Saturday, January 31, 2009
"In an effort to eliminate further delays, facilitate criminal investigations, and assist victims in obtaining the legal status intended by Congress in the “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act” (VTVPA),4 the Ombudsman recommends that USCIS:
1) Expeditiously provide more detailed public guidance on new filing procedures outlined in the December 2008 adjustment regulations as well as the trafficking reauthorization legislation for T and U visa applicants.
2) Find alternatives for T visa non-immigrant applicants to obtain work authorization while their applications are pending.
3) Expeditiously implement procedures and provide public guidance for U visa non-immigrant applicants to apply for work authorization as outlined in the December 2008 reauthorization legislation.
4) Provide adequate staff at the T and U visa unit to ensure prompt adjudication of the existing and anticipated T and U visa applications.
5) Post processing times for Form I-914 (Application for T Non-Immigrant Status) and Form I-918 (Petition for U Non-Immigrant Status)."
Click here for the full text.
A Columbia County Circuit Court judge today delayed the start of an ordinance that, as of Monday, would have punished employers caught hiring illegal immigrants in the county.
The ordinance, which stems from a measure approved by voters in November, was to go into effect 90 days after the election. A coalition of social justice groups and business owners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the Northwest Workers' Justice Project challenged the measure in court.
Judge Ted Grove delayed the measure "given the number of legal issues to be considered, finding potential harm to the legislative bodies who would have to start enforcing the ordinance, the expense to the public and the expenses potentially incurred by employers," he said to a packed courtroom.
For the full story, click here.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today a wide-ranging action directive on immigration and border security.
The directive requires specific department offices and components to work together and with state and local partners to review and assess the plans and policies to address: criminal and fugitive aliens; legal immigration benefit backlogs; southbound gun smuggling; cooperation with the National Guard; widows and widowers of U.S. citizens; immigration detention centers; and electronic employee verification.
The UNHCR announced that the 2007 Statistical Yearbook has been published and is available for download on the UNHCR statistics website www.unhcr.org/statistics .
The seventh edition of UNHCR's Statistical Yearbook contains five chapters dealing with (a) methodological issues; (b) global levels and trends in the population of concern to UNHCR; (c) durable solutions; (d) asylum and refugee status determination; and (e) well-being and living
conditions of refugees.
This year’s Yearbook also includes a variety of thematic and regional topics, including:
- how to measure and define protracted refugee situations
- global trends in unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum in 2007 (and 2006)
- refugee status determination under the UNHCR mandate
- best practice in data collection for the purpose of international protection: the case of Ecuador
- more urban refugees than ever: the case of Iraqi refugees
- resettlement as protection tool: activities from UNHCR's office in Thailand
From America's Voice:
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), including a provision to expand access for legal immigrant children and pregnant women. The bill was approved by all Senate Democrats and seven Republicans. In the House, all but two Democrats voted for the bill, as did forty Republicans.
America’s Voice praises Democratic Senators and Members, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker Nancy Pelsoi (D-CA), as well as Republicans like Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who fought to keep the immigrant children’s provisions intact. Unfortunately, Republican Senators and Representatives filed amendment after amendment to gut these provisions and deny hundreds of thousands of Latino and immigrant children access to health care.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “SCHIP was the first test on immigration for the new Congress, and there are some clear winners and losers here. Winners include the Democratic majority and key Republicans who made good on a promise to America to work together towards progress and solutions. Losers include the many Republicans who fell back on their old playbook, beating up on immigrants as a way to try to undermine legislation they have no plans to support in the first place.
“We were disappointed to see that a number of Republican Senators and House Members are still in denial about the lessons of the November 2008 elections. Americans voted for change because they want the parties to come together to solve tough problems, not continue down the path of polarization and politicization. Nowhere is this truer than in the immigration debate.
“The illegal immigration ‘wedge’ issue was a colossal failure in the elections of 2006 and 2008, and it has failed again in the SCHIP debate. Many Republicans have talked about the need to ‘reach out’ to Latino and immigrant voters, but it is clear the Party has yet to learn the lesson.”
Clearly, the “scapegoat the immigrants” strategy is on a losing streak. However, some Republicans in Congress are now objecting to the stimulus package, which passed the U.S. House this week, citing the immigration bogeyman as their excuse. Echoing leading Republican strategists and leaders, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “it is about time the Republicans got a different piece of reading material and get off this illegal immigrant stuff.”
Friday, January 30, 2009
The Desert Sun reports that Border Patrol officers arrested six parents dropping off their young children at a bus stop in Thermal, California on Tuesday. "It happens in the fields and stuff and we understand that,” said Elizabeth Ramirez, the principal of Oasis Elementary School, where the children attend school. “But we've never had it at a bus stop.” Witnesses said Border Patrol agents took the six parents into custody about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday — when buses typically pick up more than 350 elementary school children at a trailer park.
The National Conference on State Legislatures has released a report on "State Laws Related to Immigrants and Immigration in 2008." It reports that "State legislatures continue tackling immigration issues in a variety of policy arenas at an unprecedented rate. In the 2008 state legislative sessions, no fewer than 1305 pieces of legislation related to immigrants and immigration had been introduced. In 41 states, at least one law or resolution was enacted, with a total of 206 laws and resolutions enacted nationwide. Three bills were vetoed by governors." Download stateimmigreportfinal20081.pdf
Over the last few decades, people from Haiti have come to the shores of the United States because of violence, persecution, crushing poverty, and natural disasters. And they long have been political footballs to U.S. politicians (it is Super Bowl week so please forgive my sports metaphor). Recall that President Clinton "reconsidered" his 1992 campaign promise and continued the interdiction and repatriation of Haitians that had been implemented by the first Bush administration.
Recently, Haiti has suffered the devastation of multiple hurricanes. Although halted for a time, deportations of Haitians to Haiti have been resumed.
This brings us to our Question of the Day: How will President Obama treat the Haitians?
We previously (and here) announced the delay in the implementation of E-Verify. Here is a bit more detail. The federal government agreed to a request by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to postpone the implementation of E-Verify until May 21, 2009 at the earliest. This is the second time the federal government has agreed to delay implementation of the rule.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
President Obama announced today his intention to nominate Ivan K. Fong as General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Secretary Janet Napolitano also announced several key members of her staff: David A. Martin, Principal Deputy General Counsel; Brian De Vallance, Senior Counselor to the Secretary; and Sean Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.
Here is information released by the DHS about the appointees:
Ivan K. Fong, General Counsel
Ivan K. Fong is currently the Chief Legal Officer & Secretary for Cardinal Health, Inc., and served previously as Deputy Associate Attorney General for the Department of Justice, playing a key role in directing the federal government's role in civil litigation and enforcement matters. During his tenure, Fong was the primary author and editor of "The Electronic Frontier: The Challenge of Unlawful Conduct Involving the Use of the Internet," a groundbreaking report on cybercrime policy. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Juris Doctor from Stanford University and was a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University, Magdalen College.
David A. Martin, Principal Deputy General Counsel
Former member of President Obama's DHS agency review and transition team, Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, and former General Counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Martin is a true immigration law and enforcement expert and co-author of a leading immigration law casebook.
Brian de Vallance, Senior Counselor to the Secretary
Former Director of Federal Relations for Governor Napolitano and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Federalism Officer for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sean Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Has served in a variety of senior communications positions on campaigns and in the private sector. Most recently, he was the Pennsylvania Communications Director on the Obama campaign. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
PBS's American Experience premieres film showing challenge of Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans February 23
In 1951 in the town of Edna, Texas, a field hand named Pedro Hernández murdered his employer after exchanging words at a gritty cantina. From this seemingly unremarkable small-town murder emerged a landmark civil rights case that would forever cha nge the lives and legal standing of tens of millions of Americans. A team of unknown Mexican American lawyers took the case, Hernández v. Texas, all the way to the Supreme Court, where they successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans.
On Monday, February 23, PBS's American Experience premieres A Class Apart from the award-winning producers Carlos Sandoval (Farmingville), and Peter Miller (Sacco and Vanzetti, The Internationale). The one-hour film dramatically interweaves the story of its central characters -- activists and lawyers, returning veterans and ordinary citizens, murderer, and victim -- within the broader story of a civil rights movement that is still very much alive today.
The film begins with the little known history of Mexican Americans in the United States. In 1848, The Mexican-American War came to an end. For the United States, the victory meant ownership of large swaths of Mexican territory. The tens of thousands of residents living on the newly annexed land were offered American citizenship as part of the treaty to end the war. But as time evolved it soon became apparent that legal citizenship for Mexican Americans was one thing, equal treatment would be quite another.
"Life in the 1950s was very difficult for Hispanics," Wanda Garcia, a native of Corpus Christi, explains in the film. "We were considered second-rate, we were not considered intelligent. We were considered invisible."
In the first 100 years after gaining US citiz enship, many Mexican Americans in Texas lost their land to unfamiliar American laws, or to swindlers. With the loss of their land came a loss of status, and within just two generations, many wealthy ranch owners had become farm workers. After the Civil War, increasing numbers of Southern whites moved to south Texas, bringing with them the rigid, racial social code of the Deep South, which they began to apply not just to Blacks, but to Mexican Americans as well.
Widespread discrimination followed Latinos from schoolhouses and restaurants to courthouses and even to funeral parlors, many of which refused to prepare Mexican American bodies for burial. During World War II, more than 300,000 Mexican Americans served their country expecting to return home with the full citizenship rights they deserved. Instead, the returning veterans, many of them decorated war heroes, came back to face the same injustices they had experienced all their lives.
Latino lawyers and activists were making progress at state levels, but they knew that real change could only be achieved if Mexican Americans were recognized by the 14th amendment of the US Constitution -- something that could only be accomplished by bringing a case to the Supreme Court.
In his law office in San Antonio, a well-known attorney named Gus García listened to the desperate pleas of Pedro Hernández's mother, who traveled more than one-hundred-and-fifty miles to ask him to defend her son. García quickly realized that there was more20to this case than murder; the real concern was not Hernández's guilt, but whether he could receive a fair trial with an all-Anglo jury deciding his fate.
García assembled a team of courageous attorneys who argued on behalf of Hernández from his first trial at the Jackson County Courthouse in Texas all the way to Washington, DC. It would be the first time a Mexican American appeared before the Supreme Court.
The Hernández lawyers decided on a daring but risky legal strategy, arguing that Mexican Americans were "a class apart" and did not neatly fit into a legal structure that recognized only black and white Americans. As legal skirmishes unfolded, the lawyers emerged as brilliant, dedicated, humorous, and at times, terribly flawed men.
"They took a gamble," says University of California-Berkeley professor of law Ian Haney-López in the film. "They knew, on the up side, that they could win national recognition for the equality of Mexican Americans, but they knew, on the down side, that if they lost, they would establish at a national level the proposition that Mexican Americans could be treated as second class citizens."
The Hernández case struck a chord with Latinos across the country. When funds to try the case ran out, the Mexican American community donated to the cause in any way they could, despite limited resources.
"They would come up to me and they would give you crumpled-up dollar bills and th ey'd give you coins. These were people who couldn't afford it, but couldn't afford not to," recalled attorney Carlos Cadena, Gus García's partner in the case.
On January 11, 1954, García and Cadena faced the nine justices of the US Supreme Court. Cadena opened the argument. "Can Mexican Americans speak English?" one justice asked. "Are they citizens?" asked another. The lack of knowledge stunned Gus García, who stood up and delivered the argument of his life. Chief Justice Earl Warren allowed him to continue a full sixteen minutes past the allotted time, a concession a witness to the argument noted that had not been afforded to any other civil rights lawyer before Garcia, including the renowned NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall.
On May 3, 1954, the US Supreme Court announced its ruling in the case of Hernández v. Texas. Pedro Hernández would receive a new trial - and would be judged by a true jury of his peers. The court's legal reasoning: Mexican Americans, as a group, were protected under the 14th Amendment, in keeping with the theory that they were indeed "a class apart."
"The Hernández v. Texas story is a powerful reminder of one of many unknown yet hard-fought moments in the Civil Rights Movement," says AMERICAN EXPERIENCE executive producer Mark Samels. "It's easy to forget how far the country has come in just fifty years, reshaping our democracy to include all Americans."
The N.Y. Times reports that U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to focus on the removal of ''criminal aliens'' from the United States. Sounds like Bush redux. What about reconsidering detention? Enforcement? Border Patrol abuse? Deaths on the border? Lengthy backlogs of naturalization petitions? Human trafficking? Etc., etc.
The International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants (IDC) has compiled the latest immigration detention news is the International Detention Monitor. For the Jan. 2009 issue, click here. One troubling story worth looking at concerns accusations that Thailand has been dumping refugees at sea without water.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
In an effort to provide factual analysis and rebut anti-immigrant groups that seek to diminish the overwhelming influence of the immigrant and Latino vote in the 2008 election cycle, the Immigration Policy Center has prepared the following fact sheet, quotes page, and blog post to re-emphasize the scope of the immigrant, Latino, and Asian vote.
Election 2008 Recap: The Electoral Landscape and What it Means for Immigration Reform (IPC Fact Sheet, January 28, 2009)
2008 Election Results Lessons Learned: Conservative and GOP Leadership Calling for New Strategy on Hispanic Voters (IPC Quotes Page, January 28, 2009)
CIS Ignores the Facts: Immigration Important Concern for Latino Voters
(ImmigrationImpact.com Blog Post, January 28, 2009)
According to the latest study by the Pew Hispanic Center, the economy, education, and health care are among the top issues of cocern for Latinos, with immigration dropping in importance. Only three-in-ten (31%) Latinos rate immigration as an "extremely important" issue facing the incoming Obama administration, placing it sixth on a list of seven policy priorities that respondents were asked to assess in a nationwide survey of 1,007 Latino adults conducted from December 3 through December 10, 2008, by the Pew Hispanic Center. The report also examines the ways Latinos were involved in the 2008 election. According to the survey, almost three-fourths (74%) of Latinos say they were more interested in last year's presidential election than in the 2004 election. Latino voters were more than twice as likely as voters in the general population to be first-time voters - 21% versus 8%. Among Latino voters ages 18-29, 47% were first-time voters.
Immigration Judge Michael Straus recently issued a split decision in court challenges brought by 17 immigrants who charged that their arrests last year by federal agents were unconstitutional.
Straus, in an oral ruling, found that six of the 17 immigrants have made a prima facie case that constitutional violations took place, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have to testify under oath about the raids last summer.
Lawyers at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale University are seeking to suppress evidence obtained by ICE when it arrested a total of 32 people in New Haven and North Haven in June 2007. For the full story in the New Haven Registry, click here.
The ACLU filed a class action in state district court Monday evening arguing that Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and Nineteenth Judicial District Attorney Ken Buck are violating the privacy rights of thousands of law-abiding taxpayers by keeping copies of confidential information obtained in an illegal search of Amalia’s Translation and Tax Service in Greeley, Colorado, last fall. In the October search, deputies took 49 file boxes filled with the tax returns and related information dating back to 2000 regarding approximately 4900 of Ms. Cerrillo’s tax preparation clients. The officers also took dozens of CDs and floppy disks and copied all the electronic documents on the hard drives of Ms. Cerrillo’s computers.
Mexico's central bank reports that remittances fell 3.6% in 2008 to $25bn, the first annual drop since 1995 when remittances were first tracked. This money is the country's second largest source of foreign income after oil revenues. The fall is thought to have been caused by a crackdown on illegal immigration and migrant job losses as the US recession leads to widespread layoffs. For the full story by the BBC, click here.