Saturday, January 26, 2008

Immigration a Topic at Mayors' Conference

Mayors from across the country are meeting in Washington, DC, where immigration has been one important topic of discussions:

Kathrine Schmidt reports in the Houston Chronicle:

Cities are getting clobbered by Washington's failure to reform national immigration policy, a group of mayors said Friday, and they urged Congress to take another look at legislation on the issue before the general election.

"Congress needs to get their heads out of the sand on this particular issue," said Mayor David Wallace of Sugar Land, co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' homeland security task force.

Wallace, who is in Washington for the mayoral group's annual conference, called the stalled process "unconscionable."

At a news conference, the visibly frustrated mayors of Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver, and Richmond told of the immigration-related problems rending their cities: public schools and medical services strained by unlawful residents who don't pay taxes; a serial rapist in the country illegally who was deported twice only to walk right back over the border to continue his crimes.

The mayors met recently with members of Congress and President Bush to make the case for swift action, but were told the issue was unlikely to come up again until 2009 or 2010. Click here for the full story.


January 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants and Florida

With the GOP presidential hopefuls focused on Florida today, here's a timely report from the Immigration Policy Center:

Focus on Florida: "Sunshine State's" Latinos and Foreign-Born
Important to the Economy and Electorate
Survey of the Studies: Immigrants' Impact at the State and Local Level

Immigration and its impact at the local level is a hot issue, especially during this presidential election year.  Both the immigration debate and the immigrant vote will play a key role in the upcoming caucus in Florida -a state with both recent arrivals and established foreign born communities where both play an important role in the state's economy and make up an increasing percentage of the electorate.  See below for the fast facts on the "Sunshine State" and its newest residents.  The Immigration Policy Center has also pulled together a survey of local- and state-level studies that examine the costs and contributions of immigrants on America's communities. 

Latino Population has Growing Clout:  Florida has become a key battleground state in recent years. Because small margins make a big difference, the growing Latino population could swing the upcoming election.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in Florida is on the rise; immigrants - be they undocumented, legal permanent residents, or U.S. citizens - comprise 20 percent of the state's population (up from 12 percent in 1990). 

Immigrants Naturalizing:  Overall 45 percent of immigrants are naturalized citizens, and the number of naturalized citizens increased 20.1 percent from 2000 to 2005.  According to NALEO, the 924,000 registered Latino voters in Florida make up 11.2 percent of the state electorate. 

The Impact of Immigrants is Significant and Positive: Immigrants contribute enormously to the economy of Florida, not to mention the United States as a whole.  A 2007 study by Florida International University found that in 2005, immigrants made up 23 percent of Florida's labor force, compared with 19 percent in 2000, an increase of 4 percent or nearly 512,000 workers.  In 2005 immigrants represented 26 percent of all self-employed workers, compared with 23 percent of the total Florida labor force. From 2000 to 2005 the percent of self-employed who are immigrants grew by 18 percent. 

From 2002 to 2004, Florida's immigrant workers paid an estimated annual average of $10.49 billion in federal taxes and $4.5 billion in state and local taxes; during the same time period, immigrants in Florida contributed an annual average of $1.3 billion in property taxes and $3.2 billion in sales taxes.  Florida ranks third in the nation in Hispanic buying power with $90.8 billion.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 41,258 Asian-owned businesses and 266,688 Hispanic-owned businesses in Florida.
Contact: Tim Vettel
202-742-5608 (ofc), 202-281-0780 (cell)


January 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pelosi and Reid on Immigration

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered their assessment on the State of Our Union today at the National Press Club.  Their remarks were followed by a short Q&A where a specific question was asked about immigration. 

MODERATOR: OK, this is for both of you. What are the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in 2008?

REID: I think comprehensive immigration reform in 2008 is going to be very hard to come by.

I may not be an expert on many things, but I'm an expert on legislating immigration. We spent last year many, many weeks in the Senate trying to legislate with immigration. And the last go round, the president said he would help us. And I have said publicly I appreciate that. But his help didn't gain much. We had 12 Republicans who supported us on comprehensive immigration reform. That's all.

We have found that they refuse to allow us to do things that were good, that would control our northern and southern borders, have a temporary guest worker program, would allow a pathway to legalization, no amnesty for these 12 million people. They would not go to the front of the line, the back of the line, they'd have to pay penalties and fines, learn to speak English, stay out of trouble, pay taxes.

They wouldn't let us do that. So now what we have, every time we offer a piece of legislation, they want to build a higher, longer wall, punitive things that I think are really shortsighted.

REID: So I don't think we'll get anything done this year. We have the presidential election, we have a number of very important House and Senate races, and our time is really squeezed.

So I think we're going to have to look forward to some new leadership. We need a president who is willing to step forward and get them more than 12 of this party to support this legislation.

Nancy, do you want to say anything?

PELOSI: Thank you, Harry.

Harry is absolutely right. If we are going to have comprehensive immigration reform, it has to come from the -- with the leadership of the president of the United States.

This is an area we thought we could work closely with the president on because he had -- his heart and head were in the right place. He understood the issue, being the former Governor of Texas.

We all agreed that we had to secure our borders, enforce our laws, protect our workers. We talked about a path to legalization where if we can bring people out of the shadows and into their full economic contribution to our society and our economy, and to do so in a way that unified families. Those were the principles that we were operating under.

And then, perhaps because things had come so easy to the president with the Republicans and the Senate before, the minute there was a problem, the White House was not up to the task of bringing the leadership necessary to make this happen.

So, if it isn't going to happen in the Senate, it's not going to happen. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't need to happen, and we have to continue to work together because there are too many aspects of our economy, if we're just talking pragmatically, that depend on a comprehensive immigration reform, and then expanding beyond through H- 1B Visas, H2-B Visas, guest worker programs, ag jobs -- the list goes on.

PELOSI: But this has to be done comprehensively -- again, securing our borders, enforcing our laws, protecting our workers and, again, respecting what so many people do bring to our economy.

I just want to say, because I believe our time is coming to an end, the question on bipartisanship. It has been in the interest of some to beat this drum that we didn't do anything working together. But right from the start last year, for our six for '06, on every initiative we put forth, we were looking for common ground. We weren't looking for a fight.

So that raising the minimum wage, strong bipartisan support. Cutting in half the interest rates on student loans, strong bipartisan support. Our first bill, H.R. 1, enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations, strong bipartisan support. Passing stem cell research legislation -- it was not signed by the president, but strong bipartisan support. SCHIP, the children's health program, veto-proof bipartisanship in the United States Senate; not quite that, but strong bipartisan support. The innovation agenda.

The list goes on and on, where we have had strong bipartisan cooperation and support and where the bills were signed by the president. This is all eclipsed by the Iraq war because the president has his head in the sand on this war that is for him a war without end -- no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel, any analogy or cliche that you want to use.

And because we could not come to terms on that, it eclipsed what we were able to accomplish in a bipartisan way.

The reason we were able to achieve the stimulus package was for really the first time that we had something that the president wanted. But he hasn't really had an agenda that we could bargain over.

He needed the stimulus package. He finally admitted it the end of last week. Any homemaker in America could have told him months ago that our country was heading for a downturn, and we needed a change in economic policy. But it finally dawned on the president the end of last week.

We quickly went into motion because we have known also for a long time that this needed to be done.

But in order to have bipartisanship, you have to share common values or you have to be in a position where you can negotiate. I think hopefully this stimulus will serve as a model on how we can go forward in this year, and hopefully immigration can be one of those issues.

PELOSI: But I associate myself with the comments of Senator Reid and what he says because the reality is in the United States Senate.


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A Bit of History: The Creation of the AALS Section on Immigration Law

Steve Legomsky (Wash U - St. Louis) recently shared a bit of history with his fellow immigration law professors:

Dear friends,

Cleaning out some old files, I happened to stumble on the attached document, Download AALSimmigrationsection.1984.pdf which brought back some wonderful old memories. It was my original 1984 application to the AALS for establishment of a section on immigration law (followed by the AALS approval letter). This was preceded by a petition drive that had netted some 83 signatures of full-time law professors expressing an interest in such a section (or in some cases purporting to express interest – I had to do a little begging, I confess). Jim Nafziger, the then chair of the AALS international law section, had written a very nice supporting letter assuring the AALS that an immigration section would complement, not conflict with, his existing section.

For the first two years, I served as the chairperson, Alex Aleinikoff as the Chairperson-elect, Michael Heyman as the Secretary-Treasurer, and Lucas Guttentag and Bill Ong Hing as the other members of the first executive committee. (All males, I know – we weren’t as sensitive back then as we should have been). At our first meeting as an official section (January 1985), we had 35 attendees. They included such luminaries as the late Atle Grahl-Madsen (Norwegian author of the first major treatise on international refugee law), the late Maurice Roberts (the great BIA chair, great dissenter, and champion of humane treatment of immigrants), and Harold Koh (former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and now Dean of Yale Law School), as well as the rest of us mere mortals.

Paul Verkuil, Alex Aleinikoff, Dave Martin, and Peter Schuck also played key roles in organizing an initial informal gathering at the previous year’s AALS conference, and the section effort really grew out of that meeting. Among the other old-timers who attended that meeting were Patty Blum, Hiroshi Motomura, Deborah Anker, the late Bill Robie, Maryellen Fullerton, Jeff Lubbers, Valerie Epps, and John Guendelsberger. I thought those who participated would enjoy this nostalgia and that newcomers might find it interesting as well. It certainly brought back nice memories for me of very exciting and collegial times.

Best to all, old and new,

Steve Legomsky

Michael Olivas (Houston) adds:

Success has many fathers, particularly in this immigration patriarchy. Some of the other tired and huddled masses at the January 1985 meeting included 33 year old Michael A. Olivas (Oh LEE vahs), who served on the AALS Committee on Sections and Annual Meetings, and who worked to fast-track the application within the Association and to get the group into the DIRECTORY process even as it was only provisionally-approved. Prior to that time, it took full approval and about 2 additional years to get new Sections onto the printed form that everyone fills out to designate DIRECTORY changes.

Millard Ruud was the key Association supporter, and he mentioned this matter at a meeting of the Committee on Sections and Annual Meetings, and urged me to help this new group. (Jane LaBarbera, incidentally, is still with the Association after all these years.)

All in all, it has been a great run for the Section all these years, and we owe a great debt to all these Jurassic Park folks.



January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Farmers Branch Mayoral Hopeful

Can being anti-immigrant help to further political aspirations? That didn't seem to help Tom Tancredo much. But in Farmers Branch, Texas, will the next mayor benefit from that foundation?

Anabelle Garay writes for the Associated Press:

The councilman who pushed his Dallas suburb's efforts to pass one of the country's most sweeping anti-illegal immigration measures is running for mayor.

Tim O'Hare, a 38-year-old first-term city councilman and personal injury lawyer, announced his candidacy Thursday for the May election on his blog. O'Hare was elected to the council of this city of about 26,600 residents in 2005.

"Thank you for allowing me to serve you over the past three years," O'Hare wrote. "I hope you will allow me the honor and privilege of serving you as Mayor for the next three."

O'Hare began pushing for new laws in 2006, steering Farmers Branch into becoming one of the dozens of cities nationwide to approve rules targeting illegal immigrants. Click here for the full story.


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Debate on NPR

David Harris, University of Pittsburgh professor of law, will debate immigration with Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch in Washington, D.C., on National Public Radio's (NPR) "Justice Talking." The show, hosted by Margot Adler and titled "The Federal Round-Up of Illegal Workers," will begin airing Jan. 28 on NPR stations and will be available at  Stay tuned!


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mayors to Congress: Do Not Wait Another Day on Immigration

Mayors attending the 76th Winter Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors will hold a Press Conference regarding the immediate need for Congress to secure our nation's borders and implement a practical and effective immigration policy.  The mayors include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Sugar Land (TX) Mayor David Wallace, Co-Chairs of the Homeland Security Task Force on the US Conference of Mayors and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Chandler (AZ) Mayor Boyd Dunn and Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup.  Members of Congress are advising the Mayors that they will wait for the next congress and the next president to address these issues. The Mayors will tell Congress how their inaction is tearing communities apart -- something they don't appear to fully understand. WHEN: Friday, January 25, 2008 9:45 am WHERE: Capital Hilton Hotel 1001 16th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20006 Statler Room (2nd Floor) CONTACT: Scott Phelps, +1-602-262-7111,, or George Weiss, +1-602-909-1638,, both of the City of Phoenix; or Barbara Brescian of Sugarland, TX, +1-281-275-2710,

PRNewswire-USNewswire - Jan. 24


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: John Shalikashvili (Poland)

250pxgeneral_john_shalikashvili_mil John Shalikashvili (born June 27, 1936) is a retired general of the United States Army who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997. He was born in Warsaw, Poland to Georgian parents. Both of his parents fled to Poland after the occupation of Georgia by Russian SFSR in 1921.

General Shalikashvili became the only immigrant in United States history to become a general of the United States Army and rose in rank through every unit command from battalion to division.

In 1952, when John was 16, the family immigrated to Peoria, Illinois. Their sponsors and the Episcopal Church helped the Shalikashvili family get started, finding jobs and a home for them.

In May 1958, Shalikashvili and his family were sworn in as American citizens. It was the first citizenship he ever held. He had previously been a refugee who had only been classified as "stateless", since he had been born to parents who had been refugees.


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration and Citizenship Symposium at U of O Law School

Gepps Immigration_550x250 A one-day symposium led by 2007-08 Wayne Morse Resident Scholar and Hollis Professor of Law Garrett Epps will be held today at the University of Oregon Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics.  The symposium features this blogger, Hiroshi Motomura (North Carolina), Dean John Eastman (Chapman), Richard Delgado (Pitsburgh), Jean Stefancic (Pittsburgh), and Keith Aoki (UC Davis).

The symposium also includes community activists -- Larry Kleinman Secretary-Treasurer, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, (PCUN), Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United and Guadalupe Quinn CAUSA (CAUSE), Oregon's Immigrant Rights Organization -- who will talk about immigration reform.

The symposium examines the contested terrain of immigration and citizenship policy in the United States.  For more details, click here.

I will let you know how this conference goes today.  I am hopeful that the Oregonians in attendance today are more open to discussion of these important issues than those in a to-go-unnamed law school in Dallas last fall.


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Deportation of US Citizens

For a story on the mistaken efforts of the U.S. government to deport U.S. citizens, click here.  As the story from the McClatchy Washington Bureau describe, "U.S. citizens who are mistakenly jailed by immigration authorities can get caught up in a nightmarish bureaucratic tangle in which they're simply not believed."


January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Immigrant Future

Should we be pessimistic or optimistic about our nation's history vis a vis immigrants? Professor Dowell Myers reminds us that immigrants contribute quite a bit.

From the Immigration Policy Center:
January 24, 2008

Thinking Ahead About Our Immigrant Future:
New Trends and Mutual Benefits in Our Aging Society

by Dowell Myers*

There are two stories now being told about immigration and the future of America. Each has some basis in fact, although one is based on newer trends and is more optimistic than the other. These stories differ in their answers to three crucial questions: whether immigration to the United States is accelerating out of control or is slowing; how much immigrants are assimilating into American society and progressing economically over time; and how important immigrants are to the U.S. economy. The pessimistic story-in which immigration is portrayed as increasing dramatically and producing a growing population of unassimilated foreigners-draws upon older evidence. But more recent data and analysis suggest a far more positive vision of our immigrant future. Immigration has not only begun to level off, but immigrants are climbing the socio-economic ladder, and will become increasingly important to the U.S. economy as workers, taxpayers, and homebuyers supporting the aging Baby Boom generation.

Among the findings of this report:

The Story Behind the Numbers: Immigration is Slowing Down, Not Speeding Up - Immigration had been accelerating up until about 2000, but since then the annual flow has declined in the United States as a whole and in most states. Nonetheless, some alarmists suggest that immigration is rising and continues at record levels by averaging the years from 1995 to 2006 and disguising the downturn after 2000.

Indices of Assimilation: Knowing Where to Look for Meaningful Assessments - In places where immigration is a new event, most immigrants are newcomers and are therefore less assimilated. However, in locales where immigrants are longer settled, such as California, they have achieved much greater socioeconomic advancement. For example, in California the share of Latino immigrants who are homeowners rises from 16.4 percent of those who have been in the United States for less than 10 years to 64.6 percent of those who have been here for 30 years or more. Similarly, English proficiency more than doubles from 33.4 percent of those who have been in the country for less than 10 years to 73.5 percent of those who have been here for 30 years or more. The pessimistic outlook on immigrant assimilation is more commonly found in states where immigration has only recently begun to increase, but such new experience does not afford a reliable projection of the future.

Aging America: Immigrants' Contributions Make a Difference - Failure to examine how much immigrants typically advance over time leads to the false conclusion that they are trapped in poverty and impose an economic burden on society. Moreover, U.S. society is itself changing, and the aging of the Baby Boom generation will create growing demand for younger workers. The ratio of seniors (age 65 and older) to working-age adults (25 to 64) will soar by 67 percent between 2010 and 2030. The rapid rise in the senior ratio will precipitate not only fiscal crises in the Social Security and Medicare systems, but workforce losses due to mass retirements that will drive labor-force growth perilously low. Immigrants and their children will help to fill these jobs and support the rising number of seniors economically. At the same time, immigrant homebuyers are also crucial in buying homes from the increasing number of older Americans. Immigrants will clearly be important in leading us out of the current housing downturn.

* Dowell Myers is Professor of Urban Planning and Demography in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and director of the Population Dynamics Research Group, at the University of Southern California. This report is drawn from his new book, "Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2007).

CONTACT: Tim Vettel
(202) 281-0780,


January 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Schwarzenegger Warns GOP Hopefuls

As the presidential primaries move into super Tuesday on February 5, will immigration remain a central issue, especially in California? Can candidate positions on immigration influence California voters in a particular direction? Governor Scharzenegger thinks GOP candidates should be careful about attempting to exploit the issue.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. writes in the San Jose Mercury News:

Republicans love to talk about immigrants.

Rudy Giuliani has promised to end illegal immigration in three years. Mike Huckabee has a plan that calls for 12 million illegal immigrants to leave the country in 120 days. And Mitt Romney says things that please restrictionists, and yet many can't figure out if he believes what he says.

Now for real insight, let's turn to a Republican who is also an immigrant. With the California primary approaching on Feb. 5, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has advice for Republican presidential hopefuls who intend to come to the Golden State and exploit the immigration issue: Don't.

"In a way, I understand why they're doing it," he said, "because when it comes to close elections, it's all about winning. It's not about sending a good message."

Schwarzenegger understands immigration better than just about any elected official in the country, from a policy perspective and a personal one. And he has a lot to say. Click here for the full story.


January 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Isabella Rossellini (Italy)

220pxisabella_rossellini__at_the_20 Isabella Rossellini (born June 18, 1952) is an actress, filmmaker, author, philanthropist, and model. Rossellini is noted for her brief career as a Lancôme model, and for her roles in films such as Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her.

Rossellini is the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and the Italian director Roberto Rossellini.  She was born in Rome, Italy. At the age of 19, she came to New York, where she worked as a translator and a television reporter.

Rossellini did not decide to stay full time in New York until her marriage to Martin Scorsese (1979–1982). At age 28, her modeling career began, when she was photographed for British Vogue and American Vogue. During her career, she has also worked with many renowned photographers, including Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Her image has appeared on such magazines as Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and ELLE.

Rossellini's modeling career led her into the world of cosmetics, when she became the exclusive spokesmodel for the international cosmetics brand Lancôme in 1982.

Rossellini made her film debut with a brief appearance as a nun opposite her mother in the 1976 film A Matter of Time. However, she did not truly begin acting until the 1979 film Il Prato. She was cast in her first American film, White Nights (1985). Rossellini is probably best known for her pivotal role as the nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Some other notable film roles include her work in Cousins, Death Becomes Her, Immortal Beloved, and Fearless. In 2003, Rossellini had a recurring role on the television series, Alias.

Rossellini received a 1987 Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her role in Blue Velvet. In 1997, she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for her role in Crime of the Century and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the television series Chicago Hope. In 1997, her self-described fictional memoir, Some of Me, was published. In 2002, she released her second 51ssj1ggk0l__aa240_ book, Looking at Me (on pictures and photographers). In 2006, In the name of the Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini was published.

Isabella Rossellini holds dual United States and Italian citizenship.


January 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Uganda Assisting with Kenyan Refugees

The Uganda government and humanitarian agencies in the country say their resources are being stretched by the continued influx of Kenyans fleeing the violence in their country to the displaced persons camps set up in Uganda's border districts.

By last week, according to official statistics from Ugandan authorities, more than 6,000 Kenyans had been registered in the five eastern Uganda settlement centres - Busia, Malaba, Lwakhakha, Bukwo and Kapchorwa - a figure six times that registered by the end of the first week of violence.

Ugandan authorities said that although fewer people have been crossing over from Kenya in the past week following a reduction in the violence, many of those who had anticipated a quick resolution to the crisis were now reporting to the settlement centres after running out of resources to maintain themselves outside the camps. Click here for the full story.


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Articles

Duff, Michael C. Days without immigrants: analysis and implications of the treatment of immigration rallies under the National Labor Relations Act. 85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 93-151 (2007).

Reed, Megan Martha. Note. RICO at the border: interpreting Anza v. Ideal Steel Supply Corp. and its effects on immigration enforcement. (Anza v. Ideal Steel Supply Corp., 126 S. Ct. 1991, 2006.) 64 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1243-1288 (2007).

Slocum, Brian G. Canons, the plenary power doctrine, and immigration law. 34 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 363-413 (2007).


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Call for Women's Rights

A message from Lisa Frydman, Staff Attorney Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, UC Hastings College of the Law :

Dear colleagues,

Take action to insist that the US recognize that women's rights are human rights! Please contact your Representative in the House today to urge that he/she sign onto a letter requesting that the Attorney General certify In re A-T- for review. Since its 1996 decision - In re Kasinga - the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has recognized female genital mutilation (FGM) as persecution. However, In re A-T- marks a significant departure from the advances made for women’s rights in Kasinga. In A-T-, the BIA ruled that past FGM is not a basis for asylum because, unlike forced sterilization, FGM was not deemed to be a continuing harm. The decision also failed to recognize forced marriage as persecution. A powerful New York Times article providing background on the case can be found at:

A bi-partisan sign on effort, sponsored by Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), is underway in the House of Representatives to request that the Attorney General certify the decision. The more Representatives that sign on, the greater the pressure will be on the AG to certify the case. Members who have signed on so far include:

1. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) 2. Chris Smith (R-NJ) 3. Allyson Schwarz (D-PA) 4. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) 5. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) 6. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 7. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) 8. Jim Moran (D-VA) 9. Mike Honda (D-CA) 10. Tom Allen (D-ME) 11. Joe Pitts (R-PA) 12. Jim McGovern (D-TX) 13. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) 14. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) 15. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) 16. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) 17. Albert Wynn (D-MD) 18. Al Green (D-TX) 19. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) 20. Steve Cohen (D-TN) 21. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) 22. Betty McCollum (D-MN) 23. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) 24. Lois Capps (D-CA) 25. Betty Sutton (D-OH) 26. Jose Serrano (D-NY) 27. Howard Berman (D-CA) 28. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) 29. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 30. Brad Miller (D-NC) 31. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) 32. Sander Levin (D-MI)

Your support is needed! If your Representative has not yet signed on, contact him/her by calling the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or by going to

Tell your Representative that:

• The BIA's decision in In re A-T- is a significant departure from the United States' commitment to protect women's rights across the globe.

• The Board's reasoning in this case misconstrues the nature of FGM as simply a one-time act, rather than recognizing the severe ongoing medical and psychological harm that FGM causes, as well as its purpose to further subjugate women in society.

• The Board failed to recognize forced marriage as persecution, signaling a general hostility toward, and ignorance of, women's human rights. • The U.S. has a proud history of protecting the rights of women who are forced to flee grave human rights violations in their home countries. We must not allow the U.S. to turn its back on the courageous women who simply wish to have their fundamental rights to autonomy and bodily integrity recognized.


The letter to Attorney General Mukasey is attached.  Download finalcopy_fgm_letter_house122007.pdf

Please contact Lisa Frydman at: with any questions.


Lisa Frydman

Staff Attorney

Center for Gender and Refugee Studies

UC Hastings College of the Law

200 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA 94102 Ph: (415) 565-4791 Fax: (415) 581-8824

January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Santa Clara Rocks!

Fcty_evangeline_abriel Michael Adura-Miranda, Erika S. Rivera and Professor Evangeline G. Abriel of Santa Clara University School of Law were victorious in Ayala v Mukasey, decided by the Ninth Circuit today. 

In the case, Rafael Vizcarra-Ayala, a native and citizen of Mexico, challenges the Board of Immigration Appeals’ ruling that his forgery conviction under California Penal Code § 475(c) renders him an aggravated felon pursuant to Immigration and Naturalization Act § 101(a)(43)(R), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(R). He argues that Penal Code § 475(c) encompasses conduct involving real, unaltered documents and thus is not categorically an offense “relating to . . . forgery” under INA § 101(a)(43)(R).  The Ninth Circuit agreed with Vizcarra-Ayala and held that the removal order could not stand.


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC Mayor Praises Immigrants

Last week, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg unveiled a mix of tough education and anticrime measures while embracing the virtues of immigration on Thursday at his annual State of the City address.  Too bad we see too little of such praise for immigrants on the national stage.  Unfortunately, former NYC Mayor Guiliani has done an about face on immigration as he entered the campaign for the Presidency.


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minuteman Resigns From Park Board

An appointee to the Kansas City city parks board has resigned after her controversial membership in an immigration group led two organizations to take their annual conventions elsewhere.  The N.Y. Times reports that Frances Semler,a member of the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said that she resigned because her involvement with the parks board had become too contentious and she did not feel that Mayor Mark Funkhouser supported her. The Mayor appointed Semler last summer to the five-member park board, which considers issues such as off-leash dog areas and outdoor party permits. Her appointment triggered protests from minority advocacy groups, including the National Council of La Raza, which voted in October to cancel plans to hold its 2009 convention in Kansas City because of Semler's membership in the Minutemen. Last week, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said it also decided to move its convention from Kansas City to New Orleans.


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Farmers Branch Passes New Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

The City Council of Farmers Branch, Texas unanimpously passed its latest antiimmigrant ordinance.  A few days ago, we posted a story about the city's latest immigration efforts.

Under the ordinance, Farmers Branch would use a database employed by state and federal agencies to verify whether immigrants are entitled to rent apartment and houses.  If federal authorities cannot confirm legal residency status, the person would have 60 days to provide proof.

According to the N.Y. Times, however,

"a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said there is no such database the city can use for the purpose they say they intend to use it for. ''There is no database where the city or anyone can pick up the phone and give alienage, like yes this person is legal or no that person isn't legal; there is no such database,'' Maria Elena Garcia-Upson said. In addition, the database the city refers to is used to verify whether legal non-citizens are eligible for public benefits. But many people who are in the country legally, such as foreign students, are not eligible for federal or state benefits, she said."  (emphasis added).

The city's measure would take effect 15 days after a ruling on the ordinance currently being contested in court.


January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)