Saturday, December 20, 2008

Immigrant of the Day: Maila Nurmi (a/k/a Vampira) (Finland)

250pxplannine_07_2 We hope that our Immigrant of the Day does not offend celebrating the holiday season.  Maila Nurmi (1922–2008) was an actress who created the campy 1950s character Vampira.

Maila Nurmi moved to the United States with her family at the age of 2 and grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio. Arriving in Los Angeles at age 17, she modeled and appeared in an uncredited role in a film. In the 1950s she supported herself mainly by posing for pin-up photos in men's magazines. Immediately before landing her signature role as Vampira, Nurmi was working as a hat-check girl in a cloakroom on the Sunset Strip.

The idea for the Vampira character was born in 1953 when Nurmi attended a masquerade party in a costume inspired by a character in The New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams. Her appearance with pale white skin and tight black dress caught the attention of television producer Hunt Stromberg, Jr.. The name Vampira was the invention of Nurmi's husband, Dean Riesner. On April 30, 1954, KABC-TV aired a preview, Dig Me Later, Vampira, at 11:00 p.m. The Vampira Show premiered on the following night, May 1, 1954.  Each show opened with Vampira gliding down a dark corridor flooded with dry-ice fog. At the end of her trance-like walk, the camera zoomed in on her face as she let out a piercing scream. She would then introduce (and mock) that evening's film while reclining on a skull-encrusted Victorian couch. The show was an immediate hit.  When the series was cancelled in 1955, she retained rights to the character of Vampira and took the show to a competing Los Angeles television station, KHJ-TV.

Nominated for an Emmy Award as "Most Outstanding Female Personality" in 1954, Nurmi returned to films. Her most notable film appearance was in Ed Wood's camp classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space, as a Vampira-like zombie. In 1960 she appeared in I Passed for White and Sex Kittens Go to College.

In the early 1950s, she was close friends with James Dean, and they hung out together at Googie's coffee shop on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

On January 10, 2008, Nurmi died of natural causes at her home in Hollywood, aged 85. For a tribute video, click here.


December 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Caroline Kennedy on Immigration

165pxcaroline_kennedy The N.Y. Times has a story today about Caroline Kennedy, a possible replacement for U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, and her "platform."  According to the Times, Kennedy on immigration "hews closely to the path promoted by her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, backing a so-called path to citizenship for the undocumented. 'Caroline believes all undocumented workers should be required to legalize their presence in the United States and that we must create a way for them to do so,' according to her statement. `Undocumented workers should pay a fine, learn English and go to the back of the line behind those who came here legally.'”


December 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Human Right Complaint v. U.S. by PRLDEF

The civil rights legal advocacy group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, filed an unusual international petition Thursday accusing the United States of failing to adequately protect Latinos living within its borders, regardless of citizenship.

Full article in the NY Times here:


December 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

In Democracy's Shadow: Fences, Raids and the Production of Migrant Illegality

Here is a new and interesting immigration article from the Social Science Research Network (

Wisconsin_profile_pic In Democracy's Shadow: Fences, Raids and the Production of Migrant Illegality  by Daniel Ibsen Morales (see profile, University of Wisconsin Law School), forthcoming Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Forthcoming Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1068

Abstract:  Why is the United States building a border fence and raiding workplaces? How has it come to harbor 12 million people without legal status? This article proposes that we can understand these phenomena as the product of a legal culture which privileges the desires and perspective of the demos over nearly every other value. Accordingly, government is structured so that it approaches immigration in a way that flatters this democratic epistemology, instead of a judicious, effective and humane policy perspective. Put into practice, the current emphasis means that immigration regulation is an exercise in symbolic action. We see the effects of this majoritarian architecture in the construction of the border fence, which the Congressional Research Service has acknowledged does little to control illegal immigration, but succeeds in increasing the rate of migrant border deaths. Nevertheless, the fence prevails as policy because it confirms and assuages the polity's fear of racial invasion; that it does little to prevent undocumented migration is irrelevant. The article also considers how the United States engages in these kinds of actions and still maintains its outward image as liberty enlightening the world. Part II illustrates how the adoption of antidiscrimination provisions in immigration law were intended to preserve this enlightenment image, but had the practical effect of facilitating the employment of unauthorized migrants, leading the polity to demand visible action, which in turn produced stigmatizing employer raids. Finally, the article explores the way in which courts maintain the narrative of the United States as an open-armed refuge, while managing the radical potential of the Fourteenth Amendment's birthright citizenship provision. All these political and legal forces combine, then, to produce the 12 million stigmatized illegal migrants who live in democracy's shadow.


December 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2008

San Francisco Airport Jobs Campaign

A message from the Asian Law Caucus:

SAN FRANCISCO (December 18, 2008) - The Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA) have joined forces on a campaign launched by the ALC to save immigrant jobs and businesses at San Francisco International Airport.

The San Francisco Airport Commission is considering an administrative plan to terminate the existing 11 existing door- to-door service permits and to authorize issuance of requests for proposals (RFPs) for 4 on-demand shared-ride service agreements for service between San Francisco International Airport and the Five Bay Area Counties.

Existing door-to-door service permit holders transport thousands of travelers to and from SFO every day. The proposal before the Airport Commission is to have 2 companies serving all of San Francisco and 2 companies servicing the South and East Bay.

Approval of the proposal will result in the loss of over 300 mostly immigrant jobs.

Small, locally-owned companies that do not fit within the requirements of the proposal will have to shut down. Their drivers, mechanics, and administrative staff, many of them South Asian, will be out of work.

"ALC is already concerned about harmful labor issues alleged against bigger businesses in this market," said Veena Dubal, Asian Law Caucus staff attorney. "Eliminating the small, locally-owned companies, as the current proposal will surely do, will only serve to reward the bigger businesses for engaging in cut-throat business practices that demean their employees while maximizing their own profits."

ALC and SABA are further concerned about the negative consequences to the thousands of customers who use shared-ride services everyday if the Airport Commission adopts the proposed administrative plan.

"The loss of these small, locally-owned companies will negatively affect customer service and result in less competitive pricing for customers traveling to and from SFO," said Khurshid Khoja, President of the South Asian Bar Association. "Curtailing competition in this presently vibrant market will only serve to harm the interests of the consumer."

The ALC has published a position paper related to the situation. It can be viewed online here.

The ALC and SABA have come together to urge the community to send e-mails to Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Airport Commissioners urging the Airport Commissioners to vote against the proposed administrative plan to squeeze out many of the immigrant-owned and immigrant-employing shared-van services at SFO.

Details on how to join and help the campaign can be found here.

Added Dubal, "Given that we are in the middle of a recession of historic proportion, this plan, if executed, will be devastating for these 300 workers and their families. We urge the Airport Commission to revise their current plan."

Veena Dubal, (415) 848-7743/
Debbie Sheen, (415) 848-7727/


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US-Visit Program Expanded

Millions of green card holders will be fingerprinted and photographed every time they enter the United States as part of an expansion of a controversial biometric program, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Thursday. The expansion of the US-VISIT program to permanent residents--also known as green card holders--takes effect on January 18, 2009. At the moment, the program's biometric requirements apply to foreign citizens with a non-immigrant visa or those traveling as part of the so-called Visa Waiver program. Click here for the full story.


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Calfiornia's Population hits 38 million

Even in the face of a worrying recession, California's population topped 38 million this year for the first time, as Bay Area counties like Santa Clara continued to gain significant numbers of new residents. The top two reasons, say state demographers: Babies and immigrants. For the full story, click here.


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Everybody has Advice for President-elect Obama on Immigration

160pxobamabarack It seems that lots of folks have immigration advice for the incoming President.  The good news is that there is some hope that some policy changes will be made; not many had much hope of immigration change by the end of the Bush years  .  Here is a sampling of the advice for the new Obama administration:

ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project:  The ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project website includes a section calling on the President Elect to Close Guantanamo at

ABA Commission on Immigration:  The ABA website contains a "Letter to the Next President" with recommendations on topics including immigration at

American Immigration Lawyers Foundation:  The American Immigration Lawyers Foundation website provides an analysis of the "New Electoral Landscape and What it Means for Immigration Reform" at

Casa de Maryland:  Casa de Maryland's website includes information about its meeting with the Obama transition team to discuss immigration reform at

Human Rights First:  The Human Rights First website provides recommendations on repairing the asylum system at\


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

ICE 2008 Statistics

The Department of Homeland Security on Thrusday released a fact sheet of “End of Year Accomplisments.” It includes:

— Customs and Border Protection (CBP) increased the size of its work force last year from 46,473 to 51,533 by adding officers, agents and agriculture specialists.

— CBP has doubled the size of the Border Patrol from about 9,000 in 2001 to more than 18,000 as of Nov. 21, 2008.

— CBP has constructed more than 520 miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the Southern Border, including about 93 miles in Fiscal Year 2008. The agency is building toward a total of roughly 670 miles of fencing.

— Since January 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) removed or returned more than 323,000 illegal immigrants from the United States, about a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

— ICE dramatically increased penalties against employers whose hiring processes violate the law, securing fines and judgments totaling in the millions, as well as jail time for the most egregious offenders.

For the full press release, press here.


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Integration of Immigrants in U.S. Society

There has been much talk about “comprehensive” immigration reform in recent years, with considerable debate about its various terms. A related question that deserves discussion has been virtually ignored, that is, the all-important issue of integration of immigrants into American society.

Some restrictionists claim that today’s immigrants “fail to assimilate” and therefore immigration should be dramatically limited. In my estimation, that policy outcome for many reasons is not realistic. But even so, it is not the only policy alternative to the perceived problem. Rather, we as a society can do better to promote and foster the integration of immigrants into American social life. In the 1990s, the blue ribbon U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform headed by the late Congressperson Barbara Jordan focused on the question and offered various proposals to promote the “Americanization” of immigrants. We as a society need to revisit this issue and consider concrete policy steps that would better integrate immigrants into U.S. social life. The truth of the matter that, whatever reform of the immigration laws that we have, we will need to promote integration because we still will have immigrants. We might consider promoting naturalization, English language acquisition (by, for example, providing funding for ESL classes, which are overenrolled across the United States), education (through the DREAM Act and other measures).

In this vein, the Task Force on New Americans has "Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty-First Century" (Dec. 2008).  Download m7081.pdf This hopefully will be the beginning of a national discussion of the issue.

UPDATE: Immigrationprof reader Robert Gittleson wrote on the topic of assimilation of immigrants after comprehensive immigration reform failed in 2007.  The provocative article, “Xochilt’s Tacos: A Metaphorical First Step Towards Healing the Emerging Racial Rift In Modern American Society” is well worth reading.


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Breaking News: Rep. Hilda Solis to Head Department of Labor

160pxhilda_solis Today, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) is President-elect Obama’s pick to head the Department of Labor.

The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington.

"Rep. Hilda Solis has been a key leader for immigrants, workers, and comprehensive immigration reform throughout her career and we eagerly welcome the good news that she has been selected as the next Secretary of Labor. Joining Gov. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Gov. Bill Richardson at the Department of Commerce, and other key nominees, Rep. Solis is joining a strong team that can work with Congress on behalf of the President to deliver real reform for the American people on the issue of immigration. In this time of economic insecurity, it is more important than ever that we have stability in our labor market and the conditions by which workers – immigrant and native-born alike – can stand together to win better wages and better jobs. Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform is a key ingredient in defending and extending workers’ rights. In nominating a leader as skilled and dedicated as Rep. Solis to this important office, President-elect Obama is sending the clear signal that American workers, regardless of their country of birth, are a valued part of America’s future and a top priority for his Administration."


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Detention and International Migrants Day

As Kevin Johnson noted earlier, today is International Migrants Day. Here's a related message from Breakthrough.TV

Today, on December 18th, as we mark International Migrants Day, let us remember the thousands of people in the U.S. languishing in immigrant detention suffering from bad conditions and no due process. These issues have been documented most recently in the ACLU report:"Detention and Deportation in the Age of ICE."

Experience these conditions first hand in our 3D-interactive project - End Homeland Guantanamos.

Let's take this opportunity to ask President elect Obama to restore due process and human rights in immigration policy.  When we let the government deny due process and human rights to some, all of our freedoms are at risk.

The Breakthrough Team


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Delays in Naturalization Prevented Voting

AP reports that  a court prevented nearly 2,000 people from taking the oath of U.S. citizenship in time to register to vote in the November elections, a report released Wednesday said. A study by the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (for the DHS press release on the report and a link to the report, click here) contends that the court refused to schedule additional swearing-in ceremonies to accommodate the large number of naturalization petitioners. Consequently, nearly 2000 people did not receive the oath in time to register to vote.


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Migrants Day 18 December

Statue_of_liberty_01 On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93). On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (resolution 45/158). Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are invited to observe International Migrants Day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, and through the sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure their protection. A/RES/377(V)  For links to these resolutions, click here.

For the third consecutive year Radio 18-12 has organized a global radio marathon with support of UNESCO and other sponsors on the occasion of International Migrants Day. Radio broadcasters from over the world have been invited to produce, broadcast and share programmes to celebrate achievements of migration and to ask attention for a proper treatment of migrants. The international community has chosen 18 December as International Migrants Day to highlight their contribution to the development of the host countries and their homelands, to promote their rights and to ensure that their opinions are heard. The first edition of the radio marathon was organized in 2006 by Radio 18-12. Over 50 radio stations participated in the event broadcasting in more than 25 countries. This year more than 113 radio stations in 38 countries participate, emphasizing the important contribution of migrants to society. For more information, see the website of Radio1812:


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Multimillionaire Calls for a "New" ICE

We previously reported about Robert Hildreth, a self-made multimillionaire who built his fortune trading in Latin American bonds, posted bail out of his own pocket after seeing what he considered to be "un-American" images on TV of shackled workers being deported after immigration raids in New Bedford Massachusetts.  Hildreth called the Greater Boston Legal Services and told them to contact him if they needed help posting bonds for undocumented workers.  He also helped establish the National Immigrant Bond Fund to help immigrants bond out of detention.

Hildreth in an op/ed in the Houston Chronicle writes in "ICE wasting time, money in sweeps of workplaces" that "I have spent the past year chasing Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) around the country. Every time ICE raided a factory to arrest undocumented workers, the National Immigrant Bond Fund I represent showed up to bail them out so that they could get their day in court. The cat-and-mouse game taught me a lot about ICE, lessons that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, the nominee to head Homeland Security, which includes ICE, should consider as she takes responsibility for our immigration laws." Click the link above and read on.

Hildreth has been nominated as Bostonian of the Year.

For additional commentary along the lines outlined by Hildreth, click here

December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shoot Out in the Wild West? Border Patrol Uses Armored Vehicle, Huey Helicopter To Help Quell West Texas Immigration Jail Uprising

AP reports that an uprising at a privately run detention facility in Pecos, Texas ended last Friday after the release of two hostages. Detainees, including immigrant detainees, took two employees hostage when a disturbance erupted. "Texas Trooper John Barton told the Pecos Enterprise that the inmates, who include immigration detainees, were asking for better medical treatment."

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release reports that

"Border Patrol agents from Marfa, Texas Friday responded to a request for assistance at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas. An uprising of prisoners was underway at the prison that had escalated to the level of a riot. Approximately 30 Marfa Sector Border Patrol Agents responded and provided perimeter security to aid in the prevention of prisoner escapes from the facility and to end the situation peaceably after approximately 17 hours. . . . An armored vehicle was deployed for the first time in anticipation of hostage rescue or evacuation of injured personnel. Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine responded with a Huey helicopter to support the Border Patrol as well as other local, state and federal agencies."


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Federal judges delay naturalizations

Federal judges in some parts of the United States are delaying the swearing-in of new citizens, apparently so that courts can keep millions of dollars in naturalization fees paid by immigrants, according to a new government report and immigration analysts.

In one of the nation's busiest courts, a judge's delay caused nearly 2,000 people to not receive the oath in time to register for November's general election, according to the ombudsman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Michael Dougherty, in a 13-page report posted on his office's internet site yesterday. For the full story in the Washington Post, click here.


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

AILA disapproves of BIA Appointments

"The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is very concerned by yesterday's announcement from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the immigration administrative court system, of five new appointees to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). "All the new members, except for one, have solely government experience and none has experience in private immigration practice. Most of these people have served only on the 'prosecution' side during their time in government," said Charles H. Kuck, President of the AILA."  Click here for the full press release.


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ImmigrationProf Hits 500,000 Mark!

The ImmigrationProf blog yesterday received hit number 500,000!  We have been in operation since September 2005.  Thanks to our readers for your support, comments, and referrals of news, stories, etc.


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

The Immigration Policy Center on Arpaio

Just after Christmas, Fox Television will debut their new reality television show "America's Toughest Sheriff" starring none other than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Criticisms are mounting of Sheriff Joe's tactics including a recently released report by the conservative Goldwater Institute entitled "Mission Unaccomplished" which provides a stinging critique of Arpaio's department. Additional voices include the Mesa police chief and Mayor of Phoenix who asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. There are also 2,700 lawsuits pending against Arpaio and a new video, by America's Voice, detailing his record along with a petition to the DOJ urging an investigation.

The Immigration Policy Center has prepared the following fact sheet to provide context into Sheriff Joe Arpaio's record and how he transformed his local law enforcement office into an immigration enforcement agency at the peril of his community. We are also providing additional links that highlight Sheriff Joe's record.


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)