, I will be going to Washington D.C. next week, September 18th and 19th, 2007 to lobby for the Dream Act and I need your support. Please read about "My Struggle for Existence" and don't just pity, wish or Dream... Act!
My Struggle for Existence
Today I ran into another of my high school buddies.
“Don’t you recognize me? I played the sax,” he told me. “You look different,” I replied. “I grew up!” was his answer. And then the same question that haunts me over and over again was asked, “By now you should be finishing college. Where are you going to work at?” followed by a, “You should work at National Geographic” suggestion after I told him I did not know what I was going to do with my B.A. in Literary Journalism. Victor, like Breysi and Yolanda, and all of my old high school teachers and peers always knew I would make it; after all, I was an honor roll student, the Band’s Treasurer, the French Club’s Vice-President, the Key Clubber, the Most Improved Runner in Cross-country for three straight years and one of the few who got chosen to benefit from all the selective UC Early Academic Outreach programs that outreach out ONLY to students whom they know are on the A-G track, and are what some people call “college material.” Ironic, the surface can be so deceiving. I always knew that I was different, that I was living a fairytale life with fairytale luxuries. I knew I had a disability: I was an immigrant, which is a disability bigger than that of my blind friend, the class clown or the trouble makers. I was an immigrant even though I rarely sat underneath the trees next to the ESL and Disability services classroom, where students would spend their time passing around love notes in Spanish while listening to their corridos on their walkman and exchanging chatter about their culture, their land, their Mexico. Yes, I had always known I did not belong in either world. I was neither Mexican-American nor Mexican, but rather something in between. Every fairy tale comes to an end at the last stroke of the clock and mine came to an end the day the last note of Pomp and Circumstance blew from Victor’s sax at graduation. “What!!! YOU don’t have a social security card or a driver’s license? I am so sorry,” the lady at the registration table, the movie rental manager, and the University recruiter suddenly began to exclaim, making me realize that I did not exist in the world I so deeply adored.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Breysi. “So now what? Have you looked for a job yet?” he asked. I must have sounded lazy as I replied, “No. I am not working. I am taking time off from college, just trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.”
What I really mean to say was, “If I had a choice I would be starting the internship of my life; I would be writing for a famous magazine in New York, reporting on real life and real people, changing the world by telling their stories; I would travel with the Peace Corps. But, hello! Everything is not fine because I have a degree. You’ve known me all my life and you still don’t see that I am still different? You know, I once thought that I was human, but only the U.S. congress and the president can fully grant me that official title. Can’t you see that no matter how many degrees I get, how many businesses I own, if I buy my multi-million dollar house, a Lexus or contribute a billion dollars to a republican candidate, that even then I will never be a full human being. I will always be considered an alien because I was born in foreign country. Of course you never realized it because it seems like I have always been around. But, guess what? I will always be considered a criminal who does not deserve any sort of reward for walking across the border with her one-year old sister and mother at the age of six. Oh wait! I forgot. An Alien needs a social security card to be legit, and National Geographic does not hire the non-existent. I will never exist or be able to live, as long as nobody does anything to acknowledge my existence. ” My friends will probably not accept the fact that I do not exist because they will touch my hands and exclaim, “But you are here. How can that be?” I know.
I am here. I do exist and I refuse to accept otherwise. I am human and have potential to do good things for this land, my home. I do not need pity.
Together we can change this nonsense. Write to your congress representatives, tell them of your amazing discovery. Tell them NOW as I head to Washington D.C.
Help me collect 100+ letters from Orange County, California and surrounding areas in support of the thousands of concealed dying souls who cannot wait any longer for the Dream Act to pass. Include name and zip code somewhere in your letter. If you are part of an organization and you collect signatures or send in a general support letter, letterheads will be helpful.
Please scan and/or e-mail letters to
firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to P.O. BOX 1855, SANTA ANA, CA 92702-1855. You may also deliver your letters on weekday nights or weekend days to El Centro Cultural de Mexico at 310 W. 5th St. in Santa Ana. I need them by Monday night, September 17th, in order to use them in Washington D.C. but send them in even if you send them late.
Thanks in advance,
Orange County Dream Team
Orange County, California
The Slow Death of English in California?
The L.A. Times reports that nearly 43% of residents of California speak a language other than English at home, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The trend was even more pronounced in Los Angeles, the so-called Latino Metropolis, where more than 53% of residents speak another language at home. Heavily Latino East Los Angeles (90.9%) and the San Gabriel Valley (several cities over 70%) had even higher rates. Spanish is by far the most common, but Californians also converse in Korean, Thai, Russian, Hmong, Armenian and dozens of other languages. The data will likely add fuel to the decades-long debate in California over immigrants continuing to use their native tongue. There have been battles over bilingual education, foreign-language ballots and English-only restrictions on business signs.
Immigrant of the Day: Mazie Keiko Hirono (Japan)
Mazie Keiko Hirono (born November 3, 1947) was the second Asian immigrant elected lieutenant governor of a state of the United States. A lifelong Democrat, she was elected Governor of Hawaii in 2002 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.
Hirono was born in Fukushima, Japan. In 1955, Hirono's mother immigrated to the United States with her children. Raised in Honolulu, Hirono enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa where she earned a B.A. in psychology. She received her J.D. from Georgetown and returned to Honolulu where she practiced law.
From 1980 to 1994, Hirono served in the Hawaii State Legislature. In 1994, she joined the ticket of incumbent Lieutenant Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano and was elected to a historic administration led by the first Filipino American governor and first Japanese immigrant lieutenant governor.
In 2002, Hirono was elected Governor of Hawaii. After her election to Congress in 2006, Hirono joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
A Report on the Swiss Citizenship System
The BBC reports that:
"An official report into the process of naturalisation in Switzerland says the current system is discriminatory and in many respects racist. . . . It criticises the practice of allowing members of a community to vote on an individual's citizenship application. Muslims and people from the Balkans and Africa are the most likely to be rejected, the report points out.
Switzerland has Europe's toughest naturalisation laws. Foreigners must live for 12 years in a Swiss community before they can apply, and being born in Switzerland brings no right to citizenship.
Under the current system, foreigners apply through their local town or village. They appear before a citizenship committee and answer questions about their desire to be Swiss. After that, they must often be approved by the entire voting community, in a secret ballot, or a show of hands. This practice, the report says, is particularly likely to be distorted by racial discrimination. It cites the case of a disabled man originally from Kosovo. Although fulfilling all the legal criteria, his application for citizenship was rejected by his community on the grounds that his disability made him a burden on taxpayers, and that he was Muslim.
The report recommends that decisions on citizenship should be decided by an elected executive and not by the community as a whole. But such a move is likely to encounter stiff opposition. Foreigners are a key issue in the run-up to Switzerland's general election next month."
New SSRN Articles
"Occupational Choice of High Skilled Immigrants in the United States" IZA Discussion Paper No. 2969 BARRY R. CHISWICK University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Co-Author: SARINDA TAENGNOI Western New England College Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1010630
"Modeling Immigrants' Language Skills" IZA Discussion Paper No. 2974 BARRY R. CHISWICK University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Co-Author: PAUL W. MILLER University of Western Australia - Business School (Economics), Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1011140
"On the Intrinsic Value of Arabic in Israel - Challenging Kymlicka on Language Rights" Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2007 MEITAL PINTO University of Toronto Abstract: http://ssrn.com/abstract=995507
"TWAIL as Naturalized Epistemological Inquiry" Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2007 ANDREW F. SUNTER Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=995532
"Costly Citizenship? Dual Nationality Institutions, Naturalization, and Political Connectedness" JEFFREY K. STATON Department of Political Science -- Emory University Co-Author: ROBERT JACKSON Florida State University - Department of Political Science Co-Author: DAMARYS CANACHE Florida State University - Department of Political Science Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=995569
September 12, 2007
New Immigration Articles
Foster, Michelle. Protection elsewhere: the legal implications of requiring refugees to seek protection in another state. 28 Mich. J. Int'l L. 223-286 (2007).
Hathaway, James C. The Michigan Guidelines on Protection Elsewhere, Adopted January 3, 2007. 28 Mich. J. Int'l L. 207-221 (2007).
Hund, Brenton. Note. Disappearing safeguards: FISA nonresident alien "loophole" is unconstitutional. 15 Cardozo J. Int'l & Comp. L. 169-222 (2007).
Crossing Boundaries: Wal-Mart and Immigration Law. Articles by Maurice Hew, Jr., Bill Ong Hing and M. Isabel Medina. 39 Conn. L. Rev. 1383-1460 (2007).
ILRC Complains: Husband Deported--Pregnant Citizen Wife
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2007
For info on access to Tanya (the soon to be mother) Karen (Tanya’s cousin): 415 670 0451
For legal background on the case: family’s attorney: Jason Marachi: 415 566-3526; email@example.com or Mark Silverman (415) 305-8217 from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center
PREGNANT U.S. CITIZEN WIFE IS IN LABOR: HER HUSBAND WAS FORCED TO LEAVE THE U.S. IN EARLY AUGUST
Broken immigration system force young husband to leave the country weeks before his wife gives birth to their United States citizen child
What: Juan Cruz was forced to leave for Mexico on about August 11, leaving his U.S. citizen wife here.
On September 11, 2007, Tanya (his wife) went to the hospital and was told to return home until the contractions increase. She will be returning to the hospital in the evening of September 11th or early September 12th.
Access to Tanya and her family: We will be sending out updated press releases. For media outlets who would like possible interview access with Tanya and/or her family, plase call Karen, Tanya’s cousin, phone number listed above.
Future press conference – date TBA: We will be holding a press conference with Tanya, her baby, family, and supporters once Tanya is ready to do so.
Today, should be a joyful and exciting time for U.S. citizen Tanya Cruz’ young family. Tanya and her husband, Juan, will be having a baby – probably within the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, Tanya and Juan will not be together for this birth -- it separated, each in a different country, divided by a broken immigration system that allows families like this one to be torn apart.
“It’s unfair,” says Tanya. “The divorce rate is so high, especially for young people. Here we are starting a family and it’s being separated, not because of us, but because of the way immigration laws are.”
Although Tanya is a U.S. citizen, Juan is not. He was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents when he was four years old. The couple is applying to obtain permission for Juan to immigrate legally as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. However, Juan’s parents had previously filed an application for themselves and Juan based on bad legal advice from an attorney who has since resigned from the State Bar. When this application failed, Juan and his parents were given until August 13 to voluntarily leave the country. Juan left the United States on August 11 by plane to Mexico, just about one month before his wife will give birth to their child. During his baby’s first months of life, Juan will be in Mexico, waiting to get an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez so that he can return to the U.S. The family has been told that the process can take longer than six months.
“I can’t be there for my son’s birth,” says Juan. “I’m going to miss out on the first three to four months, even a year of his life. I feel useless not helping my wife in any way,” Juan stated.
This terrible example of the flaws in our immigration system prompted Tanya Cruz, el Comité de Padres Unidos, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and other supporters of this young family to bring this issue to the attention of the public. These supporters are also requesting that the immigration and consular authorities hold Juan’s interview as soon as possible, and are doing a letter writing campaign to California’s two U.S. Senators, asking for assistance. ##
Immigrant of the Day: Joan Collins (UK)
Born in London, Collins early in her career became well known for her romances with leading men. Her career changed dramatically when she was accepted a role in the then-struggling prime time TV soap opera Dynasty (1981-89). Collins played the role of tycoon Blake Carrington's vengeful ex-wife. The role of Alexis Carrington successfully relaunched Collins as a powerful sex symbol and icon of independence. In 1985, Dynasty was the #1 show in the US, and Collins went on to become the highest-paid actress on television at the time.
Collins has lived, at different times, in London and Los Angeles. In 2001 Collins sold her Los Angeles penthouse, moving to Manhattan. She now divides her time between New York City, London, and a seaside village in the South of France.
LAPD Ends Moratorium on Impounding Vehicles of Undocumented Immigrants
On August 29, we reported that the Los Angeles Police Department had announced that it would no longer impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. Well, the LAPD has revised its policy. The L.A. Times reports that the Department will end its moratorium on impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers today. Police Chief William J. Bratton had said last week that the moratorium would remain in effect until next Tuesday, when he would ask for minor changes to the department's policy relating to the ability of officers to impound vehicles for 30 days, as state law allows. But the chief said that after reviewing the issue, he determined that the minor "clarifications" he wanted did not amount to a policy change and that he could order the impounds to resume immediately.
A lawyer who sued Los Angeles and several other cities in federal court last March over their towing practices said she would seek an injunction to curtail the impounds.
By not taking the issue to the Police Commission, Bratton avoided a potential City Council review of the commission's vote on the policy. Such a review could have unleashed a battle at City Hall over what has long been a political hot-button issue, because many unlicensed drivers are undocumented immigrants who cannot get driver's licenses.
Immigrants Boycott Western Union
Many immigrants send remittances to their homeland, which has become important to the economies of a number of devoloping nations. High tech banking, and the willingness of banks to open checking and other accounts to immigrants lacking U.S. identification, such as a driver's license, has made such transfers easier. But some undocumented immigrants do it the old fashioned way -- wiring money. In Southern California, for example, Latinos have long depended on electronic transfers to send money for food, medical care and education to their families back home. The L.A. Times reports that immigrant advocacy groups from around the country now are accusing Western Union, the largest U.S. money-transfer company, of charging exorbitant fees while failing to adequately reinvest in immigrant communities. On Monday, the groups launched a nationwide boycott of Western Union, demanding that the Englewood, Colo.-based money-transfer giant lower its fees and put some of its profit back into the communities that use its services.
The Migration Policy Institute recently released a "fact sheet" on remittances to Mexican States that shows that, in 2006, Mexico received an estimated $24.5 billion in remittances -- 11.3 percent of the total $276 billion in remittances worldwide. While migrant remittances to Mexico grew an average of 19.1 percent annually between 2003 and 2006, they increased by just 0.6 percent in the first half of 2007 compared to the first half of 2006. The MPI fact sheet provides a first look at changes in remittances to Mexico by state for 2003 to 2007, highlighting the states that may be most severely affected by a slowdown in money coming in from migrants abroad in the first six months of 2007.