Saturday, October 3, 2009
President Obama has issued to Congress authorization for admissions through the overseas refugee admission program for fiscal year 2010. He has authorized admission to the United States, with federal refugee resettlement assistance, 80,000 refugees to be allocated regionally as follows:
Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,500
East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17,000
Europe and Central Asia . . . . . . . . .2,500
Latin America/Caribbean. . . . . . . . . 5,000
Near East/South Asia. . . . . . . . . . 35,000
Unallocated Reserve . . . . . . . . . . .5,000
The President also provided that, if otherwise qualified, persons from the following countries Cuba, the former Soviet Union, Iraq, and, in exceptional circumstances, persons identified by a United States Embassy in any location.
These numbers and designations are not all that different from those announced by President Bush for
fiscal year 2009. It is somewhat disppointing that overseas refugee admissions program does not appear to be getting a fresh look by the Obama administration. Tinkering at the margins is not what the U.S. immigraton and refugee system needs. Despite the hopes of the Refugee Act of 1980 to remove ideology from refugee admissions decisions, the President's allocations have reflected ideology, for many years the Cold War and now the "war on terror." Note, for example, that Haiti, a long-time place of political violence and desparation, is not one of the countries designated.
American Apparel, an LA company that has had a good track record in its treatment of immigrant workers, was forced by DHS to fire 1800 workers this week. It's a shame. We need immigration reform, not harassment of workers and fair-minded employers.
Tim Rutten writes in the LA Times:
This week, unemployment among American workers climbed to its highest level in a quarter of a century. In parts of Los Angeles, joblessness has reached levels unmatched since the Depression. In many predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods, nearly one in four people is out of work.
Yet the Obama administration has chosen this moment to deprive more than 1,800 Angelenos, nearly all Latino immigrants, of jobs that not only pay a living wage but provide health insurance and other benefits. The workers are employed by American Apparel, the largest employer in downtown L.A.'s garment district. The company and its workers are victims of a shift in federal law enforcement that began under George W. Bush and now has taken a particularly callous turn under President Obama.
The firings are taking place because the American Apparel workers were found to be using identity documents that federal immigration authorities have deemed illegitimate. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called the firings "devastating."
In 2007, the Bush administration began investigating the documents American Apparel's workers had presented when they were hired. The probe was part of a nationwide focus on companies known to employ large numbers of immigrant workers, launched in the wake of Bush's failure to push comprehensive immigration reform legislation through Congress. Under Bush, when investigations turned up irregularities in employees' papers at other companies, workplace raids and deportation proceedings followed. (Previously, federal immigration authorities had probed only employers alleged to be routinely violating health, safety or labor laws.) In the case of American Apparel, officials went after a firm that pays its workers $10 to $12 an hour -- well above the federal minimum wage -- and provides health benefits (including an on-site clinic), subsidized lunches and transportation, a stock-purchase plan and guaranteed year-round employment, a rarity in the garment industry.
. . .
The company's founder and chief executive, Dov Charney -- himself a Canadian emigrant -- has been perhaps the most vocal supporter of immigration reform in the garment industry. As he wrote on the company's blog this week, "Although the current administration has moved away from ICE raids, the nearly 2,000 hardworking American Apparel employees affected can tell you the new policies are anything but fair. Because of a broken system, we were forced to let go of many factory workers -- people who have been part of our family for nearly 10 years -- and the country seems further from addressing this issue than ever."
In fact, the most appalling aspect of the Obama administration's wretched conduct of this affair is its studied indifference to the fate of the men and women it has thrown out of work. Cunnane's church serves as a vital social service agency in a neighborhood that is bursting at the seams with working people from southern Mexico and Central America. The mass firing at American Apparel, he said, "is going to put all these families under terrific pressure, and who's going to pick up the pieces?" Cunnane, himself an immigrant from Ireland's County Sligo, points out that it is "crazy to think that people are going to go back to their homelands when they've married and have American-born children in school here."
. . .
If the Obama administration wants to force employers to more scrupulously examine the documents of new applicants for employment, that's all well and good. But legally coercing companies to fire workers who've been on the job and paying taxes for, in some cases, more than a decade is far worse than folly. Click here for the full piece.
From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
U Nonimmigrant Status Webinar
Wednesday, October 7, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PDT (1.5 MCLE)
Deadline to register: 10/5/09
Click here to register now
This webinar will focus specifically on the requirements and process for obtaining U nonimmigrant status for immigrant victims of crime. Incorporating the latest and most accurate information, we will cover the procedures and policies for applying for U nonimmigrant status; details on the definitions, changes, standards, and red flags included in the U visa regulations; identifying inadmissibility issues and how to address them in the I-918 and I-192; practice pointers on obtaining inadmissibility waivers; and strategies for helping clients apply despite prior immigration violations or criminal arrests.
Presenters: Sally Kinoshita, ILRC; Susan Bowyer, International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA); and Catherine Ward-Seitz, Bay Area Legal Aid
U Nonimmigrant Adjustment Webinar
Wednesday, October 14, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PDT (1.5 MCLE)
Deadline to register: 10/12/09
Click here to register now
This webinar will focus specifically on the process for U nonimmigrants to adjust status and petition for qualifying family members under the new adjustment regulations. Incorporating the latest and most accurate information, we will cover the requirements, policies and procedures for adjusting status; how the new regulations and TVPRA 2008 affect eligibility, fee waivers, adjustment processing and family petitioning; possible pitfalls under the new procedure; and practice pointers on what to expect and how to best strategize for winning adjustment cases.
Presenters: Sally Kinoshita, ILRC; Susan Bowyer, International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA); and Catherine Ward-Seitz, Bay Area Legal Aid
Cutting-Edge U Nonimmigrant Issues Webinar
Wednesday, October 21, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PDT (1.5 MCLE)
Deadline to register: 10/19/09
Click here to register now
This webinar will focus on advanced and cutting edge issues facing U nonimmigrant related to emerging issues in procedures and policies for obtaining U nonimmigrant status or adjustment, working with law enforcement to obtain certification, submitting successful waiver applications for complex inadmissibility issues, obtaining stays of removal, addressing past removal issues and more.
Presenters: Sally Kinoshita, ILRC; Susan Bowyer, International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA); Andrew Taylor, Attorney at Law; and Catherine Ward-Seitz, Bay Area Legal Aid
What is a Webinar?
A webinar is a web conference system that allows you to join ILRC trainings from the convenience of your own office via the telephone and internet. You simply dial a conference call number and click on a web link provided by the ILRC, and you will be able to learn by listening to the instructor’s lecture and watching the computer screen simultaneously.
Please contact Sai Suzuki, Marketing Coordinator, at 415-255-9499 Ext 789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOOK: The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crime
By Sally Kinoshita
CLICKHERE TO ORDER
Friday, October 2, 2009
Son of a Bracero and an immigrant domestic service worker who both died without health insurance, Alvaro Huerta Ph.D. Student, Dept. of City & Regional Planning (UC Berkeley) & Visiting Scholar, Chicano Studies Research Center (UCLA) has an op/ed advocating for universal health care. It was originally written for the Progressive Media Project.
The Immigration Policy Center made the following release today:
Newspapers are reporting today that during the official Q&A session following the Chicago bid for the Olympic Games, I.O.C. member, Syed Shahid Ali, from Pakistan, asked President Obama how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Olympic Games because doing so can sometimes be "a rather harrowing experience."
While this I.O.C. member's concerns raise a red flag about the need for a change in our immigration policies, a litany of voices have been warning for years that the U.S. is slowly adopting an anti-visitor policy that is harming business, higher education and families. Stories in the press and report after report have all highlighted how our broken immigration system is hampering our nation's ability to attract the best and the brightest and stay competitive with other nations around the world.
While the I.O.C. questioned Brazil on combating crime, and Japan was chided for a lackluster proposal that led it to claim the country's plan was environmentally friendly, it's notable that the U.S. was pushed hardest on its immigration policies making it clear that our broken immigration system has officially become our Achilles' heel in the eyes of the world.
President Obama said at a recent White House gathering that he believes in comprehensive immigration reform and that it is on his agenda. However, this recent disappointment proves that immigration reform is not just a pressing domestic issue, but an international one as well. The President may say the U.S. is open for business, but our nation's actions have proved quite the opposite.
From the Border Action Network:
Inter-American Commission Takes on Human Rights Case
Against U.S. for Not Prosecuting Border Vigilante Groups
Residents of Douglas, Arizona recall Minutemen driving through their small downtown area randomly asking people walking down the street if they had "papers." Since those early days of border vigilante groups patrolling the border and border towns, harassment and racial profiling has continued. Currently, a Minuteman member faces charges for murdering an Arivaca, Arizona man and his child this summer.
The Border Action Network, an Arizona-based human rights organization, believes that the U.S. government should be held to task for turning a blind eye to the groups. "Anti-immigrant vigilantism continues to plague Arizona and the border region," explains Jennifer Allen, Border Action's Executive Director.
"We tried everything possible to get local, state and federal officials to address rights violations and criminal behavior of these groups who act like they are above the rule of law. We found that no one had the courage or political will to prosecute them. In some cases, we found collusion between the government and vigilantes."
The group filed a petition with the Organization of American States (OAS) in April 2005. Last week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS ruled that it will hear the case filed by the Border Action Network alleging human rights violations by the United States for allowing anti-immigrant vigilante groups to operate along the US/Mexico border.
The decision, which allows the case to move forward to the merits stage, comes after four years of legal submissions and a hearing before the Commission in Washington, DC in March 2008. The Border Action Network has also asked the Commission for an interim order to stop vigilante violence while the case is heard, in response to the recent murder of the family in Arivaca by members of the Minutemen American Defense.
"The Commission only processes about 10% of the petitions they receive. This important milestone allows the case to move forward and the Commission to determine whether the U.S. government has a duty to prevent and sanction these vigilante groups," says Seánna Howard of the University of Arizona, attorney for the Border Action Network.
The ruling by the Commission coincides with the launch of a new border vigilante group, the Patriot Coalition, which was scheduled to patrol the border in Cochise County, Arizona from September 18th to October 15th. The Coalition's patrols were cut short when the group's leader, a previous colleague of Minuteman leader Chris Simcox, fell ill and was hospitalized.
To view the full report, please visit:
For further general information, please visit:
A Reel Progress Screening
October 6, 2009, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Admission is free.
Nicholas Bruckman, Writer, Director, Producer, "La Americana"
Jesse Thomas, Producer, "La Americana"
Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, Center for American Progress
"La Americana" is an intimate documentary following Carmen, an undocumented immigrant, on a journey from Bolivia to New York City and back as she struggles to save the life of her ailing daughter. Her unforgettable story is woven into the current immigration crisis in the United States, putting a human face on this timely and controversial issue. Through interviews and a sweeping cinema-vérité narrative, "La Americana" takes its viewers on an international journey following the personal and political tragedy of an undocumented immigrant in New York City.
October 6, 2009, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Space is extremely limited. RSVP required.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Thursday, October 1, 2009
A tip of the hat to two Massachusets Sheriffs!
Maria Sacchetti, writes for the Boston Globe:
Two Massachusetts law enforcement agencies – the Framingham police and the Barnstable County sheriff’s department – are no longer enrolled in a controversial program that let them enforce federal immigration laws.
The program had stirred anger and fear among advocates for immigrants who said it would terrify immigrants and deter them from reporting crimes.
Framingham Chief Steven Carl said he withdrew from the program today because federal officials pressured the department to broaden its enforcement. He said he signed up two years ago exclusively to tap into federal databases to investigate crime, and balked when federal officials wanted him to detain immigrants, transport them and even testify in immigration court.
Carl said that could hurt the police’s relationship in the community, where 26 percent are immigrants.
“It doesn’t benefit the police department to engage in deportation and immigration enforcement,” Carl said today. “We’re done. I told them to come get the computers.”
Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings said federal officials suspended their involvement in the program a few months ago, before it ever got off the ground.
“They told us that they were going in a different direction,” Cummings said of federal officials. “They said they weren’t going to operate the program [here] any longer. They may be back sometime in the future.” Click here for the full story.
Migration Information Source has made available Temporary Admissions of Nonimmigrants to the United States By Jeanne Batalova, This updated Spotlight takes a detailed look at the admission statistics of foreign nationals who came to the United States on a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa in 2008.
American Immigration Law Foundation: Upcoming Supreme Court Session to Decide Two Critical Immigration Issues
When the Supreme Court convenes next week, their docket will include two cases that will have a significant impact on immigrants. The cases explore the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration, and immigrants' access to federal court review.
Both cases present the Supreme Court with opportunities to reaffirm that immigrants must be afforded fair process and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The first case, Padilla v. Kentucky (and here), set for October 13, will examine the important role that lawyers play in safeguarding the rights of immigrants. The Court will decide whether a criminal defense attorney has the obligation to provide foreign-born defendants with advice about what impact their criminal case will have on their immigration case. It will also decide whether defendants have a remedy when defense attorneys provide incorrect advice.
The second case, Kucana v. Holder, which the Solictor General has registered agreement with the Petitioner that thecourt of appeals erred and is set for argument on November 10, deals with immigrants' access to federal court review - review that provides necessary oversight of government decision-making in immigration cases. The case will decide whether circuit courts have jurisdiction over certain decisions (motions to reopen) by the Board of Immigration Appeals. "Fundamental principles of fairness should compel the Court to rule in favor of Padilla and Kucana," said Beth Werlin, attorney at AILF's Legal Action Center. "Given the stakes, namely potential deportation and in some cases, permanent banishment from the U.S., the Supreme Court should carefully consider these cases and then reaffirm that immigrants are entitled to fair process."
An adverse decision in either case has the potential to reverse favorable decisions from other courts. This is a particularly acute concern in Kucana: the Seventh Circuit's decision conflicts with all the other federal courts of appeals' decisions that have considered whether motions to reopen are reviewable. The Supreme Court's decision will likely resolve the issue for all the federal courts.
NEW AMERICANS IN THE PINE TREE STATE: Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an Economic Powerhouse in Maine
The Immigration Policy Center continues providing helpful information about the positive economic impacts of immigration on the various states. Its latest report compiles research that shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an integral part of Maine's economy and tax base. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse. As the state's population ages, immigrants and their children will play a key role in shaping the economic and political landscape of the Pine Tree State. Highlights from Maine include:
• Immigrants make up 3.4% of Maine's total population.
• More than 50% of immigrants in Maine have become naturalized U.S. Citizens who are eligible to vote.
• The purchasing power of Maine's Latinos totaled $363 billion and Asians totaled $303 million in 2008.
• In the next two decades, Maine's ratio of seniors to working-age adults will increase by 93%, "making businesses hard pressed to find replacements" which could stunt economic growth in the state.
• If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Maine, the state would lose $137 million in expenditures, $60.9 million in economic output and approximately 1,080 jobs.
There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make and the important role they play in Maine's political and economic future. For more data on their contributions to Maine's economic future, view the IPC fact sheet in its entirety. Download New%20Americans%20in%20the%20Pine%20Tree%20State%202009
Alejandro Mayorkas, new director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a radio interview discusses his plans for the non-enforcement side of U.S. immigration, including the new Spanish language website. The interview recording is available at http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2009/10/01. Among other things, Mayorkas reaffirmed that the Obama administration supports comprehensiove immigration reform.
I have long complained about the immorality of Operation Gatekeeper because of the avoidable deaths along the border that it has induced. See The Dark Side of Operation Gatekeeper, 7 U.C. DAVIS J. OF INT’L L. & POL’Y 121 (2001). The policies were initiated under the Clinton adminstration, mastered by the Bush administration, and, sadly, perpetuated under the current administration. Now the ACLU reports that deaths resulting from Gatekeeper are at the highest rate since 2006.
President Obama and DHS Secretary Napolitano, PLEASE terminate Operation Gatekeeper. By forcing border migrants to cross at the areas with the most dangerous terrain, you know that many will die. Border enforcement and immigration policy need not be inhumane.
From Al Jazeera:
The number of people who have died this year while attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico has increased to its highest level since 2006, US data and a report by human rights groups has said.
The increase in fatalities comes in spite of a fall in the number of people arrested while aiming to cross the border, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said.
"Border deaths have increased despite the economic downturn, fewer migrant crossers, and a steady drop in apprehensions," their report, released on Wednesday, said.
The total number of people killed while attempting to cross the border lies between 350 and 500 a year, depending on whether figures from the US and Mexican governments are used.
The US Customs and Border Protection agency says that 416 migrants have died while attempting to cross the border illegally in 2009 so far.
That eclipsed last year's total of 390. The highest number of fatalities came in 2005, when 492 migrants died.
The increase in fatalities "signal[s] an escalating humanitarian crisis that is not going away and requires more effective governmental responses," the ACLU and the CNDH report said. Click here for the rest of the story.
From the Immigration Policy Center:
The Truth About Costly Verification Measures, Unauthorized Immigrants and Health Care
Washington D.C. - As health care bills make their way through Congress, lawmakers are debating whether or not to include overly burdensome citizenship verification requirements to ensure that unauthorized immigrants do not have access to health insurance. However, past attempts to implement these kinds of additional measures have prevented U.S. citizens and legal immigrants from receiving health care, while uncovering very few instances of unauthorized immigrants trying to abuse the system. In fact, research shows that unauthorized immigrants do not come to the United States for health care benefits or any other public services for which they are not eligible. These additional measures threaten to ensnare far more citizens than unauthorized immigrants and add unnecessary costs to health care reform.
For more information view the fact check in its entirety:
The Truth About Costly Verification Measures, Unauthorized Immigrants and Health Care (IPC Fact Check, Sptemeber, 2009)
From the Center for Justice and Accountability:U.S. Supreme Court to Review Human Rights Case Against Former Somali Defense Minister
Somali Defense Minister Seeks to Evade Accountability for Atrocities;
Survivors Continue to Seek Their Day in Court
Washington, D.C., September 30, 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the first human rights case ever filed addressing human rights abuses committed in Somalia during the brutal Siad Barre regime. The key issue under review is whether the defendant in the case, Fairfax Virginia resident and former Somali General and Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Samantar, is immune from civil suit in the U.S. for human rights abuses committed in Somalia. No person has ever been held legally responsible for the abuses committed by the military government against the civilian population of Somalia in the 1980s.
"This case stands for the proposition that the U.S. cannot be a safe haven for human rights abusers like Samantar and we are confident that the Supreme Court will not allow U.S. law to be manipulated to undermine this principle," said the Center for Justice and Accountability's Executive Director, Pamela Merchant. Currently, survivors of torture, extrajudicial killing and other grave human rights abuses can seek justice against their abusers in U.S. courts under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), provided these abusers are found in the U.S. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush signed the TVPA into law, laying out in clear terms the commitment to make U.S. courts available to survivors of international human rights violations.
The suit, Yousuf v. Samantar, was brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and pro bono co-counsel Cooley Godward Kronish LLP on behalf of five torture survivors: Bashe Abdi Yousuf, a young business man detained, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement for over six years; Aziz Mohamed Deria, whose father and brother were abducted by officials and never seen again; John Doe I, whose two brothers were summarily executed by soldiers; Jane Doe, a university student detained by officials, raped 15 times, and put in solitary confinement for over three years; and John Doe II, imprisoned for his clan affiliation, who was shot by a firing squad, but miraculously survived by hiding under other dead bodies.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2004 and was dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds in 2007. The district court ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) immunized former General Samantar from civil suit in the United States. On January 8, 2009 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reinstated the case and held that the FSIA would not immunize General Samantar from suit. For a copy of the decision and more information and background on the case, please visit www.cja.org.
CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress. CJA uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries transitioning from periods of abuse.
University of Pennsylvania Press has a Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series with Bert B. Lockwood, Jr. as Series Editor. The series includes books that by leading human rights scholars on subjects that run the gamut, from female circumcision to the international criminal court.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
We previously announced that the Supreme Court granted cert today in Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky. The issue in the case is whether the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel requires a criminal defense attorney to advise a noncitizen client that pleading guilty to an aggravated felony will trigger mandatory, automatic deportation, and if misadvice about deportation can that misadvice amount to ineffective assistance of counsel. For analysis and briefs, click the links.
here and here) of a June 2007 immigration raid in New Haven, Connecticut. It relays the raid's human impacts as well as the efforts of the immigration clinic at Yale Law School, led by Professor Michael Wishnie, to help the immigrants arrested and their families.
"We hold that Aguilar’s conviction for violating Article 92 of the U.C.M.J. is not an aggravated felony. Aguilar is not, therefore, deportable as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review and remand to the BIA with instructions to terminate the proceedings and order the government to release Aguilar."
Buried in footnote 5 is the following bombshell: "While this appeal was pending and this court’s order staying removal was in place, the government mistakenly removed Aguilar to Honduras. To date, efforts by the government and Aguilar’s counsel to locate and return Aguilar to the United States have been unsuccessful."
I am left to ask -- what the heck?