December 13, 2008
Church Groups Urge End to ICE Raids
Mary Nevans-Pederson, TH staff writer, reports:
POSTVILLE, Iowa -- Postville church leaders are calling on federal lawmakers, Iowa political leaders and the new administration to learn lessons from their traumatic experiences.
During a national telephone press conference Wednesday sponsored by Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Lutheran and Catholic figures, along with two Latino women who had been caught up in the raid, described how Postville has changed from a vibrant, multicultural community to a chaotic and fearful town following the massive May 12 immigration raid on a kosher meat-packing plant.
They described the social and economic devastation to their town.
"We've called on Congress to send a bipartisan group here, but they need to come quickly," as many of the affected immigrant workers and their families are leaving the area, said the Rev. Steve Brackett, pastor of Postville's St. Paul Lutheran Church.
"Postville is an incredible example of the aftermath and effects" of the irreparable damage an immigration raid can do to a town, he said. The U.S. senators from Iowa, Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, should visit Postville to find out firsthand what has happened there, he said, promising that "We will not yell or scream at them."
The Rev. David Vasquez was less charitable about the federal actions. The Luther College campus pastor called Postville "the whipping boy" of the government's "misguided immigration policies," with a raid set up to serve as an example to other industries that employ immigrants.
The group called for an end to "military-type raids" and for formal humanitarian relief for the families left jobless after the raid, which removed nearly 400 workers from the Agriprocessors plant. The plant closed for a time and is now operating at limited capacity.
"We are drained and worn out. There are no (non-governmental organizations) to help in rural communities. There are only the churches," which have been overwhelmed with requests for help since the raid, said Vasquez, a native of Guatemala.
Postville's churches -- Catholic, Lutheran and Presbyterian -- still are supporting hundreds of affected workers, including a handful of Jewish families who also have received aid from Jewish congregations around the country. Several fledgling evangelical churches closed after the raid because their members left town.
The clerics cited biblical references that mandate kindness and support toward immigrants.
"You shall love the stranger as yourself," quoted Brackett from Leviticus.
Colorado Judge Questions Search Warrants
Sharon Dunn writes for the Tribune:
A Weld District Court judge is questioning the legality of search warrants issued in the cases against 1,300 suspected undocumented immigrants using fake identification.
Weld District Court Judge James Hartmann this week put a halt to further arrests in Operation Number Games — if the arrests are based on information found in the suspects’ federal tax returns — and he demanded some explanations before proceeding with the cases.
The operation targets more than 1,300 people suspected of gaining tax returns with false or stolen identities.
Authorities have so far arrested 37 people who filed tax returns with Amalia’s Tax Service, 1501 9th St., in Greeley. Last month, authorities seized two years worth of federally approved tax returns from the tax preparer’s office, claiming that the suspects gained as much as $2.7 million combined in tax returns based on false Social Security numbers. Suspects have been charged with identity theft, criminal impersonation or both.
In a court order in one of the cases, Hartmann ordered District Attorney Ken Buck to provide more information on the arrest warrants and provide a “memorandum of legal authority” detailing how the court would have jurisdiction in a matter involving federal tax returns.
“Federal tax return information in the possession of a tax preparer falls within the confidentiality mandates of the federal statute,” Hartmann wrote. “It appears to this court that the prosecution of this defendant, as well as numerous other persons now charged with state criminal offenses ... as part of the investigation referred to by law enforcement as ‘Operation Numbers Game’ is based almost
exclusively on information contained in the federal tax returns seized during the search of Amalia’s.”
Click here for the rest of the story.
December 12, 2008
Ventura County ICE Protest
Many people don't like have ICE detention centers in their backyards. Charles Ellis of the Ventura County Star rights about a protest in Camarillo, California:
Leaders of local business and community groups called for immigration reform Wednesday in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Camarillo.
Supporters held signs as speakers called for a moratorium on deportations and for respect for immigrants' rights next to a barbed-wire fence surrounding several white ICE vans near the Camarillo Airport.
"They separate working families, do nothing to protect us from terrorists and undermine the economy," said Maricela Morales, associate executive director of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, a co-sponsor of the protest.
The date was chosen to coincide with the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, 1948.
"It's hard to believe there is a detention center here in Camarillo," said Ana Cristina Flores, a Central Coast Alliance supporter from Oxnard. "You see all the fields, and the people working on them are being detained right across the street." Click here for the rest of the story.
AILA Opposes DNA Collection from Immigrant Detainees
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has expressed grave concern about the issuance of a Department of Justice final rule, effective January 9, 2009, that will have serious implications for people who are detained on possible immigration violations by forcing them to submit their DNA to federal officials. Charles H. Kuck, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Associated stated, "The stunning overreach of this new rule raises serious constitutional and privacy concerns. It casts civilly detained immigrants as criminals, requiring them to submit to DNA testing even in cases where there is no suggestion of any criminal violation." Recent high-profile cases of U.S. citizens mistakenly detained by immigration authorities highlight the likelihood that individuals who are lawfully present in the U.S. with no criminal history will be subjected under this new rule to DNA testing without their consent. Kuck noted that "this rule is overbroad and continues the Administration's unwarranted and counterproductive trend of treating civil immigration detainees like convicted criminals."
December 11, 2008
California Court of Appeals: Day Laborer Hiring Center Does not Violate Federal Law
The California court of appeals has held that Laguna Beach, California's funding of a day labor hiring center does not violate federal immigration law, because the city is not responsible for the actions of the grantee operating the site, and because the center’s services do not rise to the level of “encouraging” undocumented workers to reside in the U.S. See Garcia v. Dicterow, 2008 WL 5050358 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. Nov. 26, 2008) (No. G039824).
Midnight Changes to H-2A Guestworker Program
New Farmworker Rules Will Deteriorate Conditions Even Further
From the Immigration Policy Center:
Midnight Changes to H-2A Guestworker Program Hurt All Workers
Washington D.C.-The Bush Administration has finalized and is about to publish yet another set of last minute far-reaching regulations, this time dealing with the H-2A guestworker program. Farmwork is already among the most poorly-paid and most dangerous of all work in the U.S. While the H-2A program does currently provide some wage guarantees and protections for foreign workers, the new rules will allow growers to replace U.S. farmworkers with "cheaper" guestworkers. For years there have been attempts to improve the conditions of farmworkers. However, the new rules would set the bar even lower -- by dropping requirements that growers recruit U.S. workers, lowering wage rates, reducing requirements that employers provide housing, and eliminating government oversight -- harming both U.S. and foreign farmworkers.
"Harsh, harmful and hasty. The Grinch has come early this year as the Bush Administration snatches the most meager of protections from the most vulnerable of workers. Such a plan is not immigration reform or economic stimulus. These actions will weaken labor and living standards of workers already doing some of the hardest and most important work-putting food on our tables" said Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "The Administration should not move forward with these rules and instead signal support for the passage of effective comprehensive immigration reform that improves wages and working conditions for all workers early in the 111th Congress."
Given the current state of our economy and immigration system, we must look for ways to help workers and lift standards for all and these rules will do just the opposite. We need comprehensive, fair and workable solutions to our immigration system and economic situation, not piecemeal, midnight decisions that harm workers.
For more information on the issue visit Farmworker Justice online and read their report Litany of Abuses.
Attorney General Mukasey Appoints David Neal as Vice Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals
Attorney General Mukasey has announced the appointment of David L. Neal as Vice Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals effective January 5, 2009. Neal was appointed as Chief Immigration Judge in March 2007 after serving as acting Chief Immigration Judge. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 from Wabash College, a master’s degree in 1984 from Harvard Divinity School and a juris doctorate in 1989 from Columbia Law School. Prior to his serving in various capacities within the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Neal practiced immigration law in Los Angeles and also served as the director of policy analysis for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Complaint filed for ICE brutality
Advocates for immigrants here demanded an investigation Tuesday into a series of federal immigration raids last month that they said left at least six Guatemalan men bloodied and bruised in a roundup of nearly 100 people. For the full story, click here.
Another Local Employer Sanctions Law Passed
The Albertville City Council (Alabama) passed a resolution Monday targeting contractors who employ “unauthorized aliens.” Albertville’s version requires contractors and suppliers with three or more employees to certify that they and their subcontractors use E-Verify to ensure no unauthorized immigrants are used in providing services to the city. It applies to contracts of $100,000 or more, although Lyons wants to reduce that figure to $50,000. Contractors have to sign statements of verification to submit with bid packages, and the city will reject packages without the signed statements. If unauthorized workers are not fired when discovered, then contracts may be terminated pending the outcome of a hearing. For the full story, click here.
Headline Says it All: "Cleaning Firm Used Illegal Workers at Chertoff Home"
We have often seen how immigration is a world filled with contradictions. The headline indeed says it all in connection with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. DHS, of course, is entrusted with immigration enforcement. To read the Washington Post story, click here.
UPDATE: I received this e-mail message after the posting earlier today:
"The Department of Homeland Security saw that you were covering today’s Washington Post story about Secretary Chertoff's employment of a cleaning service that hired illegal immigrants. The DHS Press Office would appreciate it if you would consider including the response of DHS spokesman Russ Knocke in your coverage:
`Every contractor in the United States has the responsibility of ensuring their workers are legal. As customers, the Chertoffs obtained assurances from Mr. Reid that any personnel he dispatched to their home were authorized to work in the United States.
As soon as the Chertoffs learned that Mr. Reid deceived them by employing some unauthorized workers, they fired him. Further, Secretary Chertoff recused himself from any involvement in immigration enforcement actions that could follow.
The United States Secret Service maintains a round the clock security presence at the residences of protectees, and screens individuals who enter a residence or have business to conduct on the property.
This matter illustrates the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and the importance of effective tools for companies to determine the lawful status of their workforce.
More 91,000 employers have enrolled in E-verify, and there were more than 6.6 million workers checked last year. E-verify is free, fast and available online for employers. It is unfortunate that Mr. Reid did not acknowledge his own personal responsibility and check the eligibility of his work force.'"
MALDEF CALLS FOR NATIONAL ACTION IN WAKE OF KILLING OF THIRD LATINO VICTIM OF A HATE CRIME IN FIVE MONTHS
As we have reported, hate crimes against Latinos are at record levels. Today, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President & General Counsel John Trasviña called upon leaders across all communities to unite and speak out against hate violence:
“We mourn and are outraged by the murder in Brooklyn, New York of Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay, whose life was violently taken by a group of people, and whose crime, according to witnesses, was motivated by hate-filled bigotry. Only one month ago, 37-year old Marcello Lucero was ferociously beaten and fatally stabbed in Long Island, New York by a group of teenagers who hunted him down simply for being Latino. In July, 25-year old Luis Ramirez lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating. We extend our sympathies to their families and loved ones. In the past several years, hate crimes against Latinos have risen 40 percent. This is a national epidemic whose growth is spurred each day by hate speech and anti-immigrant sentiment expressed on cable shows, local radio shows and across the airwaves. National legislation, such as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, must be a top priority for Congress and the new Administration, but it is not sufficient to reach the hate that threatens to pervade local communities. This drastic rise of hate crimes against Latinos, not coincidentally, has occurred during the same years in which there has been an explosive rebirth of extremist anti-immigrant rhetoric and measures. The serious topic of immigration has been contaminated by hatred and racism, and has created a toxic climate which fosters and condones violence and civil rights violations motivated by bigotry. In seeking to enact unconstitutional anti-immigrant ordinances, irresponsible elected officials spew inflammatory rhetoric that depicts undocumented immigrants as parasites and the root cause of the nation’s fallen economy. Television and radio personalities spread misinformation and stereotypes that criminalize and dehumanize Latino immigrants. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups are using this anti-immigrant wave to promote their racist groups and promote violent acts against Latinos. Collectively, the messages and norms they seek to establish are that immigrants are less human and less worthy, and do not merit basic human rights protections our Constitution demands. These messages have begun to infect too many Americans, and they are being manifested through violence. Unfortunately, our elected leaders have failed to recognize and condemn this national crisis, the media has largely remained silent, and families have not acted to protect their children from being infected from this hatred. As proven by this year’s historic election, the great majority of Americans have defeated artificial barriers of racism and ushered us into a new era. After over a century of struggle for freedom and democracy irrespective of race, Americans have abolished the disease of racial hatred; however, a virus continues to linger with some, and we must not allow it to proliferate. There are those that may believe that racism and xenophobia will always exist, but it must not exist in our country, in our democratic institutions, in our schools, and in our homes. We must be ever-vigilant, and stamp it out where we see it. MALDEF calls upon our national representatives, faith leaders, educators, and parents to stand up and take immediate action against this national wave of hatred. We again call on Congress and the next President to fix our broken, archaic immigration system to establish national immigration priorities, including community integration that serves the nation’s interests, allows newcomers to work with legal status and protections against exploitation, and safeguards the nation’s communities. Local and federal authorities must prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent under law. Local officials and media personalities must take responsibility for the consequences of their extremist rhetoric and should spread messages of respect and tolerance. Most importantly, we call on all Americans to unite against this wave of hatred and defeat the hate and violence. It is unacceptable and we must stop it now.”
December 10, 2008
Indiana Law Journal Symposium: Latinos and Latinas at the Epicenter of Contemporary Legal Discourses
Readers of this blog might find this symposium of interest: Latinos and Latinas at the Epicenter of Contemporary Legal Discourses. Foreword by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic; articles by Keith Aoki, Kevin R. Johnson, Margaret E. Montoya, Francisco Valdes, Ediberto Roman, Christopher B. Carbot, Claudio Grossman, Berta Esperanza Hernandez-Truyol, Christiana Ochoa, Mary Romero, Michael A. Olivas, Cristina M. Rodriguez, Sylvia R. Lazos Vargas, Angel R. Oquendo, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer and M. Isabel Medina. 83 Ind. L.J. 1141-1588 (2008).
A number of the articles touch on immigration and related matters. The issue makes for interesting reading!
Immigration Controversy on Facebook
An immigration controversy has erupted on Facebook. Click the link to "Take Nativist Peter Thiel Off Facebook's Board of Directors. Here is a post raising the issue:
"Valleywag is reporting that Peter Thiel, who sits on Facebook's Board of Directors and is one of Facebook's biggest investors, donated $1 million to the anti-migrant group, NumbersUSA.
Will Economy Undo Reform Efforts?
Kevin Johnson reported earlier on the effects of the economy on migration. Tyche Hendricks of the San Francisco Chronicle writes on the effect of the economy on the prospects for reform:
The nation's economic crisis could make it tough for President-elect Barack Obama to deliver on his pledge to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, some analysts predict.
With unemployment rising, foreign workers are less welcome, say immigration restrictionists, who have vowed to oppose offering legal status to the nation's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.
But as the presidential transition goes into high gear, Democratic political insiders still believe that immigration reform has a good chance. Until a comprehensive bill is introduced in Congress, Obama's pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, will play a key role in refocusing the way the government handles immigration.
"Clearly the economy is job No. 1 for the new administration," said Frank Sharry, director of America's Voice, a pro-immigration advocacy group. "But we fully expect that by the end of year one, that they're going to take a hard run at immigration reform."
The weak economy - the unemployment rate reached 6.7 percent in November, its highest level in 15 years - combined with increased immigration enforcement, appears to be discouraging illegal immigrants from entering the country and impelling others to head home. Demographer Jeff Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center recently estimated that 11.9 million illegal immigrants are living in the United States now, down from an estimated 12.4 million a year earlier. The U.S. Border Patrol reported making 700,000 arrests over the past year, down from 1.1 million two years prior. Click here for the rest of the story.
The Effects of the Tottering U.S. Economy on (Labor) Migration
USA Today reports on how the U.S. economy's downturn is leading to the return of some immigrants to Mexico. Once again, we see that the migration we generally see in North America primarily is a labor migration, migration for jobs and economic opportunity.
ICE Targets Sex Trafficking Ring in Raid, Arrests Dozens of Immigrants Not Involved in Trafficking
AP reports that immigrants rights advocates are protesting the arrests of dozens of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants in raids in South Florida that allegedly targeted a sex trafficking ring. The problem: most of thse arrested are not accussed of trafficking. The explanation from ICE: ICE agents "must ensure a secure environment" when executing criminal search warrants.
For the NY Times report, click here.
December 9, 2008
U.S. Resumes Deportations to Haiti: Inhumane? Racist?
Haiti is still recovering from back-to-back storms that heaped wide scale devastation. Hurricanes left at least 800 people dead, tens of thousands homeless, and caused about $1 billion in damages. ''The decision to resume deportations to Haiti shocks the conscience,'' said Randolph McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami. ``Deportations at this time are simply inhumane, sending people to conditions of famine and disease. The change in policy is unwarranted by reports on the ground which confirm that the humanitarian crisis in Haiti continues and worsens.'' McGrorty added: ``It is incomprehensibly counter-productive to the U.S. government's objective of avoiding mass migration, and so cruel and misguided that I cannot explain it by any other way than to condemn the policy as racist.''
Guatemala Village Bustles with Deportees
For years, the only people in this valley were those too old or too young to make the trip to the United States. Now the village bustles again with deported workers.
The reason is a raid that happened nearly two years ago and 3,000 miles away in New Bedford, Massachuseets. For the full story, click here.
Federal Court Reviews Scholar Visa Denial
A federal court ruled that it has the power to review whether the Bush administration has a valid reason for denying a visa to respected South African scholar Adam Habib. The decision comes in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Massachusetts challenging the State Department's refusal to grant Professor Habib a visa based on unsubstantiated national security claims. Habib remains banned from the country and unable to attend speaking engagements in the United States.
Interim Final Rule for Adjustment of Status for T and U Visas
"The Department of Homeland Security is amending its regulations to permit aliens in lawful T or U nonimmigrant status to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. T nonimmigrant status is available to aliens who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who are assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking. U nonimmigrant status is available to aliens who are victims of certain crimes and are being helpful to the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. This rule provides that family members of a principal T or U nonimmigrant granted or seeking adjustment of status may also apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. This rule also provides for adjustment of status or approval of an immigrant petition for certain family members of U applicants who were never admitted to the United States in U nonimmigrant status." ra
"The Department of Homeland Security is amending its regulations to permit aliens in lawful T or U nonimmigrant status to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. T nonimmigrant status is available to aliens who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who are assisting law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the acts of trafficking. U nonimmigrant status is available to aliens who are victims of certain crimes and are being helpful to the investigation or prosecution of those crimes. This rule provides that family members of a principal T or U nonimmigrant granted or seeking adjustment of status may also apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident. This rule also provides for adjustment of status or approval of an immigrant petition for certain family members of U applicants who were never admitted to the United States in U nonimmigrant status."