November 10, 2007
Sheila Jackson Lee's Bill on Family Immigration Reform
Mrinalini Reddy reports:
WASHINGTON - A broad reform bill that would double the annual number of family-based immigrant visas would actually help reduce the number of undocumented workers, supporters told a House committee Thursday. But foes quickly responded that it is another attempt to provide amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Introduced in January by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, the Save American Comprehensive Immigration Act covers a broad range of issues, including adding border patrol agents in areas of crisis, creating a detention program to protect children of detainees and other vulnerable populations and increased vigilance of American sex offenders who sponsor a spouse or child for a family-based visa.
But one provision that drew particular attention was a proposal to set clearer, less stringent guidelines for waivers that allow family members who had been in the U.S. illegally to avoid long waits to get green cards.
Charles Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, supported the bill, saying the current waiver program actually serves to increase the number of undocumented workers.
Current law requires immigrants applying for permanent residency to complete the application process at a consular office outside the U.S. If it is determined that the applicant had been in the U.S. illegally, a wait time is imposed. People who have been unlawfully present in the country for more than 180 days are barred from re-entry for three years, while those in the U.S. illegally for more than a year must wait 10 years in their home countries, Kuck explained.
"This law has created the perfect catch-22 for immigrants for unlawful presence," said Kuck. "The three- and 10-year bans encourage people to remain in the U.S. unlawfully notwithstanding that immigrant visas have been approved for them and visa numbers are available."
Waivers that would ignore the wait times are available, but decisions on waiver applications are made arbitrarily, he said. Jackson Lee's bill would expand and clarify the considerations to grant waivers to assure family unity, he added.
The bill also aims to ensure that detention facilities are adequately maintained by requiring the Office of Civil Rights and Liberties to monitor all facilities used to hold undocumented detainees for more than 72 hours. This is a much-needed change, said Christopher Nugent, an immigration attorney at the Washington law firm Holland and Knight, following recent findings that attested to poor conditions for immigration detainees.
Nugent also argued in favor of another provision that would create a detention program in conjunction with reputable nonprofit groups to prioritize the release of the most vulnerable populations in custody such as undocumented parents with children who are willing to comply with removal orders.
But Julie Kirchner, executive director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said that the bill's provisions essentially amount to amnesty, making it easy to legalize millions of undocumented workers.
FAIR supports the reunification of nuclear families through family-based visas that allow U.S. citizens to sponsor only immediate family members, but not extended family members, Kirchner said.
She urged committee members to reject the bill, saying it would send a message that the U.S. does not care about its enforcement of immigration laws. It also would increase "chain migration" where extended family members enter the country and then petition for the entry of their extended family members, she said.
"As our population grows, our ability to accommodate it becomes increasingly stretched," Kirchner said. "Rapid increases in population make it hard for urban centers to keep up with growth by adding infrastructure. One of the largest contributors to urban growth is immigration."
Mitt Romney a Mexican-American?
Marisa Treviño on the Huffington Post has an interesting piece about Mitt Romney's criticism of so-called sanctuary cities. She sees it as inconsistent with his family history:
"It seems that Governor Bill Richardson isn't the only presidential candidate with a Mexican-born parent. Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, can technically claim Latino heritage as well. His father, George Romney, was born in Colonia Dublán, Galeana, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. . . . The elder Romney was born in a Mormon colony on Mexican soil that his parents had fled to, for lack of a better word -- sanctuary. That's why, it's rather ironic that Mitt, being the son of a man whose family fled to Mexico for sanctuary reasons, would authorize a plan to slash funding for American cities that declare themselves to be immigration sanctuary cities."
Like Mitt, George Romney was a businessman and politician. And he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination against Richard Nixon in 1968. George's candidacy raised the issue whether he was eligible to be President, which is constitutionally limited to a "natural born citizen" of the United States. Both his parents were American citizens, and he returned to the U.S. before he turned 21. That was sufficient for him to be a U.S. citizen, but not necessarily to pass the "natural born" test for the Presidency. The issue was never tested in court and contrasts with the cases of Barry Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory (Arizona was not yet a state at the time of his birth), and John McCain, who was born to American parents in the Panama Canal Zone at a time it was part of the U.S. and his father (a naval officer) was assigned to duty there.
Postcript: For an article in Hispanic Business critical of Mitt Romney's new television spot on immigration, click here. Even if Mitt is Mexican-American, his immigration position will probably not get him many Latina/o votes. For blog commentary on the new spot, click here.
November 9, 2007
University of Chicago Legal Forum: Immigration Issue
The University of Chicago Legal Forum has released Volume 2007, which is devoted to immigration. Contact Shani Fregia at fregia@uchicagoedu to order a copy.
Guantánamo is Here: The Military Commissions Act and Noncitizen Vulnerability, Muneer I. Ahmad
Immigration-Related State and Local Ordinances: Preemption, Prejudice, and the Proper Role for Enforcement, Michael A. Olivas
Taking Immigration Federalism Seriously, Peter H. Schuck
Cultural Communities in a Global Labor Market: Immigration Restrictions as Residential Segregation, Howard F. Chang
The Impact of U.S. Immigration Policy on Mexican Unauthorized Immigration, Belinda I. Reyes
Protecting National Security through More Liberal Admission of Immigrants, Kevin R. Johnson
Prohibiting the Employment of Unauthorized Immigrants: The Experiment Fails, Michael J. Wishnie
Guest Workers and Integration: Toward a Theory of What Immigrants and Americans Owe One Another, Cristina M. Rodríguez
Guest Workers: New Solution or New Problem? Philip Martin 289 Whose Community Shield?: Examining the Removal of the “Criminal Street Gang Member”, Jennifer M. Chacón
The Non-Legal Role of International Human Rights Law in Addressing Immigration, Lesley Wexler
You Can’t Get There from Here: Managing Judicial Review of Immigration Cases, Lenni B. Benson
Citizenship and the Courts, Nancy Morawetz
Release of New I-9 Form
Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS") has announced the release of a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, as well at the M-274, Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing the Form I-9.
The revision of the Form I-9 seeks to achieve full compliance with the document reduction requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRAIRA"), which reduced the number of documents that employers may accept from newly hired employees during the employment verification process.
CIS "encourages" the use of the new form immediately, but indicates that it will not be required until notice is published in the Federal Register.
To read the Fact Sheet from CIS about the New I-9 Form, a CIS Update and view the new I-9, click here and then click on "press room"
On Immigration and Politics
After the elections on Tuesday, it is difficult to predict how immigration will play out as an issue in the elections next year. There are some conflicting signals.
The Washington Post reports that "House Republican leaders, who made immigration a centerpiece of the fall campaign, said Thursday that efforts in the Virginia General Assembly to crack down on illegal immigrants probably are doomed because of losses their party suffered in the election this week."
In the presidential campiagn, immigration, as Senator Clinton learned, can be a volatile issue. Here is what has been reported from Senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail:
"Obama reiterated support for the controversial idea of allowing illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses, the issue that created an uproar in the Democratic debate in Philadelphia a week ago. Clinton's halting answer to a related question provided her opponents an opportunity to attack her for refusing to state clearly where she stands on volatile issues. Obama backed a similar measure as an Illinois state senator and said Thursday, "I would not overrule a state that has decided for public safety purposes that this is the best way to do it." Obama faced repeated questions about illegal immigration from his Democratic audiences this week and acknowledged that Republicans will make the issue a central part of their campaign. "My estimation is the Republicans will run on two issues, and two issues only: terrorism and immigration," he said, adding: "There's no doubt there will be attempts made to hit whoever the Democratic nominee is on this issue. And we have to stand our ground and not be defensive.'"
At the same time, there are signals that the economy is the big issue to most Americans. We will wait and see.
Immigrant of the Day: Alina Fernández Revuelta (Cuba)
Fernández had been a model and public relations director for a Cuban fashion company. In 1993, she fled to Spain and then to Miami. In 1998, She published Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba. It describes her life growing up in Cuba as Castro's daughter. Fernández has a radio show "Simplemente Alina" (Simply Alina) on WQBA in Miami.
November 8, 2007
Globalization and Mexican Agricultural Communities
Globalization and Its Impact on Migration in Mexican Agricultural Communities
Economist and Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for U.S. - Mexican Studies, UCSD
Wednesday, November 14, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Eleanor Roosevelt College Administration Building
Conference Room 115, First Floor
Reception to follow
In this paper, I examine several market liberalization measures taken in Mexico in the first half of the 90’s and their impact on municipalities’ migration incidence. Specifically, I look at events that affected generally small agricultural producers of basic crops, such as the removal of price supports and input subsidies, changes in laws governing the property rights of communal landowners and the reduction in tariffs on agricultural imports brought about by NAFTA, and their impact on migration to the U.S. I find that reliance on basic crop production is positively and significantly associated with municipality level U.S. migration incidence. I also find small effects of exposure to changes in property rights of communal landowners and negative but insignificant effects of exposure to globalization on migration to the U.S.
Jose Martinez is a recent Ph.D. graduate in Economics from UCSD, and he is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. Most of his research has focused on the Mexico-U.S. migration phenomenon. His research interests are migration, poverty and inequality. In one of his dissertation chapters, he analyzed the impact of globalization measures taken by the Mexican government and that affected mainly producers of basic crops. He found that, contrary to what the government tried to accomplish, globalization and market liberalization measures in Mexico led to an increase in migration incidence.
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 Ana Minvielle (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel#: 858-822-4447).
Judge the Minutemen for Yourself
Check out the website for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and judge for yourself. Do not miss the link to the "Illegal Alien Action Center."
PRECEDENT DECISIONS OF THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS IN FISCAL YEAR 2007
Juan P. Osuna, Acting Chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals, and Jean C. King have prepared an article on the BIA's 2007 precdent decisions: "In its published decisions in fiscal year (FY) 2007, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) published 40 precedents, more than in any single year since FY 1999. This article summarizes these published decisions (Interim Decisions 3545 through 3585), which covered a broad range of legal and procedural issues that come before the BIA and the Immigration Judges. One precedent issued by the Attorney General is also discussed." Download precedent20decision20review202007final1.txt
Immigrant of the Day: Tommy Chong (Canada)
Tommy Chong (born May 24, 1938) is an actor and musician. He is most widely known for his role as Chong in the Cheech & Chong comedy movies with Cheech Marin. He more recently played Leo on the television series "That '70s Show."
Chong was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Chong's father was of Chinese descent and his mother was of Scotch-Irish ancestry. When Chong was still young, the family moved to Calgary. By age eleven Chong was playing guitar, chiefly country-and-western music. Soon, he was introduced to rhythm and blues and became a professional musician.
Cheech and Chong was a successful comedy act. But the duo experienced creative differences and split in 1985. To hear the "Dave's Not Here" routine," click here.
Chong was a recurring character and later a regular character as the hippie "Leo" in the television series "That '70s Show."
In the late 1980s, Chong became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In 2003, Chong was targeted in two drug investigations. Chong pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to 9 months in a federal prison, forfeiture of $103,000, and a year of probation. Chong served his sentence. In 2006, Chong wrote a book about his experiences in jail and his interest in meditation, called The I Chong: Meditations From The Joint.
November 7, 2007
MALDEF: ANTI-IMMIGRANT POLITICAL STRATEGIES PROVE UNSUCCESSFUL IN STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS
Earlier today, we posted a story about how anti-immigrant candidates did not seem to carry the day in yesterday's elections. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) has issued the following press release:
" Yesterday, election results from across the country showed that candidates and parties who tried to use immigration as a political “wedge issue” were unsuccessful. Immigration, which has become a near-obsession to many pundits and political consultants, was of only minor concern to voters yesterday.
“Those who thought they could ride to victory on the backs of immigrants misjudged the American people,” stated John Trasviña, MALDEF’s President and General Counsel. “Voters chose moderation over manipulation when it came to immigration policies. Candidates and parties should heed that message when planning for 2008.”
Nationwide, voters elected state and local candidates who offered positions that addressed real policy concerns of local communities, not candidates who offered only fear-based attacks on immigrants. In Northern Virginia, the efforts to make immigration enforcement the defining issue backfired as yesterday’s election brought the largest partisan shift in the Virginia State Senate since 1991.
Voters clearly sought leaders with thoughtful solutions for transportation and community welfare, rather than platforms based on anti-immigrant tactics. Voters in New York State also did not generally favor candidates who attempted to exploit the immigration issue for political gain. While some expected Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants to ignite backlash in the voting booth, the election results proved otherwise as voters focused mostly on tax issues and civic reform.
“Immigration is clearly not the winning wedge issue that some candidates and political operatives would like for it to be,” stated Peter Zamora, MALDEF’s Washington, D.C. Regional Counsel. “We urge candidates for political office to avoid anti-immigrant rhetoric. That does not win elections. Yesterday’s elections showed that successful candidates run campaigns based upon ideas, not fear.”
Lou Dobbs on the Larry King Show
Last night, Larry King interviewed "sweet" Lou Dobbs. They talked about immigration, NY Governor Elliot Spitzer's IQ, driver's licenses, and related topics. Among Dobb's' more dubious claims is that he does not receive many complaints about his "news stories."
Ephraim Cruz Resigns
Ephraim Cruz, a border patrol whistleblower, is now being forced to resign:
Dear family, friends, and fellow community members:
Friday will be my last official day as a Senior Patrol Agent with the United States Border Patrol's Tucson Sector/Douglas Station (read attached resignation letter).
Some of you may be wondering why I would share such a personal decision so publicly. It is because my experience with the Border Patrol has been so public already that I feel compelled to round out this story in my life.
What started out for me as an inherent duty to report Border Patrol practices which did not compliment their written polcies on March 7, 2004, became an almost four year campaign to remedy institutional abuses, even against me immediately upon my reporting them.
However, the time has now come to forefeit this cause by circumstance not choice.
November 7, 2007
David V. Aguilar,
Robert W. Gilbert
Chief Patrol Agents
United States Border Patrol
2430 South Swan Road Tucson, Arizona 85711
Dear Chiefs Aguilar/Gilbert,
On May 04, 1998, prior to departing for the Border Patrol Academy, I stood proudly with my right hand raised amongst a group of individuals from across the country who also responded to the Border Patrol’s solicitation for assistance along the United States/Mexico border. On that day, I solemnly swore “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States; bear true faith and allegiance to the same…without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I (would) well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I (was) about to enter.” Standing with me in that room were now-Supervisory Border Patrol Agents Patrick J. Ford and Sandi Goldhamer, and fellow Senior Patrol Agents Raymond Poventud, Earnest Kyle, and Frank Bustamante, all classmates who comprised a fraction of class 374 and accompanied me to the Douglas Station by assignment. On September 15, 1998, I stood alongside my classmates once again to accept that inherent responsibility of becoming federal agents with the United States Border Patrol, taking that oath immediately prior to graduating from the Academy in Charleston, South Carolina.
Today, after 9 years and 6 months of federal service, I part with my classmates and write to inform you that I am resigning from my position as a Senior Patrol Agent with the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector/Douglas Station effective November 9, 2007.
This decision culminates the lengthy dispute with the Border Patrol over the condoned mistreatment of detained migrants in Border Patrol custody throughout the Tucson Sector’s Stations and the Border Patrol’s decision to retaliate against me for having reported the agency’s indiscretions that clearly continue to this day. My reporting this Border Patrol malfeasance honored my oath to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I” entered. The Border Patrol’s motto is “Honor First.” Yet, my credibility was impugned for living that very motto.
Irrespective of how the Border Patrol treats individuals entrusted into their custody, employing practices which blatantly circumvent and violate the agency’s own written policies, Arizona child abuse laws, Cochise and Pima county fire, safety, and health codes, and civil and human rights, and how an Agent will be treated for reporting such practices and violations, the fact remains that it has been a privilege and honor for me to have once again served my country, this time in the capacity of a Border Patrol Agent. During my tenure in this position, I steadfastly exercised my allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the duties inherent in this role, in this order, and to nothing and no one else.
The Border Patrol’s Agents, like every other government institutions’ Agents, are expected to do what is right and what we have sworn to uphold over what is expedient to our own ends. As you lead this Sector, I implore you to live the struggling Border Patrol motto “Honor First” in accordance with the oath we all take upon hire as federal Agents.
Senior Patrol Agent (D137)
Another Migrant Death from the San Diego Fire
This morning, we posted a story about our Immigrant of the Day and how he had discovered a migrant who died as a result of a wild fire in the San Diego area. We just learned that another migrant also died in the fires. A mother of four who was critically injured in the Harris fire after crossing the border died yesterday at UCSD Medical Center. María Guadalupe Beltrán, 29, had been hospitalized in the burn unit after being rescued in the backcountry during the firestorm two weeks ago.
Beltrán, a native of Mexico, had been returning to the United States after traveling to her hometown to attend her father's funeral. Her younger brother, who was with her, was critically injured. She is survived by, among others, four children, ages 8, 7, 5 and 18 months, her partner, Felipe Mercado.
How many migrants will die as a result of our border enforcement policies? And how we as a people look back on this 100 years from now?
The "State of Immigration"
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday issued a press release on the "state of immigration." Download chertoff_11607.pdf There is nothing too surprising here; he discusses "four major areas": (1) what DHS is "doing literally at the physical border itself, particularly the Southwest border"; (2) what DHS is "doing with respect to interior enforcement of the immigration laws"; (3) what DHS is doing "to deploy tools that employers can use to verify the legitimacy of their own workforce so that they can support the law instead of violating the law"; and (4) "some measures we’re putting into place to alleviate what will be an economic hardship as we crack down at illegal migrants by -- in particular, I want to talk about measures we are going to put into effect to streamline the process of getting temporary workers with respect to agriculture."
Not surprisingly, Chertoff in the end chides Congress for failing to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform.
New Vietnamese Leadership in Maryland
The Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (MVMA) is pleased to announce Ms. Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu as the new Executive Director for the organization effective November 5, 2007. Ms. Vu joined MVMA in December 2006 as MVMA’s third Dan Than Corps member (AmeriCorps member). She served as the Project Manager for the Golden Age Project for Seniors (GAPS) and was instrumental in enhancing the program and improving the organizational capacity.
Ms. Vu holds a B.A. in psychology with a concentration in biology and education from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “This past year has been an experience so amazing I can’t begin to put into words; therefore, I can’t even imagine what this upcoming year will hold and I am excited and anxious to work with the community in a much greater capacity.” said Ms. Vu.
Dan Than Corps program’s goal is to build a generation of new leaders in the Vietnamese American community. Ms. Phuong Do, Project Director at the National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies (NAVASA), commented that “Vy represents a new generation of leaders in the Vietnamese American community, who is committed not only to ensuring equity, representation, and access of services for the individuals, but reaches across cultural and generational boundaries to inspire others to share her passion for community work. We are gratified that the Dan Than Corps program was able to provide Vy with opportunity and support for her to realize her leadership potential.”
Ms. Yen Le, the outgoing Executive Director, also a graduate of the Dan Than Corps, will be going back to school sometime next year. “I found my passion in immigration law and policy while working at MVMA and will pursue this field when the time is right. As for now, I will focus on improving my Spanish. I am completely confident with Diane and her team in taking MVMA to another level.” said Ms. Le.
MVMA chair and president, Mr. Hoan Dang, is optimistic about the sustainability and future of MVMA. He expressed that "Ms. Yen Le has done a tremendous job as Executive Director in implementing MVMA's strategic plan to serve immigrants, youths and seniors. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Ms. Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu is a capable leader and she is passionate about serving the community. MVMA Board is confident that, as Executive Director, she will continue to build upon the foundation that Ms. Le has established." In order to ensure a smooth transition, Ms. Le has agreed to continue in a consulting role until December 14, 2007, to advise and support Ms. Vu in her new role as Executive Director.
For more information about MVMA's programs, how to volunteer, and to donate, please call the office at (301) 588-6862. For more information about NAVASA and the Dan Than Corps, visit www.navasa.org.
MVMA is featured in the 2007-2008 Catalogue for Philanthropy as "one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington Region. " To view our profile and to donate, please click
Deportations and School Life
The Education Week Blog has an interesting story about immigration arrests at school. the author, Mary Ann Zehr, tries to answer the question: What is a school to do in such situations? The latest incident involves a mother and two sons in Tucson, Ariz., who were "voluntarily" returned" to Mexico after police found one of the sons to possess marijuana at school. Zehr learned that the Border Patrol has a policy saying that Border Patrol agents, who work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, must have written approval from a supervisor before conducting any enforcement-related activity at schools or places of worship. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—which falls under a different branch of the U.S. Homeland Security Department than Border Patrol—has a policy that "arresting fugitives at schools, hospitals, or places of worship is strongly discouraged, unless the alien poses an immediate threat to national security or the community."
Feds Poised to Insist on Border Fence Extension -- Whether the Local Folks Like It or Not
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has had a busy week, with the Julia Myers' Halloween mess front page news. On Tuesday, Chertoff, who has invoked his power to waive federal laws to build border fencing in Arizona and California, said that he hasn't ruled out doing the same in Texas, where opposition to the fence has been running high.
Operation Streamline: A New "Zero Tolerance" Measure
Dan Kowalski reports about a new development in immigration enforcement. Ordinarily, on the U.S.-Mexico border, visa-less border crossers are fingerprinted, photographed, and immediately shipped back across the linel. But change is in the works. Based on pilot projects in the Del Rio sector of South Texas and elsewhere, "Operation Streamline" was just launched in Laredo - one of the busiest ports of entry in the world. Under this "zero tolerance" program, all crossers, without exception, are charged with the misdemeanor crime of illegal entry in federal district court. Most plead guilty, serve some time in a federal penitentiary, and then get deported. Repeat offenders get hit with felony charges and even more time. And now Arizona is looking at getting into the game. Click the link above to the full story and links to other stories.
Resurrecting State Protection: Migrant Workers Abroad
Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales has an interesting post on IntLawGrrls blog about efforts of nations to protect its nationals working abroad. This is an important issue for nations who have many of its citizens working abroad.