Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sarkozy on Immigrant Integration: Burqas Not Welcome In France

Controversial issue on immigrant and cultural integration in France:

Jamey Keaten writes in Huffington Post:

President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Monday that the Islamic burqa is not welcome in France, branding the face-covering, body-length gown as a symbol of subservience that suppresses women's identities and turns them into "prisoners behind a screen."

But there was a mixed message in the tough words: an admission that the country's long-held principle of ethnic assimilation _ which insists that newcomers shed their traditions and adapt to French culture _ is failing because it doesn't give immigrants and their French-born children a fair chance.

In a high-profile speech to lawmakers in the historic chateau at Versailles, Sarkozy said the head-to-toe Muslim body coverings were in disaccord with French values _ some of the strongest language against burqas from a European leader at a time when some Western officials have been seeking to ease tensions with the Muslim world. Click here for the full post.


November 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Asylum Webinar Series: LGBT & HIV, Material Support, & Fundamentals

From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

Asylum Webinar Series

Fundamentals of Asylum Law and Practice Webinar

Wednesday, November 18, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PST (1.5 MCLE)

Click here to register now

This webinar will provide an overview of basic asylum law and bars to asylum. We will discuss the legal standards for establishing persecution, including persecution by non-state actors; cover protected grounds for asylum; and address common bars to asylum, from the one-year to particularly serious crimes. In addition, the webinar will discuss the importance of credibility determinations.

·         Dan Torres, ILRC Staff Attorney
·         Scott A. Mossman, The Law Office of Scott A. Mossman

Asylum and “Material Support” Bar Webinar

Thursday, December 3, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PST (1.5 MCLE)

Click here to register now

Asylum-seekers who are accused of providing “material support” to “terrorist organizations” can be barred from obtaining relief. This webinar will cover the statutory elements necessary for a material support charge and the government’s burden of proof. This webinar will also address defenses to a material support charge, including materiality, duress, and other possible arguments.

·         Dan Torres, ILRC Staff Attorney
·         Theodore Roethke, Attorney & Equal Justice Works Fellow, Asian Law Caucus

LGBT & HIV+ Asylum Claims Webinar
Thursday, December 10, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm PST (1.5 MCLE)

Click here to register now

This webinar will provide an overview of how to prepare an asylum application for LGBT and HIV+ applicants and new developments in the law. We will cover some of the particular challenges faced by LGBT and HIV+ asylum-seekers and will provide practice pointers and resources for addressing these challenges.

·         Dan Torres, ILRC Staff Attorney
·         Dusty Araujo, Asylum Documentation Project Coordinator, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
·         Linda Tam, Staff Attorney, Health Practice, East Bay Community Law Center

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


Asylum and Related Immigration Protections, 8th Edition
By Mark Silverman, Robert Jobe, and Larry Katzman


Written by some of the most renowned asylum experts in the United States, this manual is an indispensable tool for the asylum practitioner, both experienced immigration attorney and pro bono attorney.

The 8th edition provides a detailed description of the key aspects of asylum law, and includes many case examples, practice tips, practical information for preparing your client’s case as well as preparing your client. An extensive and updated outline by co-author Robert Jobe provides expert analysis on all of the elements of an asylum claim, such as persecution, credibility, burden of proof, filing deadlines, corroborative evidence, judicial review, due process issues, and more. Also included is a discussion of related immigration protections, such as Withholding/Restriction on Removal and the Convention Against Torture.

Used by attorneys, pro bono asylum programs, and law school clinics since the first edition published in 1992, this manual covers the essentials of asylum law and theory, in order to prepare the practitioner to successfully handle asylum cases, and is a must for any immigration advocate!


November 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Napolitano on Immigration Reform

Secretary Napolitano Makes the Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

“If we are truly going to fix a broken system, Congress will have to act”

The following is a statement from Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

We have entered a new chapter and a new phase in the immigration debate.  Secretary Napolitano today laid out the framework for fixing the broken immigration system, and the solution is comprehensive immigration reform.  Drawing on her years of experience on the southwest border, and her new role as the nation’s top homeland security official, she said that we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and create immigration laws that truly work for our country.

Reform will secure the border, protect all workers, and require undocumented immigrants to register for legal status, pay fines and taxes, clear background checks, and get in line for citizenship.  This will benefit all Americans by strengthening the rule of law, bringing in more taxpayers, cutting costs for enforcement, and making our nation’s borders stronger and safer.  Now is the time for Congress to take the next step and pass legislation that would accomplish these goals.

As Secretary Napolitano pointed out, the American people support comprehensive immigration reform, and the debate we are about to engage in is not the same old debate.  Law enforcement, labor, business, faith, and community leaders are all demanding comprehensive reform for our nation’s security, economy, workers, and families.  We have a new President, who was elected because he promised to address important problems like this with practical solutions.  We have a new Congress, with leaders who also promised change and progress to the American people.  

The Secretary’s speech today was an important moment, but it was just the opening bell.  It’s now time for Congress and the Administration to put serious muscle behind advancing the proposal – and it’s time for politicians of all political parties to set aside partisanship and demagoguery, and do what’s right for the country.


November 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New SSRN Immigration Articles

We have a number of great new immigration articles from the Social Science Research Network (

 "Offshoring, Immigration, and the Native Wage Distribution" WILLIAM W. OLNEY, University of Colorado at Boulder.  ABSTRACT:  While workers in developed countries have become increasingly concerned about the impact offshoring and immigration have on their wages, the available evidence on the link between offshoring, immigration, and wages remains mixed. This paper presents a simple model that examines the impact of offshoring and immigration on wages and tests these predictions using U.S. state-industry level data. According to the model, the productivity effect causes offshoring to have a more positive impact on low skilled wages than immigration, but this gap is decreasing with the workers’ skill level. The empirical results confirm these predictions and thus provide the first evidence of the productivity effect. Furthermore, the impact of offshoring and immigration on wages differs depending on the income level of the foreign country, which may explain the mixed results in the literature.

"Loving Across the Miles: Binational Same-Sex Marriages and the Supreme Court" in LOVING IN A POST-RACIAL WORLD: RETHINKING RACE, SEX AND MARRIAGE, K. Maillard, R. Cuison Villazor, eds., Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010 Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 23-2009 VICTOR C. ROMERO, The Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law.  ABSTRACT:  In this book chapter, I explore the connections between the obstacles to both marriage and freedom of movement experienced by binational same-sex couples because of both anti same-sex marriage and immigration laws, and those encountered by Richard and Mildred Loving and other interracial couples as a result of anti-miscegenation laws. As I explain more fully below, the Lovings’ story is a story of migration. It’s a border-crossing story that parallels and sheds light on the struggles of binational same-sex partners today who face barriers to marriage and the attendant benefits and privileges of such marriages. Specifically, I argue that the hardships faced by gay and lesbian couples who want to legitimize their relationships through state-recognized marriage mirror the struggles of interracial couples during the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement. Both race and sexual orientation function as barriers to freedom to marry and the law uses these traits to limit free movement. Ultimately, it is this freedom of movement – this migration or immigration – that’s the focus of this chapter, with particular attention paid to the Supreme Court’s role in assessing this freedom. Loving reveals the extent to which the Court affirmed the couple’s desire for free physical, legal, and cultural movement – to break barriers erected by the law that restricted their physical movement (they could not live in Virginia, their home state), their legal movement (they could not legally wed within Virginia), and their cultural movement (they could not wed outside of their respective races). Forty years later, Richard Adams and Tony Sullivan, as well as Austin Naughton and his unnamed Spanish partner, face similar physical, legal, and cultural restrictions on their movement because of their sexual orientation. Describing the current difficulties posed by his relationship with Richard Adams, Tony Sullivan aptly put it: “We would have been able to travel. …” I will discuss these three aspects of movement – the physical, legal, and cultural –barriers to movement that parallel the hardships the Lovings endured under Virginia’s antimiscegenation statute. I will round out this migration trilogy by exploring the ways in which the Court has addressed the cultural migration that has occurred within sexual orientation discourse. While progress had been made on the issue of gay rights as evidenced by the Court’s rulings in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, their most recent decision, Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (“FAIR”), should give gay rights advocates pause, suggesting that race and sexual orientation may be doomed to follow separate, and hardly ever analogous, paths. I conclude the chapter by offering some thoughts on pending Congressional legislation designed to unite same-sex partners and their families, situating the discussion within the context of the Obama administration’s professed commitment to individual rights and the recent same-sex marriage gains among the states.

"‘I’m a Muslim, But I'm Not a Terrorist’: Victimization, Risky Identities and the Performance of Safety" The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 49, Issue 6, pp. 736-754, 2009 GABE MYTHEN, affiliation not provided to SSRN SANDRA WALKLATE, Manchester Metropolitan University - Department of Sociology.  FATIMA KHAN, affiliation not provided to SSRN.  ABSTRACT:   Since the events of 11 September 2001, Muslim minority groups have been subjected to pervasive scrutiny in the United Kingdom. The 7 July 2005 attacks have led to young Muslims’ being party to intensified modes of monitoring, surveillance and intervention by crime and security agencies. The introduction of multiple forms of counter-terrorism regulation by the state has been underpinned by discourses of (in)security, which have defined British Muslims en bloc as a risky, suspect population. Against this wider backdrop, this paper presents the findings from a study investigating the effects of these processes on young British Pakistanis in the North-West of England. Giving voice to these young people, we explore their responses to risk-victimization and articulate the impacts of legal and cultural regulation both on the management of Muslim identities and performances of safety in the public sphere. characteristics explain almost fully the gap in the EU countries, they are of little help in others.

"Race, Religion and Nationality in Immigration Selection: 120 Years after the Chinese Exclusion Case" Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming LIAV ORGAD, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah. TED RUTHIZER, Columbia Law School.  ABSTRACT:   In May 1889, in the Chinese Exclusion Case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Congress has the power to exclude people of Chinese descent from U.S. territory. 120 years have since passed: is this case a relic from another era or still good law? In this article, the authors discuss the question whether race, religion and nationality still matter in the process of immigration selection. They demonstrate how official and central racial classifications remain in current immigration policy. The authors then consider a normative question: is the use of race, religion and nationality in immigration selection legally permitted? They analyze this question under the lens of three normative disciplines: constitutional law, international law and moral philosophy. They show that under each of these disciplines, some forms of race-based criteria are generally permitted in the process of immigrant selection. Focusing on protecting national security as a case study, the authors nevertheless challenge the use of racial immigration criteria based on utilitarian grounds. They show how the use of race in immigrant selection often lacks statistical correlation, is not cost-effective, and is likely to be over-inclusive and far in excess of its potential contribution due to cognitive biases and heuristic judgment. They conclude by suggesting four alternative methods for selecting immigrants: universal selection, positive selection, random selection and racial selection with just compensation.


November 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Consequences Influences Balloon Boy Hoax Plea Deal

I bet that you did not think that the much-publicized "balloon boy" hoax , in which a young boy was reported as floating away in a balloon, had an immigration angle. The lad's mother is an immigrant from Japan and her possible deportation apparently fueled a plea agreement with the father and mother. For more, click here.

Hat tip to Anupam Chander.


November 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Diplomatic Assurances: CLS Study Seeks Interviews

The Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School is initiating a study on the use of diplomatic assurances in U.S. immigration cases and transfers of Guantanamo detainees. Very little is known about the current practice, even as it appears that the Obama administration is contemplating increasing or regularizing the use of assurances to remove individuals to countries where they face a likelihood of torture.

The purpose of the study is to assess how frequently and under what circumstances the government is seeking assurances, what opportunity applicants have to challenge the assurances, and whether monitoring of assurances occurs.

We ask attorneys who have worked on cases where assurances were solicited or contemplated, or who have other pertinent information, to contact us to be interviewed on or off the record. Institute fellow Naureen Shah can be reached at  Naureen Shah is the National Security & Human Rights Fellow at the Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School.


November 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Asian Americans Fast Growing in Union Workforce

A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for Asian Pacific American (APA) workers in unions, relative to their non-union counterparts.

The report, "Unions and Upward Mobility for APA Workers," analyzes data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS) from the period 2003-2007 to reveal a number of advantages of unionization for APA workers.

"As a share of the union workforce, only Latinos are growing at a rate faster than Asian Pacific Americans," said Nicole Woo, Director of Domestic Policy at CEPR and an author of the report. "While this is reflective of workforce trends in general, the data show that joining a union makes a big difference in the wages and benefits of APA workers."
The report finds that unionization raises the pay of APA workers by about $2.00 per hour. APA workers are 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 25 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension plan than their non-union counterparts.

Among the other findings in the study:

about 12.5 percent of Asian Pacific American workers were in a union or represented by a union at their workplace
almost half (48.5 percent) of APA workers in unions were women
in 2003-2007, on average, two-thirds (66.1 percent) of unionized APA workers were immigrants
nearly half (49.7 percent) of unionized APA workers had a four year college degree or more
more than four-in-ten (43.2 percent) unionized APA workers were in the public sector
unionized APA workers are heavily concentrated in several states, with about six-of-ten (60.0 percent) in the Pacific states and about four-in-ten (40.5 percent) in California alone
The full analysis can be foundhere.


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Article from SSRN on NAFTA's Impacts on Immigration

Here is a new article from the Social Science Research Network that may be of interest to readers of the ImmigrationProf blog:  "NAFTA’s Impact on Mexico-United States Immigration" PIXEL JONATHAN SALZINGER, Washington University in St. Louis.  ABSTRACT:  After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force in 1994, Mexico has seen the transformation of its economy into one based on the actual and effectual exportation of cheap labour to serve in United States production chains. The broad-based economic dependence caused by the NAFTA trade liberalization regime, in particular the growth of the low value added maquiladora industry, has effectively subordinated the Mexican economy to that of the United States and left it void of productive economic chains capable of sustainable growth. With Mexican GDP and wages accelerating more slowly than those of its chief trading partner, amplified international competition and increased dependency upon money provided by American firms, Mexican citizens have become perilously situated in the global economy. This paper provides an assessment of post-NAFTA Mexican economic growth and development as well as Mexico-United States remittance and migration flows in order to describe the need for policymakers concerned with issues of immigration to consider the topic alongside that of trade liberalization.


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: Migration and Human Rights The United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers' Rights Edited by Paul de Guchteneire

Migration and Human Rights The United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers' Rights Edited by Paul de Guchteneire
, UNESCO, Paris, Antoine Pecoud, UNESCO, Paris, Ryszard Cholewinski, International Organization for Migration, Geneva Hardback ISBN-13: 9780521199469 $99.00 Paperback ISBN-13: 9780521136112 $39.99 450 pages Available from December 2009

The UN Convention on Migrant Workers’ Rights is the most comprehensive international treaty in the field of migration and human rights. Adopted in 1990 and entered into force in 2003, it sets a standard in terms of access to human rights for migrants. However, it suffers from a marked indifference: only forty states have ratified it and no major immigration country has done so. This highlights how migrants remain forgotten in terms of access to rights. Even though their labour is essential in the world economy, the non-economic aspect of migration – and especially migrants’ rights – remain a neglected dimension of globalisation. This volume provides in-depth information on the Convention and on the reasons behind states’ reluctance towards its ratification. It brings together researchers, international civil servants and NGO members and relies upon an interdisciplinary perspective that includes not only law, but also sociology and political science.


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Compelling Immigration Video on a Transgender Asylum Seeker

Here is a powerful new immigration video of Esmeralda, a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico who faced extreme abuse in immigration detention. This is the latest video from the Restore Fairness campaign.

Esmeralda: A transgender asylum seeker speaks out against immigration detention
Courage comes in many different forms. For Esmeralda, a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico, who faced horrific circumstances in immigration detention, it came in the form of seeking justice. Kept in a segregated cell with other transgender detainees, Esmeralda never realized that her experience in detention would match the trauma of discrimination she had faced back home. But her story is also one of hope for change.


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Study on the Misuse of Antiterrorism Laws on Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Human Rights First, a non-partisan group based in New York and Washington, DC, issued a study finding that U.S. antiterrorism laws are being applied so strictly that thousands of refugees who fled persecution in their home countries and appear to pose no threat to the United States have had their asylum and immigration applications denied or indefinitely delayed, according to a report released Wednesday.


November 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Tom Tancredo left the U.S. House of Representatives.  Now, we have lost another one our biggest sources of immigration news -- at least for now.  The N.Y. Times reports that "Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN anchor whose anti-immigration views have made him a TV lightning rod, plans to announce Wednesday that he is leaving the network effective immediately, two network employees said."

Dobbs also had given some credence to the birthers' claim that President Obama was not born in the United States and thus is ineligible to be President.

Is Fox News in Lou Dobbs' future?  Stay tuned!

UPDATE (Nov. 12):  Dobbs' last CNN show was on November 11.  I watched the last 15 minutes, where Lou did a story on political correctness and the First Amendment and defended himself to his immigration critics.  The defense resembled what appears on his website (see below) (and appears to have been posted early this morning).

Here is a CNN story about his departure and a video of his on-the-air announcement.  Lou will still have a radio show and his own ( website.  On that website, Lou, among other things, attempts to rebut the criticisms of his immigration rants by "ethnocentric special interest groups."


November 11, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Believe It Or Not: Diplomat Says Feds Threw Him in Jail for Violating Immigration Laws

From the Courthouse News Service:  "Immigration agents arrested a U.S. citizen who is also a Samoan diplomat and held him in jail for 9 days, claiming he was an illegal alien, the man claims in Federal Court. Hans Joachim Keil says immigration agents confiscated his diplomatic passport after unjustly arresting him at the Dutton Family Theater in Branson, Mo."

No comment.


November 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supremes Hear Oral Argument in Kucana v. Holder

The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in Kucana v. Holder, in which the U.S. government in a curious change-of-pace argued in favor of judicial review while Law Prof Amanda Leiter (Catholic) argued on behalf of the U.S. government.  See the transcript to the oral argument.  For a press recap of the oral argument, click here.


November 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Health Care Reform and Immigrants

Earlier today, Kevin Johnson posted NILC's analysis of the health care bill that was passed by the House on Saturday. Here's a related message from the Asian Law Caucus:

Dear Friends of the Caucus:

Health care reform has taken center stage in recent months and I am writing to you to ask for your support in ensuring that immigrants families and children are included in the reform package. We need to unite our voices and combat the anti-immigrant sentiment that is fueling opponents of reform.

Please find below a link to a national petition that the National Korean Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) is spearheading. The petition asks President Obama and other leaders in Congress that immigrants not be left behind in the reform proposals in three specific ways:

1.Make the federal government pay their fair share by removing their five year waiting period for legal immigrants in Medicaid and Medicare.

2.Make health reform affordable to everyone by allowing public access to purchase the public option in the new marketplace for health insurance.

3.Let everyone who subsidizes the health system to participate in it, and make informed health decisions, regardless of immigration status.

The link is here: NAKASEC petition.

NAKASEC and their Los Angeles affiliate, the Korean Resource Center (KRC), are also mobilizing a vigil right here in San Francisco on November 23. They are asking for local supporters to turn out and join the event in front of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. For more details about the vigil, please contact Olivia Park at or by phone at 323-937-3703 x209.

Let's join together and win health care for all families and children.

In unity,

Christopher Punongbayan
Deputy Director
Asian Law Caucus


November 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

SF Supervisors Reaffirm Law Enforcement Policy Change

Yesterday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved once again a return to previous policy and will no longer report juveniles "suspected" of being immigrants to federal authorities simply upon arrest.  For more on this story, which has provoked much heat if not light, click here.

Update:  For a discussion of the latest developments on the SF "sanctuary" ordinance on the Bay Area NPR affiliate, click here.


November 11, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Happy Veterans Day!

earlier in the week posted the link to a report about the essential role that immigrants play in the current U.S. military.  On the eve of Veteran's Day, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced in the Senate, the Military Families Act, S. 2757, joined by co-sponsors Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The bill seeks to provide immigration relief to parents, spouses, or children of US Armed Forces members. Senator Menendez announced the introduction of the bill with Army Specialist Jack Barrios, his wife Frances, and with Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. Today, US military families are impacted by our broken immigration system which forces men and women in uniform into the same predicament as millions of other Americans who have spouses, parents, or children who are undocumented and may face deportation proceedings even though they have qualifying relationships to obtain legal status. The introduction of this bill is especially meaningful today on Veterans Day, as the nation, engaged in two wars, mourns the recent tragedy at Fort Hood, and reflects on the enormous sacrifices made by members of the US Armed Forces and their families.


November 11, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Immigrants on the Health Care Reform Bill

The National Immigration Law Center has this analysis of the health care reform bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives:

"Late Saturday night, November 7, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" (H.R. 3962) by a close vote of 220-215. This health reform legislation could be a critical step towards changing the status quo to help Americans obtain quality, affordable health care. Yet the bill sends mixed signals to immigrants in terms of whether immigrants and their families will be fully integrated in our communities with fair access to affordable health care.

What's Good for Immigrants in HR 3962

Like citizens, low and middle income, lawfully present immigrants are eligible for affordability credits to help make purchasing health insurance through the Exchange more affordable. ("Non-immigrants," except for K, T, U, V visa holders, and those residing lawfully under the Compact of Free Association, are not eligible for affordability credits.)

More employers will be required to cover their employees through an employer mandate, promising more affordable coverage to currently uninsured, immigrant workers.

Excessive verification schemes for the affordability credits were rejected and instead, verification of immigration and citizenship status for the subsidies will use well-established procedures currently used in Medicaid under the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) system for immigrants and the Social Security Administration (SSA) database for citizens (consistent with the citizenship documentation provisions enacted in the CHIPRA bill)

Helpful provisions were included to address health disparities and improve health care workforce diversity, to promote more culturally competent and linguistically appropriate health care system.

And a critical political victory….

Despite strong political pressure from immigrant restrictionists on both sides of the aisle, the House's health reform bill allows individuals to purchase health insurance, at full cost, through the newly created exchanges, regardless of their immigration status.

Up until the last hours of this weekend's debate, it was expected that certain Democratic and Republican members of Congress would bring up an amendment in the Republican's Motion to Recommit that would attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from purchasing at full cost health care insurance in the Exchange. HR 3962 already explicitly prohibited undocumented immigrants from obtaining federal health coverage and federally-funded subsidies, but for some these restrictions were not harmful enough.

Key Democratic members threatened to vote against the overall bill if this exclusion of immigrants in the Exchange was added to HR 3962. As a result of political pressure and strong advocacy by the immigrants' rights community, the amendment to exclude undocumented immigrants was NOT introduced. Instead, Republicans offered an amendment regarding tort reform, which ultimately failed.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), including Chair Rep. Nydia Velaquez (D-NY), Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Becerra (D-CA), as well as Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and all of you should be thanked and commended for standing up to divisive politics and ensuring that the Exchange remains open to anyone who wants to buy health insurance for themselves and their family in the new Exchange. Your efforts helped ensure that health care dollars will be directed towards affordable health care rather than adding onerous and expensive administrative burdens that would deny or delay health care for citizens and legal immigrants who need it. More should have been done to make health care affordable to everyone, but this battle sends a clear message that the politics of division and scapegoating immigrants will not prevail.

What's Bad for Immigrants in HR 3962

Under HR 3962, undocumented immigrants will be subject to the individual mandate, (the requirement to have health insurance), but do not have access to truly affordable health care coverage. HR 3962 reaffirms existing restrictions in Medicaid and CHIP on undocumented immigrants, including vulnerable, low-income immigrant children without legal status. In addition, undocumented immigrants, many of whom pay federal and state taxes, are prohibited from applying for affordability credits or subsidies that will help make health insurance more affordable to low and middle-income families. Keeping undocumented immigrants uninsured will force them to ignore or postpone health care resulting in costly emergency room visits and harmful health outcomes that will impact all of us in the long-run.

And…the Ugly for Immigrants in HR 3962

Despite sound policy arguments and potential cost savings, HR 3962 does NOT remove the five year waiting period that prevents lawfully residing, otherwise eligible immigrants for enrolling in Medicaid and Medicare. While more low-income citizens earning 150% or below of the Federal Poverty Level will be enrolled in Medicaid under HR 3962, recently arrived, low-income, lawfully residing immigrants must continue to wait 5 years to be eligible for federal Medicaid. These citizens in waiting, who will be required to obtain health insurance like everyone else, will be eligible to purchase health insurance through the Exchange with tax credits. However, the higher out of pocket costs and limited benefits in many private insurance plans will make health care unaffordable and still inaccessible to many low-income immigrants unless the five year waiting period is eliminated. HR 3962 still allows states to provide state-funded coverage to lawfully residing immigrants during the five year waiting period.

The politics of exclusion and using immigrants as a wedge issue will continue to be used during the health reform debate despite this most recent victory. We need to continue our demands that inclusive, not exclusive policies drive health reform proposals so that we all can have affordable health care."


November 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DREAMers Taking the Reins

Maribel Hastings writes for America's Voice:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - One group that has changed dramatically since past immigration battles -- with help from the growing influence of social networking--are the so-called “DREAMers:” undocumented youth who would benefit from the proposed DREAM Act. The act would form part of a plan for comprehensive immigration reform, and has also been proposed as an independent bill

The DREAMers didn’t come here by choice. They were brought to the United States as young children, or were victims of the broken immigration bureaucracy. The DREAM Act, which has bipartisan support, would grant them a path to legalization if they completed their studies or joined the military.

Each year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high schools across the country.

Over the past decade the DREAM Act has been proposed in Congress as its own bill and as part of other immigration bills, including the failed attempts at reform in 2006 and 2007.

After the failure of the 2007 reform bill, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) proposed it as a separate piece of legislation, but couldn’t secure the 60 votes required for debate.

Juan, a student and member of the DREAMActivist network--and one of the bill’s potential beneficiaries—believes that the 2007 setback sparked the creation of a more organized national movement.

“I think the main difference between now and 2007 was our decision to use the tools at our disposal and saturate every media channel possible to put a face on our cause, to humanize the issue,” Juan told America’s Voice.

It’s a movement that relies on volunteers — not an easy task, since the majority of the DREAMers, in addition to being undocumented, lack the resources to make frequent lobbying visits to Washington. But they have succeeded in halting deportations and they are present in every corner of the country. Their fight has been depicted in films such as Papers, which has been shown in various cities.

United We Dream is the coalition of local and national organizations advocating for the DREAM Act. Dream Activist is “United We Dream’s interactive page,” explained Marisol Ramos, co-founder and board member of the coalition and the New York State Youth Leadership Council.

The network aims to explain to the public and Congress that legalization doesn’t just make sense for humanitarian reasons, but also for economic competitiveness, as it would allow the US to tap an enormous quarry of talent.

Juan emphasized that the United States already allows undocumented students to attend elementary school, middle school and high school. “It’s like planting a fruit tree and then leaving the fruit to rot. They’re not benefiting from their own investment,” he pointed out.

Ironically, while the government promotes programs to encourage minority students — particularly Hispanics -- not to drop out of school, it doesn’t legalize those who want to continue studying, or have completed their studies and want to work.

The DREAMers have established an organizational model that has enabled them to mobilize their cause without central offices or a budget of millions of dollars.

“Almost 100% of our work is voluntary,” declared Ramos, who, in addition to her regular workday, dedicates another seven hours of work to promote the DREAM Act on social-networking sites.

For Ramos, the setbacks of 2007 “confronted us with a cruel reality, but we’ve matured politically and we’ve made ourselves better activists.”

Walter Lara, whose deportation was suspended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told America’s Voice, “my case is a good example of the DREAMers’ organizing capacity.” Compared to 2007, “there are definitely more organizations, they’re using the Web more than ever, they’re interacting effectively with other groups, and they’re taking advantage of every opportunity in social networks and traditional media to promote their cause,” he declared.

But the debate surrounding the DREAM Act has been complicated.

Part of the opposition comes from those who always complain about undocumented immigrants being “rewarded.” Others oppose certain provisions in the DREAM Act, such as the one offering legalization in exchange for military service.

And still others argue that passing the DREAM Act separately would hurt efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. The same would be true of legalizing agricultural workers, they say. Without those two sectors, they worry that there won’t be the political will to consider the rest of the undocumented population.

But Ramos noted that many of the parents or relatives of the DREAMers are undocumented, and the wisdom they’ve gained in the process “has made them better activists and they’re ready not only to promote the DREAM Act, but other causes as well.”

“In the long term, this will help any cause,” Juan concluded.

Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor at America's Voice. Visit her website at


November 10, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Attorneys’ Perspectives on the Rights of Detained Immigrants in Minnesota

Here  (Download Final CURA article 11-10-09) is a study of Attorneys’ Perspectives on the Rights of Detained Immigrants in Minnesota. The study findings confirm reports of violations of ICE standards in Minnesota jails and detention centers housing immigrants, and serious barriers to legal representation of detained immigrants.


November 10, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)