Saturday, September 29, 2007

NILC Statement on the DREAM Act

DREAM Act Allies:
The DREAM Act is alive and well!

Anti-immigrant groups are claiming victory because the DREAM Act failed to get a vote as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill. They are wrong to do so. Although the DREAM Act did not get a vote on that bill, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged Wednesday evening that it will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote sometime before November 16th.

It is unusual for specific legislation like the DREAM Act to get such a public pledge, which will require the Senate Leadership to set aside days of floor time just before Congress is scheduled to leave for the year. That means that other issues supported by powerful constituencies and armies of lobbyists may not be addressed, whereas the DREAM Act, which is supported only by reason and fairness, will be given a chance to move forward. The Senate Majority Leader's willingness to make such a promise reflects well on him, but it also shows how much progress the DREAM Act has made in recent months as a result of the blood, sweat and tears of immigrant students and their allies. It is now a top-tier issue, one that will not go away.

When the DREAM Act does come to the Senate floor, it will need 60 votes to pass.

We expect a very close vote, and the anti-immigrant advocates will again be out in force. Although they have publicly claimed victory, they must actually be squirming inside because they hit immigrant students with their best shot of lies, talk radio, hysterical blog entries and angry calls to Senate offices, yet the DREAM Act is nevertheless on the threshold of a historic vote. It is imperative to counterbalance their efforts with increased pro-DREAM contact with every Senator. Please resolve to call or fax both of your Senators today and every day until the vote occurs to urge a yes vote, and take the time to motivate other supporters to do the same. You can find you Senators' phone and fax numbers here.

In addition (easier, but less important), you can send an e-mail to your Senators by simply clicking here.

Finally, please take a moment to contact Senator Reid to let him know how grateful we are to him for having kept the DREAM Act alive. It was a courageous step, and he will undoubtedly get grief from the other side.

Sample Thank You Statement:

"Thank You Senator Reid for your commitment to bring the DREAM Act up for a vote before adjournment."

Senator Reid's phone and fax are: Ph: (202)224-3542 and Fax: (202)224-7327.

bh

September 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

NILC Urges Commitment to Immigrant Children

In a year hailed as the year of children's health, Congress and Democratic leadership squandered this week a clear opportunity to honor their commitment to immigrants and children's health by stripping a provision that would have allowed federal health coverage to low-income, lawfully residing immigrant children and pregnant women. They did so even though the stripped provision represents sound health policy and enjoys long-standing, nationwide, bipartisan support. Immigrant children fell victim to politics once again. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), which works to promote and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members, is bitterly disappointed that Congress has failed yet again to address the health needs of immigrant children and pregnant women. We urge Congress to do better.

Background

This week, Congress passed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 976), reauthorizing the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), without removing discriminatory barriers that prohibit federal coverage of lawfully residing immigrant children and pregnant women. Specifically, Congress rejected the Legal Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act provision (ICHIA, S. 764, H.R. 1308), which would grant states the flexibility to provide federally funded health coverage to low-income, lawfully residing immigrant children and pregnant women. Health policy experts and about a third of the states, through investment of their own funds, recognize that providing preventive coverage to immigrant children and pregnant women is cost-effective, decreases the number of uninsured children, and reduces health disparities. Congress heard from Governors of both parties, health providers, the faith community, and organizations from all fifty states that covering immigrant children should be a priority in the 2007 SCHIP reauthorization debate.

In response, the House of Representatives included ICHIA in the SCHIP bill that it passed earlier this year.[1] The Senate, however, refused to do so despite bipartisan support by Senate Finance Committee members and inclusion of ICHIA in initial proposals crafted by Senators of both parties.[2] The Senate leadership rebuffed efforts to introduce an amendment to add ICHIA on the Senate floor, suggesting that the omission could be addressed in a conference committee that never materialized. Other attempts during the closed-door negotiations and in the House Rules committee to add ICHIA to the compromise bill were also blocked by leadership. The continual rejection of ICHIA was not the result of any sound policy considerations, but the casualty of failed Congressional leadership, which allowed a few voices to dictate how best to beat the President in a game of chicken.

In a tune familiar to immigrants, many proclaim the compromise SCHIP bill as the best legislation that can be negotiated under the current circumstances. We recognize that the compromise SCHIP bill protects coverage for millions of children and includes some improvements that will benefit eligible immigrant children and pregnant women. Nevertheless, there was an opportunity to do better. Instead, in a race to the bottom, Congress surrendered to anti-immigrant forces by omitting ICHIA, adding a gratuitous provision trumpeting that fact that nothing in the bill helps undocumented immigrants, and extending to SCHIP the same disastrous 2005 Medicaid citizenship documentation requirement that has wasted millions of taxpayers' dollars and prevented tens of thousands of U.S. citizens from obtaining health care, all of which undermine the goal of insuring more children. Yet despite yielding to anti-immigrant pressures, Congress still has to defend the compromise bill against inaccurate, unimaginative, predictable, anti-immigrant attacks.

The Democratic leadership now asks us to support the compromise bill while acknowledging the injustice of failing, once again, to cover immigrant children and pregnant women - immigrants from working families who pay taxes and "play by the rules." They promise to address immigrant children's health in some unspecified, future legislation rather than in the modest children's health bill now before them. This is an audacious request given that the promise echoes several made before and not kept. It is not the first time that ICHIA has been stripped out of legislation behind closed doors after winning heated committee and floor debates.[3] Despite ICHIA's hard fought victories, long-standing bipartisan support, and the persistent efforts among health and immigrant advocates over many sessions, Congress has failed to honor its commitment to immigrants and stand up to the anti-immigrant minority.

The compromise SCHIP bill is expected to be vetoed by the President, leaving a small window of opportunity for Congress to revisit its SCHIP priorities. The point of contention in the SCHIP debate has little to do with lawfully residing immigrant children and pregnant women, yet Congress to date has refused to make the most modest effort to ensure that these immigrants have access to care. House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle have a moral obligation to correct this indefensible omission, redress the discriminatory barriers, stand up to anti-immigrant attacks, and finally honor its commitment. Immigrant children and their families, whose health, well-being and opportunity to succeed in life have long been jeopardized in the name of politics, can no longer afford to wait.
——————————
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT
Sonal Ambegaokar, Health Policy Attorney | ambegaokar@nilc.org | 213.674.2814
Dinah Wiley, Public Policy Attorney | wiley@nilc-dc.org | 202.216.0216 x 4

[1] The Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act of 2007 (H.R. 3162)

[2] Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) included ICHIA in their SCHIP proposal and Senator Jeff Bingaman (R-NM) was talked out of pursuing an amendment he initially offered in committee.

[3] Most recently, immigrants were told to wait until the 2007 SCHIP reauthorization for the passage of ICHIA after it was stripped from the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 during the last hours of conference negotiations. Prior to that, despite winning heated committee and floor debates, ICHIA was cut from a 2000 Medicare provider bill as well as a 2002 Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization bill. In fact, Democratic leadership has long vowed to redress the damage to which they contributed in 1996 by placing the arbitrary restrictions on legal immigrants.

bh

September 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LPR and Naturalization Statistics from OIS

NEW! LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT PROFILES

The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) would like to announce the release of the 2006 profiles on legal permanent residents. The profiles show data on selected demographic characteristics of immigrants who became legal permanent residents during 2006 by country of birth, state, and metropolitan area. The profiles, in Microsoft Excel format, are available on the OIS website at:

http://www.dhs.gov/ximgtn/statistics/data/dslpr.shtm <http://www.dhs.gov/ximgtn/statistics/data/index.shtm>

NEW! NATURALIZATION PROFILES

OIS would like to announce the release of the 2006 profiles on naturalization. These profiles show data on selected demographic characteristics of immigrants who naturalized during 2006 by country of birth, state, and metropolitan area. The profiles, in Microsoft Excel format, are available on the OIS website at:

http://www.dhs.gov/ximgtn/statistics/data/dsnat.shtm

<http://www.dhs.gov/ximgtn/statistics/data/index.shtm>

bh

September 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Naturalization Exam

Yesterday, USCIS announced the new naturalization exam. You can get to the new 100 questions, and an explanation of the when, how and what by clicking on the link below.
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7
543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=d1fc9f9934741110VgnVCM1000000ecd190aRCRD&vgnextchann
el=d1fc9f9934741110VgnVCM1000000ecd190aRCRD

bh

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New GAO Report on Border Security

The U.S. General Accountability Office has issued a new report (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07884t.pdf) on Border Security.  Thanks to Dan Kowalski for highlighting an interesting passage:

"Our visits to the northern border show that CBP faces significant challenges in effectively monitoring the border and preventing undetected entry into the United States. Our work shows that a determined cross-border violator would likely be able to bring radioactive materials or other contraband undetected into the United States by crossing the U.S.–Canada border at any of the locations we investigated. CBP records indicate that it does successfully stop many individuals from crossing the border illegally, but our own observations and experiences (along with CBP’s acknowledgment of existing challenges) lead us to conclude that more human capital and technological capabilities are needed to effectively protect the northern border. Our observations on the southern border showed a significant disparity between the large law enforcement presence on state lands in one state and what seemed to be a lack of law enforcement presence on federally managed lands."  (emphasis added).

KJ

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kudos to 25 Years of the Georgetown University Law Center for Applied Legal Studies

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Georgetown University Law Center for Applied Legal Studies, the Georgetown alumni magazine has prepared an article on what the Center does in asylum cases, featuring the stories of two of clients and their student representatives. The story conveys the educational methodology and the litigation challenges of the clinical program. Click here to see the story.

KJ

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DREAM Act Dead -- For Now

Senate Democrats late Wednesday retreated from forcing a debate about the DREAM Act as a rider to the defense reauthorization bill, although Majority Leader Harry Reid promised to find time before the end of the year for a vote on the proposal.  The DREAM Act was attached by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., as an amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act. It has been removed from the Act.  For the full story, click here and here.

As Yogi Berra once said, its deja vu all over again!

KJ

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New SSRN Articles

"Fear of Discovery: Immigrant Workers and the Fifth Amendment" Cornell International Law Journal, Forthcoming KEITH CUNNINGHAM-PARMETER Willamette University-College of Law Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1001263

"Role and Contribution of Foreign-Born Scientists and Engineers to the Public U.S. Nanoscience and Technology Research Enterprise" IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 54, No. 3, pp. 423-432, August 2007 DIRK LIBAERS Georgia Institute of Technology Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1004416

"Doing Justice on Two Fronts: The Liberal Dilemma in Immigration" DAVID ABRAHAM University of Miami-School of Law Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1005448

"What Happens to the Acquitted?" KEVIN JON HELLER University of Auckland - Faculty of Law Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1005772

"The Significance of the Local in Immigration Regulation" Michigan Law Review, 2008 CRISTINA RODRIGUEZ New York University - School of Law Full Text: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1006091

KJ

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Ray Milland (Wales, United Kingdom)

Lost_weekend Ray Milland (1907–1986) was an Oscar-winning actor and director. His screen career ran from 1929 to 1985 and he appeared in scores of films. Born in Wales, Milland was "discovered" by a Hollywood talent scout while performing on the stage in London.  He came to America and was signed by Paramount Pictures. In 1946, Milland won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an alcoholic in Billy Wilder's film The Lost Weekend (1945).  Milland gave perhaps the shortest acceptance speech of any Oscar winner: he simply bowed and left the stage. Milland died in 1986 at age 79.

KJ

September 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Material Support to FARC of Colombia

USCIS Fact Sheet

On September 6, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which authorizes USCIS, in consultation with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to implement the DHS Secretary’s discretionary authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to exempt from the material support inadmissibility provision certain individuals who provided material support under duress to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
 
In cases where applicants for immigration benefits provided material support to the FARC, USCIS will evaluate whether the material support was provided under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrants a favorable exercise of discretion.  For more information, see the memorandum issued by Deputy Director, Jonathan Scharfen, and the procedures for processing such cases, as outlined in a May 24, 2007 memo entitled “Processing the Discretionary Exemption to the Inadmissibility Ground for Providing Material Support to Certain Terrorist Organizations.”

This authority is based on DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff’s decision on April 27, 2007, to allow USCIS to provide exemptions to certain individuals who provided material support under duress to certain terrorist organizations described in subsections 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(I) and (II) (designated terrorist organizations that are often referred to as Tier I and Tier II organizations) if warranted by the totality of the circumstances.  As explained in the USCIS Fact Sheet issued May 10, 2007, the exemption authority will be exercised only for applicants who provided material support under duress to Tier I or Tier II organizations identified by DHS.  FARC is the first such group identified by DHS.  As DHS identifies other groups that may be considered under this exemption authority, USCIS will publish the names of the groups on its website. 

Secretary Chertoff previously exercised his discretionary authority under the INA not to apply the material support provisions to certain categories of individuals on two previous occasions.  On February 20, 2007, Secretary Chertoff exercised his discretionary authority not to apply the material support provisions to certain individuals who provided material support to one of the following eight groups: 1) Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), 2) Chin National Front/Chin National Army (CNF/CNA), 3) Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD), 4) Kayan New Land Party (KNLP), 5) Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), 6) Tibetan Mustangs, 7) Cuban Alzados, or 8) Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).  On February 26, 2007, Secretary Chertoff exercised his discretionary authority not to apply the material support provisions to certain individuals who provided material support under duress to non-designated organizations (often referred to as “Tier III”), if a totality of the circumstances justifies the exemption.

bh

September 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYU Immigration Law Moot Court Competition

New York University School of Law will be hosting thes third annual Immigration Law Moot Court Competition the weekend of February 21-24, 2008. Teams of 2-3 students from law schools around the country will brief and argue current issues in immigration law. Last year, the problem presented difficult questions about judicial review and asylum. The final argument took place before a distinguished panel of judges: Judge Lipez of the First Circuit, Judge Marcus of the Eleventh Circuit, and Juan Osuna, the Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals. This year, there will be an equally impressive group of judges and a problem that addresses important immigration concerns. Any law students or professors interested in sending a team to the competition should visit the Moot Court Board’s website at http://www.law.nyu.edu/journals/mootcourt/competition.html or contact NYU’s Immigration Law Competition Editor, Lee Turner-Dodge, at ltd213@nyu.edu. The registration deadline is October 26, 2007.

KJ

September 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Leo McCarthy (New Zealand)

166pxleo_mccarthy Leo Tarcissus McCarthy (1930-2007) served as the Democratic Lieutenant Governor of California from 1983 to 1995. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, he moved with his parents to San Francisco at the age of four. McCarthy received his B.A. in history from the University of San Francisco and a law degree from San Francisco Law School. McCarthy served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.

McCarthy was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1963.   In 1968, he was elected to the State Assembly, serving as Speaker of the Assembly from 1974 to 1980. McCarthy was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1982 and was re-elected in 1986.  In 1988, McCarthy ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent, Pete Wilson. He won a third term as Lieutenant Governor in 1990. In 1992, McCarthy entered the Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate, but lost the nomination to Congresswoman (now Senator) Barbara Boxer. McCarthy continued as Lieutenant Governor until 1995.

Upon leaving politics, McCarthy created an investment company and helped found the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco. After a long illness, McCarthy died in 2007. Here is his obituary from the S.F. Chronicle.

KJ

September 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rep. Tancredo: President Bush's Failure to Enforce Immigration Laws is "Despicable"

Tancredogun1 NH Primary.com reports that Republican presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo, of Colorado, said President Bush's failure to enforce existing immigration laws is "despicable."  "If we don't like our immigration laws, if we think they are wrong, repeal them. If we don't think they are wrong, enforce them," Tancredo said during an interview. "Don't keep ignoring our laws, which this president has been doing, which is despicable," Tancredo said. "If he could be impeached for dereliction of duty, a bill could be brought. Unfortunately, that is not grounds," Tancredo said. "He has avoided dealing with this issue to a point where we are at a crisis, I believe, and it is just unconscionable."  For the full story and a video interview with Rep. Tancredo, click here.

UPDATE:  The Denver Post reports that

"Rep. Tom Tancredo two months ago announced a far- reaching proposal to rewrite immigration laws. Today that plan is missing in action.

The Republican congressman from Littleton never submitted the bill he trumpeted in July, legislation that would severely limit family-based legal immigration, imprison employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and deny citizenship to babies of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S.

Tancredo's spokesman said that the congressman and his staff have been busy and that perhaps it just slipped their minds."

KJ

September 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

SMU Dedman School of Law: Symposium on Immigration Law Immigrants, Vigilantes, and Immigration Reform: Civil Rights in the 21st Century

Tailgate SMU Dedman School of Law will hold a symposium on "Immigration Law Immigrants, Vigilantes, and Immigration Reform: Civil Rights in the 21st Century" on October 19, 2007.  Here is the description: 

"At the outset of the 21st Century, United States immigration law and policy has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. In recent years we have witnessed among other things, calls for dramatically restricting immigration in light of an alleged threat to American national identity, increased border law enforcement associated with thousands of deaths on the U.S./Mexican border and vigilante activity, special immigration laws and legal procedures enacted for the “war on terror,” and mass marches protesting draconian immigration reform in cities across the United States, including Dallas, Texas. The conference seeks to deal with these issues."

For details, including a program, click here.

KJ

September 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Photo-Screening Tool Announced for Employers

USCIS News Release Sept. 25, 2007
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today launched a new photo-screening tool that will help employers comply with immigration law while also strengthening worksite enforcement. The photo tool will be the first step in giving employers the tools they need to help detect some forms of identity fraud in the employment eligibility process.

The photo tool is the first enhancement in E-Verify, the agency’s Web-based system that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. More than 23,000 employers are currently enrolled in the program – with more than 2,000 more joining each month – and will now be able to access the new photo screening tool to more accurately verify a new non-citizen employee’s identity.

“Our current E-Verify system is not fraud-proof and was not designed to detect identity fraud,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez. “The photo tool enhancement will give employers an additional resource to help verify identity and employment authorization status and is just one more valuable enhancement to an effective, fair and viable program.”

First piloted in March, the photo tool will be available when a new employee presents an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Permanent Resident Card (“green card”) to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). It allows the employer to compare identical photos – the individual’s photograph on the EAD or green card against the image stored in USCIS’ databases, which contains nearly 15 million images of individual documents. The tool is designed to help an employer determine whether the document presented reasonably relates to the individual presenting it and contains a valid photo.

Employers currently participating in E-Verify will be trained on the system enhancement through a mandatory refresher tutorial that launches automatically on Sept. 17, 2007. New employer who register after that date will learn how to use the photo tool through an updated E-Verify manual, tutorial, and memorandum of understanding.

E-Verify, formerly known as the Basic Pilot employment eligibility verification program, is a free Web-based system that works by electronically comparing new employee information taken from the Form I-9 against more than 425 million records in the Social Security Administration’s database and more than 60 million records in the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration database.

bh

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

New (Critical) Study on Asylum Adjudications

The Transactional Records Clearing House released a new study yesterday confirming that arbitrary disparities in asylum grant rates are a serious problem in immigration courts across the country. There are systemic procedural flaws that allow individual judges to subvert traditional notions of fairness and judicial process.

KJ

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

The Empire Strikes Back: U.S. Sues Illinois

The Bush administration took the gloves off Monday in its fight over immigration enforcement, suing the state of Illinois for banning use of a federal system that checks whether workers are in the United States legally.  For the full story, click here.

Illinois and New York, which last week, despite the dictates of REAL ID, decided that undocumented immigrants might be eligible for driver's licenses, are two high immigration states that appear to b etaking on the federal government's new emphasis on enforcement measures.  On the other hand, local governments have been calling for more federal enforcement of the immigration laws.

KJ

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

S Ct Grants Cert in Three Immigration-Related Cases

Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the following immigration-related cases:

Dada v. Keisler, 06-1181 Question presented: Whether filing of a motion to reopen automatically tolls the period during which a noncitizen must depart under a voluntary departure order.

United States v. Gonzales, 06-1646 Question Presented "Whether a state drug-trafficking offense, for which state law authorized a ten-year sentence because the defendant was a recidivist, qualifies as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act." Although this is a criminal case, the government's certiorari petition identifies U.S. v. Corona-Sanchez, 291 F.3d 1201 (9th Cir. 2002) (en banc) as the source of the problem in the Ninth Circuit's decision in Gonzales. In Corona-Sanchez, the Ninth Circuit held that a California petty theft with priors conviction was not an aggravated felony because the defendant's maximum authorized sentence was six months, which was the sentence for petty theft, and did not include the enhancement for being a recidivist offender. If the Court agrees with the government it is hard to imagine how Corona-Sanchez could survive.

Ali v. Achim, 06-1346 The petiton challenges heightened AG waiver standard under which noncitizens convicted of violent or dangerous crimes would not be granted waiver of inadmissibility under INA § 209(c), except in extraordinary circumstances).

SCOTUS blog has links to cert petitions and other documents filed in the cases.

KJ

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

Dan Kowalski (Bender's Immigration Bulletin) Comments on the Barack Obama Interview: ""Obama on Immigration: Just OK"

Dan Kowalski, Editor-in-Chief Bender's Immigration Bulletin (LexisNexis), offers these insights on the interview with Barack Obama that was posted here yesterday.  If you would like to publish a commentary on the interview, please send it our way:

To be honest, when this "exclusive interview" was announced, I was expecting a video (or at least an audio podcast) of a live give-and-take between skeptical reporters or topic experts asking tough questions and putting the candidate on the spot with little, if any, opportunity for reflection. So I was a bit disappointed to find, instead, a canned written product, giving us nothing we hadn't heard before. I'm sure the Senator approved the final product, but I'm also sure 99% of it was written for him by a staffer. I hope this format will be scrapped when other candidates are "interviewed."

Beyond the platitudes, the nugget that struck me hardest was the Senator's rationale for voting for the Secure Fence Act. He says he voted for it even though it sends two strong messages with which he disagrees - that Mexico is "not our friend" and that an enforcement-only approach can work - because "restoring order in the border region is necessary to winning the American people's support for full reform." That's disingenuous (a word Obama loves) at best, because he knows that no fence, long or short, will restore "order" on the borders. Moreover, it's a candidate's (and a President's) job to lead and persuade, not hide behind "safe" votes. And as I've argued before, trying to "secure the borders" first is putting things backwards. Obama tries to soften the blow by saying he'll only support more border fencing "where it can help discourage illegal entry and dangerous crossings over desert terrain [Where else would they put it?] ...[and only] in coordination and cooperation with local communities." Reaction from border communities to today's release of the Border Patrol's fencing plans should make it abundantly clear that the border fence is nothing more than a pork-barrel boondoggle of the highest order; Obama should suck it up and admit his vote was wrong.

Obama (and all your interviewees) should be pinned down on numbers and categories and definitions: How many (more) green cards do we need? How many (more) non-immigrant visas? How should we re-write the visa categories, grounds of exclusion and removal, detention rules, judicial review rules and hardship waivers to bring the statute into the 21st century. It could get tedious, and long, but as Justice Scalia says, "administrative law is not for sissies."

Finally, when your group interviews other candidates, I'd scrap the Elvira Arrellano question. Call me heartless, but her story leaves me cold. There are thousands of stories out there of folks who suffered much more than she did, and without breaking any laws beyond crossing without papers. They would be better examples of our broken system.

Daniel M. Kowalski

[It should go w/o saying, but those are my views alone, not necessarily those of Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., and/or LexisNexis]

September 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: William Hung (Hong Kong)

Williamhung William Hung (born January 13, 1983) gained fame in 2004 as a result of his performance of Ricky Martin's hit song "She Bangs" on the third season of the television series American Idol. (Watch it here). Hung gained fame because of the novelty derived from his lack of talent. Originally from Hong Kong, Hung moved to New Jersey in 1993 and graduated from the John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles. He attended UC Berkeley, but after getting a record deal after his American Idol performance, Hung dropped out from UC Berkeley. He currently attends Pasadena City College.

After appearing on American Idol. Hung rapidly gained a cult following. A William Hung fan site recorded over four million hits within its first week. Hung subsequently appeared on several television programs including Entertainment Tonight, The Late Show With David Letterman, The Howard Stern Radio Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Dateline NBC, and CBS's The Early Show. Hung was featured in several national magazines and newspapers; he was parodied on Saturday Night Live and appeared on Celebrity Deathmatch. An online petition to get Hung back to American Idol included more than 100,000 signatures. Hung was brought back to American Idol as part of a mid-season specia in March 2004. Hung has become more famous than many American Idol contestants and he has many fans.

Hung's first single was a cover of The Village People's "YMCA."  His debut album Inspiration includes covers of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and "Shake Your Bon Bon" and Elton John's "Rocket Man." The album has sold approximately 200,000 copies and peaked in the top 50 of the U.S. Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. Several of Hung's songs reached the top 10 on Apple's iTunes charts, and the album reached #3 on Amazon.com's sales rankings. Hung released a Christmas album, Hung for the Holidays, in 2004 and Miracle: Happy Summer from William Hung in 2005.

KJ

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