Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Groups Object to New DHS 287(g) Expansion

We have previously blogged about objections to the Obama Administrations to its expansion of the 287(g) program. Under the Bush Administration, 287(g) agreements led to inhumane treatment of immigrants and citizens and the insanity of folks like Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaiao. Now there's more:


July 17, 2009

Media Contacts:

Adela de la Torre, Communication Specialist, National Immigration Law Center, 213.674.2832 (office), 213.400.7822 (cell)

Andrea Black, Coordinator, Detention Watch Network, 202-393-1044 ext. 227 (office), 520-240-3726 (cell)

Judith Greene, Director, Justice Strategies, 718-857-3316,

Civil rights and community groups across the country denounce Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s plans to expand the highly criticized 287(g) program to eleven new jurisdictions around the country.  The program, authorized in 1996 and widely implemented under the Bush Administration, relinquishes, with no meaningful oversight, immigration enforcement power to local law enforcement and corrections agencies.

Since its inception the program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforcement, advocates and local community groups.  A February 2009 report by Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research firm, found widespread use of pretextual traffic stops, racially motivated questioning, and unconstitutional searches and seizures by local law enforcement agencies granted 287(g) powers.  Justice Strategies recommended the program be suspended.  "We found evidence that growth of the 287(g) program has been driven more by racial animus than by concerns about public safety.  The expansion of this deeply flawed program cannot be justified before a thorough test of corrective actions shows solid proof that they have been effective," reports Judy Greene, Director of Justice Strategies. A March 2009 Government Accountability Agency (GAO) report, criticized DHS for insufficient oversight of the controversial program. 

Also in March, the United States Department of Justice launched an investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, to determine whether Arpaio is using his 287(g) power to target Latinos and Spanish-speaking people.  In Davidson County, Tennessee, the Sheriff’s Office has used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while fishing off piers. One pregnant woman---charged with driving without a license---was forced to give birth while shackled to her bed during labor. Preliminary data indicate that in some jurisdictions the majority of individuals arrested under 287(g) are accused of public nuisance or traffic offenses: driving without a seatbelt, driving without a license, broken taillights, and similar offences.  Such a pattern of arrests suggest that local sheriff’s deputies are improperly using their 287(g) powers to rid their counties of immigrants, by making pretextual arrests that are then used to forcefully deport people. “We need only look at the example of Maricopa County to understand the devastating effects the increased 287(g) program will have on our communities,” said Chris Newman, Legal Programs Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.  “The Obama administration must recognize that the 287(g) program is predatory and ripe for corruption and profiling that will harm community stability and safety for everyone.”

The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Chiefs Association have expressed concerns that deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce civil federal immigration law undermine the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities, overburdens cities’ already reduced resources, and leaves cities vulnerable to civil liability claims.  “When victims and witnesses of crime are afraid to contact police for fear of being jailed or deported, public safety suffers,” said Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center. 

Napolitano’s July 10 announcement that DHS has granted 11 new jurisdictions 287(g) powers stunned advocates who had been expecting a major overhaul of – or end to – this failed program.  “DHS is fully aware that the abusive misuse of the 287(g) program by its current slate of agencies has rendered it not only ineffective, but dangerous to community safety.   It is surprising Napolitano did not simply shut this program down.  Expanding this failed program is not in line with the reform the administration has promised,” said Andrea Black, Coordinator of the Detention Watch Network.

Signatory Organizations:

A Better Way Foundation, New Haven, CT
All of Us or None, San Francisco, CA
Border Action Network, Tucson, AZ
Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY
Center for Media Justice, Oakland, CA
Detention Watch Network, Washington, DC
Families for Freedom, New York, NY
Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL
Grassroots Leadership, Austin, Texas
Homies Unidos, Los Angeles, CA
Immigrant Defense Project, New York, NY
Immigrant Justice Network
Immigration Law Clinic, UC Davis School of Law, Davis, CA
Immigrant Legal Resource Center, San Francisco, CA
Judson Memorial Church, New York, NY
Justice Strategies, New York, NY
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco, CA
Main Street Project, Minneapolis, MN
Media Action Grassroots Network, Oakland, CA
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
National Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles, CA
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Boston, MA
Partnership for Safety and Justice, Portland, Oregon
Project Rethink
Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, GA


July 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sea Smuggling from Mexico on the Rise

As the land border with Mexico tightens with new fencing and technology, the authorities are seeing a sharp spike in the number of people and drugs being moved into the United States by sea off the San Diego coast.  For the full story, click here.


July 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kris Kobach in the News: "What Do God and President Obama Have in Common?"

I6a00d8341bfae553ef01156fc307e9970c-800wi ImmigrationProf in June reported that law professor and anti-immigrant advocate KRIS KOBACH, not a stranger to controversy, is running for Kansas Secretary of State.  The Washington Independent reports that Kobach is in hot water again.  Kobach, who has been campaigning for photo ID requirements at the voting booth, recently spoke at a Republican Party barbecue and told a joke, “ask[ing] what President Obama and God had in common, with the punchline being neither has a birth certificate.”  Not surprisingly, Democrats objected.

Despite the fact that President Obama's citizenship was settled long ago, conspiracy theorists abound about the alleged efforts to maintain secrecy over the President's lack of U.S. citizenship.  Now, Kobach seems to be seeking to tap into the "birther movement."

UPDATE (July 20):  Julia Preston of the N.Y. Times has a profile on Kobach's immigration "fight."  It fails to mention this latest campaign faux pas. 


July 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Date or Deport?

Some troubling news from North Carolina.  The News Observer reports that an immigration officer based in Durham is accused of threatening to have a Salvadoran woman deported unless she agreed to spend the night with him, according to federal agents who arrested him this week.

July 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Film About the Swift & Co. Raids

A documentary by a Denver-based film company brings the now-fading raids at Swift & Co. back to the fore, delving into a spectrum of issues surrounding both the raid and the wider subject of immigration reform. The film features interviews with about 50 subjects, including Weld District Attorney Ken Buck and former Greeley mayor Tom Selders.  For the full story, click here.


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

HIV Immigration Ban Could be Lifted

Foreigners who have HIV would be allowed to travel and immigrate to the United States under a plan by federal health officials to lift a 22-year ban on infected visitors that critics say was unnecessary from the start.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are seeking public comment through Aug. 17 on the proposal, which would remove HIV from the list of diseases that can bar entry to the country and do away with HIV testing as part of medical exams for permanent residence and, in some cases, travel visas. For the full story, click here.


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

US May Admit up to 1350 Palestinian Refugees from Iraq

Approximately 1,350 Palestinian refugees from Iraq are being considered for resettlement in the U.S. after being referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For the full story, click here.


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sister Mary McCauley: Postville's Saint

TheIowa Independent reports that Sister Mary McCauley, formerl administrator for the region that includes St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, Iowa has been selected by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women to receive the 2009 Christine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice.  "In the immediate wake of a May 2008 massive immigration raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, many immigrant families took refuge in St. Bridget’s Church. McCauley was instrumental not only in providing for the immediate needs of those seeking sanctuary, but in developing a plan of action to care for the women and children left behind."


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

On Academic Freedom and Consular Nonreviewability: American Academy v. Napolitano

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Newman wrote the opinion, with Judges Feinberg and Raggi) today vacated and remanded for further proceedings a district court ruling that permitted the U.S. government to bar a prominent Muslim scholar from entering the United States in 2004 on grounds that he had contributed to a charity that had terrorism connections. The decision was in American Academy v. Napolitano.  The scholar, Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss academic, had landed a job as a professor at Notre Dame, but the Bush administration denied his visa based on evidence that from 1998 to 2002, Ramadan donated money to a Swiss-based charity which the Treasury Department later categorized as a "terrorist organization."  The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the case to allow Ramadan to establish that he did not know that it was a "terrorist organization."

Importantly, the Second Circuit found that the doctrine of consular nonreviewability -- that consular officer visa decisions were not reviewable in a court of law -- did not apply and, citing Kleindienst v.Mandel, that some review of the discretionary judgment was in order when First Amendment claims were made.

For the NY Times story on the case, click here.

As an serious aside, has anyone noticed that it appears that the Second Circuit will have been court which sent the first African American (Thurgood Marshall) and the first Latino (Sonia Sotmayor) to the Supreme Court?


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

First Chinese American Woman Elected to Congress

In 1875, the Page Law was enacted to severely limit the entry of Chinese immigrant women to the United States. The law was all a part of the goal of restrict the growth of the Chinese immigrant population in the U.S. and to subject the community to severe control. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was also interpreted in a manner to reduce Chinese women immigrants along with other Chinese laborers.

"You've come a long way." On Tuesday, Judy Chu became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. Congratulations!!!

Jean Meri writes in the LA Times:

On Tuesday, adding to a 24-year political career launched on a local school board, Chu became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. She won a special election -- with nearly 62% of the vote -- to succeed longtime ally Hilda Solis, now U.S. Labor secretary, in the 32nd Congressional District.

She won this election in much the same way she posted earlier victories -- expanding on her Asian base (about 13% of voters in the congressional district) to win support among Latinos (who make up almost half of the registered voters in the district), organized labor (a major element in the largely working-class district) and women. Her years on the Garvey School Board and the Monterey Park City Council and representing a local Assembly district made her a trusted household name among San Gabriel Valley political leaders, many of whom crossed party and ethnic lines to support her. Click here for the whole story.


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More on the Sonia Sotomayor Hearings

Here is Alvaro Huerta's read on the recently concluded Sotomayor hearings.

I have been blogging this week for La Opinion on the hearings.  For a link (and English translation), click here.


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oklahoma Tax Unfair to Immigrants

From Appleseed:

Appleseed is mobilizing to oppose a recently enacted Oklahoma tax on remittances, passed by the state legislature in June. The first of its kind, the law imposes a five dollar fee on each remittance transaction made through a licensed money transmitter, plus an additional fee of one percent of amounts greater than five hundred dollars.

Having long advocated for fairer practices in the remittance market, Appleseed Centers have already helped block similar measures in Texas, Nebraska and Georgia. In response to the new tax, Appleseed is working with Centers, the White House, industry, and grassroots groups on strategies to overturn or ameliorate the effects of this bill and to ensure that similar bills are not replicated elsewhere.

"Because a tax credit for the new remittance fees is available to Oklahoma residents who file Oklahoma taxes, the law clearly is motivated by an anti-immigrant bias," said Appleseed executive director Betsy Cavendish. "It imposes a harsh financial burden on those who can least afford it."

If permitted to stand, the law will have a number of deleterious effects on Oklahoma's immigrant community. Many immigrants may attempt to circumvent the tax by remitting funds through unlicensed couriers or money transmitters, or by driving across the state border to make a wire transfer, thereby exposing themselves and their families to undue financial risk.

Meanwhile, the tax itself will further burden low-income individuals. An Appleseed study entitled Access to Financial Institutions and Use of Financial Services found that Mexican immigrants earning less than $30,000 per year are more likely to send money back to Mexico than those in higher income brackets.

And because international remittances are crucial to meeting the daily needs of immigrants' families abroad, the Oklahoma tax will also place a strain on international poverty alleviation. Inter-American Dialogue estimates that 80 percent of remittances are spent on critical immediate needs by the receiving families on food, clothing and housing.

The law also applies to domestic transfers and therefore will affect those who send money to support family members in other states - primarily low-income and unbanked families. Furthermore, low-income seniors and other Oklahoma residents who make less than the baseline for filing a state income tax form would be unable to claim the tax credit.

Appleseed calls upon the current administration to reaffirm the Treasury Department policy of supporting measures that lower the costs of remittances. For more information on Appleseed's work in the remittance field, click here. 


July 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Permanent Anti-Gang Office Established

A permanent federal anti-gang office will open in Charlotte by the end of the summer, U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office takes over for a temporary unit established in 2005 that has partnered with local police to disrupt gangs originating in Latin American countries, particularly the Mara Salvatrucha 13, Surenos, Brown Pride, SUR-13 and Latin King street gangs.  For the full story, click here.


July 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Asylum Possible for victims of Domestic Violence

The Obama administration has opened the way for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States. The action reverses a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees. For the full story, click here.


July 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Refugees and Asylees: 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics has released data on refugees and asylees in fiscal year 2008.  A total of a little more than 60,000 refugees were admitted into the United States in 2008, with the leading countries of nationality for the refugees Burma, Iraq, and Bhutan.  Nearly 23,000 persons were granted asylum, including a little mnore than 12,000 affirmative grants.  The leading countries of nationality for persons granted asylum were China, Colombia, and HaitiDownload Refugees and asylees


July 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Senator Coburn Plays Ricky Ricardo at Sotomayor Hearings

From Joan Walsh:

Is this a great country, or what? Even though Alabama's Jeff Sessions was blocked from a federal judgeship because of kooky statements about the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan, he could still go on to become a U.S. senator, and lead a racially tinged charge against the first Latina Supreme Court nominee. Equal opportunity, indeed!

I thought that Sessions' bullying and blundering in the first two days of the Sonia Sotomayor hearings might get the GOP to ask him to hide his light under a bushel for a bit, but there he was on Wednesday, holding a quick press conference in the hearing break to announce he continues to be "troubled" by Sotomayor's views on race, as if there was any doubt about that.

Not to be outdone by Sessions, though, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn shamed himself with an unbelievable reference to Desi Arnaz's ancient Cuban stereotype, Ricky Ricardo, husband of Lucille Ball on "I Love Lucy." During a surreal exchange on gun rights, in which the theoretical example was what might happen to Sotomayor if she (wrongly, illegally, but maybe understandably) got a gun and shot Coburn, the right-wing senator told her, "You'd have a lot of 'splainin' to do," referring to Arnaz's refrain when Lucy got in trouble with one of her crazy schemes.

It should be shocking that in 2009, a U.S. senator would be inspired to relate to an eminent jurist who happens to be Puerto Rican with half-century-old Latino stereotypes (as well as a sort of sexist comparison to wacky Lucy) but after these last few days, it isn't shocking. The way Republicans have shellacked Sotomayor over her "wise Latina" remarks shows they really, really want to be the party of aggrieved white men. No others need apply.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who ought to know better, hectored Sotomayor on the issue (after she'd already said her choice of words was "bad," and had already committed herself umpteen times to judicial objectivity). In what seemed to be a poorly veiled reference to Sessions, whose bid for a judgeship was derailed by the controversy over his NAACP and KKK remarks, he pompously and condescendingly asked Sotomayor whether if she got a do-over on a poorly chosen statement on race, white guys should too?

    GRAHAM: If Lindsey Graham said that I will make a better senator than X, because of my experience as a Caucasian male makes me better able to represent the people of South Carolina, and my opponent was a minority, it would make national news, and it should.

    ….Others could not remotely come close to that statement and survive. Whether that's right or wrong, I think that's a fact. Does that make sense to you?

    SOTOMAYOR: It does. And I would hope that we've come in America to the place where we can look at a statement that could be misunderstood, and consider it in the context of the person's life.

I said soon after President Obama nominated Sotomayor that she would almost certainly have to walk back her "wise Latina" comment, and that she probably should. I think that we need new ways to talk about race, given that what used to be self-evident observations about minority oppression can sound tin-eared and maybe even threatening to some white people in the era of the first black president and the most diverse Cabinet ever.

Still, my Caucasian certainty about our new era of race relations, as whites become a minority group, has been shaken watching the way Republicans have treated Sotomayor in these three days -- as an exotic, hot-tempered curiosity who isn't quite like the rest of us, and whose 17 years of legal rulings matter far less than the words she uses to encourage minority law students. These three days show we haven't come that far at all.

I can't say it any better than Mike Madden, who's live-blogging the Sotomayor hearings today: "So far, it's been remarkable to watch the GOP bash Sotomayor for saying she'd have empathy with some people because of her background and life experience, and also bash her for not having empathy with the firefighters in the Ricci case."

I'm confident Sotomayor will survive her grilling, but seriously, with leadership like this, the GOP might not survive as a national party.

-- Joan Walsh


July 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Migration Information Source Articles

The July 2009 issue of Migration Information Source has two interesting articles:

Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region

International migration from Asia grew dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s. Since the 1990s, migration within Asia has risen. Stephen Castles of the University of Oxford and Mark J. Miller of the University of Delaware examine regional trends in this article based on their book Age of Migration.

Refugees and Asylees in the United States

In 2008, the United States raised the ceiling on refugee admission by 10,000, admitted more than 60,000 refugees for resettlement, and granted asylum to nearly 23,000 people. MPI's Jeanne Batalova takes a detailed look at refugee and asylum statistics in the United States.


July 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration in Sotomator Confirmation Hearings

200px-SoniaSotomayor2009robe7crop Immigration did come up a bit yesterday in U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Here is a a tidbit from the NY Daily News on the confirmation hearings: "In immigration cases, [Senator Charles] Schumer said, she had ruled for the government in 83% of 850 immigration asylum cases — the same rate as other judges in the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.'  Here is a fuller text of the discussion between Judge Sotomayor and Senator Schumer on the topic of immigration.  She even mentions the "Chevron doctrine" of deference, something  sure to please the administrative law profs in the audience.  :)

 Senator Dick Durbin asked Judge Sotomayor about her views about the decision-making of the immigration courts, as well as whether she agreed with Judge Richard Posner's criticisms of the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals.  Judge Sotomayor was cautious, as can be expected.


July 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Gittelson on the Politics of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Robert Gittelson has an informative post on comprehensive immigration reform on Standing Firm.


July 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Note on “Alien” Terminology in the Public Discussion of Immigration and Immigrants

Click here for a brief note on "A Note on 'Alien' Terminology in the Public Discussion of Immigration and Immigrants" on Concurring Opinions.


July 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)