Friday, March 14, 2008
ALI NOORANI TO LEAD NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: MASSACHUSETTS ADVOCATE TO SERVE IN POSITION HELD BY FRANK SHARRY
The Board of Directors of the National Immigration Forum announced today that Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the Boston-based Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition will be the next Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, one of the nation’s preeminent pro-immigrant advocacy organizations. Noorani has served as the MIRA Coalition’s Executive Director since 2003. Under his leadership, MIRA has more than tripled its staff and programs, and greatly increased its capacity to advocate for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees. He has served on the Board of the National Immigration Forum since 2006.
Born in California, Noorani is the son of Pakistani immigrants. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and received his Master’s in Public Health from Boston University. Recently, he received the Alfred L. Frechette Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association for exceptional leadership in promoting social justice and received the 2007 Boston University Young Alumni Award.
Emilio Gonzalez, the immigration official who promised to bring an ethos of corporate efficiency to the immigration bureaucracy but ran into difficulties has resigned.
From: USCIS Director Emilio T. González
Date: March 13, 2008
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I have recently informed the White House and Secretary Chertoff of my decision to resign as Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services effective April 18, 2008.
This was an extremely difficult decision for me but one that I had to make. Since 1999, due to my professional commitments and requirements, I have led a part-time family life. The time has now come for me to return to being a full-time husband and father. After taking my family on a well-deserved vacation, I will pursue other opportunities in south Florida.
I am very proud of the many accomplishments achieved by USCIS over the past two years. Those accomplishments are the result of the tireless energy and dedication of our 17,000 government employees and contractors. Together we have taken this agency to new heights. Your commitment to the security of the United States is unparalleled and I am honored to have served as your Director.
I will continue to lead USCIS until my final day in office. In the meantime, I look forward to thanking as many of you as possible for your service, support and friendship.
May God bless you and your families and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Emilio T. González
Second Circuit on forced insertion of IUD, persecutor bar
"[W]e remand this case to the BIA for it to articulate a consistent position on “whether and under what conditions forced insertion of an IUD constitutes persecution.” ... In doing so, we urge the BIA to apply consistently the standard for what conduct constitutes “persecution” for purposes of establishing refugee status, see 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42), and for purposes of determining whether an individual who “ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in” that conduct would be subject to the persecutor bar, see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1158(b)(2)(A)(i) & 1231(b)(3)(B)(i), or to explain adequately its reasons for not doing so. We find it troubling that, in the context of an application for asylum, the BIA concluded that forcible IUD insertion does not constitute persecution, but then applied the persecutor bar to an applicant based on a conclusion that forcible IUD insertion does constitute persecution because a period of detention preceded it."
Jiang v. BCIS, Mar. 14, 2008.
Second Circuit on motions to reopen
"The BIA erred ... because a rote recital of a jurisdictional statement — even if technically accurate — does not adequately discharge the BIA’s duty to “consider the facts of record relevant to the motion” and provide a “rational explanation” for its ruling. ... The BIA did not consider ... whether petitioners’ newfound ability to file adjustment applications with the USCIS warranted a favorable exercise of its discretion to reopen and continue the proceedings and thereby lift the removal orders. Accordingly, the reason set forth by the BIA for its denial of the motions — a lack of jurisdiction over adjustment applications — was unresponsive to the relief petitioners sought and therefore did not provide a “rational explanation” for the denial." Ni v. BIA, Mar. 14, 2008.
The Washington Post has a story about how the University of Virginia is checking into the immigration status of parents of students and will not allow U.S. citizens who are otherwise eligible for residency to qualify if their parents are undocumented. "Last week, the Virginia state attorney general's office weighed in, saying that schools must look at parents' legal status, because students are considered dependent until they are 24 years old. That means the children of parents without legal residency must be considered for out-of-state admission and tuition. The attorney general's memo emphasized that state law allows exceptions on a case-by-case basis, if students 18 or older can offer convincing evidence that they should be considered separately from their parents." Here is a copy of the Virginia Atorney General's opinion. Download va. AG Domicile Memo 3-6-08.pdf
Does this mean that some U.S. citizen students, even if "natural born citizens" eligible to become President of the United States, may not be eligible for in-state fees at the local public university? Do we now have two-tier citienship in this country? What kind of country is this?
POSTSCRIPT (Happy Ending): The Washington Post later reported that the citizen, Nelson, Lopez, who was faeatured in the original story had been notofied by the University of Virginia that he would be treated as a state resident for fee purposes.
In an opinion by Judge Frank Easterbrook, the Seventh Circuit interpreted INA § 1182(h)'s language "relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana" in a case involving the removal of a Mexican national who had been convicted for possession of a pot pipe. Judge Easterbrook's opinions are always entertaining (although probably not in this instance to Barraza, who faces the possibility -- he is eligible for a waiver -- of being forced to leave his U.S. citizen wife and mother) and, in this opinion, he talks about pot smoking (and maximum consumption) at rock concerts etc. Download Barraza_v_Mukasey.pdf
Hiroaki Aoki (born October 9, 1938) is a former Japanese Olympic wrestler. He is better known in the United States as Rocky Aoki under which he founded in 1964 the Benihana chain of restaurants. He is also the father of supermodel and actress Devon Aoki, and Dim Mak Records CEO Steve Aoki.
Aoki faced deportation from the United States over a tax evasion conviction but ultimately was granted relief by the immigration judge. Aoki is now a U.S. citizen.
Aoki is the recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Law Foundation provides excellent factual resources on social, economic, and demographic information on immigrants and immigration. The "OnPoint" series is particularly useful. Visit the website at www.immigrationpolicy.org.
OnPoint Highlights: The Facts Behind the Rhetoric in Congress
Immigration OnPoint: Facts at Your Fingertips for Frequently Asked Immigration Questions
Both Houses of Congress are currently debating immigration policy issues. In the House, members are focused on the creation of a mandatory electronic employment verification system that would put additional responsibilities on both the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration and could endanger the jobs of American workers. In the Senate, a small group of Republican senators has introduced a series of deportation-only bills -- including an employment verification bill -- aimed only at escalating the rhetoric, rather than searching for solutions. This week, Immigration OnPoint highlights three new documents that provide policymakers and advocates with facts that are relevant to the current debate in Congress:
Immigrants and Crime: Setting the Record Straight (Immigration Policy Center - March 2008) - Dispels myths about immigrants and criminality.
The Social Security Administration Taking on Immigration and Employment Eligibility: Not Ready for Prime Time (Immigration Policy Center - March 2008) - Examines the burden that a new mandatory employment verification would have on the Social Security Administration.
The "EEV" of Destruction (Cato Institute - March 2008) - Analyzes the civil liberties issues surrounding electronic employment verification.
Immigration OnPoint is a project coordinated by the Immigration Policy Center to create and maintain an online catalogue of short documents and fact sheets that provide quick answers to commonly asked questions about immigrants and immigration. Immigration is a notoriously complex issue area, and the current immigration debate is filled with myths, misinformation, fear, and emotion, making reasoned decision-making difficult. OnPoint documents are meant to confront myths and provide factual information about immigrants and immigration policy.
Documents on the OnPoint website are meant to be widely distributed to the public, press, policymakers, and others in order to inject factual information into the immigration debate. Many different organizations have contributed their time and expertise to create these documents. OnPoint will continue to grow and be updated throughout the year.
OnPoint documents are organized by topic. Check back frequently to see if any new items have been added!
OnPoint subject areas include:
Immigrants and the U.S. Economy -- What is the impact of immigration on the U.S. economy? This section includes information on immigrants and public benefits usage, tax payments, the U.S. labor market, and more.
Coming to the U.S. through Legal Channels -- How does the U.S. immigration system operate? What options are available to immigrants looking to come to the U.S. legally? Are immigrants choosing to remain here illegally? This section seeks to demystify U.S. immigration law and policy.
Immigrants in our Communities -- Who are today's immigrants? How do they impact the communities we live in? This section addresses immigrant integration, examines foreign-born crime rates, and a host of other issues.
Federal, State, and Local Policy Debates -- What is the federal government doing to address immigration issues? How are state and local governments responding to their specific immigration challenges? This section includes information on legislation being considered in Congress, as well as in state and local legislatures.
Facts on the Restrictionists -- This section includes information on restrictionist groups and anti-immigrant activities. It also contains information about discrimination and hate crimes targeting immigrant communities.
Faith-Based Perspectives -- How do different faith communities view immigration? How can we respond to immigration debates from a faith-based perspective? This section provides materials and perspectives from the faith community on immigration and related topics.
Politics and the Immigration Debate -- How is the immigration debate affecting politics and the elections? This section includes information on the immigrant vote, elections, and the public's view on the immigration debate.
IPC is a division of the American Immigration Law Foundation.
Margaret Taylor (Wake Forest) shared this with the Immprof list members and I will share with you: A wonderful version of Woody Guthrie’s classic song Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon) by Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harris, with a striking collection of photos of migrant workers displayed during the chorus, can be found here.
Henry Weinstein for the L.A. Times writes on a deeply troubling immigration case:
"In a stinging ruling, a Los Angeles federal judge said immigration officials' alleged decision to withhold a critical medical test and other treatment from a detainee who later died of cancer was "beyond cruel and unusual" punishment.
The decision from U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson allows the family of Francisco Castaneda to seek financial damages from the government.
Castaneda, who suffered from penile cancer, died Feb. 16. Before his release from custody last year, the government had refused for 11 months to authorize a biopsy for a growing lesion, even though voluminous government records showed that several doctors said the test was urgently needed, given Castaneda's condition and a family history of cancer, Pregerson said.
But rather than test and treat Castaneda, government officials told him to be patient and prescribed antihistamines, ibuprofen and extra boxer shorts, the judge wrote in a decision released late Tuesday. In summary, the judge wrote, the care provided to Castaneda "can be characterized by one word: nothing."" (emphasis added).
I am proud to say that Judge Dean Pregerson is an alum of UC Davis School of Law! Here is a copy of the ruling care of Dan Kowalski and Bender's Immigration Bulletin.
Postscript: The federal government later admitted that its negligence was responsible for the death in the case.
According to Forbes, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is once again warning Congress that the U.S. needs to improve its education system and allow more foreign-born scientists and engineers to work in the country. "If we don't do both, U.S. companies simply will not have the talent they need to innovate and compete," Gates told the House of Representatives' Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday. His remarks echo comments he made to the committee a year ago.
An article in Time Magazine says that a new Colombian film Paraiso Travel "should be watched by any American who has ever hired illegal immigrants -and, for that matter, any American who has ever shouted for their deportation. A group of weary Colombian migrants, having waded across a rushing river from Guatemala to Mexico, is violently set upon by the Maras, bloodthirsty gangbangers who prowl that border corridor. Men are shot, women are raped, children are terrorized. It's an almost daily occurrence of migrant life in this hemisphere, and the film captures it with haunting authenticity. What's almost as disturbing is that few if any good films have ever captured it until now."
It sounds like a movie that we will not want to miss!
Strict document requirements for Medicaid were adopted by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2005 aimed at making sure undocumented immigrants would not obtain such benefits. That was crazy on many levels, but especially because there was little empirical data that showed that undocumented immigrants actually obtained such benefits. Now, there's clear evidence that the document requirements are hurting clearly eligible applicants who have difficulty coming up with the documents easily.
Barbara Bassler writes in the AARP Bulletin:
Bernice Todd's Choctaw family roots are sunk deep in the soil of Oklahoma, a state whose very name is Choctaw for "red people." But in the middle of a debilitating battle with cancer, Todd, a 39-year-old who cleans homes at a trailer park and baby-sits for a living, lost her state Medicaid health care coverage because, although she's a Native American, she could not prove she is a U.S. citizen.
While Todd's case is rich in irony, she is one of tens of thousands of Americans who are falling victim to a new federal rule—aimed at keeping illegal immigrants off the Medicaid rolls—requiring that recipients prove their citizenship and identity with documents many don't have.
"Even though I'm eligible for Medicaid and my family has been here forever, they had to drop me," says Todd, who lives in Ardmore, Okla., where her grandparents settled decades ago. "I just got a bill for $11,000. When I feel a bit better I'm going after those [citizenship] papers. But this is just one thing I didn't need right now."
States have always been required to check a Medicaid applicant’s eligibility, which includes citizenship. But a July 2006 rule, enforced by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), now demands specific documents as proof, such as a passport or a birth certificate, driver's license or military record. States face fines if they don't comply.
The rule, which neither CMS nor the Bush administration requested, was adopted by the Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 despite the fact that there was no evidence that undocumented immigrants were falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to get Medicaid. Click here for the rest of the story.
Born in Canada, William Shatner (1931-) is an award winning actor who gained fame for playing James Kirk, captain of the starship USS Enterprise, in the television show Star Trek from 1966 to 1969 and in seven movies. Shatner also played the title role as tough-as-nails police sergeant T.J. Hooker, from 1982 to 1986. He has since worked as a musician, author, producer, director, and celebrity pitchman.
Shatner currently co-stars as attorney Denny Crane on the television drama Boston Legal, for which he has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award.
Shatner was cast as Captain James T. Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek. He played Kirk for the Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969. Shatner participated in the first interracial kiss in a U.S. television drama series between fictional characters, with Nichelle Nichols, in the 1968 Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren." The episode was not telecast in some Southern cities for fear of protest.
Between 1979 and 1991, William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the first six Star Trek films, and directed the fifth. In 1994, he returned to the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek Generations – his character's final appearance in the movie series.
Click here for the official William Shatner website.
Reuters reports that, although a border fence has been the focus of U.S.-Mexico border enforcement in recent months, Yuma, Arizona is looking to build a moat. Authorities in Yuma are thinking of going back to the days of the medieval castle and digging out a "security channel" on the border and filling it with water. Among others, Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden is backing the project.
What will they think of next?
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Members of Congress Join CIW in Campaign to End Modern Day Slavery and Sweatshops in America’s Fields
On the heels of the 200th anniversary of legislation banning the transatlantic slave trade in the U.S., members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights (RFK Center) Director Monika Kalra Varma will join farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in a ceremony outside the U.S. Capitol to kick-off a national petition drive to support human rights and eliminate modern-day slavery in America’s produce fields. The petition demands that Burger King and food industry leaders work with the CIW to improve the wages and conditions for the workers who pick their tomatoes, and join an industry-wide effort to eliminate modern-day slavery and human rights abuses from Florida’s fields. Members of Congress, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and supporters will publicly sign the petition. The event will take place at 10:30 am Thursday, March 13th in the Senate Swamp, near Constitution Ave and Delaware Ave NE across from the Russell SOB. Supporters can learn more about the petition drive at http://www.ciw-online.org/2008_Petitions/index.html
Apparently, Arkansas officials can be forgetful about holding undocumented immigrants in custody. Some feel this forgetfulness is related to the ethnic background of individuals.
Adam Nossiter writes in the NY Times:
A woman was locked for four days in a tiny holding cell in a northern Arkansas courthouse, forgotten by the authorities and left without food or water, the local Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.
The woman, Adriana Torres-Flores, 38, a longtime illegal immigrant from Mexico, slept on the floor with only a shoe for a pillow, and with nothing to drink except her own urine, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. There was no bathroom in the cell.
A bailiff had apparently forgotten that he placed Ms. Torres-Flores, a mother of three, in the cell last Thursday, and simply left her in the empty courthouse, in Fayetteville, over the weekend.
“He just flat forgot about her,” Mr. Cantrell said, adding that the bailiff, Jarrod Hankins, had been placed on administrative leave, having been on the job a few months. “It was just a horrible mistake,” Mr. Cantrell said.
When the bailiff opened the door of the cell on Monday, Ms. Torres-Flores was lying on the floor, the deputy said.
“From what I understand — it sounds horrible to say — it was an oversight,” said Nathan Lewis, Ms. Torres-Flores’s lawyer. “No one is walking around there Friday, and she just got left in there over the weekend.”
“There’s no water, there’s no food,” Mr. Lewis added. “She basically said it was really bad.”
She was taken to a hospital and treated, and is now recovering at home, Mr. Lewis said, “very worn out from the whole ordeal.”
Ms. Torres-Flores has been in the United States for 19 years, and her children were born here, though she is in the country illegally, said her immigration lawyer, Roy Petty. Mr. Petty said she had been among numerous people arrested at a flea market on charges related to the sale of pirated DVDs and CDs.
She went to court Thursday for a hearing on a plea agreement over the charges, but decided to plead not guilty. She was then placed in the holding cell for transfer to the county jail, since the new plea was contrary to the terms of her original release on bond. Instead, she was forgotten.
“Everybody is backing away from it as fast as they can,” Mr. Petty said. “Frankly, that’s how they treat Hispanics down here. They treat Hispanics like cattle, like less than human.” Click here for the full story.
As even a casual reader of this blog can appreciate, Arizona is ground zero of the current debate over immigration. As we previously reported, a tough state law so far has survived a legal challenge. NPR has a story about one of the legislators in Arizona who supports tough laws on immigration and immigrants. If Arizona State Representative Russell Pearce had his way, birthright citizenship would no longer be automatic for everyone born in the United States. Pearce is the man behind some of the toughest state immigration laws in recent years and is co-author of Proposition 200, Arizona's Proposition 187-type initiative. So far Pearce has pushed through a dozen or so pieces of legislation on the issue.
Long time immigrant rights advocate, Bill Tamayo, will be honored by the Asian Law Caucus at its annual dinner in San Francisco on April 18.
For more ticket information, go to: asianlawcaucus.org
Executive Director, NY Taxi Workers Alliance
Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
WILLIAM R. TAMAYO (Bill Tamayo) was appointed in 1995 as the Regional Attorney for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, San Francisco District. He currently directs the Commission’s litigation and legal program in Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. From 1979-2005 the San Francisco District covered Northern and Central California, Hawaii, American Samoa, Wake Island, Johnston Island, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
From 1979 – 1995 he was a staff attorney and the Managing Attorney for the Asian Law Caucus. Inc. where he emphasized the practice of immigration and nationality law and civil rights litigation and advocacy involving employment discrimination, affirmative action, immigrant rights, voting rights, and the Census. He was co-counsel for the plaintiff-intervenor in EEOC and Castrejon v. Tortilleria La Major, 785 F. Supp. 585 (E.D. Cal 1991) (undocumented workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and was on the legal team that developed the immigrant battered women provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.
Mr. Tamayo has served as a speaker and trainer for the American Bar Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Society of Human Resource Managers, American Immigration Lawyers Association, the State of Hawaii, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the State Bar of California, Latino/a Critical Legal Studies, Association of Defense Counsel, Western Law Professors of Color, and others.
During his tenure as Regional Attorney, the EEOC San Francisco District has achieved significant settlements including among others, Arnett & EEOC v. California Public Employee Retirement System ($250 million for disabled public safety officers); EEOC v. Tanimura & Antle ($1.855 million for farm workers who were sexually harassed), and EEOC v. Herrick Corporation ($1.11 million for 4 Pakistani Muslims harassed at work). In January 2005, his office obtained a nearly $1 million verdict for a farm worker in a sexual harassment lawsuit, EEOC v. Harris Farms.
Mr. Tamayo received the 1990 Award for Lawyering from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the 1993 Judge John Minor Wisdom Award from the American Bar Association (Section on Litigation), a 1993 Charles Bannerman Memorial Fellowship, the 1995 Carol King Award from the National Lawyers Guild National Immigration Project, the 1999 Jesse De La Cruz Community Service Award from California Rural Legal Assistance, the 2004 Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy from the Asian American Bar Association, the 2004 Achievement Award from Filipinas magazine, the 2004 Accomplishment Award from the Asian Pacific Fund, and a 2005 Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He received his B.A. from San Francisco State University magna cum laude and his law degree (J.D.) from the University of California at Davis, King Hall.
The National Immigration Forum has put out this call to action against the deportation-only approach to immigration reform epitomized by the SAVE act:
Republicans have filed a discharge petition to bring the flawed Shuler-Tancredo bill directly to the floor of the House of Representatives without allowing any Congressional committee to consider the merits or demerits of the bill. This kind of political maneuver "discharges" a bill from the commiteee with jurisdiction over it and prevents amendments; effectively circumventing the legislative process.
WHY THIS IS WRONG
This back-door approach to legislating undermines the democratic process and shortchanges the American public.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS BILL
On November 6, 2007, Rep. Shuler (D-NC) introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (the "SAVE Act"). The Shuler bill, which now has over 139 co-sponsors takes a deportation-only approach to immigration reform. Anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4088, along with a who's who of the least immigrant-friendly members of Congress.
The bill will:
Target minor children and families for detention and mandate the creation of a new family detention center modeled after the infamous T. Don Hutto Facility;
Confiscate private land of citizens through eminent domain for building more fences which have already proven ineffective at curbing immigration;
Increase militarization of the border through additional body armor and firearms for agents; and
Impose a mandatory electronic employer verification program known as the Basic Pilot Program (re-branded as E-verify) on the entire American workforce. This highly controversial program lacks necessary safeguards to protect American workers from wrongful termination and improperly identify at least 2.5 million workers as ineligible for employment. The program would also destabilize the economy by immediately removing at least 7 million undocumented employees from the entire U.S. workforce at one time.
Hundreds of national, state, and local organizations representing business, labor, and immigrant communities have written to Congress opposing the flawed Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE" Act.
Tell Congress that bypassing the democratic process to enact legislation which affects millions of workers and families is against American Values and unacceptable.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND SAY:
PLEASE DECLINE TO SIGN THE PETITION TO DISCHARGE
H.R. 4088 THE SHULER-TANCREDO BILL
(ALSO KNOWN AS THE "SAVE" ACT)
AND, IF YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IS A CO-SPONSOR OF H.R. 4088
PLEASE WITHDRAW YOUR NAME AS A CO-SPONSOR OF
H.R. 4088, THE SHULER-TANCREDO BILL
See if your Rep. is a Sponsor Here:
Your Representatives' phone number is online here:
CALL THE HOUSE SWITCHBOARD AT: