Saturday, May 23, 2009
Coalition to Request Oakland ID Card - City Council Committee Meeting 5/26 at 12pm
Contacts for Spanish language interviews:
Maria Dominguez, <firstname.lastname@example.org> from OCICC -- 510-967-3916
Mark Silverman, email@example.com, 415 305 8217 - for legal perspective
For immediate release:
We urge the public to attend the meeting and express support for the Oakland City Identification Card Coalition (OCICC)'s proposed municipal identification card is now! For information, after the event, please call Maria Dominguez.
May 26, 12:00p.m. (noon)
Oakland City Hall ,
Hearing Room One - 1st Floor,
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza,
Oakland, California 94612
The City Council Finance & Management Committee will hold a hearing on the proposed municipal identification card program. For the meeting agenda and staff report, see:
For a copy of OCICC's comprehensive proposal, see http://oaklandcityidcard.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/oakland-city-id-card-proposal-april-final.pdf
Wendy Sefsaf writes for Immigration Impact:
From the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigrants have voluntarily served in all branches of the U.S. military from the beginnings of America. Without the contributions of immigrants, the military could not meet its recruiting goals and could not fill the need for foreign-language translators, interpreters, and cultural experts. Since 2001, 47,500 service members have naturalized and become U.S. Citizens in ceremonies around the world from Afghanistan, to Iraq to South Korea and even on board Navy flagships at sea.
But despite their honorable service and dedication to America, the U.S. government is still falling short on honoring the service of these young immigrant men and women. Click here for the full piece.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Hearings on "Securing the Borders and America's Points of Entry, What Remains to Be Done" were held before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship on May 20. Witnesses included:
John Torres Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Washington, DC
David V. Aguilar Chief, Office of Border Patrol U.S. Customs and Border Protection Washington, DC
Thomas Winkowski Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations U.S. Customs and Border Protection Washington, DC
The Honorable J.D. Hayworth Former United States Representative, 5th District of Arizona Phoenix, AZ
Richard Wiles Sheriff El Paso County, Texas El Paso, Texas
The Honorable Chad Foster Mayor City of Eagle Pass, Texas Eagle Pass, Texas: "The 9-11 terrorists entered the United States through ports of entry. Most undocumented aliens enter the United States through ports of entry. Most of the illegal drugs entering the United States come through ports of entry. No border wall will solve those problems...."
Dr. Douglas Massey Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs Princeton University Princeton, NJ: "Mexican immigration is not and has never been out of control. It rises and falls with labor demand and if legitimate avenues for entry are available, migrants enter legally. The massive militarization of the border and resumption of mass deportations occurred despite the fact that rates of undocumented migration were falling and the perverse consequence was that these actions lowered the rate of return migration among those already here."
Samuel Franklin Vale President Starr-Camargo Bridge Rio Grande City, Texas
The link above includes links to the statements of the witnesses.
From the National Network for Immigrant & Refuge Rights:
Dear NNIRR Members, Partners, Allies & Friends,
Please remember Roberto Martínez, human rights community frontline organizer who died earlier this week, in your thoughts, prayers and organizing for justice and human rights. We urge you to send condolences to his family and community and consider making a generous as possible donation to help his family with the costs incurred during his health crisis and funeral.
NNIRR members note Roberto’s passing with sorrow and send their deepest condolences to his family and community.
Roberto Martínez played a significant role in the immigrant rights movement and with border communities putting human rights on the agenda for social justice change. His contributions to developing the vision and work of the immigrant rights movement will be felt for years to come.
Also, please see two messages from AFSC below on Roberto’s passing and services.
– NNIRR www.nnirr.org
* * * * * * *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2009
HUMAN RIGHTS PIONEER ROBERTO MARTINEZ PASSES AWAY PEACEFULLY
SURROUNDED BY HIS IMMEDIATE FAMILY
ROBERTO MARTINEZ WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING AND DOCUMENTATION IN BORDER COMMUNITIES
SAN DIEGO [MAY 20] — Roberto Martinez, a lifelong Chicano civil and human rights advocate and former director of the US-Mexico Border Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in San Diego, passed away this morning in the presence of his immediate family. He was 72 years old. Roberto was a fifth generation Chicano who witnessed blatant discrimination and racial intolerance as a young man. He became a prominent advocate for migrant communities in the late 1970s and early 1980s and worked with several organizations in order to confront law enforcement abuse of authority. In 1983, Roberto became the director of the AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program, and he was instrumental in developing a human rights methodology that is now widely used by human rights organizations along the US-Mexico border. In 2001, Roberto retired as director of the AFSC because of complications with diabetes, after 18 years of service with the AFSC, and after a lifetime of advocacy for human rights in border communities.
Throughout the course of his life, Roberto participated in countless community forums, panel presentations, and testified before the US Congress on Border Patrol violence and the increasing militarization of the US- Mexico border. Roberto became an internationally recognized advocate of the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, and those relegated to the margins because of immigration policies. In 1992, Roberto became the first US citizen to be honored as an International Human Rights Monitor by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch for his pioneering human rights advocacy in border communities. Recently Roberto received the prestigious Ohtli Award presented to him by the Mexican Government, the highest honor granted to a non-Mexican national for their service to Mexicans abroad. He was also the recipient of the Quezalcoalt Award, presented to him by the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights. Roberto is survived by his wife, Yolanda, nine children, 23 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Information about services for Roberto are forthcoming. [SEE BELOW]
Roberto will surely be missed. He was a mentor to many, always worked with integrity and treated everyone with respect. Roberto’s determination in advocating for justice, peace, and dignity is an admirable legacy that should serve as an example for all.
* * * * * * *
Thank you very much for the outpouring of support and condolences for the Martinez family. These have been difficult moments for them and for our communities. Roberto will truly be missed; voices like his are needed urgently in the quest for justice and dignity.
Roberto’s wish was that all who attended the services wear white, his favorite color and to also remember the recent and historic marches demanding justice for migrants, that so inspired him and our communities.
Services will be held:
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 from 5 PM to 9 PM
Rosary will be held at 7 PM
753 Broadway Ave
Chula Vista, CA
Wednesday, May 27 at 10 AM
St. Jude’s Catholic Church
1129 South 38th Street
San Diego, CA
Please send sympathy cards and contributions to
PO Box 126147
San Diego, CA 92112
If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, you may send it to:
Morena Blvd. #200,
San Diego, CA 92117
In the subject area of the check, write “Roberto Martinez Donation.” They will mail you a receipt with PIQE's non-profit tax I.D.
¡Roberto Martínez, presente ahora y siempre!
Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division, today announced that Juan Osuna will be Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL). Prior to this appointment, Osuna was chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Osuna received a BA from George Washington and a JD from the Washington College of Law at American University. As chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Osuna guided the Board through challenging times in its history, putting in place a number of initiatives that changed the Board's operations. OIL has jurisdiction over all civil immigration litigation, and is responsible for the nationwide coordination of immigration matters before the federal district courts and circuit courts of appeals.
From America's Voice:
Pew Research Center Poll Finds Moderates and Conservatives Driving Attitude Change
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Pew Research Center for the People and Press released its Trends in Core Values 1987 to 2009 Report, which has been tracking American attitudes towards party affiliation and solutions to difficult political issues for more than twenty years. The results of this year’s report clearly demonstrate that the American people support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country, and that moderate and conservative Democrats have had the largest shift in attitudes towards immigration reform. These results mirror recent CBS/New York Times and ABC/Washington Post on the same topic.
“The Pew report is yet another sign that public support for comprehensive immigration reform is growing stronger, and that the consensus in favor of earned citizenship as part of comprehensive reform is becoming more deeply rooted,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.
The report finds that “by nearly two-to-one (63% to 34%), most [Americans] favor a way for illegal immigrants in the United States to gain legal citizenship if they meet certain conditions, including passing background checks and paying fines.” This represents a 5 percentage point jump in support compared to 2007.
The report also finds that the change in Democrats, from 62 percent in 2007 to 73 percent in 2009 has come entirely from the Party’s moderates and conservatives. According to the report, “70% [of moderate and conservative Democrats] currently support a way to provide citizenship for illegal immigrants under certain conditions, up from 53% in December 2007. As in 2007, more liberal Democrats than conservatives and moderates in the party support this idea (82% in 2009 and 83% in 2007), but the ideological gap among Democrats has narrowed.”
“In the past, the conventional wisdom has been that a candidate’s support for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship might drive away moderate and conservative voters. This poll demonstrates what the 2008 election demonstrated: these voters are tired of the politics of polarization and paralysis and want their leaders to step up and solve tough problems,” continued Sharry. “The political space for immigration reform has never been greater. Congress should move on this issue this year.”
To view the full Pew Research Center for the People and the Media report, visit:
Greg Crespi (SMU) has a new article on the Social Science Research Network (www.ssrn.com) entitled “Green Cards for Foreign House Buyers: A Way to Help Stabilize Housing Prices.” Here is an abstract to the articles, which makes a novel proposal:
The continuing decline in US housing prices is making it difficult to effectively address our nation’s financial and economic problems. Any measures that would serve to help stabilize housing prices without requiring substantial government expenditures merit serious consideration. Richard Lefrak and Gary Shilling have recently set forth in the Wall Street Journal the broad outlines of a proposed change in immigration law that would confer conditional residency and eventually permanent residency upon foreign purchasers of US houses. In this article I present and discuss a modified version of their proposal that is more comprehensive and that seeks to avoid the problems that have plagued the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ existing EB-5 foreign investor visa program. My proposal calls for a minimum equity investment requirement of $40,000, provides foreign purchasers of US houses with immediate conditional residency and then permanent residency after three years of ownership, initially limits the number of visas that can be granted annually to 85,000, and allows foreign purchasers to rent out these houses if they choose to do so. It does not call for any changes in the current US tax treatment of foreign source income, although certain changes in that treatment would make this program significantly more attractive to some potential foreign investors. This proposal would in my opinion reduce the current excess supply of housing that is depressing housing prices by perhaps as much as 3.5% or more per year, and thus make a modest but significant contribution to stabilizing housing prices. The proposal does raise some legitimate concerns of both an economic and non-economic nature, but its potential benefits justify pursuing this approach despite those concerns.
Richard Herman at Immigration, Inc. has an interesting post contending that "To win in a competitive, 21st century global market, the emphasis must be on talent and building teams around the best talent you can find, regardless of race or which passport a person first held." He points out that
-- 30% of players in Major League Baseball are foreign-born, as are 20% of NBA and 80% of NHL players.
-- The Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that appears to be destined for an NBA championship, are a success, not only because of Lebron James but because the trust between the players, coaching staff, management and ownership that transcends national origin. Cavs players include Ilgauskas (Lithuania), Varejao (Brazil), and Pavlovic (Serbia).
Change We Can Believe In? Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever: Immigrants, Be Careful When You Go to Immigration Court!
I guess that, given the emphasis on enforcement now, enforcement forever of new Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it should not be surprising that Immigration & Customs Enforcement apparently is ramping up enforcement in new and novel ways. According to a story by Anna Gorman of the LA Times, immigration officers have arrested a number of immigrants at the downtown Los Angeles immigration court as they were on their way to hearings. "All of the people arrested there had been previously deported and all had criminal records, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Immigration agents are reinstating previous orders of deportation, Kice said, which `enables the nation's immigration judges to focus on the cases of those aliens who have not had their day in court.'"
Is this the right way to reduce the workload of the immigration judges? Is that what ICE is really worried about here? Once noncitizens (convicted or not) in the greater Los Angeles community get wind of the risks of arrest by simply appearing at immigration court, aren't they more likely to be too frightened to appear? What came of the notion that we needed to encourage immigrants to trust the immigration authorities to treat them fairly so long as they followed the rules?
One of the lessons from the new LA enforcement ploy is that, when the head of the agency preaches non-stop the virtues of enforcement, enforcement, enforcement without proper recognition of the need for balance and respect for basic rights and the humanity of the people affected, we see actions like the new one in Los Angeles. Expect more of these kinds of "enforcement gone wild" incidents so long as Secretary Napolitano continues to sing the praises of enforcement now, enforcement forever.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Spencer Hsu reports for the Washington Post that "The number of arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border has dropped 27 percent this year, a decline that could put the figure at its lowest level since the early 1970s, federal officials said yesterday." This makes perfect sense if one views undocumented immigration -- and immigration generally -- as primarily a labor market phenomenon. Fewer jobs equal less migration.
New Study: The Role of Local Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties
The Role of Local Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties: "This 256-page report presents findings and recommendations from the Police Foundation's year-long national effort that examined the implications of immigration enforcement at the local level. The project brought together law enforcement executives, policy makers, elected officials, scholars, and community representatives in a series of focus groups across the country and at a national conference in Washington. The report includes research on the rights of undocumented immigrants and the legal framework for enforcement of immigration laws, demographics, immigration and criminality, evaluation of federal efforts to collaborate with local police on immigration enforcement (287(g) program), a national survey of law enforcement executives on immigration issues and local policing, the experience of undocumented youth, and a survey of law enforcement executives attending the foundation conference about their views on local immigration enforcement issues."
From Mary Ann Zehr of Education Week:
Immigrant Women Are 'Family Stewards' in America
The top two reasons that immigrant women say they moved to the United States were to join family members already in the country and "to make a better life" for their children, according to a poll of a representative sample of such women by New America Media. The pollsters interviewed 1,002 immigrant women from Latin American, Asian, African, and Arab countries in August and September of 2008. The margin of error is 3 percent.
I'm thinking the findings might be helpful for educators of English-language learners who have a lot of interaction with parents. Many of these women, in helping their families adjust to the United States, are acquiring new skills and attitudes.
New America Media concludes from the poll's findings that immigrant women are "family stewards" in the United States. They are the main drivers in the family, for instance, in seeking U.S. citizenship. An overwhelming proportion of immigrant women said they decide about the finances of the family, how many children to have, and "very sensitive and personal family issues." Most immigrant women are married, and of those who are, almost all live with their husbands. Fifty-eight percent of Latin American immigrant women are married, while 85 percent of Korean women are. Seventy-three percent of all immigrant women say they've become more assertive at home and in public since coming to the United States.
Thirty percent of the women polled said they are undocumented. The pollsters asked an interesting question that I haven't seen anyone else ask: "If you were forced to return to your home country by the U.S. government, would you bring your children born in the U.S. with you or would you leave them in this country?"
More than half of all immigrant women in all but one of the groups said they would take their children back to their home country. Fifty-four percent of Chinese women, for instance, said they'd take their children back with them (29 percent said they "don't know"). Sixty-one percent of Latin American women said they'd take their children back with them (21 percent answered "don't know"). But only a small proportion of Vietnamese women—17 percent—said they'd take their children back to their native land. Forty-three percent of the Vietnamese women said they would "leave them in the U.S.," and 40 percent replied "don't know." Click here for the full piece.
Kevin Johnson reported earlier today on the Harvard University President Drew Faust's endorsement of the DREAM Act. Here's an account of a DREAM Act student who had a chance to speak with Vice President Joe Biden recently:
"Mr. Vice-President!" I almost shouted. I then went into automatic pilot, as if I've done this a million times over. I stated the issue, gave some numbers and economic stats, and then talked about my own peers at UCLA. I disclosed my efforts as a leader on the issue and also as an advocate for issues students care about as the Southern California Regional Director of the California College Democrats. I was in the process of asking him "the question" when he stopped me mid-sentence. "The answer is YES," he stated. I responded by saying that I knew he was a supporter of the DREAM Act when he was a Senator and was well aware that Obama was a co-sponsor at one point, but that my question was more of a when and how.
He began to talk about his background to the group. He said that with an Irish Catholic background he understood that immigrants of the past came to this country due to religious persecution and that now, we are looking at a surge of immigrants because of economic dislocation. He said, "No one comes to this country leaving their family, culture and everything they own, only to be hated and treated poorly here, they come for jobs. It's a matter of survival."
He then went on to talk about the importance of international relations, decreasing poverty abroad, etc. He gave the group the big picture. He then came back to specifics. "If it were up to me and Barack, we'd have something out by the end of year. We hope to."
It was the answer I expected. I don't know what else I could have gotten out of it, and I must admit, I may have romanticized the situation through my own anticipation and thus felt disappointed. As he was walking away, I decided to approach him and pull him aside. I asked him if I was allowed to give him anything and he said he didn't see why not. So I handed him a copy of Underground Undergrads (I had previously written a personal note in it), a letter from Kevin Prada and a Support the Dream Act button. I explained a bit of what they were, and he promised to read them on the plane back home. I hope he did.
He then asked me to thank everyone who was doing this work, for putting it on the radar. "Thank you so much for the work you do, really. Thank you" Feeling a bit better, I walked away wondering about how that meeting could have possibly contributed to the movement.
(A few hours later at UCLA, I found out one of our IDEAS members' sister had gotten deported that day. She is 17.)
I know this meeting is one of those once in a lifetime moments you take with you your whole life. It's not everyday a Dreamer gets the chance to speak directly with people like our Vice-President. I hope it inspires people to know that at least I had a seat at the table that one time, for one hour and that he listened and he cared -- it was a true honor to have met Vice-President Joe Biden. Click here for the full blog entry.
We need the DREAM Act!
Today, the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) announced Olivia Chiu, 11 of South Pasadena, CA, as the first place winner of the 2009 "Celebrate America" Creative Writing Contest. Olivia's submission was selected from thousands of creative entries submitted nationwide. Olivia, a fifth grader at Monterey Hills Elementary School in
For the past 12 years, fifth graders write creative entries on the theme "Why I'm Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants." The contest encourages youth, families and surrounding communities to evaluate and appreciate the effects of immigration in their own lives.
Olivia's essay will be printed in the Congressional Record, a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor, and she will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Las Vegas, where she'll recite her essay at the American Immigration Law Foundation's Annual Benefit on Friday evening, June 5.
The 2009 Celebrity Judging Panel included Pulitzer Prize winning author, Junot Diaz, Firoozeh Dumas, Senator Edward Kennedy, and the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugee and Border Security Chairman, Senator Charles E. Schumer.
The second place winner is Elise Wang (San Francisco, CA) for "The Way to America" and third place was awarded to Chloe Ding (San Diego, CA) for "A Better Way of Life". Honorable mentions were awarded to Nigel Castelino (Chicago, IL) for "Why I'm Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants" and Elizabeth Palmer (Queensbury, NY) for "One Heart, One Mind."
Surviving Spouses Against Deportation (www.ssad.org) reports (with a link to the opinion and the oral arguments) that "[j]oining the Sixth and Ninth Circuits, the First Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the widow penalty! This creates a 3 to 1 Circuit Split, which may be resolved if the Supreme Court decides to review the flawed Robinson opinion from the Third Circuit." The First Circuit decision, handed down yesterday and written by Judge Torruela, involved the case of Neang Chea Taing, a Cambodian citizen who came lawfully to the United States, fell on love, and married Tecumsen Chip Taing, a naturalized U.S, citizen. In December 2004, Mr. Taing filed a Visa Petition for his wife, and Ms. Taing filed an adjustment application and a request for work authorization, which were approved. On July 2, 2005, Mr. Taing died of a stroke. The question -- answered in the affirmative by the First Circuit -- was whether Ms. Taing remained eligible for an immigrant visa as an "immediate relative" of a U.S. citizen despite her huusband's death.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Yesterday, Broadway Joe Namath, Hall of Fame Quarterback for the New York Jets, was a guest of honor at an annual awards ceremony at which his family was being honored for his family's immigrant experience. His grandfather Andras Nemet and his father, Janos, did not speak English on arrival in the United States after a the long journey from Hungary to the Pennsylvania steel town, Beaver Falls, where he was raised. According to Joe, both "worked hard to assimilate."
Namath's paternal grandfather, later known as Andy Namath, arrived in 1911. Janos was left behind until his mother went back for him in 1920.
According to the N.Y. Times (link above), on the ferry to the awards ceremony, Joe Namath ran into Candice Bergen, who the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation asked to announce the winners of Family Heritage awards, which included comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Dr. Eric R. Kandel, the Nobel Laureate. She also gave Gloria and Emilio Estefan, musicians born in Cuba, an award for newer arrivals.
"In 1997, U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexican border as part of the war on drugs shot and killed Esequiel Hernández Jr. Mistaken for a drug runner, the 18 year old was, in fact, a U.S. citizen tending his family's goats with a .22 rifle. He became the first American killed by U.S. military forces on native soil since the 1970 Kent State shootings."
It is senseless deaths like this, as well as the thousands more resulting from Operations Gatekeeper, Hold the Line, etc. that make me worry about more, more, more,and more border enforcement and the enforcement mantra that we hear coming from those in Washington, D.C. entrusted with administration of the U.S. immigration laws.
Spencer S. Hsu writes in the Washington Post:
Although President Obama has spent much of his time in office moving away from the policies of his predecessor, on immigration enforcement, he has embraced several Bush administration initiatives, and the changes he has promised to make are couched in nuance.
In recent days, for example, the administration has announced it will expand a $1.1 billion program begun under President George W. Bush to check the immigration status of virtually all people booked into local jails over the next four years. Obama will continue a "zero-tolerance" program that charges and jails any illegal immigrant caught crossing parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. And the administration will resume construction of a $8 billion "virtual" fence of tower-mounted sensors and cameras along the border. Click here for the full story.
We have written much about the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in Prince William County, Virginia. Last fall, Eric Byler and Annabel Park began posting short video clips on a YouTube channel they created called “9500Liberty” at http://www.youtube.com/9500Liberty. The project took its name from a street address in Old Town Manassas where a sign had been posted, reading: “Prince William Co. Stop Your Racism to Hispanics!” The sign protested the new county policy that requires police to check immigration status of suspected "illegals" during routine traffic stops and denies some services to undocumented immigrants.
“9500Liberty” has been viewed more than tens of thousands of times.
The Legal Aid Justice Center has secured best-selling author John Grisham to MC a dinner and a special screening of 9500Liberty on May 21 in Arlington, VA. Tickets available at www.justice4all.org or call 434-977-0553 ext. 101.