Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More on LA Taco Truck Controversy

One of my favorite things to do is to pull over and buy tacos from taco trucks. I've never been disappointed.

Ben Bergman reports for NPR:

Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold gets paid to eat wherever he wants. And yet, several times a week he chooses to pull over to the side of the road and eat food served on a paper plate — out of a truck.

"I've probably been to 3,000 trucks in my life," says Gold, who writes for the alternative newspaper LA Weekly. "It's a hobby, you might say."

Many Angelenos share Gold's love of the quick and inexpensive meals, with blogs and online maps dedicated to the quest for the perfect taco.

Not everyone is so enamored, however.

Los Angeles County officials recently passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to park a taco truck in the same place for more than an hour. Violators face penalties of up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

May 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Electronic Employment Verification Hearings

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on electronic employment verification systems (EEVS) -- Washington's latest magic potion for dealing with the nation's broken immigration system.  Several bills, including the Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE Act" (HR 4088) and the Johnson "New Employee Verification Act of 2008" (HR 5515), would create a nationwide mandatory EEVS that would require all American workers, foreign- and native-born alike, to get the government's stamp of approval in order to work.  Scores of organizations, including most recently the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), have asked that these proposals be slowed or shelved out of concern for their impact on Americans.  As more hearings are expected in the coming weeks in other committees, including Homeland Security and Judiciary, what questions should the American public want to hear be thoroughly asked and answered?

EEVS' Price Tag: EEVS is expensive, and coupled with its reliability weaknesses, the problems  outweigh the perceived benefits.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the SAVE Act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion from 2009-2018 because it would result in an increase in the number of people working in the underground cash economy, outside the tax system.  At the same time, it would increase spending by over $23 billion, resulting in a whopping price tag of over $40 billion over the next 10 years.   CBO also estimated that SAVE would cost U.S. employers over $136 million to comply in at least one of the first five years the mandates are in effect.

EEVS' Reliability:  The Social Security Administration (SSA) database errors would result in 1 in 25 new hires being erroneously flagged as ineligible to work.  Mandatory EEVS will mean large error rates, the probability that U.S. citizens will be denied work, huge new burdens on DHS and SSA, and retired and disabled Americans waiting longer to receive Social Security benefits from an overburdened agency.

EEVS in Arizona: EEVS bills build upon the E-Verify program, a small pilot program that taps SSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to make determinations about employment authorization.  Arizona recently made use of E-Verify mandatory, and while fewer than 15  percent of employers are using the system,  Arizona has suffered from database errors resulting in U.S. citizens being flagged as unauthorized to work, labor shortages, and loss of revenue from employers choosing not to do business in the state.

Congress must decide whether to fall prey to pressure to pass deportation-only immigration legislation that will be harmful to American workers, or set the stage for thoughtful, realistic, and practical immigration reform.

For more information, see IPC's Immigration OnPoint webpage on EEVS and its impact on U.S. workers, the SSA, and the U.S. economy.
Contact: Angela Kelley, Director
Immigration Policy Center
202-507-7511 (office)
202-441-5589 (cell)
akelley@ailf.org

Michele Waslin, Senior Policy Analyst
202-507-7521 (office)
Mwaslin@ailf.org

bh

May 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ILRC Letter on No-Match Rule

Here is a letter from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to Employers regarding DHS' No-Match Rule on Social Security Numbers

Re:  DHS’ “No-Match” Rule Has Been Enjoined --  Effect on Employers’ Liability

Dear Employer:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  has abandoned its attempt to enforce its  no match rule that would improperly use social security records for immigration enforcement. On November 23, 2007 in a in federal court in San Francisco, DHS requested that a lawsuit challenging the rule be put on hold until March 2008. The government has recently published a proposed  revised rule in that it hopes will pass legal muster.  The new rule, however, is substantially the same as the rule which the court previously enjoined.  Previously, in October, 2007,  the U.S. Federal District Court had issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of a  new Department of Homeland Security “No-Match” rule that would have increased employers’ liability   for  allegedly knowingly employing a worker who is not authorized to work in the United States.  DHS is also appealing to the Ninth Circuit federal court the preliminary injunction which the federal district court judge ordered.

The  Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s new immigration enforcement scheme, which was to have begun in September, would have put employers at greater risk of being fined if they continued to employ workers who had Social Security Numbers (SSN) that did not match the records of the Social Security Administration (SSA) if the workers could not  rectify the “No Match” within 93 days from the date of the SSA letter advising the employer of the “No Match” situation.  As a result of the preliminary injunction and the withdrawal of its own rule, DHS is prevented from implementing its intended new policy, at least until the final decision is made by the U.S. District Court.  Therefore, until and unless the Court lifts the injunction of the upcoming DHS rule, an employer faces no increased risk of being fined by DHS if the employer continues to employ a worker whose Social Security number does not match the SSA records.

The current system and what the “no-match” rule would have done

For years, companies have received “no-match” letters informing them that some of their workers’ Social Security numbers don’t correspond with their names. Companies have not been required to do anything after receiving the letters; the only time they have been required to confirm a person’s immigration status is at the moment of hiring.   However, the DHS’ now withdrawn rule sought to change a company’s obligations. Upon receiving a “no-match” letter, an employer would have had to check that the cause of the problem was not a name change, spelling mistake, or other simple error. If the problem could not be quickly resolved, it would have been up to the worker to contact the Social Security Administration and fix the error.  After three months, if the “no-match” had not been resolved, the employee could have been fired. Otherwise, the company could have been subject to fines for “knowingly” employing people without the legal right to work in the U.S.

The withdrawn rule would have established that an employer who continued to employ a worker with a “No-Match” Social Security number would be deemed to have “constructive knowledge” that the employee was not authorized to work in the United States.   An employer who has knowledge that an employee is unauthorized to work is subject to fines by the DHS pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act sections 274A(a)(1)(A) and (h)(3), 8 U.S.C. sections 1324a(a)(1)(A) and (h)(3).  An employer could be fined $2,100 per worker.

The rule is completely blocked   -  Employers face no increased liability during this period

Since it was blocked by the judge and the DHS has withdrawn its rule, the rule cannot be enforced.  This means that no employer can be considered to have “constructive” knowledge that an employee is unauthorized to work because the employer continues to employ a worker with a “No-Match” Social Security number.   This means that no employer will be at an increased risk of being fined.  In the coming months or year, the court will hold a formal trial on the issue, when it will consider the upcoming  rule.  However, that decision may be more than a year down the road.  There is a significant chance that the plaintiffs will prevail, but even if DHS is ultimately permitted to implement the rule, no employer may be fined retroactively for continuing to employ workers with no match Social Security numbers during the period in which the preliminary injunction was in effect.  Furthermore, if a company is firing workers based on a No-Match situation, its action may be illegal.
The Social Security Administration may continue sending letters to workers’ homes, and sending notes to companies regarding individual employees’ numbers. However, companies will not be directed to check anyone’s immigration status, or be required to straighten out an employee’s a “No Match” situation.  SSA may also not include the DHS letter specified in the now enjoined rule.  SSA has indicated that it will not be sending out the more than 100,000 letters to employers that it has been sending out in prior years until the litigation is resolved.
An employer may, of course, be liable for fines if he or she otherwise has knowledge that a worker is unauthorized to work.  Within at least the past year, DHS has at times “wired” undocumented workers with their consent who have told employers that they are here illegally.   This can result in civil and criminal liability of an employer.   In general, we advise employers not to discuss an employee’s immigration status with him or her.  In fact, after the time of hire, an employer is  generally not legally permitted to scrutinize an employee’s immigration status.  Rather, at the time of hire  the employer is required to make sure that the potential employee has certain specified documents, for example, an unrestricted Social Security Card and current Driver’s License, that indicate the employee’s eligibility to work legally in the U.S. 
In conclusion, the major point of this letter is that while the preliminary injunction is in effect, and, afterwards if the DHS rule is held by the federal judge to be unlawful, an employer has no need to protect herself by firing a worker merely because he or she has a “No-Match” Social Security number.  You may wish to consult with your counsel, or obtain counsel from an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with these issues, including the withdrawn rule  and the preliminary injunction.  We also invite you to periodically check our website at www.ilrc.org for updated information.  We also suggest that you check the website of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) – www.nilc.org  .
Sincerely,
Mark Silverman, attorney at law
Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)

bh

May 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Francisco Ortiz (Mexico)

The Cincinnati Enquirer provided us with today's Immigrant of the Day.  Brandon Ortiz, the 18-year-old son of a Mexican immigrant, had the task of choosing to attend college at Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Columbia.  Brandon learned Spanish from his father, Francisco Ortiz, who came to the United States when he was 8 and became a naturalized citizen in 1985. He works as a facilities engineer at a Ford Motor Co. plant.

Brandon Ortiz selected Harvard because of its Romance Languages program.

KJ

May 6, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Immigrants to the Rescue of the Rust Belt?

Can Immigrant Talent, Entrepreneurship, and Investment Help Revive the Rustbelt? See what Tony Paglia, Vice President of Youngstown Regional Chamber of Commerce, Government Affairs, has to say about urban "high skill" immigration zones and why Congress should take notice and legislate immigration laws that would give a much-needed boost to struggling rustbelt cities.

Youngstown http://www.tribune-chronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/503264.html

Similar discussions are taking place in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and other Rustbelt Cities.

Cleveland http://www.useurl.us/4mh (pages 19, 22)

Pittsburgh http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08104/872633-28.stm

http://burghdiaspora.blogspot.com/2008/03/blog-release-rust-belt-high-skill.html

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sharpton Critical of Deportation Tactics

Al Sharpton took to the pews yesterday to blast officials in Danbury, Connecticut. Newsday reports:

The Rev. Al Sharpton criticized Danbury officials for using undercover police officers to promise jobs to day laborers in 2006, only to turn them over to federal agents for deportation.

The arrests were unfair, Sharpton told a Danbury church congregation Sunday.

"I don't lie to folks and then deport them," Sharpton told about 350 people at New Hope Baptist Church on Sunday. "I'm coming to a town that switches bait."

A federal judge earlier this year refused to block the deportations of nine men who were picked up at a local park by undercover city officers and turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The judge ruled that Danbury police did not exceed their authority. Supporters of the laborers are appealing the ruling.  Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

ICE Raid Report blog

I just ran across the ICE Raid Report blog, which states that it "exists to provide a fuller picture of the myriad of events that are going on across the country in response to the immigration crisis, and how it is covered by the media."  Checck it out!

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Deaths of Immigrants in Detention

It seems like every day sees a wealth of news stories about the increase in immigrant detention, abuses of immigrants in detention, the breaking up of families because of detention, the horrible conditions of detention, deaths of detained immigrants, etc.  You get the idea.  The public and private detention industry boomed with the 1996 immigration reforms, which greatly increased the number of immigrants subject to detention.

Nina Bernstein of the N.Y. Times reports that the U.S. government has provided a list of 66 deaths that occurred in immigration custody from January 2004 to November 2007. The list was compiled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after Congress demanded the information, and was obtained by the Times under the Freedom of Information Act.  Immigrant detention is a patchwork of federal centers, county jails and privately run prisons. The difficulties in obtaining the list reflects "the difficulty of getting information about the fate of people taken into immigration custody, even when they die."

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Number of Active Hate Groups Up!

Check out the Law Librarian blog for a story about a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, showing that the number of hate groups operating in the United States has grown to 888. That's a 5 percent increase since last year and a staggering 48 percent increase since 2000. The increase has been driven largely by anti-immigrant hysteria.

According to the new report, since the spring of 2005, some 300 new immigration restriction groups, including border vigilantes like the Minutemen and organizations that exist simply to harass Latino immigrants, have sprung up across the country. Of that number, 144 are listed as "nativist extremist" groups — organizations that do not merely seek to change immigration policy, but actively confront or harass individuals who they believe are undocumented.

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New SSRN Immigration Articles

The Social Science Research Netowk (www.ssrn.com) has posted th efollowing new immigration articles:

Call Australia Home: The Constitution and the Citizen's Right of Abode Helen Irving, University of Sydney

What is a Sanctuary? Rose Cuison Villazor, Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Private International Law in the Czech Republic: Tradition, New Experience and Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds on Nationality Monika Pauknerova, Charles University, Prague

Rights & Duties of Citizens Md. Joynal Abdin, Southeast University

Gang-Related Asylum Claims: An Overview and Prescription Matthew J. Lister, University of Pennsylvania Law School

A New 'U': Organizing Victims and Protecting Immigrant Workers Leticia M. Saucedo, William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Golda Meir (Russian Empire)

Golda_meir_my_life Golda Meir (1898-1978) was the fourth prime minister, and a founder of the nation, of Israel. After serving as the Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister, Meir became Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969.  She was Israel's first woman prime minister.

Meir was born as Golda Mabovitch in Kiev in the Russian Empire, today Ukraine. Meir wrote in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumors of a pogrom. Her family moved to the United States in 1906 and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where her father found a job as a carpenter and her mother ran a grocery store. Meir attended the Fourth Street School (now Golda Meir School) across from the Schlitz Brewing Complex from 1906 to 1912. When she began school, she did not know English, but she graduated as valedictorian of her class.

In 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize for her special contribution to the nation of Israel. In December 1978, she Golda Meir died of cancer in Jerusalem.

KJ

May 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Immigration and Local Texas Politics

The immigration debate affects local races. Consider this story out of Texas.

Jay Parsons writes in The Dallas Morning News

Elected leaders in Lewisville take pride in their city's political peace and quiet. City Council meetings rarely draw crowds; recent elections haven't either.

If one issue could stir this politically sleepy suburb, it could be illegal immigration. City leaders have taken an intentionally subtle approach compared with the high-profile campaigns in Farmers Branch and Irving.

But the May 10 council race is amplifying the volume. Candidates report growing frustration from residents. Council candidate John Gorena – a veteran of high-profile immigration rallies in Farmers Branch and Irving – has campaigned vehemently for Lewisville to take a tougher stand against illegal immigrants.

"If we don't have the courage to take action, we're going to end up like they are – in a world of hurt," said Mr. Gorena, who is Hispanic.

Mr. Gorena's heavy-handed approach is somewhat foreign to Lewisville politics. His pitch: Strong tactics would improve schools and lower health-care costs.

His opponent, Place 1 incumbent Greg Tierney, and other city officials said they're doing all they can. They blame the state and federal governments. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

May 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Book: The Latino Threat

Latino_threat Leo R. Chavez, The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford University Press, 2008. Abstract:  From volunteers ready to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border to the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who have marched in support of immigrant rights, the United States has witnessed a surge of involvement in immigration activism. In The Latino Threat, Leo R. Chavez critically investigates the media stories about and recent experiences of immigrants to show how prejudices and stereotypes have been used to malign an entire immigrant population­and to define what it means to be an American. Pundits­and the media at large­nurture and perpetuate the notion that Latinos, particularly Mexicans, are an invading force bent on reconquering land once considered their own. Through a perceived refusal to learn English and an "out of control" birthrate, many say that Latinos are destroying the American way of life. But Chavez questions these assumptions and offers facts to counter the myth that Latinos are a threat to the security and prosperity of our nation. His breakdown of the "Latino threat" contests this myth's basic tenets, challenging such well-known authors as Samuel Huntington, Pat Buchanan, and Peter Brimelow. Chavez concludes that citizenship is not just about legal definitions, but about participation in society. Deeply resonant in today's atmosphere of exclusion, Chavez's insights offer an alternative and optimistic view of the vitality and future of our country.

KJ

May 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Court of Appeals Judges Blast DOJ Attorney in Female Genital Mutilation Case

The Associated Press reports that federal judges grew increasingly impatient and sometimes angry last week as they questioned government lawyers on why the United States denied asylum to three women who suffered genital mutilation in Guinea. The three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit must decide whether the Board of Immigration Appeals was right to deny asylum to the women and permit them to be returned to Guinea. At the hearing, the judges seemed particularly upset at a conclusion by the government that it was fair to return the women to Guinea because they could not suffer further persecution since mutilation had already occurred. At times, all three judges raised their voices or cut off lawyers to make a point. "Supply me any case in which a well-founded fear of persecution was not sustained because the same leg couldn't be amputated or the same organ removed," demanded Judge Rosemary Pooler.

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings submitted a brief to the court saying that female genital mutilation was "usually just the beginning of an extended course of threats to life or freedom that women who have been victimized by the act can expect to face."

KJ

May 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)