Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bill Hing on 287(g)

Blogster extrarordinaire Bill Hing has this to say on New American Media about the Obama administration's recent expansion of the 287(g) programs.  After all that is happened at the local levels on immigration and immigrants in recent years, how can we expand local involvement in immigration enforcement?


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UC awards honorary degrees to WWII-era Japanese Americans

The University of California system announced on July 16 that it would bestow honorary degrees to about 400 former UC students of Japanese descent who were interned during World War II. The Board of Regents is trying to make amends to aging Japanese Americans whose educations were cut short decades ago. UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement that the the step was "long overdue" and described the incident as a "historical tragedy." "To the surviving students themselves, and to their families, I want to say, 'This is one way to apologize to you. It will never be possible to erase what happened, but we hope we can provide you a small measure of justice,' " Yudof said. The diplomas will bear the inscription Inter Silvas Academi Restituere Iustitiam—or "to restore justice among the groves of the academe."


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

On Racial Intolerance

It has been a wild ride on the race relations front over the last few weeks -- the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Henry Gates' arrest, and the longstanding debate about immigration and immigration reform, just to name a few recent controversies. For Robert Gittelson's insightful analysis of these recent developments, click here.


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sotomayor on Immigration

200px-SoniaSotomayor2009robe7crop Daphne Eviatar of the Washington Independent has a very interesting story about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's immigration jurisprudence, a topic that did not come up much in her Senate confirmation hearings.  It is apparent is that, depending on the views of the evaluator, Judge Sotomayor has been criticized as being both "too conservative" and "too liberal" in her immigration cases.


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Understanding Immigration Law

9781422411797 (Pub 3240) The editors of this blog are pleased to announce the publication of Understanding Immigration Law (LEXISNEXIS 2009), a basic primer on immigration law.

Understanding Immigration Law, a new immigration law textbook authored by Dean Kevin R. Johnson (UC Davis),  Bill Ong Hing (UC Davis), Raquel E. Aldana (Pacific McGeorge), Leticia Saucedo (UNLV), and Enid Trucios-Haynes (University of Louisville) has been being published by Lexis Nexis Law School Publishing. The book is a comprehensive overview of U.S. immigration law designed to supplement the most widely adopted immigration law casebooks. It offers background about the history and foundations of U.S. immigration law, identifies factors that have historically fueled migration to the United States, summarizes the law concerning the admissions and removal procedures and criteria in the Immigration and Nationality Act, and ends with a chapter speculating about the future of U.S. immigration law. Earlier this summer, the book was shipped to law faculty around the country and is now available for order.


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Chapter 1001 of Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

Lauren Smiley in the San Francisco Weekly reports on but another all-too-common occurrence in our modern immigration world:  A Peruvian immigrant filed suit in federal court this week, alleging she was trafficked into two years of forced labor as a nanny, cook, and household servant by two U.S. ccitizens at a Walnut Creek home and apartment.


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

What About the Children?

For another sad story of a U.S. citizen child whose parents were arrested in an immigration sweep at their workplace in Phoenix, Arizona, click here.  Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common aftermath of immigration raids and sweeps.


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Texas AG Uncertain on Legality of Texas University Fee Law

In an opinion issued on July 23, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said his office could not say for certain whether a provision to allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for in-state tuition was a violation of federal law and the Equal Protections Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Under the Texas state education code, a student is deemed to be a Texas resident for purposes of in-state tuition if he or she graduates from a Texas high school and has been a state resident for three years. The student needs to file an affidavit that he will become a US resident as soon has he has been given the chance to apply.  The Texas AG concluded that he was uncertain whether a court would find the Texas law preempted by federal law like the California court of appeals found a similar California law prempted.  See Martinez v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 83 Cal. Rptr. 3d 51 8 (Cal. App. 3d), superseded by 198 P.3d 1 (Cal. 2008).

Hat tip to Cappy White!


July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Workers Upset Over Obama DHS Enforcement Policies

OPEN LETTER FROM THE WORKERS OF OVERHILL FARMS, AMERICAN APPAREL, AND FARMER JOHNS - we make a public appeal to all immigrants' rights coalitions, unions, churches, community organizations, and worker/human rights activists to join us in organizing marches and rallies at this most distressing moment of mass terminations due to the Obama Administration's policy of unprecedented enforcement of employer sanctions through I-9 audits of profiled companies that hire immigrants; and the broad use of e-Verify, the federal system of employment verification of legal status. We demand unity between all the organizations and coalitions that represent that they work on behalf of immigrants and in favor of fair and humane immigration reform.
We call on the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC), CHIRLA, Latino Movement USA, MIWON, HERMANDADES, interested immigrant and human rights organizations, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Change To Win, the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, all religious denominations, Dream Act students, MECHA, and other student organizations, Chambers of Commerce, and other interested parties to respond to this call and work tirelessly to support the workers of these and many other companies who are confronted with such terminations. This is clearly the fault of the Obama Administration and only he has the solution in his hands to stop the cheap scapegoating and racial profiling of immigrants that is now sweeping America. This is certainly not the change we voted for, and not the immigration reform promised by President Barack Obama.

We are planning a series of actions to demand an end to the anti-immigant Obama policies and call on you to unite with us. The workers united will never be defeated.

· Wednesday, July 29, 2009 March and Rally from American Apparel (7th and Alameda) to the Federal Building (Temple and Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles) - 4:00 p.m.

· Saturday, August 1, 2009 Rally at the Placita Olvera (Alameda and Cesar Chavez) - 1:00 p.m.

We are not activists but the very workers that you all refer to in your press communications, articles, advocacy, research and conferences. We are taking the lead in this struggle and will not wait for others to act.

Worker's Council of Overhill Farms
American Apparel Workers
Farmer Johns Workers


July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Health Care Reform Sparks Attack on Lawful Immigrants

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson provided important information on the real facts about immigrants and health care reform. Today, the National Immigration Center issued a release on disturbing proposals in the Senate.

From the National Immigration Law Center:

ENOUGH is ENOUGH: Strong Response Needed to Prevent Congress from Shutting Legal Immigrants out of Health Reform

First our political leaders said health care reform would cover everyone.

Then they said undocumented immigrants would not be covered. "It's too politically explosive," explained Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.

Now we hear the Senate committee is considering barring legal immigrants from subsidies enabling low and moderate income families to secure affordable coverage under the Heath Insurance Exchange, the signature new feature of health care reform.

Under pressure to reduce the price tag associated with the bill, Senators are looking for "easy targets" to cut, and a bulls-eye is turning to immigrants.

Sound familiar? A similar dynamic occurred a decade ago when the Newt Gingrich Congress funded welfare reform on the backs of legal immigrants, restricting their eligibility for services. Immigrants and the state and local governments that host them are still struggling under that discriminatory legacy.

Our task is to ensure that Congress hears, loud and clear, that immigrants are not, in fact, "easy targets." Our political leaders must understand that creating new barriers to health care for legal immigrants would also be also "politically explosive," sparking opposition from constituents and jeopardizing the prospects of health reform's passage.

Please contact your two Senators with this urgent message:

"Legal immigrants and citizens should be treated equally under health reform. The same rules should apply when it comes toaffordablehealth insurance through subsidies, or through Medicaid."

Legal immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens, and have a right to use the programs and services their tax dollars pay for. It would be unacceptable to welcome people to come to this country as lawful permanent residents, collect their taxes, and then refuse to let them buy affordable health insurance through the new exchange. All Americans deserve health care they can afford. We simply cannot afford half-measures and unfair exclusions in health reform that leave out millions more.

To reach your Senators, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and say the name of the Senator you are trying to reach.

For the names and direct contact information of your Senators, search here:

In addition, we encourage organizations to endorse a letter, which calls on the Senate Finance Committee to ensure that: all legal immigrants have access to subsidies in the Health Insurance Exchange; the five year waiting period preventing legal immigrants from participating in the Medicaid program is eliminated; and Medicaid is available to all low-income children and pregnant women, regardless of immigration status.

A quick turnaround is required. Organizations wishing to sign on should inform Bill Daley by noon Eastern time, Monday, July 27:


July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Front Line Police urge Congress to Enact Comprehensive Reform

From America's Voice:

National Gathering of Law Enforcement Leaders Call for Urgent Federal Action

Washington, DC – Over one hundred leading law enforcement officials gathered in Phoenix this week to discuss how the current federal immigration policy impacts community policing at the local level.  At the National Summit on Local Immigration Policies, hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), these chiefs concluded that the broken immigration system has hurt their ability to do work with the entire community to fight crime, and Congress should promptly adopt an immigration bill that includes guest worker programs, legalization of the undocumented workforce, and stronger enforcement against employers who hire illegally.  As the Arizona Republic noted in coverage of the conference, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris summed up the view of many attendees by saying that the immigration system “needs to be fixed, and it needs to be done sooner rather than later.” 

The PERF summit is the latest in an escalating drumbeat of law enforcement voices demanding federal action on comprehensive immigration reform.

“State and local police are on the front lines of the effort to fight crime and protect our communities, and they see the impact of Washington’s failure to fix the immigration system every day,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.  “Police need to work with the entire community in order to protect us from criminals, yet right now millions of immigrants are afraid to work with them when they are victims of crime, because they think that could lead to their own deportation.”   

“These law enforcement leaders are bringing an important perspective to the need for rational immigration reform, and demanding that Washington take action now.  For too long, politicians in Washington have let the problem grow, and focused on looking ‘tough’ on immigration, not looking for common sense solutions.  We need a reform law that would require immigrants in the U.S. illegally to register, pass background checks, pay a fine and taxes, and study English on their way to become full American citizens.  This would restore the rule of law and help state and local police focus on their number one job: fighting crime and protecting the public from criminals.”

The PERF summit attendees also criticized implementation of the federal “287(g)” program that has involved many police agencies in civil immigration enforcement, rather than focusing on the serious criminals it was intended to address.  Their analysis bolstered a recent Police Foundation report, which found that “civil immigration enforcement by local police undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in our communities.”

To read more about the law enforcement voices speaking up about the need for common sense immigration reform, visit the web site of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative at, or contact Arturo Venegas, former Chief of Police in Sacramento, CA and current Project Director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative at


July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jury Out in Hospital Deportation Lawsuit

From the Associated Press:

STUART, Florida -- The case against a South Florida hospital that quietly chartered a plane and sent a seriously brain injured illegal immigrant back to Guatemala over the objections of his family and legal guardian was in the hands of a jury Thursday.

Health care and immigration experts across America are closely watching the court action. Lawyers say it may be the first of its kind and underscores the dilemma facing hospitals with patients who require long-term care, are unable to pay and don't qualify for federal or state aid because of their immigration status.

Why should Martin Memorial Medical Center have to pay for a lifetime of care "for injuries we didn't even cause?" hospital attorney Scott Machaud asked the six-member jury during closing arguments of the monthlong trial. He said the hospital saved the life of 37-year-old Luis Jimenez and provided the uninsured man with $1.5 million worth of care, only to be unfairly hit with a lawsuit by his cousin, who is his guardian.

"Paging Alice in Wonderland, where up is down and down is up and no good deed goes unpunished," Machaud exclaimed.

However, under federal law, Martin Memorial was required to care for Jimenez until someone else would take him. Because of his immigration status, no one else would. But hospitals that receive Medicare reimbursements are required to provide emergency care to all patients and must provide an acceptable discharge plan once the patient is stabilized. Click here for the rest of the story.


July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sheriff Joe to Sweep Phoenix

AP reports that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, is readying for a 3-day crime and immigration sweep in metropolitan Phoenix. "Arpaio has run several sweeps throughout the county in the past year to catch illegal immigrants, drawing criticism that deputies were racially profiling people."  We will see what this sweep brings in this heavily Latino city.


July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fix E-Verify?

Below is a thoughtful piece by the Immigration Policy Center advocating that E-Verify by fixed, before it is expanded. I understand the argument, but as David Bacon and I have written, the best solution is to repeal employer sanctions laws and enforce labor laws for all workers.


Washington D.C. - As Congress holds hearings and introduces plans for expansion of an Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS) like E-verify, it has become clear that some version of employment verification will be part of comprehensive immigration reform. However, much remains to be done before EEVS is ready for prime time. The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center:

"E-Verify received a lot of attention on Capitol Hill this week, but the radically different approaches to its implementation considered by Congress reinforces our observation that it is not ready for prime time. The Senate Immigration Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, held a hearing that looked at an expanded E-Verify program as part of an integrated component of comprehensive immigration reform. In contrast, Congressman Heath Shuler announced the reintroduction of a previously failed bill, the SAVE Act, which calls for mandatory expansion of E-Verify without fixing our broken immigration system.

Senator Schumer understands that we can't implement a mandatory electronic employment-verification system like E-Verify in its present form, without serious protections and revisions to it. While there remains significant disagreement over what those protections should look like, there is a clear understanding that the gravity of implementing a mandatory program that has the potential to affect every individual's ability to work - citizen or immigrant - requires thoughtful consideration and analysis.

We mustn't forget that employment verification affects every person who works in the U.S. - not just undocumented immigrants - and Congress must move forward carefully.  Any expansion of E-Verify must be part of wider reform which requires current unauthorized workers to legalize their status and gives employers legal channels through which they may hire needed legal workers. Attempting to implement a mandatory E-Verify program without such reforms, as Congressman Shuler envisions, is a recipe for disaster.

Mandatory E-verify could put thousands of  U.S. citizens and legal immigrants at risk of losing their jobs, will be expensive for small businesses at a time when the economy is weak, places additional pressures on the already overburdened Social Security Administration, and does not guarantee that undocumented workers will not get jobs. Every effort must be made to ensure that a new and expanded EEVS program will actually serve its intended purpose."

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Use A Spanish Word, Go to Jail!

We have reported previously on local governments passing "anti-illegal immigration" ordinances, with Hazelton, PA's probably being the most well-known.  We also have sought to link the rise in hate crimes against Latinos with the "blame game" played in cities that have passed such laws. Now, Springfield, Tennessee city officials are loudly complaining about Latinos using public parks (and speaking Spanish) on the weekend.  The public officials apparently believe that most Latinos who speak spanish are "illegal aliens" and want them all locked up.  For a television news story on the controversy, click here.


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Detainee Hunger Strike in Louisiana

DETAINEES THREATEN HUNGER STRIKE: No somos animales. (We are not animals.)

As you know, last week, on Tuesday, July 7th, detainees held a day-long hunger strike to force ICE to intervene and improve conditions in the jail.  In response, an ICE official at the jail dismissed the detainees request for a meeting, and castigated the detainees for wasting his time.

Detainees are now threatening a longer hunger-strike starting Tuesday in response to the severely dehumanizing detention standards and conditions in the jail.  Given the historical lack of oversight, they are demanding that Dora Schriro herself visit the facility, meet with detainees outside of facility staff, and ensure completion and publication of the monitoring instruments included in the 2006 Detention Operations Manual.  Dora Schriro is special advisor to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on detention issues.


Detainees are using Spanish-language grievance forms (provided by the Workers Center) to voice their frustration about their circumstances and articulate the following demands:

Detainees face dehumanizing conditions and treatment in the jail.  They want ICE to improve fundamental conditions and treatment; and raise standards of the jail to a level of decency.  Detainees want all jails used by ICE to be held to high, legal standards. They demand ICE monitor whether jails follow the rules and transfer or release detainees from facilities that do not follow the rules.
Detainees lack access to basic legal information.  Detainees are demanding regular access to fundamental information about the legal processes, including where their case is and their court dates.  They also demand information about their rights, their legal defenses, and access to lawyers who can help them defend their cases.
People picked up by ICE disappear from their families without notice.  Their families have no idea where they are, sometimes for weeks or months.  Detainees face severe isolation and are utterly cut off from any communication with their families.  The rural location and lack of translation capacity in the jail severely compound the detainees isolation.    Detainees are demanding that ICE create a system that limits detention and, when necessary, provides detention with close and direct contact with family, friends, and community.
 Detainees are trapped in an interminable process of deportations has no rules or deadlines.  Detainees wait months after their court cases are completed to be deported.  Detainees miss the death of parents, birth of children, and other fundamental human experiences while they await deportation in detention.  Detainees want a quick, transparent system of deportation with rules that includes exceptions for humanitarian grounds.


On Friday, the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice conducted a day-long fact-finding investigation.  We conducted interviews with twenty- six detainees from seven countries.  The meetings revealed that the jail in Basile fails to meet ICEs own detention standards, as well as any test of common decency.   

The Basile detainee population consists predominantly of New Orleans reconstruction workers and immigrants detained after traffic stops in Nashville, Tennessee pursuant to its 287(g) agreement. 

Detainees reported that they have no recourse for conditions that regularly  violate ICEs own 2006 detention standards.  Attached here is our report on the detention conditions at the facility.  The report describes the conditions that push detainees to the limits of their physical and mental well-being: 
Scarcity and inhumane conditions  
Lack of access to fundamental information
Severe isolation
Non- transparent and inhumane system of deportation
Lack of responsible oversight by ICE

On Friday, we also shared the draft letter many of you signed in support of their request for a meeting with ICE and your general support of their courageous struggle for humane conditions in the facility.  Our ability to convey your immediate support was critical to bolstering the detainees strength.  After suffering such severe isolation, they were very moved and strengthened to learn that their fast had earned the recognition and support of groups across the country who share their commitment that future immigrant detainees should not face these same conditions.


Add your organization to the solidarity letter, which will be sent to DHS and ICE on Tuesday, supporting the workers demands. 
Write a letter of solidarity to the detainees.  Email your letter to us at  New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice staff will deliver your letters to the detainees.

CONTACT SAKET SONI 504 881 6610 --


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Public Policy Institute of California: New Patterns of Immigrant Settlement in California

I_709SBI The Public Policy Institute of California has issued a new report, New Patterns of Immigrant Settlement in California. Although California is still home to more immigrants than any other state, its popularity as an immigrant destination has waned steadily since 1990. Within the state, immigrant population growth in counties such as Riverside and Kern has soared past Los Angeles County’s. Immigrants are increasingly less likely to move to areas with established immigrant networks and more likely to go where economic opportunities are better.  Here is the report.  Download Ppic


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has posted new information about the training of its asylum officers, who decide asylum applications affirmatively filed by noncitizens in the United States.


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Brookings Immigration Series

Brookings has released a new immigration series of reports.  Experts on each stage of the immigration process—from the broad political view to judicial concerns—are analyzing the immigration debate in an ongoing “Brookings Immigration Series.”

The first four papers released yesterday seek to define the landscape of the upcoming public debate over immigration policy:

 • William Galston sketches the policy outlook for immigration reform. Since crafting a new approach to immigration will be complex and contentious, he divides the problem into the specific issues that new immigration legislation must confront: overall level of new legal permanent residents to be admitted; the role of family reunification; employment and skills; making the new law responsive to economic change; enforcement; coping with past policy failures, and integrating the new arrivals.

Darrell West and Thomas Mann offer a forecast for immigration reform in the new political climate. New federal policy will require a new immigration narrative, bold and innovative ideas and a determination to overcome major obstacles to action, they write. The nation’s growing Latino factor and some recent shifts in immigration positions suggest that forging a new policy is possible; but the topic still evokes economic, social, political and cultural obstacles that must be overcome if congressional reform is going to effective.

Audrey Singer describes the new geography of U.S. immigration. The restructuring of the U.S. economy and the accompanying decentralization of cities and growth of suburbs as major employment centers have shifted immigrant settlement to a new class of metropolitan areas. As a result, many more states and municipalities have a stake in the passage of federal immigration reform.

Russell Wheeler examines seeking fair and effective administration of immigration laws. Largely overlooked in this debate, the immigration courts, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are crucial to the nation’s efforts to enforce its immigration laws fairly and effectively. A lack of consensus and resources for total enforcement of laws governing entry to, and status in, the country creates selective enforcement and debate over how to deploy limited resources.


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Facts About Immigration and Health Care Reform

Bill Hing blogged yesterday about the coverage of undocumented immigrants in health care reform, which the President discussed generally last night.  I wanted to provide a little bit of factual material on immigrant health care usage.

In a 2007 study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, undocumented Mexicans and other undocumented Latinos reported less use of health care services and poorer experiences with care compared with their US-born counterparts.

A May 2009 report Heading South: Why Mexican Immigrants in California Seek Health Services in Mexico (Medical Care)  found that, driven by rising healthcare costs at home, nearly one million Californians cross the border each year to seek medical care in Mexicoe. An estimated 952,000 California adults sought medical, dental or prescription services in Mexico annually. Of these, 488,000 were Mexican immigrants. The article is the first large-scale population-based research ever published on U.S. residents who travel to Mexico for health services. It is based upon an analysis of data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey.

Thanks to my colleague Lisa Ikemoto for informing me about these two research reports.

The Immigration Policy Center (July 22, 2009) has released a fact sheet on immigrants and health care reform.  As Congress debates health care, and decides who to include in their sweeping reform package, it is important to review the basic facts about immigrant participation in health care.

Highlights of the current data show:

• U.S. citizens make up the majority of the uninsured, at 78%, while legal and unauthorized immigrants make up 22% of the nonelderly uninsured.

• Immigrants incur fewer health care costs than the rest of the population because they are generally younger and healthier than the overall aging U.S. population.

• Immigrants' per-person medical expenditures were one-half to two-thirds less than U.S.-born citizens.

• Recent immigrants were responsible for 1.4% of the total public medical expenditures for adults in 2003, even though they constituted 5% of the total population.

• The cost of Medicaid and Medicare could be as much as $1.2 trillion per year by 2015. Having more healthy, working-age people paying into the system will lessen the burden on the current, smaller pool of taxpayers.

• Non-citizens are a vast, untapped network of new subscribers who can share the risks and the benefits of health care coverage.

Update:  Two recent Health Reform Watch blog posts (here and here) on undocumented immigrants and healthcare by Kathleen M. Boozang (Seton Hall) are worth reading. 


July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)