Saturday, September 13, 2008

New ICE Detention Standards

From the Rights Working Groups:

ICE announces new Performance-Based National Detention Standards for all ICE detention facilities
ICE enhances care and oversight of detainees in updated detention standards
WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the publication of forty-one (41) new Performance-Based National Detention Standards, four of which are new including: News Media Interviews and Tours, Searches of Detainees, Sexual Abuse and Assault Prevention and Intervention, and Staff Training. The performance-based standards will be implemented over the next 18 months to ensure that ICE continues to provide excellent care to those in custody. These standards are one part of ICE's comprehensive approach to detention oversight, which also includes facility quality assurance, inspection contracts and the publication of semi-annual reports. The enhanced standards will take full effect in all facilities housing ICE detainees in January 2010.

"As an agency built upon the fair and equal application of the law, ICE remains deeply committed to a process of continuous improvement with respect to the safety, the care and the well-being of every individual we detain," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "These standards, developed with input from key stakeholders both inside and outside the United States government, reflect that commitment in no uncertain terms. These standards allow us to meet our solemn responsibility to all those in our custody."

"We sincerely appreciate Assistant Secretary Myers' leadership in ensuring that nonprofit organizations and the organized bar have a meaningful forum to work together with ICE on access to counsel, due process and other humanitarian issues relating to immigration detention and enforcement," said Bob Glaves, Executive Director of The Chicago Bar Foundation and one of the co-chairs of the DHS Enforcement Working Group. "Our country has vital security and economic interests in maintaining a fair and efficient immigration enforcement system, and we have found through the Working Group's ongoing dialogue with ICE that we have a lot of common ground with ICE on these issues."

"The DHS-NGO Enforcement Group was created to ensure that the newly-established Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies such as ICE and CBP maintained regular lines of communication with non-governmental organizations, legal aid providers, and experts in immigration and asylum law," said Tara Magner, co-chair of the Working Group and Director of Policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center. She continued, "Assistant Secretary Myers has consistently engaged with the Working Group in an open and constructive manner. While we have vigorously debated certain points of policy and law with Assistant Secretary Myers and her staff, these discussions have remained mutually respectful."

The performance-based standards, now common in the detention industry, allow reviewers to examine key indicators of a detention facility's level of compliance with a particular standard. They focus on expected outcomes and contain clear practices and outcome measures. Each outcome measure demonstrates how well a detention facility's protocols, procedures, and practices are achieving the desired result.

The publication of these enhanced standards brings the ICE detention facility oversight process into alignment with detention accreditation bodies and review agencies such as the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and The Joint Commission. These organizations set industry standards for healthcare and correctional agencies and accredit those that meet their stringent criteria.

"The American Correctional Association was the first in the nation to develop performance-based standards for total corrections operations including healthcare. I commend the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within Homeland Security for recognizing the importance of measuring what written standards state, by actually documenting actions as opposed to only seeing them in writing. The ICE standards augment the ACA standards," said American Correctional Association Executive Director James A. Gondles.

The DHS Office of Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and members of Congress recommended ICE transform its current standards into a performance-based format to improve the accuracy and credibility of facility performance ratings and to match industry standards. Most of the thirty-eight (38) National Detention Standards (NDS) were originally developed in September 2000 under the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

All facilities housing ICE detainees are contractually required to be in compliance with ICE's detention standards. Their compliance with these standards is monitored through internal assessments, independent annual audits and quality assurance reviews. ICE will continue to work with its partners to determine if additional formalization is necessary.

Additional information and the new performance-based standards are available at


September 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2008

20 Year Old Legalization Case FINALLY Ends -- and Information about Other Legalization and Related Cases

On September 9, 2008, after more than twenty years of litigation, immigrants won a victory in the legalization national class action case, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) v. USCIS (formerly Immigrant Assistance Project v. INS). The settlement agreement continues to have significant implications for immigrants today. We want to alert you to information about NWIRP and other longstanding class action decisions that may affect your clients. This information is available through the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), our partner organizations, and other advocates. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) Settlement Agreement permits class members to file for legalization under the 1986 law during a one year period starting sometime before February 6, 2009. The lead counsel in NWIRP are Gibbs Houston Pauw and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. On the Immigration Advocates Network: - The "Alerts" section contains a copy of the Settlement Agreement and information from lead counsel at (login required)

On the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law website there is a summary of other late legalization cases including CSS and LULAC/Newman at

The Orantes injunction, litigated by the National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU, corrects systematic abuses against Salvadorans refugees, especially those in detention, who seek to apply for asylum and retain counsel. The government is attempting to vacate parts of the injunction on appeal. On the Immigration Advocates Network: The podcast, "Raids: Special Protections for Detained Salvadorans and the Humanitarian Guidelines for Detention" by Monica Ramirez, staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project in San Francisco, and Karen Tumlin, staff attorney at NILC in Los Angeles, explains the special protections offered by the Orantes injunction to detained Salvadorans at (login required)

On the National Immigration Law Center's website there is information on the Orantes injunction at and a copy of the order in Orantes at

The ABC Settlement Agreement, litigated by the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, the National Immigration Project, and others was approved in 1991. ABC and NACARA, enacted in 1997, together provide an avenue to legal residency for Salvadorans and Guatemalans. A 2007 decision by a federal appeals court, Chaly-Garcia, clarified what constitutes proof of ABC and NACARA eligibility. On the Immigration Advocates Network: - The USCIS Memo on making ABC determinations at required)

A copy of the Chaly-Garcia case at (login required)

On the National Immigration Project website there is information about ABC and NACARA eligibility after Chaly-Garcia at

The Family Unity program was enacted in 1990 to protect from deportation the spouses and children of those granted legalization. The American Immigration Law Foundation, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the National Immigration Law Center filed and won Escutia v. Reno, a class action challenge to the government's failure to timely decide Family Unity employment applications and other requests. On the American Immigration Law Foundation website there is information about the Escutia case and the Family Unity program at

On the Immigrant Legal Resource Center website there is information about Family Unity beneficiaries and Escutia case at


September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Palm Springs ICE Raid

According to the San Francisco Gazette, Federal agents have raided a Palm Springs bakery, arresting 51 undocumented workers and the supervisor who allegedly hired them.

Margarita Avilez Hernandez was arrested Wednesday at Palm Springs Baking Company by Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She and a former supervisor, Alicia Ramirez, are charged with employing unauthorized aliens. Ramirez is still being sought.

Federal agents conducted the raid after local authorities told them workers at the wholesale bakery each paid about $3,000 for their jobs. ICE agents found most of the workers' names and Social Security numbers did not match. Twenty-seven of the workers have been detained. ICE officials say the others will be released on humanitarian grounds while they await an immigration hearing.

Thanks to Dan Torres of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center for this story.

September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Oregon Senator's Business and Undocumented Workers

According to Rachel Wright of Web Editorial, Beth Slovic of Willamette Week (Portland, Ore.) investigated the hiring practices of Smith Frozen Foods. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., "the only Republican senator representing a West Coast state," has owned the plant for almost 30 years. He is a strong advocate against hiring undocumented immigrants. But, Slovic reports he has hired undocumented immigrants over the years.

Slovic writes: "Knowingly hiring undocumented workers is a violation of federal law. Perhaps most important, during a year when Smith is seeking re-election, it is at odds with the senator’s public statements on the explosive issue of illegal immigration."

Link to the story:

Follow the development of the story at

Slovic and Smith were interviewed by conservative radio host Lars Larson, And, Smith has declined a debate against Rep. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., p=13098.


September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Arkansas' AG Says Higher Education is Open to All

Opinion No. 2008-109

September 10, 2008

The Honorable Rick Green

State Representative

1807 Bunker Hill Drive

Van Buren, Arkansas 72956-2836

Dear Representative Green:

I am writing in response to your request for an opinion on the following:

Would you please opine on whether or not undocumented

individuals may enroll in Arkansas’s public colleges and

universities? Do the schools have a duty to verify the citizenship of

[their] admittees?


In my opinion, the answers to these questions are “yes” and “no,” respectively, in

the absence of a rule or regulation that has been adopted by a college or university

refusing admission and enrollment to undocumented individuals. I am unaware

whether any Arkansas college or university has adopted such a rule or regulation.

I should also note, however, that the answers to these questions depend to some

extent upon the proper interpretation of federal law. Questions of federal law are

generally outside the scope of an opinion from this office. You may consequently

also wish to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding these matters.

The issue regarding higher education for undocumented students requires an

analysis of both state and federal law.


With regard to your particular question


Reference to federal law is necessary in light of the dominant role of federal law in the immigration area.

The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the “[p]ower to regulate immigration is

unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”

DeCanas v. Baca

, 424 U.S. 351, 354 (1976).

The Honorable Rick Green

State Representative

Opinion No. 2008-109

Page 2

concerning enrollment, it appears that the most relevant state law on the topic

provides that:

Each board of trustees of each educational institution of higher

learning supported, in whole or in part, by the State of Arkansas,

shall have the right to adopt rules and regulations for the admission

and enrollment of students in the respective institutions of higher

learning under the control of such board of trustees, expressly

including the right to refuse admission and enrollment to any person

who comes to the State of Arkansas solely for the purpose of

securing admission, enrollment, and educational advantages at the

expense of the State of Arkansas.

A.C.A. § 6-60-201(a) (Repl. 2003).

This general statute invests each institution with authority to adopt rules and

regulations regarding admission to the institution. I have previously opined that

the statute invests colleges and universities with substantial discretion as to the

fashioning of any such rules and regulations.


Op. Att’y Gen. 2007-065. As IColleges and Universities

§ 31, citing

Lister v. Hoover

, 706 F.2d 796 (7th Cir. 1983). Id.2 If any institution has done so, a


I should note that I am aware of a memorandum that was issued by the Director of the Department of

The Honorable Rick Green

State Representative

Opinion No. 2008-109

Page 3

With regard to federal law in this area, there are two federal statutes that mention

immigration status in the context of higher education: 8 U.S.C. § 1623 (part of the

Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (“IIRIRA”)), and

8 U.S.C. § 1621 (part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity

Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA”). According to my research, there are

only a few cases addressing the application of these laws in relation to

postsecondary education admission criteria; and the cases are not in accord.

Compare Equal Access Education v. Merten

Higher Education to the presidents and chancellors of the state’s higher education institutions which

addresses the matter of offering in-state tuition to students not legally present in the United States.

Memorandum from Dr. Jim Purcell regarding “Compliance with federal immigration law” (May 22, 2008).

As explained further herein, however, it appears that eligibility for in-state tuition is a matter separate from

the matter of enrollment of undocumented individuals in the state’s public colleges and universities. Your

questions pertain solely to the question of enrollment, and this opinion is limited to that issue.

, 305 F. Supp. 2d 585, 601-08 (E.D.

Va. 2004) (policy of Virginia post-secondary institutions in denying admission to

illegal aliens was not preempted by federal immigration authority) with

League of

United Latin American Citizens v. Wilson

, 997 F. Supp. 1244, 1255-56 (C.D. Cal.See Lettersee 8 U.S.C. § 1103(a)(1) and Day v. Bond, 500th Cir. 2007) (only Secretary of Homeland Security haset seq.), I believe it is

1997) (California’s Proposition 187, barring undocumented students from

attending public colleges and universities, was preempted by PWRORA and


Significantly, however, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has expressed

the view that it is left for states to decide whether or not to enroll out-of-status or

undocumented individuals in public institutions of higher education.

from Sheriff (Ret.) Jim Pendergraph, Executive Director, Office of State and Local

Coordination, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to Thomas J. Ziko, Special

Deputy Attorney General, N.C. Department of Justice (July 9, 2008) (stating that

“admission to public post-secondary educational institutions is not one of the

benefits regulated by [IIRIRA] and is not a public benefit under [PRWORA,]”

emphasis original, but noting that “any state policy or legislation on this issue

must use federal immigration status standards to identify which applicants are

illegal aliens.”)

Given that enforcement and administration of the PRWORA rests with the

Secretary of Homeland Security,

F.3d 1127, 1139 (10

standing to bring legal action to enforce 8 U.S.C. § 1621

reasonable to defer to this interpretation of the relevant federal law by Homeland

Security. Accordingly, in the absence of a rule or regulation adopted pursuant to

A.C.A. § 6-60-201, discussed above, it is my opinion in response to your specific

questions that undocumented individuals may enroll in Arkansas’s public colleges

and universities and that such schools are not obliged to verify citizenship as a

condition of enrollment.

The Honorable Rick Green

State Representative

Opinion No. 2008-109

Page 4

It should be recognized as a final matter, however, that ordinarily it is not the role

of this office to opine on questions of federal law. For further information about

the impact of federal law upon your question, it would be advisable to consult with

the Office of U.S. Attorney.

Assistant Attorney General Elisabeth A. Walker prepared the foregoing opinion,

which I hereby approve.



Attorney General



It is thus conceivable that an Arkansas college or university might have in place a

rule or regulation refusing admission and enrollment to undocumented individuals

and requiring verification of citizenship. I am unaware, however, whether any

institution has adopted such a rule or regulation.

definitive answer to your questions would require review of such.

observed in that opinion, “[i]t has been stated that ‘In general, admission to a

school is a privilege and not, standing alone, a constitutional or property right,

subject to the exception that the rules and regulations for admission are not

discriminatory, arbitrary, or unreasonable.’ 14A C.J.S.

September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls for the Raids to Stop!

Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool. 

“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society,” Bishop Wester said. “While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented.” For the full press release, click here.


September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dual Citizenship But Not Dual Loyalties?

Dual citizenship and dual nationality has been on the rise for a number of years in the United States. Although not without controversy, the U.S. government (as has Mexico) has made it easier to secure such dual status over the last twenty years. For a L.A. Times story recounting some of the views of dual citizens, click here.


September 12, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Polling on Immigration Reform in Battleground States

The New Democractic Network (NDN) has released a new set of polls looking at how the immigration issue is playing out in four states that will be instrumental in electing the next President: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Poll findings suggest overwhelming support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and that embracing the idea as a pragmatic, effective way to fix the broken immigration system can be a winning issue for candidates and elected officials.

Pages 51 through 55 contain presidential trial heats, albeit somewhat dated ones considering that the poll was conducted from August 6 through August 13.  What is interesting, though, is the breakdown among Latinos (see page 54) regarding whether Obama or McCain "would do a better job on the immigration issue." Thanks to David Schlesinger for noting this.


September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

No Border Fence by Year's End

The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that cost overruns, legal obstacles and other problems were imperiling its goal of completing the 670 miles of fencing and technological improvements on the Southwest border that President Bush has promoted as vital to securing it. For the full story, click here.


September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Know Your Rights Publication

The American Civil Liberties Union is pleased to inform you that we have created a public education Booklet entitled Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement.  The ACLU believes that the Booklet may be helpful to members of your organization.   

The Booklet addresses what rights an individual has when stopped, questioned, arrested, or searched by law enforcement officers.  The Booklet is for citizens and non-citizens with additional information for non-citizens in a separate section.  Another section covers what can happen to an individual at airports and other points of entry into the United States.  The last section of the Booklet discusses concerns an individual may have related to their charitable contributions and religious or political beliefs. The Booklet is intended to inform individuals about their basic rights and is not a substitute for legal advice.

Recently, the ACLU has translated the Booklet into the following languages:  Arabic, Spanish, Urdu, French and Farsi.  The English version of the Booklet, as well as the translations, are available at the following weblink

            Please let us know if you have any questions.            


Vanita Gupta
Staff Attorney
Racial Justice Project
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Nasrina Bargzie
National Security Project
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004


September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gittleson on Immigrant Assimilation

Robert Gittleson sent me a message with some interesting insights that I wanted to share with you:

The other day, I sent you an item about an English-Spanish immersion program that I felt was somewhat germane to the assimilation issue. Today I read something that also underscores the progress being made on that front here in Los Angeles. As I’m sure you are aware, many people point to the low test scores in Los Angeles Schools, and blame it on the illegal immigrant / Hispanic influx, (and unfortunately, they are partially correct). However, the results from this years testing offer some interesting insights. First of all, the Latino 10th graders who passed the math exam rose this year from 57% to 64%, and the Latino 10th grade English scores went up this year from 62% to 67%. These scores were below the overall state averages, but not demonstrably so -78% math / 79% English, (I know, scary). Actually, the overall averages from LAUSD were close to the Latino scores. What I found very interesting, was that while these scores were low, they were higher then the African-American scores, (49/54% math - 63/64% English). To my way of thinking, the Latino scores reflect the fact that many parents are English challenged, and perhaps somewhat limited in their own educations, while many of these students probably use English as their second language. The fact that their scores are improving, coupled with the fact that the scores of the lifelong English speaking African-American students are lower then their Latino counterparts, shows me that at least the Latino kids are trying. Perhaps the year to year improvement might also be at least partially reflective of the fact that their are probably fewer new arrivals within the past year, due to the enforcement environment, but that is only a guess on my part. In any event, I find these facts to be positive. When the nay-sayers say that Latinos aren’t trying to assimilate, we can point to this as an example that they are. When they say that the Latinos bring down the American test scores, we can point to the fact that their scores are actually better then other disadvantaged minorities, who happen to be American citizens.


September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Cultural Dissent in Prince William County

It seems like Prince William County, Virginia is always in the immigration news.  The Washington Post reports that the case over the pro-immigrant sign that stood in Old Town Manassas ended earlier this week in Prince William County's General District Court. The judge dismissed two zoning and building citations the city had brought against Delia Alvarez and Gaudencio Fernandez, the couple who co-own a property in dispute.  A sign appeared a year ago on the last remaining wall of a house destroyed by fire in 2006. Its message, which was written in blue-and-red block lettering, denounced Prince William County and Manassas for their treatment of immigrants.


September 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More on Passport denial to midwife-born U.S. citizens

Yesterday, nine American citizens sued the federal government, challenging the U.S. Department of State's refusal to issue them passports because of their race and ancestry and because their births were attended by midwives. The class action lawsuit, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, the international law firm Hogan and Hartson LLP and Refugio del Rio Grande, Inc..

September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Press Release on Immigration and Crime from the Immigration Policy Center

Immigration Policy Center (IPC)
...providing factual information about immigration and immigrants in the United States.

For Immediate Release

Congressional Event Perpetuates Myth of Immigrant Criminality
Crime forum overlaps with restrictionist organization's lobby days

September 10, 2008

Washington, DC- Tomorrow morning, Republican members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration are regrettably perpetuating the persistent myth of immigrant criminality with their forum on "The Toll of Illegal Alien Criminals on American Families."  Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Steve King (R-Iowa) are spearheading tomorrow's conversation.

Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years have consistently found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born.  This holds true for both legal immigrants and the undocumented, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. 

It's not likely a coincidence that Smith and King's forum is happening during the same week that the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is lobbying Congress, demanding an impractical and hateful agenda of mass deportations, worksite raids, and other expensive and ultimately ineffective approaches as part of their "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" gathering. The Republican forum is even featuring some of the same witnesses who participated in FAIR's rally this afternoon. 

It is disappointing to see law makers Smith and King--along with their fellow congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who attended FAIR's rally today--tarnish the Republican brand by supporting the agenda of FAIR, an organization designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  It is especially troubling to see law-makers exploit the pain of the victims of these terrible crimes to promote their political motives.  There is no doubt that dangerous criminals must be punished, and that immigrants who are dangerous criminals should not be allowed to enter the US or should be deported if they already are here.  But exploiting the profound painful loss of crime victims to spread the myth that immigrants are criminals is irresponsible and disingenuous.

Fact Sheet from the Immigration Policy Center:

"From Anecdotes to Evidence: Setting the Record Straight on Immigrants and Crime"   (Washington, DC: September 2008).


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Issues Practice Advisory on Prolonged Detention and Bond Eligibility

The ACLU of Southern California has issued a practice advisory discussing the recent Ninth Circuit case, Casas-Castrillon v. DHS, 535 F.3d 932 (9th Cir. 2008).  The case discusses the availability of individualized bond hearings for noncitizens detained for prolonged periods during immigration proceedings.  The practice advisory is attached here as a PDF file.

Download practice_advisory_casascastrillon.pdf 


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GOP U.S. Senator Employs Undocumented Workers?

Smith_highres_sm Huffington Post reports on a story that Oregon GOP Senator Gordon Smith's company (Smith Frozen Foods) has employed low wage Latina/o (including some undocumented) immigrants.   Smith made news in 2007 in shifting his position on immigration to become more enforcement-oriented.

UPDATE For more on this story, see here.  Smith was interviewed about the claims on talk radio. Smith has been a vocal opponent of hiring undocumented immigrants. For more on Smith's hiring practices, including quotes from a worker at Smith Frozen Foods, check out the story here.


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Joseph A. Vail Memorial Scholarship Fund

Vail In recognition of the community's high esteem for Joe, admiration for the fantastic job he started at the University of Houston's Immigration Law Clinic, and a commitment to see this valuable work continue, the American Immigration Law Association & the Reina & Bates Immigration Law Group have made lead gifts to establish the Joseph A. Vail Memorial Scholarship fund. We encourage and challenge our colleagues to contribute to this worthy cause. The endowed fund will provide scholarships to University of Houston Law Center students.  Download vail.pdf


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Profs on Indiana Immigration Legislation

Lkellyhill Bernardtrujillo07 Linda Kelly Hill (Indiana-Indianapolis) and Bernie Trujillo (Valparaiso) have weighed in (critically) with the Indiana legislature on Indiana's possible move into immigration regulation.


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sign-On Letter for Immigrant Victims of Hurricane

Thank you to Saket Sonet for this:

Please Sign On No Later Then 5 P.M. (Pacific)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Dear friends and allies,
Many of you read Sunday's New York Times editorial, "No Shelter From The Storm," which talks about the challenges that immigrant workers and their families had to bear as Hurricane Gustav approached the Gulf Coast last week.  The Times highlights the vulnerability of immigrants in the Gulf Coast three years after Katrina, and strongly advocates for immigrant access to humanitarian relief "during all phases of a disaster."  The editorial also details the fight that the New Orleans Workers' Center entered to ensure that immigrant communities would not be forced to hide in the shadows from the very institutions charged with guaranteeing their safety at a time of disaster.      
As Hurricane Gustav gathered strength last week, thousands of immigrants in our region were forced to choose between the possibility of death and deportation.  The prospect of immigration checkpoints along the evacuation route and Katrina-style immigration raids frightened most of our members even more than a category-4 hurricane. 
Their fears were based on their experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted terrifying operations on immigrants during every phase of the disaster.  But this time, just as mandatory evacuations began, we gained a key assurance from DHS: that there would be no immigration checkpoints along the evacuation route. 
So immigrants decided to evacuate.  But where would they go?  They were not willing to trust the shelters.  They had not received a clear statement from the Red Cross that shelters would be safe from immigration enforcement.  So, as the Times says, they were forced to "improvise their own evacuations."  Piling into crowded cars, immigrant workers became among the most vulnerable evacuees.
As immigrants return from evacuation, they are fighting for the same assurance of safety from the DHS during their journey back home.  And as Hurricane Ike approaches the Gulf Coast, we must fight for a clear federal policy that guarantees immigrant workers and their families safety and equal access to humanitarian care during every phase of disaster. 
We must also fight for a Just Reconstruction in the aftermath of disaster.  In the last three years, immigrants rebuilding the Gulf Coast have been terrorized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.  Workers have reported astounding levels of wage theft and brutal labor exploitation. But the federal government has not dispatched batteries of Department of Labor inspectors to the region.  Instead it has sent hundreds of ICE agents.  Employers get the message:  these are disposable workers.  When workers ask for paychecks on the corner or demand their basic dignity and rights in labor camps, employers call immigration to conduct payday deportations and retaliatory raids. 
Immigration raids after Katrina have helped employers hold workers hostage to the terror of deportation.   And immigration raids have held hostage the rebuilding of the entire region.  When workers' lives are interrupted - by employers who steal wages, driving workers into homelessness, or by a Federal government that detains and deports workers - the Reconstruction is interrupted.  Visit New Orleans and you'll see the extent of the interruption: vast areas remain to be rebuilt, in part because the federal government prioritized immigration raids over labor and health inspections. 
We must pressure the Federal government to get its priorities right during and after a disaster.  As the New York Times suggests, there must be an "ironclad policy" guaranteeing access to humanitarian relief through every phase of the disaster.  And there must be a moratorium on raids in disaster-affected regions, so that workers and their families can safely return to rebuild their communities.
Join the fight to advance an agenda for immigrant access to humanitarian relief and a just reconstruction.  Sign on to this letter asking the DHS to ensure that immigrant workers and their families never have to make the impossible choice between death and deportation when disaster strikes.
In solidarity,

Saket Soni
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Child Labor Charges at Postville

The Iowa attorney general on Tuesday brought an array of criminal charges for child labor violations against the owners and top managers of a meatpacking plant where nearly 400 workers were detained in a May immigration raid. In all, 9,311 criminal misdemeanor charges involving 32 under-age workers were filed against the company, Agriprocessors Inc., and its owner, Aaron Rubashkin, and his son Sholom, who was the top manager of the packing plant in Postville, Iowa. For the full story, click here.


September 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)