Saturday, August 22, 2009

New Text for Highschoolers

From Mary Ann Zehr of Education Week who found at least one critical mistake in a new text:

New Law Textbook for High Schools Includes Immigration Law
To keep up with the issues of the times, Street Law Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting civics education, has added a chapter on immigration law and policy to its new textbook for high school courses in "practical law."

"Everyone needs to think about what our immigration policy should be," said Lee Arbetman, the director of U.S. programs for Street Law, in explaining why the 2010 Street Law textbook has included immigration issues.

The organization lines up law students to co-teach classes about the nation's laws with high school teachers. Typically, the class is taught as an elective. I mention Street Law in a story about civics education that published this week.

Along with adding a chapter about immigration to the topics it traditionally has covered over the years and providing law students to help teach about the law, Street Law is also launching a program to provide immigration lawyers or law students to support high school teachers in teaching students about immigration law. The American Immigration Lawyers' Association and the American Immigration Law Foundation are partners in that effort.

The chapter on immigration law covers such topics as how one becomes a U.S. citizen and the process for seeking asylum. It gives students case studies to discuss to apply their understanding of immigration law.

But I came across a statement in the chapter that didn't fit with what I've learned about immigration law while reporting on English-language learners for EdWeek. Here's an excerpt:

Minor children (under age 18) born in the United States to parents who are not in the country legally are citizens. However, they can be required to leave the country if their parents are removed or deported so that the family can stay together.
I checked this wording out with Richard Rocha, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He said that minors who are born in this country cannot be required by the U.S. government to be deported along with their parents. "They are U.S. citizens. They are legally authorized to be here in the United States." Click here for the rest of the blog.


August 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Good News for Salvadoran Family that Fled MS-13

The Wall Street Journal has an article telling the story of  family from El Salvador who fled the MS-13 gang and sought asylum in the United States.  The filing of emegerncy papers to stay the family's deportation in the U.S. Supreme Court finally got the government to budge.  Steve Yale-Loehr (Cornell) is quoted about the impacts of the case.


August 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Moratorium on Enforcement Only Policies

As our lead blogger, Kevin Johnson, pointed out yesterday, the Obama-Napolitano White House immigration meeting leaves many unanswered questions. Are we in for more "enforcement only" approaches on immigration? Here's a statement of concern from the Mexican American Political Association:


Los Angeles-The Mexican American Political Association, the oldest political and civic organization of Mexican Americans and Latinos in the United States, calls on President Barack Obama to immediately stop the enforcement only policy while his administration revisits the prospects of immigration reform in 2010. MAPA's statement was made coming on the heeds of a White House meeting hosted by Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), during which some 100 leaders from labor, business, community, law enforcement, and faith-based organizations met to discuss the probable outlines of immigration reform legislation in the future. MAPA and other long-time advocates for progressive immigration reform were excluded from the meeting.
The meeting did not address the enforcement-only policy of the current administration and essentially reaffirmed that immigration reform legislation will not be on the legislative calendar of the U.S. Congress in 2009. "The upshot of this hurriedly convened gathering was to placate the many national, regional, and local organizations that have raised criticism with Secretary Napolitano for the continued aggressive enforcement of immigration laws with no indication of any relief on the horizon for immigrant families," stated Nativo V. Lopez, National President of MAPA.

"Its with great sadness that we observe that the Obama administration continues to ignore thet growing clamor from diverse sectors of the immigrant and Latino communities throughout the nation for an end to the enforcement-only policy that has wreaked havoc and destruction on our families and communities. The demand for an immediate moratorium of such a policy is more evident than ever especially considering the president's comments about deferring immigration reform until 2010." Lopez concluded.

MAPA founded in Fresno, California in 1960, has been and is dedicated to the constitutional and democratic principles of political freedom and representation for Mexican, Chicano, and Latino people in the United States of America.


August 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Gittelson: On John Kyl and Demogoguery

On Standing Firm today, Robert Gittelson rips Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) for his demagoguery in conflating undocumented immigration and healthcare legislation. 


August 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Advocates Network Spotlight: Member Spotlight: Genevieve Kramer

The Immigration Advocates Network has a nice "spotlight" on UC Davis School of Law alum (and Immigration Law Clinic alum) Genevieve "Gen" Kramer of the UFW Foundation, who supervises two BIA-accredited representatives that work hundreds of miles away from her. Based in Los Angeles, she oversees satellite offices in Bakersfield and Salinas. But she doesn't spend hours driving across California. Instead, the UFW Foundation's Immigration Project uses an online case management system to share information about clients' cases.


August 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Love-Fest on Immigration at White House Meeting?!?! SAY NO TO ENFORCEMENT NOW, ENFORCEMENT FOREVER!!!!!!

225pxjanetnapolitanoiraq 160px-ObamaBarack By all reports (see, e.g., here), including the news reported by blogger extraordinaire Bill Hing earlier this afternoon, the meeting on immigration with interested parties in the White House hosted by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano earlier today went well.  The President stopped by and expressed a commitment to future immigration reform.  I would like to share President Obama's optimism but worry that with Napolitano as the White House point-person on immigration, we may end up with nothing more than "enforcement now, enforcement forever," which has been the catch-phrase that best describes the Obama administration's immigration policy to this point in time.

Here is a noncommittal statement from Napolitano about the meeting, along with a list of participants:

“Today’s meeting on comprehensive immigration reform was an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders and build on the significant time I’ve spent on the Hill meeting with members of Congress on this critical subject. I look forward to working with President Obama, my colleagues in Congress and representatives from law enforcement, business, labor organizations, the interfaith community, advocacy groups and others as we work on this important issue.”

For questions that the public wants to ask Napolitano about immigration, click here.


August 20, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama Reconfirms Commitment to Reform

President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano met today with immigrant rights leaders. They re-stated their commitment to reform. Here are statements from two individuals who attended the meeting.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, attended today’s White House meeting:

“Today’s meeting represents a positive step in that President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform in this Congress.  Secretary Napolitano also made it clear that she received our message that she has to communicate more effectively in favor of reform.   But as always, the proof will be in the pudding.  What we are looking for going forward is public advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform from Secretary Napolitano, a concrete proposal presented in Congress early this fall, and continued promotion of this urgent issue by the President.”  

Mary Giovagnoli, Director the Immigration Policy Center, attended the White House meeting and issued this statement:

"Today's White House meeting demonstrated a genuine commitment to engage in a dialogue that will lead to a smart and workable legislative package. Secretary Napolitano strongly supported the need to bring all undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, streamline naturalization procedures, improve immigration processes that allow immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S., and create smart immigration enforcement mechanisms.  Both the President and Secretary Napolitano acknowledged the importance of immigration to our country as well as the need to create a sustainable legal immigration system for the 21st century. We must all remain committed to following through on the dialogue that began today."


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Mexican-izing of Mark Lyttle: The First Steps in Deporting a US Citizen

Jacqueline Stevens on States Without Nations has a detailed story about the persistent problem of the deportation of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government.


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

7th Circuit Opinion by Judge Posner on Particular Social Group

Posnerr For an excellent opinion by Judge Richard Posner (joined by Judges Ripple and Wood), frequent critic of the rulings of the Board of Immigration Appeals, on the definition of "particular social group" for purposes of asylum, see Download 08-3197 opn  The case involves the question whether defectors of the Mungiki in Kenya are members of a particular social group. The court disagrees with the reasoning of the BIA and vacates the ruling and remands the case to the Board.


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

How Long Must We Wait for Reform?

From Sara Sadhwani:

For nearly a decade, reforming our broken immigration system has been a central concern of immigrant communities, including Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Despite several heated rounds of debate, legislators have been locked in a stalemate and unable to move forward a comprehensive reform package.

Last week, while meeting with leaders from Mexico and Canada, President Obama stated that immigration reform must wait until 2010. For immigrant communities living and working in the shadows of a world without papers, for the millions of families separated sometimes for decades by administrative backlogs, and the thousands of families torn apart by harsh enforcement practices, being punted to 2010 for political convenience isn’t good enough.

This debate has been raging on for several years, without any positive resolution. In December 2005, just before Congress recessed, the then Republican-led house passed a heinously restrictive immigration bill, HR 4437. The “Sensenbrenner bill” as it was dubbed for the author, Wisconsin representative James Sensenbrenner, would have established a long list of enforcement programs targeting the estimated 12 million immigrants living and working in the US without documents. Perhaps the most controversial provision of the bill was making any assistance to an undocumented person a felony, punishable with jail time.  The bill did little to nothing to improve the system dysfunctions, such as the more than 10 year backlog many families face waiting to be reunited.

The bill enraged immigrant communities and advocates of human rights, and galvanized faith communities. Spontaneous marches erupted throughout the nation in big cities such as New York and Chicago, but also in small communities throughout the Midwest. On Ash Wednesday, 2006 the Roman Catholic Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony announced that clergy and laity would ignore and defy HR 4437, were it to become law and he encouraged his parishioners to spend the forty days of Lent reflecting on the need for humane immigration reform.

Over the years, we have seen several rounds of debate each one mired in political maneuvering and messaging campaigns. Conservative activists have turned a term like “amnesty” into a dirty word, while political pundits on Fox News and Lou Dobbs have used constant imagery to effectively define all immigrants as young Mexican men crossing the border fence. But as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, impacted by the broken immigration system in our daily lives, we know their claims are simply hateful lies.

And as the years have passed, the need for immigration reform has only increased. Within AAPI communities, an estimated 1.5 million people continue to live without documentation and punitive immigration laws have torn apart AAPI families and communities. Immigrants who have established roots in the United States, including legal permanent residents, are being detained and deported for minor infractions. This is especially true for the Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities, where many young Cambodian Americans, Tongans and Fijians are being repatriated often to lands which many of them never knew. And with the downturn in the economy, immigrant scapegoating has begun to mirror the sentiments of times gone by, such as the Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment.

With the launch of the National Asian American Week of Action, a diverse cross-section of AAPI community leaders came together from across the nation to call for immigration reform. While the health reform debate continues to loom before us, AAPI communities and advocates cannot allow immigration reform to slip into the background. Join the week of action by sharing your immigration story, participating in a national text-in on August 20th, and by calling your member of Congress ((202) 224-3121) and asking him or her to support a fair and humane immigration reform legislation this year!

Sara Sadhwani is the Director of the Immigrant Rights Project at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Texting for Immigration Reform

From the Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Legal Center:


We need your help to show that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are invested in and will take action to pass immigration reform this year! Across the country, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) will flex their political muscle during the National Week of Action (Aug. 17-24) to show that we want fair and humane immigration reform NOW.

Support the National Asian American Week of Action through one easy step:

Text “AAPI” to 69866

You will be asked to reply with your zip-code and email to become a part of the national Reform Immigration for America campaign’s Cell Phone Action Network. As a part of the network, you will receive periodic text messages on the latest news and action opportunities around immigration reform, specific to your state or local community. With more than 1.2 million AAPIs who are undocumented and need to be legalized, more than 2 million waiting abroad to join close family members through the family-based immigration system, and the ongoing detention and deportation of community members, AAPIs have a huge stake in having comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed and enacted.

Text “AAPI” to 69866
(All standard texting fees apply.)

Together we can achieve the comprehensive immigration reform that our communities need!


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Reform Now

From Charles M. Miller

President Obama’s Mexican trip brought disappointing news to the U.S. Hispanic community: Immigration reform action in Congress would be postponed until 2010. The President cited in his August 9,2009 Mexico City remarks that healthcare reform, energy legislation and financial reform would all come first in 2009. What the President forgot was that first on the American public’s 2009 wish list is economic recovery.

Four days later the Cato Institute, the libertarian, free-market think tank issued a report concerning the effect of immigration reform on the U.S. economy, finding that immigration reform efforts made by Congress and the president could have a major economic impact on the welfare of U.S. households. Debunking popularly held beliefs that the estimated 8.3 million unauthorized workers in the United States lower the incomes of U.S. households, the Cato Institute study concluded that legalization of these workers would actually result in income gains for American workers. The report found legalization would lead to potential gains to U.S. households represented in higher wages, investment income, employment, and government revenue. The report found the net effect to government spending to be manageable compared to the net gains for American workers and their households.

A Wall Street Journal editorial citing the Cato Institute report, found that “re-enforcing the deeply flawed immigration status quo, rather than reforming it, isn’t doing the economy any favors.” The WSJ may be understating the case for the economic need for immigration reform now.

Immigration reform as a phrase has come to mean a compromise between two apparently conflicting goals: The legalization of the estimated 13 million unauthorized persons in the U.S. and the institution of workplace and border enforcement measures that will discourage future illegal entries and employment. That was the grand compromise that was reached in 1986 when President Reagan signed IRCA, the last major immigration reform bill. IRCA legalized 1.7 million unauthorized workers and instituted the I-9 identity and authorization verification system with graduated penalties.

Much has changed since 1986. Hispanics are a major demographic for both the economy and the politics of the U.S. The economic downturn adversely affected the Hispanic worker in America in human terms and as part of the statistics that are now being analyzed. It is clear that one key factor in the return to consumer confidence will be measured by whether the Hispanic consumers return to retail stores in December. What is crystal clear for our country’s economic future is that our nation’s economy will not rebound without a recovery in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, all states with substantial Hispanic populations.

The question for President Obama and Congress is whether they understand that immigration reform, the grand compromise, will drive the economic recovery. The 13 million persons are here and most of them are employed already. It is important that this segment of the work force be employed under the terms of the laws that affect other American workers: Taxes, Social Security, wage and hour laws need to be enforced. The best way to accomplish this is to provide humane and efficient employment authorization to those workers who deserve the opportunity to work hard and build their own version of the American dream.

Critics of immigration reform have traditionally raised the argument that the newly-legalized workers will take jobs away from U.S. workers. That criticism implies that the unfair hiring practices and exploitation of the undocumented workers do not already exist. The truth is that the undocumented workforce exists in far greater numbers than ever before. The best protection for the unemployed American worker is to make sure that unfair hiring practices do not continue.

An indication that the Obama administration has already made that enforcement decision was its continued support of the FAR E-Verify rule. The Bush administration in 2008 had published a final rule that required government contractors and subcontractors to place a clause in their government contracts requiring the use of the E-Verify electronic verification system. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has recently signaled the Obama administration’s continuing support for the FAR rule and the E-Verify system for future U.S. hiring.

Bringing the millions of undocumented workers into the legal system will guarantee that employers who want to obey the law will be able to fill out the I-9 form, and if they are E-Verify member employers, secure confirmation of a legal hiring for compliance purposes.

The economic recovery will fuel more hiring by employers. But without a realistic way of employing a major segment of the U.S. workforce, the existing violations, and the exploitation of the undocumented will continue.

Immigration reform will end two forms of unfair economic advantage that lawbreaking employers currently hold-they hire the undocumented, pay them lower wages and fail to share the tax burden that their lawful competitors disproportionately shoulder. The unfair advantage of unscrupulous companies can only be eliminated by immigration reform in the earliest stages of the recovery. The economic recovery requires immigration reform now.


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hatred Directed at Undocumented Immigrants in Health Care Debates, and they are not even in the Bill

The following story is reported in a local DC paper:

"During a town-hall event in Portsmouth, N.H., last week, an unidentified protester outside the event questioned why the government should spend money on providing services to illegal immigrants — and went so far as to call for undocumented aliens to be killed. 'Why are we bankrupting this country for 21 million illegals who should be sent on the first bus one way back from wherever they came from. We don’t need illegals. Send them home once. Send them home with a bullet in their head the second time,' the man said, according to video of the demonstration."  For the full story, click here.


August 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

America's colour-coded terror alert: Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan's movie about racial profiling takes on a new significance after his detention at a US airport

UC Davis law alum Wajahat Ali for The Guardian writes critically about the immigration detention and "routine inspection" of Shah Rukh Khan, the immensely popular Bollywood actor and singer, at a New Jersey airport this week.

220px-Shah_rukh_khan_wiki1 Who is this a picture of, Waj or Shah?

ANSWER (Aug. 20):  "Hi Dean Johnson, The picture on the blog is a picture of Shahrukh Khan. Interestingly enough, I know him from several bollywood movies, including one (Namaste London) where he clears up ignorant Indian stereotypes to Londoners."  Doralina Skidmore President, Immigration Law Student Association J.D. Candidate 2011 University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law


August 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

How migration transformed Martha’s Vineyard

The Financial Times has a fascinating story about how immigration from Brazil has transformed Martha's Vineyard.


August 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

WSJ: Immigration Out of Sight -- Ignoring Immigration Does No Favors for the U.S. Economy

The Wall Street Journal, a long time booster of immigration (and immigrant labor), makes the economic argument for immigration reform by Congress.


August 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Latino Discontent with DHS and Obama Delay

By Jorge Ramos, Univision Anchor:

Jorge Ramos Avalos:  The Promise

From El Nuevo Herald (Translated by Paco Fabián, America’s Voice)

This is what Barack Obama promised Latinos and immigrants:  “What I can guarantee is that, during my first year [in the White House] we will have an immigration reform bill.”  The question now is whether or not Obama will keep that promise (made during an interview with Univision on May 28, 2008). 

That first year in the White House comes to an end on the 20th of January, 2010.  But everything seems to indicate that the legalization of 12 million undocumented will take longer.  During his recent visit to Guadalajara, Mexico, Obama said that he still had many issues pending in Congress—the economic crisis, a new health care system, energy reform—and that, as a result, immigration reform would have to wait until 2010

But 2010 is a very dangerous year.   November of next year will see mid-term elections for Congress and it’s no secret that Senators and members of the House of Representatives are going to be more worried about their re-election   than they are going to be about undocumented immigrants (that can’t vote).  And it will be very difficult for them to support such a controversial issue if their re-election is up for grabs. 

That’s why organizations like Mexican American Political Association don’t want to wait and are planning a boycott of the census until undocumented immigrants are legalized.  Their message is clear:  If you want to count me, first you have to legalize me. 

However, the majority of Hispanic organizations, including the National Council of la Raza (NCLR) do not support the boycott and, instead, insist on putting pressure on congress, no so much on the President, to make immigration reform a reality. 

It is clear that Obama supports the legalization of undocumented immigrants.  He has said it on several occasions.  But he is also a very pragmatic politician.  He understands that the creaming and attacks during the current health care debate are a prelude of what we can expect during the immigration reform debate.  So he has decided to wait for the right moment. 

Rushing reform in a Congress currently dealing with a host of other issues could be fatal.  It has happened to us before in 2006 and 2007.  But waiting too long could destroy the legitimate hope of millions.  George Bush delayed movement on immigration reform for 7 years, and when he wanted to move it, he had no political capital left. 

In the meantime, thousands of immigrants continue to be detained and deported.  It’s true that Obama has suspended the massive worksite raids that characterized the Bush years.  But the new focus on employers to not hire undocumented immigrants has the same effect:  More firings and more deportations.  The reality is that this approach does not work, not with bush and not with Obama. 

The system is so lacking that it has allowed people who are not immigration agents to engage in raids.  Last week, the controversial Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, send his deputies to a paper plant in Phoenix and arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants.  How is that possible?

Instead of persecuting immigrants, we should bring more.  The Cato Institute recently published a study that concludes that legalizing undocumented immigrants could result in a $180 billion economic benefit to the U.S. over 10 years.  That is to say, the economic stimulus to guide us out of this crisis has a name: immigrants.

It’s very disconcerting that President Obama wants to delay immigration reform until next year.  But, at least for now, it’s the only hope for millions of people who no longer want to be persecuted unjustly. 

Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 – 67 percent- in exchange for his promise of legalizing undocumented immigrants.  They are not going to forget that promise.

I think Hispanics and Latinos can wait for the President a little bit more.  There is no other choice.  He makes his own action calendar.  But if nothing happens in 2010, Latino voters are going to remind Obama about that unfulfilled promise in the next election, giving what they got.


August 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

David Bacon Exclusive Photographs

TAFT, CA - 12JUNE09   Taft was once a speculator's boomtown, surrounded by a forest of oil wells, hotbed the state's burgeoning petroleum industry. Today it is a divided community, home to a growing farm worker population, who work in the fields of the southern San Joaquin Valley. Hundreds of families have migrated to Taft from the town of San Pablo Tijaltepec in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. These Mixtec migrants charge that they are not treated as welcome participants in Taft's town life. Meanwhile, families try to preserve the indigenous Mixtec culture they've brought with them, while working and sending money home to those who depend on remittances from the north to survive.


Mariana Garcia rests in the arms of her uncle, Calixto Garcia.


Juana Gonzalez Silva and Antonia Cruz Silva make panels for shirts and blouses, using the unique embroidery style of their hometown, sitting on the curb of the street outside the apartment house where they live.


Luisa Bautista dresses up her two daughters, Julia Jasmin Lopez and Luz Esbeidy Lopez, in the unique embroidery style of San Pablo Tijaltepec.


Gregoria Cruz holds her daughter, Litzi Margarita Lopez, between her father, Esteban Lopez and her cousin, Jose Silva.


Soledad Lopez, carrying her baby Mariflor Silva on her back, heats up tortillas to eat with chile for dinner, after coming home from work.


Maria Morales stands at the door of the apartment where she lives with her family, coming home from work.


Francisca Santiago Bautista dresses in the embroidered blouse that is the unique to her hometown.


Adelina Lopez holds her son Jorge Bautista in the sling she uses to carry him.


August 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Speak Out/Stop Hate Video Contest

Long Island Wins, an immigration-focused media campaign based on Long Island, which has seen its share of hate crimes directed at immigrants, launched a “Speak Out/Stop Hate” video contest today.  The basic idea is for people to submit 30-second videos that send youth the message to “Speak Out/Stop Hate.”

Sounds like a good message to get out there.


August 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

White House to host immigration meeting

225pxjanetnapolitanoiraq AP reports that the White House is hosting an immigration discussion on Thursday with advocates, religious groups, businesses and law enforcement.  U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will lead the discussion, according to an anonymous source.  She has been holding similar meetings across the country during the past few weeks.

We can hope that this meeting leads to something positive.  Hope springs eternal, one might say.


August 18, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)