Saturday, March 29, 2008
Racewire.org, the Colorlines blog has two interesting posts on immigration topics. One is by Terry Keleher on the often ignored needs of H2B guest workers. The other is a post by Julianne Hing (an aspiring young writer who happens to be my daughter) on her reaction to the sexual exploitation of women by federal immigration agents.
Black Churches, Labor Activists form Underground Railroad for Indian Guest Workers
On a recent visit to New Orleans, I attended a memorable celebration at a neighborhood gymnasium organized by the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity, a project of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.
As I entered the gym, the jubilant spirit was contagious, as a group of immigrant workers performed a series of lively popular education skits highlighting themes of organizing for justice and human rights. The skits were followed by a spontaneous succession of storytelling, singing and dancing shared by a multicultural audience of Indian guest workers, Latino immigrants, white supporters and an energetic group of young Black jazz musicians who lead everyone in a lively New Orleans–style parade around the gym.
Amidst all the hand-shaking, hugging, marching and moving, there was a palpable feeling of camaraderie and hope, as if this magical moment was the beginning of something much bigger; indeed, the possibility that people from across the globe could truly unite and experience the taste of justice. The celebration marked the culmination of an organizing drive by nearly 100 Indian H2B guest workers who had broken an 18-month chain of human trafficking between Mumbai, India and Pascagoula, Mississippi. Click here for the rest of the article.
Anti-Immigrant Fever Ignites Violence Against Women
I felt a sour taste in my throat, the one that immediately precedes my gag reflex, when I read the NY Times piece about an immigration official who forced a woman to perform oral sex on him in exchange for her green card.
After the 22-year-old Colombian woman, whose name has not been released, went in for an interview for her green card with immigration agent Isaac Baichu in December of 2007, she started receiving phone calls from Baichu demanding sex. When he called her to meet in a restaurant's parking lot in Queens, she was prescient enough to stash her cell phone, which was recording their conversation, in her purse. Her cell phone captured Baichu asking for sex “one or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.” Later in the tape there’s a minute-long pause when, the reporter writes, the young woman “yielded to his demand out of fear that he would use his authority against her.” The Times posted an audio clip of the woman’s recording in the web edition of the article (yay, multimedia?).
The sexual exploitation of immigrant women is nothing new, but there’s a very specific pattern of abuse tied to this case. News of a Miami ICE agent who made a pit stop at his home so he could rape the Haitian woman he was responsible for transporting to detention and reports of sexual assault on a woman held at the Don T. Hutto Family Residential Facility, a de facto prison in Texas for families awaiting immigrations processing, come to mind. Similar scandals have been reported in Maryland (Deputy Lloyd W. Miner this year), California (Agent Eddie Miranda in 2007) and Georgia (Agent Kelvin R. Owens in 2005). Click here for the rest of the article.
AP reporter Monica Rohr In "Locals Crack Down on Illegal Immigration" raises some of the criminal justice issues raised for Latina/os with the increased local police involement in immigration enforcement. Rohr rells the story of Mayra Figueroa — a naturalized U.S. citizen, community organizer and licensed driver — who was pulled over by a Houston police officer, who told her he found it suspicious that a Latina was driving a late-model car. The story proceeds:
"The first thing the officer requested? Figueroa's Social Security card, as proof of citizenship. Until now, few local police and sheriff's departments wanted any part of enforcing federal civil immigration laws. They had their hands full with local crime — and needed witnesses and victims to work with them without fear. But as local governments feel mounting frustration over illegal immigration, that hands-off attitude is disappearing. More than 100 local law enforcement agencies — including Los Angeles and Orange counties in California and Maricopa County in Arizona, which includes Phoenix — have begun or are waiting for training to help the Department of Homeland Security root out illegal immigrants and hand them over for deportation. Advocates say the training beefs up the power of the overworked Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. Detractors say it will discourage millions of immigrants from reporting crime or cooperating with police investigations. They also cite evidence of poor training and overeager cops, like the one who questioned Figueroa. The ICE training program began 12 years ago in 1996, but had only one taker until 2002, when political pressure began to mount to fix the illegal immigration problem. Now 41 law enforcement agencies are trained, and 92 more are waiting in line."
Friday, March 28, 2008
SF Immigration Attorney Paula Solorio will make the statement (see below) on immigration tomorrowcat the California State Democratic Convention tomorrow on behalf of the Latino Caucus. What do our readers think?
REMARKS FOR CAL DEMO PARTY CONVENTION PAULA J. SOLORIO
• IMMIGRATION IS AN ISSUE OF CONCERN TO ALL CALIFORNIANS AND TO ALL AMERICANS
• WE HAVE APPROXIMATELY 12 MILLION INDIVIDUALS IN OUR MIDST WHO CLEAN OUR HOMES, CARE FOR OUR CHILDREN, BUS OUR TABLES, WORK AT OUR CONVENTIONS, AND PAY TAXES BUT WHO ARE AT RISK OF BEING ARRESTED AT ANY MOMENT AT THEIR WORKSITES, ON THE STREET OR IN THEIR HOMES.
• WE HAVE COMPANIES AND BUSINESSES SEEKING TO FILL POSITIONS FOR WHICH THEY CANNOT FIND QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS TO DO THE JOB
• WE HAVE BORDERS THAT HAVE TURNED INTO MILITARIZED ZONES. AS A RESULT, WE CURRENTLY DETAIN OVER 260,000 MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN – MANY OF WHOM POSE NO THREAT TO SOCIETY OR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY.
• WE HAVE AN ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON MORE INTENT ON ENFORCEMENT THEN JUSTICE, DUE PROCESS OR EQUITABLE RELIEF
• TODAY, MR. BUSH IS FORCING BUSINESSES TO FIRE EMPLOYEES WHOSE NAMES DON’T MATCH AN ANTIQUATED SOCIAL SECURITY DATABASE. THIS PROCESS WILL NEGATIVELY AFFECT MILLIONS OF WORKERS, INCLUDING U.S. CITIZENS.
• IT IS CLEAR THAT OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM IS BROKEN. NO ENFORCEMENT WILL FIX THIS BROKEN SYSTEM.
• HARDWORKING INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES TO OBTAIN THE AMERICAN DREAM FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND WHO PERFORM JOBS THAT U.S. CITIZENS CANNOT OR WILL NOT DO ARE NOW AT RISK OF LOSING THEIR LIVELIHOODS.
• UNFORTUNATELY IMMIGRATION HAS BECOME THE POLITICAL FODDER OF RIGHT-WING, REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES WHO SCARE AND INTIMIDATE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC INTO FEARING THE IMMIGRANTS IN OUR MIDST
• THE REPUBLICANS SCAPEGOAT IMMIGRANTS FOR THE ILLS OF OUR SOCIETY TO DEFLECT OUR ATTENTION FROM CORPORATE GREED AND THE WAR IN IRAQ. THEY FORGET THAT WE ARE A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS
• IN FACT IMMIGRANTS CONSTITUTE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF SKILLED & UNSKILLED UNION MEMBERS IN AMERICA; FOR EXAMPLE SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS OF SEIU, AFL-CIO, UFW, AND TEAMSTERS MEMBERS ARE IMMIGRANTS
• TO COMPETE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, AMERICA MUST MAINTAIN A POOL OF PROFESSIONAL, SKILLED, AND UNSKILLED LABOR NECESSARY FOR THE VITALITY OF OUR ECONOMY • WHEN WE WIN THE WHITEHOUSE IN NOVEMBER, WE WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FIX OUR BROKEN IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
• BUT TO DO THIS, WE WILL NEED TO EDUCATE AND INFORM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN ORDER TO REJECT THE MEAN-SPIRITED REPUBLICAN RHETORIC
• THEREFORE, DELEGATES, LET US EDUCATE OURSELVES NOW TO BECOME ADVOCATES ON BEHALF OF FAIR, HUMANE AND EFFECTIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
• LET US WRITE, EMAIL AND CONTACT OUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES AND TELL THEM WE WANT TO FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM, AND THAT WE WILL NOT USE HATE OR FEAR-MONGERING AS THE BASIS FOR SUCH CHANGE
• LET US TELL OUR REPRESENTATIVES THAT IMMIGRANTS ARE VITAL TO OUR ECONOMY, OUR CITIES, OUR TOWNS AND OUR COMMUNITIES.
• LET US AGREE TO BRING HARD-WORKING AND LAW-ABIDING IMMIGRANTS OUT FROM THE SHADOWS SO THAT, IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY, WE MAY KNOW AS A NATION WHO ABIDES IN OUR LAND
• LET US PROVIDE A FAIR, HUMANE, AND EFFECTIVE WAY SO THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS MAY APPLY TO LEGALIZE THEIR STATUS AND BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FABRIC OF OUR COUNTRY
• LET US GIVE BUSINESSES AND COMPANIES THE OPPORTUNITY TO HIRE THE INDIVIDUALS THEY NEED TO EXPAND;
• AT THE SAME TIME LET US PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS AND THEIR WAGES
• LET US AFFORD LAW-ABIDING IMMIGRANTS THE DUE PROCESS AND JUSTICE FOR WHICH OUR COUNTRY IS KNOWN
• THIS ELECTION YEAR HAS SHOWN US THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN AMERICA. IT HAS SHOWN US THAT EVEN A FIRST GENERATION AMERICAN CAN ASPIRE TO THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND
• LET US STAND TOGETHER TODAY IN THE MEMORY OF CESAR CHAVEZ, AND LET US DECLARE IN HIS WORDS: SI SE PUEDE!
Diane Amann of IntLawGrrls today celebrates the 110th anniversary today of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 731 (1898), the foundational case on birthright citizenship that, despite persistent attack from immigration restrictionists, remains the law of the land.
Julia Preston has an interesting article today in the N.Y. Times about immigrants in prison. According to the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie L. Myers, the annual number of deportable immigrant inmates was expected to vary from 300,000 to 455,000, or 10 percent of the overall inmate population, for the next few years. Ms. Myers estimated that it would cost at least $2 billion a year to find all those immigrants and deport them.
The Nevada Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, has issued an opinion that a proposed immigration bill would be premepted by federal law:
"IRCA preempts state laws imposing civil or criminal sanctions, but does not preempt "licensing or similar laws." The "administrative fine" imposed by [Nevada] A.B. 383 is a "civil sanction" which is both expressly and impliedly preempted by federal law. It is not a licensing or "fitness to do business" law because the Tax Commission has no other authority to act against an employer's business license for immigration-related matters. Therefore, it is an attempt to impose an additional state sanction on certain businesses that violate the federal law, which is expressly preempted. A.B. 383 also conflicts with the comprehensive federal scheme, which already sets maximum monetary sanctions for violations of IRCA."
Bruno Bettelheim (1903–1990) was an Austrian-born writer and child psychologist. He is widely known for his studies of autism.
Bruno Bettelheim is also the author of The Uses of Enchantment, published in 1976, in which he discussed the meaning and importance of fairy tales. Bettelheim suggests that if children are allowed to read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, they will get a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. The book was awarded the U.S. Critic's Choice Prize for criticism in 1976 and the National Book Award in the category of Contemporary Thought in 1977.
Upon his father's death, Bettelheim was forced to leave university in order to care for his family's lumber business. After ten years, Bettelheim returned as a mature student in his 30s to the University of Vienna, from which he received his Ph.D.
Bettelheim was interned at Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps from 1938 to 1939. He was released along with hundreds of other prisoners. Bettleheim arrived by ship in New York in 1939 and soon moved to Chicago, becoming a naturalized U.S.citizen in 1944.
Bettelheim eventually became a professor of psychology, teaching at the University of Chicago from 1944 until his retirement in 1973. The most significant part of Bettelheim's professional life was spent serving as director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago, a home for emotionally disturbed children. He wrote books on both normal and abnormal child psychology and was respected by many during his lifetime.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. immigration service has said that it will temporarily stop denying green cards to refugees and other legal immigrants tied to groups that sought to topple foreign dictatorships. The decision mayy affect thousands of pending applications for permanent U.S. residence. The cases of hundreds of others who have been denied green cards since December will also be reexamined, said Jonathan "Jock" Scharfen, deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. All the applicants are living in this country under refugee or political asylum provisions of the immigration laws. Most of the applications involve people linked to groups that U.S. immigration and counterterrorism laws have defined as "undesignated terrorist organizations" because they took armed action against a foreign government. The groups include U.S. allies that fought against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, as well as Burma's military junta and Sudan's Islamic leaders. According to the Post, Scharfen said that USCIS recognized the illogic of admitting immigrants under one provision of the law and then labeling them terrorists for green card purposes, calling it a "very good question." At the same time, he said, the restrictions are "written so that the definition of a terrorist organization and activity is very, very broad." Even groups that have been "closely associated with the United States," such as Montagnard tribesmen who fought with U.S. forces in Vietnam, "fall under the definitions."
Read Alvaro Huerta's tribute to hard-working immigrants by clicking here. The son of Mexican immigrants, Huerta, a Ph.D. student in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, delivered an excellent paper at the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies in Austin last week and was honored with an award for his scholarship and activism.
Members of the California State Assembly introduced a series of measures intended to punish undocumented immigrants. The bills vary in their focus and do everything from repealing SB 840 (Firebaugh) to punishing sanctuary cities to mandating that local police contact federal immigration authorities if they believe a dunk driver is undocumented.
According the the Applied Research Center: These bills represent a push to expand institutional racism. From separating families to encouraging racial profiling and denying students an education, these bills will no doubt have a disproportionately negative affect on communities of color.
Several of the bills are listed below:
AB 1468 (Garrick) - Would require hospitals to report on the citizenship status of their patients
AB 1882 (Garrick) - would require police to contact immigration authorities when a person suspected of being an illegal immigrant is arrested for driving under the influence.
AB 2102 (Walters) - would require state agencies to check all new employees' work eligibility through a federal electronic database called E-Verify
AB 39 (Benoit) - would require the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to tally the cost of jailing undocumented inmates each year and bill the federal government
AB 1928 (Anderson) - would require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when they arrest suspected illegal immigrants
AB 2420 (Huff) - would prohibit cities from declaring themselves "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants and not allowing their police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities
AB 648 (Adams) - would add 10 years to the sentence of anyone convicted of a felony who has a previous felony conviction in California for which they were deported
AB 2812 (Silva) - would allow the governor to cite illegal immigration as a cause to declare a local or state emergency
For more information on the bills go to http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html and type in the bill number (e.g. AB 1882)
Congress returns on Monday from its two week recess, and proposals regarding employment verification for all workers - foreign- and U.S.- born alike - are gathering steam. Several bills including the Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE Act" (HR 4088) and the Johnson "New Employee Verification Act of 2008" (HR 5515) include provisions to create a nationwide mandatory electronic employment verification system (EEVS). In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new proposed regulations to turn SSA "no-match" letters - a system SSA uses to correct errors in its database - into an immigration enforcement tool. These proposals are election year antics rather than answers. These policies rely on the government and its databases to be accurate, timely and competent - a stretch in the best of circumstances given what we know about database error rates. Both would have enormous negative consequences for U.S. citizen workers, employers, and the economy. This week, Immigration OnPoint highlights two new documents that provide policymakers and advocates with facts that are relevant to the current debate in Congress:
Rep. Johnson's New Employee Verification Act: Another Version of the Shuler-Tancredo Bill (National Immigration Law Center - March 21, 2008) - Provides a summary of the Johnson EEVS bill (HR5515) and its negative impact on U.S. citizens, employers, and the Social Security Administration.
Administration Announces New "No-Match" Regulations: DHS Regs Pass Burdens to Social Security Administration, Small Businesses, and Citizens (Immigration Policy Center - March 2008) - Provides a summary of the new proposed "no-match" regulations and their harmful impact on workers, employers, and the Social Security Administration.
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.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center Announces a Major Immigration Fraud Public Awareness Campaign
What: Press Conference Announcing ILRC’s Anti-Immigration Fraud Campaign
When: Friday, March 28, 2008 at 12:00 p.m.
Where: ILRC, 1663 Mission Street, Suite 602, San Francisco
Immigration provider fraud is a serious problem throughout California. Immigrants are easy targets for fraud because, as newcomers, they don't have a sophisticated understanding of the way in which US legal systems operate, and because, if illegal, they are afraid of approaching institutions such as the courts or the police. Too often, immigrants fall prey to scam artists that promise them an easy path to legal status only to cheat them out of their hard-earned money and, often, put them at risk of deportation.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) has historically been at the forefront in combating this type of fraud. Our experience has taught us that the most effective remedy against this pervasive problem is prevention. By informing immigrants about the danger s of immigration fraud, we can keep them from becoming victims.
ILRC is therefore launching a massive public information campaign against immigration fraud:
Ø ILRC has produced thousands of bus signs that are now being carried on every bus system in the Greater Bay Area, warning people to beware of immigration fraud.
Ø ILRC also has produced thousands of Comic Books in English, Spanish, and Chinese, that detail several typical fraud scenarios that people should watch out for.
o Each of these scenarios is based on a real life situation.
o The books also include information on reputable immigration agencies and sources of help for immigration fraud victims.
o The last page of each book is a flyer summarizing what they should watch out for when contracting with someone for immigration help.
ILRC is proud to announce this campaign. Joining us at the press conference will be Rosemary Melville, San Francisco District Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, who supports us in our efforts. Also joining us will be members of community based organizations who support us in this effort.
“With the posting of our Anti-Fraud Bus Signs, and the dissemination of our Anti-Fraud Comic Books, immigrants from Napa and Sonoma Counties to the North, to Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to the East, and as far south as Santa Cruz County will be able to avoid being victimized by immigration scam artists.” stated Nora Privitera, attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Arjinderpal Singh "A.J." Sekhon (India) is a physician and Army Colonel who ran for Congress in California's 2nd district in 2006. He eaned his MD from the Medical College in Amritsar. Sekhon is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve's 36th Civil Affairs Brigade and has otherwise been self-employed as a medical doctor since 1979.
Sekhon won the June 2006 Democratic primary to gain the nomination to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sekhon opposes the Iraq War, and supports health care reform and protecting the environment. Sekhon lost to Wally Herger in the November 2006 general election.
Sekhon currently lives in Yuba City, California.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Hussain, Laura Moranchek. Enforcing the treaty rights of aliens. 117 Yale L.J. 680-722 (2008).
Poverty, Migration, and Trafficking in Persons. Article by Svati P. Shah; appellate brief by Ivy Lee; notes by students Kevin Shawn Hsu, Lauren Fouda and Bethany Li. 14 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 441-572 (2007).
Coder, Ellinor R. Comment. The Homeland Security safe-harbor procedure for Social Security no-match letters: a mismatched immigration enforcement tool. 86 N.C. L. Rev. 493-525 (2008).
Colon-Navarro, Fernando. Familia e inmigracion: what happened to family unity? 19 Fla. J. Int'l L. 491-509 (2007).
Bergquist, Kathleen Ja Sook. Right to define family: equality under immigration law for U.S. inter-country adoptees. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 1- 20 (2007).
Coyle, John. The legality of banking the undocumented. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 21-55 (2007).
Kersey, Nicole A. Misplaced opposition: immigration incentives of the proposed Social Security Totalization Agreement with Mexico. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 57-84 (2007).
Ferguson, S. Adam. Note. Not without my daughter: deportation and the termination of parental rights. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 85-104 (2007).
Gomez, Monica. Note. Immigration by adverse possession: common law amnesty for long-residing illegal immigrants in the United States. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 105-125 (2007).
Gaspar, Jennifer. Current development. Legislative branch: House members react to USCIS fee increases. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 129-132 (2007).
King, Christopher Morrissey. Current development. Executive branch: visa administration sings a discordant tune for entertainers. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 133-136 (2007).
Adess, Shana. Current development. Judicial branch: the Second Circuit decision: Jiang v. Gonzales. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 137-139 (2007).
Thompson, Paul. Current development. International branch: Iraqi translators face difficulties gaining asylum in the United States. 22 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 141-145 (2007).
Here are some relatively new Immigration books from the University of Illinois Press (http://www.press.uillinois.edu/):
American Dreaming, Global Realities: Rethinking U.S. Immigration History Edited by Donna R. Gabaccia and Vicki L. Ruiz
Mexican Chicago: Race, Identity, and Nation, 1916-39 Gabriela F. Arredondo
Becoming Mexican in early twentieth-century Chicago Memories and Migrations: Mapping Boricua and Chicana Histories Edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and John R. Chá¡vez
Because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has higher political aspirations, some folks think he should take a bolder stance on immigration policy. Here's a sample:
Where does Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, stand on Immigration Reform?
March 25, 2008
Where does Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, stand on Immigration Reform?
CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE, PHOTO, AND SURVEY: nativolopez.blogspot.com/
"Don't forget immigration reform," wrote USC professors Dowell Myers and Manuel Pastor in a 22 March 2008 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. The well- respected Myers and Pastor make the case that the first step towards immigration reform, and through it continued economic prosperity for the United States, involves changing perceptions towards immigrants. Immigrants, they contend, should not be "viewed as a problem to be solved but [as] an asset to our regional future." The question is: "Where does Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, stand on immigration reform?"
Myers and Pastor explain why Los Angeles has to play a leading role in the debate: "We in Los Angeles County have a special interest in this topic: One-third of our residents are immigrants, and nearly half of our labor force is foreign-born. Two-thirds of our youth are the children of immigrants, 90% of them U.S.-born. our region's economic resilience depends on how these immigrant families and their children fare in coming years."
Myers and Pastor call for "business, community, labor, and government leaders to focus attention on our immigrant and regional future," since "clearly we cannot wait for Washington, we must start this conversation now in Los Angeles." Ever since Antonio Villaraigosa was elected Mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, expectations have ran high that he would stand up for issues of importance to Latinos (not to mention all Angelenos). So what happened?
With the Mayor's Office silent, and immigration a hot election year issue, Washington has gone on the offensive. In February 2008, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security conducted a brash, foolhardy workplace raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE) in Van Nuys, California. The company, owned by Israeli immigrant and American citizen Avi Wazana, had been in substantial compliance with federal laws regarding employment eligibility, and had even received assurances from ICE that they would not raid his company.
Very little media attention has been paid to this immigration enforcement, one of the most dramatic raids Los Angeles has seen in the past 25 years. MSE, a fast-growing and award-winning manufacturer, had been committed to manufacturing in the U.S. and had even moved jobs to the U.S. from overseas -- the reverse of the outsourcing that we have seen around us the past decade. The results of this reckless, wanton enforcement were sudden, and invoked a dramatic economic and social impact. At the caprice of the federal government, an $80 million business was nearly paralyzed and potentially destroyed. Over 140 innocent workers were arrested and hundreds of others lost their jobs. Dozens of Americans were detained illegally against their will in a mass detention.
While an upstanding corporate citizen has been mercilessly thrown into chaos, there has been no attention paid to the impact that continued enforcements of this kind would have on the social and economic fabric of Los Angeles, for certainly more are in the works. We have heard almost nothing from the Mayor on the subject, even though it is well known that our city has developed a deep economic dependence on immigrant labor. The majority of workers in various labor-force segments are undocumented. It is commonly accepted that approximately one million people living in Los Angeles County are undocumented; they include rank and file workers, managers, skilled employees, and entrepreneurs alike.
The Mayor has already stated that jobs and the economy are the biggest challenges Los Angeles faces. The economy of our city depends on a harmonious and stable business environment. An intensification of immigration enforcements by ICE, given the prevalence of undocumented workers in Los Angeles, could lead to an economic disruption our city has not seen in decades. Why should the people and the economy of Los Angeles suffer solely because the Bush Administration wants to look "tough" on the issue of immigration? National opinion polls suggest that most Americans support the integration of undocumented workers into the economy and granting them permanent status. Mayor Villaraigosa should stand up for the city and call upon the Bush Administration to discontinue these senseless enforcements in Los Angeles until such time that the federal government has enacted comprehensive reform of immigration laws.
Many commentators have drawn attention to the Mayor's political aspirations at the national level. In light of immigration having become such a high profile issue this election year; it is ironic that our Mayor has been silent on the very issue that is of paramount importance to our city. Has Mayor Villaraigosa lost his sense of judgment and responsibility where our city is concerned? For the Mayor to remain silent and complicit while these immigration enforcements damage the social and economic landscape of Los Angeles borders on gross negligence at best and a betrayal at worst. It is also at odds with a sincere position supporting comprehensive immigration reform. Both the workers and employers of our city have expected more and it is high time that the Mayor started to deliver.
Nativo Vigil Lopez, National President of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), and the National Director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana - www.nativolopez.blogspot.com/ nativolopez.blogspot.com/
I am not sure what I think of this analysis (although I am pretty sure that I disagree in a number of respects) but Immigration Daily (www.ilw.com) offers some food for thought about the possibilities of immigration reform with each of the three remaining presidential candidates:
"The three major contenders for President this November are Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain. Here is a quick preview of how immigration benefits might fare under these three possible presidencies (bear in mind that immigration legislation is controversial and generally difficult to muster votes for). The analysis begins with the likely shape of Congress next year. Here, the ground appears to favor Democrats. In the House of Representatives, the Democratic majority will likely increase by the low single digits or decrease by the high single digits. Either way, it appears that the Democrats will keep their majority in the House. In the Senate, Democrats appear poised to increase their majority by 3 to 6 seats. Either way, the Democrats will likely fall short of a filibuster proof majority, thus guaranteeing that on some issues, the Republicans will be able to block bills. Thus the three possible presidencies should be viewed within the context of Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate in the next Congress. If Sen. Clinton were President, Senate passage of immigration benefits could be problematic since a Republican filibuster against an initiative from a President Clinton may be easier to sustain than against another Democrat. The fundamental issue if either Democrat were to be elected President - Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama - is that immigration will likely not be high on the list of Presidential priorities in the next Congress. The Iraq war, health care, energy, the economy - all these might prevent any Democratic presidential push on immigration. If Sen. McCain were President, however, the list of Presidential priorities would be quite different: war against Al-Qaeda, tax cuts, and spending cuts. A President McCain may well want to work on immigration early on to show that he is a centrist President and does not govern from one end of the political spectrum. To sum up, from a purely immigration benefits perspective, an Obama presidency would be better than a Clinton presidency, and a McCain presidency would likely be the best option.
We welcome readers to share their opinion and ideas with us by writing to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org."