April 11, 2009
Improved Employment-Based Visa Application Services?
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) is announcing the implementation of a new one-stop visa portal system, formally called the iCERT System, to improve employer access to employment- based visa application services and OFLC immigration news and information. For the full announcement, click here.
Arrest Downs but Deaths Up along the Southwest Border
Unauthorized immigrant arrests are down 29 percent along most of Arizona's border, but corpse recoveries and marijuana seizures are up dramatically, according to new numbers released by the U.S. Border Patrol. For the full story in the Arizona Republic, click here.
April 10, 2009
DHS Statistics on Nonimmigrants
A new publication from DHS Statistical Branch:
Nonimmigrant Admissions to the United States: 2008 April 2009 (PDF, 10 pages - 473 KB)
Al Sharpton Calls for Resignation of America's Toughest Sheriff
Immigration Impact reports that civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton and ACORN’s Chief Organizer and CEO, Bertha Lewis called for (America's Toughest) Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s resignation and an end to racial profiling on a national media call today. Sheriff Arpaio, who is featured regularly on this blog, is currently the focus of a Department of Justice investigation for “alleged patterns of discriminatory police practices, and discrimination based on a person’s national origin.”
Former Colorado U.S. Attorney General Named Head of MALDEF
Yesterday, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) Board of Directors named longtime Board member Henry Solano to serve as interim president and general counsel. (Leticia Saucedo yesterday posted a story on MALDEF's latest litigation victory.). Solano replaces John Trasviña who was recently tapped by President Barack Obama to be the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Trasviña served as the head of the organization since November 2006.
Solano has been an active member of the MALDEF Board with decades of litigation, public policy and advocacy experience behind him. Most recently, Solano led the Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP trial team in his firm’s pro bono litigation with MALDEF in Vicente v. Barnett to bring justice against a border vigilante in Arizona who threatened and assaulted a group of Latino men and women. He also currently chairs the Program and Planning Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee on the Board. Named one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics, Solano is a well-respected veteran of state and national policy making and community service. Solano was a tireless advocate for safe communities and enforcing worker and workplace protection laws while serving as Colorado U.S. Attorney and Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration. He began his career as a poverty law attorney emphasizing farm-worker and immigrant legal protection at Colorado Rural Legal Services, Inc which was headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He has continued his community involvement throughout his career including serving on the board of directors for the National Hispana Leadership Institute and the National Latino Children’s Institute. Solano’s practice as a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in New York covers a wide range of employment and labor law as well as litigation. Dewey & LeBoeuf is an international law firm headquartered in New York with more than 1,400 lawyers in 14 countries, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, China, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Around the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyers are engaged in a wide variety of pro bono projects; taking on large-impact civil rights litigation to advocate for those who have been historically disadvantaged; helping victims of domestic violence re-establish their footing; preventing the eviction of low income tenants; providing legal services to worthy not-for-profit organizations and microenterprises, both domestically and internationally; representing indigent defendants in criminal cases at trial and on appeal and preventing the deportation of asylum seekers who are facing persecution if they are forced to return to their native lands. Dewey & LeBoeuf has been recognized for its efforts through Community awards including the Thomas L. Sager Award for the Northeast Region by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) (2008); named “Employer of the Year” for pro bono by the National Mentoring Consortium in the UK (2007, 2008); and Pro Bono Visionary Award by Legal Services NYC (2008); and receiving the Latino Justice/Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund “Pro Bono Publico Award” for its involvement in a potentially landmark federal lawsuit alleging that the rights of Latino day laborers were violated in Westchester County. “Today, the Latino community is facing uncertainty on varied fronts: fair wages, access to higher education, healthcare, voting rights and more. In these times, MALDEF’s work through our offices and attorneys across the nation has proven to be the difference for thousands of Latino families,” stated MALDEF Chairman of the Board Patricia Madrid. “Under the leadership and experience of Henry Solano we will continue to stand strong against intolerance and injustice toward Latinos.” The MALDEF Board also announced that it would undertake a national search for a permanent successor. Solano is not a candidate for the position. About Henry Solano Prior to assuming the temporary position as Interim President and General Counsel of MALDEF, Henry L. Solano was a Partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in the Litigation and Compensation, Benefits and Employment Departments. With extensive litigation experience in the private sector, representing fortune 100 companies, and in the public sector with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor and the Attorney General's Office for the State of Colorado, Mr. Solano has handled numerous complex matters, developing effective and successful trial and appellate strategies. He also has a breadth of policymaking and public sector management experience on both the federal and state level. Mr. Solano served the U.S. Departments of Justice and Labor under President Clinton as, respectively, Colorado U.S. Attorney and Solicitor of Labor and Acting Secretary of Labor. He served as a Colorado Cabinet Member under Governor Roy Romer, leading three departments - twice running two simultaneously - when the Republican Party held majorities in both legislative houses. Mr. Solano has also served as a professor at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, lecturing on public sector policy development and department/agency management. Throughout his public career, Mr. Solano has been involved in providing effective and strategic legal and policy reform, effectuating change, improving coordination and collaboration, and enhancing program and service delivery. For the Departments of Justice and Labor, Mr. Solano developed a specialized and improved appellate (and conflicts counsel) practice; worker and workplace protection policies and enforcement initiatives; and enhanced litigation enforcement among regional and national litigation offices. Throughout his entire public sector management career he has improved the amount and quality of diverse attorneys and staff at all levels, including senior management, while also broadening career ladder opportunity for support staff. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Solano implemented job sharing among female prosecutors beginning to raise a family and expanded federal legal services by, unprecedentedly, opening two branch U.S. Attorney Offices in the rural and Native American regions of Colorado. As the Executive Director of the Colorado Departments of Regulatory Agencies, Institutions and Corrections, Mr. Solano oversaw the response to Savings & Loan crisis, converting 24 state chartered financial institutions to FDIC and /or FSLIC protection, while limiting the closure of state chartered savings & loan institutions to less than eight; restructured service delivery in both the mental health and developmental systems, removing the developmental services program from federal court supervision; and revamped the juvenile delinquency and social services system to improve and increase early childhood and youth services/intervention programs. In addition, Mr. Solano developed and initiated the omnibus legislative bill that led to comprehensive adult prison funding, including a needed construction program that provided appropriate multi level prison beds, improved inmate classification and sentencing systems, and increased diversion and post confinement offender services, allowing the correctional system to be removed from federal court supervision. Mr. Solano has maintained strong community involvement as a member and officer (President or Chairperson) of the Board of Directors for community and religious organizations such as the Parish Council of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, the Denver Metropolitan Regional Transportation District, the National Latino Children's Institute, the National Hispana Leadership Institute, Mile Hi United Way and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
For more information about MALDEF, check out its website.
April 9, 2009
MALDEF Wins Injunction Halting TX DPS Denial of Drivers Licenses to Legal Immigrants
AUSTIN, TX – Today, the 419th District Court in Travis County issued a temporary injunction blocking the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) from enforcing rules that deny driver’s licenses to legal immigrants living and working in Texas. The lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of five individuals who are authorized to reside and work in the United States and a landscaping business that legally employs foreign workers under the federal H-2B program. The case challenges the recently-adopted illegal and overreaching rules and policies of the Texas DPS that prevent thousands of persons across Texas from receiving standard-issued licenses even though they possess valid immigration documents issued by the federal government.
In her opinion initially sustaining MALDEF’s challenge, Judge Orlinda L. Naranjo ruled that DPS acted outside the scope of its authority when it adopted the new rules and that the Plaintiffs have demonstrated a probable right to ultimate relief or success in their case.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety in an overreaching action exceeded its authority by systematically denying full licenses to people who reside legally here in Texas,” said MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel Nina Perales. “We are pleased that the Court has concluded that the plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction pending a full trial,” continued Perales.
The court’s order follows a two-day temporary injunction hearing held in Austin on March 25 and 26, 2009 in which MALDEF challenged certain 2008 rules adopted by the Public Safety Commission that effectively allowed DPS to exclude otherwise qualified persons from receiving driver’s licenses solely on the basis that they held less than one-year visas or had less than six-months remaining of permission on their visas. DPS also changed the appearance of driver’s licenses for persons with legal permission to reside in the U.S., but who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and limited the expiration term of licenses for such persons.
“DPS has created havoc by attempting to inject its political agenda into the lawmaking process and improperly giving second class status to individuals who in every way have complied with the laws of the land regarding their presence in the United States and Texas,” said David Hinojosa, MALDEF lead attorney in the case. “The court's injunction puts a temporary stop to that agenda and we look forward to a permanent injunction after trial,” continued Hinojosa.
A copy of the decision may be found here.
New Immigration Articles
Aoki, Keith, John Shuford, Kristy Young and Thomas Hwei. (In)visible cities: three local government models and immigration regulation. 10 Or. Rev. Int'l L. 453-529 (2008). [BLOGGER'S NOTE -- Keith's scholarship is always worth reading].
Estrada, Crystal. Note. Misperceived child testimony: why credibility should be presumed for unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum. 31 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 121-156 (2008).
Hawkes, Danielle. Study note. Locking up children: lessons from the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center. 11 J.L. & Fam. Stud. 171-181 (2008).
Hernandez-Lopez, Ernesto. Global migrations and imagined citizenship: examples from slavery, Chinese exclusion, and when questioning birthright citizenship. 14 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 255-288 (2008). [BLOGGER'sS NOTE -- Ernesto always writes interesting stuff.]
Stevens, William M. Comment. Jurisdiction, allegiance, and consent: revisiting the forgotten prong of the Fourteenth Amendment's birthright Citizenship Clause in light of terrorism, unprecedented modern population migrations, globalization, and conflicting cultures. 14 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 337-391 (2008).
Essays From the Honorable James J. Gilvary Symposium on Law, Religion & Social Justice: "Justice for Strangers? Legal Assistance and the Foreign Born. Introduction by Sheila F. Miller; articles by Howard F. Chang, Bruno G. Romero and Karen Denise Bradley. 34 U. Dayton L. Rev. 1-46 (2008). [BLOGGER'S NOTE -- I read everything Howard Chang writes.]
EOIR FY08 Statistical Year Book
The Executive Office for Immigration Review has released its FY08 Statistical Year Book. Download Fy08syb
From the Bookshelves: Migrations and Mobilities Citizenship, Borders, and Gender Edited by Seyla Benhabib and Judith Resnik
Migrations and Mobilities Citizenship, Borders, and Gender Edited by Seyla Benhabib and Judith Resnik
In an increasingly globalized world, the movement of peoples across national borders is posing unprecedented challenges, for the people involved as well as for the places to which they travel and their countries of origin. Citizenship is now a topic in focus around the world but much of that discussion takes place without sufficient attention to the women, men, and children, in and out of families, whose statuses and treatments depend upon how countries view their arrival. As essays in this volume detail, both the practices and theories of citizenship need to be reappraised in light of the array of persons and of twentieth-century commitments to their dignity and equality. Migrations and Mobilities uniquely situates gender in the context of ongoing, urgent conversations about globalization, citizenship, and the meaning of borders. Following an introductory essay by editors Seyla Benhabib and Judith Resnik that addresses the parameters and implications of gendered migration, the interdisciplinary contributors consider a wide range of issues, from workers' rights to children's rights, from theories of the nation-state and federalism to obligations under transnational human rights conventions. Together, the essays in this path-breaking collection force us to consider the pivotal role that gender should play in reconceiving the nature of citizenship in the contemporary, transnational world. Contributors: Selya Benhabib, Jacqueline Bhabha, Linda Bosniak, Catherine Dauvergne, Talia Inlender, Vicki C. Jackson, David Jacobson, Linda K. Kerber, Audrey Macklin, Angela Means, Valentine M. Moghadam, Patrizia Nanz, Aihwa Ong, Cynthia Patterson, Judith Resnik, and Sarah K. van Walsum.
Border Deaths Increase
As DHS Secretary Napolitano announces increased resources at the border, we have to wonder how more deaths it will take before we realize that the solution to the undocumented immigration challenge will not be found in militarizing the border. I have long argued that Operation Gatekeeper, instituted under the Clinton administration, set up a death trap for border migrants and represents a shameful aspect of our immigration policies.
Arthur Rotstein reports on increasing border deaths for the Associated Press:
Migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border have risen in the past six months despite a nearly 25 percent drop in arrests by the Border Patrol, according to patrol statistics.
The number of migrant deaths along the roughly 2,000-mile border increased by nearly 7 percent between Oct. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, though apprehensions of people crossing illegally from Mexico into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California decreased in the same period from a year ago, the patrol said.
The remains of 128 people were found during the six-month period, compared to 120 in the same period a year earlier, the patrol said. But apprehensions of those crossing illegally from Mexico into the United States decreased more than 24 percent compared to the number of arrests from the same period a year ago. Click here for the full story.
Texas Legislator Wants Asian Americans to Adopt Easier Names
R.G. Ratcliffe writes for the Houston Chronicle:
A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”
The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes. Click here for the whole story.
I think I'll start using my Chinese name, Ong Sun Yuen.
Amnesty International Ceases Direct Representation on Detention
We are sorry to inform you that Amnesty International USA is no longer providing individual assistance in matters of asylum, other forms of protection, or immigration in the United States. We hope very much that you will be able to find other means to assist those you serve.
We have been consulting with other NGOs working in this field to see how the work (giving guidance, support and documentation to those who are detained without legal representation) might be addressed by other organizations with the ability to do it. These discussions are ongoing, and we will of course be happy to notify you of any outcomes that can provide you with useful resources.
Please do feel free to pass on this announcement as widely as possible to your networks and partners.
Thank you for your longtime collaboration in helping us serve immigration detainees. We appreciate your commitment, and we wish you all the very best.
Refugee and Migrant Rights
Amnesty International USA
NY Times: Obama Administration Will Soon Pursue Immigration Reform
Julia Preston of the NY Times reports that President Obama plans to soon push forward on much-needed immigration reform. The article quotes Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House, as saying that the President will pursue "policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system.” "Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall."
This is a good sign from the White House. The longer the wait in pursuing some kind of immigration reform, the less likely that it will happen.
Melissa's Story on Keeping A Family Together -- Despite the Immigration Laws
It has often been said that one of the primary purposes of the U.S. immigration laws is family reunification. However, deportations under the immigration laws often tear families apart -- or at least make it very difficult to keep them together. To hear a story of a family trying to make it together in Mexico after the deportation of the husband, read Melissa's story.
April 8, 2009
Sixth Circuit Strikes Down Widow Penalty
The Sixth Circuit today held that:
"The sole issue before us is a question of law, which requires us to interpret language of the INA to resolve a matter of first impression in this Circuit. The question is whether an alien-spouse, whose citizen-spouse filed the necessary “immediate relative” petition form under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1187, 1255(c)(4), but died within two years of the qualifying marriage, qualifies as a spouse under the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that a “surviving alien-spouse” is a “spouse” within the meaning of the “immediate relative” provision of the INA. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Lockhart."
For commentary, including showing how the circuits (Ninth consistent with Lockhart; Third in conflict) line up on this issue, click here.
Immigrants of the Day: NY Times Scholars and Immigrant Parents (Russia, Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, China, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Israel)
Chosen by a panel of editors, reporters and educational consultants, this year’s scholarship recipients include six immigrants from Russia, Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, China and Guyana. Three are the children of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Israel.
Here is one story:
"Before the economy collapsed and thrift became a national watchword, a high school senior named Wei Huang was already scouring New York City for bargains, determined to support herself on the $10 a month she had left after she paid her rent. Ms. Huang, 20, one of 12 high school seniors named New York Times Scholars this year, immigrated to New York from China with her parents in 2007. But when her parents found the transition to American life too hard and returned to China last year, she decided to stay here alone, entranced by the city’s streetscapes and the thought of attending college here one day.
She found a job at a florist paying $560 a month, and a house to share in Ridgewood, Queens, for $550. That leaves $10 a month, which she spends carefully on large bags of rice, chicken leg quarters at 49 cents a pound, and whatever vegetables are cheapest. Throw in the two free meals a day at school, a student MetroCard and the unexpected kind act — her English teacher, for instance, gave her $100 — and she manages to get by."
English-Only Law Increases Student Drop Out Rate for Latinos, a Study Finds
Students not fluent in English have floundered in Boston schools since voters approved a law change six years ago requiring school districts to teach them all subjects in English rather than their native tongue, according to a report being released tomorrow.
In one of the most striking findings, the study found that the high school dropout rate nearly doubled for students still learning to speak and write in English, according to the report by the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the Center for Collaborative Education.
The report - considered the most comprehensive look at the law's impact on any school district in the state - paints a picture of a system ill-prepared to serve nonnative English speakers, who make up about 38 percent of the district's 56,000students. The full report is available by clicking here.
Judge Upholds State Mandated E-Verify Program
The Rhode Island administration won a sizable political victory when a Superior Court judge on Friday upheld the legality of his order requiring contractors doing business with the state to use the federal E-Verify database to screen the immigration status of new hires. For the full story, click here.
Catching "Fugitive" Immigrants the Wrong Priority, a New Report Says
A report released Wednesday by America's Voice said spending time and money catching people like Ramirez allows many illegal-immigrant criminals and exploitative employers to remain free. The America’s Voice report is available online at: http://amvoice.3cdn.net/0d60a3b4967c248ebf_gvm6iilzg.pdf .
Growing Skepticism About Police Among Latinos
Fewer than half of Hispanics in the U.S. believe they will be treated fairly by police or the courts, showing a level of distrust greater than that of whites but less than blacks, according to surveys. The report released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center highlights a widening disconnect in racial justice: At a time when Hispanics are interacting more with law enforcement due in part to their growing population as well as stepped up immigration enforcement, they are showing skepticism. The Pew report is available online at: http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=106.