Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day laborers plan community service, hoping to help image

The Orange County Register reports that day laborers are gearing up for a national day of community service tomorrow planning to clean up garbage, paint trees and beautify neighborhoods in 20 cities around the country, including Los Angeles.  "The effort isn’t pure altruism but a pitch by day laborers to improve their image amid a barrage of local ordinances that aim to crack down on work solicitation and the political uproar over illegal immigration."


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Joe Vail RIP

Vail_2 After a long battle with cancer, Professor Joe Vail, the founding director of the University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Clinic, has passed away.  A respected practitioner and immigration judge before becoming a law professor, Vail will be missed.  Michael Olivas passed on a sad note from one of Joe's many friends and colleagues that speaks to all who knew Joe: “He was absolutely one of the finest people it has been my good fortune to know. He will be sorely missed.”

Professor Joe Vail was a well-known practitioner, immigration judge, and law professor. He was the founding director of the UHLC Immigration Clinic.

Professor Vail is a 1979 graduate of Widener School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, he served with VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) where he entered the field of immigration law. He also served as an accredited representative and staff attorney with Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, as managing attorney at AYUDA, Inc. in Washington, D.C., and was in private practice in Houston.

In 1995, Vail was appointed as an immigration judge with the United States Department of Justice, where he served for more than four years. He has been a member of the Board of Directors with the YMCA International Services Program, the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN), and the Texas Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance. He is currently a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Professor Vail was distinguished with the 1994 Texas State Bar award for pro bono legal services, the Frank J. Scurlock Award.

Joe Vail will be missed.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Senator Menendez on the raids before Senate

Senator Robert Menendez (NJ, D) took to the Senate floor to discuss constitutional violations during the raids after failed discussions with DHS. For full story click here.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

GAO Report on Border Crossing

A new U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that crossing the border into the U.S. using counterfeit identification or oral assertions is not difficult.In the GAO report, a 93 percent success rate was reported by investigators who made 42 crossings on the northern and southern borders from January 2003 to September 2007. For the full story in The Deseret news click here.

The GAO border security report is available in full online at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08757.pdf


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Open Letter from Bolivian President to EU on the "Return Directive"

The following remarkable statement on immigration issues, sent earlier this week by Bolivian President Evo Morales as an Open Letter to the European Union re: the EU's forthcoming vote on June 18, 2008 regarding its "Return Directive," which seeks to deport undocumented persons from EU territories.  (The Spanish original follows the English translation below.)



Up until the end of the World War II, Europe was an emigrant continent. Tens of thousands of Europeans departed for the Americas to colonize, to escape hunger, the financial crisis, the wars or European totalitarianisms and the persecution of ethnic minorities.

Today, I am following with concern the process of the so called “Return Directive”. The text, validated last June 5th by the Interior Ministers of 27 countries in the European Union, comes up for a vote on June 18 in the European Parliament. I feel that it is a drastic hardening of the detention and expulsion conditions for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have lived in the European countries, their work situation, their family ties, or their ability and achievements to integrate.

Europeans arrived en masse to Latin and North America, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be, in our American continent, which absorbed at that time the European economic misery and political crisis. They came to our continent to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the original populations in America. As is the case of our Cerro Rico de Potosi and its fabulous silver mines that gave monetary mass to the European continent from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The people, the wealth and the rights of the migrant Europeans were always respected.

Today, the European Union is the main destiny for immigrants around the world which s a consequence of its positive image of space and prosperity and public freedoms. The great majority of immigrants go to the EU to contribute to this prosperity, not to take advantage of it. They are employed in public works, construction, and in services to people in hospitals, which the Europeans cannot do or do not want. They contribute to the demographic dynamics of the European continent, maintaining the relationship between the employed and the retired which provides for the generous social security system and helps the dynamics of internal markets and social cohesion. The migrant offers a solution to demographic and financial problems in the EU.

For us, our emigrants represent help in development that Europeans do not give us – since few countries really reach the minimum objective of 0.7% of its GDP in development assistance. Latin America received, in 2006, remittance (monies sent back) totaling 68,000million dollars, or more than the total foreign investment in our countries. On the worldwide level it reached $300,000 million dollars which is more than US $104,000 million authorized for development assistance. My own country, Bolivia, received more than 10% of the GDP in remittance (1,100 million dollars) or a third of our annual Exports of natural gas.

Unfortunately, “Return Directive” project is an enormous complication to this reality. If we can conceive that each State or group of States can define their migratory policies in every sovereignty, we cannot accept that the fundamental rights of the people be denied to our compatriots and brother Latin-Americans. The “Return Directive” foresees the possibility of jailing undocumented immigrants for up to 18 months before their expulsion – or “distancing”, according to the terms of the directive. 18 months! Without a judgment or justice! As it stands today the project text of the directive clearly violates articles 2, 3, 5,6,7,8 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

In particular, Article 13 of the Declaration states:
“1. All persons have a right to move freely and to choose their residence in the territory of a State.
2. All personas have the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.”

And, the worst of all, is that the possibility exists for the mothers of families with minor children to be arrested, without regards to the family and school situation, in these internment centers where we know that depression, hunger strikes, and suicide happens. How can we accept without reacting for them to be concentrated in camps our compatriots and Latin American brothers without documents, of which the great majority have been working and integrating for years. On what side is the duty of humanitarian action? Where is the “freedom of movement”, protection against arbitrary imprisonment?

On a parallel, the European Union is trying to convince the Andean Community that the Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to sign an “Association Agreement” that includes the third pillar of the Free Trade Agreement, of the same nature and content as that imposed by the United States. We are under intense pressure from the European Commission to accept conditions of great liberalization of our trade, financial services, intellectual property rights and our public works. In addition under so called “judicial protection” we are being pressured about the nationalization of the water, gas and telecommunications that were done on the Worldwide Workers’ Day. I ask, in that case, where is the “judicial protection” for our women, adolescents, children and workers that look for better horizons in Europe?

Under these conditions, if the “Return Directive” is passed, we will be ethically unable to deepen the negotiations with the European Union, and we reserve the right to legislate such that the European Citizens have the same obligations for visas that they impose on the Bolivians from the first of April 2007, according to the diplomatic principal of reciprocity. We have not exercised it up until now, precisely because we were awaiting good signs from the EU.

The world, its continents, its oceans and its poles know important global difficulties: global warming, contamination, the slow but sure disappearance of the energy resources and biodiversity while hunger and poverty increase in every country, debilitating our societies. To make migrants, whether they have documents or not, the scapegoats of these global problems, is not the solution. It does not meet any reality. The social cohesion problems that Europe is suffering from are not the fault of the migrants, rather the result of the model of development imposed by the North, which destroys the planet and dismembers human societies.

In the name of the people of Bolivia, of all of my brothers on the continent and regions of the world like the Maghreb and the countries of Africa, I appeal to the conscience of the European leaders and deputies, of the peoples, citizens and activists of Europe, for them not to approve the text of the “Return Directive”. As it is today, it is a directive of vengeance. I also call on the European Union to elaborate, over the next months, a migration policy that is respectful of human rights, which allows us to maintain this dynamics that is helpful to both continents and that repairs once and for all the tremendous historic debt, both economic and ecological that the European countries owe to a large part of the Third World, and to close once and for all the open veins of Latin America. They cannot fail today in their “policies of integration” as they have failed with their supposed “civilizing mission” from colonial times.

Receive all of you, authorities, Euro parliamentarians, brothers and sisters, fraternal greetings from Bolivia.  And in particular our solidarity to all of the “clandestinos.”

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia


Carta abierta de Evo Morales a propósito de la "directiva retorno" de la UE

Evo Morales advirtió que si U.E endurece su política migratoria estaría imposibilitado de profundizar las negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación y se reservaría el derecho de exigir visa a europeos

Evo Morales (Bolpress - 10 June 2008)

Hasta finales de la Segunda guerra mundial, Europa fue un continente de emigrantes. Decenas de millones de Europeos partieron a las Américas para colonizar, escapar de las hambrunas, las crisis financieras, las guerras o de los totalitarismos europeos y de la persecución a minorías étnicas.

Hoy, estoy siguiendo con preocupación el proceso de la llamada “directiva retorno”. El texto, validado el pasado 5 de junio por los ministros del Interior de los 27 países de la Unión Europea, tiene que ser votado el 18 de junio en el Parlamento Europeo. Siento que endurece de manera drástica las condiciones de detención y expulsión a los migrantes indocumentados, cualquiera sea su tiempo de permanencia en los países europeos, su situación laboral, sus lazos familiares, su voluntad y sus logros de integración.

A los países de América Latina y Norteamérica llegaron los europeos, masivamente, sin visas ni condiciones impuestas por las autoridades. Fueron siempre bienvenidos, Y. lo siguen siendo, en nuestros países del continente americano, que absorbieron entonces la miseria económica europea y sus crisis políticas. Vinieron a nuestro continente a explotar riquezas y a transferirlas s Europa, con un altísimo costo para las poblaciones originales de América. Como en el caso de nuestro Cerro Rico de Potosí y sus fabulosas minas de plata que permitieron dar masa monetaria al continente europeo desde el siglo XVI hasta el XIX. Las personas, los bienes y los derechos de los migrantes europeos siempre fueron respetados.

Hoy, la Unión Europea es el principal destino de los migrantes del mundo lo cual es consecuencia de su positiva imagen de espacio de prosperidad y de libertades públicas. La inmensa mayoría de los migrantes viene a la UE para contribuir a esta prosperidad, no para aprovecharse de ella. Ocupan los empleos de obras públicas, construcción, en los servicios a la persona y hospitales, que no pueden o no quieren ocupar los europeos. Contribuyen al dinamismo demográfico del continente europeo, a mantener la relación entre activos e inactivos que vuelve posible sus generosos sistemas de seguridad social y dinamizan el mercado interno y la cohesión social. Los migrantes ofrecen una solución a los problemas demográficos y financieros de la UE.

Para nosotros, nuestros migrantes representan la ayuda al desarrollo que los Europeos no nos dan - ya que pocos países alcanzan realmente el mínimo objetivo del 0,7% de su PIB en la ayuda al desarrollo. América Latina recibió, en 2006, 68.000 millones de dólares de remesas, o sea más que el total de las inversiones extranjeras en nuestros países. A nivel mundial alcanzan 300.000 millones de dólares, que superan a los 104.000 millones otorgados por concepto de ayuda al desarrollo. Mi propio país, Bolivia, recibió mas del 10% del PIB en remesas (1.100 millones de dólares) o un tercio de nuestras exportaciones anuales de gas natural.

Es decir que los flujos de migración son benéficos tanto para los Europeos y de manera marginal para nosotros del Tercer Mundo ya que también perdemos a contingentes que suman millones de nuestra mano de obra calificada, en la que de una manera u otra nuestros Estados, aunque pobres, han invertido recursos humanos y financieros.
Lamentablemente, el proyecto de “directiva retorno” complica terriblemente esta realidad. Si concebimos que cada Estado o grupo de Estados puede definir sus políticas migratorias en toda soberanía, no podemos aceptar que los derechos fundamentales de las personas sean denegados a nuestros compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos. La “directiva retorno” prevé la posibilidad de un encarcelamiento de los migrantes indocumentados hasta 18 meses antes de su expulsión -o “alejamiento”, según el término de la directiva. ¡18 meses! ¡Sin juicio ni justicia! Tal como esta hoy el proyecto de texto de la directiva viola claramente los artículos 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 y 9 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de 1948.

En particular el artículo 13 de la Declaración reza:
“1. Toda persona tiene derecho a circular libremente y a elegir su residencia en el territorio de un Estado.
2. Toda persona tiene derecho a salir de cualquier país, incluso del propio, y a regresar a su país”.

Y, lo peor de todo, existe la posibilidad de encarcelar a madres de familia y menores de edad, sin tomar en cuenta su situación familiar o escolar, en estos centros de internamientos donde sabemos ocurren depresiones, huelgas de hambre, suicidios. ¿Cómo podemos aceptar sin reaccionar que sean concentrados en campos compatriotas y hermanos latinoamericanos indocumentados, de los cuales la inmensa mayoría lleva años trabajando e integrándose? ¿De qué lado esta hoy el deber de ingerencia humanitaria? ¿Dónde está la “libertad de circular”, la protección contra encarcelamientos arbitrarios?

Paralelamente, la Unión Europea trata de convencer a la Comunidad Andina de Naciones (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú) de firmar un “Acuerdo de Asociación” que incluye en su tercer pilar un Tratado de Libre Comercio, de misma naturaleza y contenido que los que imponen los Estados Unidos. Estamos bajo intensa presión de la Comisión Europea para aceptar condiciones de profunda liberalización para el comercio, los servicios financieros, propiedad intelectual o nuestros servicios públicos. Además a título de la protección jurídica se nos presiona por el proceso de nacionalización del agua, el gas y telecomunicaciones realizados en el Día Mundial de los Trabajadores. Pregunto, en ese caso ¿dónde está la “seguridad jurídica” para nuestras mujeres, adolescentes, niños y trabajadores que buscan mejores horizontes en Europa?

Promover la libertad de circulación de mercancías y finanzas, mientras en frente vemos encarcelamiento sin juicio para nuestros hermanos que trataron de circular libremente. Eso es negar los fundamentos de la libertad y de los derechos democráticos.

Bajo estas condiciones, de aprobarse esta “directiva retorno”, estaríamos en la imposibilidad ética de profundizar las negociaciones con la Unión Europea, y nos reservamos del derecho de normar con los ciudadanos europeos las mismas obligaciones de visa que nos imponen a los Bolivianos desde el primero de abril de 2007, según el principio diplomático de reciprocidad. No lo hemos ejercido hasta ahora, justamente por esperar buenas señales de la UE.

El mundo, sus continentes, sus océanos y sus polos conocen importantes dificultades globales: el calentamiento global, la contaminación, la desaparición lenta pero segura de recursos energéticos y biodiversidad mientras aumenta el hambre y la pobreza en todos los países, fragilizando nuestras sociedades. Hacer de los migrantes, que sean documentados o no, los chivos expiatorios de estos problemas globales, no es ninguna solución. No corresponde a ninguna realidad. Los problemas de cohesión social que sufre Europa no son culpa de los migrantes, sino el resultado del modelo de desarrollo impuesto por el Norte, que destruye el planeta y desmiembra las sociedades de los hombres.

A nombre del pueblo de Bolivia, de todos mis hermanos del continente regiones del mundo como el Maghreb, Asia y los países de Africa, hago un llamado a la conciencia de los líderes y diputados europeos, de los pueblos, ciudadanos y activistas de Europa, para que no se apruebe e1 texto de la “directiva retorno”.  Tal cual la conocemos hoy, es una directiva de la vergüenza. Llamo también a la Unión Europea a elaborar, en los próximos meses, una política migratoria respetuosa de los derechos humanos, que permita mantener este dinamismo provechoso para ambos continentes y que repare de una vez por todas la tremenda deuda histórica, económica y ecológica que tienen los países de Europa con gran parte del Tercer Mundo, que cierre de una vez las venas todavía abiertas de América Latina. No pueden fallar hoy en sus “políticas de integración” como han fracasado con su supuesta “misión civilizatoria” del tiempo de las colonias.

Reciban todos ustedes, autoridades, europarlamentarios, compañeras y compañeros saludos fraternales desde Bolivia. Y en particular nuestra solidaridad a todos los “clandestinos”.

Evo Morales Ayma
Presidente de la República de Bolivia

To view a description of the European Union Directive, Click here.

To sign a petition against the Directive, click here.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Proposed Rule on BIA Decision-Making

The decions of the Board of Immigration Appeals have been the subject of intense critical commentary in recent years.  We have reported, for  example, on Judge Richard Posner's scathing criticism of the quality of the Board's decioninmaking.  What does the Department of Justice do?  It proposes a rule that, at least in party by affording the Board "greater flexibility" to issue affirmances without opinions, to make matters worse.  The new proposed rule of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, to appear in the federal register tomorrow provides:

"This proposed rule would amend the Department of Justice (Department) regulations regarding the administrative review procedures of the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) in three ways. First, this rule provides greater flexibility for the Board to decide, in the exercise of its discretion, whether to issue an affirmance without opinion (AWO) or any other type of decision. This rule clarifies that the criteria the Board uses in deciding to invoke its AWO authority are solely for its own internal guidance, and that the Board's decision depends on the Board's judgment regarding its resources and is not reviewable. The revision related to AWO is needed to address divergent precedent in the United States Courts of Appeals regarding the reviewability of the Board's decision to issue an AWO. Finally, this revision clarifies that when the Board issues an AWO or a short decision adopting some or all of the immigration judge's decision, the decision is generally based on issues and claims of errors raised on appeal and is not to be construed as waiving a party's obligation to raise issues and exhaust claims of error before the Board.

Second, this rule expands the authority to refer cases for three- member panel review for a small class of particularly complex cases involving complex or unusual issues of law or fact.

Third, this rule amends the regulations relating to precedent decisions of the Board by authorizing publication of decisions either by a majority of the panel members or by a majority of permanent Board members and clarifying the relevant considerations for designation of precedents. These revisions implement, in part, the Memorandum for Immigration Judges and Members of the Board of Immigration Appeals issued by the Attorney General on August 9, 2006."


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Refugee Population Soars to 11.4 Million

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to a soaring global refugee crisis. The Associated Press reports:

Conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, driving up the global number of refugees after several years of decline, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

In 2007, 11.4 million refugees were living outside their countries, compared with 9.9 million in 2006, the UNHCR said in its annual report. A further 26 million were displaced within their own countries, up from 24.2 million the year before.

The group said nearly half the world's refugees are from Afghanistan and Iraq. UNHCR said there are 3 million displaced Afghans, most in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and 2 million Iraqi refugees, mostly in Syria and Jordan. A further 2.4 million Iraqis are internally displaced, an increase of 600,000 since the start of 2007.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said that until 2005, there had been several years of decline as refugees returned to countries including Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola.

"Now, unfortunately, with the multiplication of conflicts and the intensification of conflicts, the number is on the rise again," he said. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

McCain on Immigration

The NY Times has a piece on how similar John McCain is with President Bush on a number of issues. On immigration, Elisabeth Bumiller writes:

On immigration, Mr. McCain started out with Mr. Bush — at odds with the Republican mainstream — by favoring a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, then backed off and emphasized the border-security-first approach favored by a majority of his party. Click here for the entire piece.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Hiroshi Motomura (Japan)

Motomurahiroshi Our Immmigrant of the Day is law professor Hiroshi Motomura, a leading scholar and teacher of immigration law, who will join the UCLA School of Law faculty in fall 2008. Professor Motomura most recently was the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law and previously taught at the University of Colorado.

Professor Motomura is a co-author of the widely used law school casebook, Immigration and Citizenship: Process and Policy (6th ed. 2007), and a new casebook, Forced Migration: Law and Policy (20070. His book, Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States (2006) won the 2006 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award from the Association of American Publishers in the Law and Legal Studies category.

Professor Motomura has has published many significant articles and essays on immigration and citizenship. He has testified as an immigration expert in the U.S. Congress, has served as co-counsel or a volunteer consultant in several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal appeals courts, and is one of the co-founders of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network.

In recognition of his exceptional teaching, Professor Motomura has won several awards. He was named President's Teaching Scholar, the highest teaching distinction at the University of Colorado, where he taught for 21 years. Professor Motomura was the first Lloyd Cutler Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, has been a member of the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, and currently serves on the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina Press.

Professor Motomura received a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1978 and a B.A. from Yale University in 1974. He has been a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, and at the University of Michigan Law School.

The National Immigration Project is honoring Hiroshi Motomura at a "Benefit Reception to Honor Hiroshi Motomura" at the American Immigration Lawyers Annual Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

Professor Motomura came to the United States with his family as a young boy.  For some discussions of his experiences, click here.


June 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Border Thinking - Laura Agustín

Border Thinking - Laura Agustín - http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=320

Last month, I flew into Stansted Airport, in the southeast of England,
where the disembarking traveller is met by an enormous black structure
looming high above the large passport-control area. UK BORDER it reads, in
giant letters. In fact, at this point one is geographically well inside
the country, the coast having been crossed while still in the air. But the
message is clear and ominous: you aren’t In until you’ve got past the

As usual, waiting in the queue for Others – non-Europeans – is
nerve-wracking. As I wait, I worry. Do I still look enough like my
passport photo? Do I look like a drug dealer, terrorist, prostitute or
harmless tourist? Are my clothes wrong, is my hair okay? What will they
think about how I speak English? Should I smile or rather demonstrate I
understand the gravity of the situation? Which official will I get, the
younger woman or the older man and which is better? And so on.

Holding my passport, I look down at the little white UK Landing Card and
wonder, for the millionth time, why I am asked to tick one of two boxes,
Male or Female. Apart from the pain this causes people who don’t
definitely identify with one or the other, why do they ask this? Why do
they ask for birth date and nationality, when all passports carry this
information? I wonder where these cards wind up, in storage or dumped in
the rubbish.

When it’s my turn, the official asks me for information she is already
reading on my Landing Card, or on my visa. I answer, and then she repeats
the questions, in the skeptical tone I have come to know so well. Finally
she lets me through, and I have the sensation of having got away with
something, even as I know I am not doing anything ‘wrong’. And every time
I go through this it gets harder, as though they think that my continuing
desire to be here were a crime.

No borders?

It is easy to complain about all this. It is easy to make border policy
seem like a clear right-left choice between control and freedom, an
oppressive device set up by our fathers, the men in business suits and
military uniforms. From the border-keepers’ point of view, classifying and
scrutinising travellers before they enter and while they are inside is
essential to reducing risk and chaos for their own citizens. The project
to make a European ‘union’ tries to celebrate diverse local nationalities,
ethnicities and cultures while simultaneously identifying true
pan-European values: enlightenment, humanism, rationality, progress.
Inevitably this means that cultural systems arriving from outside may be
viewed as inferior, backward or suspect – a repellent idea to many.

But to say ‘Let there be no borders’ is like saying let’s do away with
traffic regulations, allowing unlicensed drivers to go as fast or slow as
they want on streets with no stoplights, lanes or marked exits. To state
the utopian goal is one thing; to figure out how to keep order afterwards
is another. And to position ourselves as free of any necessity to
differentiate ourselves from others by accusing the men in suits is to
avoid the harder truth that we are all implicated in these oppressive
cultures and that we often benefit from them.

In this case, the hard part isn’t the tedious queuing to be vetted by
officials but what comes afterward. If national borders are abolished and
everyone can enter, live and work in your country, will you be happy if
they are selected for a job you trained to do? If newcomers accept lower
salaries than you for the same job, will you feel fine about it? What if
they are willing to pay much higher rent than you are or don’t mind living
eight to the room? Or if they will put up with levels of injustice in the
workplace that you wouldn’t dream of? In other words, do differences
between us and others matter or not – or which ones do and which don’t?

Constructing our own identity involves differentiating ourselves from
others. They wear this, I wear that. They believe one thing, I believe
another. Our boundaries permit us to know ourselves. Later, we may realise
we have cut ourselves off by too much distinguishing and have to work to
come closer to those we have distanced. The push and pull between
believing in ourselves and opening up to others is a constant job of work.

What do we mean by the border?

Talk about social justice often employs spatial language: the centre, the
margins, the border, no man’s land. The social world is reduced to maps
covered with lines drawn at political conferences where nations have
divvied up the spoils, and with dots, the larger of which are imagined to
be more ‘central’ than others.

These geographical metaphors ignore what we know perfectly well, that
borders appear whenever we feel separate from others, when we feel
invaded, or when we want to close the gap between us. This concept of
border is far more interesting, complicated and difficult to police.

Of course, we do not all experience these border moments the same way.
Some of us actively enjoy the confusion of mixing with cultures not our
own, while others are driven crazy by it. Some of us don’t care about
knowing and preserving our family’s genealogy while others find nothing
more interesting. Sometimes these differences are expressed as the search
for authentic identities – as in the case of those eager to have their DNA
analysed in hopes of proving who they really are (viking? etruscan?).
Others don’t care, or believe no such categories exist, preferring to
think of themselves as part of a great blurred or hybrid universality.

Some like the idea of contact zones where people meet and influence each
other. Others are fanatical about the need to keep ‘races’ separate,
ethnicities pure, traditions untouched. I don’t believe either of these
world views is going to prevail in the foreseeable future.

Beyond polarised thinking

A month after my arrival at Stansted Airport, I am standing at the border
separating the US state of Arizona from the Mexican state of Sonora. I
last stood here fifteen years ago, but the desert looks the same –
beautiful, endless in every direction and impervious to efforts to
absolutely distinguish one nation from another with a line. A classic
contact zone where many languages are spoken – Spanish, English, Spanglish
and many indigenous tongues – the whole Southwest region is claimed by
some Mexican nationalists as land stolen by the US. Other activists in
indigenous causes scoff at this idea, saying the area has belonged to
native peoples since long before the European conquest and founding of a
modern Mexican state.

Numerous identities vie for attention all over the region. Chicanos, with
Mexican heritage but born in the US, distinguish themselves from Mexicans,
who affirm strong differences according to whether they come from the
north or south, the west or east, the city or the countryside. Both
Chicanos and Mexican migrants are quick to disclaim anything in common
with Central American migrants, who distinguish themselves by nationality.
Some activists unite all these under the label Latino, while others use
the term heard amongst many whites, Hispanic – and the differences are
politically meaningful. There are African Americans and native Americans
of many tribes, as well as those whose ancestors came from China and
Japan. And every possible mixing has already occurred, according to
everyone except a very upset White Power fringe. And they are not the only
ones taking a racist line.

The variety is amazing, and although the media report continuous polemic
and violence here, vast numbers of people move across this border every
day in the course of their ordinary lives. The Tohono O’odham people, who
have been here for 6000 years, live on a reservation cut in two when the
border was drawn in the 19th century.

The only way to take it all in is to indulge in Walter Mignolo’s ‘border
thinking’, making a conscious effort to overcome an easy opposition of
dominant and dominated cultures.[2] [1] One of the border’s most
passionate proponents of changing our way of thinking, Gloria Anzaldúa,
exhorted us to ‘break down the subject-object duality that keeps [us] a
prisoner’.[3] [2] It’s an exacting activity, feeling the melange with all
its contradictions and not falling into an easy condemnation of any one
group. I must try it the next time I arrive at Stansted Airport.


[1] See Mignolo, Walter. 2000. [5] Local Histories/Global Designs:
Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton
University Press.

[2] Anzaldua, Gloria. 1987. [7] Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.
San Francisco: Aunt Lute.

Laura María Agustín
Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

Personal site


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Commentary on the Boumediene Ruling

Supreme Court Checks and Balances in Boumediene
By Marjorie Cohn
June 16, 2008
Jurist (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2008/06/supreme-court-checks-and-balances-in.php)

After the Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited opinion, upholding habeas corpus rights for the Guantánamo detainees, I was invited to appear on The O'Reilly Factor with guest host Laura Ingraham. Although she is a lawyer and former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, Ingraham has no use for our judicial branch of government, noting that the justices are "unelected."  Indeed, she advocated that Bush break the law and disregard the Court's decision in Boumediene v. Bush:

"Marjorie, I was trying to think to myself, look, if I were President Bush, and I had heard that this case had come down, and I'm out of office in a few months. My ratings, my popularity ratings are pretty low, I would have said at this point, that's very interesting that the court decided this, but I'm not going to respect the decision of the court because my job is to keep this country safe."

What did the Court decide that so incensed Ingraham (who has just been rewarded for her "fair and balanced" views with her own show on Fox News)? Will this decision really imperil our safety? And will Boumediene become an issue in the presidential election?

The Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling that the Guantánamo detainees have a constitutional right to habeas corpus, and that the scheme for reviewing 'enemy combatant' designations under the Combatant Status Review Tribunals is an inadequate substitute for habeas corpus, a result I predicted in a December 3, 2007 article. (http://marjoriecohn.com/2007/12/guantnamo-detainees-fate-at-stake-in.html).

Guantánamo detainees have constitutional right to habeas corpus

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 of the Constitution is known as the Suspension Clause. It reads, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." In section 7(a) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress purported to strip habeas rights from the Guantánamo detainees by amending the habeas corpus statute (28 U.S.C.A. § 2241(e)). In Boumediene, the Court held that section of the Act to be unconstitutional, declaring that the detainees still retained the constitutional right to habeas corpus.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, reiterated the Court's finding in Rasul v. Bush that although Cuba retains technical sovereignty over Guantánamo, the United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over its naval base and thus the Constitution protects the detainees there. Kennedy rejected "the necessary implication" of Bush's position that the political branches could "govern without legal restraint" by locating a U.S. military base in a country that retained formal sovereignty over the area. In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts flippantly characterized Guantánamo as a "jurisdictionally quirky outpost."

Kennedy worried that the political branches could "have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will" which "would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say 'what the law is.'" "Even when the United States acts outside its borders," Kennedy wrote, "its powers are not 'absolute and unlimited' but are subject 'to such restrictions as are expressed in the Constitution.'"

Thus, Kennedy observed, "the writ of habeas corpus is itself an indispensable mechanism for monitoring the separation of powers." Indeed, habeas corpus was one of the few individual rights the Founding Fathers wrote it into the original Constitution, years before they enacted the Bill of Rights.

"The test for determining the scope of [the habeas corpus] provision," Kennedy wrote, "must not be subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to restrain." It is such manipulation that Laura Ingraham would perpetuate. It was a Republican-controlled Congress, working hand-in-glove with Bush, that tried to strip habeas corpus rights from the Guantánamo detainees in the Military Commissions Act. The Supreme Court has determined that effort to be unconstitutional. Fulfilling its constitutional duty to check and balance the other two branches, the Court has carried out its mandate to interpret the Constitution and say "what the law is."

No adequate substitute for habeas corpus

Finding that the Guantánamo detainees retained the constitutional right to habeas corpus, the Court turned to the issue of whether there was an adequate substitute for habeas review. Bush established Combatant Status Review Tribunals ("CSRTs") to determine whether a detainee is an "enemy combatant." These kangaroo courts provide no right to counsel, only a "personal representative," who owes no duty of confidentiality to his client and often doesn't even advocate on behalf of the detainee; one even argued the government's case. The detainee doesn't have the right to see much of the evidence against him and is very limited in the evidence he can present.

The CSRTs have been criticized by military participants in the process. Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a veteran of U.S. intelligence, said they often relied on "generic" evidence and were set up to rubber-stamp the "enemy combatant" designation. When he sat as a judge in one of the tribunals, Abraham and the other two judges - a colonel and a major in the Air Force - "found the information presented to lack substance" and noted that statements presented as factual "lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence." After they determined there was "no factual basis" to conclude the detainee was an enemy combatant, the government pressured them to change their conclusion but they refused. Abraham was never assigned to another CSRT panel. It is widely believed that Abraham's affidavit about the shortcomings of the CSRT's in Boumediene's companion case caused the Supreme Court to reverse its denial of certiorari and agree to review Boumediene. This was the first time in 60 years the Court had so reversed itself.

While the Court declined to decide whether the CSRTs satisfied due process standards, it concluded that "even when all the parties involved in this process act with diligence and in good faith, there is considerable risk of error in the tribunal's findings of fact." The Court then had to determine whether the procedure for judicial review of the CSRTs' "enemy combatant" designations constituted an adequate substitute for habeas corpus review.

"For the writ of habeas corpus, or its substitute, to function as an effective and proper remedy in this context," Kennedy wrote, "the court that conducts the habeas proceeding must have the means to correct errors that occurred during the CSRT proceedings. This includes some authority to assess the sufficiency of the Government's evidence against the detainee. It also must have the authority to admit and consider relevant exculpatory evidence that was not introduced during the earlier proceeding."

But in the Detainee Treatment Act ("DTA"), Congress limited district court review of the CSRT determinations to whether the CSRT complied with its own procedures. The district court had no authority to hear newly discovered evidence or make a finding that the detainee was improperly designated as an enemy combatant.

The Supreme Court noted that "when the judicial power to issue habeas corpus properly is invoked the judicial officer must have adequate authority to make a determination in light of the relevant law and facts and to formulate and issue appropriate orders for relief, including, if necessary, an order directing the prisoner's release." Since the DTA's scheme for reviewing determinations of the CSRTs did not afford this authority, the Court held it was not an adequate substitute for habeas corpus and thus section 7 of the Military Commissions Act acted as "an unconstitutional suspension of the writ."

Boumediene will not imperil the United States

In his dissent, Justice Scalia sounded the alarm that the Boumediene decision "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." Likewise, the Wall St. Journal editorialized, "We can say with confident horror that more Americans are likely to die as a result." Their predictions, however, are not based in fact.

Lakhdar Boumediene and five other Algerian detainees from Bosnia were accused of threatening to blow up an embassy in Bosnia. The Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded there was no evidence to continue to detain them and ordered them released. The Bosnian officials turned them over to the United States and they were transported to Guantánamo, where they have languished since 2002.

Many of the men and boys at Guantánamo were sold as bounty to the U.S. military by the Northern Alliance or warlords for $5,000 a head. Indeed, Maj. Gen. Jay Hood, the former commander at Guantánamo, admitted to the Wall St. Journal, "Sometimes we just didn't get the right folks," but innocent men remain detained there because "[n]obody wants to be the one to sign the release papers . . . there's no muscle in the system."

The Boumediene decision will not directly impact the criminal cases against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the few others who will be tried in the military commissions. It is the 211 men who have filed habeas corpus petitions challenging their "enemy combatant" designations who will benefit from this ruling. No one will be automatically released. They will simply be afforded a fair hearing. Most Americans would not object to a requirement that our government fairly prove someone guilty before we imprison him indefinitely.

Even Justice Jackson, the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, advocated due process for the Nazi leaders. "The ultimate principle," he said, "is that you must put no man on trial under the forms of judicial proceedings if you are not willing to see him freed if not proven guilty." Jackson understood the importance of the presumption of innocence in our system of law.

Kennedy quoted Alexander Hamilton, who wrote in Federalist 84 that "arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." Justice Souter cut to the chase in his separate opinion, citing "the length of the disputed imprisonments, some of the prisoners represented here today having been locked up for six years." None of them has been charged with a crime and none has been brought before a fair and impartial judge.

"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times." Kennedy wrote. "Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law."

"Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom's first principles," according to Kennedy. "Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers ... Within the Constitution's separation-of-powers structure, few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person."

In responding to Laura Ingraham's false dichotomy between keeping us safe and protecting habeas corpus, I cited Benjamin Franklin's admonition: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Attacking judges under guise of national security

The Boumediene decision split along political lines with the four so-called liberal justices - Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter and Breyer - in the majority, and the four conservative justices - Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito - in the dissent. Kennedy, the swing vote, broke the tie. Curt Levy from the Committee for Justice, which seeks to pack the courts with right-wing judges, blogged that Boumediene has "teed up the Supreme Court issue nicely for the G.O.P."

Indeed, John McCain has already seized upon it as a campaign issue. The day the opinion came out, McCain said, "It obviously concerns me . . . but it is a decision the Supreme Court has made. Now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored closing of Guantánamo Bay and I still think that we ought to do that." By the next day, McCain had changed his tune. "The Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country," he declared. McCain, who hopes to overcome the unpopularity of his positions on the war and the economy, will make national security the centerpiece of his campaign.

Barack Obama, who links our national security with how other nations view us, characterized the Boumediene decision as "an important step toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus."

It is very likely that the next president will make at least one nomination, and probably two, to the Supreme Court. Boumediene is the poster child for how delicately the Court is now balanced, and the disastrous consequences to the doctrine of separation-of-powers that await us if a President McCain makes good on his promise to appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Alito.

Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. (organizations shown for identification purposes only; the views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer; she is not acting on behalf of these organizations). She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com. This article first appeared in Jurist.


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court allows a noncitizen to withdraw a motion for voluntary departure if made prior to departure date

--- S.Ct. ----, 2008 WL 2404066 (U.S.)
No. 06-1181
United States Supreme Court.
Argued January 7, 2008
Decided June 16, 2008


FN* The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Nigeria, alleges that he married an American citizen in 1999. His wife filed an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on his behalf that was denied in 2003. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged Dada with being removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act for overstaying his temporary nonimmigrant visa. The Immigration Judge (IJ) denied the request for a continuance pending adjudication of a second I-130 petition, found Dada eligible for removal, and granted his request for voluntary departure under 8 U. S. C. §1229c(b). The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed and ordered Dada to depart within 30 days or suffer statutory penalties. Two days before the end of the 30-day period, Dada sought to withdraw his voluntary departure request and filed a motion to reopen removal proceedings under 8 U. S. C. §1229a(c)(7), contending that new and material evidence demonstrated a bona fide marriage and that his case should be continued until resolution of the second I-130 petition. After the voluntary departure period had expired, the BIA denied the request, reasoning that an alien who has been granted voluntary departure but does not depart in a timely fashion is statutorily barred from receiving adjustment of status. It did not consider Dada’s request to withdraw his voluntary departure request. The Fifth Circuit affirmed.

Held: An alien must be permitted an opportunity to withdraw a motion for voluntary departure, provided the request is made before expiration of the departure period. Pp. 5-20.

(a) Resolution of this case turns on the interaction of two aspects of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996-the alien’s right to file a motion to reopen in removal proceedings and the rules governing voluntary departure. Pp. 5-12.

(1) Voluntary departure is discretionary relief that allows certain favored aliens to leave the country willingly. It benefits the Government by, e.g., expediting the departure process and avoiding deportation expenses, and benefits the alien by, e.g., facilitating readmission. To receive these benefits, the alien must depart timely. As relevant here, when voluntary departure is requested at the conclusion of removal proceedings, the departure period may not exceed 60 days. 8 U. S. C. §1229c(b)(2). Pp. 5-9.

(2) An alien is permitted to file one motion to reopen, §1229a(c)(7)(A), asking the BIA to change its decision because of newly discovered evidence or changed circumstances. The motion generally must be filed within 90 days of a final administrative removal order, §1229a(c)(7)(C)(1). Although neither the text of §1229c or §1229a(c)(7) nor the applicable legislative history indicates whether Congress intended for an alien granted voluntary departure to be permitted to pursue a motion to reopen, the statutory text plainly guarantees to each alien the right to file “one motion to reopen proceedings under this section,” §1229a(c)(7)(A). Pp. 9-12.

(b) Section 1229c(b)(2) unambiguously states that the voluntary departure period “shall not be valid” for more than “60 days,” but says nothing about the motion to reopen; and nothing in the statutes or past usage indicates that voluntary departure or motions to reopen cannot coexist. In reading a statute, the Court must not “look merely to a particular clause,” but consider “in connection with it the whole statute.” Kokoszka v. Belford, 417 U. S. 642, 650. Reading the Act as a whole, and considering the statutory scheme governing voluntary departure alongside §1229a(c)(7)(A)’s right to pursue “one motion to reopen,” the Government’s position that an alien who has agreed to voluntarily depart is not entitled to pursue a motion to reopen is unsustainable. It would render the statutory reopening right a nullity in most voluntary departure cases since it is foreseeable, and quite likely, that the voluntary departure time will expire long before the BIA decides a timely-filed motion to reopen. Absent tolling or some other remedial action by this Court, then, the alien who is granted voluntary departure but whose circumstances have changed in a manner cognizable by a motion to reopen is between Scylla and Charybdis: The alien either may leave the United States in accordance with the voluntary departure order, with the effect that the motion to reopen is deemed withdrawn, or may stay in the United States to pursue the case’s reopening, risking expiration of the departure period and ineligibility for adjustment of status, the underlying relief sought. Because a motion to reopen is meant to ensure a proper and lawful disposition, this Court is reluctant to assume that the voluntary departure statute is designed to make reopening unavailable for the distinct class of deportable aliens most favored by the same law, when the statute’s plain text reveals no such limitation. Pp. 12-16.

(c) It is thus necessary to read the Act to preserve the alien’s right to pursue reopening while respecting the Government’s interest in the voluntary departure arrangement’s quid pro quo. There is no statutory authority for petitioner’s proposal to automatically toll the voluntary departure period during the motion to reopen’s pendency. Voluntary departure is an agreed-upon exchange of benefits, much like a settlement agreement. An alien who is permitted to stay past the departure date to wait out the motion to reopen’s adjudication cannot then demand the full benefits of voluntary departure, for the Government’s benefit-a prompt and costless departure-would be lost. It would also invite abuse by aliens who wish to stay in the country but whose cases are unlikely to be reopened. Absent a valid regulation otherwise, the appropriate way to reconcile the voluntary departure and motion to reopen provisions is to allow an alien to withdraw from the voluntary departure agreement. The Department of Justice, which has authority to adopt the relevant regulations, has made a preliminary determination that the Act permits an alien to withdraw a voluntary departure application before expiration of the departure period. Although not binding in the present case, this proposed interpretation “warrants respectful consideration.” Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Family Servs. v. Blumer, 534 U. S. 473, 497. To safeguard the right to pursue a motion to reopen for voluntary departure recipients, the alien must be permitted to withdraw, unilaterally, a voluntary departure request before the departure period expires, without regard to the motion to reopen’s underlying merits. The alien has the option either to abide by the voluntary departure’s terms, and receive its agreed-upon benefits; or, alternatively, to forgo those benefits and remain in the country to pursue an administrative motion. An alien selecting the latter option gives up the possibility of readmission and becomes subject to the IJ’s alternative order of removal. The alien may be removed by the DHS within 90 days, even if the motion to reopen has yet to be adjudicated. But the alien may request a stay of the removal order, and, though the BIA has discretion to deny a motion for a stay based on the merits of the motion to reopen, it may constitute an abuse of discretion for the BIA to deny a motion for stay where the motion states nonfrivolous grounds for reopening. Though this interpretation still confronts the alien with a hard choice, it avoids both the quixotic results of the Government’s proposal and the elimination of benefits to the Government that would follow from petitioner’s tolling rule. Pp. 16-20.

207 Fed. Appx. 425, reversed and remanded.

Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Roberts, C. J., and Thomas, J., joined. Alito, J., filed a dissenting opinion.


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Local Police Involvement in the Postville Raids?

After my commentary on the Postville raids, I received some useful reactions (and some not so useful personal attacks) to its content. One issue specifically is the accuracy of the media's reporting of local police involvement in the raids.  Local sources take issue with this characterization and are suggesting to me that the involvement was overstated, and that, in fact, police had little input and little prior knowledge of what was to take place that day. Moreover, though I have not been able to verify this, it has been suggested to me that Postville police was proud of its record of having established trust with the immigrant community.

Unfortunately, it appears that at least two councilmen are pushing a 287(g) agreement between local police and ICE. This would be unfortunate.  Not only does it detract resources from local police away from their responsibilities as community caretakers but it increases the vulnerability to criminal victimization by immigrant communities who are too afraid to rely on police to protect them. 


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

From a teacher at Postville, IA On the Raids

Elise Martins did not intend for this e-mail to become so public, but it quickly spread over the e-mail and the internet.  It is a compelling version of what happened at Postville from the perspective of school children whose parents could not pick them up from school in the aftermath of the raid. 

"Yesterday, our town was raided by 400 FBI agents, ICE agents
(formally known as INS), state troopers, and a variety of other
agencies. We had helicopters flying overhead for hours, all roads were
blocked coming into and going out of Postville, media crews and cameras
EVERYWHERE, and basically mass chaos. The federal government had
decided to make Postville an example for the rest of the nation to see
our supposedly working Homeland Security. Ironically, as this all
transpired, I was at the county courthouse with my Government class, so
that they could see first hand how our judicial system works. We got
more of a lesson then we were bargaining for. I received calls from the
school not to come back to school because I have students they were
concerned about. (Yes, they are undocumented students who have been in
this district since they were in fourth grade. They speak English
clearly, their parents work here in town and pay taxes, have tried to
file papers to become legal, but have been denied due to the fact that
they do not come from a 'desirable' country.)
I am told after a few hours that I can come back on the school bus,
but to expect to be pulled over by the FBI, and I am not to, under any
circumstances, let any officer onto the bus. I now have 12 students who
are scared as to what will happen, with four students that could
possibly be arrested. Basically, I had 20 minutes to get my wits about
me and be ready to face ICE or the FBI and tell them to take a hike.
Under federal laws, schools and churches are considered sanctuaries, and
people can go to them for political refugee. (Think of the Hunchback of
Norte Dame.) Although this did nothing to calm my nerves, as I am
afraid that I might also be arrested for not cooperating with the law.
We made it back into Postville, only to find that our school is now
surrounded by media cameras. I will not make a comment about the news
media...I have not much good to say about them at this point. I get to
my classroom, to find out that our entire computer network crashed at 10
am (the same time ICE came to Postville). It also has been running off
and on today, with an entire computer tech team unable to find out what
is wrong. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe our accounts
are being scanned. (Big Brother)
After school, all teachers and staff are told to report to the
theater. We have 150 students with no parents to go home to. We are
told that we need to stay with them until we find out where their
parents are at or a relative that will care for them until their parents
are found. Many of these kids lost both parents due to the raid and the
parents are now sitting in jail in Waterloo, or in the National Cattle
Congress Fairgrounds until they are deported. I guess, I don't really
care how any of you feel about immigration, we all have our opinions.
But I will say, that as a human being and as a parent, I find it
disturbing to see little elementary kids crying for their parents and
asking you to take them home, and all one can say is, I am sorry, or we
are looking for them. By the way, we got no information from ICE as to
who they arrested, and whether or not, their parents were being
detained. At this point, I just wanted to go home and hug my own kids.
I spent the rest of the evening trying to locate family members,
having students 'hide' their personal belongings in classrooms, barns,
houses, or where ever, and ward off the media. From what I have heard,
we were all over the midwest news channels and newspapers, with CNN and
FOX news also doing stories on us. I think we are on the national news
tonight. It was announced that Postville's raid was the largest
immigration raid in US History.
Today, I am missing about half of my students. Some have taken off
for Chicago, others are hiding in town, some were arrested, and others
are at the Catholic Church. I spent the morning helping in the church
with food preparation (there are 400 people seeking refugee in the
church right now), and also trying to locate items like diapers, food,
pillows, blankets, and games for the little kids to play with. From
media reports, about 350 people were arrested, with 697 more possible
arrests, most of them Guatemalan (not Mexican). Only 57 have been
released due to child care or medical reasons. They are currently back
with ankle monitors on. Most will be deported.
The town has literally 'shut down'. Businesses are closed, the
school is about half empty, and we are now left wondering if we will all
have jobs next year. This town was a ghost town 15 years ago, but has
managed to build itself back up on the backs of our immigrant workers.
I have complained many times about the language barriers I encountered
at school, but I have always said that the reason I had a job was
because we were the only district that actually was growing and able to
keep their staff due to the sheer number of students in the school
district. By me working in the Postville School District, I am eligible
to have half of my student loans forgiven over a five year time period.
I only have one more year left to complete this goal. If we lose half >
of our students, this will not happen.
What frustrates me the most is that this raid accomplished nothing
positive. It has destroyed families, will more than likely close some
area businesses, some of us will lose our jobs, and the real estate in
the area became worthless overnight. All this in an already struggling
economy. I know that I am complaining in this email and it has become a
lengthy email too, but everyone who complains about the immigrants
'taking American jobs' don't even want these jobs. Honestly, who wants
to work for minimum wage, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with no
overtime, in cold, smelly conditions, gutting chickens or cows? I know
that I don't want to do that for a living.
Interestingly enough, my US History students made a direct
correlation between what we all witnessed yesterday to our history
lesson three weeks ago. We have been studying W.W.II and the
Holocaust. I had them view the movie 'Schindler's List' and the things
that happened in the movie, with the Nazis rounding up the Jews, having
them report their names and families' names, transporting them to
unknown places, keeping them in substandard holding areas, and then
getting rid of them, was very much like what happened yesterday, with
one exception, the US has not practiced the use of genocide.
ICE is today, doing house to house searches of every home and
apartment that has a hispanic name attached to it. It is rather scary
to see search teams go from place to place, looking for immigrants. We
had agencies at the school a month ago with a subpoena to seize all
student and employee files. Any name that sounded remotely Hispanic was
flagged. I find this to be a form of racial profiling, and I know that
it is happening, because I was already asked three weeks ago to bring in
a copy of my birth certificate due to the fact that my maiden name was
'Hispanic' sounding. (de Julio)
How quickly we forget our own histories. Many of our ancestors came
here with nothing to their names and very little to survive on. They
wanted a fresh start too. Unless they are 100% Native American, your
ancestors were also immigrants. So why are we trying to make an example
out of those less fortunate? Why not go after the people who really are
doing something illegal and wrong? Like drug dealers or child
molesters? If we spent as much money on those items as we are currently
spending on the War in Iraq (which we are loosing) or building a 700
mile long wall on the Mexican border which is actually 2300 miles long,
we would maybe in a better economy that was safe for our families.

Proud not to have voted for George W. Bush in either election,
Elise Martins"


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

June 19: Night of 1,000 Conversations

Breakthrough TV is sponsoring a Night of 1,000 Conversations this week, focusing on ICE enforcement activities. This THURSDAY, January 19th join the Night of 1,000 Conversations. 
Nationwide, thousands will gather to talk about how The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undermines due process and the human rights of immigrants by:

Raiding their homes without warrants
Jailing them in inhumane detention centers
Delaying their citizenship because of racial profiling
Click HERE  to find out how others are taking part and how you can host your own conversation. 

At the NYC event on June 19th, former War Veteran, Warren Joseph who's real life immigration story was  adapted for the character "Marc" in the ICED video game will speak as part of a panel on the Night of the 1,000 Conversations. The panel will focus on the detention and deportation of immigrants in the United States.

Moderated by: Gouri Sadhwani -  Deputy Executive Director for Campaigns and Activism at Amnesty International USA, other panelists include Julie Dinnerstein - Staff Attorney for Sanctuary for Families and Chung Wha Hong - Executive Director of New York Immigration Coalition.

Thursday, June 19th, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
108 Orchard Street (and Delancey)

By Subway:
B or D trains to Grand Street;
F to Delancey Street;
J,M, or Z to Essex Street

RSVP: events@tenement.org


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Frank Oz (UK)

Frank Oz was born in Hereford, England in 1944. He immigrated to the United States at the age of five with his parents. Jim Henson saw Oz at a puppeteers' convention in California where he was impressed with Oz's ability. Oz joined the Muppets in 1963, and since then has become one of the greatest puppeteers of our time as well as a superb comedy director (films such as Little Shop of Horrors).

Oz was born Richard Frank Oznowicz in England, the son of two puppeteers. His parents were refugees from the Holocaust who moved to England after fighting the Nazis with the Dutch Brigades.

Oz settled in California and attended Oakland City College.

Oz is known for his work as a puppeteer (including voices), performing with Jim Henson's Muppets. His characters have included Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam the Eagle on The Muppet Show, and Grover, Cookie Monster and Bert on Sesame Street, among many others.

In addition to performing a variety of characters, Oz has been one of the primary collaborators responsible for the development of the Muppets over the last 30 years. Oz has performed as a Muppeteer in over 75 movies, video releases, and TV specials, as well as countless other public appearances, episodes of Sesame Street, and other Jim Henson series.

Oz is also well known as the performer of Jedi Master Yoda from George Lucas' Star Wars series. Oz performed the voice and puppet for Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, and provided the voice of the CGI Yoda in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

As an actor, Oz appeared in 1980 as a corrections officer in The Blues Brothers movie, directed by John Landis. He also appeared in later Landis movies An American Werewolf in London, Spies Like Us, Trading Places and Innocent Blood. In 1998, Oz portrayed a warden in Blues Brothers 2000.

Oz began his behind-the-camera work when he co-directed the fantasy film The Dark Crystal with long-time collaborator Jim Henson. Oz further employed those skills in directing 1986's Little Shop Of Horrors. The musical film starred Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, as well as Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, Christopher Guest, and a 15-foot-tall talking plant (voiced by Levi Stubbs) which at times required up to 40 puppeteers to operate. Oz went on to direct Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 1988, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, What About Bob? in 1991, starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss, and HouseSitter in 1992. Later films include The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), In & Out (1997), Bowfinger (1999), The Score (2001), the 2004 re-make of The Stepford Wives, and Death at a Funeral (2007).


June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Barbara Lee Lashes Out at ICE

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has been a tremendous leader, advocating for progressive immigration reform and fair and humane enforcement. Matt O'Brien writes in the Contra Costa Times:

Pledging to "take them on big-time," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, sharply criticized the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency Friday and declared she would push for measures to reduce the fear she said agents have caused East Bay immigrant families.

The Oakland Democrat told a packed North Oakland church that she wants to "ensure that ICE is following the rules and that those rules are well-known and publicized — especially when it comes to actions at schools, hospitals, religious centers and other critical community institutions."

Her comments followed a furor in Oakland and Berkeley last month when federal operations to arrest illegal immigrants, which ICE says were routine, caused panic because agents were seen in the vicinity of public schools. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A Different View of the Wall

A good friend, Fernando Garcia, writes today in the El Paso Times.

Whether the construction of the border wall will be finished at the end of this administration is still unknown, but one fact that has a large degree of certainty is the profound damage already made by Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol officials to the public debate on issues concerning the rights and opinions of border residents.

In a desperate attempt to expedite the construction of the wall, current administration officials have not only been willing to bypass more than a dozen laws and provisions, but now they have tried consistently to convince public opinion, and themselves, of the community support behind the construction of the border wall.

Moreover, they have created a quite artificial consultation process to manage the congressional mandate of including border communities in the discussion of this issue.

Sadly, they have done all of that at the expense of misrepresenting the opinions and sentiments of people living on the border, specifically those in El Paso and Southern New Mexico.

Just recently, Border Patrol officials of the El Paso Sector, including Chief Manjarrez with a column on the June 8 Times Opinion page, have lined up to argue that border residents of our area have "overwhelmingly" showed support for the border wall at community forums they have organized.

But let's see.

For instance, the format of such community forums only had the intention to show case DHS projects and to inform about border fence plans and designs that had already been approved.

The possibilities to have substantial discussion and to get residents' opinions were conveniently minimized; since, of course, taking the risk to have critical community input might have derailed, or at least questioned the whole border wall strategy.

It is precisely here where the consultation becomes artificial.

As if by just mentioning the amount of such forums that had taken place without mentioning the formats and mechanisms will do the work.

Moreover, almost all community forums organized by DHS experienced a low turnout, showing a concerning disconnection between border residents and the Border Patrol.

Therefore, it is surprising and, honestly, quite daring to assume and publicly declare that the majority of border residents support the border fence based on a fictitious consultation process and on misleading perceptions.

Fortunately, facts and reality cannot be overshadowed just by mentioning unnamed and unscientific polls and surveys or by the sole intention of a government institution's propaganda.

Unfortunately, a real community consultation on the border wall was, is, and will continue to be missing, at least for now and for the rest of this administration.

Finally, DHS and immigration officials could take the political decision to ignore the dissenting expressions on the border wall. They could dismiss the multiple actions (lawsuits and resolutions) taken by many border counties and cities, including El Paso County, that questioned the DHS border wall strategy.

They could try to obliterate those 6,000 residents of El Paso County that, in just one week, signed a community petition to challenge the construction of the border wall and its impacts on their lives and rights.

They could, at the end, decide to complete the construction of the border wall against the will of border communities.

But what they cannot, and should not, do is to misrepresent the opinions of border residents to build an ill-conceived border wall.

At least, not in our name.

Fernando Garcia is executive director of th e El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights.


June 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)