August 29, 2009
Myanmar Refugees Fleeing to ChinaBarbara Demick reports for the LA Times:
Thousands of refugees from Myanmar have poured across the border into China in recent weeks amid troubling signs that a 20-year cease-fire between ethnic minorities and Myanmar's military rulers might be unraveling.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said as many as 30,000 people had fled fighting in Myanmar; sources on the Chinese side of the border put the figure at 5,000 to 10,000.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu in a statement Friday urged the Myanmar government to "safeguard the regional stability of its bordering area with China."
A Chinese intelligence officer in Nansan, a border town, said the Chinese government was arranging emergency housing for refugees in an attempt to restore stability. Click here for the rest of the story.
Conference on Gender Based Violence: Immigration and AsylumOn September 12, 2009 at UC Hastings in San Francisco, Survivors International (www.survivorsintl.org) will be hosting a conference on gender based violence, specifically addressing immigration and asylum. Please circulate the following registration form and conference information amongst colleagues.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jorge Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Migrants
Co-sponsors – UC Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, UC Berkeley Human Rights Center, United Nations Association of the East Bay, Bay Area Friends of UNIFEM, Asian Americans for Community Involvement, Amnesty International and the Center for Justice and Accountability.
Questions? Please call Cecilia Lipp, Senior Advocacy and Communications Officer, Survivors International (415) 546-2080 x107
Thank you for the ongoing support of the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
Cecilia Naomi Lipp
Senior Advocacy and Communications Officer
August 28, 2009
Mourning the Loss of Judge Robert Takasugi
U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi, a survivor of a World War II relocation camp for Japanese Americans who was known for his compassion for victims of injustice and his calm demeanor in the face of sometimes outrageous courtroom antics, has died. He was 78.
Takasugi died August 4 at a Los Angeles nursing home after battling numerous ailments over the last year, said his son, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jon Takasugi.
The veteran jurist, who spent most of his 36-year judicial career on the federal bench, handled a number of high-profile cases, including a 1980 case that led to a Los Angeles Police Department ban on chokeholds and the 1984 cocaine-trafficking trial of automaker John Z. DeLorean.
In the latter trial, Takasugi was seen as the epitome of judicial restraint when a peripheral but colorful figure in the case, sex-magazine publisher Larry Flynt, disrupted the proceedings with profane outbursts and provocative attire, including a diaper fashioned from an American flag. Takasugi didn't bat an eye at the outfit, but he fined the publisher $250,000 for refusing to reveal the source of a mysterious audiotape that threatened to derail the case.
He also had a reputation for being pro-defense but earned the respect of lawyers on both sides of the courtroom.
"He was completely devoted to assuring that the proceedings in his court would be fair and seen to be fair," said Andrea Ordin, who appeared before Takasugi when she was a U.S. attorney in the late 1970s. "He also had a very high bar for the prosecutors. He was vigilant that the power of prosecutors not be abused. The prosecutors during the years I was there became better advocates because of it."
Among his other noteworthy cases was a 25-year legal battle between a University of California historian and the federal government, which was withholding the FBI files of former Beatle John Lennon on national security grounds. At one point in the case, he directed the FBI to disclose whether it had "used unlawful activities" in connection with its investigation of Lennon's political activities. The unusual order led to negotiations that eventually resulted in the release of the final 10 documents in 2006.
"When the government came in and claimed national security, he didn't take that lightly, but he wasn't prepared to suspend the law just based on the representation that national security might be implicated," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, who appeared in Takasugi's courtroom numerous times. "He said, 'Prove it up to me.' If the government couldn't prove it up, he didn't think twice about saying these documents belong in the public domain."
One of Takasugi's more recent cases involved an ACLU challenge in 2002 of a post-9/11 federal law requiring airport screeners to be U.S. citizens. Takasugi ruled that the hiring restriction amounted to a "constitutional deprivation" that cost thousands of noncitizen screeners their jobs. The law was later amended to allow permanent residents to serve as screeners.
In 2002 he also threw out an indictment against seven Los Angeles residents who had been accused of fundraising for an Iranian opposition group listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Takasugi said the law classifying terrorist groups deprived the defendants of due-process rights because they were not given a chance to rebut the terrorist allegations before their group was placed on the list. Click here for the rest of the story.
Day Laborers in New Orleans
Among the groups that have helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, one that is rarely mentioned is day laborers.
After the storm, tens of thousands of prospective workers came to the city in search of jobs. Casual laborers — hired by the day by homeowners or small contractors — are now an important work force in a city that still has years of rebuilding ahead. The trouble is, many say they don't get paid.
At the parking lot of the Lowe's home improvement store on Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans, between 20 and 30 men gather at sunrise. Trucks and vans pull in and stop just long enough to pick up willing hands and strong backs.
John Pace stands with a group of friends. They're all hoping for the same thing: a day's work that will pay about $100. Competition for the jobs is intense, and when you do get one, Pace's friend Sammy Davis says, there is no guarantee that you'll be paid. That has happened to him — and to just about every day laborer he knows.
"So, you just lost out on a whole eight hours or two days or whole week worth of work, where you ain't got no money to show for it," Davis says. "Then your kid's looking at you, your wife looking at you, and then you ain't got nothing to show for it. 'Oh, baby, I'm going to come back, get my money later on,' you say, 'this evening, about 3 or 4 o'clock, to pick up my money.' But then he don't show up at all." Click here for the rest of the story.
Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?
Time magazine reports on an interesting case from Mississippi. "Can the U.S. government take a woman's baby from her because she doesn't speak English? That's the latest question to arise in the hothouse debate over illegal immigration, as an undocumented woman from impoverished rural Mexico — who speaks only an obscure indigenous language — fights in a Mississippi court to regain custody of her infant daughter."
Groups Call for End of 287(g) Agreements
WASHINGTON - 521 local and national organizations signed a letter delivered to President Obama on Aug. 25 demanding the administration terminate the 287(g) program, which grants state and local law enforcement agencies federal immigration enforcement authority. The program, a legacy of the Bush administration, has caused serious civil and human rights abuses, including racial profiling, and endangers public safety.
"The Obama administration has responded to documented violations within the 287(g) program by expanding it and creating an illusory complaint process," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. "Ostracizing potential victims of and witnesses to crime and providing them with a disincentive to trust the authorities will make all our communities less safe."
Local organizations that signed the letter will host vigils, marches, and other activities across the country to voice their discontent with the administration's decision to expand the 287(g) program despite evidence that it makes immigrant communities and the general public more vulnerable and less safe. Since its inception, the 287(g) program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforcement, community groups, and press reports. They say that the program has caused Latinos and other minority groups to be stopped or arrested because of their appearance or accent, which has resulted in the wrongful detention of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The program has failed to meet the federal government's own objectives or priorities in immigration enforcement, and has interfered with local law enforcement's ability to implement sound community policing practices designed to ensure public safety.
"The 287(g) program encourages civil rights abuses and makes it more difficult for police to do their primary job of fighting crime, endangering public safety for everyone," said Carlos Garcia, a Phoenix community organizer with the Macehualli day labor center. "I hope President Obama, as a former community organizer, will recognize that, in defense of their civil rights, immigrant communities have organized around the country in opposition to this failed experiment of the Bush administration."
For more information about local activities to protest the 287(g) program, please contact
Sarahi Uribe at 202-285-9673.
Letter to White House
Family-Based Immigration Seminar
Family-Based Immigration Seminars from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Thursday, September 24, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (7.0 MCLE)
Golden Gate University School of Law
536 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Deadline to register: 9/17/09
Click here to register now
Friday, September 25, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (7.0 MCLE)
Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
2845 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Deadline to register: 9/18/09
Click here to register now
This full-day training will focus on processing family visa petitions. It is designed for attorneys, paralegals, and accredited representatives, who are relatively new to the field, as well as for experienced service providers who want a review and comprehensive overview of recent developments.
This program will cover the process of family immigration, including visa categories, definition of qualified relatives, use of priority dates, filing procedures, adjustment of status eligibility (including recent developments in 245(i) adjustment), consular processing, and the grounds of inadmissibility, with special emphasis on the three- and ten-year bars.
San Francisco Seminar Presenters: Mark Silverman, ILRC; Laura W. Brown and Paula Solorio, Fellom & Solorio; and Erica Tomlinson, Mahoney & Tomlinson
Los Angeles Seminar Presenters: Dan Torres, ILRC; Genevieve Kramer, Attorney and Immigration Implementation Coordinator, UFW Foundation, Los Angeles; and Bernie Wolfsdorf, Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group
New DHS Standards For Electronic Border Searches
The Washington Post reports that the "Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections." The news is no real surprise for when it comes to the border this administration has to this point has come to stand for "enforcement now, enforcement forever."
The ACLU is critical and state that the new DHS "privacy standards for border searches of electronic devices today which, while a welcome first step, do not go far enough. The new standards fail to address the fundamental constitutional problems of suspicionless searches that have been occurring at the border."
For analysis of the legal issues surrounding border searches of electronic data, click here.
Court Upholds E-Verify Mandate for Government Contractors
The U.S. District Court in Maryland ruled in favor of an executive order first issued during the Bush Administration that would require all federal government contractors to use E-Verify. For the full story, click here.
CRS Analysis of Health Care Bill and Immigrants
The Congressional Research Services issued a report on immigrants and the health care refrom bill and concluded that Immigrants living illegally in the United States could be mandated to have health insurance under the proposed health care reform bill but would be ineligible to receive subsidies to afford such coverage. For the full report, click here.
August 27, 2009
Bilateral Investment Treaties and Investor VisasFrom Gary Chodorow:
The Obama Administration is busily negotiating bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with China, India, Russia, and Vietnam. BITs aim to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States and protect American investors’ rights abroad. It’s disappointing, then, that the Administration seems to omit from the BITs a provision for investor visas, despite the fact that previous administrations have entered into 70 treaties—40 of them BITs entered into since the 1980s—with investor visa provisions. If foreign investors can’t get investor (E-2) visas to come to the U.S., how will they invest here? If American investors are denied visas by foreign countries, how will they manage their investments overseas? Click here for more.
Essential Elements of Immigration LawEssential Elements of Immigration Law Seminar
Tuesdays, September 8, 15, 22, 29, October 6, 13, 3:30 pm – 7:00 pm (19.5 MCLE)
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
50 Fremont Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Presenter: Don Ungar, Simmons & Ungar and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Deadline to register: 9/2/09
Click here to register now
Designed for a lawyer who wants to boost his or her knowledge and confidence, this course covers the fundamental concepts and elements of immigration law and procedures. The program will cover all major themes of immigration law, including constitutional issues, grounds of inadmissibility and deportability and related procedures, waivers and relief from removal, the various immigration preference categories, nonimmigrant classes, refugees and asylum, adjustment of status, administrative appeals and judicial review, and the acquisition of American citizenship.
NOTE: This seminar is limited to attorneys and BIA Level 2 Accredited Representatives. Limited to 20 registrants—Few spaces left.
Please contact Sai Suzuki, Marketing Coordinator, at 415-255-9499 Ext 789 or email@example.com.
Novel Use of Border Fence: Is this What Congress Had in Mind -- A Stimulus to the Mexican Economy?
The Associated Press reports what I believe is the best, most non-lethal use of the U.S./Mexico border fence that I have heard: "Police in the Mexican border city of Tijuana say they have arrested six men for stealing pieces of the U.S. border fence to sell as scrap metal." The brilliance of Congress always amazes me -- reduce migration by providing economic assistance to the Mexican economy through the border fence!
Hat tip to Cappy White!
Kondracke: Congress Should Reform Immigration to Honor Kennedy
The nation continues mourning the passing of the "liberal lion" Senator Edward Kennedy. Morton M. Kondracke on Roll Call writes that "it would be a fitting tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) if Congress could act on his other great unfinished cause: immigration reform."
David Bacon Exclusive: Photos from Hayward, California
HAYWARD, CA - 15AUGUST09 - Familes receive food at a food distribution organized every month by Hope for the Heart in Hayward. Many people begin lining up for food the day before, and sleep overnight on the sidewalk in order to make sure they get their food before it runs out. Many families are immigrants from Mexico, and don't have enough money to buy food or pay rent. Food for the program comes from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and the people distributing the food are all volunteers, organized by local churches. During the food distribution, children of food recipients listen to music, and watch a religious service while their families are waiting.
For more articles and images, see http://dbacon.igc.org
August 26, 2009
Senator Edward Kennedy, Champion of Immigrants: RIP
Raquel Aldana reported on the sad news of the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy. The Senator was a long-time champion of immigration and immigrants and played a critical role in Congressional passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished the discriminatory national origins quotas system. He also helped shape the Refugee Act of 1980 and immigration reform legislation in 1986 and 1990. Until his health failed him, Senator Kennedy pressed for comprehensive immigration reform. For more from Robert Gittelson on Senator Kennedy's immigration legacy, click here.
Many will never forget that Senators Kennedy and Obama were the only U.S. Senators who marched in the immigrant rights marches of spring 2006.
Senator Kennedy, rest in peace.
New Immigration Policy Study on the Economics of Immigration in South Carolina
"The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an integral part of South Carolina's economy and tax base and are a growing share of voters in the state. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse. As voters, they are a growing political force. As South Carolina works towards economic recovery, immigrants and their children will continue to play a key role in shaping and growing the economic and political landscape of the Palmetto State."
9th Circuit allows FGM Case to go Forward
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed a Northern California family whose daughter underwent forced circumcision in Indonesia to seek political asylum in the United States. The court criticized immigration officials who decided that the girl had suffered no serious harm when her genitals were mutilated as a newborn and ordered the family's deportation. For the full story, click here.
Senator Kennedy Dies at Age 77
The New York Times tributes the Senator as one of the most effective senators of all time and unexpectedly the most poignant Kennedy legacy. Senator Kennedy died of brain cancer Tuesday night. A proponent of health care and immigration reform, the Senator's memory shall remain in the nation's psychic as it takes up these pressing issues. It is a sad day today in the Hill.
August 25, 2009
New DHS Blog: Our Border -- A Southwest Border Civil Network
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has unveiled its own blog, Our Border -- A Southwest Border Civic Network. Expect a lot of enforcement-oriented news, 24/7.