Saturday, April 4, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal archives:
One myth currently popular on the political right is that the immigration debate pits populist conservatives in the Ronald Reagan mold against Big Business "elites" who've hijacked the Republican Party. It's closer to the truth to say that what's really being hijacked here is the Gipper's reputation.
This view was apparent in Reagan's public statements well before he became President. In one of his radio addresses, in November 1977, he wondered about what he called "the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion, or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do? One thing is certain in this hungry world: No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters." As a Californian, Reagan understood the role of immigrant labor in agriculture.
"Some months before I declared, I asked for a meeting and crossed the border to meet with the president of Mexico. I did not go with a plan. I went, as I said in my announcement address, to ask him his ideas -- how we could make the border something other than a locale for a nine-foot fence." So much for those conservatives who think the Gipper would have endorsed a 2,000-mile Tom Tancredo-Pat Buchanan wall.
It's true that in November 1986 Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which included more money for border police and employer sanctions. The Gipper was a practical politician who bowed that year to one of the periodic anti-immigration uprisings from the GOP's nativist wing. But even as he signed that bill, he also insisted on a provision for legalizing immigrants already in the U.S. -- that is, he supported "amnesty."
In his signing statement, Reagan declared that "We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society.”
The current immigration political panic is not unlike many in America's past, including a couple while Reagan was in public life. He always avoided the temptation to join them, no doubt realizing that they were short-sighted politically, and, more important, inconsistent with his vision of America as the last best hope of mankind. Click here for the full piece.
From David Bacon, at truthout.org:
In a little over a month, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people will fill the streets in city after city, town after town, across the US. This year these May Day marches of immigrant workers will make an important demand on the Obama administration: End the draconian enforcement policies of the Bush administration. Establish a new immigration policy based on human rights and recognition of the crucial economic and social contributions of immigrants to US society.
This year's marches will continue the recovery in the US of the celebration of May Day, recognized in the rest of the world as the day recognizing the contributions and achievements of working people. That recovery started on Monday, May 1, 2006, when over a million people filled the streets of Los Angeles, with hundreds of thousands more in Chicago, New York and cities and towns throughout the United States. Again on May Day in 2007 and 2008, immigrants and their supporters demonstrated and marched, from coast to coast.
One sign found in almost every march said it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!" Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building or picking grapes. The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here.
The protests have seemed spontaneous, but they come as a result of years of organizing, educating and agitating - activities that have given immigrants confidence, and at least some organizations the credibility needed to mobilize direct mass action. This movement is the legacy of Bert Corona, immigrant rights pioneer and founder of many national Latino organizations. He trained thousands of immigrant activists, taught the value of political independence, and believed that immigrants themselves must conduct the fight for immigrant rights. Most of the leaders of the radical wing of today's immigrant rights movement were students or disciples of Corona.
Immigrants, however, feel their backs are against the wall, and they came out of their homes and workplaces to show it. In part, their protests respond to a wave of draconian proposals to criminalize immigration status, and work itself for undocumented people. But the protests do more than react to a particular congressional or legislative agenda. They are the cumulative response to years of bashing and denigrating immigrants generally, and Mexicans and Latinos in particular.
In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act made it a crime, for the first time in US history, to hire people without papers. Defenders argued that if people could not legally work they would leave. Life was not so simple.
Undocumented people are part of the communities they live in. They cannot simply go, nor should they. They seek the same goals of equality and opportunity that working people in the US have historically fought to achieve. In addition, for most immigrants, there are no jobs to return to in the countries from which they've come. Rufino Dominguez, a Oaxacan community leader in Fresno, California, says, "The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) made the price of corn so low that it's not economically possible to plant a crop anymore. We come to the US to work because there's no alternative." After Congress passed NAFTA, six million displaced people came to the US as a result.
Instead of recognizing this reality, the US government has attempted to make holding a job a criminal act. Some states and local communities, seeing a green light from the Department of Homeland Security, have passed measures that go even further. Last summer, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff proposed a rule requiring employers to fire any worker who couldn't correct a mismatch between the Social Security number the worker had provided an employer and the SSA database. The regulation assumes those workers have no valid immigration visa, and therefore no valid Social Security number.
With 12 million people living in the US without legal immigration status, the regulation would lead to massive firings, bringing many industries and businesses to a halt. Citizens and legal visa holders would be swept up as well, since the Social Security database is often inaccurate. Under Chertoff, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has conducted sweeping workplace raids, arresting and deporting thousands of workers. Many have been charged with an additional crime - identity theft - because they used a Social Security number belonging to someone else to get a job. Yet, workers using another number actually deposit money into Social Security funds, and will never collect benefits their contributions paid for.
The Arizona legislature has passed a law requiring employers to verify the immigration status of every worker through a federal database called E-Verify, which is even more incomplete and full of errors than Social Security. They must fire workers whose names get flagged. And Mississippi passed a bill making it a felony for an undocumented worker to hold a job, with jail time of 1-10 years, fines of up to $10,000, and no bail for anyone arrested. Employers get immunity.
Many of these punitive measures were incorporated into proposals for "comprehensive immigration reform" that were debated in Congress in 2006 and 2007. The comprehensive bills combined increased enforcement, especially criminalization of work for the undocumented, with huge guest worker programs under which large employers would recruit temporary labor under contract outside the US, bringing workers into the country in a status that would deny them basic rights and social equality. While those proposals failed in Congress, the Bush administration implemented some of their most draconian provisions by executive order and administrative action.
Together, these factors have produced a huge popular response, which has become most visible in the annual marches and demonstrations on May Day. Nativo Lopez, president of both the Mexican American Political Association and the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, says "the huge number of immigrants and their supporters in the streets found these compromises completely unacceptable. We will only get what we're ready to fight for, but people are ready and willing to fight for the whole enchilada. Washington legislators and lobbyists fear the growth of a new civil rights movement in the streets, because it rejects their compromises and makes demands that go beyond what they have defined as 'politically possible.'"
The marches have put forward an alternative set of demands, which include a real legal status for the 12 million undocumented people in the US, the right to organize to raise wages and gain workplace rights, increased availability of visas that give immigrants some degree of social equality, especially visas based on family reunification, no expansion of guest worker programs, and a guarantee of human rights to immigrants, especially in communities along the US/Mexican border.
At the same time, the price of trying to push people out of the US who've come here for survival is that the vulnerability of undocumented workers will increase. Unscrupulous employers use that vulnerability to deny overtime pay or minimum wage, or fire workers when they protest or organize. Increased vulnerability ultimately results in cheaper labor and fewer rights for everyone. After deporting over 1,000 workers at Swift meatpacking plants, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff called for linking "effective interior enforcement and a temporary-worker program.'' The government's goal is cheap labor for large employers. Deportations, firings and guest worker programs all make labor cheaper and contribute to a climate of fear and insecurity for all workers.
The May 1 actions highlight the economic importance of immigrant labor. Undocumented workers deserve legal status because of that labor - their inherent contribution to society. The value they create is never called illegal, and no one dreams of taking it away from the employers who profit from it. Yet the people who produce that value are called exactly that - illegal. All workers create value through their labor, but immigrant workers are especially profitable, because they are so often denied many of the union-won benefits accorded to native-born workers. The average undocumented worker has been in the US for five years. By that time, these workers have paid a high price for their lack of legal status, through low wages and lost benefits.
"Undocumented workers deserve immediate legal status, and have already paid for it," Lopez says.
On May 1, the absence of immigrant workers from workplaces, schools and stores demonstrates their power in the national immigration debate and sends a powerful message that they will not be shut out of the debate over their status. They have rescued from anonymity the struggle for the eight-hour day, begun in Chicago over a century ago by the immigrants of yesteryear. They overcame the legacy of the cold war, in which celebrations of May Day were attacked and banned. They are recovering the traditions of all working people for the people of the United States.
The N.Y. Times has a detailed story about the tragedy yesterday in Binghamton, New York and the killing of 13 people at an immigrant services center. "Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said at a news conference that the suspect, Jiverly Wong, a 41-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, was depressed after recently losing a job and upset about how people treated him over his lack of proficiency in English."“He felt he was being degraded over his inability to speak English and he was upset about that.” Mr. Wong had been taking citizenship classes at the American Civic Association, which serves a variety of immigrants from around the world, until the first week in March, the police chief said.
For more on this story, click here.
Sin Nombre sounds like a great immigration film! Making its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Sin Nombre is an epic dramatic thriller from award-winning director Cary Fukunaga. Seeking the promise of America, a beautiful young Honduran woman, Sayra (Paulina Gaytan), joins her father and uncle on an odyssey to cross the gauntlet of the Latin American countryside en route to the United States. Along the way she crosses paths with a teenaged Mexican gang member, El Casper (Edgar M. Flores), who is maneuvering to outrun his violent past and elude his unforgiving former associates. Together they must rely on faith, trust and street smarts if they are to survive their increasingly perilous journey towards the hope of new lives.
Here is the Washington Post review.
As reporeted previously on ImmigrationProf, on April 2, during Congressional hearings, witnesses testified to the racial profiling and discriminatory treatment they experienced at the hands of local law enforcement officers acting under 287(g) agreements. The 287(g) agreements allow state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws. We want to alert you to resources on 287(g) agreements available through the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and other advocates.
On Immigration Advocates Network: The "State and Local Enforcement" library contains: - The report, "Better Controls Needed over Program Authorizing State and Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws", prepared by the Government Accountability Office, analyzes the efficacy of 287(g) agreements at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?12285 (login required)
- The report, "Immigration Enforcement by Local Police: The Impact on the Civil Rights of Latinos", published by the National Council of La Raza, notes that 287(g) agreements have a negative impact on Latino communities while hindering criminal and terrorist investigations at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?12286 (login required) - The report, "State Laws Related to Immigrants and Immigration in 2008", written by the National Conference of State Legislatures, reviews the increase in immigration-related state bills introduced in 2008 at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?12287 (login required) Other 287(g) Materials: ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project The ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project website includes a copy of the ACLU lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio's racial profiling and discriminatory treatment in implementation of 287(g) agreement at http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/immigrants/filedfirstamdcm071608(2).pdf, and the study by the ACLU of North Carolina and University of North Carolina School of Law on the 287(g) program in North Carolina at http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/clinicalprograms/287gpolicyreview.pdf, also available on IAN at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?12288 (login required) American Immigration Law Foundation The American Immigration Law Foundation website contains its Immigration Policy Center statement applauding Congresspersons Conyers, Lofgren and Nadler for examining 287(g) programs in hearings at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/index.php?content=pr090401
Migration Policy Institute The Migration Policy Institute website contains information entitled "Signs of Change in Immigration Enforcement Policies Emerging from DHS" at http://www.migrationinformation.org/USFocus/display.cfm?ID=722
National Day Labor Organizing Network The National Day Labor Organizing Network website includes a background memo on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's 287(g) agreement and suggests questions for ICE and DHS representatives at http://www.ndlon.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=218
National Immigration Law Center The National Immigration Law Center website contains an article on ICE's "Secure Communities" program and discusses the problems with this program despite its benign appearance at http://www.nilc.org/immlawpolicy/LocalLaw/secure-communities-2009-03-23.pdf also available on IAN at http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/link.cfm?12289 (login required)
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations website includes an article on the faith community's response to Arizona's 287(g) agreement entitled "Honor thy Neighbor: Speak out against Sheriff Arpaio and 287(g) Agreements" at http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/129527.shtml
Friday, April 3, 2009
I have long been inspired by John Kennedy's 1957 book, A Nation of Immigrants. Much of his philosophy led to the enactment of immigration reforms in 1965 (following his assassination), that reflected a more humane, fair immigration selection system. As the debate over immigration reform continues today, it would be worth going back and reviewing this masterpiece.
When the book was re-released on its 50th anniversary a couple years back, these inspiring words were written by Abraham Foxman:
The reissuing of “A Nation of Immigrants” on its 50th anniversary is not only commemorative but has great relevance for us today. The history of this monograph is deeply intertwined with the story of America’s struggle for a fair and compassionate immigration policy.
When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reached out to the junior senator from Massachusetts in 1957 to highlight the contribution of immigrants, the country was locked in a debate about the direction its policy should take.
Then, as now, nativism, bigotry and fear of competition from foreign labor were dulling the collective American memory of its own immigrant history and its ideals.
Then, as now, hate groups were beating the drums of anti-foreigner slogans and tried to sway the public and elected officials toward a restrictive immigration policy.
The Jewish community had its own unique immigrant experience – too frequently caught between America’s welcoming tradition and home-grown nativist movements and anti-Semites.
Many Jews like myself, fortunate to arrive on these shores, were treated with suspicion. A 1939 Roper poll found that only 39% of respondents felt American Jews should be treated like all other people – 10% even believed Jews should be deported.
Groups like the Ku Klux Klan exploited anti-foreigner fears and bigotry. They attracted record membership in the 1920s and 1930s as fascism and anti-Semitism rose in Europe and Jews sought a haven from Nazi persecution. The door of immigration -- open to Jews fleeing pogroms in the late 1800s -- was largely closed by policies like the National Origins Act that set a cap on immigration and established a discriminatory national-racial quota. That disappointed thousands who sought refuge in America and cost the lives of many more who perished in the Holocaust.
Their sense of despair is etched in our memory in the chilling image of the 900 Jews aboard the SS St. Louis floating off the Florida coast in May 1939, the lights of Miami plainly visible on the horizon, who pleaded for refuge in the United States. It was a haunting moment in our history when America’s fear led policymakers to betray one of our country’s most cherished traditions – providing safe haven for the persecuted.
In 1963, when President Kennedy prepared his plea to Congress for an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy and the discriminatory national origin quota system, he decided to update and reissue this book to reemphasize the central ideal of welcoming immigrants to America. That new edition was in the works when he was assassinated. The monograph was then posthumously published in 1964, with an introduction by his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. Attorney General Kennedy called the book "a weapon of enlightenment" to be used "to eliminate the discrimination and cruelty of our immigration laws."
The abandonment of the passengers of the SS St. Louis is not ancient history. Today, the same fear and canards that hardened the hearts of America’s people and leadership are being used to foment fear of an “invasion” of illegal immigrants.
President Kennedy’s vision and call to conscience in 1957 is even more stirring and relevant today. The debate over immigration reform dominating the headlines, editorials and conversations in the classroom, the board room and the dinner table across America is following an all too familiar pattern. Our nation finds itself at a crossroad which provides an important opportunity for national reflection and self examination – if we choose to seize that opportunity instead of giving in to those who go down the dangerous path of targeting immigrants and assailing the principle of diversity and pluralism on which the country is founded.
Many Americans are moved by the activism of immigrants marching proudly under the banner “we are America,” and welcome their desire to join our communities and to contribute to this country. They reflect the diversity that makes America unique. But others are swayed by fear and the hate-mongering that is becoming mainstreamed in the media and on the Internet and sometimes spawning violence in the street.
ADL has issued a series of reports exposing extremist forces in our society today using the immigration debate to advance their agenda of hate, bigotry, and white supremacy.
While racial superiority is no longer the parlance of our time, today hate groups rail against non-white immigration and urge Americans, to “fight back” against the perceived ”invasion” of the “white” United States by Hispanics from Mexico.
We know from our own experience that when a society begins to demonize a group as less deserving of rights, less worthy, less human, less equal, then discrimination, exploitation and worse, can follow.
The communities impacted by immigration policy change from generation to generation. The families seeking to be united come from different countries and continents, the believers seeking religious asylum practice different faiths, persecution victims are targeted by different regimes. But they all come here united by a desire to enjoy the liberties and opportunities our nation was founded upon.
Unlike in the past, immigration today is not a matter of Jewish self interest per se. But it is a matter of principle that cuts to the core of our values as Jews and as Americans dedicating to preserving America’s founding mission as a haven for the persecuted.
As a survivor of the Holocaust, I came to America with my parents from a displaced persons camp in Austria. I know what it means to be an immigrant, and as a Jew I know what it means to be the target of hatred. Our tradition compels us to “remember that we were once strangers in a strange land.” This has motivated Jews throughout the ages to be at the forefront of reaching out to other vulnerable communities and to advocate beyond the particular interests of our own community. That principle is what unifies good people in America, regardless of national origin.
Today we engage this debate, not just as a Jewish organization or a civil rights organization with a record of nearly a century of advocacy for fair and humane immigration policy. The Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish community are mindful of the threat posed by 21st century terrorism and the duty of government to enforce borders and protect its citizens. This has put in sharp focus the need to reform our immigration law with an appropriate balance of fairness, compassion, and security. That is why we have championed comprehensive immigration reform efforts that marry enhanced border security, and the humane treatment of immigrants and their families.
We are heartened that as the third edition of this book is issued, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and The President have called on America to embrace diversity are urging congress and the people to support needed reform our broken immigration system.
We are proud to join with another distinguished Senator Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, a stalwart in urging Congress not to abandon these principles. He has been a voice of reason and passion – a center of gravity in a tumultuous and polarizing debate that cuts to the core of the fundamental ideals and future of this nation.
On the 50th anniversary of a “Nation of Immigrants,” we rededicate ourselves to the principle that is as urgent and timely today as when written. The tenor and outcome of our national debate over immigration reform and the fate of undocumented persons in the U.S. will speak volumes about our national character and ideals. We hope good people will use this opportunity to move beyond merely the goal of “tolerance” and desire for an orderly immigration system. We hope Americans and their lawmakers will heed the call of President Bush who has spoken eloquently about the welcoming spirit that has defined America and urged Americans to embrace and not to fear diversity.
Heeding the plea of the Kennedy brothers, Americans should come together to proudly embrace our immigrant past and our immigrant future: "our attitude toward immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as their talent and energy allow. Neither race nor creed nor place of birth should affect their chances."
Abraham H. Foxman
From the National Day Labor Organizing Network:
Take Action to End Racial Profiling! It's Time to Stop Sheriff Joe.
In recent months, the hard work of many has raised the profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the most infamous Sheriff since Bull Connor, as the ugliest local face of the failed national 287g program. The Sheriff's march of undocumented inmates in a chain gang the New York Times described as "ritual humiliation" uncovered the racial profiling and terror he's carried out on Maricopa County, and made urgent the need for federal intervention.
Arpaio deputizes vigilante posses to set up check points, dispatches uniformed officers to roam the streets in ski masks, chases janitors with attack dogs and assault weapons, and directs his law enforcement resources at the request of known white supremacists.
40,000 people signed petitions condemning his actions. 5,000 people marched peacefully in Phoenix on February 28 demanding federal intervention to end Arpaio's abuses. Today the House Judiciary Committee investigated the racial profiling inherent in the 287g program.
Yet, Sheriff Joe continues to terrorize Maricopa County, taunting the federal government, and daring them to act. We say enough is enough! President Obama and his Secretary of Homeland Security, former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, need to sever Arpaio's 287g agreement now and restore the rule of law to Maricopa County.
Act now! Send a letter to President Obama calling for the termination of Sheriff Joe's 287g agreement!
And join the facebook group "Outraged at Arpaio" by clicking this link.
Repeat after me: Sheriff Joe has got to go!
When it celebrates the spirit of invention next month, Akron's National Inventors Hall of Fame will quietly acknowledge a little-known facet of American innovation: Seven of the 16 people being honored as great American inventors are immigrants.
The class of 2009 inductees, focused on the people who pioneered high technology, includes inventors from Egypt, China, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Korea and Canada. Receiving a lifetime achievement award will be Andy Grove, the Hungarian-born co-founder of Intel Corp. Click here and here for more.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
From the Immigration Policy Center (Washington, DC):
Today, two House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittees will be holding a joint hearing on the 287(g) program at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Building, Room 2141. The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) in Washington, DC.
"The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) applauds Chairman Conyers, Chairwoman Lofgren, and Chairman Nadler for bringing desperately needed attention to the problematic and controversial 287(g) program.
The 287(g) program - in which local law enforcement establishes a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that allows them to enforce immigration laws locally - has grown over the last several years. Yet, as recent reports by Justice Strategies and the University of North Carolina and the ACLU point out, a growing array of alleged civil rights infractions and incidences of racial profiling have come with the program's expansion.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) took a look at the program and found that ICE provides little guidance and oversight of the program, and inconsistently articulates the objectives of the 287(g) program and the authority it grants to local law enforcement. While the 287(g) program is intended to target violent criminals and threats to the community, police have allegedly engaged in racial profiling and used their authority to arrest immigrants with no criminal records - clogging local jails and taking resources away from finding dangerous criminals. Meanwhile, trust between the police and communities is eroding, and in several cases, U.S. citizens have been detained - and even deported.
Americans need police to protect communities not check papers. Rather than loading local police with federal responsibilities, Washington needs to enact immigration reform that secures our borders, legalizes undocumented workers, and re-establishes a coordinated intergovernmental immigration strategy so that local law enforcement can focus its attention on real criminals rather than economic migrants. State governments have spent the past few years jerry-rigging the immigration system locally - the time has come for leaders in Washington to address the problems with our immigration system fairly and comprehensively."
From the California Immigration Policy Center:
IMMIGRANT DAY 2009 Save the Date!
MAY 18th 2009 - SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
We invite you to celebrate the 13th Annual Immigrant Day on May 18th 2009. Join immigrants and advocates in raising our voices on behalf of immigrant families throughout the state. Immigrant Day 2009 will bring a unified voice to Sacramento in support of immigrant communities and working families. Join us May 18th in Sacramento!
For more information contact: Garrick Wong at (916) 448-6774 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tomorrow, two House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittees will be holding a joint hearing on the 287(g) program at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Building, Room 2141. The following is a statement by Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) in Washington, DC:
"The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) applauds Chairman Conyers, Chairwoman Lofgren, and Chairman Nadler for bringing desperately needed attention to the problematic and controversial 287(g) program. The 287(g) program - in which local law enforcement establishes a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that allows them to enforce immigration laws locally - has grown over the last several years. Yet, as recent reports by Justice Strategies and the University of North Carolina and the ACLU point out, a growing array of alleged civil rights infractions and incidences of racial profiling have come with the program's expansion. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) took a look at the program and found that ICE provides little guidance and oversight of the program, and inconsistently articulates the objectives of the 287(g) program and the authority it grants to local law enforcement. While the 287(g) program is intended to target violent criminals and threats to the community, police have allegedly engaged in racial profiling and used their authority to arrest immigrants with no criminal records - clogging local jails and taking resources away from finding dangerous criminals. Meanwhile, trust between the police and communities is eroding, and in several cases, U.S. citizens have been detained - and even deported. Americans need police to protect communities not check papers. Rather than loading local police with federal responsibilities, Washington needs to enact immigration reform that secures our borders, legalizes undocumented workers, and re-establishes a coordinated intergovernmental immigration strategy so that local law enforcement can focus its attention on real criminals rather than economic migrants. State governments have spent the past few years jerry-rigging the immigration system locally - the time has come for leaders in Washington to address the problems with our immigration system fairly and comprehensively."
The Daily Record reports that U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has expressed support for E-Verify and wants to see it extended beyond the Sept. 30 expiration date. She said that "he Obama administration hasn’t taken a position on whether or not to make E-Verify mandatory for all U.S. employers." There has been controversy about the rate of errors on the system, which has been the subject of considerable litigation.
Under Arizona law (which was upheld by the Ninth Circuit), where Napalitano was governor before heading to D.C., employers were required to check the eligibility of new hires through E-Verify.
The Washington Post reports that, at a hearing today, an immigration judge ruled that President Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt, Zeituni Onyango, can remain in the United States until an immigration hearing in February when the court will consider new evidence, apparently in a motion to reopen the proceedings, in support for her claim for asylum and relief from removal to Kenya. According to the Post, "[u]sing a cane and wearing a rusty brown wig, Zeituni Onyango said, `Praise God,' after she stepped out of a closed hearing before the same immigration judge who twice has ordered her deported." The immigration judge scheduled a hearing for February, 2010.
Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, originally plied for asylum in 2002.
Migration Information Source has issued a report entitled "Immigrants in the United States and the Current Economic Crisis." It reports that immigration flows to the United States have noticeably slowed in the last year, raising fundamental questions for policymakers and analysts about the effect the economic crisis is having on inflows and return migration. Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Aaron Terrazas assess the potential impacts by examining recent data, the likely behavior of immigrants, and immigration history.
"While a severe economic downturn may not immediately appear to be the most opportune moment to address the chronic disconnect between the US immigration system and its labor market, farsighted policymakers will recognize that the crisis may provide impetus toward creating a more nimble and thoughtful immigration system."
Of course, this conclusion is contrary to the much-publicized comments of Vice President Joe Biden that the economic downturn makes immigration reform an issue to avoid for the foreseeable future.
On the Daily Show, Aasif Mandvi takes a hilarious look at border enforcement, the claims that "illegals" are taking jobs from Americans, the Minuteman, the use of alligators to enforce the border, and day laborers, all in about 3-and-a-half minutes.
Hat tip to Cappy White!
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann calls immigration detention centers “Gitmo Jr.-gate”, and that’s right on point. Olbermann’s comments during his “Still Bushed!” segment was prompted by a report just released by Amnesty International, “Jailed without Justice.” For the story and video link, click here.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Spencer S. Hsu writes for the Washington Post:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.
A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute -- increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.
"ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done," said the official, discussing Napolitano's views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity. Click here for the rest of the story.
Josh Meyer and Anna Gorman Report in the LA Times:
Stepping into the political minefield of immigration reform, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano soon will direct federal agents to focus more on arresting and prosecuting American employers than the illegal laborers who sneak into the country to work for them, department officials said Monday.
The shift in emphasis will be outlined in revamped field guidelines issued to agents of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as early as this week, several officials familiar with the change said.
The policy is in line with comments that President Obama made during last year's campaign, when he said enforcement efforts had failed because they focused on illegal immigrants rather than on the companies that hired them.
"There is a supply side and a demand side," one Homeland Security official said. "Like other law enforcement philosophies, there is a belief that by focusing more on the demand side, you cut off the supply."
Another department official said the changes were the result of a broad review of all immigration and border security programs and policies that Napolitano began in her first days in office. Click here for the rest of this story.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators today issued the following statement on H-1B visas:
Tomorrow, employers may begin filing applications for the 65,000 H-1B visas that are available for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins October 1. Those that are successful will be able to hire skilled foreigners—many of whom are graduating from U.S. universities with degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering—to help their companies remain cutting-edge and create jobs for Americans. If history is a guide, these visas will be snapped up within days, and many highly qualified individuals from other countries will be forced to take their skills, their drive, and their entrepreneurial spirit elsewhere.
As America and the world fall deeper into recession, it is important to break free of the rhetoric of the political debate and refocus on the fundamentals. One fundamental is that talent is always a scarce resource. There is not enough of it to go around, and every country needs more of it. Talent is also, in today’s world, highly mobile. Our economy is part of a global economy, and our job market is part of a global job market. In such a market, employers look for the talent they need wherever they can find it, and students and skilled workers look for the places to study and work that offer them the most opportunity.
To turn away individuals with skills that we need, who want to live and work in America, under the illusion that by doing so we are protecting our economy, is to deny ourselves a resource that we need to help pull us out of the recession and put our economy on a sound footing for the future. It will cost jobs, not save them.
This association is dedicated to promoting the mobility of students and scholars across borders. The advantages of attracting these individuals to our country are well known: they are a key part of the pipeline of skilled talent from outside our borders that fuels our economy; they help our universities prepare the next generation of American college graduates for the jobs of tomorrow; and they connect us to leadership and innovation around the world. Yet we cannot be successful in the competition for these students and scholars if they know that the only way they will be able to accept jobs after graduation—with employers who need them and want to hire them—is to win the H-1B lottery.
People the world over—people with big dreams and the entrepreneurial spirit to pursue them—want to come to the United States because they know it is here that they can realize their dreams. So it has been since the first Pilgrims sailed—and so it must continue to be. Skilled immigrants fuel innovation in America. The H-1B visa system is one path for them to get here; that path needs to be open. Yes, H-1B visas are sometimes abused, and where abuses exist, they must be stopped. No one supports measures to protect the program’s integrity more strongly than its proponents. But a cap on talent is self-defeating.
We call on the 111th Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Such reform should include the removal or adjustment of unrealistic caps on temporary and permanent employment-based visa categories, which include H-1B visas and green cards. If Congress chooses not to address immigration reform comprehensively, these measures must be enacted separately. Unclogging the path to permanent residency for skilled immigrants will relieve the pressure on H-1B visas. However, these visas will still be necessary for those for whom temporary status is appropriate. Either way, America wins.
ADC & Penn State's Center for Immigrants' Rights Report Finds Special Registration Program Counterproductive and Discriminatory Washington,
The Center for Immigrants' Rights at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will release today a white paper titled "NSEERS: The Consequences of America's efforts to Secure Its Borders." The paper was previewed yesterday to government officials, legal practitioners and nongovernmental organizations at the offices of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in Washington, DC.
The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program was implemented as a counterterrorism tool in the wake of September 11, 2001. The white paper provides a legal and policy analysis of NSEERS, and recommendations to the Obama administration. According to the white paper, although many courts have found that the NSEERS program did not violate the Constitution, "the Executive's policy moving forward should not rest on the bare constitutional minimum. The United States government has an important decision to make about what kind of America it wants to be." "More than seven years after its implementation, the ongoing impact of NSEERS on individuals and families is striking" said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, director of the Center for Immigrants' Rights at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. "The special registration program has raised a number of public policy questions. Public outcry, governmental criticism of the program and judicial challenges demonstrate that the program has not necessarily benefited the United States domestic and foreign policy." "The explicit targeting of the Arab and Muslim communities is un-American and has proven to be counterproductive," said Kareem Shora, ADC national executive director. "Using immigration law as a counterterrorism tool with racial profiling tactics has failed in the past, and continues to fail." "Despite repeated assurances from the Department of Homeland Security that such policies are no longer used, the Arab and Muslim communities continue to be profiled to this very day; the most recent example being Operation Frontline which targeted Arabs and Muslims during the 2004 presidential elections. Once again, we call on the Obama administration for a serious re-examination and overhaul of such policies. It is past due for DHS to implement real change on this issue."