Saturday, November 22, 2008
"Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides income assistance to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. Since 1996, SSI benefits for refugees and certain other humanitarian immigrants have been available only during a seven-year period. A new law, “The SSIExtension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act” (Public Law 110-328), extends SSI eligibility for these immigrants, allowing them to receive at least two more years of SSI." Click here for the guide. ra
"Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides income assistance to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. Since 1996, SSI benefits for refugees and certain other humanitarian immigrants have been available only during a seven-year period. A new law, “The SSIExtension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act” (Public Law 110-328), extends SSI eligibility for these immigrants, allowing them to receive at least two more years of SSI." Click here for the guide.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced an extension to the re-registration period for nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and are now eligible to re-register and maintain their status an additional 18 months. Initially, the 60-day re-registration period for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua began Oct. 1, 2008 and ended on Dec. 1, 2008. This re-registration period is now being extended through Dec. 30, 2008.
"Because crimes of violence, as defined under § 16(b), are limited to society’s most serious offenses—offenses that do not include reckless or accidental conduct—we grant Mr. Jimenez-Gonzalez’s petition for review and hold that criminal recklessness is not a crime of violence for immigration purposes." Jimenez-Gonzalez v. Mukasey, Nov. 21, 2008.
Tom Barry, Senior Analyist of the Center for International Policy, states: "Napolitano is by no means an anti-immigration hardliner. However, as a lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and a governor who has insisted on more border control and stood behind a tough employer-sanctions law, she will fit easily into the “rule of law” framework for directing ICE and CBP operations." Click here to read more.
"This final rule amends U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS) regulations to improve the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) ability
to detect and deter fraud and other abuses in the religious worker program. This rule
addresses concerns about the integrity of the religious worker program by requiring
religious organizations seeking the admission to the United States ofnonimmigrant
religious workers to file formal petitions with USCIS on behalfofsuch workers. This
rule also implements the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program Act
requiring DHS to issue this final rule to eliminate or reduce fraud in regard to the
granting ofspecial immigrant status to nonminister religious workers. The rule
emphasizes that USCIS will conduct inspectionst evaluationst verifications, and
compliance reviews ofreligious organizations to ensure the legitimacy of the petitioner
and statements made in the petitions. This rule adds and amends definitions and
evidentiary requirements for both religious organizations and religious workers. Finally,
this rule amends how USCIS regulations reference the sunset date by which special
immigrant religious workers, other than ministers, must immigrate or adjust status to
Another chapter in U.S.-Mexico border relations is about to close. In the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is completing construction of a 22-kilometre triple fence along the San Diego-Tijuana border.
It is being done over the objections of environmental activists living near the border, who are worried both about the toll on wildlife and those seeking entry into the United States. A patch of green encircled by two cities, the Tijuana estuary lacks the grandeur of a mountain range but to biologists and conservationists it's an invaluable piece of real estate.
Created in 1981, the Tijuana River Research Reserve is an island of relative calm at the center of a political maelstrom that pits conservations against advocates that promote tighter border controls. Click here for the rest of the story.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Constitutional Project: "Liberty and Security: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress"
The Constitutional Project has released "Liberty and Security: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress," a collaborative effort by leaders and experts on security, civil liberties, and human rights issues to identify key policy objectives and recommendations, gathering proposals into one comprehensive set of recommendations for transition personnel.
Over a period of months, the Constitution Project facilitated an effort by more than 25 organizations and 75 individuals to identify 62 items for congressional action and 118 items for executive action. The report's 20 chapters cover five broad issue areas: (1) detention, interrogation, and trials, (2) immigration and national security, (3) secrecy, surveillance, and privacy, (4) separation of powers, and (5) charities and foundations.
Two weeks ago, the Constitution Project released another collaborative transition report, "Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress." Both reports can be found at http://2009transition.org
"Liberty and Security" contains the following chapters:
Charities and Foundations
- Chapter 1: Eliminate Unnecessary Barriers To Legitimate Charitable Work
Detention, Interrogation, and Trials
- Chapter 2: Closing Guantanamo
- Chapter 3: End Illegal Detention, Torture, and Rendition
- Chapter 4: Prosecute Terrorist Suspects in Accordance with the Law
Immigration and National Security
- Chapter 5: Failing to Protect Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Overly Broad Definition of Material support for Terrorism.
- Chapter 6: Ending Immigration Enforcement Based on National Origin, Ethnicity, and Religion
- Chapter 7: Misuse of Immigration Detention Laws in Counterterrorism Efforts
Secrecy, Surveillance, and Privacy
- Chapter 8: Revising Attorney General Guidelines on FBI Investigations
- Chapter 9: Updating the Law Governing the Privacy of Electronic Communications
- Chapter 10: Fusion Centers and the Expansion of Domestic Intelligence
- Chapter 11: Promoting Government Transparency
- Chapter 12: National Security Letters and Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act
- Chapter 13: Reform of the National Security Surveillance Laws and Procedures
- Chapter 14: Preventing Over-Classification and Retroactive Classification and Promoting Declassification of Government Documents
- Chapter 15: Reforming the State Secrets Privilege
- Chapter 16: Reforming Watch Lists
Separation of Powers
- Chapter 17: Assertion of Executive Authority in National Security Matters
- Chapter 18: Executive Privilege and Congressional Oversight
- Chapter 19: Signing Statements
- Chapter 20: War Powers Authority
"He lied about not lying in the past" Does Not Defeat Claim of "Good Moral Character" for Naturalization
At least the "good guy" won in the end:
"To preclude Zheng from naturalizing on the tenuous argument that he lied about not lying in the past, when the record reflects not only his honest and hardworking history, but also his limited intelligence and inability to communicate in English, would be manifest injustice. Therefore, this Court finds that Zheng does not lack good moral character for purposes of his N-400 Application for Naturalization, and the USCIS must reconsider Zheng's Application in light of this finding." Zheng v. Chertoff (E.D. Penn., Nov. 12, 2008).
Do you ever thing that a "good moral character" requirement should be imposed on U.S. citizens? How about an attachment to constitutional principles? Just a thought. We seem to demand an awful lot of immigrants seeking to naturalize. And poor Mr. Zheng did not even get to vote against the Bush administration, which as a court now has determined wrongfully denied his naturalization peteiotion.
Maybe I am just tired because it is Friday.
Sikh American Expelled from North Carolina Food Bank for Practicing his Faith; SALDEF Urges Interfaith Groups to Support Religious Freedom
Washington, DC, [On November 19], the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) learned that Mr. Gurnam Singh Khera—a Sikh American—was expelled from a community center in North Carolina because he wore a Dastaar (Sikh turban) in accordance with his faith.
The incident reportedly occurred at the Union Mission facility in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Mr. Khera and his wife went to the facility to make a donation for a Thanksgiving Food Drive and expressed interest in sending their children to the facility during the Thanksgiving holidays to serve food to the needy.
Upon entering the facility, Mr. Khera was told by a receptionist that “this is the United States” and that he needed to remove his Dastaar. When Mr. Khera attempted to explain the religious significance of the Dastaar, the receptionist refused to speak with him. When the Reverend in charge of the facility was summoned, Mr. Khera offered a handshake, but the Reverend reportedly refused to reciprocate and asked Mr. Khera and his wife to leave the facility, saying: “Go donate to some other place; we do not need your donations unless you remove your turban.”
Every Sikh Gurdwara—place of worship—throughout the world has operated the Guru Ka Langar—free community kitchen—for more than five centuries. At each Guru Ka Langar, volunteers of all faiths serve free meals to all visitors, regardless of race, religion, gender, caste, or social standing. In keeping with this tradition, Sikh Americans throughout the United States have routinely partnered with churches and other places of worship to feed the homeless and provide relief to victims of natural disasters.
“We are profoundly offended that a community center would repudiate a Sikh American because of his religion and refuse his Thanksgiving donation,” said Rajbir Singh Datta, National Director of SALDEF. “Religious discrimination has no place in the United States, and we call upon Union Mission to issue a written apology to Mr. Khera and the entire Sikh American community and work with SALDEF on efforts to celebrate religious diversity in the cause of helping the less fortunate.”
SALDEF urges you to contact the Union Mission of Roanoke Rapids to express your disappointment.
We commend Mr. Gurnam Singh Khera for bringing this matter to our attention. If you or your children experience discrimination, harassment, or violence because of your Sikh faith, please notify SALDEF at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (202) 393-2700.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
1413 K St, NW, 5th floor | Washington, DC 20005
phone: 202-393-2700 | fax: 202-318-3344
www.saldef.org | email@example.com
Founded in 1996, SALDEF is the largest and oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the civil rights of Sikh Americans through legal aid, advocacy and educational outreach. SALDEF's mission is to create a fostering environment in the United States for future generations of Sikh Americans.
The facts that continue to come out about the hate murder of Ecuadoran (legal) immigrant Marcello Lucero send chills up the spine of anyone with a conscience. It initially was reported that the defendants had begun their hate-filled escapades with the statement: "Let’s go find some Mexicans."" But it gets worse. Here is the latest from the N.Y. Times:
"Every now and then, perhaps once a week, seven young friends got together in their hamlet of Medford, on eastern Long Island, to hunt down, and hurt, Hispanic men. They made a sport of it, calling their victims “beaners,” a reference to the staple Hispanic dish of rice and beans, prosecutors said on Thursday."
And the story gets even worse. The teens apparently viewed their hate crimes as the "sport" of "beaner hopping."
We have previously reported on the FBI data documenting the increase in hate crimes against Latinos, As I have contended in talking with the press, the increase in hate crimes appears tied to the heated, at times hateful, public debate regarding immigration, which has included the "scapegoating" of immigrants and Latinos for various social ills. " It hardly seems mere coincidence that hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise at the same time there has been an (over)heated debate about immigration and immigrants at the local level.
Consider the context surrounding the hate murder of Marcello Lucero. In Long Island, the County Executive had been railing against undocumented immigrants for months. Tempers flared and a young man was killed. In Shenendoah, PA earlier this year, a young Mexican immigrant man (in public with a white woman) was killed. Recall that tempers flared with passage of the anti-immigrant ordinance (which a court enjoined) in Hazleton, PA, (for an example of the hate directed at "illegal aliens" in a speech in Hazleton, listen to William Gheen of ALIPAC), another rural PA town.
Talking Points Memo has a story about the decrease in migration from Mexico over the last two years. The economic downturn surely has impacted migration patterns, a trend that confirms that what migration from Mexico is all about labor migration. In my estimation, the increase in raids have had a de minimis impact on migration patterns.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
Immigrants fall prey to fraudulent immigration providers
As immigration enforcement activities increase and the immigration debate across the country continues, misinformation and fear have compelled many to hastily seek legal status. This has created opportunities for unscrupulous immigration service providers to take advantage of people’s hopes and fears, and exact exorbitant fees from immigrants for questionable naturalization and permanent residency schemes. The consequences are often dire and irreversible.
What follows is a sadly common story: An immigrant family with U.S.-born children that has been here over ten years hears about “the ten-year benefit,” which they are told will allow the parents to acquire work permits, a possible first step to legalizing their immigration status. They jump at the chance, and pay thousands of dollars to a notario, which in Latin America implies that the person is a licensed attorney. In the United States a notario means a notary public, who is only authorized to verify signatures and has no legal training. The purported lawyer, or notario, explains that the process is expensive and complicated but that legalization is assured because of the time they have lived here and the citizenship of their children. In some cases, unscrupulous licensed attorneys are also involved in these operations, making the process of finding competent, honest legal services even more difficult for an immigrant consumer.
The family signs complicated legal papers in English that they do not understand and trusts the notario with their documents. Eventually, they appear in court before an immigration judge but not accompanied by their notario, whom they now learn cannot represent clients in court. The notario sends his lawyer instead, who explains nothing about the proceedings or background and may have even met the immigrant family for the first time in open court. Confused by the system but led to believe that all is in order, the parents do receive their work permits – only to receive a summons to go before an immigration judge again a year later. Even though their U.S. citizen children know nothing about life in the family’s country of origin, after receiving their work permits, and after following what they thought was sound legal advice, the judge deports the parents with no opportunity to return to the United States. With no other options, their minor children accompany their parents and leave behind their friends, education, and community to live in a country they have never known. Meanwhile, the notario keeps the thousands of dollars they paid him and goes on to defraud more hard working immigrants.
What went wrong?
What the notario did not explain is that in order to obtain work permits for them, he filed asylum applications that lacked merit. Once an adjudicator reviews the asylum application and denies it as lacking merit, the family is automatically referred to an immigration judge for removal proceedings. Notarios knowingly file fraudulent asylum applications expecting that the applications will be denied so that the family can apply for a form of relief called “cancellation of removal” before an immigration judge – buying them another year in the country. This is a blatant misuse of the asylum process followed by a legal long shot.
Cancellation of removal exists to provide legal immigration status in cases where the applicant can show that his or her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, spouse or minor child, would suffer “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” if the applicant were not permitted to remain in the United States. An example of the kind of hardship required might be a U.S.-born child with a debilitating medical condition that would not be possible to treat in the family’s country of origin. The so-called “ordinary” hardship to a U.S. citizen child of having to move to a country that he does not know, where he may not speak, read or write the language, and that has a lower standard of living than the United States is not usually considered sufficient to win cancellation of removal and permanent residence status.
Unfortunately, when these schemes fail, victims lose more than large sums of money. Fraudulent legal service providers permanently jeopardize their victims’ ability to stay in the United States. Many cases lead directly to deportation. Other immigrants permanently lose the means to immigrate legally in the future, even those for whom legal channels were open before they became victims of fraud, and even in cases where it is obvious they were preyed upon by an unscrupulous immigration service provider. The legal and financial consequences are severe for notarios and lawyers who commit fraud. However, immigrants typically exhaust their resources in the process of trying to fight their imminent removal and have little left to seek redress from their defrauders. Once they are deported, participating in investigations and prosecutions becomes virtually impossible.
Families have been torn apart, individuals living in the United States for many years have been forced to leave the only home they know, and entire communities are confused about whom to trust and how to navigate the extremely complicated legal process of obtaining legal status. There have been thousands of immigration fraud victims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit alone sees hundreds of cases each month involving immigrants who have fallen prey to the same schemes by notarios or unscrupulous attorneys. Sadly, the common end to many of these court cases is a family being torn apart or deported.
The ILRC helps immigrants fight misinformation and fraud
In order to communicate complicated information about scams by fraudulent immigration service providers, empower immigrants to help themselves and their communities, and educate them on legal pathways to permanent residency status and eventual citizenship, the ILRC produced an Anti-Fraud Comic Book in Chinese, English and Spanish. This resource tells the true stories of people who fell prey to four of the most common scams by fraudulent immigration service providers, including the “ten-year benefit” described above, and the consequences they face. It also outlines what to do if one is a victim of provider fraud, how to identify and avoid potentially fraudulent providers, and where to access vetted legal services. The comic book was written so that local resources, other state’s laws, and remedies for victims of fraud can be inserted easily, should the ILRC have the opportunity to expand the project beyond California.
To coincide with the release of the comic books, the ILRC coordinated a mass bus advertising campaign in San Francisco and eight other Bay Area counties. Each ad provides information in Chinese, English and Spanish on provider fraud, and contact information for trustworthy legal service and social service providers who can help people with their immigration questions. Every bus in the city of San Francisco carried these posters, as well as 1,600 buses in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma Counties.
The ILRC also conducts trainings and community meetings, attended by thousands of immigrants, to educate and empower immigrants on recognizing and fighting immigration provider fraud. Additionally, we undertake significant media work through press events and have held numerous press conferences on this issue already. They were held variously in English, Spanish, and Asian languages commonly spoken in the Bay Area, and warned the public of the dangers of immigration fraud. Since this project’s inception, we have provided expert testimony on an immigration fraud prosecution in the case of People v. Ramon Rodriguez in Sonoma County, which resulted in a conviction against a fraudulent immigration provider. We also provided expert testimony in the State Bar Court trial of an attorney, who resigned from the State Bar of California with fraud charges pending against him, and gave a presentation to State Bar attorneys and investigators on immigration law, the prevalence of fraud, and the most common forms of immigration provider fraud.
Opportunities to prevent immigration provider fraud
The ILRC is proud of the success of the project so far and very excited about the possibility of expanding it beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. We are looking for partner organizations to replicate the Anti-Fraud Comic Book and the bus ad campaign around the state of California. Our strategy is to roll out this program by engaging local community organizations and funding partners, with the goal of empowering and educating immigrant communities to support themselves and protect each other from the devastation of immigration provider fraud. Soon we hope to work with organizations and community groups from across the country to modify the comic books with legal information and regional resources specific to the areas our national partners serve.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in participating in this project, or if you have further questions about combating immigration provider fraud. Executive Director Eric Cohen is available at any time to discuss the campaign against immigration service provider fraud and the other programs of the ILRC. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org., or by telephone at (415) 255-9499 ext. 264. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
The Sun Magazine, in an issue focused on immigration (with a great interview with author Pramila Jayapal) has a nice section in which "Readers Write" about immigrants. The magazine also reprinted some great quotes from famous people about immigrants:
The comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, and then distaste, and finally hatred for the migrant people.
My whole family has been having trouble with immigrants ever since we came to this country.
Edgar Y. Harburg
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
There is no great difference in the reality of one country or another, because it is always people you meet everywhere. They may look different or be dressed differently, or may have a different education or position. But they are all the same. They are all people to be loved. They are all hungry for love.
The more I traveled, the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.
The liberals are saying that this guest-worker program . . . is really just a way to depress wages and create a permanent underclass of exploited labor. To which the president said, “And the problem is?”
American society is very like a fish society. . . . Among certain species of fish, the only thing which determines order of dominance is length of time in the fishbowl. The oldest resident picks on the newest resident, and if the newest resident is removed to a new bowl, he, as oldest resident, will pick on the newcomers.
The discrepancy between American ideals and American practice — between our aims and what we actually do — creates a moral dry rot which eats away at the foundations of our democratic faith.
Helen Gahagan Douglas
I’m in love with this country called “America.” I’m a huge fan of America. I’m one of those annoying fans — you know, the ones that read the cd notes and follow you into bathrooms and ask you all kinds of annoying questions about why you didn’t live up to that. I’m that kind of fan. I’ve read the Declaration of Independence, and I’ve read the Constitution of the United States, and they are some liner notes, dude.
The melting pot failed to function in one crucial area. Religions and nationalities, however different, generally learned to live together, even to grow together, in America. But color was something else. Reds were murdered like wild animals. Yellows were characterized as a peril and incarcerated en masse during World War ii for no really good reason by our most liberal president. Browns have been abused as the new slave labor on farms. The blacks, who did not come here willingly, are now, more than a century after emancipation by Lincoln, still suffering a host of slavelike inequalities.
Theodore M. Hesburgh
This problem with illegal immigration is nothing new. In fact, the Indians had a special name for it. They called it “white people.”
His foreparents came to America in immigrant ships. My foreparents came to America in slave ships. But whatever the original ships, we are both in the same boat tonight.
It is said that the quality of recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are now numbered among our best citizens.
Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
So at last I was going to America! Really, really going, at last! The boundaries burst. The arch of heaven soared. A million suns shone out of every star. The winds rushed into outer space, roaring in my ears, “America! America!”
Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes
"President-elect Barack Obama's top choice for secretary of homeland security is Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, multiple Democratic sources close to the transition told CNN on condition of anonymity." DHS handles much of the federal government's immigration responsibilities.
Here is the National Immigration Forum reaction:
"On November 19th, multiple news sources began reporting that President-elect Obama’s primary choice for secretary of Homeland Security is Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.
The choice of Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is a welcome signal that President-elect Obama intends to take immigration seriously during his administration. As a border governor, Napolitano has exhibited a clear understanding of the challenges presented by our nation’s broken immigration system. As DHS Secretary, she will be in a powerful position to advocate for reform of that system and to strike a balance between enforcement of our immigration laws and fairness in how the agency treats those in its charge. More importantly, Governor Napolitano will provide the clear leadership DHS sorely needs to regain the trust of the American people. As an agency with massive responsibility, the new leadership of DHS must balance many competing agendas. Based on her record in Arizona, we believe that Governor Napolitano is well suited to balancing DHS’s dual responsibilities of welcoming immigrants and enforcing our immigration laws."
Click here for more positive commentary on the possible Napolitano appointment.
Oral Arguments in Texas Supreme Court Over Propriety of Referring to Defendant in Civil Case as "Illegal Immigrant"
Here are the instructions to view the Texas Supreme Court October 16, 2008 oral arguments in TXI Transportation vs. Hughes, a case that raises some interesting issues related to immigration.
In the lower court, evidence that the defendant was an “illegal immigrant ” was admitted into evidence; the Supreme Court considered the issue of whether this was properly admitted and whether a Batson challenge to striking Latino juror was proper.
Select “archived webcasts”
Select 07-0541 TXI Transportation Co. v. Hughes (ENTER 070541)
We will let you know what the Texas Supreme Court decides.
The L.A. Times reports that "The city of Los Angeles would pay nearly $13 million to immigration protesters and bystanders injured by Los Angeles police officers during a melee at MacArthur Park [in May 2007], according to sources familiar with a tentative settlement reached by both sides. If approved, it would mark one of the largest payouts ever made to resolve LAPD misconduct. Further payouts are likely to journalists who also sued . . . ."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Bob Simon will expose the “Widow Penalty” to the nation this Sunday night , November 23rd on CBS' show 60 Minutes. America is deporting widows of American citizens without appeal when their spouse dies during bureaucratic processing of the green card application. Watch the trailer.