Saturday, July 26, 2008
Workers in deportation proceedings, including children, are speaking out about their mistreatment at Agriprocessor. It is still to be seen, however, whether their speaking out will make any difference for there of future workers. For the full story in the New York Times, click here.
On Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 1:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election" at which Hans von Spakovsky provided testimony. The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, an immigration research organization in Washington.
"In the world of elections and politics, there isn't very much room for unanimous agreement. Yet, when it comes to modern-day voter fraud, most election experts agree that it's an extremely rare and outright irrational occurrence. A recent report published by the Heritage Foundation, entitled, The Threat of Non-Citizen Voting, written by Hans von Spakovsky, challenges sound research with unsubstantiated evidence and sheer innuendo to make the empirically outrageous claim that non-citizens are subverting the electoral process.
The rigorous research of both the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and Project Vote has shown that voter fraud in the U.S. is almost non-existent. The simple act of voting is simply not worth the cost and likelihood of getting caught. Virtually ignoring fact and evidence, the Heritage Foundation's report consists of a rambling "legal memorandum" claiming that an unknowable yet large number of non-citizens are voting illegally and subverting the electoral process.
Allegations of fraud are commonly used for partisan political purposes to justify measures that would disenfranchise legitimate voters. Research finds that most allegations of voter fraud by non-citizens stem from faulty records, partisan politics, and commonplace error.
Rather than acknowledge von Spakovksy's largely discredited, false, and flashy alarms that translate into only a handful of fraudulent voters over the past couple of years, Congress should react to the growing numbers of would-be citizens who are being deprived of the right to vote because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fails to process naturalization applications in a timely fashion. Disenfranchisement, not fraud, is the greatest offense that plagues our electoral process."
For more information contact Andrea Nill, 202-507-7520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fact Sheet from the Immigration Policy Center:
Chicken Little in the Voting Booth (Washington, DC: July 2008).
Border Walk in opposition to the US-Mexico "border wall of apartheid" is scheduled for August 19-23.
The House of Representatives will take their "Summer District Work Period" from August 11- September 5th.
The Senate will take their "State Work Period" from August 9 - September 7th.
What an ideal time to have another Border Wall-k. Border Wall-k VI...or El Paso Border Wall-k.
Texas has 1250 miles of border with Mexico. That represents about 65% of the entire 1950 miles of US-Mexico border. That means that at least 65% of the border residents are opposed to the border wall.
In representation of their border citizens and communities, the Texas Mayors all along the Texas-Mexico border have stood up against this border wall, even entering into a lawsuit against the federal government to stop the construction.
Now it's time to convince Congress, that America cannot be the world leader of "liberty and justice for all" while walling itself off as country...and becoming an international gated community. Not many years ago, a wall between friends and family in Europe was considered the symbol of an oppressive enemy of the free world.
El Paso is our Far West Texas anchor city of the Texas-Mexico border that is subject to the construction of the longest border wall in Texas. 56 straight miles, cutting through heritage and culture, through lives, through beautiful crop lands. Such a wall will harm everything that we revere here on the border.
A coalition of local, state, national as well as border organizations are therefore galvanizing, organizing, sponsoring and endorsing a 56, five day Border Wall-k from August 19-23...from McNary to El Paso, so as to coincide with the Congressmen retuning from Washington, D. C. to do work in their districts.
The El Paso-Border Wall-k will leave McNary on Tuesday, August 19 and arrive at the plaza in downtown El Paso on Saturday afternoon, August 23rd.
We request your solidarity. From coast to coast, we encourage all individuals and organizations opposed to the "border wall of apartheid" to spread the word about the El Paso-Border Wall-k. Let your friends and neighbors know that Texas is still standing up to one of the most demented schemes being imposed on a free people.
For more information you can contact:
Bill Guerra Addington
Border Network for Human Rights
Friday, July 25, 2008
Congratulations to Marielena Hincapié and Linton Joaquin on their new roles at NILC. I have long admired their steadfast and effective work on behalf of immigrants; NILC is fortunate to continue to have them in different leadership capacities.
STATEMENT OF ALLEN ERENBAUM, CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
On behalf of the National Immigration Law Center's Board of Directors, I am happy to share news of some exciting structural changes at NILC that will strengthen our work and our contribution to the overall immigrant rights movement. NILC has played a critical role in integrating advocacy, legal and policy analysis, and litigation strategies on key issues confronting the low-income immigrant community. The current wholesale assault on immigrants demands that we play a greater role in legal challenges to their mistreatment and that we enhance our advocacy, communications, and litigation capacity. We are confident you will share our excitement about changes in NILC's leadership structure that will enable us to better respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
We are honored that our current executive director, Linton Joaquin, has decided to take on the new position of general counsel to NILC. Linton has thirty years of litigation experience and is one of the premier immigration litigators in the country. His experience spans a wide range of immigration and constitutional issues, and he is relied upon by litigators throughout the nation for advice, strategy, and support. As general counsel, Linton will further develop NILC's capacity to engage in strategic litigation to defend low-income immigrants' due process and civil rights at a time when their rights are under siege. The board recognizes Linton's outstanding service to NILC during the last four years as its executive director. Linton has used his wisdom and grace to overcome challenges and lead NILC to new heights, and his contributions as executive director will always be remembered.
I am also delighted to announce that Marielena Hincapié, currently director of programs, will become NILC's new executive director. Marielena is extraordinarily talented, and NILC's board and staff are confident that she has the vision, commitment, and energy to take NILC to its next level. Many of you already know Marielena from her advocacy efforts throughout the country. She joined NILC in 2000 as a staff attorney in our Oakland office and became director of programs in 2004, leading NILC's programmatic work. Because of her strong leadership and management skills, Marielena has already taken responsibility for much of NILC's internal management and fundraising efforts while also taking charge of high impact programmatic work, including litigating against the DHS rule regarding Social Security no-match letters, supporting organizing efforts in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and providing leadership on responding to immigration raids and other workers' rights issues. We are fortunate to have such a talented and qualified leader.
Linton's shift to the general counsel position and Marielena's assumption of the executive director position will take effect September 15, 2008, to allow for a properly organized transition. With this restructuring of our leadership as well as the strategic planning NILC is embarking on, NILC will become a stronger organization that brings vision and leadership combined with in-depth analysis and litigation support to the immigrant rights movement. These changes will increase NILC's capacity to play a critical role in the national immigrant rights movement while providing critical support to state and local advocates, and community and labor organizers.
STATEMENT OF LINTON JOAQUIN ON TRANSITION TO GENERAL COUNSEL POSITION AT NILC
I look forward to transitioning from the position of executive director to fill the newly created position of general counsel. Now is a critical time for NILC to increase its litigation capacity, and personally I am eager to focus more of my time on litigation. Currently, both the federal government and many states are taking unprecedented and escalating actions to deny immigrants fair treatment and due process. In the general counsel position, I will be able to give more time and attention to litigation in response to these challenges.
I am delighted that Marielena Hincapié has accepted the position of executive director at NILC. As director of programs, Marielena has played a critical role in NILC's top management throughout the time I have served as executive director. Marielena is an extraordinarily talented and dynamic leader, and she will be an outstanding executive director. And I am particularly pleased to see that my successor as executive director is someone from the immigrant community who developed her remarkable skills while working at NILC.
STATEMENT OF MARIELENA HINCAPIÉ ON ACCEPTANCE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR POSITION AT NILC
It is with great honor that I step into the executive director role to help NILC grow into a more strategic organization for low-income immigrants in this country. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to take on this leadership position at such an important moment for the immigrant rights movement and for our country.
As an immigrant from Colombia from a working class background, I do not take this task lightly. I gather inspiration from the many immigrants - including my own family members who have been directly affected by unjust immigration policies - who have had the courage, despite personal hardship and great risk, to work to build a better country for all of us.
Although the challenge is great, I feel well prepared after eight years as staff attorney at NILC, the last four of which I served as director of programs, sharing NILC's leadership with Linton Joaquin - a relationship that will continue seamlessly after this transition. I look forward to working closely with him as NILC's new general counsel. I also have the luxury of being able to count on the rest of NILC's dedicated staff and dynamic advocacy partners. Because of this solid foundation, I am confident of NILC's continued success and am excited about what we will be able to accomplish together in the coming years.
I very much look forward to working with you in my new capacity to secure just and humane immigration policies for our diverse immigrant communities.
Fall 2008 Seminar & Webinar Schedule
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center is offering more webinars (web-based trainings) this fall so that you can join our sessions from the convenience of your own office.
To see a list of all trainings and to register, visit www.ilrc.org/seminars
Child Status Protection Act Made Simple
Wednesday, 8/27/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
How to Read California Criminal Records and Documents
Monday, 9/15/08, 10:00 am ? 11:00 am PDT, 1.0 MCLE
The Categorical Analysis, Divisible Statues, and the Record of Conviction
Friday, 9/19/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Fine-Tuning Your Practice at the Ninth Circuit (2 dates to choose from)
Tuesday, 9/23/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Thursday, 9/25/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
How to Defend Permanent Residents from Removal (2 dates to choose from)
Monday, 9/29/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Tuesday, 10/7/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Analyzing Criminal Issues in VAWA Cases (2 dates to choose from)
Thursday, 11/6/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Wednesday, 11/12/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Citizenship for Children
Wednesday, 12/3/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Thursday, 12/11/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Learn the Latest of the New U Visa for Victims of Certain Crimes
Monday, 12/15/08, 10:00 am ? 11:30 am PDT, 1.5 MCLE
Training on Naturalization, Citizenship, and Voting (Sacramento)
Tuesday, 9/10/08, 9:00 am ? 5:00 pm, 6.5 MCLE
Training on Naturalization, Citizenship, and Voting (Fresno)
2-day Training: Monday, 9/15/08, 1:00 pm ? 5:00 pm & Tuesday, 9/16/08, 9:00 am ? 5:00 pm, 10.25 MCLE
How to Defend Permanent Residents from Removal (San Francisco)
Tuesday, 9/18/08, 2:00 pm ? 5:00 pm, 2.75 MCLE
Essential Elements of Immigration Law (San Francisco)
6 sessions total: Tuesdays, 10/7, 14, 21, 28, 11/4, & 11, 3:30 pm ? 7:00 pm, MCLE 19.5
Advanced VAWA (San Francisco)
Tuesday, 12/2/08, 2:00 pm ? 5:00 pm, 2.75 MCLE
The NY Highest Court enjoined landlord from evicting tenant based on his alleged undocumented status
Excerpts from the opinion follow:
Oswaldo Recalde, Plaintiff, against Bae Cleaners, Inc. and Henry Bae,
SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK COUNTY
2008 NY Slip Op 28266; 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4397
July 15, 2008, Decided
Plaintiff has established that he is entitled a
preliminary injunction pending determination of the
underlying action by demonstrating the irreparable harm
of a possible eviction if the relief sought is not granted,
and that the balance of the equities is in his favor so as to
maintain the status quo while awaiting a final
determination of the underlying claims.. Plaintiff
has likewise established a strong likelihood of success on
the merits of his claims that the landlord's refusal to offer
him a renewal lease [**7] violates the rent stabilization
law and the human rights law.
Theundisputed record demonstrates discrimination based on
plaintiff's "actual or perceived . . . alienage or citizenship
status" in violation of [New York's human rights law]. Defendant's August,
September and October letters, expressly state that
plaintiff's rent cannot be accepted and his lease cannot be
renewed because of his "questionable immigration status
in the U.S." Moreover, defendant's Notice of Termination
could not be any more explicit in stating that plaintiff's
tenancy is being terminated because of his "illegal"
The Human Rights Law includes a limited exception
permitting discrimination on the ground of alienage or
citizenship status, when such discrimination "is required
or when such preference is expressly permitted by any
law or regulations of the United States." 8 NYC Admin
Code §8-107(14). Presumably relying on this exception,
defendant argues that "the only reason and motivation
behind the termination notices were compliance with
Federal Statute and to avoid civil and criminal penalties."
To support this argument, defendant cites solely to the
federal statute, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(iii), which
subjects a person to criminal penalties if he or she
"knowing [**11] or in reckless disregard of the fact that
an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United
States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields
from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield
from detection, such alien in any place, including any
building or any means of transportation." 8 U.S.C.
2008 NY Slip Op 28266, *3; 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4397, **7
COURTESY OF WWW.BIBDAILY.COM
§1324(a)(1)(A)(iii). Defendant, however, cites no federal
or New York legal precedent holding that the federal
statute either requires a landlord to verify a tenant's
immigration status, or prohibits a landlord from renting
an apartment to a tenant who lacks legal immigration
status. 1 [*5]
1 Notably, the declaration of legislative intent
and findings accompanying the 1989 amendments
to the Human Rights Law, specifically addresses
the issue of discrimination based on immigration
status, as it relates to housing:
New York City is currently home to more
than one million aliens. These individuals make a
unique contribution to the stimulating economic
and cultural diversity which is one of the City's
primary features. As a city of immigrants, New
York City has a special obligation to assist those
who, like most of our ancestors, have come to our
country seeking a better way of [**12] life. Even
under the best of circumstances, newcomers to
this country find it difficult to obtain housing,
employment and other necessities. However, this
difficulty is compounded when landlords,
employers or other persons practice
discrimination against aliens. Aliens are also
especially vulnerable to exploitation by
unscrupulous entrepreneurs in many areas of life.
The entire City suffers when a substantial part of
its population lacks adequate housing, insurance
coverage, heath care or education.
Recent changes in federal immigration law,
intended in part to discourage the entry of
undocumented aliens into the United States, have
aroused fears among immigrants of a growing
bias within the community against those who may
look or sound foreign. It has come to the City's
attention that such people have been asked to
document their citizenship status when such
documentation was not required by law. Inquiries
of this nature indicate that not only aliens, but
those suspected of being aliens, face the threat of
discrimination. Such intolerance harms the City
and aggravates the difficult adjustment to
American life which every newcomer must make.
It is the intent of the Council to prevent
[**13] aliens from being treated unfairly in
housing, employment and other areas of life. This
law prohibits discrimination against aliens unless
such prohibition is contrary to Federal, State or
City law. . . . Unless otherwise mandated by law,
all aliens are entitled to and will be guaranteed
equal treatment. Nothing in this local law is
intended to or shall havethe effect of contradicting
the requirements of federal law concerning the
employment and provision of benefits to aliens.
Local Law 52 of 1989, §1.
Based on the foregoing analyses, it cannot be
reasonably disputed that defendant's refusal to renew
plaintiff's lease based on his immigration status, violates
the protections afforded by both the Rent Stabilization
Law and the New York City Human Rights Law, and, as
such, it is highly likely that plaintiff will ultimately
prevail on those claims. 2 Under these circumstances,
plaintiff has met his burden of establishing that he is
entitled to a preliminary injunction. See Aetna Insurance
Co. v. Capasso, supra; Doe v. Axelrod, supra; W.T.
Grant Co. v. Sgrogi, supra; Asness v. Nelson, supra.
2 In view of this determination, the court need
not resolve the question whether plaintiff is also
[**14] likely to succeed on his additional claim
for deceptive business practices pursuant to
section 349 of the General Business Law.
Finally, it must be noted that this action presents
issues of first impression for New York courts, which are
indicative of a disturbing trend involving the private use
of immigration laws to deny housing and other benefits
based on immigration status. See Huyen Pham, "The
Private Enforcement of Immigration Laws," 96 Geo. L.J.
777 (March 2008); Kristina M. Campbell, [*6] "Local
Illegal Immigration Relief Act ordinances: A Legal,
Policy and Litigation Analysis," 84 Denv. U. L. Rev.
(2007). In 2006, for example, the City of Hazelton,
Pennsylvania enacted a "Tenant Registration Ordinance"
requiring landlords to verify the immigration status of
prospective tenants, and to deny housing to those with
illegal immigration status; a federal court struck down the
ordinance as violating plaintiffs' rights under the
Supremacy and Due Process clauses of the United States
Constitution. Lozano v. City of Hazleton, 496 F.Supp.2d
477 (M. D. Pa. 2007); see also Villas at Parkside
Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, 2008 WL 2201980
(U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Texas) (holding that a local [**15]
ordinance requiring landlords to review immigration
documents to determine if a tenant or prospective tenant
Page has an "eligible immigration" status, and subjecting
landlords to fines and criminal penalties, is preempted by
federal law and violates the Due Process clause); Garrett
v. City of Escondido, 465 F. Supp. 2d 1043 (S.D. Ca.
2006)(in granting a TRO against the enforcement of an
ordinance sanctioning landlords who rent to illegal
immigrants, the court found "serious questions" as to its
constitutionality under the Supremacy and Due Process
clauses). While the cases discussed above involve local
ordinances which impact on or deny housing or other
benefits based on immigration status, New York City has
strong anti-discrimination laws expressly designed to
protect its residents against such abuses.
Deon de Lange and SAPA report from South Africa:
Amnesty International has slammed the government for "forcibly" removing more than 700 refugees and asylum-seekers from the Glenanda displacement camp near Johannesburg this week.
The human rights group has also called for a full investigation into the shootings that took place at the camp in which some 23 people were said to have been injured. Violence broke out at the camp when police arrived to transfer unregistered refugees to the Lindela Repatriation Centre from where they were due to be transported back to their countries of origin.
But on Thursday the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the government should not be blamed for de-taining the undocumented refugees as it had done its best to provide protection and assistance to the victims of the xenophobic attacks. Click here and here for the rest of the story.
A National Conference of State Legislatures report documents that "State legislatures continue tackling immigration in a variety of policy arenas at an unprecedented rate. So far this year, 1267 bills have been considered in 45 state legislatures and at least 175 laws and resolutions have been enacted in 39 states. A total of 190 bills and resolutions have passed legislatures, 12 bills are pending Governor’s approval and three bills were vetoed. The 2008 level of activity is comparable to the same time last year, when 1404 bills and resolutions were considered in all fifty states, and 182 laws were enacted in 43 states."
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time."
As all of us know, there is a direct correlation between U.S. foreign policy and migration (voluntary and involuntary). Barack Obama's speech tonight before more than 200,000 in Berlin represents a major step toward repairing much of the damage that the United States has suffered in its relationship with other countries of the world in the past eight years. The text and video of the speech are available here. Also here is a cool poster of the event.
"Fifty-eight employees at eight Mexican restaurants across northern Ohio have been arrested in immigration raids. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the raids were conducted Wednesday at Casa Fiesta restaurants in Ashland, Fremont, Norwalk, Oberlin, Oregon, Sandusky, Vermilion and Youngstown." Ohio.com, July 23, 2008.
Democracy Now! has an interview by Amy Goodman of a witness to the beating death of Luis Ramirez, a twenty-five-year-old Mexican immigrant. Ramirez was beaten to death last week by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. He was walking home last Monday night when six white high school students brutally beat him while yelling racial slurs. Despite eyewitness testimony, no charges have been filed.
Amy Goodman interviewed Arielle Garcia, a friend of Ramirez who witnessed the attack. Click here for the transcript.
UPDATE Three teens were charged on July 25 with crimes in connection with the death of Ramirez.
This is not really news but NPR did a story on but another device to bring the criminal law into play in the enforcement of the immigration laws:
"For years, the chief punishment for immigrants caught working illegally in the United States has been deportation. But prosecutors are now bringing criminal charges that include aggravated identity theft, which can bring a hefty prison sentence. Immigrant rights groups and some members of Congress are challenging the practice."
"What if the Pilgrims Needed a Visa" is a presentation on immigration policy and myths that Ambassador George Bruno, ret General Counsel and Managing Director USA GROUP INTERNATIONAL,I gave on Sunday, July 13, 2008, as part of the Monadock Summer Lyceum, Peterborough, NH. Click here to listen.
Speaking as a immigration lawyer with a global law practise and former diplomat, Bruno's talk explores some history, law, myths, unintended consequences, and pros and cons of our immigration system and offers some practical solutions as to how the system can be made more user friendly.
This public radio story reports on the decades old struggle by former Mexican guest workers to recoup pension funds. The Mexican government recently decided to pay millions of dollars to former braceros living there and in the United States.
The guest worker arrangement with Mexico, the Bracero Program, as it was known, ended in the early 1960s. But the Braceros' struggle to recover what was guaranteed them under the terms of the various international arrangements continued for decades. This should give us pause about the ability to enforce wage and labor protections in future guest worker programs.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) has just released several updated publications. The ILRC has provided support for nonprofit service providers and pro bono attorneys since 1979.
Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit: Impact of Crimes under California and Other State Laws:
Now in its 10th Edition in two volumes, the ILRC continues to write the most accessible comprehensive guide analyzing the consequences of criminal convictions on immigration. The manual shows step-by-step how to identify and defend against the adverse immigration consequences of charges, using a combination of user-friendly charts, summaries and practice aids, and in-depth discussion of defense strategies. It includes extensive discussion of California offenses, including new defense strategies for assault, domestic violence, drugs, sexual crimes with minors, and other commonly charged offenses.
The VAWA Manual: Immigration Relief for Abused Immigrants:
This publication is a completely revised edition of our popular, comprehensive guide for advocates working with immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Consisting of 13 chapters, this manual includes in-depth information on the following critical areas: VAWA self-petitioning requirements and process; adjustment of status; inadmissibility grounds and waivers; removal proceedings and motions to reopen VAWA; VAWA cancellation of removal; conditional permanent residency; U nonimmigrant status for victims of crime; and consular processing, plus more.
Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship: The Essential Legal Guide:
Consisting of 15 chapters and extensive appendices, the entire process of representing a naturalization applicant from the initial client meeting through the oath of allegiance is thoroughly addressed. The reader will learn detailed eligibility requirements for naturalization and helpful suggestions on both procedural issues and ways to effectively work with naturalization clients. We discuss what to do if a naturalization application is denied and how to determine if a client may already be a U.S. citizen through either acquisition or derivation of citizenship. You will find a thorough discussion of the recent changes in the law concerning citizenship for children. The Essential Guide also contains detailed information on good moral character and contains valuable information on how to help applicants with disabilities apply for naturalization.
To find out more and to order, visit www.ilrc.org/publications
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Anna Gorman, a fine immigration reporter for the L.A. Times, has a good story illustrating the harsh impacts of the U.S. immigration laws on U.S. citizen (and native Kentuckian) Heather Suarez (Haley) who is married to an undocumented immigrant who is inelgible to regularize his status for a decade. The web link above also includes a link to a nice audio slide show.
Sadly, the debate over immigration is not always polite, civil, and constructive. This article describes the increase in threats against Latino leaders in North Carolina because of their stance on immigration. A law student (I am not printing her name so she does not get any e-mail "protests") writes that "[b]eing back in N.C. I'm having trouble determining whether `the atmosphere' has changed, or if it is the reporting."
The story reports that North Carolina's Hispanic leaders have been subject to death threats:
"A pair of the state's most prominent advocates, Andrea Bazán and Tony Asion, say that for the past several months, each time they have spoken publicly, they have gotten a raft of profanity-laced messages, some of them exhorting them to return to their home countries and others denigrating Hispanics. Several legislators say they have also gotten messages recently that cross the line into racism, and one got a menacing voice mail."
I am always surprised to receive hate e-mails, voicemails, and negative comments on the blog (some of which I do not approve the posting of because they include racial epithets -- including one last weekend directed at one of my fellow bloggers). But such responses to immigration commentary is commonplace. A few weeks ago, political pundit Ruben Navarrette Jr. shared some of the hate mail he gets when he writes on immigration. And his commentary often generates comments like this:
"Mexico is a toilet and the government is ruining the lives of its citizens. Everytime the US tries to pass rational laws, some whiny Mexican group will cry racism and threaten boycotts."
Immigration generates strong feelings. I wish that we could develp a better way to discuss the real issues and , if necessary, agree to disagree without resorting to mean-spirited name-calling.
Thanks to Richard Herman for this from Action News in Pittsburgh:
"With its shrinking local population, the Pittsburgh area's best hope for a bright future may rest on the shoulders of people who haven't even made it to the United States yet.
Barry Balmat, the Pittsburgh director of the Rand Corp. think tank, believes immigrants can bring Pittsburgh new life. "Return to growth in the population, instead of a decline in population," Balmat said....
Today, just 3 percent of people in metro Pittsburgh -- a little more than 71,000 -- are foreign-born, compared to 12.5 percent nationally.
Martha Benson came to Pittsburgh from Bogota, Colombia, in 2002. She's a business consultant at the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center, assisting fellow immigrant entrepreneurs.
"They have a lot of skills, and they see Pittsburgh as an opportunity to start their company," Benson said.
"They're kind of the natural strivers," Balmat said. "They do make up a large percentage of entrepreneurs -- people who are kind of willing to take chances. They've packed up and left someplace to come here."
Entrepreneur and investment manager Ganesh Mani, a Pittsburgher who was born in India, is on the local board of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs).
"Pittsburgh has wonderful infrastructure -- the universities, the airport -- but it's also underutilized infrastructures. So, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, that's where the opportunities are," Mani said.
The top five birthplaces for today's foreign-born Pittsburgh-area residents are India, with 7,800 people relocated here, followed by Latin American countries (7,000), China (6,500), Italy (5,600) and African countries (4,400). Click here for the rest of the story.