Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deported for Possession of Toy BB Gun?

Anna Pratt reports in the Minnesota Monitor:

Jorge Emilio Esquivel-Munoz, 31, who is from Mexico but has lived in Minneapolis over the past four years, probably didn't imagine that hanging out with a friend who was drunkenly fooling around with a toy BB gun would trigger his arrest and deportation. But last Sunday, April 20, that's exactly what happened, according to his girlfriend, a 24-year-old Latina who says her name is Judy.

Esquivel-Munoz, who doesn't speak English, was wrongly identified as the owner of the toy pistol, says Judy, who wasn't present at the scene. ("Toy" is no excuse under the law; it's illegal to have a replica gun in Minneapolis.) Currently, Esquivel-Munoz is located at an Elk River facility, awaiting deportation. Judy said she's been told that he will be dropped off somewhere around the Texas border in about a week.

It's instances like these, Judy says, that raise questions about the crossover between the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In Minneapolis, police officers are prohibited through a Separation Ordinance from doing double-duty as federal immigration agents (same thing goes for St. Paul) by inquiring about or taking action on the immigration status of people they encounter. While officials from both agencies claim that there's an element of natural overlap in their duties at times, such as joint handling of people who are in jail, MPD officials claim they strive to stay out of immigration affairs altogether, adopting a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy. They say building trust in immigrant communities makes day-to-day police work easier. But some local residents say that doesn't stop the police from overstepping that boundary at times. They claim reports of racial profiling by police and/or getting hassled on the basis of immigration status are fairly commonplace among ethnic-looking minorities.

In the case of Esquivel-Munoz, Judy believes he was unfairly arrested" "Jorge is not the owner of the toy gun and he never played with it. He had no idea the other guy had it. I think the police made up that excuse so he could be arrested… They took him in an arbitrary way, as the owner of the gun, so that he looks like he did a crime so they could take him to immigration." Click here for more.


April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on Peter Schey's Lawsuits

Here is the press release related to the 114 lawsuits filed that Kevin Johnson reported on earlier today:


114 U.S. Citizens and Lawful Residents File Damage Claims Following Los Angeles ICE Factory Raid

For immediate release: Friday April 25, 2008 Noon PST

Contact: Kavita Kapur 213 388-8693 ext 302,

Los Angeles, CA “One hundred and fourteen (114) United States citizens and lawful permanent residents today filed claims for damages with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) alleging that they were illegally detained and harassed during a large-scale ICE immigration raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE) in Los Angeles on February 7, 2008.

The raid was the largest recent workplace operation by ICE agents searching for undocumented wo! rkers. MSE employs about 800 workers, 138 of whom were arreste! d during the raid. Almost all of those workers were released on bonds or their own recognizance and are fighting deportation in hearings before Immigration Judges expected to last at least one year.

MSE is a global manufacturer of remanufactured imaging supplies. Lawyers for the workers bringing the claims argue that MSE is a high-tech manufacturer whose employees make well above the minimum wage and are offered a range of benefits, far from the type of labor law-violating "sweatshop" top ICE officials have claimed are targeted for raids.

Each claimant seeks five thousand dollars ($5,000) in compensation for the alleged detention that took place during the MSE raid. This is beliueved to be the first time that a group of U.S. citizens and lawful residents claiming they were illegally detained during an ICE workplace raid have brought claims for damages against the government. If the claims are successful, this strategy could force Secretary Chertof! f and ICE chief Myers to reassess how raids are conducted.

In a letter dated yesterday addressed to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law wrote:

"Despite the fact that labor unions, workers, and others have previously brought to your attention the blatantly unconstitutional use of 'group detentions' during ICE workplace raids, you have failed to in any way to reassess your operations, provide better training for your agents, or issue clear instructions to cease and desist from unlawful 'group detentions' during ICE operations."

Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said "ICE raids that result in the temporary detention of all workers will not be tolerated. Workers do not leave their rights at the work place gate. They are are entitled to be treated in full compliance with the law and the Unite! d States constitution. The ICE practice of detaining all workers during raids regardless whether they have done anything wrong is appalling and inexcusable. The practice of separating families and deporting longtime resident workers is irrational, especially given that all presidential candidates support comprehensive immigration reform that hopefully will soon offer these workers a path to citizenship."

Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the California Assembly, said “ "I am opposed to these raids and have joined other California elected officials in recently informing Secretary Chertoff of our strong disagreement with the manner in which these workplace operations are conducted. These raids accomplish nothing since employers immediately rehire new workers and end up with the same number of workers using unauthorized identity documents despite full compliance by employers with federal employee-verification rules. Raiding companies that employ large numbers of US citizens and pay well above the minimum wage makes no sense. The country needs comprehensive immigration reform, not arbitrary random workplace raids, particularly against employers who are not exploiting their workers."

Angelica Salas, Executive Director Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said “ "The result of these raids is always the same: torn apart families, injured businesses, injured workers, and debilitated communities.  We cannot ignore the truth that violating the civil rights of our very own citizens, legal permanent residents, or immigrants in process is just plain wrong."

Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and lead counsel for the claimants, said "During the raid, Micro Solutions was sealed off and effectively locked down by armed ICE agents. These armed government agents issued orders directing everyone in the building where to go, where to stand, and where! to line up. Those detained were not permitted to use their ce! ll phone s. This mass detention of U.S. citizens and lawful residents took place without a warrant or probable cause to believe every worker had violated the law and was therefore subject to temporary detention."

One U.S. citizen claimant reports that "ICE agents with guns stormed into the building. The agents yelled at us to stop whatever we were doing, and not to touch anything. The agents did not tell us who they were, or what was going on. They then ordered us to stand up and to go out into the hallway and line up against the wall. They would not let us gather our personal possessions before lining up … it was strictly prohibited to use cell phones. ICE agents patrolled the entire building. I had never seen so many law enforcement officers in one place before.  It was very scary because there were so many agents with guns and I still had no idea why I was being detained."

Under federal law the government has six (6) months to reso! lve these claims. If these claims are not satisfactorily resolved during the next six months, the one hundred and fourteen U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident claimants will then be authorized to prosecute their claims for compensation against the government in the federal courts.


April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Claims Filed Based on LA Immigration Raid

Dan Kowlaski on the "Just News" Blog " reports that Peter Schey with the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed 114 federal claims for damages late Thursday on behalf of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were temporarily detained during a recent raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys.

The claims are based on a raid in February in which armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents went into the company, blocked the exits and prevented all the employees from leaving while they carried out federal arrest warrants for eight people and a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. According to the L.A. Times, Schey said immigration authorities treated U.S. citizens and green card holders like suspected criminals without any reason to believe they had broken the law. "That group detention is completely unconstitutional," said Schey. "They have no individual probable cause, yet they come in like the Gestapo." Immigration authorities said that the warrants were signed by a U.S. magistrate judge, and the search warrant was issued based on the "likelihood that evidence of criminal violations would be found at the location." "The search was properly conducted in accordance with the warrant, federal rules of criminal procedure and ICE policies," ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a written statement.


April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 25, 2008

On Immigrant Crime and Human Tragedy

We have been following the response to the recent tragedy in Los Angeles about a death allegedly caused by an alleged unddocumented immigrant.  Now, a car accident in Iowa has had similar repercussions.  The L.A. Times reports that in Marshalltown, Iowa, where a quarter of residents are Latino, is seeing rising anti-immigrant sentiments after a deadly car crash involving an allegedly undocumented woman.

Unfortunately, human life is filled with too much tragedy.  Some immigrants, less than the national average according to some studies, commit crimes.  For all suspects, there is a process for determining guilt and punishment.  We should resist anti-immigrant -- which often translates into anti-Latina/o -- sentiment and "deport them all"/"seal the borders" types of solutions to the problem of "criminal aliens."  However, by now, it should be abundantly clear tha the United States cannot realistically expect to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants and, despite spending billions of dollars and the loss of thousands of lives, have failed to seal the borders.


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

9/11 Survivors Gain Temporary Immigration Status

Dan Kanstroom (Boston College) reports that he has been working for some time with BC alum Debra Brown Steinberg, of Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft, to try to obtain legal immigration status for some noncitizen victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families. Manny Vargas has recently been weighing in with critical, helpful insights.

And the N.Y. Times reports the good news!  Julia Preston reports that federal officials have opened a path to temporary legal status for undocumented immigrants whose spouses or parents died on 9/11. Lawyers for the immigrants said a concession by Homeland Security officials would help to bring the family members out of the shadows. They also said the measure should help clear a political logjam that has stalled bills in Congress that would grant the immigrants permanent legal status.


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Cities Need Immigrants

Thanks to Richard Herman for this:

Just released, "Caught in the Middle--America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism" by Richard Longworth (fellow at Chicago Council on Global Affairs, former Pulitzer-nominated writer at Chicago Tribune).

Longworth has this to say about the new immigrants to Chicago, and the failure of Cleveland to attract new immigrants:

"No less than 22 percent of the city's (Chicago's) population is foreign-born...these people saved the city.  Thirty years ago Chicago was a decaying has-been of a city that was bleeding people and jobs.  Today it is booming, and the immigrants --- not just Latino but Asian, African, Arab --- are a big part of that boom.  Put simply, Chicago's veins pulse with new blood.

Cleveland, on the other hand, has a bigger immigrant problem.  It doesn't have any.  At one point, Cleveland was 50 percent foreign-born -- Italians, Germans, Slovaks, Poles.  Today, immigrants account for barely 4 percent of the city's shrinking population.  Population has been falling for years.  Cleveland is about half as big as it was after WW II.  Today it is an empty, dull place, lacking new blood, and hence, lacking life.  "We even have a hard time attracting illegal immigrants," Ronn Richard, president of The Cleveland Foundation, told me.  ...

For all the public controversy over immigrants, few  urban experts dispute their contributions.  They not only bring jobs and skills.  They bring global viewpoints, vital contacts with other nations, ethnic restaurants and neighborhood festivals, new art and different music.  They make cities richer and more fun...

The Midwest was first settled by restless and hungry foreigners.  These immigrants built the Midwest.  In the century and a half since then, the region lost this restlessness and hunger --- and must recapture it.  For all the stresses they cause, the Midwest simply needs as many immigrants as it can get.  ..

Months of travel and study through the towns and cities of the Midwest have made up my mind.  The Midwest  needs all the immigrants it can get.......Wherever they have gone in the Midwest, immigrants have enriched their new homes--- occasionally, even saved them from a slow death...

Most debate over immigration reform isn't rooted in economics at all....

In the second decade of its revival, Chicago has become what much of the rest of the Midwest wants to be.  This is because, in much of the Midwest, reinvention has barely begun...

Cleveland, by contrast, now ranks officially as the poorest big city in the U.S., and may stay that way.  According to a Brookings Instutition report, its poverty rate is no less than 32.4 percent, even worse than that in Detroit, St. Louis, Dayton, Youngstown or the other symbols of Rustbelt collapse. 

But when I went to Cleveland, I found not alarm but complacency.  In a city that is being destroyed by global forces--- its industry and best young people are fleeing and are not being replaced --- I found almost nobody willing to actually talk about globalization or global challenges.  In a city crying for answers, no one even asks the questions.

This is strange.  A century ago, Cleveland was one of the three or four richest cities in America, the home of Rockefellers, an industrial powerhouse.  Now its median household income of $26,000 per year lags behind that in more vibrant Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis ($42,000) or Chicago ($39,000).  Euclid Avenue once ranked with Fifth Avenue in New York as the most elegant street in the country:  when the Rockefellers and the Hannas lived there, it was known as Millionaire's Row.  Cleveland used to be the fifth biggest American city;  now its thirty-ninth...  From a distance, you can see how grand it used to be.  But it's an erie, echoing space now, all past no future, splendid buildings with no one in them, noble streets faced by locked doors and cracked windows....

What happened?  "We stopped innovating," Ronn Richard, the president of The President of the Cleveland Foundation told me. "We missed the IT revolution.  We missed it becasue we were so fat, dumb, and happy with our prowess in heavy manufacturing."  Back in the 1980s, the Rand Corporation looked at Clevleand, saw it was falling behind, noted that manufacturing employment was going down, and suggested a switch from industry to services.  Twenty-five years later, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reported that nothing had changed.....

In all my travels through tthe Midwest, Cleveland was the only place, big or small, that seemed heedless of the global challenge.  Only 4 percent of its population is foreign-born, in an era that demands new bood; the city's government isn't sure it wants more  (see ).  One of its leading economists told me, "You can't kill manufacturing--that's stupid," but manufacutring is fleeing and cities need new ways to support themselves.  In an era of global connectivity, only one nonstop flight per day, to England, links Cleveland to the world.  The first-rate Cleveland Clinic is expanding, but every Midwestern city is building up its health industyr; few actually count on it to carry the city's economy. 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an excellent series, "The Quiet Crisis," on the declining economy;  one editor told me that many of the articles excited reader interest, but the two on globalization and immigration "just landed with a thud."...

MIdwestern cities --- indeed most American citeis--- still have to export to live, but they don't make things as much these days.  Instead, the successful ones export service and ideas....But the creative class are citizens of the postindustrial age, and most Midwestern cities still suffer an industrial hangover.  These  are "materialist places," assembly-line cities, where a century of good, steady jobs leeched out the itch to be new or different.  These cities say they want to be creative, Florida says, "but continue to pour resources into recruiting call centers, underwriting big-box retailers, subsidizing downtown malls, and squandering precious taxpayer dollars on extravagant stadium complexes."

All this describes St. Louis, Cleveland or Detroit.  These are places that still compete for factories.

Creative cities compete for people."


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Is It A Crime While Driving With A Kirpan?

Criminal Charges for Wearing Kirpan Dropped Against Sikh American in California
Prosecutor declines to charge Sikh due to religious significance of mandated article of faith

Washington D.C. – April 22, 2008: Last week, prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Mr. Sahadur Singh, a Sikh American truck driver, who was arrested for wearing his kirpan (a religious article of faith) in California. The charges were dismissed after the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation's oldest and largest Sikh civil rights organization, intervened on behalf of Mr. Singh.

Last December Mr. Sahadur Singh, a Utah resident, was driving in Kern County, California, when a police officer stopped him for a normal traffic violation. The police officer spotted the kirpan underneath Mr. Singh’s clothing and immediately arrested him for violating the State’s concealed weapon law and for resisting arrest when Mr. Singh tried to explain the significance of the kirpan.
On the way to the police station, Kern County officers reportedly screamed at Mr. Singh asking him, “Are you a terrorist?”, “When was the last time you went over there, Taliban?” and “Did you ever send money to the Taliban?”
At the request of Mr. Singh, SALDEF contacted the prosecutor in the case, sending information detailing the religious significance of the kirpan along with a list of case law documenting the dismissal of similar charges against other Sikhs across the country.
SALDEF is currently assisting Mr. Singh in obtaining his kirpan from the local authorities. SALDEF is also working with local Kern County officials regarding the alleged racist comments made by the Kern County police officers after the incident took place. Over the past 12 years, SALDEF has received and resolved nearly 32 cases involving Sikhs who faced criminal charges for wearing their kirpans.

SALDEF thanks the Kern County Prosecutor's office for being receptive and understanding about the significance of the Sikh kirpan and deciding not to prosecute this case.

If you have been arrested for wearing your kirpan or if you believe you have been the victim of any form of racial or religious discrimination, please contact SALDEF’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-917-4547 or email:

PRESS CONTACT: Navdeep Singh
202-393-2700 ext. 27

Contact SALDEF
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
1413 K St, NW, 5th floor | Washington, DC 20005
phone: 202-393-2700 | fax: 202-318-3344 |


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Books

Underground_america UNDERGROUND AMERICA:  Narratives of Undocumented Lives Edited by Peter Orner Foreword by Luis Alberto Urrea (2008)

They arrive from around the world for countless reasons. Many come simply to make a living. Others are fleeing persecution in their native countries. By living and working in the U.S. without legal status, millions of immi­grants risk deportation and imprisonment. They are living underground, with little protection from exploitation at the hands of human smugglers, employers, or law enforcement. Underground America presents the remarkable oral histories of men and women struggling to carve a life for themselves in the U.S. For moreinformation, see Download underground20america1.txt

Sam ANTONIO'S GUN AND DELFINO'S DREAM: True Tales of Mexican Migration (Univ. of New Mexico Press; ISBN: 0826-34-2558; ANTONIO’S GUN includes stories on the history of velvet painting on the border; the story of the Tomato King who returned to Mexico to run for mayor of his hometown; the crazy goings-on at the city of South Gate; the emergence of opera in Tijuana. The longest chapter is about a soccer season in Southwest Kansas, and meatpacking in the heartland. It ends with a harrowing trip through the drug-smuggling world of Old Colony German Mennonites in northern Mexico. Through it all is the story of Delfino Juarez, a modern-day Huckleberry Finn, who had to leave his village to change it. The SF Chronicle called the book "genuinely original work, what great fiction and nonfiction aspires to be, these are stories that stop time and remind us how great reading is." To order, click here:


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Florinda Donner (Germany)

Florinda Florinda Donner was born February 15, 1944 in Amberg, Germany. She is an American author and anthropologist.

In her childhood, Donner immigrated with her parents to Venezuela.  She was nicknamed "Hummingbird" because of her ceaseless energy. She was said to have similar intelligence and charisma to her later husband and influential author Carlos Castaneda. Florinda tells in her books that she was an apprentice of Castaneda. She was also called one of "the witches" in Castaneda's books. The type of shamanism that Castaneda and his followers practiced made the followers "erase their personal history."   For a story about Castaneda and his followers, click here.

In 1982, Florinda Donner published a best selling book Shabono, with contradictory pseudo-anthropological stories in which she claims to have lived among the Yanomami indians in the Amazonas. Among critics the book is called "anthropologically inspired fiction." She lived in Westwood Los Angeles and traveled often to her old hometown Caracas.

In 1993, Carlos Castaneda marries Florinda Donner in Las Vegas. In 1998, Carlos Castaneda died. The day after his death, Florinda Donner disapperead.


April 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

May 1 Oakland March and Rally

Stop ICE Raids and Deportations!

May 1, 2008 - International Workers Day and March for Immigrant Rights in Oakland!


     **** We are looking for more volunteers to be security during the march!  If you can volunteer your time on May 1 to help the mobilization go smoothly, come to the: ***

MONDAY 4/28 @ 5:30PM
1470 FRUITVALE (Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation)

     -- 3pm: MEET AT FRUITVALE BART PLAZA for rally & performers
     -- 4pm: MARCH DOWN INTERNATIONAL BOULEVARD (with educational, theatric sights to see en route)
     -- 6pm: ARRIVE AT CITY HALL for a community celebration with speakers, performers, and resources!



We want an immediate end to the ICE raids in our neighborhoods and workplaces.
We also want an end to OPD's escalation of harassment, racial profiling and arrests of immigrants and all people of color under the false premises of 'confronting the rise in crime' and 'protecting our national security'. We call for a redirection of resources away from increasing police presence and towards addressing the root causes of violence and crime in our neighborhoods, such as chronic poverty and systemic racism.


We oppose the Governors budget cuts that will hurt immigrant and all communities on multiple levels. We demand an end to US military aggression abroad and the misuse of social funds at home.  At the state and federal levels, money must be redirected away from war and militarization that displaces millions throughout the third world and instead be put towards social services for grassroots communities.


Immigrant communities have been uprooted and displaced throughout the world, particularly from Third World nations ravaged by war and exploited through the U.S. policies of globalization and military occupation abroad.  For many, this has resulted in resettlement in the U.S.  The current gentrification of longtime ethnic neighborhoods further displaces communities where many immigrants seek decent and affordable housing and shelter, which should be available to all.  We want community control of land and housing.


We want an end to the use of Social Security "No-Match Letters" to fire employees and to repress immigrant workers' efforts to improve workplace conditions.  Each year, the Social Security Administration sends otu letters informing employers when their workers' names and Social Security numbers don't match the administration's records.  These letters don't mean that the workers are undocumented, but employers are increasingly using them to fire or intimidate workers who demand better conditions.  Now the Department of Homeland Security is trying to pressure employers to fire workers who get a No-Match letter.


All of our local elected and prospective politicians in City Hall (and also at the County, State and Federal levels) must be proactive in improving the quality of life in immigrant communities.  Third World immigrant communities are entitled to the same protection rights, and access to basic services as all other residents and will exercise our political power to ensure that our public-elected representatives introduce and support legislation to defend the human rights of all of its constituents.  We demand translation services! We want a true commitment to sanctuary!


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

AZ Latino leaders: Veto immigration-policing bill

The Arizona Republic reports that a handful of influential Latino activists have delivered a letter to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano asking that she veto a measure that would require local police to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. Opponents, including leaders Salvador Reza of Tonatierra and Hector Yturralde of Somos America, worry that the measure, House Bill 2807, would further isolate the Arizona Latino community and result in racial profiling.


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tough Talk for Dem Leaders from Congressional Hispanic Caucus!

AP reports that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus denounced House Democratic leaders Wednesday as "spineless" and little better than Republicans for failing to take on comprehensive immigration reform. Leaders of the all-Democratic caucus, which numbers two dozen, criticized their party leadership at a news conference for instead scheduling hearings on enforcement legislation and specific visa issues. They also complained that they are being blamed for opposing bills strongly supported by other Democrats that would add more visas for certain classes of immigrants, such as high-tech or seasonal workers. Instead, the Hispanic Caucus insists on a comprehensive approach that would provide a path for citizenship for some 12 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. Such legislation collapsed in the Senate last year and Democratic House leaders have shown little appetite for trying to revive the highly contentious issue in an election year. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona called the Democratic caucus "spineless."


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

SENATE PASSES VETERANS BENEFITS ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007: Comprehensive bill expands support for disabled veterans, job training, and provides historic Filipino veterans equity

Senator_akaka_senate We posted last week on efforts to provide benefits to Filipino vets.  Today, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, elatedly applauded his colleagues in the Senate for passing S. 1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 by a vote of 96 to 1. Prior to voting on final passage of the bill, the Senate debated an amendment to remove a provision providing a limited pension for Filipino World War II veterans residing in the Philippines. This amendment was defeated by a vote of 56 to 41, with Akaka leading the charge for the Filipino veterans’ pension. “The Filipino veterans of World War II fought bravely under U.S. military command, helping us win the war only to lose their veteran status by an Act of Congress. I commend my colleagues for supporting those veterans who stood with us,” said Akaka. Akaka continued, “I am also very pleased that the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 can finally move forward. This bill makes needed improvements to veterans’ benefits by expanding and increasing support for veterans, their families, and their survivors. I urge my colleagues in the House to act swiftly on this much needed bill.”

For the full press release, click here.


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Youth and Institutions: Berkeley

Immigrant Youth and Institutions:

Cultural Contexts of Agency and Illegality

Friday, April 25

12:00 – 1:30 pm
ISSC Conference Room, 2420 Bowditch Street (at Haste)


Vincent Chong, M.D./M.S. Student, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program & ISSC Youth Violence Prevention Fellow, UC Berkeley: "Negotiating with Agency: Towards an Intersectional Understanding of Violence and Resilience in Young Southeast Asian Men"

Carmen Martínez-Calderón, Ph.D. Student in the Graduate School of Education & ISSC Graduate Fellow, UC Berkeley: "Out of the Shadows: Undocumented Latino College Students"

with Jonathan Simon, Associate Dean, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, and Professor of Law, UC Berkeley, as respondent


Negotiating with Agency: Towards an Intersectional Understanding of Violence and Resilience in Young Southeast Asian Men

Research regarding Southeast Asian youth violence often employs a risk and protective factors framework, portraying such behavior as a problem of maladaptation.  However, violence also holds meaning for the youth who experience it.  Cultural and gender theorists posit that violence is a tool young people use to construct their gender and racial identities.  As adolescence is a key period of identity formation, understanding youth's constructions of their gender and racial identities may inform more appropriate violence prevention strategies.  We conducted focus groups and semi-structured individual interviews with a diverse group (n=21) of young Southeast Asian men ages 13-17 recruited from a community clinic for Asian youth.  Interviews elicited the role violence plays in their understanding of what it means for them to be both Southeast Asian and young men.  Data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Our findings document that violence is ubiquitous in the lives of these young men.  Furthermore, resilience and identity formation should be understood as complex processes through which relations of power are mediated and navigated, as opposed to static traits that young people possess.  Thus, our findings suggest that violence prevention programs should use a constructionist framework, as opposed to an ecological framework, to design interventions that speak to the lived realities of the youth they target.

Out of the Shadows: Undocumented Latino College Students

This paper seeks to analyze how undocumented Latino students make sense of school, schooling, and their social standing. Based on two years of ethnographic research with 20 Latino students in California, I look at how their understanding of school, schooling, and their social standing influence them to abandon their state of "social invisibility" and participate in higher education.  Through analyzing the motivations of undocumented students, I raise questions on the purpose of schools and schooling and how these are interpreted by different groups of people, such as undocumented students. "Undocumented" students decide to seek a higher education in an attempt to improve their opportunity for upward social mobility and incorporation into mainstream U.S society. They also see schools and schooling as mechanisms of assimilation and vehicles for social stratification. This paper further explores how race, class, gender, and rural or urban background affect the students' social, structural and economic opportunities both within and outside academia.

Vincent Chong is an M.D./M.S. Student, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program & ISSC Youth Violence Prevention Fellow, UC Berkeley. Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Chong went on to complete his B.A. in ethnic studies from Brown University.  Before enrolling in medical school, Chong worked as a community health worker and reproductive health counselor at Asian Health Services in Oakland Chinatown.  His current research is focused on the use of culture in medical and public health discourses on Southeast Asian youth violence and the use of violence in the construction of masculinities.

Carmen Martínez-Calderón is a Ph.D. Student in the Graduate School of Education & ISSC Graduate Fellow, UC Berkeley. Martínez-Calderón, a native of the state of Michoacan in Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight without knowing a word of English.  She went on to receive a double B.A. in Sociology and Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley.  Martínez-Calderón is a first generation college student and a Gates Millennium Scholar. Her research project is an ethnographic inquiry into the lives of "undocumented" students in higher education.  By focusing on the social structure of higher education she hopes to illuminate linkages between education, social stratification, and inequality.

Jonathan Simon is Associate Dean, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, and Professor of Law at UC Berkeley. His scholarship concerns the role of criminal justice and punishment in modern societies, insurance and other contemporary practices of governing risk, and the intellectual history of law and the social sciences. Simon serves as faculty co-chair of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice. Simon is the author of Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990 (1993) and the co-editor of Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law: Moving Beyond Legal Realism (with Austin Sarat, 2003). His most recent book is, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (2007). Simon also serves as co-editor of Punishment & Society and associate editor of Law & Society Review. Simon is the Principal Investigator of "Youth Violence and Neighborhood Change: New Immigrants in Oakland, California," a new research project of the Center on Culture, Immigration, and Youth Violence Prevention.

For more information contact Usree Bhattacharya at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, (510) 642-0813; or email .   


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: ELIAS ZERHOUNI (Algeria)

Elias_zerhouni_closeup_official_pho DR. ELIAS ZERHOUNI (1951-) is the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading medical research agency in the United States. NIH supports medical research at more than 3000 universities, hospitals and research institutions in the U.S. and in more than 90 countries around the world.

Dr. Zerhouni has received numerous other awards during his career, holds eight patents, and has written 212 publications. President Bush appointed Dr. Zerhouni to be director of the NIH in May 2002. His accomplishments at the NIH have included the establishment of a research program on obesity, and supporting the reduction of healthcare disparities.

Before joining the NIH, Dr. Zerhouni served as executive vice-dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, chair of the Russell H. Morgan department of radiology and radiological science, and Martin Donner professor of radiology, and professor of biomedical engineering. Before that, he was vice dean for research at Johns Hopkins.

A resident of Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Zerhouni was born in Nedroma in Tlemcen Province, a small city near the western border of Algeria with Morocco. He came to the United States at age 24, having earned his medical degree at the University of Algiers School of Medicine in 1975.

In 1985, Dr. Zerhouni was a consultant to the White House under President Ronald Reagan. In 1988, he was a consultant to the World Health Organization. Since 2000, he has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine. He had served on the National Cancer Institute's Board of Scientific Advisors from 1998-2002. He has won several awards for his research including a Gold Medal from the American Roentgen Ray Society for CT research and two Paul Lauterbur Awards for MRI research. His research in imaging led to advances in Computed tomography (CAT scanning) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Dr. Zerhouni received the honorary title Doctor Emeritus from the University of Algiers in 2005.


April 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Events in Oaxaca and Rural Migration

Rural Migration and Civil Unrest: The Global Impact of Local Events in Oaxaca, Mexico

Jeffrey H.Cohen
Associate Professor of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

Tuesday, April 29, 3:00 PM
Eleanor Roosevelt College Administration Building
Conference Room 115, First Floor
Reception to follow

Strikes, violence and civil unrest gripped the city of Oaxaca (Oaxaca, Mexico) for more than a year beginning in May of 2006. Events that included marches, civil disobedience and violent reactions (including the arrest and murder of protesters) had a profound effect on the city’s economy: tourism collapsed, hotels closed and local wage workers were laid off. While studies of the strikes and violence in Oaxaca tend to focus on their impacts for the city and in terms of state and national politics, little is known about their effect on rural communities. In this paper, I examine the response of rural Oaxacans from three communities (La Milpa, an agricultural community with a Zapotec heritage, Vista del Rio, a semi- urban mestizo community, and El Arbol de Valle, a mestizo craft producing town) to events in the city. Specifically, I use rural response to examine whether civil unrest has increased US bound migration and to critique the concept of transnationalism and how local events influence global patterns and processes. Ethnographic and survey data were collected in April and May of 2007 in Oaxaca with the support of the National Science Foundation.

Jeffrey H. Cohen is an associate professor of anthropology at the Ohio State University. His research focuses on three areas: migration, development and nutrition. He has worked in Oaxaca, Mexico for many years with support from the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society exploring the outcomes of migration for sending communities in the state. His book “The Culture of Migration in Southern Mexico,” was published by the University of Texas Press. He has also conducted comparative studies of Dominicans entering the US, Kurdish migrants moving to Western Europe and nutrition and food security for Latino immigrants. His articles appear in American Anthropologist, Human Organization and International Migration among other journals. His current work, supported by the National Science Foundation focuses on the impacts of civil unrest on migration in Mexico. He has also begun to study the dynamic growth and nature of the Latino community in Columbus, Ohio.
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:, Tel#: 858-822-4447).


April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

$20 Million "Virtual Fence" A Failure

CNN reports that the government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said.


April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants Riot in Lancaster, CA

The L.A. Times reports that Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are investigating a riot that broke out Tuesday involving hundreds of immigration detainees at a county-run facility in Lancaster, where guards had to use tear gas grenades to restore order, authorities said today. The Sheriff's Department contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to house about 900 detainees awaiting deportation at the Mira Loma Detention Center.

POSTSCRIPT  As of April 24, federal authorities were transferring Immigrants detained in the Lancaster facility to other detention centers.  Download immigrants20transferred20424081.txt


April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Did You Know? On Speaking English

The vast majority (88%) of second generation Latinos speak English very well, a figure that rises to 94% by the third generation. In fact, maintaining fluency in Spanish is often a challenge for second and third generation Hispanics. Just 11% of second generation Latino adults and 6% of third-generation Latinos speak only Spanish in the home. To learn more, click here .


April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arizona Proposal Targets Diversity Instruction

Arizona, a hotbed of anti-immigrant fervor, is up to it again, this time with a proposal that targets teaching diversity in public schools:

Matthew Benson writes in the Arizona Republic:

Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state's universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus.

The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils. The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote.

Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said his target isn't diversity instruction, but schools that use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate students in what he characterized as anti-American or seditious thinking. The measure is at least partially a response to a controversy surrounding an ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which critics have said is unpatriotic and teaches revolution.

SB 1108 states, "A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."

For schools that violate the anti-Western-teachings provision, the bill provides the state superintendent of public instruction with the authority to withhold a portion of state funding. Click here for the rest of the story.


April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)