Saturday, February 17, 2007

Editorial Calls for Reform

The Seattle Times calls for comprehensive immigration reform:

"Among the frustrations about this week's arrest of 51 illegal immigrant workers at two Auburn warehouses is that so far only the employees are facing consequences.

The operator, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and hiring contractor Spherion have not been charged, which is especially troubling considering the sites were U.S. Customs-bonded warehouses requiring higher security. To gain access, a bad actor could threaten to expose a worker's illegal status. A federal spokeswoman said the investigation is still ongoing. We are for enforcement of the laws on the books, but that is only part of the solution to the impossibly tangled immigration system that has permitted — no, fostered — an underground economy reliant on illegal workers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has increased enforcement. In the last fiscal year, ICE made 718 criminal arrests in work-site enforcement cases — up from only 25 in 2002. That is not even a drop in the bucket considering the 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living and working in the United States." Click here for the rest of the editorial.

bh

February 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

TV torture influencing real life

Ever watch the popular television show "24"?  In a recent episode, demanding information, Jack Bauer faces a terrified man tied to a chair in front of him. Through a window over Bauer's shoulder, the man sees his two children bound and gagged. Tell me where the bomb is, Bauer orders, or we'll kill your family. Silence. The prisoner watches as a thug kicks down the chair his son is tied to and fires a gun at point-blank range. He screams but still doesn't relent — until the gun is pointed at his second son. Having gotten what he needed, Bauer whispers that the execution was staged. The scene from Fox's "24" is haunting, but hardly unusual. The advocacy group Human Rights First says there's been a startling increase in the number of torture scenes depicted on prime-time television in the post-2001 world.

Click here for the AP story.

This is troubling.  Muslim groups have protested 24's stereotypes of Muslim terrorists.  Many academic studies document how the prevalence of negative stereotypes in mass culture can influence how the nation treats all particular groups, with the mass depictions of Black criminality being a prime example.   Now we can see torture on our television screens.  Will we soon hear more reports of torture? 

The New Yorker (2/19 print issue) (here) has an article "Whatever It takes" by Jane Mayer that traces the political evolution to the right of Joel Surnow—the co-creator and executive producer of “24.”  It is a fascinating article that offers opinions by experts that Baeur would be a war criminal, that the "ticking time bomb" trope never occurs in real life, etc.

KJ

February 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

More on Border Patrol Officers Ramos and Compean

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/4560398.html Former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, convicted of shooting drug smuggler Osvaldo Davila last year, began serving prison sentences in January after their convictions in the incident. What really happened in border shooting? "The long and short of it is, the system worked — as it should have," according to Pauline Arrillaga for the Associated Press.  Click here or here for the story.

One is left to wonder what accounts for the incredible public attention paid to this story.

KJ

February 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hearings on Rape and Other Abuse in Immigration Detention Facilities

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Hearing held hearings in December 2006 pn "The Elimination of Prison Rape: Immigration Facilities and Personnel/Staffing/Labor Relations."  Transcripts to the testimony of former detainees, attorneys, and others can be found by clicking here.

Sadly, the fact that immigration detention has been a growth industry in the last ten years has not meant that we as a nation have gotten any better about how detainees are treated while incarcerated.

KJ

February 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sixth Annual Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration

Law Matthew Bender announces the Sixth Annual Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law to be presented at the 2007 AILA Conference in Orlando. A member of the Editorial Board of Bender's Immigration Bulletin, Daniel Levy died at the age of 48 on September 14, 2001, in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Levy was a prolific author,litigator, and scholar, and was widely known and loved by many in the immigration bar. With this annual award Matthew Bender seeks to honor an individual who emulates the values that informed Mr. Levy's life and work:

- enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of immigrant clients;

- deep scholarship in immigration law; and

- an expansive vision of justice.

Nominations are encouraged of all persons (not only attorneys), who have been working on the local and/or state level, as well as those who are known on the national level, and those who have been quietly toiling on behalf of immigrants, wherever they may be located. Readers are encouraged to forward nominations to Ellen Flynn at: ellen.m.flynn@LexisNexis.com by May 1, 2007.

KJ

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Program Podcasts Available

The AALS announced that audio podcasts of the programs at the 2007 annual meeting are now available on the www.aals.org website. Two programs were sponsored by the Section on Immigration law:

Section on Immigration Law Program: “We” Becoming: Histories of Naturalization Moderator: Peter J. Spiro (Temple). Speakers: Irene Bloemraad (Sociology, University of California, Berkeley), Hiroshi Motomura (North Carolina), Gerald L. Neuman (Harvard), Lucy Salyer (History, New Hampshire). http://www.aals.org/am2007/thursday/index.html

Section on Minority Groups, Co-Sponsored by Section on Immigration Law Membership program: Citizenship and Race Moderator: Kevin R. Johnson (UC Davis) Speakers, T. Alexander Aleinikoff (Dean, Georgetown), Ediberto Roman (Florida International), Muneer Ahmad (American), Adrien Katherine Wing (Iowa). http://www.aals.org/am2007/saturday/index.html

KJ

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lawyer Guilty of Visa Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE      
FEBRUARY 14, 2007       (713) 567-9301
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/TXS         
IMMIGRATION LAWYER AND HER ASSISTANT FOUND GUILTY OF VISA FRAUD

(HOUSTON, TX) - A federal jury has convicted a Houston immigration attorney of conspiracy and fraud arising from a scheme in which false and fraudulent documents were filed with visa applications to permit foreign nationals to enter and remain in the United States, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today.

Yali Huang, 44, the attorney, convicted of all counts alleged against her -- conspiracy and four counts of visa fraud -- was immediately ordered into federal custody following the return of the verdicts. Huang's assistant, Yongping "Mary" Liu, 49, tried along with Huang, was convicted of one count of visa fraud and acquitted on the four other counts. She, too, was immediately ordered into federal custody following her conviction. Both women will remain in custody pending a May 16, 2007 sentencing hearing. The guilty verdicts were returned on Tuesday, February 13, 2007, after more than two weeks of trial and approximately twenty hours of deliberation.

"We will investigate anyone who files false petitions to circumvent the federal immigration laws," said Robert Rutt, the Special Agent in Charge of the Houston office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the lead agency involved in the investigation of this case. "And continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify those who choose to exploit our systems."

The Law Office of Yali Huang first came to the attention of federal law enforcement when immigration officials observed fraud indicators in numerous visa applications the Law Office submitted. Confidential sources also informed law enforcement that the Law Office of Yali Huang was known in the Houston Chinese community to file fraudulent visa applications

During the course of a two and a half week trial, at which federal agents and former clients of Yali Huang testified, the United States presented evidence which showed two main parts to the visa fraud scheme that Huang operated for approximately five years beginning in April 2000 through 2005.

The first part of the fraud scheme involved applications to extend B1 visas. B1 visas are visas that allow foreign citizens to come to the United States for a short time period and conduct business on behalf of a foreign employer. Huang submitted more than 200 applications to extend B1 visas on behalf of foreign citizens, which included a supporting letter purportedly from the applicant's Chinese employer. With respect to the six applications that were the focus of the trial, the evidence showed that the Law Office's practice was to draft the supporting letters that supposedly came from Chinese companies and then have the aliens forge the signatures of their supposed boss on the supporting letter. In addition, Yali Huang filed at least three B1 extension applications with letters purportedly from Chinese businesses saying their employee was conducting business in the United States with a company called Ultra Controls. The evidence proved that Ultra Controls was a company created by Huang and her husband and that the aliens, in fact, never conducted business with Ultra Controls or with Huang's husband. The evidence further showed that after the execution of a federal search warrant at the Law Office in September 2004, Huang asked the Chinese nationals whose applications mentioned Ultra Controls to sign false affidavits stating that they had done business with her husband's company.

The second part of the scheme involved employment-based visas, which U.S. employers file to bring foreign citizens into the United States as employees. One type of these visas allows foreign citizens to enter the United States and work as employees of an American subsidiary of a foreign company. The evidence at trial established that Huang participated in a scheme to file such visa petitions fraudulently both showing that an American company was the subsidiary of a Chinese company and that the Chinese national would be coming to work in a managerial position for the American company. Ping Lee Cohen, a co-conspirator who has pled guilty and testified during the trial, received tens of thousands of dollars from Chinese nationals to assist them in obtaining permanent resident status in the United States. Cohen then recruited American businesses to be used in the scheme. According to the testimony of two business owners at trial, they were told that their company would be "sponsoring" a Chinese national, but were not told that a false representation would be made to the government that their company had been purchased by a Chinese company.

Cohen then hired the Law Office of Yali Huang to file visa petitions for the American companies falsely showing that the American companies had been purchased by Chinese companies. Yali Huang filed these visa petitions along with fraudulent stock certificates, Board of Director meeting minutes, and other corporate documents that the Law Office created to falsely show a sale of the American company to a Chinese company. Cohen testified that once the Law Office created these fraudulent documents, she would go to the Law Office and forge the signatures of the company owners on the documents falsely showing the sale to a Chinese company. The trial focused on eight such petitions that Huang filed. Huang received her usual legal fees for filing such petitions.

Both Huang and Liu, who are lawful permanent residents of the United States, face up to ten years imprisonment for their respective visa fraud convictions, and are subject to deportation upon their release from prison. Huang also faces up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy conviction. All counts of conviction also carry a maximum fine of $250,000.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the Houston office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Citizenship and Immigraration Service Fraud Detention Unit at the Texas Service Center, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Varnado.

bh

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AILF Looking for Executive Director

The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) is seeking to fill the position of Executive Director. This is the perfect opportunity for an innovative, dynamic, action-oriented visionary, strategist, fundraiser and coalition-builder to lead our organization in fulfilling its mission of increasing public understanding of immigration law and policy, and the value of immigration to American society, and of advancing fundamental fairness and due process under the law for immigrants.   For more information, see Download ailf_ed_jobannounce.doc

KJ

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Immigrant Coalition Mobilizing in Texas

The Austin (Texas) Statesman (here) reports that a coalition of political, business and civil rights leaders vowed Thursday to play a significant role in shifting the immigration debate away from the Texas Capitol to the federal government. The coalition, including the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas Association of Business, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations, urged Congress to pass immigration changes combining enhanced border security with more avenues for immigrants to enter the United States legally and earn citizenship. State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, said the group was troubled by what it called an onslaught of bills targeting illegal immigration filed in the Texas state Legislature.

KJ

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Migration Trends in Europe

The International Herald Tribune (here) has an interesting article on current migration trends in Europe.  As the currents begin to shift and the weather improves, the first patched-up fishing boats crowded with Africans have resumed their attempts to cross from West Africa to the Canary Islands of Spain. But the Africans are not the only migrants risking this route now. Asians are joining in. While some Asians have long strived to get into Europe by land routes, there is agreement now that they are favoring the much longer and more dangerous route from West Africa by the sea.

KJ

February 16, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bay Area Protests Against ICE Raids

The Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition & Deporten a la Migra Coalition invite you to:

A Week of Action Against ICE Raids: Monday, Feb 26th to Friday, March 2nd

Location:  San Francisco Immigration Building (Sansome and Washington Streets in Downtown SF)

11AM to 1PM everyday

Call for Local Community Actions

(Local org’s and groups organizing local events)

4PM to 7PM everyday

Recent ICE community and workplace raids have been terrorizing the immigrant community and ripping families apart.   

We call for an end to all ICE raids and for regional and local authorities to publicly oppose detentions and deportations and ensure the safety of our communities.

More than ever we need a fair and just immigration law that will allow immigrants the ability to reunite and remain with their families.

Detailed Schedule of Activities Forthcoming!

For more information and to learn how you or your group can get involved call:

Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition at 510 839 7598

St. Peters Housing Committee 415 487 9203

bh

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

The Real People Affected By Anti-Immigrant Laws

The Washington Post ran a thoughtful op/ed today ("In Virginia, the Harm Of an Anti-Immigrant Bill By Nancy Lyall and Teresita Jacinto") about a Virginia bill designed to reduce public benefit receipyt by undocumented immigrants.  Last month, the House of Delegates voted 70 to 29 that no organization receiving state or local funds "shall use those funds to provide benefits or assistance to ineligible persons such as undocumented immigrants." The authors of the commentarey are volunteers with the Woodbridge Workers Committee in Prince William County and  we regularly work with members of the immigrant community and know the disastrous effects a cutoff of state money could have for new immigrants who may lack official residency paperwork.  They offer a few examples of the people who would be hurt by the law:

A young mother who wants to support her first-grader and get a better-paying job. A man in his late 50s who has diabetes but no access to health care. A 16-year-old day laborer who is hungry and needs winter clothes. These and thousands of others like them are the people who will be most harmed if Virginia enacts House Bill 2937.

Click here to see the rest of the piece.  Maybe the Anne Frank article posted by Professor Hing is more relevant to contemporary times than some folks think?

KJ

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Policy and Anne Frank's Family

Anne Frank’s father tried to arrange U.S. visas before his family went into hiding, but his efforts were hampered when Allied and Axis countries tightened immigration policies, papers released Wednesday show.

Otto Frank also sent desperate letters to friends and family in the United States pleading for help with immigration costs as the family tried to escape the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.

“I would not ask if conditions here would not force me to do all I can in time to be able to avoid worse,” Otto Frank wrote to his college friend, Nathan Straus, in April 1941. “It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance.”

The letters, along with documents and records from various agencies that helped people immigrate from Europe, were released by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, a New York-based institution that focuses on the history and culture of Eastern European Jews. The group discovered the file among 100,000 other Holocaust-related documents about a year and a half ago. Click here.

bh

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Budget Request for Border Enforcement

President Bush has requested about $13 billion for border controls and internal enforcement of immigration laws in his fiscal year (FY) 2008 budget submitted to Congress on February 5. This would increase immigration enforcement spending by $3 billion from FY 2007.   Click here for an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute.

KJ

February 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bush's statements on immigration

This morning, President Bush gave a press conference, in which he addressed a variety of issues from Iraq to Scooter Libby.  Here are his statements on immigration:

Secondly, an interesting opportunity [to work with the Democratic leadership in Congress] is immigration. As you know, I strongly believe that we need to enforce our borders and that _ and have taken steps to do so.

But I also believe that, in order to enforce the borders, we need a temporary worker program so that people don't try to sneak in the country to work; that they can come in in an orderly fashion and take the pressure off the Border Patrol agents that we've got out there, so that the Border Patrol agents don't focus on workers that are doing jobs Americans aren't doing, but are focusing on terrorists and criminal elements, gunrunners, to keep the country _ both our countries safe _ Mexico and the United States safe.

I also know that we need to deal with the people who are here _ the 12 million people who are here illegally.

I have said multiple times that we can't kick them out of our country. That doesn't make any sense to me to try to do that, and I don't think _ maybe some feel that way, but I don't feel that way.

But I also don't believe we should give them automatic amnesty _ automatic citizenship, which I view as amnesty. And we look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to have a comprehensive immigration plan.

The text of the full press conference is available here.

-jmc

February 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Transcripts to Border Patrol Officers Trial

The U.S. Attorney's office in the Western District of Texas has made the trial transcripts available in the controversial prosecutrion of two Border patrol officesr, Compean and Ramos. For the links to the transcripts, along with some press releases, click here.

KJ

February 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush Administration Reportedly to Admit More Iraqi Refugees

The Associated Press (here) reports that the Bush administration plans to allow about 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the United States over the next year, a huge expansion at a time of mounting international pressure to help millions who have fled their homes in the nearly four-year-old war. The United States has allowed only 463 Iraq refugees into the country since the war began in March 2003, even though some 3.8 million have been uprooted. A senior State Department official described the expanded program on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement later Wednesday.

KJ

February 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

KKK Bolstered by Immigration Debate

Fears over undocumented immigration are fueling a resurgence in membership to the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina and across the country, according to Klan officials and organizations that track hate groups.

In Gaston County near Charlotte, the imperial wizard of the Mount Holly-based chapter of the Klan says membership is growing faster than he's seen since joining in the 1960s.

"People are tired of this mess," said Virgil Griffin, 62. "The illegal immigrants are taking this country over."

Griffin recounted 1960s Klan rallies when dozens, sometimes hundreds, marched through towns such as Mount Holly, Salisbury and Wilmington. "We were strong in the '60s," he said. "We're not that strong now. We're hoping to get there."

The group wants to increase its numbers so it can influence local and national politics. The Klan's goals include military border enforcement and ending taxpayer-funded services to undocumented immigrants. Click here.

bh

February 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Shocking Story from NPR :)

Colorado passed some of the toughest set of anti-immigration laws in the country six months ago. Now, a state panel reports that illegal immigrants really didn't use state services, and that the new laws are costing more to implement than they're saving for the state. Listen to NPR's report on the new law by clicking here.

KJ

February 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Bank of America Casts Wider Net For Credit Cards

MIRIAM JORDAN and VALERIE BAUERLEIN have an interesting article in the Wall St Journal (Feb. 13 here) about a decision by the Bank of America, in the latest sign of the U.S. banking industry's aggressive pursuit of the Hispanic market, to begin offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers -- typically undocumented immigrants. In recent years, banks across the country have begun offering checking accounts and, in some cases, mortgages to the nation's fast-growing ranks of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic. But these immigrants generally haven't been able to get major credit cards, making it hard for them to develop a credit history and expand their purchasing power.  The new Bank of America program is open to people who lack both a Social Security number and a credit history, as long as they have held a checking account with the bank for three months without an overdraft.

NPR ran two related stories: Bank Defends Credit Cards for Illegal Immigrants (here) and Should U.S. Businesses Market to Illegal Immigrants? (here).

Before we hear from the naysayers, there is no law prohibiting ordinary consumer transactions with undocumented immigrants.  Grocery stores, convenience stores, check cashing businesses, telephone companies, wire transfer services, etc. have long conducted business with undocumented immigrants.  A while back, banks, including Wells Fargo Bank, began to accept foreign identification (matriculos) to open checking accounts.   Some banks even allow undocumented immigrants to obtain home mortgages.

KJ

February 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)