Saturday, May 2, 2009
This afternoon, thousands marched across Chicago as part of a national push to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. Organized labor was on-hand to celebrate the roots of the May Day march, but the plight of immigrants -- and low-wage workers in particular -- dominated the main stage at Federal Plaza. For the full story, click here.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday that increasing skilled foreign workers in the U.S. could mollify housing-price declines that have caused 'the plunge in the value of the vast quantity of U.S. mortgage-based securities.' For the full story in the Wall Street Journal, click here.
Alejandro Mayorkas is President Obama's pick to be director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mayorkas is former top Los Angeles federal prosecutor who was involved in a Clinton-era clemency controversy.Born in Cuba, Mayorkas was the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California from 1998 to 2001. He since has served as a litigation partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny and Myers, where he represents large corporations and other clients in high-profile cases here and overseas. For the full story in the Washington Post, click here.
AP reports that "Prosecutors called the beating death of an illegal immigrant from Mexico a hate crime, and they urged an all-white jury in Pennsylvania coal country to punish two white teenagers for their roles in the attack [of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA in July, 2008]. Instead, the jury found the teens innocent of all serious charges. . . . Both [defendants] were convicted of simple assault . . . following a trial in which jurors were left to sort out the facts of an epithet-filled brawl that pitted popular football players against a 25-year-old Hispanic man, Luis Ramirez, who appeared willing to fight."
A jury in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania found the two defendants, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, accused of beating 25-year-old Luis Ramirez to death in July 2008 (for a link to an eyewitness account, click here), not guilty of the most serious charges.
The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund released the following in the wake of the verdict:
“Tonight there is no justice in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. The jury's conclusion is an outrage. Luis Ramirez was brutally murdered. Witnesses testified that it was racially motivated as a result of hate and intolerance. In the week when Congress passed the Hate Crimes Act, this verdict underscores the importance of the passage of this Act. It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and bring justice to the Ramirez family and send a strong message that violence targeting immigrants will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” stated Henry Solano, MALDEF interim president and general counsel. In July 2008, Ramirez lost his life after he was knocked unconscious and kicked in the head by a group of Shenandoah teenagers who yelled racial epithets before and during the brutal beating. Witnesses overheard anti-Mexican and ethnic epithets shouted by his assailants. At trial one of the witnesses testified that one of Ramirez’s friends tried to stop the beating but one of the assailants said, “Tell your Mexican friends to get out of town, or you’ll be laying next to him.” Ramirez leaves behind his fiancée and their two young children. Brandon Piekarsky was charged with third-degree murder and Derrick Donchak was charged with aggravated assault. Both were charged with ethnic intimidation. “Luis’s death reflects a steady increase of hate crimes targeting Latinos. Since 2002, the FBI has documented a 40 percent increase in hate crimes committed against Latinos,” said Gladys Limón, MALDEF staff attorney. “This drastic rise of hate crimes against Latinos must be addressed by the new Administration and Congress.” Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives took a historic step forward and passed H.R. 1913, “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act” by a vote of 249 to 175. The bill strengthens existing federal hate crime laws by authorizing the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting certain bias-motivated crimes. MALDEF urges the Senate to act quickly and pass the bill. MALDEF will continue to work with the Ramirez family and the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that the actions of the defendants and the death of Luis Ramirez is fully investigate as a hate crime.
The sad truth is that, while there has been a lengthy debate over immigration reform (and the harsh attacks on immigrants from Mexico), hate crimes directed at Latinos generally -- citizens as well as immigrants -- have risen dramatically. We can only hope that anti-Mexican hate crimes do not escalate with the latest venom being spead across the airwaves and blogosphere due to the "swine flu" outbreak.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Robert Gittleson: Observations from the May 1st “Full Rights For All Immigrants” march and rally in Downtown Los Angeles, sponsored by the May 1st Coalition
There were May Day marches for immigration reform across the United States today, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and many other cities. The numbers did not approach the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets in the spring 2006. Still, thousands did march. Here is an ImmigrationProf exclusive from Robert Gittleson who marched and spoke at a march in Los Angeles:
There were six separate immigration marches and rallies held in Los Angeles today. The main two were the CHIRLA rally starting in Echo Park, next to Downtown Los Angeles. The other, which I attended and spoke at, was held in the middle of downtown L.A., with the rally in front of the Los Angeles City Administration building. This rally was sponsored by the May 1st Coalition The May 1st Coalition includes Latino Movement USA, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, COFEM, and roughly 20 other Immigrant Rights Organizations and Labor Unions.
What struck me immediately upon arriving at the march starting point, was the preponderance of media trucks, reporters, and camera people. They were everywhere. Specifically, I mention this because at the last rally a month ago, I was critical of the lack of “mainstream” media at the event. This was entirely different, because all media showed up in spades, not only the Hispanic media, but NBC, CBS, ABC, and several local television channels, radio stations, and print media. I note this because, after all, what is the use of holding a rally, if nobody knows about it except the participants? While I understand that it is important to convey messages to each other, we don’t want to “only” preach to the choir.
This was an uplifting and positive event. There were no anti-immigrant protestors in sight. The mood was hopeful and brotherly. Everyone that I observed seemed happy to be part of the experience. It was, more than anything, festive.
The speakers, myself included, spoke of the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. The sense was that reform was within our grasp, but that we all needed to do our part to make it happen. The rally was very professionally supervised, and it ran like a Swiss clock.
I can’t help but feel that this time around, the anti-immigrant machine has a fair fight on their hands. Last time they out-hustled, and out-propagandized the forces for change. This time around, while I believe that they are gearing up for a full frontal assault, the extremely vocal minority network of anti-immigration groups, such as NumbersUSA, CIS, ALIPAC, and Minuteman, will not find us wanting. It pleases me to say that I believe that we are ready. I do not want to paraphrase President Bush, and say, “Bring it on!” However, should they bring it on, and they will, they will find a united majority of thoughtful citizens, and want-to-be citizens, ready to debate this issue with the facts, fairness, and momentum on our side.
Today, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano presided over a naturalization ceremony for 25 active duty service members who were taking the oath of citizenship. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington.
The service given to this nation by these individual new citizens is representative of the contributions all immigrants make to our country each and every day. Immigrants are Americans by choice and the oath of citizenship is a stirring and meaningful culmination of the process by which they have made that choice. What an honor to be sworn in by the President of the United States on top of the honor to be a U.S. citizen. That's a great way to thank these patriots on our behalf. As the son of immigrants from Pakistan who became U.S. citizens, I know what this ceremony will mean for these service members and their families and their decedents for many generations to come. President Obama is himself the child of a stranger to these shores and today's ceremony reminds us that America's greatness stems not only from those of us lucky enough to be born here, but also from the people across the world who have chosen to join us.
Professor Nancy Morawetz (NYU) has written a review of Asylum Denied by Phil Schrag and David Ngaruri Kenney, an excellent story and indictment of the U.S. immigration and asylum system The review, which will soon be published in the Journal of Legal Education, explores lessons that can be drawn from the book for a range of doctrinal and clinical courses. Check the review out at Download FINAL
Sheldon Alberts in the National Post reports that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has raised some Canadian hackles by suggesting that terrorists have entered the United States through Canada. The Canadian ambassador to the United States has publicly rebuked Napolitano for suggesting that the 9/11 terrorists entered the U.S. from Canada, and has asked for a private meeting with her to set the record straight.
President Obama was asked about immigration reform at a press conference earlier this week in a manner that some have said represents a retreat on moving forward on immigration reform -- at least until next year: Accoring to the LA Times blog, President Obama admitted that the current system “is putting a strain on border communities who oftentimes have to deal with a host of undocumented workers, and it keeps those undocumented workers in the shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time they are depressing U.S. wages.” Obama says he hopes to convene a “working group to start looking at a framework of how this legislation might be shaped.” In the meantime, he says, he is taking administrative steps in order to persuade the American people that immigration reform law can really be executed, such as working on strengthening border security. On the other hand, he added, attention must be paid to the employers who are essentially “inviting workers in.”
Simon Rosenberg on the Huffington Post offers 7 reasons in support of immigration reform, which are pretty thoughtful. I especially agreed with the last one, which is not often mentioned expressly: "Passing immigration reform this year would help take the air out of the balloon of what is the most virulent form of racism in American society today -- the attacks on Hispanics and undocumented immigrants."
SCOTUS blog includes a report by Stanford student Brian Goldman summarizing Monday’s oral argument in Nijhawan v. Holder. It begins:
"At Monday’s oral argument in Nijhawan v. Holder, the Supreme Court struggled to square the text of an immigration statute permitting deportation for prior “aggravated felony” convictions with the practical consequences that a plain-text reading would have on the government’s ability to deport aliens with criminal histories. By the end of the argument, it was not clear that the petitioner, an Indian immigrant fighting deportation, had convinced a majority of the Court that his prior felony conviction was not an “aggravated” one."
Here is the transcript.
As we previously reported, the issue in the case is whether the petitioner’s conviction for mail, bank and wire fraud qualified as an "aggravated felony" under the immigration laws. The Third Circuit held that a noncitizen is removable under the fraud/deceit aggravated felony ground, regardless whether the crime included a monetary loss element. See Nijhawan v. Attorney General, 523 F.3d 387 (3d Cir. 2008). SCOTUS blog has links to the briefing in the case.
Shepard Fairey, the creator of the iconic Obama "Hope" image, has produced powerful and beautiful posters in support of immigration reform. You can see and download these posters for free at http://cimarrones.org/. Here is Shepard Fairey's explanation of his support for immigration reform:
I am an immigrant. My ancestors left England and Scotland to come to this land to create a better life for themselves and their families. America is a land of immigrants. Ironically, the people’s who this land was inhabited by before “Americans” were Native Americans North and South American descent. I bring up this history not to stir up controversy or animosity, but to simply point out the complexity of who is entitled to live here. Something that is not complex and should not be controversial is the right of all humans to be treated like humans. People coming to America for the same reasons our ancestors did deserve human rights. The United States was created by immigrants and now our country needs immigration reform. I collaborated on this project with my co-worker Ernesto Yerena who shot the photos and helped with the graphics. Zach De La Rocha and Marco Amador provided input and support. All the proceeds from these posters go to creating materials for the May Day marches and donations for immigration reform organizations. Thanks for supporting human rights!
- Shepard Fairey www.obeygiant.com
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Border Communities to Join Thousands Nationwide on May 1st in Support of Just and Humane Immigration Reform
Immigration, labor and religious groups across the country gather to demand reform this year
WHAT: Community March and Rally
WHEN: At 4:30 PM, Friday, May 1, 2009
WHERE: We will gather at 4:30 pm at the Corner of Mills and Walnut in central El Paso, and we will march towards the "Mercado Mayapan" (4:45) where we will join in a solidarity Workers Rights Rally with the Mujer Obrera at the displaced worker's new Mercado & Technology Center. Afterwards the march will continue towards in the Plaza de los Lagartos and begin the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Rally at 5:45 pm. After the Rally, local bands will be playing.
WHO: Border Network for Human Rights, La Mujer Obrera, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, ACLU Las Cruces, Annunciation House and Border Workers Association.
WHY: The momentum for immigration reform this year is growing. President Obama has expressed his support for immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hosting a hearing at 2 p.m. this Thursday to discuss a common sense approach to immigration reform featuring economist Alan Greenspan.
From New York City to Los Angeles to El Paso and every major city in between, immigrant rights grassroots groups will join forces with labor and religious groups to show that Americans want immigration reform this year. We are asking for a common sense approach that gives the hard working men and women already here an earned path to citizenship, keeps families together and provides legal avenues for future workers to seek out opportunities here and join our struggle to strengthen our economy.
Our broken immigration system and broken economy are linked. In order to get the economy going again, we need a common sense solution to immigration. Economists know it. Businesses know it. Labor leaders know it. And the American people demand action. They don’t want more excuses from Washington. That’s what Thursday’s hearing is about, and that is what the May 1st marches are about.
For a detailed of May 1st events in the rest of the country, please visit www.anewdayforimmigration.org.
DHS has issued a press release announcing new worksite enforcement guidelines. You can read the press release here. Download NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER press release here commenting on the guidelines.
From Aarti Kohli:
Language Acquisition and Immigrant Integration
The process of immigrant integration and policies related to language differ significantly between European countries and the United States. The United States does not have a coherent, unified national policy on immigrant integration or language access. In fact, it is often state and local interventions that have been at the forefront of improving language access for immigrant populations. In contrast, many European states have explicit strategies and dedicated funds for cultural, social and language integration and assimilation.
On May 4, the Warren Institute and UC Berkeley's European Union Center of Excellence will hold a conference intended to bring U.S. and European experiences with immigrant integration under a comparative lens. The conference will examine specific initiatives and programs in K-12 and post-secondary education, and also workforce training in the U.S. and Europe, focusing on the characteristics of successful cases. Further, the conference will seek to draw lessons for U.S. policymakers from the European experience with national integration policies, particularly in light of potential large-scale immigration reform in the United States.
May 4, 2009 ----- 10:00am - 4:00pm ----- Lipman Room Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
From the National Immigration Law Center:
DHS ISSUES "NEW" WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT GUIDELINES THAT ARE SIMPLY MORE OF THE SAME
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is disappointed at the so-called new directive on worksite enforcement issued by Sec. Napolitano today and announced by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release. The directive itself has not been made public.
The press release announces a new emphasis on criminal prosecutions of employers and expanding coverage of humanitarian guidelines. But at the same time, DHS reports that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will continue to detain undocumented workers in workplace raids.
"Americans had been awaiting meaningful change under the Obama administration but all we've gotten seems to be more of the same type of ineffective and costly immigration enforcement that we saw with the mass ICE raids under the Bush administration," stated Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC. "We have seen the terrorizing effect ICE raids have had on families who have been ripped apart, children who have been abandoned, workers who have courageously come forward to report labor violations only to be detained, and on local economies which have been severely impacted. It is simply unacceptable that these 'new' guidelines are the administration's response to the millions of people demanding rational and humane immigration policies," said Hincapié.
The directive purportedly shifts the focus toward employers engaged in criminal activity. The press release does not even mention access to legal protections for workers who are victims of employer misconduct, such as access to visas for victims of human trafficking or other crimes, or as material witnesses to crimes. "We support an enforcement scheme that goes after employers who are flaunting the nation's immigration and criminal laws as well as undercutting businesses that do play by the rules. But the directive does not address the root causes of why employers recruit, hire, and exploit undocumented workers to begin with," said Nora Preciado, employment policy attorney with NILC. "This is a missed opportunity by the administration to focus on employers engaged in egregious labor violations and to see workers as essential to these prosecutions. Instead immigrant workers across the nation will be pushed deeper into the shadows of our economy," added Preciado.
The DHS press release states the agency plans to expand the existing humanitarian guidelines to worksite raids involving more than 25 undocumented workers. While this reflects a change from the previous threshold of 150, NILC's experience in supporting local groups in response to ICE raids has shown us that the humanitarian guidelines are fraught with more serious problems that should have been addressed. The humanitarian guidelines need to be improved so they are uniformly followed by local ICE agents and guarantee that workers are not detained when alternatives to detention are available, obtain prompt access to counsel, and limit the transfer of detained immigrants away from their homes and families.
"This new guidance sends a strong message to the millions of Latinos who voted for change when they elected President Obama that this administration is not serious about change and protecting the rights of workers. The stakes are even greater now for a broad and just immigration reform that will allow immigrant workers to come out of the shadows to continue contributing to the nation's economy and participating fully in their communities," concluded Hincapié.
From America's Voice:
Schumer Panel Seeks Way Forward on Immigration;
Republican Cornyn Seems Stuck in Reverse
Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, will hold a hearing: "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" The hearing is the kickoff of the immigration debate in the 111th Congress and shows continued momentum toward movement on comprehensive immigration reform this year.
"This past election was a game-changer and both parties are confronted with the new politics of the issue," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice. "The election showed that swing voters want solutions to tough problems rather than political finger pointing, Latino voters want their contributions respected rather than their families and rights threatened, and that anti-immigrant activists are more bark than bite. This creates a great deal of new political space for good policy."
Under the leadership of the Subcommittee's Chairman, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Subcommittee will hear from an array of prominent witnesses who will share their perspectives on the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. Witnesses will include former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan; Montgomery County, MD Police Chief Thomas Manger; evangelical Pastor Joel Hunter of the Northland Church in Central Florida; Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights(LCCR); and Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
At the request of Ranking Member Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the panel will also hear from a business representative who supports comprehensive immigration reform, Jeff Moseley, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as the notoriously anti-immigrant Kris Kobach, who works with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cornyn's choice of witnesses reflects the schism in the Republican Party between moderate voices of reason and anti-immigrant extremists. While the 2008 election results should have delivered a final death blow to the Republican immigration wedge strategy, many in the GOP continue to cling to the mass-deportation approach. Meanwhile, new national polling numbers show that the American people strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and expect President Obama to follow through on his campaign promise to address the issue. Polling also shows that if Congress follows through on today's hearings and engages in practical immigration reform, they will be rewarded with strong support from the American people.
"Sen. Schumer is one of a number of Democratic leaders who now understand that the public wants their leaders to lean into this issue and enact common sense solutions, and we salute him for holding this hearing and officially inaugurating this year's debate," said Sharry. "On the other hand, we will be watching with interest to see how Senator Cornyn navigates this issue. He has talked a good game in the past, but when it came to voting he proudly opposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Given how the GOP's attempt to use illegal immigration as a wedge issue has backfired spectacularly, and given the shifting electoral map in Texas and across the country, will he finally have the courage to vote for reform and stand up to the very people that are driving his party over the cliff? Today's hearing lifts the curtain on what promises to be one of this year's most dramatic and high stakes policy debates."