Saturday, June 20, 2009
Noted photographer and author David Bacon has allowed us to print this ImmigrationProf exclusive, with photos. We appreciate this and previous contributions by David.
NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO - 05JUNE09 - The people of the settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border. This community was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and was founded on December 22, 2004. They called it Blanca Navidad (White Christmas) because they say it snowed in the desert on the day they arrived to begin building their homes. The barrio is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement. Most of its 1000 residents work in the maquiladoras.
Local authorities tried to force people to move and even brought out bulldozers to tear the homes down. On February 1, 2006 people were forced from their houses, often with just clothes and blankets. In their efforts to recover their community, residents were supported by Nuevo Laredo's progressive daily newspaper, El Mañana, and by the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras. After a visit from a delegation of Zapatista leaders in La Otra Campaña, "people began to realize that, in reality, Blanca Navidad still existed as a community," says community leader Blanca Enriquez. During the May, 2006 government attack on the town of Atenco outside Mexico City, Blanca Navidad residents demonstrated in their support, and briefly shut down the "Free Trade Bridge" connecting Nuevo Laredo to Laredo, Texas.
Although the barrio still has no electricity and sewage service, residents were able to force authorities to provide drinking water. Today Blanca Navidad has a community garden, a tortilleria, a community clinic, and activists who practice alternative medicine.
For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on June 20. As an expression of solidarity with Africa, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000. The resolution acknowledges that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on June 20. The Assembly therefore decided that, from 2001, June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
African Refugee Day had been formally celebrated in several countries prior to 2000. In the Roman Catholic Church, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in January each year, having been instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X.
Celebrations From June 18-20 the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) commemorates World Refugee Day in Washington, DC, in order to draw the public's attention to the millions of refugees world-wide who are forced to flee their homes. Each year, UNHCR selects a theme and coordinates events across the globe. This year's theme is "Real People, Real Needs," and focuses on the global economic crisis. Acording to UNHCR, 42 million people around the world lack the essentials of life -- clean water, food, health care, sanitation,shelter, and protection fromviloence and abuse.
See IntLawGrrls for an informative post about World Refugee Day. The link above includes a number of links to relevant documents and information on refugees.
The California budget crisis has been hitting the state hard -- and more cuts are on the way. Local counties are reducing any health care to the undocumented. And, now, Don Thompson reports on Huffington Post, the Golden State is considering the release of "criminal aliens" from prison.
Friday, June 19, 2009
A Salinas student with a near-full ride to Princeton and a $40,000 Matsui Foundation scholarship gave the scholarship to Hector Rojas, an undocumented student, to go to UC Davis. He intends on majoring in math and returning to his community as a teacher.
Undocumented students are ineligible for federal financial aid and loans. This feel good story has provoked some controversy, which is not surprising in these times.
We also know that keeping this promise means upholding America's tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Those things aren't contradictory; they're complementary. That's why I'm committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform as President of the United States. (Applause.)
The American people -- the American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can't tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. That's why we're taking steps to strengthen border security, and we must build on those efforts. We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots. For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who played by the rules. That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that's what I'm committed to passing as President of the United States. (Applause.)
We must never forget that time and again, the promise of America has been renewed by immigrants who make their story part of the American story. We see it in every state of our country. We see it in our families and in our neighborhoods. As President, I've been honored to see it demonstrated by the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States.
Last month, I had the honor of welcoming a group of our service members as citizens for the very first time. In that crowd, there were faces from every corner of the world. And one man from Nicaragua -- Jeonathan Zapata -- had waited his whole life to serve our country even though he was not yet a citizen. "By serving in the military," he said, "I can also give back to the United States." He's done so in Afghanistan, and he even helped man the 400,000th aircraft landing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
And Jeonathan's story is not unique either. He's part of a proud legacy of service. For generations, Hispanic Americans have served with great commitment and valor, and there are now nearly 150,000 Hispanic Americans serving under our flag. And today we are proud -- (applause) -- today we are proud to welcome several of them who are wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed. Please join me in honoring their service, and in keeping them and all of our troops in our thoughts and prayers -- please. (Applause.)
From the Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Institute, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and the Asian American Justice Center:
The Asian American Justice Center, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Asian Law Caucus, and Asian American Institute have launched a national petition to support the Reuniting Families Act and fix America’s broken family immigration system. Our goal is to have 1,000 signatures to send to Congress by the end of the summer – let your voice be heard today!
Sign the petition here: http://www.advancingequality.org/FamilyPetition/
Our current immigration system has not been updated in 20 years, and forces family separation. More than 4 million individuals have been waiting in line for years—sometimes even decades—to reunite with their close family members, who are hardworking, taxpaying contributors to America’s economy and society. Family members who apply for visas in the prime of their lives are not granted admission until they reach retirement age, undermining their economic contribution to our country.
The Asian American community is particularly impacted. More than 1.5 million qualifying family members of Asian Americans are estimated to be in immigration backlogs. The majority of Asians immigrating to the U.S. do so through the family-based immigration system. In 2008, 90 percent of immigrants from Asia came to the U.S. through family immigration.
The Reuniting Families Act helps to clear the current immigration logjam by providing legal mechanisms to streamline the application process. The new legislation is the American solution we have been looking for.
If you support the Reuniting Families Act, please help us reach our goal and sign the petition today!
Again, here’s the link: http://www.advancingequality.org/FamilyPetition/
Thank you for your support!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Radio Iowa News reports on the report of a national commission released today that concludes that there was a "systematic abuse of worker rights" during the federal immigration raids that included the 2006 raid at the Swift meatpacking plant in Marshalltown and the 2008 raid Agriprocessors in Postville. The reports says the raids cost millions of dollars to capture a few undocumented immigrants, and harmed worker relations in the process. See the report at Download National_Commission_on_ICE_Misconduct_FINAL_Report
Annual Children’s Vigil Celebrates NY’s Support of American Kids, Immigrant Families Honor Father’s Day by Calling for Passage of the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 182)
On the eve of Father’s Day, Families for Freedom’s Youth Committee will be holding its annual Children’s Vigil to raise awareness about American kids whose families are ripped apart due to the federal government’s draconian deportation policies. The year’s Vigil will celebrate the overwhelming support New York has shown for this bill and pay special tribute to immigrant dads fighting to stay with their families. Youth will follow the Vigil by holding a street corner speak-out to educate the community about what they can do to help win passage of this legislation.
WHY: As President Obama sets his sights on immigration reform, American kids and their immigrant families want him to know that New Yorkers’ priority is to keep our families together. The Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 182) is the only bill currently in Congress that unties the hands of immigration judges to consider the best interests of U.S. citizen children during deportation proceedings. In the past fiscal year, nearly 350,000 people were deported leaving behind thousands of American kids who need their moms and dads. The Vigil will be a celebration of the hundreds of New Yorkers who have lobbied, called, written, and visited Congress to help get this legislation reintroduced and cosponsored in 2009!
WHEN: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 11am-1pm WHERE: Union Square Park, South (E. 14th St, across from Whole Foods Market)
WHO: Youth Organizers from Families for Freedom Immigrant Organizer and father, Roxroy Salmon and his children Representatives from: Congressman Jose Serrano’s Office, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s Office, State Senator Jose Serrano’s Office, New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Office, and MORE! Religious leaders and congregants from the NYC New Sanctuary Coalition Community Organizations: the American Friends Service Committee, Children’s Defense Fund, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and many more organizations!
June 17, 2009--The Society of American Law Teachers—SALT—sent the Obama Administration recommendations to immediately revise nine categories of immigration policy through executive orders and administrative directives while Congress tackles the task of comprehensive immigration reform. The SALT recommendations result from the accumulated experiences of clinical law faculty operating immigration law clinics in law schools across the country. “The SALT recommendations acknowledge the need for national security balanced with due process, the rule of law, and human dignity, which are the heart of American jurisprudence,” said Professor Raquel Aldana, co-chair of SALT’s Human Rights The nine categories of immigration policy include criminalization of immigrants; federal immigration enforcement policies, including workplace raids, gang-related immigration enforcement, and bus sweeps within our borders; immigration enforcement by local authorities; treatment of immigration detainees; rights of asylum seekers; right to counsel at immigration proceedings; exclusion of intellectuals, poets, artists, and activists for ideological reasons; immigrant labor and worker rights issues; and human trafficking. Committee, and in-coming co-president of SALT. “Our country’s traditions require that we treat all men and women, and their children, fairly and protect them from exploitation while acknowledging the role immigration has played in the history of our country.”
For the full document, click here.
A bill has been submitted in the U.S. Senate that would roll back portions of the REAL ID Act of 2005. The PASS ID Act will not require that breeder documents, birth certificates and Social Security numbers, be verified before a license is issued, according to an Associated Press report. Click here for the full story.
A bill that would grant students who are in the country illegally a pathway to residency will likely not be introduced again as a stand-alone piece of legislation. Instead, some Congress members said the DREAM Act – for Development, Relief and Education for Minor Aliens – will likely become part of a comprehensive immigration reform package that could be introduced as early as fall of this year. Click here for the full story.
Click here for an interesting blog posting on, with a link to, an article by Ben Crouse critical of the recent increased use of immigration raids. Among the criticisms are that the raids contribute to an anti-immigrant backlash and heightened anxieties among Latinos.
Hat tip to Jessica Slavin (Marquette)!
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) has received a major grant of $500,000 from The Ford Foundation for a new initiative to create momentum for comprehensive immigration reform.
"We are thrilled The Ford Foundation recognizes AJC's vital and timely work to advance, in partnership with community leaders, immigration reform," said Ann Schaffer, director of AJC's Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Center for American Pluralism.
Building on decades of experience working with diverse ethnic partners, AJC will convene a series of roundtable discussions with a broad spectrum of community stakeholders in the immigration debate to seek common ground. AJC will also offer advocacy skills-building workshops to Latino leaders and organizations in four localities -- Arizona, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey -- furthering AJC's pioneering collaborative efforts with this community.
"Our goal is to encourage a civil and informed national discourse about immigration that will lead to policies reflecting America's fundamental commitment to democratic values and human rights, and also respond effectively to our nation's national and economic security needs," said Schaffer, who spearheads AJC's intergroup relations efforts and will direct the yearlong project. AJC has long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform.
Feniosky Peña-Mora currently is an Associate Provost, Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as a Center Affiliate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and a Faculty Affiliate at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois.
Professor Peña-Mora earned a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Civil Engineering and a Doctor of Science (Sc.D) in Civil Engineering Systems from MIT in 1991 and 1994, respectively. Before going to the University of Illinois in 2003, Professor Peña-Mora worked at MIT as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of information technology and project management in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He has also served as a visiting professor at Loughborough University in Great Britain and at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
A native of the Dominican Republic, going to Columbia represents a homecoming for Peña-Mora, who spent part of each year while growing up living with family in Washington Heights. He first learned to speak English in his early twenties by attending English-as-a-second-language community programs at Teachers College, Riverside Church and other organizations in the city.
Hat tip to Dan Kowalski!
Julia Preston of the N.Y. Times reports on a new "report, by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse [TRAC], a nonpartisan group that analyzes data about federal government performance, found that the shortage of [immigration court] judges had contributed to a 19 percent increase in the backlog of cases since 2006 and a 23 percent increase in the time it takes to resolve them." (emphasis added). What does this mean? It means that, while enforcement dollars have gone up and up and up, invvestments in the overworked immigrtaion courts has not kept pace. This means longer times to decisions for immigrants facing removal, longer detentions (and increased expenditures) for noncitizens in custody, and huge caseloads for the immigration judges, who have been criticized for their professionalism for a number of years (including by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales).
The TRAC report concluded that the failure to increase immigration judges -- promised by the Bush Administration in the summer of 2006 -- contributed to a substantial jump in the number of backlogged cases in the Immigration Courts. The report, based on an extensive analysis of hundreds of thousands of records obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the FOIA, also showed that the waiting time required to dispose of the cases -- many of them involving detained aliens -- has grown much longer. Read the new TRAC report by clicking the link.
The California Court of Appeal (Sturgeon v. Bratton, June 17, 2009) has upheld Los Angeles Police Department's Special Order 40, which limits its officers authority to inquire into the immigration status of crime witnesses, victims, and suspects. LAPD believes that the policy promotes law enforcement by encouraging the immigrant community to cooperate with local police in local law enforcement. A plaintiff had challenged the Special Order, which has sparked controversy in recent years, as an encroachment of the federal power over immigration. The court of appeal ruled that "The trial court granted summary judgment, upholding the validity of SO40. ... We agree with the trial court's analysis in all respects, and therefore affirm."