Saturday, January 24, 2009

Napolitano may reconsider Real ID

Washington, DC -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday afternoon that she will 'rethink' a program that requires every state to issue more secure driver's licenses by the end of the year.

The new licenses, required under a 2005 federal law, aim to prevent criminals and potential terrorists from getting fake IDs. But the licenses have been opposed by many governors, who cite the cost. Added opposition comes from the American Civil Liberties Union, which says the cards are, in effect, a national ID card. For the full story, click here.


January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants wrongly convicted of identity theft,says the Executive Office for US Attorneys

Kenneth E. Melson, Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, issued a letter,  in which he reports that some defendants who have been convicted of possessing false, stolen, or unlawfully produced identification documents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(4) or (6), may have been incorrectly sentenced under that statute’s felony penalty provisions, instead of the misdemeanor penalty provisions. According to Mr. Melson, some U.S. Attorneys’ Offices erroneously cited the felony penalty provisions contained in 18 U.S.C. § 1028(b)(1) or (2) in their indictments or plea agreements. As a result, some defendants may have been sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment than they would have been subject to under the misdemeanor penalty provision contained in § 1028(b)(6). In addition, the incorrect characterization of some § 1028(a)(4) or (6) offenses as felonies may have resulted in improper convictions for aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a).

January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California Court permits state courts to adjudicate federal immigration violations

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday, in In Re Jose, that State courts may adjudicate a delinquency proceeding in which a juvenile is accused of violating a federal statute, including an immigration law. In a unanimous decision, the high court upheld lower court rulings declaring a then-16-year-old boy to be a ward of the juvenile court based on a finding that he committed a federal crime by bringing undocumented immigrants into the United States.


January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Backlash Against Gillibrand

From Rick Karlin of the Albany Times-Union:

There’s no honeymoon period for Gov. David Paterson’s US Senate choice among immigration advocates. Chung-Wa Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition is questioning the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate for her “deeply troubling” stances on immigration issues.

Hong noted that Gillibrand in Congress supported a move to have local police perform immigration enforcement duties and she supported tougher border enforcement but appeared to oppose a citizenship pathway for undocumented aliens.

“Now that she will be representing a far broader and more diverse constituency, Senator-Designee Gillibrand must reconsider her positions on immigration,” said Hong.

Also weighing in, and quite a bit more harshly, is Bronx Democratic Assemblyman Peter Rivera who charges that here stances “border on xenophobia.”

“I find no compelling reason for the Governor to select a conservative Democrat to carry on the progressive work of now Secretary of State Clinton,” said Rivera, whose office has in the past been critical of the Paterson administration.


January 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Border Blog

For a blog focusing on the U.S./Mexico border, check out News on the Line.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Law Students Do Good!

About 70 University of Minnesota law students in the Asylum Law Project helped undocumented immigrants work their way through the legal process during their winter break. The law students, who were all members of the Asylum Law Project spent about a week scattered across the country volunteering with nonprofit legal aid organizations that specialize in assisting immigrants. The students filed briefs, met with clients and helped otherwise lawyers.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Freedom of Information Act: President Obama Declares "All agencies should adopt a presumption of disclosure."

In a Presidential Memo dated Jan. 21, 2009, the Obama administration has declared that:

"All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in [Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)], and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA."

The Freedom of Information Act has led to many important immigration disclosures. The TRAC immigration project -- which has provided a wealth of immigration data over the years -- is the result of a FOIA lawsuit filed during the Clinton administration.  And FOIA has lead to many other stories (here, here, here), for example.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gillibrand Bad on Immigration

NY Governor David Paterson has announced that he will appoint Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate to replace Hillary Clinton.

Gillibrand has a poor record on immigration and her appointment will be extremely disappointing to the pro-immigration community. All the more surprising is that it comes from a Governor who presumably wanted to appoint someone who is going to appeal to one of the most pro-immigration constituencies of any state in the country.

Here is how Gillibrand describes her immigration views:

"Our immigration system is broken and hard-working Americans often bear the brunt of the federal government’s failure to secure our borders and provide adequate protections for the American=2 0worker and the shrinking American Middle Class. I believe the first step to fixing our immigration system is to stop the flow of illegal immigration. This can be accomplished by securing the Southern border, enforcing the0Aemployment laws on the books and ensuring that our farmers and businesses have the adequate number of legal workers after they have exhausted their search for American workers
. I am firmly against providing amnesty to illegal immigrants. In my first year in Congress, I passed legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives that would bar employees, who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, from receiving federal contracts."

"In addition, I am a sponsor of the SAVE Act, which will hire 8,000 new Customs and Border Patrol agents, while utilizing new technology and fencing along the border. I hav e also sponsored the Legal Employee Verification Act, which would require all employers to verify, through the Social Security Administration, that their employees are legal. In addition, I support reforming and streamlining the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) so that the extraordinary casework backlog will be addressed within two years. This is especially important for the thousands of farmers in our district who need legal workers. I am confident that Congress can enact reform without providing amnesty to illegal immigrants. This is a national and economic security issue for our country and I am committed to fighting for the American worker."

NumbersUSA, the anti-immigration group, gives her a high grade for her voting


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Support Health Care for Immigrants

From the National Council of La Raza:

NCLR Breaking News: Children's Health Care is at Stake!

Take Two Minutes Today to Contact Your Senators!

Congress will make important decisions in the coming week about a major health care program for low- and moderate-income children.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would remove a five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children and pregnant women under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as part of a larger package of children's health care legislation.

Now we need to ask the Senate to ensure that immigrant children and pregnant women have the same opportunities as other American children to access health care when they need it. Congress is overdue to make investments in Latino children—the country's most uninsured child population.

Call your Senators and tell them to support a SCHIP bill that strengthens health care for children in the U.S. and includes legal immigrant children and pregnant women.

Tell them to oppose any amendments or legislation that weaken the program for vulnerable families.

Need help reaching your Senator? Call the Capitol Operator at (202) 224-3121 and they will transfer the call to your Senator. You can also identify your Senators through this link.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Texas sued over Immigrant Driver's Restrictions

Civil rights advocates sued the Texas Department of Public Safety recently, contending that new driver's license requirements for immigrants discriminate against people legally in the United States.

The suit, filed in state district court in Austin by the Texas Civil Rights Project, seeks to force the DPS to stop enforcing the rules, which went into effect Oct. 1.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

On Latino's Political Power

The Politico writes:

"Puffed with pride after casting 10 million votes in November that were vital to President Barack Obama’s election, Hispanics are feeling empowered to make great demands on the new president.

But as Hispanics look to Obama to help realize their agenda, and as they take seats in the new president’s Cabinet and on congressional leadership teams, they also are facing an annoying reality: There remains a gap between the power they have earned and the Washington elite’s perception of their power.

One reason for the lag in perception may be that Latino policy leaders as well as individual members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have matured politically at a faster speed than has the caucus as a whole."

For the full story, click here.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

White House Posts Immigration Agenda


"The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should."

-- Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor
May 23, 2007

For too long, politicians in Washington have exploited the immigration issue to divide the nation rather than find real solutions. Our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants.

Create Secure Borders: Protect the integrity of our borders. Support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.

Improve Our Immigration System: Fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.

Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally: Remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

Bring People Out of the Shadows: Support a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Work with Mexico: Promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.


January 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Over 2200 Sign Letter to President Obama

From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

Dear friends and partners for immigrant rights:

Thanks to everyone who has joined the Open Letter to President Barack Obama. Over 2,200 people from all over the country have signed the letter to urge our new President to move swiftly to end immigration raids, suspend detentions and deportations, and commit to fair and just immigration policies and practices.

The deadline for signatures to the letter has been extended to Friday, Jan. 23 at midnight, Pacific Time, so if you haven't signed the letter yet, you can still do so here. This is also your chance to ask your friends, family, co-workers and colleagues to read and sign the letter -- so please forward this message!

After the moving Inauguration that many of us witnessed in this country and around the world, we are all eager to move forward. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, the time has come " choose our better history." This letter and other initiatives in the coming weeks and months are just initial steps towards writing that "better history" for all of us, including immigrant communities around the country.

On Tuesday, January 27, NNIRR will formally release the letter to the President and will convene a tele-media conference featuring the the voices and stories of immigrants whose lives are in turmoil due to unfair and even brutal treatment by immigration enforcement authorities. [The letter and and all its signatures will be made available for download from NNIRR's website ( on that date].

In the coming days we will also be finalizing plans to strengthen our call for justice and bring our message to Washington. If you would like to receive further updates, learn more about our national action days in DC (tentatively, before the end of March) and other initiatives, be sure to join our email list. Better yet, consider becoming a member of the National Network so that we can continue to raise our voices together.

Thank you again for your support!



January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Naturalization Civics Questions and Flash Cards

USCIS has updated the Naturalization Test questions (old and new) and the Civics Flash Cards posted on its website (e.g. #28, #29, #46 of the new test, #13, #14 of the old test).  You may wish to download the January 2009 edition of these materials from the website


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Angel Island Station Reopening Feb. 15

The Angel Island immigration station that held prospective immigrants from China (including my parents) has been undergoing restoration and will reopen on February 15. The Island is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some history of Angel Island can be found here. The announcement of the reopening:

Dear Friends,

Welcome to 2009! We not only have a new edition of Passages, AIISF's e-newsletter, but also a new president, a new administration, new opportunities, and new challenges.  But before we go any further, I want to thank all of you who contributed to AIISF last month in our year-end drive. Through your generosity, we raised $35,000, putting us within striking distance of the $50,000 one to one matching grant challenge of the Haas Jr. Foundation.  We will certainly meet this goal by the time of the Grand Re-Opening of the Immigration Station on February 15, 2009.

For the first time in over three years, visitors will be able to absorb the unique history of the Immigration Station as they wander over the administrative grounds and tour the entire Detention Barracks.  Reading the poetry carved on the walls and hearing the voices of the diverse immigrants housed at one time in the barracks will surely be a transformative experience for many.  We truly have a great opportunity before us. Visitors will share their experience at Angel Island with friends, colleagues, and neighbors and the story of perseverance amid hardship that lies at the core of the immigrant experience will spread far and wide.

It is also a time of great challenges as foundations see their investment portfolios shrink by 30% leading to cutbacks in grants.  Individuals are similarly hit hard by the economic downturn raising the need for non-profits like AIISF to redouble efforts to win so many more new friends and supporters. In the end, we can't do it alone.  We need you to reach out to others and encourage them to share the Angel Island story.  See you on February 15 for the Grand Re-Opening.

Let us celebrate the Lunar New Year with hopes of peace and prosperity. 

Gung Hay Fat Choy.

All the best,

Eddie Wong
Executive Director


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa

Facing History and Ourselves, The Center for Justice & Accountability and the Bar Association of San Francisco, International Human Rights Committee proudly present: 

Justice Albie Sachs
Constitutional Court of South Africa

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
12 noon | brown bag lunch
Bar Association of San Francisco
301 Battery Street, Third Floor, SF

Roundtable discussion on Art and Justice moderated by
Pamela Merchant
Executive Director
The Center for Justice & Accountability

Please respond to Karen Foster at 510/786-2500 x226 or by Friday, February 6th.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Nken v. Filip, on Question of Standard of Review for Stays of Removal Pending Appeal

Jessicaslavin_2 Professor Jessica Slavin has a post on the Marquette Law Faculty blog  on a case argued in the Supreme Court earlier this week, Nken v. Filip (formerly Nken v. Mukasey), which raises the question whether an "alien" who seeks a stay of deportation pending appeal must prove by clear and convincing evidence that his deportation is prohibited by law.   Professor Slavin writes that "[t]he majority of courts have held that the ordinary standard for stays pending appeal continues to apply to such stays despite Congress’s enactment in 1996 of legislation providing that `no court shall enjoin the removal of any alien pursuant to a final order under this section unless the alien shows by clear and convincing evidence that the entry or execution of such order is prohibited as a matter of law,' 8 U.S.C. sec. 1252(f)(2)."

For links to briefs, as well as to the transcript to the oral argument, click here.


January 22, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

UNHCR Concern Over Myanmar Refugees

From the Hindu News:

Fearing for the well-being of some 126 boat people in Thai custody, the United Nations refugee agency has asked for immediate access to the group of stateless Muslims who fled Myanmar.

"The agency has information that 80 of the Rohingya refugees are held on Koh Sai Daeng, an island off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, but the whereabouts of the other 46, whom the Thai military reportedly set adrift at sea last Friday are unknown," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

The UNHCR said that it wants to determine their need for international protection. Click here for the rest of the story.


January 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants of the Day: Isabel Toledo (Cuba) and Jason Wu (Taiwan)

Our Immigrants of the Day had their days in the sun yesterday at the grand Presidential inauguration. Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu designed Michelle Obama's daytime inaugural wear and nighttime ball gown.

Toledo, a Cuban-born fashion designer based in New York, designed a gold yellow brocade shift dress with matching overcoat for First Lady Michelle Obama at the inauguration. Wu designed Michelle Obama's one-shoulder white chiffon evening gown.  Huffington Post has a slideshow of Michelle Obama's inaugural outfits.

For IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann's adventures at the inauguration, see the IntLawGrrls blog.


January 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Immigration Tops Latino Priority List

Fernanda Sanchez writes for the NY Times:

On Monday, a group of Latino advocates convened at a hotel on Capitol Hill to find out what it is that they should ask for first from the new administration — and, as expected, immigration reform figured at the top of the list. Click here for the rest of the story.


January 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)