October 18, 2008
Documentary on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
You are invited to a free screening of
CASA LIBRE/FREEDOM HOUSE
Directed by Roberto S. Oregel
Produced by Chon Noriega and Peter A. Schey
This new one hour documentary film addresses why unaccompanied immigrant children risk traveling thousands of miles alone to come to the U.S., what they experience along the way and upon arrival, and how they change when they find a home at the Casa Libre in Los Angeles.
The CASA LIBRE/FREEDOM HOUSE film is a joint project of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Reception
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Screening
8:00 pm – 8:45 pm Q & A and post film discussion
Los Angeles Athletic Club
431 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles 90014 (corner of Seventh and Olive)
Parking is available for $3.50 at 646 South Olive, LA 90014
Roberto S. Oregel received his MFA from UCLA’s Department of Theater, Film, and Television in 2005. His work has screened at international film festivals and on the Showtime network.
Chon A. Noriega is Director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Professor of Film and Television and a Board Member of Casa Libre.
Peter A. Schey is President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and the founder of the Casa Libre/Freedom House shelter for immigrant children.
Post Film Discussion participants:
Rudy Castillo, former resident of Casa Libre.
Father Richard Estrada is Founder and President of Jovenes, Inc., a shelter program for homeless immigrant youth 18-21 years of age and a Board Member of Casa Libre.
Driver's Licenses Again an Issue in Race for President?
The National Republican Trust Fund Political Action Committee will be running a television ad in battleground states challenging Senator Obama's support of driver's license eligibility for undocumented immigrants, which some thought might be an issue in the Presidential campaign (as it was in the Democratic primaries), and linking the availability of licenses to the September 11 attacks.
GA Federal Judge Uphold Voter ID Law
A federal judge denied a request by voting rights groups to stop Georgia from asking new voters to prove their identities and citizenship, saying Thursday that halting the checks could harm the integrity of the Nov. 4 election. Click here for the story by the Associated Press.
October 17, 2008
Undocumented Asian Students DREAM Too!
AsianWeek has a story about (and a link to) a recent report by the University of California Office of the President that revealed that 40 to 44 percent of undocumented students in the UC system are Asian. The treatment of undocumented college and university students "is definitely not `a Mexican thing.'"
UNHCR Report on Asylum Trends
The following report has been published today and is available from the UNHCR statistics webpage (http://www.unhcr.org/statistics.html):
- Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, First Half 2008
17 October 2008
The Economic Impacts of Immigration in Nebraska
UPDATE for a similar study for Long island, click here.
Do We Live in a Police State? "America's Toughest Sheriff" Strikes Again!!!
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio traded angry words and accusations with Mesa officials Thursday after 60 deputies and posse members armed with search warrants stormed City Hall and the public library in the middle of the night in a hunt for illegal workers. "I believe the safety of our citizens was gravely compromised" when Maricopa County sheriff's deputies in "battle gear" swept into city buildings about 2 a.m. while cleaning crews were at work, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith told reporters. "I believe we had set the scene where bad things could have happened." Arpaio defended his tactics, claiming the raid came only after a former city employee called the sheriff's illegal-immigration hotline to report that a cleaning company under contract with the city was hiring illegal immigrants. " (emphasis added).
What kind of nation do we live in? What kinds of risks to the public safety are being taken in the name of immigration control? What kind of tragedy will happen as a result of this kind of conduct?
For the N.Y. Times view of this "Wild West weirdness," click here.
UPDATE Click here for a NPR story about Sheriff Joe's latest escapades.
Texas-Mexico Border Wall Subject of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing
In response to its claim that the Texas-Mexico border wall violates human rights law, the University of Texas Working Group on Human Rights and the Border Wall was granted a general hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission, comprised of seven independent jurists from across the Americas and the Caribbean, is the body of the inter-governmental Organization of American States ("OAS") responsible for monitoring and ensuring respect for human rights in the Americas, including in the United States. The public hearing will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on October 22, 2008 in the Commission's Washington, D.C. headquarters and simultaneously webcast to a global audience through the OAS website.
Delgado on the Direct Economic Impact of the Immigration Raids
A few days ago, one of the founders of Critical Race Theory Richard Delgado published a thought-provoking op-ed about the relationship between the Bush administration's immigration raids and increasing food prices.
For those of you who believe that the raids have been effective and have affected food prices, are the benefits worth the cost?
October 16, 2008
Microsoft, 25 law firms and Angelina Jolie team up to represent immigrant children
The National Law Journal reports that "Microsoft Corp. is teaming up with actress Angelina Jolie and 25 law firms and corporate law departments to launch a major pro bono initiative to represent immigrant children in the United States. The program will seek to help the nearly 8,000 children who each year are separated from their families and go through the U.S. immigration process, often unrepresented by counsel." The law firms particcipating in the project read like a "who's who" of U.S. law firms: Arnold & Porter; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersol; Berry Appleman & Leiden; Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Covington & Burling; Crowell & Moring; Davis Wright Tremaine; Holland & Knight; Howrey; K&L Gates; Latham & Watkins; Lowenstein Sandler; Morrison & Foerster; Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads; Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe; Perkins Coie; Shook Hardy & Bacon; Sidley Austin; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom; Steptoe & Johnson; Sullivan & Cromwell; Weil Gotshal & Manges; White & Case.
Immigration Court Watch
Inconsistencies in immigration court proceedings across the country are well known. From the Seattle Times about a monitoring project:
Tammy Fitting entered the courtroom promptly at 8:30 a.m. Before the immigration judge sat down, she looked around the windowless room inside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
There wasn't much to see. It was a standard Monday hearing. Eighteen detainees filled half the seats. Across the aisle, the pews were bare except for Colleen Waterhouse.
Waterhouse, the chairwoman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tacoma and Pierce County, has sat in the same spot in the back corner most Mondays over the past three years. She listens, takes notes and fills out stacks of surveys for the National Lawyers Guild's court watch program.
The forms ask dozens of questions to ensure the judge and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyer are providing due process: Has the judge inquired into the detainees' mental health? Does the government lawyer provide legal advice? Does someone adequately explain the process to the detainees?
"We always try to make sure we have someone here," she said. "We make sure to keep an eye on what's going on."
The court watch project began about six months after the detention center, a 1,000-bed facility that holds immigrants as they await hearing or deportation, opened in 2004. It was modeled after two similar programs: one in Boston to study the effect of the 9/11 attacks on the cases of Arab immigrants, and one in Chicago to determine if videoconferencing affected the process.
"When people discovered how the master calendars were going to be heard, people were concerned," said Peggy Herman, a regional vice president for the National Lawyers Guild, referring to the hearings. "Attorneys had to decide whether to appear in Seattle courtroom where the judge sat, or to appear in Tacoma with their client."
The project has three goals: to educate people about the immigration system, to detect certain trends in the system and, if any of those trends are of particular concern, to publicize and attempt to remedy them. Click here for the rest of the story.
It's the Economy Stupid! No Mention of Immigration in Third Presidential Debate
Just like the other debates, immigration was MIA from the latest Senator McCain/Obama tilt. The economy, taxes, and Joe the plumber, dominated the debate. We have come a long way from the immigration fight during the primary debates. the good news in my view is that immigrants are generally not being blamed for the storm on Wall Street.
From the Bookshelves: Exodus/Éxodo (2008)
Exodus/Éxodo "[T]he human cost of migration is ... high. Border crossers risk injury, attack, rape, and death, while undocumented workers often toil under dangerous and exploitative conditions in the United States. These harsh realities constitute the heart of Exodus/Éxodo, a powerful collaboration between writer Charles Bowden and photographer Julián Cardona that puts a human face on the issue of illegal immigration."
October 15, 2008
Seattle University Project on Beyond Borders
Seattle University is doing something pretty cool this year:
"For the 2008-09 academic year, students and the campus community will embark on a conversation about what it means to live in a world where people cross borders including and beyond the geographical ones. Conversations on the subject will derive from a series of questions related to immigration such as why are people everywhere so deeply concerned today about others who cross international borders in search of a better life? What are their legal rights as they cross borders? How does this affect economic policy, health care, education and political citizenship?
First-year students and members of the faculty were given the book, Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration, to read in conjunction with the salons. Crossing into America is a compendium of stories by writers from Mexico, the Philippines, Kashmir, South Africa and Romania, as well as narratives of the immigrant experience as seen through the lens of children of immigrants.
Most incoming students received the book during summer orientation. During Welcome Week in late September, they reconvened in small groups with student advisers and faculty members to discuss main themes built around issues raised in the book."
The De-Americanization of Barack Obama
The recent McCain-Palin strategy that has fomented hate toward Barack Obama is shameful. The Republican ticket’s campaign audiences have shouted hate speech toward Muslims, screamed crazy allegations of terrorism, and spewed frightening violent threats toward Senator Obama. This “othering” of Senator Obama is reminiscent of the hate that was directed toward Arabs and Muslims in the United States after September 11, 2001. Recalling that hate challenges us to speak out against the McCain-Palin strategy of de-Americanization and the encouragement of vigilante racism.
Within hours of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans of Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian descent found themselves targeted for acts of hate and racial profiling. In a suburb of Chicago three hundred protestors, many waving American flags and chanting "USA! USA!" marched on a mosque. One 19-year-old demonstrator exclaimed, "I'm proud to be an American and I hate Arabs and I always have." In Huntington, New York, a 75-year-old man tried to run over a Pakistani woman in the parking lot of a shopping mall. He then followed the woman into a store and threatened to kill her for "destroying my country." In San Diego, a Sikh woman was attacked by a knife-wielding man, shouting "This is what you get for what you've done to us." A Sikh family was followed out of a restaurant by two White men who screamed to the family, "Go back to your country." Soon, arrests were made of individuals who were racially profiled, and by October, over 1,100 suspicious individuals, mostly Arab Americans, were detained, without access to family or counsel. By November, the Department of Justice developed a list of five thousand Middle Eastern men, between the ages of 18 and 33, who were to be "voluntarily" interviewed. Although the men were supposed to have entered on non-immigrant visas after January, 2000, numerous reports indicated that law enforcement officials were also contacting lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens of Arab descent.
In contemplating this targeting of Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Americans by private individuals and official government policies after September 11, a clear theme emerges. In spite of the fact that these communities have been part of the fabric of our country for some time, in the eyes of many, those among us of Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian background are not real Americans.
The fact that hateful acts and words of private citizens are followed up with official regimes of detention and profiling only reaffirms the subordination of the victims through suspicion of loyalty. The governmental imprimatur helps to "marginalize" the victims in U.S. society. And McCain and Palin’s endorsement and encouragement of this marginalization on breeds justified hate in the minds of their misguided supporters.
The message is one of exclusion: "You Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians are not true Americans." Certainly, de-Americanization is a process that involves racism, but unlike the racism directed at African Americans, with its foundations in the historically held beliefs of inferiority, de-Americanizers base their assault on loyalty and foreignness. In the minds of the private actors, who are nothing more than lawless vigilantes, self-appointed enforcers of true Americanism, their victims are immigrants or foreigners even though they may in fact be citizens by birth or through naturalization. Irrespective of the victim community's possible longstanding status in the country, its members are regarded as perpetual foreigners. The victim community is forever regarded as immigrant America, as opposed to simply part of America and its diversity.
What has been happening to Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians in the United States in the wake of September 11 is a process of ostracism from the American community - a de-Americanization process - that we have witnessed before. The process often involves two aspects - (1) the actions of private individuals and (2) official government-sanctioned actions. On the private side, the process involves identifying the victims as foreigners, sometimes mistakenly, other times simply treating the person as a foreigner knowing otherwise. De-Americanization is a twisted brand of xenophobia that is not simply hatred of foreigners, but also hatred of those who in fact may not be foreigners but whom the vigilantes would prefer being removed from the country anyway. In fact, we have seen this process not long ago with respect to Arabs and others of Middle Eastern descent following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Immediately after that attack, media and officials wrongly speculated that an Islamic terrorist might have been responsible. The culprit turned out to be a White supremacist, Timothy McVeigh. The official side of the process involves laws or enforcement strategies that broadly focus on the entire group either without adequate basis or at least in an overly-broad manner.
The nation's public relations position is that we are a proud nation of immigrants inclusive of all. Yes, we take steps in the direction of inclusiveness. But we take steps backwards in that regards as well. We learn and unlearn, and in the process, the bad behavior of vigilante racism is reinforced. In the process, we de-Americanize many communities of color, perpetuating their image as immigrant Americans rather than full Americans. The McCain-Palin strategy to de-Americanize Barack Obama represents a huge step backwards in our nation’s important journey toward mutual respect for the diverse communities that make up the United States. Those of us who believe in an inclusive, diverse country, must stand up for our beliefs and speak out against the divisive McCain-Palin strategy.
Thousands of Mexican farm and railroad laborers may soon be collecting monies withheld from their paychecks for work they performed in the United States of America during World War II as a result of a settlement of a class action lawsuit which was given preliminary approval by a federal court on October 10, 2008. The settlement was reached between the Mexican government and a group of U.S. lawyers representing Mexican workers — known as braceros (manual laborers) — who came to the U.S. during World War II to work in agricultural and railroad jobs pursuant to a series of international treaties between the U.S. and Mexican governments. It provides for payments to braceros or their surviving family members who reside in the U.S. and can provide original documents to show that they (or a deceased parent or spouse) worked as a bracero from January 1, 1942 through December 31, 1946. All claims must be presented in person to a Mexican Consulate office or the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. by December 23, 2008. According to the class action suit braceros and their families complained that not only were they made to do back-breaking labor under abysmal conditions, but for 60-plus years have been deprived of 10 percent of their wages by the Mexican government. The wages were set aside pursuant to the terms of international agreements in order to provide for guaranteed savings accounts for the workers but were never paid to them. “These hard working individuals came to the U.S. to help our country during a time of war. They played by the rules and did all that was asked of them, and in return they were abused and exploited,” said Matthew Piers, a partner of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. of Chicago, IL, one of several law firms around the country involved in the suit to have braceros gain access to their earned savings funds. “The settlement represents a significant measure of justice for the braceros and their families, who have been owed these monies for over half a century,” added Piers.
Over a quarter million Mexican agricultural and railroad workers entered into braceros employment contracts to work in the U.S. between 1942-1946, and had 10 percent of their wages withheld by U.S. employers, which were then forwarded (via the Wells Fargo Bank and Union Trust Company of San (National Bank of Agricultural Credit) and were to be paid to braceros upon their return to Mexico. The lawsuit alleges those funds were then never paid to the braceros, but instead were misappropriated by the Mexican government. Under the settlement, the Mexican government will provide a payment to braceros, or their surviving spouses or children, in the amount of approximately $3,500 (USD). A growing number of national and regional Latino community-based organizations are involved in this effort to disseminate information to their respective constituents on how braceros and/or their surviving family members can file claims for the funds. Among them are the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), Farmworker Justice, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Impremedia Publications, National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), Texas Migrant Council (TMC), and Univision Communications. For more information or assistance in filling out and delivering the application claim forms, please visit the Caso Bracero web site at www.casobracero.com, call the toll-free Caso Bracero Hotline at 1-877-436-9359, or send a letter to Caso Bracero, P.O. Box 641610, Chicago, Illinois, 60664-1610. All interested persons are urged to act quickly, since the deadline for delivery of application forms to Mexican government offices in the United States is December 23, 2008. Download ramirez20cruz20255201010081.pdf
SF in the Immigration News Again!
Earlier this month -- after a summer of contrioversy, we learned that a grand jury was reviewing the legality of the San Francisco "sanctuary" policy. Now, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that a Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the city's plan to issue municipal identification cards to residents regardless of immigration status does not violate state and federal law. Judge Peter Busch tossed out a lawsuit filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute claiming that the program would amount to aiding and abetting illegal immigration.
October 14, 2008
Delay in N-400 Filing Procedure
From Rosemarie Fan, DHS community liaison in San Francisco:
A few weeks ago, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing we would change the filing address for citizenship applications (N-400s) beginning on October 14. However, the technology for this switch is not quite ready. Until further notice, we ask our stakeholders and customers to use the same filing addresses they’ve used before, and those addresses are listed on our website. The upshot of this: N-400 filing addresses are not changing right now! I pasted the Update below for your convenience. It is already posted on our website. If someone does by chance submit their application to the direct mail lockbox, our understanding is that USCIS will forward those applications via overnight mail, at no cost to the customer, to the appropriate Service Center for processing.
Until further notice, non-military residents of California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and CNMI will continue to mail their applications to:
California Service Center
P.O. Box 10400
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1040
Anyone applying under the special provisions for U.S. military, regardless of where they live, should send their applications to:
Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87426
Lincoln, NE 68501-7426
Ultimately, we will transition to a “direct mail” system like we have for many other applications because it centralizes up-front processing and improves consistency and efficiency. When that happens we will issue a news release and let you know.
USCIS Delays Implementation of Direct Mail Program For N-400, Application for Naturalization
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it will delay implementation of the Direct Mail Program for the N-400, Application for Naturalization. A Federal Register notice is scheduled to be published Oct. 10, 2008, announcing this delay.
Last month, USCIS published a notice in the Federal Register, which would have changed the filing address for N-400s from USCIS Service Centers to two lockbox facilities in Arizona and Texas. Implementation of this new process would have begun Oct. 14, 2008.
USCIS is delaying implementation of this new filing procedure to conduct additional tests of the technology involved. Accordingly, the Sept. 12 notice will be withdrawn Oct. 10, 2008.
Applicants for naturalization should continue to submit their Form N-400 according to the instructions on the form until further notice. In almost all cases, this means applicants will submit their N-400s to a USCIS Service Center.
For additional information, visit us on the Web at www.uscis.gov or call the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.
Immigration Law Firm News: Merger Creates Nation’s Second Largest Immigration Law Firm
"The two largest immigration law firms in Texas announced today that they will merge, creating the nation’s second largest law firm devoted exclusively to immigration law. Tindall & Foster, PC and Quan, Burdette & Perez, PC, both based in Houston, are combining to form Foster Quan LLP . . . . The merger is effective January 1, 2009." For the full press release, click Download foster20quan2021.pdf
Postville Redux Redux
Before May, 2008, many Americans were unaware of a city named Postville, Iowa. After a massive immigration raid in May, the city made national news. CNN reports on developments in Postville after the raid, which have not all been for the good.
All the news reports make me want to visit Postville!