Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Immigration Articles on SSRN

Here are some new immigration articles posted by the Social Science Research Network (www.ssrn.com):

"Human Trafficking and the Effectiveness of Asylum Policies" JENNY MONHEIM, Luxembourg University, Center for the Study of Law and Economics  ABSTRACT:  We investigate the effects of restrictive asylum policies on the number and group composition of asylum seekers. We model the choices of refugees and traffickers about whether to migrate and to apply for asylum. Counterintuitively, restrictive asylum policies do not lead to a reduction in the inflow of refugees or to a better selection of asylum seekers. Instead, we show that under conditions outside the control of policy makers these policies can increase the number of asylum claims and the number of refugees working in slave-like conditions and prevent some of those most in need of protection from accessing it.

"European Union Initiatives in Tackling Migration and Organized Crime at its New Eastern Border" Romanian Journal of European Affairs, Vol. 8, No. 1, April 2008 ADRIAN POP, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest ABSTRACT:  The EU migration strategy in relation to its new eastern neighbours has started to take shape. Among other things, it includes: applying the Global Approach to Migration to the eastern regions neighbouring the EU; securing the necessary funding for migration management through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and the Thematic Programme for the cooperation with third countries in the areas of migration and asylum; promoting mobility partnerships and circular migration; concluding short-term visa facilitation and readmission agreements; and opening the first Common Visa Application Centre in the capital city of the Republic of Moldova. In addition, the EU has improved its regional focus by the help of the Black Sea Synergy European Commission Communication and extended for 2008-2009 the mandate of its Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM), which is set to tackling irregular migration, drugs and cigarettes smuggling, and stolen cars and guns trafficking.

"Explaining the Residential Segregation of Hispanics and Asians with Anti-Density Zoning in U.S. Metropolitan Areas" JONATHAN T. ROTHWELL, Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ABSTRACT:  Scholars have documented that new generations of immigrant communities, especially those who are the least advantaged, are experiencing higher levels of segregation. Using metropolitan data from the United States, this study finds that density zoning, a form of local land use regulation, is a significant cause of Hispanic and Asian segregation from whites in recent decades. The effect can account for virtually all of the increase in segregation during the 1980s and 1990s and roughly half of the total variation for both groups, and it is robust to instrumental variables: the number of local governments in the metropolitan area, which promotes sorting, and the year of statehood, which is associated with rural settlements.

[NOTE THAT THIS SUGGESTS THAT IT IS NOT ETHNIC SEPARATISM LEADING TO THE SEGREGATION OF CERTAIN IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES, BUT LOCAL LAND USE REGULATIONS.]

"Migration Creation and Diversion in the EU: Are CEECs Immigrants Crowding-Out the Rest?" Loughborough University Discussion Paper No. 2005-01 HELENA MARQUES, University of Manchester - Manchester Business School ABSTRACT;  This paper applies the concept of trade creation and diversion to immigration into the EU-15 in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, the 1990s process of East-West integration, culminating in the May 2004 enlargement, could potentially create immigration from the new member countries and at the same time divert migration from non-EU countries. In this context, the question this paper tries to answer is fundamentally whether the extension of the EU Single Market to the new member countries has the potential to crowd-out non-EU immigrants. The analysis is carried out using trend analysis, Truman shares, and panel data gravity models. The results are quite robust to a range of regression methods, model specifications, dependent variables, and time periods. They broadly support the migration creation hypothesis, but the evidence on the migration diversion hypothesis is mixed. There is evidence of some diversion away from other non-member European countries, such as ex-USSR and ex-Yugoslavia countries, in favour of the new Central and Eastern European members. However, the evidence of diversion away from non-European countries is much weaker, if at all existent. The high impact of a common language, when compared to distance or even a common border, may help preserving migration channels from outside Europe. Within Europe, shorter distances and common borders become more relevant.

"Immigration Law Spanish-Style: A Study of Spain's Normalizacion of Undocumented Workers" Georgetown Immigration Law Review, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2007 MARIA PABON LOPEZ, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis ABSTRACT: In 20005, Spain undertook what the New York Times called "an immigration experiment worth observing." What this country did was called a regularizacion, a process of legalization of irregular immigrants. This process granted immigration amnesty to undocumented workers in the country who could meet certain statutory requirements. This is the legal process is studied in detail in this article. After discussing the background and history of Spain regarding labor immigration, Professor Lopez analyzes the situation regarding undocumented workers in Spain, the hardships faced by immigrants coming in and the problems created for Spain by the immigrants' arrivals. She then examines the regularizacion itself, along with the policy analysis undertaken by the Spanish government as it decided to implement the amnesty. Lopez further discusses whether the Spanish regularizacion of 2005 comports with the legal and policy norms of the European Union, of which Spain is a member. This analysis tries to understand the criticism that this action was a form of "back door" immigration to the European Union. The article further draws conclusions about immigration policy choices by individual nations and how they affect a network of nations in a globalized world. The article concludes by analyzing whether the regularizacion of 2005 was considered a success, and discusses lessons that can be learned from this regularizacion in Spain.  [SOUNDS LIKE THE U.S. AND THE CONTROVERSY OVER AN "AMNESTY" for UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS MIGHT GAIN BY LOOKING TO WHAT SPAIN DID.]

"Globalizing U.S. Employment Statutes Through Foreign Law Influence: Mexico's Foreign Employer Provision and Recruited Mexican Workers" Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, Vol. 29, No. 4, 2008 KATI L. GRIFFITH, Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ABSTRACT: This article examines whether a provision of Mexican labor law may influence two U.S. employment law statutes, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), in some circumstances. It draws from domestic case law and recent scholarship to demonstrate a pathway for the "incorporation of" foreign law requirements into a U.S. employment statute (AWPA) and the "use of" foreign law to aid the interpretation of a U.S. employment statute (FLSA). This examination of the potential for foreign law influence on U.S. employment law brings an under-explored area of inquiry to the growing literature on the scope of foreign workers' rights in the United States. It also contributes to our understanding of U.S. employment law's responsiveness to a globalizing context.

KJ

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

Ten Agriprocessor Arrestees Released

As Kevin Johnson just reported, immigration enforcement has been over-inclusive and has resulted in severe impact on many minority communities. The Iowa Agriprocessors raid is one big example. The Associated Press reports on a recent development:

Ten women detained in an immigration raid at a northeast Iowa meatpacking plant have been allowed to return to their homelands.

A federal immigration judge in Chicago granted requests from the women in a move that was opposed by federal immigration officials.

"It's essentially a legal slap on the wrist," Tim Counts, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Thursday. "We believe if somebody has violated federal immigration laws, there should be consequences for it."

The women have been in legal limbo since the May 12 raid, the biggest such action at a single site in U.S. history. They were among 389 Agriprocessors workers accused of entering the country illegally.

Counts said the U.S. attorney's office prosecuted 305 people on criminal charges. The others, including the 10 women, were not criminally charged but faced immigration violations. Federal agents allowed a number of women to avoid initial prosecution because they were caring for children. They were ordered to wear electronic monitoring devices on their ankles. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

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

The Human Impacts of the Over-Inclusiveness of Immigration Enforcement

Statue_of_liberty_160 The human impacts of the immigration raids on U.S. citizens and legal immigrants of particular national origins should not be ignored.  As the Washington Post reminds us in a report today, it long has been the case that certain minority groups -- especially Latina/os and Asian Americans -- are presumptive foreigners subject to the immigration laws and border (and interior) enforcement.  During the 1930s in th edepths of the Great Depression, for example, state and local governments "repatriated" an estimated one million persons of Mexican ancestry -- two thirds of who were U.S. citizens.  See Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s; Abraham Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican Americans in the Great Depression: Repatriation Pressures, 1929-1939 (1974).  The recent immigration raids have resulted in the questioning -- some might say harassment -- of the immigration status of national origin minorities as well as a plethora of lawsuits.  And the U.S. government at times have even wrongfully deported U.S. citizens, such as Pedro Guzman, a developmentally disabled U.S. citizen who just happened to be Latina/o, in 2007.  The raids also has created orphans out of U.S. citizen children and subjected them to de facto deportation if their parents are removed (a problem facing many citizen childrenb of deportees)

Perhaps the overinclusiveness of immigration enforcement is one reason why many Latina/os and Asian Americans support fairer, less arbitrary, and even-handed immigration enforcement --immigration enforcement that does not place them at risk of questioning (or worse) simply because of their physical appearance.  Rather than deride people of color who do not support strognger border enforcement and raids as "ethnocentrists" or worse, we should consider how the current overinclusiveness of immigration enforcement hurts minority -- including U.S. citizens and legal immigrants --communities.

KJ

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

Friday, August 15, 2008

U.S. Census: U.S. Becoming More Diverse, Immigrants Integrating into U.S. Society

From the Immigration Policy Center:   According to new U.S. Census Bureau projections released yesterday, by 2042 American minorities will grow to become a majority, adding to the ethnic and racial diversity that has historically defined our country. Some of this increased diversity is attributed to immigration to the U.S. Yet it is the children and grandchildren of immigrants - born and raised in the U.S. - that will contribute most to the increase in minority populations.

Research and experience has shown that today's immigrants integrate into American society just as generations of immigrants before them - they learn English, buy property, intermarry, become U.S. citizens, and otherwise weave into the fabric of this nation. Just a few measures of integration include:

• More Immigrants Swearing Allegiance And Taking An Oath. Large and increasing numbers of immigrants are becoming citizens.

Numbers of naturalizations have grown from an annual average of only 120,000 in the 1950-60s to 630,000 naturalization between 2000-2007. In fact, 1.4 million people applied for naturalization last year alone.

• English is Alive and Well. According to the U.S. Census, 92% of Americans "had no difficulty speaking English." In fact, immigrants in the US are learning English at impressive rates. The vast majority of Americans -- 82% -- speak only English at home. According to the U.S. Census, even most people who speak a language other than English also speak English "very well."

• There's Nothing More American Than A 30 Year Mortgage.

Homeownership is often regarded as a key indicator of entry into the American middle class. Studies have shown that as the average length of settlement increases for the Latino foreign-born, average levels of homeownership can be expected to rise.

KJ

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day (Freshman of the Year): Arthur Mkoyan (Armenia)

Our Immigrant of the Day -- of should we say freshman of the year -- is coming to study chemistry at UC Davis.  Arthur Mkoyan, who earned a 4.0 GPA from high school in Fresno, was initially scheduled to be deported after his father's asylum claim proved unsuccessful, but a private bill (and Senator Dianne Feinstein's support) staved off that effort.  Thanks to a good Samaritan, who agreed to cover the costs of college, young Arthur will be a freshman this fall at none other than UC DAVIS!!!!!!

KJ

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

Immigration Reform Symposium

Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Social Policy (ECI) focuses on resolving legal and social problems facing urban communities through its various projects. The Institute for International and Immigration Law (IIIL) prepares students for careers in international law and immigration law. IIIL also encourages scholarly research in international and immigration law.

ECI and IIIL have collaborated to address the issue of immigration reform by taking a closer look at the Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation. ECI and IIIL will be conducting a symposium on immigration reform in the spring of 2009. As a result, the Institutes are trying to identify scholars who have information on immigration reform, who have worked or presently working on immigration reform, who wish to publish on this topic, and/or would like to participate in the symposium and contribute to this scholarly dialogue. Interested parties may contact the Earl Carl Institute or Fernando Colon-Navarro, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at (713) 313-1139.

Download Immigration_Flyer.doc

KJ

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Six Pursue Self Deportation: 12 Million to Follow?

We were skeptical when ICE announced its new Operation Scheduled Departure, which encourages undocumented immigrants to turn themselves in and agree to deportation.  But we were wrong!  AP reports that six undocumented immigrants turned themselves in in the first week of the new program's operation.  It just may be possible that we may eliminate the entire undocumented population -- if in-migration ends now -- in the United States in thousands of years.  Please feel free to correct math; whatever the calculations, the point is that losing one undocumented immigrant a day will not do much to reduce the overall undocumented immigrant population.

KJ

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit To Rehear Rendition Case En Banc

The Second Circuit will rehear en banc a case it decided in June, in which it dismissed a lawsuit filed by a telecommunications engineer from Canada who was detained at Kennedy Airport in 2002, flown to Jordan and expelled to Syria, where he said he was tortured. Arguments would be heard on December 9.

KJ

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Refugees from Russia-Georgia Conflict

Like all acts of war, the conflict between Russia and Georgia is causing a refugee problem. Nicholas Kulish writes in the NY Times:

A cease-fire agreement appears to have stopped the war, but for the refugees in this mountain camp outside Tbilisi, a return to the lives they left behind in South Ossetia is at best a distant prospect.

Zalina Tsodniashvili, her two teenage sons and her husband sleep on four rickety cots in one room in a dreary three-story concrete building left over from the Soviet era. But she said worse than their discomfort was the torment of not knowing what had become of her mother. Every displaced person in her building has suffered, she said, and the building houses hundreds of them.

She was on a visit to help her ill mother with household chores when the attack began. “When they bombed, I grabbed the little ones and ran. My mother didn’t follow,” Ms. Tsodniashvili, 32, said Tuesday, telling her story through an interpreter.

One after another, the refugees told their tales, and similarities cropped up about the tragedies they had endured when the fighting was heaviest. They told of covering dead neighbors and family members with blankets and branches, not daring to take the time to bury them in the onslaught. They described driving or walking through devastated towns and villages in their search for temporary refuge. Click here for the full story.

bh

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Limits of Immigration Enforcement

The Washington Post has an editorial on immigration enforcement that emphasizes that, despite the human misery caused by the increase in immigration raids. the "basic legal and economic dynamics that created the nation's dysfunctional immigration system remain largely unchanged."  That is true and, when the economy returns, absent other legal or other changes, the pace of undocumented migration will increase.

KJ

August 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

USCIS ESTABLISHES GENEALOGY PROGRAM

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now will in researching your family’s immigration history through the agency’s new Genealogy Program. USCIS maintains historical records documenting the arrival and naturalization of millions of immigrants who arrived in the United States since the late 1800s or and naturalized between 1906 and 1956. Check out the details at Download genealogy_program_20080813b1.txt

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

MALDEF Secures Landmark Education Victory in Texas Judge orders improvements in programs for English language learners

Citing "palpable injustice" a federal court found that the State of Texas is failing to overcome the language barriers faced by tens of thousands of English Language Learner (ELL) students in the State's public school secondary programs. MALDEF's victory in United States v. Texas represents the most comprehensive judicial decision concerning the civil rights of ELLs in a quarter century. The case was born out of long-standing discrimination against Latino students in Texas schools, which resulted in their inclusion in a 1981 Order that required the State of Texas to, among other things, provide appropriate and effective language educational programs for ELL students. Twenty-five years later, MALDEF and Multicultural Education Training and Advocacy, Inc. (META) filed a Motion under the Modified Order to enforce its terms. MALDEF argued that the State had failed to implement and monitor the bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs for ELL students in the state, resulting in the denial of equal educational opportunities for those students. In July 2007, District Court Judge William Wayne Justice ruled that MALDEF was not entitled to the relief it sought. After MALDEF and META persisted in the case on behalf of ELL students, Judge Justice vacated his earlier ruling in its entirety. Finding that "[s]econdary…students in bilingual education fail terribly under every metric," he ordered the State to create a language program for ELL secondary students and a monitoring system that met the requirements of the federal Equal Education Opportunity Act. This ruling was a tremendous victory for ELL students in a state that has one of the highest percentages of ELLs in the country. In the 2004-05 school year, more than 15 percent of the student population in Texas' public schools were identified as ELL. Ninety-three percent of those were Hispanic. According to the Texas Education Agency, only 13.1 percent of those students are recent immigrants. The education system has significantly failed these students, allowing them to continue to experience the effects of the discrimination that first brought MALDEF to court on their behalf nearly 30 years ago. The court found that not only does the Texas Education Agency under-identify ELL students, but the "achievement standards for intervention are arbitrary and not based upon equal educational opportunity; the failing achievement of higher grades is masked by passing scores of lower grades; and the failure of individual school campuses is masked by only analyzing data on the larger district level." "Failed implementation cannot prolong the existence of a failed program into perpetuity," the court concluded. Texas now has until January 2009 to come up with a revamped monitoring system that actually measures equal educational opportunities and an improved educational program for secondary ELL students. The new system will be introduced in the 2009-10 school year. "This decision gives hope for the future of thousands of young Texans. Its importance cannot be overstated," said MALDEF Staff Attorney David Hinojosa who, along with META, brought the case on behalf of LULAC and the American GI Forum.

Here is the opinion and additional information.

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brennan Center: US Violates International Law by Failing to Enforce Laws Protecting Employment Rights of Mexican Workers Legally in the US US Departments of Labor and Homeland Security Each Point to the Other as Being Responsible

The Brennan Center for Justice reports that, using a procedure set up in the labor side agreement to NAFTA, a group of Mexican workers, and Mexican and U.S. organizations, have submitted a document to the Mexican government detailing the frequent exploitation of workers brought into the U.S. by their employers on temporary work visas, and the failure of the U.S. government to enforce even the most basic of the workers' employment rights. The submission follows up on a complaint the workers filed in 2005. The workers complain of suffering brutal physical injury, stolen wages, and unsafe housing. They describe their inability to enforce their rights through the federal and state labor departments, and to obtain access to the civil legal aid they need to seek redress.

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Comment on CIS Report on Global Warming

The new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), “Immigration to the United States and World-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” tries to claim that immigration to the United States is a driver of climate change and global warming. Yet the study is little more than a thinly-veiled attempt try to advance an anti-immigration agenda by appealing to Americans' concerns over other issues.

Below is a statement from Paco Fabián, Communications Director of America’s Voice, on the new CIS report:

“We eagerly await the next CIS report, blaming immigrants for high gas prices, steroids in baseball, and the decline of the network sitcom. No matter the day, no matter the subject, their one-size-fits-all approach to policymaking conveniently blames immigration for all of society’s ills. If CIS was so concerned about the environment, you’d think they wouldn’t have wasted the paper to print this drivel. Wrapping anti-immigrant sentiment in pseudo-academic research doesn’t disguise the extreme absurdity and agenda of CIS.”

bh

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Prove You Were Born Here Mexican-Americans!

The Wall Street Journal reports on an interesting story from South Texas that is having a significant impacty on the Mexican-American community.  Parteras, Spanish for midwives, have been part of life in parts of Texas along the border with Mexico from before the time of the Texas Republic. In the early 1990s, dozens of midwives were convicted of forging U.S. birth certificates for about 15,000 children born in Mexico as far back as the 1960s. As a result, the U.S. government is now demanding additional proof of birth in the United States for persons whose birth was assisted by midwives -- a demand that has applicants scouring school warehouses and church offices to document their pasts.

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants of the Day: Thai Garment Workers

The L.A. Times updates us on a horrible story that had a happy ending. Over a decade ago, more than 70 Thai laborers weres enslaved behind razor wire and around-the-clock guards in an El Monte (a Los Angeles suburb) 0sweatshop, where they were forced to work 18-hour days for what amounted to less than a dollar an hour. "[A] shocked public learned of slavery in its midst and flooded the Thai laborers with American generosity: Churchgoers offered shelter, community advocates proffered English lessons and job tips, lawyers fought for work permits and legal status for the group."

Exactly 13 years to the day the Thai laborers won their freedom, two of the laborers took the oath of allegiance to her new nation at a ceremony, where more than 3,600 citizens were scheduled to be sworn in. Dozens of the El Monte workers have acquired citizenship this year or expect to do so soon. More than 40 of them had gathered last Sunday to celebrate with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which successfully fought for a $4-million settlement from manufacturers and retailers for their exploitation and won an uphill battle to gain legal status for the workers. "Because of their courage, they were able to take what was a horrific experience and emerge from it as victors," said the legal center's Julie Su, their lead attorney for 13 years. "I'm really proud of them, but I'm also proud of America because this nation opened its arms to them and showed its best ideals of freedom and human rights."

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

David Martin: "Another Second-Class Citizen: How the Justice Department has been debasing immigration courts for years"

Martin1506_best David Martin (Virginia) published a thoughtful commentary on the July 28 Department of Justice Inspector General's report in Legal Times on partisanship in the appointment of immiogration judges.  here is the great punch line:  "The dominant impression the July 28 report gives about immigration judge hiring is simply that Sampson and Goodling saw the immigration bench as a cookie jar, and only Republicans deserved a cookie."  Download legal_times_goodling_final.doc

KJ

August 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Government Ads Nudge Immigrants To Self-Deport

An unusual advertising campaign in Spanish-language newspapers and radio stations calls for undocumented immigrants to turn themselves in. The ads are part of a new self-deportation program sponsored by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). James T. Hayes, who heads the program, explains the ad campaign on NPR.

Charles Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, discusses the belief by some that a government ad campaign is employing scare tactics to pressure undocumented workers to self-deport. Kuck is joined by lawyer and Spanish-language radio host Jay Marks, who shares what his listeners are saying about the self-deportation program.

KJ

August 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Administration’s Latest Critic: The Chamber of Commerce

ProPublica reporter Jake Bernstein writes about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has condemned and threatened to sue the Bush Administration for its proposed rule that will require federal contractors to use the E-Verify program to confirm the citizenship of employees. The Chamber's letter to the Department of Homeland Security suggests a widening divide on the immigration issue.

Immigration, as often is the case, once again demonstrtes that it is not a neat "liberal" versus "conservative" issue.

KJ

August 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reporter Challenged in SF Sanctuary Ordinance Stories

Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle has published several articles criticizing San Francisco's sanctuary ordinance because of a shooting that took place purportedly by an undocumented immigrant who benefited from the policy. Carlos Villarreal and Angela Chan have written a challenge to the accuracy of the Chronicles report:
Carelessly referencing vague sources and leading with off the cuff remarks by law enforcement, the San Francisco Chronicle and reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken have published a series of damaging articles about juvenile immigrant offenders and the city's sanctuary ordinance. The implication in the series of stories that began to appear on June 29, is that violent felons and crack dealers are taking advantage of the City’s Sanctuary Ordinance and specifically a policy at the Juvenile Probation Department that has shielded felons, according to the Chronicle spin, from deportation at taxpayers’ expense. A few major facts rarely tempered this incitement of reactionaries: the juvenile court system is very different from the adult criminal courts, the Sanctuary Ordinance never dictated the various tactics used by the Juvenile Probation Department, and the Sanctuary Ordinance doesn’t cause violence. To the contrary, the ordinance encourages people to communicate with law enforcement and other government agencies regardless of immigration status.
Instead, the reporting took the lead from the former head of the SFPD narcotics unit, Captain Tim Hettrich and the federal prosecutor in charge of the San Francisco area, Joseph Russoniello. While providing little hard data but plenty of hyperbole, these two did get multiple quotes and section headings. Their comments also framed the early stories on this subject for the Chronicle.

Hettrich was quoted in a June 29 article as saying, “Some of them have been arrested four or five times," and "that is one of the big problems with being a sanctuary.” Who “some of them” are was not clear, neither was the number of “them” who had been arrested multiple times or for what. The Chronicle rarely referred to “them” as children or youth, but more often, as “crack dealers” or “illegal immigrant drug dealers,” i.e., lacking human worth or any reason for sympathy.

The tax-payer-funded Russoniello was “flabbergasted that the taxpayers’ money was being spent for the purposes of ferrying detainees home.” What was actually best for taxpayers was not seriously considered, since millions of tax dollars go each year to federal prosecutors like Russoniello, his staff, the federal courts, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), border patrol agents, and incarceration.

The articles themselves may have prompted the youth to flee the group homes, as the Chronicle built three separate stories almost entirely on the young immigrants walking away from the homes. First there was a story about “8 crack dealers” who left; then in another story 3 more left a home in a different county; finally the last one to leave warranted a 3rd story. Some reportedly received calls ahead of time, perhaps warning them that they might soon be subject to deportation. The Chronicle’s role in creating that circumstance was never explored. Moreover, the Chronicle also failed to look into the percentage of undocumented youth that ran away from group homes prior to the hysteria started by the paper itself.

Law enforcement innuendo and vague sources were commonplace in the series of articles. Referring to the flights home, Hettrich was quoted saying, “They probably get the round trip and the next day, they will be right back here. [emphasis added]” Paraphrasing Russoniello, Van Derbeken wrote, “drug dealers are being sent here as part of an effort that takes advantage of San Francisco's leniency.” Again, without any real data or even specific anecdotal evidence, the message is pounded into the readers’ heads: drug dealers are taking advantage of our liberal policies.

When the facts seemed more solid the sources suddenly became more illusory. “Police” were cited as saying “many of the Hondurans - some of whom they believe are actually adults - live communally in other local cities at the behest of drug lords, who finance their travel here and threaten to kill their families if they cooperate with law enforcement.”

Such a detailed account is crying out for a more specific source, or at least a statement about why the source is kept anonymous. Was Van Derbeken just talking to officers who were passing on rumors, or were there consistent statements taken from a number of the juveniles? It certainly adds to the underlying story of criminals taking advantage of San Francisco liberalism, but a reporter actually following the evidence trail might find it isn't true at all. Click here for the rest of the piece.

bh

August 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)