Saturday, January 27, 2007
Mexican President Felipe Calderón said yesterday that his country has a better chance of resolving disputes with the United States over immigration now that Democrats control the U.S. Congress.
“With the new composition of the U.S. Congress there are greater opportunities and more potential for making progress on the immigration issue,” Calderón said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Click here.
Rep. Jim Jackson has introduced a bill in the Texas Legislature, House Bill 141, which would rescind a Texas law passed in 2001 allowing immigrant children in Texas to pay the lower, in-state tuition rates at public universities. It is one of four similar house bills this session. “I don’t think people who are here illegally should receive benefits,” Jackson said. “If they’re not here legally, they just ain’t legal.” Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the original legislation granting in-state tuition, has said he will oppose any effort to repeal it. The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate and with one dissenting vote in the House in 2001. Click here for the commentary of the Texas Observer on the bill.
Friday, January 26, 2007
A relatively new tactic in immigration enforcement -- and one that is particularly aimed at stopping human smuggling -- has been a "follow the money" strategy focusing on wire transfers. Relying on damming warrants, prosecutors have tried to stop the transfer of money intended as payments to smugglers. But the breadth of the warrants, and their impact on innocent people, have resulted in complaints about the programs and legal challenges. John Pomfret writes about the issue in today's Washington Post. Pomfret writes:
People across the country, prosecutors said, were sending money to [a] little Western Union shop in Douglas[, Arizona] -- and scores others like it in Arizona -- to pay smugglers to sneak illegal immigrants into the United States.
To fight back, Attorney General Terry Goddard employed a controversial technique known as a damming warrant to seize $17 million in money transfers into hundreds of Western Union locations in Arizona, prosecute scores of immigrant smugglers and deport hundreds of people in a program he marvels at because of its "elegant simplicity."
When the AG attempted to extend the program to block "all Western Union money transfers of $500 and above from 26 states with a significant population of illegal immigrants to a group of Western Union outlets in the northern Mexican state of Sonora," Western Union sued, claiming the warrant was overbroad. They won. On January 9, 2007, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth L. Fields quashed the warrant, ruling that it was "unconstitutional as applied under the Commerce Clause, Foreign Commerce Clause, Due Process Clause and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
The full Washington Post story is here.
Immigration officials are conducting a series of raids dubbed "Operation Return to Sender." One of the biggest took place this week in Southern California, where more than 750 undocumented immigrants were arrested and are subject to possible deportation. John Torres, second in command at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, talks with Madeleine Brand of NPR. Click here for a link to the audio.
Torres talks about a number of topics including the threat of some of the undocumented immigrants, who were convicted of violent crimes, to the greater community and the raid of the Swift meatpacking plants. He emphasized that the operation does not focus on all undocumented immigrants but only on the most dangerous ones. There have been, however, press reports of noncriminal undocumented immigrants being arrested.
Press reports estimate that Operation Return to Sender has resulted in the arrest of somewhere around 13,000 undocumented immigrants since it commenced in June 2006. There are an estimated 10.5-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The Associated Press reports (here) that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in comments made following a speech earlier this week at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., says immigration reform, not more than raids like those in the Los Angeles area, are needed..
An immigration raid at a huge North Carolina pork-packing plant provoked protests yesterday from union officials, who said the company, Smithfield Foods, had collaborated with the authorities searching for undocumented immigrants to discourage its workers from organizing.
The dispute arose after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 21 workers on Wednesday morning at the plant, in Tar Heel, about 80 miles south of Raleigh. The workers, 18 Mexicans and 3 Guatemalans, were in this country illegally and will be deported, immigration officials said.
Smithfield executives said the immigration agents informed them on Tuesday that they would be coming to question the immigrants. They said they had been working with the immigration agency since July to verify that the 5,200 employees at the plant had legal employment and immigration documents.
Gene Bruskin, an organizer for United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said the company had started to cooperate closely with immigration authorities after a walkout by immigrant workers last summer. “My concern is the company is using the immigration issue to manipulate this long fight over workers’ rights,” Mr. Bruskin said. Click here.
CNN (click here) reports that Canadian Maher Arar was deported to Syria after being arrested during a 2002 stopover at a New York airport. Canada today apologized for its role in the U.S. sending Arar to Syria -- where he says he was tortured. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also announced a multi-million dollar compensation package and called for the U.S. to remove Maher Arar from any terror watch list that he is on. The U.S. has so far refused, saying it has reason to keep Arar on the lists.
Bloomberg (here) reports that Democrats are demanding that President George W. Bush deliver significant support -- likely more than a quarter of all House Republicans -- to ensure passage of a bipartisan overhaul of U.S. immigration law. Democrats say they won't shoulder the responsibility alone for any comprehensive and politically sensitive plan that includes Bush's proposals to give 12 million illegal aliens a chance at citizenship and to create a guest-worker program. The president made his latest pitch for the plan in his State of the Union address this week.
Children housed in an immigrant detention center in Taylor, Texas have legal rights to the same educational opportunities afforded students in public schools, attorneys for the Texas Civil Rights Project said Thursday as they urged officials to further expand daily classroom instruction at the center. In a Jan. 24 letter (here) to Taylor school Superintendent Bruce Scott, Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center warden, project attorney Scott Medlock said children held at the center should receive seven hours of daily instruction as required by the Texas Education Code. "As you know, state and federal law requires undocumented immigrant children be provided with educational opportunities equivalent to programs provided to other children," Medlock's letter states, citing a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe. Reached later, Scott said that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency spokeswoman had asked him to let her respond to media inquiries. The spokeswoman, Nina Pruneda, said the agency was investigating but would have no comment Thursday. For the full story, click here.
White House hopeful Tom Tancredo said Thursday the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus and other race-based groups of lawmakers amounts to segregation and should be abolished. "It is utterly hypocritical for Congress to extol the virtues of a colorblind society while officially sanctioning caucuses that are based solely on race," said the Colorado Republican, who is most widely known as a vocal critic of illegal immigration. Click here for the full story.
We will see where the Tancredo campaign goes from here.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from San Diego, has thrown his hat into the three-ring circus that is the field of presidential hopefuls. The announcement deserves a notice on this site because Hunter has largely made his name on two issues: his advocacy for military spending and his advocacy for a massive increase in government spending on enforcement measures to curb undocumented migration. A full report his the announcement is here.
The latest issue of Latinos Studies includes an interesting article "Are Anti-Immigrant Statements Racist or Nativist? What Difference Does it Make?" by René Galindo and Jami Vigil. The abstract reads as follows:
Press-media accounts of anti-immigrant statements question whether the statements were racist, but typically not whether they were nativist. The absence of the term "nativism" in the press-media is striking given the long history of anti-immigrant legislation, policies, and attitudes in the US. The absence of "nativism" obscures the historical patterns of anti-immigrant sentiment from previous eras. Two cases of anti-immigrant statements as reported in newspaper articles and as interpreted in editorials were analysed. The implications of distinguishing nativism from racism for policy outcomes, for making visible prejudice directed against Latinas/os, and for understanding the place of Latinas/os within the nation are explored.
Basically, the article sees a convergence between nativism and racism in modern times where the dominant groups immigrating to the United tates (and subject to nativist outbursts) are people of color.
Read the article by clicking here. Thanks to MAO for digging this up for me.
Richmond Congregations and Community Groups Demand Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE: “Tell the Truth”
Community Groups are Outraged by Immigration Authorities Posing as Police and Destroying our Community by Separating Families, Fomenting Fear and Making it Harder to Combat Crime
Cristina H. Espinoza at 925-301-6198; email@example.com -- CCISCO
Mark Silverman at 415-255-9499 ext.627 (Office); firstname.lastname@example.org -- ILRC
What: PRESS CONFERENCE
When: FRIDAY, January 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm
Where: St. Mark's Church, 159 Harbour Way, Richmond, CA
Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, (CCISCO), a faith-based community organizing group based in Richmond and 12 cities in Contra Costa County, St. Mark’s Church, Marin Trujillo of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Reverend Phil Lawson, Co-President of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) are holding a press conference to expose the deceitful tactics of immigration authorities (Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE) who are posing as police officers in their efforts to target undocumented immigrants in Richmond. A United States citizen who witnessed this conduct will be at the press conference.
In the past two weeks, ICE authorities have posed as police officers and going door-to-door in neighborhoods searching for people, or standing outside grocery stores and arresting residents who cannot provide documentation of legal residency. According to ICE out of 119 detainees in Contra Costa County, 94 were “encountered in the process”, meaning they had no deportation orders.
These practices make it much more difficult for Richmond police to combat crime because they put roadblocks in the way of immigrant communities cooperating with the police.
“ICE’s fishing expedition in which agents misrepresent themselves as “police” is creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust in the community that is damaging the efforts of the police and the community to combat crime. That is why there is opposition nationwide among state and local police to their enforcing civil violations of immigration law. Because of ICE’s misguided actions, immigrants will be afraid to open their doors or talk with persons who represent themselves as police, thereby defeating decades of work in community policing,” stated Mark Silverman, Director of Immigration Policy at the ILRC.
Community leaders are demanding an immediate halt to these door-to-door raids and calling for a full investigation of the actions of ICE officers. Community leaders are also calling for city officials and public agencies to put pressure on ICE to halt these raids, follow guidelines and stop misrepresenting themselves. Community leaders want to declare Richmond a place of refuge, as is the case in other cities of the Bay Area.
Residents will be available for individual interviews before the press conference for those with earlier deadlines.
RESEARCH SEMINAR SERIES Joint Seminar with the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
Winter Quarter 2007
HEALTH OF HISPANICS IN THE U.S.: What We Can Learn from Looking at Mexico and the U.S. Combined?
Demographer, University of Maryland
Wednesday, January 31, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Institute of the Americas Complex
Deutz Room Copley Conference Center, Building 455
Reception to follow
One interesting puzzle in the United States over the last four decades has been that adult Hispanics present better health and lower mortality than non-Hispanic Whites. The “Hispanic Paradox” refers to the fact that the health of Hispanics is better than would be expected based on their socioeconomic status compared to non-Hispanic Whites. This holds particularly for those of Mexican origin or background. The work of Dr. Wong and her colleagues contributes to this area of research by studying health processes in the U.S. and Mexico combined. This allows for the examination of population selections as a possible explanation for the paradox, but more importantly, emphasizes that health in either country cannot be studied in isolation, without the other. Dr. Wong presents work that compares the health of adults in middle- and old-age in both countries using the Mexican Health and Aging Study, and two other studies in the U.S. These studies allow for comparisons among groups defined by migration history and country of birth. The findings show that health in certain groups is better than in the others depending on the health indicator used. Dr. Wong’s talk addresses the possible explanations for these findings as well as their implications for future research.
Rebeca Wong is a Mexican national who received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1987, and is currently Associate Director of the Maryland Population Research Center, and Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She was formerly in the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, and the Georgetown University Department of Demography. Dr. Wong's research agenda focuses on the economic consequences of population aging, in particular in Mexico and among immigrant Hispanics in the U.S. She has completed recent work on poverty and utilization of health services among the elderly, international migration and later old age wellbeing, and the impact of the social security reform in Mexico. She is currently co-Principal Investigator in the Mexican Health and Aging Study, financed by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.
These seminars are open to all members of the UCSD community, as well as faculty and students from other universities and the general public. For directions to CCIS, visit our website Parking permits can be purchased at the information booth on North Point Drive (north end of campus). Visitors may also use metered parking spaces (max. 2 hours) in the North side parking lot. Papers previously presented at CCIS seminars can also be downloaded from our website under “Working Papers.” For further information, please contact Tatis Cervantes (E-mail: email@example.com, Tel#: 858-822-4447).
Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
9500 Gilman Drive
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0548
Washington, DC - Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), incoming Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, today sent a letter to the Director of the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) questioning a possible fee increase of 250% for processing naturalization and immigration applications and requesting more information.
She was joined on the letter by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), incoming Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, and Representative John Conyers (D-MI), incoming Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Below is the text of the letter:
January 22, 2006
Dr. Emilio Gonzalez
Department of Homeland Security
20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20529
Dear Dr. Gonzalez:
We understand that the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is considering a fee increase for processing naturalization and immigration applications.
As the incoming chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and the Immigration Subcommittees, we look forward to working with you to ensure that USCIS has the necessary resources to carry out its mission. However, we are concerned by reports of the scope and scale of the fee increase. For example, we understand that the fees on naturalization applications may more than double, from the current fee of $400 to between $600 and $1,000. As the Congressional committees of jurisdiction, we want to better understand the extraordinary circumstances that could justify such a massive increase.
We hope that USCIS will not finalize the increase until our committees have had an opportunity to review the process by which your agency determined the need for and the scope of the fee increase. We would like to examine the cost estimates used by USCIS to establish the fees for various applications. We also wish to analyze the assumptions and methodology used by the agency to arrive at these estimates.
Please inform us in writing of your plans to issue a federal register notice for this increase and any plans you may have to implement this increase, including the fee amounts planned and the timeline for implementation, no later than February 2, 2007. We look forward to working with you to ensure that changes in the current fee structure are fair and reasonable for the applicants and USCIS.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Three Guilford College (North Carolina) football players are charged in connection with the incident that happened early Saturday outside a dormitory on campus. Friends and classmates of the Palestinian students spoke on their behalf, describing an unprovoked attack and injuries that include a broken jaw, a broken nose and concussions. According to court documents, up to 15 members of the football team were involved in the assault, during which the Palestinian students were beaten with fists, feet and brass knuckles while being subjected to racial slurs and called "terrorists."
For a news story on the fallout, click here. For a video of a press conference, click here. There is a college report of the incident at: http://www.guilford.edu/about_guilford/news_and_publications/releases/collegeresponse.html
The L.A. Times had an interesting story by Teresa Watanabe about the conflicting public policies facing undocumented immigrant children. Many state policies toward such children vary, reflecting sympathy for their situation and disapproval of their parents' behavior. For example, undocumented children are entitled to attend public school through high school but are denied access to many state financial aid programs. Watanabe has written a number of good immigration storys for the Times. Click here for the story.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Earlier this week, we reported on the controversy over the (Re)Fugees soccer team in Clarkston, Georgia. Consistent with this week's sport theme, let us announce a new book A Home on the Field, How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for Small Town America (HarperCollins). The book tells the story of Siler City, North Carolina, a small poultry-processing town coming to grips with Latino immigration and a group of Latino high school soccer players who advocate for a varsity soccer program at the local high school despite opposition from the school administration, endure an anti-immigrant Klan rally featuring David Duke, and go on to win the state championship in just three seasons. The author, Paul Cuadros,I coached the team to victory and tells the boys' and his own immigrant story through the book. For a flyer for the book, Download a_home_on_the_field_flyer_iii.doc Click here to see the book's website.
Washington, D.C. – Asian American Justice Center President and Executive Director Karen K. Narasaki issued the following statement in response to President Bush's State of the Union address:
“The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) appreciates President Bush’s call to enact comprehensive immigration reform. He has long recognized that our broken immigration system must be fixed, and that it cannot be fixed piecemeal or by enforcement measures alone. We were pleased to see members of Congress on both sides of the aisle respond enthusiastically to the president’s call for a long-needed overhaul of our nation’s immigration system.
As the legislative process moves forward, AAJC will pay careful attention to the elements and details of comprehensive immigration reform. These will include a workable path to legal status and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and for future immigrant workers; reduction of the unconscionable backlogs in the family immigration system; meaningful labor protections for all workers in the United States and due process and justice for all those who go through our immigration system.
President Bush acknowledged the need to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. This is good news for the Asian American community: there are approximately 1.5 million undocumented immigrants from Asia who are currently vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, or by criminals who take advantage of their fear of being discovered. Successful comprehensive immigration reform will offer these immigrants opportunity to earn their way to legal status and eventual citizenship.
Another element of comprehensive immigration reform that is particularly important to the Asian American community is the elimination of tremendous backlogs in the family immigration system. Immigrants from Asian countries suffer from the longest backlogs. For example, a U.S. citizen who petitions for a son or daughter from the Philippines must wait approximately 14 years before he or she can legally immigrate to the United States join the parent. We hope that the administration will take an active role in addressing the plight of these separated families.
AAJC also applauds President Bush for welcoming new immigrants and acknowledging their contributions to the United States. AAJC shares the president’s belief that additional resources are needed for English and civics classes to facilitate the integration of immigrants.
Finally, President Bush called for an immigration system that is “worthy of America.” AAJC believes that an integral element of such an immigration system is honoring the American tradition of making due process and a fair day in court available to all who come in contact with our immigration system.
AAJC looks forward to working with President Bush and Congress to make workable and just comprehensive immigration reform a reality.”
The Guardian reports that the director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, put himself at odds with the home secretary and Downing Street last night by denying that Britain is caught up in a "war on terror" and calling for a "culture of legislative restraint" in passing laws to deal with terrorism. Sir Ken warned of the pernicious risk that a "fear-driven and inappropriate" response to the threat could lead Britain to abandon respect for fair trials and the due process of law. He acknowledged that the country faced a different and more dangerous threat than in the days of IRA terrorism and that it had "all the disturbing elements of a death cult psychology". But he said: "It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes." Sir Ken pointed to the rhetoric around the "war on terror" - which has been adopted by Tony Blair and ministers after being coined by George Bush - to illustrate the risks.
Click here for the entire story. Note that this is very unlike the Bush administration, which for the most part has been uniform in defending extraordinary Executive powers in the "war on terror."
Immigration restrictionists in the U.S. often accuse immigrants of using health care services for which they are not eligible or of using them more than everyone else. Generally, however, such accusations are unsubstantiated and based on uninformed assumptions. This research issue brief titled Immigrants and the U.S. Health Care System, by the California Immigrant Policy Center, provides research-based information about immigrants' use of health care services. The brief can be found by clicking here.