Saturday, February 14, 2009

No Child Left Behind? Over 100,000 Deportees had U.S. Citizen Children

The de facto deportation of U.S. citizen children when there parents are deported from thd United States has long been a problem, and troubled federal judges like Ninth Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson.  And some families are split up to deportations of immigrant parents with citizen children left behind in the United States.  These problems appear to be sizeable.  The Associated Press reports that "[m]ore than 100,000 parents whose children are U.S. citizens were deported over the decade that ended in 2007, a Department of Homeland Security's investigation has found." The number of U.S. children affected are unknown.  Here is the report.

KJ

February 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Happy Valentine's Day from the NY Times! AG Holder Should Reconsider Mukasey Ruling on Ineffective Assistance

200pxericholderagnominee The NY Times in a Valentine's Day editorial encourages AG Holder to reconsider AG Mukasey's ruling on ineffective assistance of counsel in the last days of the Bush administration.

Along these lines, some immigrant rights folks are asking when the Obama administration will actively pursue a position on immigration other than enforcement now, enforcement forever.

KJ

February 14, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Immigration Issues in Stimulus Debate

From the Immigration Policy Center:

An Immigration Two-Step:
House-Senate Conferees on Stimulus Bill Reject Expansion of E-Verify
But Limit Foreign Professionals on H-1Bs 

Washington D.C. - The House-Senate conferees who crafted the final version of the economic stimulus legislation now working its way through Congress faced considerable pressure to include immigration-related measures that are long on rhetoric and short on results.  Two issues receiving substantial attention in the debate are the "E-Verify" system (a federal, web-based, employment-verification pilot program) and the H-1B visa program for foreign professionals. Based on the final provisions in the bill, the conferees deserve both credit and criticism.

E-Verify
It appears that the conferees have wisely resisted rapid-fire expansion of the E-Verify program.  As a new fact sheet from the IPC explains, those who claim that E-Verify is the solution ignore the fact that the program does not effectively root out undocumented workers, harms American workers who will be ensnared by database errors, and forces American businesses to bear additional costs associated with the program. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce concluded that a federal rule that would have similarly expanded E-Verify would result in net societal costs of $10 billion a year.  Small businesses - which employ approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce - would be disproportionately affected. At a time when the U.S. economy is sinking deeper into recession and the ranks of the unemployed are growing with every passing day, expanding E-Verify before improving it would have been a costly and chaotic mistake.

H1-B
Another immigration-related issue in the stimulus debate revolved around the H-1B program.  It appears that anyone receiving TARP money will be hard pressed to hire  foreign nationals for at least a two-year period. We can all agree on the importance of protecting American workers. Our immigration system can and should be an asset in that effort. However, protectionist-oriented policies will thwart progress and innovation in the U.S. and will hurt American workers in the long run. New York Times op-ed columnist Thomas L. Friedman opined on this action and its impact on the economy: "Protectionism did not cause the Great Depression, but it sure helped to make it 'Great'." As he notes, "in an age when attracting the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world is the most important competitive advantage a knowledge economy can have, why would we add barriers against such brainpower - anywhere?"  Additionally, a recent study on the topic by researchers at the Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan concludes that the H-1B program plays "an important role in U.S. innovation" because of its role in bringing foreign-born scientists and engineers to the United States.  The House-Senate conferees may have been aiming to protect U.S. workers, but by limiting access to global brain power they may be squelching just the sort of stimulus America needs.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Immigration has become the perennial pothole into which some in Congress drive each and every legislative debate. We urgently need a comprehensive and workable solution to resolve our immigration problems. Until then, this issue will continue to thwart the progress and promise America's future.

bh

February 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Investigate Sheriff Joe

America's Voice Praises Call for Investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

DOJ, DHS Investigations Would Bring Long-Awaited Justice

 Washington, DC – America’s Voice applauds the announcement that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a federal investigation into the immigration enforcement actions of Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio has engaged in racial profiling in heavily Latino neighborhoods and recently paraded immigrant detainees through the streets of Phoenix in order to segregate and relocate them to a “Tent City.” 

The Committee also asks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the agreement that DHS has signed with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This agreement gives the Sheriff authority to enforce federal immigration laws, but does not provide permission to use racial profiling or other tactics that might violate an individual’s constitutional rights. Below is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The Joe Arpaio approach to law enforcement is un-American and ineffective. His actions are the perfect example of why the federal government needs to take back control of immigration enforcement and pass a practical immigration reform law that secures our borders and legalizes undocumented workers.  It’s welcome news that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will begin a federal investigation into his unlawful tactics. Arpaio is a modern day Bull Connor and his publicity-seeking crusades have made the Latino community scared and Maricopa County less safe by prioritizing racial profiling over executing the felony warrants that have piled up on his desk.”

“His most recent scheme, rounding up immigrants and shipping them off to separate "tent cities," is just the latest in a career filled with dangerous and anti-Latino demagoguery. Thankfully, Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and other members of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives will be able to catalog the range of his abuses he has heaped on the residents of Maricopa County and will hopefully bring long-awaited justice against a man who appears to not understand the word.”

America’s Voice has been a frequent critic and monitor of Sheriff Arpaio. To view an AV video and sign a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Arpaio’s actions, go to: http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/SheriffJoeMustGo

To read an AV factsheet on Sheriff Arpaio’s notorious record, visit: http://americasvoiceonline.org/sheriffjoe

Repeat after me: Sheriff Joe has got to go!

bh

February 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Jin Kyu Robertson (Korea)

Kyujinkyugraduation190eng11feb09 Jin Kyu Robertson immigrated to the United States as a housemaid when she was 22. From modest beginnings, she rose to the rank of major in the U.S. Army and earned a doctorate at Harvard.

Jin Robertson was the child of tavern owner, and neither of her parents ever attended school. Because her family lacked money for college, she worked in a factory and as a waitress and housemaid in Korea. One day, she saw a newspaper ad for a housemaid in America. She applied for the job, over her family's objections. Little more than 10 years later, Robertson was a U.S. army officer stationed in Germany.  The Army allowed her to continue her college studies and she eventually beaome an officer. Robertson represented the U.S. Army as liaison to the Japanese Self Defense Forces, the first woman to hold that position.

Robertson kept her focus on education and completed a master's degree at Harvard University in East Asian studies, and enrolled in a doctoral program, focusing on relations among the United States, Korea and Japan. After retiring from the Army as a Major, she returned to Harvard to finish her Ph.D.

Jin Robertson's daughter, Jasmin, also is a Harvard graduate.

KJ

February 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Update from Ciudad Juarez

Excellent description by Charles Wheeler of CLINIC of new system for waiver adjudication and processing at CDJ.   
By Charles Wheeler

Laura Dogu, Deputy Consul General, and Mark Boss, Communications Unit Supervisor, U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez, as well as Warren Janssen, Field Office Director of the USCIS office located at the consulate, each spoke at CLINIC’s annual family immigration law training in El Paso on February 5, 2008. The following is a summary of the updated information Mr. Janssen provided. We will soon circulate updated information from the consular officials.

Mr. Janssen’s office is now located inside the consulate, but is still under the jurisdiction of the DHS/USCIS. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the IV applications require a waiver for inadmissibility; most of these denials are based on the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. Mr. Janssen’s main responsibility is adjudicating waiver applications. In the last fiscal year, the USCIS adjudicated approximately 24,000 waiver applications, and for next year it anticipates processing a similar number.

Mr. Janssen has a permanent staff of four officers and eight support staff, bringing it to a total of twelve employees. He also has three additional officers working in his office on temporary detail who are helping to work down the backlog. He anticipates maintaining that permanent and temporary staffing throughout this fiscal year.

Immigrant visa applicants who are found inadmissible for a waivable ground are now given written notice at the time of the consular interview informing them of the procedure for submitting their waiver packet through a separate Call Center appointment system. Immigrant visa applicants who know before they attend the interview that they will be found inadmissible used to be able to phone the Call Center before leaving and schedule this separate appointment. Recently appointments were being scheduled for up to two months after the immigrant visa appointment.

That procedure has changed as of February 10, 2009. The new procedure does not allow the immigrant visa applicant to schedule the waiver appointment until after the consulate denies the visa. In other words, consular officials in Cd. Juarez will first determine that the alien is inadmissible and eligible for a waiver, and then note that in the computerized case file. The following day, the alien can phone the Call Center and schedule the waiver appointment. Under the new system, it is expected that waiver appointments will be scheduled between one to two weeks after the denial of the immigrant visa. Aliens who already scheduled their waiver appointments under the prior system will be allowed to keep them. All questions regarding the new waiver appointment process should be directed to the Call Center. That number is 900-476-1212. If calling from Mexico, dial 01-900-849-4949.

At the time of their waiver appointment, applicants will return to the consulate, pay the waiver fee, and submit the waiver application, together with supporting documentation. The consulate receives the application and hands the file over to the USCIS adjudicating officer in an adjoining room. The USCIS officials do not interview the applicant but instead base their decision on the application and supporting documentation. If Mr. Janssen’s office believes it is a “clean” case (no FBI criminal hits, no separate A file to examine) that is readily approveable, it will grant the waiver that same day and return the file to the consulate. The consular official in turn will approve the immigrant visa either that day or the following.

Four of the USCIS officers are currently assigned to adjudicate waiver applications sent through this “same day” (formerly the “pilot”) program. They each review approximately 30-35 applications per day, resulting in a daily total of 120-140 applications. Given their schedule, each officer spends approximately 10-15 minutes reviewing the waiver application and supporting documentation before making a decision to either approve or refer. The approval rate for applications processed through this program is between 50 to 60 percent.

The 40 to 50 percent of the applicants who are not found to have a clearly approveable waiver are not denied but are rather referred to the pre-existing adjudication process. In the opinion of the USCIS, most of these applicants did not submit sufficient evidence to merit a favorable decision. Others may have criminal or prior deportation issues that did not surface at the consular interview. Rather than being formally denied, their application is added to the current backlog of 9,000 pending cases and will be reviewed later. His office is currently adjudicating referred waivers submitted in December 2007, meaning that the waiting time for a decision with those files is now over one year. Waiver applicants who are referred to the backlog are encouraged to supplement their file with additional proof of hardship. Although the referral letter indicates that they have 30 days to submit more supporting documentation, they can actually submit it at any time up to the date of adjudication. These files may have been transferred to another USCIS office in Tijuana, Monterrey, or Mexico City for adjudication. Therefore, it is advisable to submit the supporting documentation before that transfer takes place. Also, the USCIS has plans to open an office in Los Angeles sometime this fiscal year that will work exclusively on adjudicating waivers referred to the backlog. When that takes place, the USCIS hopes to vastly reduce or eliminate the backlog. Therefore, applicants should strive to submit their additional documentation within 30 days.

Applicants who are denied may file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). Those appeals are filed on Form I-290B within 33 days with his office, along with a filing fee of $585, and forwarded to the AAO. The applicant must indicate on the form whether he/she wishes either to: (1) file an appeal, in which case Janssen’s office will review the file and reconsider the decision before forwarding it to the AAO; or (2) request a reopening or reconsideration of the decision. In the latter case, Mr. Janssen’s office will review the case and either overturn and grant the waiver or sustain the original denial. In those latter cases, the file is not forwarded to the AAO.

Alternatively, an IV applicant who has been denied a waiver may choose to submit a new waiver application. In those cases, the applicant would phone the Call Center and schedule a new IV interview with the consulate. If they are once again found inadmissible, they can start the waiver process over again. Be aware that clients who were found inadmissible for more than one year of unlawful presence under 212(a)(9)(B), and who returned illegally to the United States, will have triggered the 212(a)(9)(C) inadmissibility ground and thus be ineligible to file a waiver for ten years. Please communicate with the USCIS via their special e-mail address: cdj.uscis@dhs.gov. An officer in the Mexico City will respond to the question. The turn around for a response is between one to two weeks. Additional supporting documentation for a pending waiver application should be mailed to USCIS, P.O. Box 9896, El Paso, TX 79995. Do not use the new State Department inquiry system for any communications with the USCIS.

bh

February 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Could MLB Baseball Star Miguel Tejada Face Deportation?

300px800pxmiguel_tejada2_2 Click here for analysis of the question and possible good news.  Do any blog readers have a contrary reading of the law?

Yesterday (and here), Major League Baseball star Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to a charge that he lied to Congress about his use of steroids.   He is not expected to serve prison time but, as a lawful permament resident from the Dominican Republic (Tejada's literal rags-to-riches story is laid out in the book Away Games), there has been talk of possible immigration consequences to the criminal conviction.

KJ

February 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Virtual Fence Construction Back on Track

Alice Lipowicz reports for Federal Computer Week:

The Homeland Security Department’s SBInet border surveillance system is undergoing cleanup of minor software glitches this month, and permanent construction will begin along the border of Arizona and Mexico by late March or early April, the program’s executive director said today.

SBInet is a roughly $8 billion virtual fence to be built along the border of the United States and Mexico. The system is comprised of cameras, radars, sensors, and communications equipment strung on towers and transmitting information to border patrol agents in operations centers.

DHS performed SBInet system qualification tests in December in an outdoor laboratory facility in New Mexico that uncovered several small software bugs, said Mark Borkowski, executive director for the Secure Border Initiative. SBI oversees SBInet as well as other projects designed to reduce illegal immigration.

DHS and prime contractor Boeing Co. set up real-time towers, cameras, radar, ground sensors, communications and common operating picture for the tests. It was the first time the permanent tower and sensor configuration has been operationally tested for more than 24 continuous hours, Borkowski said.

Those tests revealed several software bugs, including minor problems related to operation of the system during high wind conditions in the desert, he said. The cameras have minor image stabilization technical problems that must be fixed, he added.

“They all seem to be easily fixable and should be in place by the end of February. If we are successful with that, we will go full tilt into deployment,” Borkowski told Federal Computer Week.

The testing was the first time the computer system was on for a couple of days, so it was anticipated that software glitches might be discovered then, Borkowski added. “It performed well fundamentally, but it did crash due to bugs. We will be working on it,” he said.

Borkowski, who took over as executive director in November 2008, said the goal is to complete construction of the first permanent segments of SBInet named Tucson-1 and Ajo-1 by late summer. Both segments together span about 60 miles. A 28-mile prototype SBInet has been operating in Arizona since February 2008.

Border patrol agents have been involved in design and testing of the permanent configuration, and once the Tucson-1 and Ajo-1 segments are deployed, the agents will begin operational field-testing of those systems. A decision on deployment of SBInet across the rest of Arizona will likely take place by year’s end, Borkowski said.

Borkowski’s budget for SBInet and physical fencing is $770 million for fiscal 2009. The Senate economic stimulus package contains an additional $200 million for those initiatives.

bh

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Debate Over Video In Immigration Courts

We have written often about the overwhelming caseloads in the immigration courts.  Immigration courts are moving to video-teleconferencing of removal hearings.  Immigrant advocates object.  For an an NPR report by Jennifer Ludden on the controversy, click here (and for the links to Ludden's series on immigrtaion this week, see here).

KJ

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration and the New Administration

The Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration Invites you to attend:

Immigration and the New Administration: New President, New Immigrants, New Point of View
February 18, 2009
12:00 pm
Doheny Library Lecture Hall, Room 240, University of Southern California

This event features:

   1. Harry Pachon (President, USC’s Tomás Rivera Policy Institute)
   2. Sara Sadhwani (Immigrant Rights Project Director, Asian Pacific American Legal Center)
   3. Reshma Shamasunder (Executive Director,  California Immigrant Policy Center)
   4. Arturo Vargas (Executive Director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials)

What does the new administration of President Barack Obama mean for comprehensive immigration reform?  What are the likely steps that will be taken this year and what are the prospects for success? How are community leaders thinking about the challenges of reform, the balance of political forces, and the pressing task of more successfully incorporating immigrants who are already here? This conversation brings together top leaders in the field of action and analysis and is part of a series of such exchanges coordinated by the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), co-directed by Dowell Myers of SPPD and Manuel Pastor of USC College.

For more information please call Jackie Agnello at 213.821.1325 or email jagnello@usc.edu.

bh

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Juan Hernández-Campos (Mexico)

Our Immigrant of the Day is Juan Hernández-Campos, an undocumented engineering student, who completed his first semester at Harvard University.  New America Media reports that he has been awarded a $50,000 per year scholarship to complete his studies.

Hernandez-Campos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and crossed the border nine years ago to be with his father, who works as a bricklayer in Los Angeles. He was accepted at 15 universities, seven 7 of which offered him full scholarships.

KJ

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Article: Obama Needs an Economic Initiative for the Americas

Americas Quarterly has an article "Obama Needs an Economic Initiative for the Americas," by Scott Thomas.  In the end, economic development will diminish migration pressures.  Is a new-and-improved Marshall Plan in the works?

KJ

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Montgomery County, MD Attempts Compromise in Local Immigration Enforcement

Montgomery County police will soon start telling federal immigration authorities the names of all suspects they arrest for violent crimes and handgun violations, an approach that reflects growing concerns about illegal immigration and crime but stops short of the broader enforcement efforts used in some counties.

The new policy, expected to be made public today, represents a compromise that could limit its effectiveness, but county leaders say it is key to maintaining the trust and confidence of Montgomery's 277,000 foreign-born residents. For the full story in the Washington Post, click here.

ra

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Colorado Kills E-verify Bill

Colorado senators on Monday killed a bill that would have required employers to participate in a federal electronic-verification program to confirm the citizenship or immigration status of new hires.

Senate Bill 23, sponsored by Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, also would have required employers to fire illegal immigrants not cleared by the 'e-verify' system.  For the full story in the Denver Business Journal, click here.

ra

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Increased immigration enforcement overwhelms the immigration courts

Over the past few years, the Bush administration's immigration crackdown funded thousands more agents to arrest immigrants and hundreds more government lawyers to prosecute them.

But immigration judges — who adjudicate deportation and asylum hearings — have been left out of this expansion, and they say they're struggling under a staggering caseload. For the full story on KNPR, click here.

ra

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

MPI Report: Taking Stock and Correcting Course

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) today released a comprehensive report assessing the performance of the three immigration agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), offering detailed recommendations for policy and operational changes that could be accomplished by the executive branch without legislation. The report, DHS and Immigration: Taking Stock and Correcting Course, offers a clear-eyed assessment of immigration policy direction and coordination almost six years into the life of a young department with a vitally important national security mission. “The Obama administration faces significant demands and choices with respect to immigration. There is much that can be done by the executive branch to improve the Department of Homeland Security’s performance with respect to immigration,” said report co-author Doris Meissner, who directs MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program and is former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. “Regardless of how or whether Congress and the White House ultimately come to agreement on new immigration legislation, the DHS immigration agencies require policy and operational changes to improve their effectiveness and ability to implement existing laws,” Meissner added. Report co-author Donald Kerwin, MPI Vice President for Programs, said: “Strengthening the DHS immigration agencies now offers the opportunity to improve national security, increase efficiency and fairness in the services they provide, and prepare them for new legislative mandates that could significantly add to their already large workloads.” The MPI report follows a months-long review of the three agencies — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — along with overall DHS immigration policy. The analysis, based on extensive MPI research, also was informed by roundtable discussions with senior DHS officials, congressional staff, stakeholders, state and local law enforcement officials, advocates and policy experts. Among the report’s 36 recommendations:

• CBP should conduct a full-scale review of border technology, including the role and effectiveness of physical and “virtual” fencing, and other barriers. Pending the outcome of the review, new fencing projects and contracts should not be pursued.

• CBP should systematically analyze the biometric and border apprehension data it collects in order to understand crossing trends, smuggling patterns and other criminal behavior. The report calls for all the DHS immigration agencies to improve the quality and transparency of their performance data and metrics.

• Consistent with its homeland security mission, ICE should focus its operations on the criminal enterprises that underlie large-scale illegal migration. Its investigations should be prioritized to target worksites that terrorists may attempt to infiltrate and employers who intentionally hire unauthorized workers in order to depress wages, undermine working conditions and gain an unfair competitive advantage.

• ICE should establish and implement guidelines that prioritize its investigative targets, as well as whom it arrests, places in removal proceedings and detains. Such guidelines should set criteria for conducting worksite enforcement actions and should direct all of ICE’s enforcement programs to achieve its statutory mission.

• ICE’s principal worksite enforcement goals should be fostering the use of a viable mandatory employment verification system, ensuring compliance with that system, and punishing employers whose business models depend on the employment and exploitation of unauthorized workers.

• ICE should routinely refer for criminal prosecution those who commit egregious or repeated violations of immigration law, or who commit unrelated criminal offenses. ICE should not overuse criminal charges in routine immigration-status violation circumstances.

• As part of its Criminal Alien Program and 287(g) agreements with state and local police and sheriff’s offices, ICE should pursue plans to provide federal, state and local law enforcement with expanded access to its databases during the booking process; expand screening of all noncitizens serving criminal sentences; and place noncitizen criminals into removal proceedings before they complete their sentences (obtaining travel documents for those ordered removed).

• Supervised release programs run by ICE should be expanded for discretionary detainees who do not threaten national security or public safety, and who would not represent a flight risk while under supervision. ICE’s enhanced electronic monitoring program should be extended to carefully screened mandatory detainees who do not represent a national-security, public-safety or flight risk if the agency determines the program meets necessary legal standards of civil detention.

• The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “no-match” program, whose purpose is to credit earnings to those who paid into the system, should not be used by DHS as an immigration enforcement tool.

• Mandatory employer verification must be at the center of legislation to combat illegal immigration. Until such legislation is enacted, the administration should support reauthorization of the E-Verify employment verification system and expand its use as a voluntary program, allowing for its steady improvement in moving to scale as a mandatory program. Attention should now be focused on continued improvement in the accuracy rates of the DHS and SSA databases, development of a secure system of identification, and improved rates of employer compliance with program rules. Also, the administration should analyze whether or not E-Verify ultimately offers the best platform for mandatory verification.

• Funding for USCIS should be “right-sized” and adjudication procedures should be streamlined so that the agency can break the recurring cycle of backlogs that impedes its ability to function as a true immigration services agency. The agency’s funding model must be redesigned so that user fees support legitimate application processing costs, with additional revenue sources to provide for critical infrastructure investments.

• To encourage legal immigration for all who are eligible for benefits under current laws, USCIS should adjudicate in the United States, not at consulates abroad, “extreme hardship” waivers for persons approved for family-based visas.

• Visa and immigration processes have been substantially strengthened since 9/11. DHS should undertake a rigorous review of all post-9/11 security procedures with the goal of identifying gaps that must still be addressed and streamlining processes to eliminate redundancies.

• DHS should strengthen its immigration policy coordination role by appointing a Senior Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary whose sole duty is to oversee all aspects of DHS immigration policy implementation and coordination. The individual should be empowered to act with the authority, as appropriate, of the Secretary and Deputy to ensure clear policy direction and coherence in DHS’s immigration functions.

• DHS should take the lead in developing a comprehensive immigration enforcement vision and strategic plan that involves all key stakeholders within the administration and beyond.

The full report is available at www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/DHS_Feb09.pdf

KJ

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Film: The Least of These

A new film "'The Least of These" (and here) explores one of the U.S. government's newest approaches to immigration policy: family detention. As part of its new policy to end the 'catch and release' of undocumented immigrants, the U.S. government opens the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in May 2006 as a prototype family detention facility. The facility is a former medium-security prison in central Texas operated by CCA, the largest private prison operator in the country. The facility houses immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who are awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. The facility is initially activated with little media attention or public knowledge. Soon, however, immigration attorney Barbara Hines is contacted by detainees seeking representation, and she becomes increasingly concerned about the troubling conditions there. She joins forces with Vanita Gupta of the ACLU and Michelle Brané of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children to investigate conditions and seek changes. Their efforts are initially hampered by a lack of openness and oversight within the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) organization. Undeterred, the three attorneys attempt to bring about changes in both policy and conditions, by making their findings public, encouraging involvement by activists and the media, and ultimately by filing a historic lawsuit. As these events unfold, the film explores the government rationale for family detention, conditions at the facility, collateral damage, and the role (and limits) of community activism in bringing change. The film leads viewers to consider whether core American rights and values - due process, presumption of innocence, upholding the family structure as the basic unit of civil society, and America as a refuge of last resort - should apply to immigrants, particularly children.

KJ

February 11, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Speak Up Against Discriminatory Comments

From the National Immigration Forum:

ABC has a weekly show that examines how people react to different difficult situations. One show featured a bigot restaurant owner who refused to serve Latino immigrants because they didn’t speak English. Unfortunately, bystanders did not stand up for the discriminatory comments that the owner was making to the immigrants but rather some supported him, and one way even said: “we are cleaning house”. Comments are badly needed on YouTube and the Houston Chronicle blog

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5LDgOMr6jw&eurl=http://blogs.chron.com/immigration/
Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5LDgOMr6jw&eurl=http://blogs.chron.com/immigration/

Immigration Chronicles (Houston Chronicle Blog): http://blogs.chron.com/immigration/archives/2009/02/would_you_help.html#comments

Katherine Vargas
Press Secretary
National Immigration Forum
T- 202-383-5987
C - 202-641-5198
www.immigrationforum.org
ImmPolitic Blog: http://blog.immigrationforum.org/
Sign up for daily immigration news clips, e-mail media@immigrationforum.org

bh

February 10, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles

Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles: Strategic Directions for Funders
By Manuel Pastor and Rhonda Ortiz

The Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and the Center for the Study o Immigrant Immigration on Tuesday released their report, Immigrant Integration in Los Angeles: Strategic Directions for Funders, which stresses how foreign-born and native-born Angelenos can work together for a stronger region.

In Los Angeles County, one third of our residents are immigrants, nearly half of our workforce is foreign-born, and two-thirds of those under 18 are the children of immigrants, 90 percent of which are U.S. born.  Immigrant integration can be defined as improved economic mobility for, enhanced civic participation by, and receiving society openness to immigrants.   

"Southern California's social stability and economic prosperity is directly tied to what happens to our immigrant workers, families and children," said Antonia Hernández president and CEO of the California Community Foundation.  "We're in this together. So it is in our mutual interest and obligations to help our immigrant neighbors integrate into society...We are investing not just in their future, but in Southern California's as well."

Immigrants by their residence add to the local economy, by their labor add to the workforce, and by their background add to the Los Angeles global ties.

The report outlines specific strategies to:

    * Increase opportunities for economic mobility for immigrants, their families and their communities,
    * Enhance opportunities for civic participation by immigrants, and
    * Foster openness in society towards immigrants and their families.

PERE created the report using both demographic data and collective input from immigrants rights advocates, business and workforce development leaders, planners and government agencies, funders, labor unions, and community builders.  The California Community Foundation funded the project.

PERE is a research unit headed by Professor Manuel Pastor and part of the USC Center for Sustainable Cities. The Program conducts research and facilitates discussions on issues of environmental justice, regional inclusion and immigrant integration. PERE conducts high-quality research that is relevant to public policy concerns and that reaches to those directly affected communities that most need to be engaged in the discussion. In general, we seek and support direct collaborations with community-based organizations in research and other activities, trying to forge a new model of how university and community can work together for the common good.

The Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) headed by Dowell Myers and Manuel Pastor has as its mission to remake the narrative for understanding, and the dialogue for shaping, immigrant integration in America. Our intent is to identify and evaluate the mutual benefits of immigrant integration for the native-born and immigrants and to study the pace of the ongoing transformation in different locations, not only in the past and present but projected into the future. CSII thus brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public.

The report can be found at:http://college.usc.edu/geography/ESPE/documents/immigrant_integration.pdf

bh

February 10, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The New Jim Crow

Lawreviewsymp As previously announced, USF School of Law will be having a conference on immigrant workers on February 27.  My panel is entitled "The Meaning of Immigrant Worker — Drawing Parallels Between Chattel Slavery and U.S. Immigration Policy" and includes Gerald Neuman (moderator), Devon Carbado (UCLA), and Rhonda Magee (USF).  Here is an abstract of my draft remarks:

My talk is not about slavery per se. It instead begins with the forms of racial subordination and labor control that followed slavery. My modest hope is to draw some parallels between Jim Crow and the segregation of the labor markets along immigration status lines today. In both Jim Crow and modern times, we see separate labor markets for subordinated communities. The civil rights concerns of African Americans seeking to dismantle Jim Crow and those of immigrants today are by no means identical. However, the similarities warrant our attention and offer important lessons relevant to the pursuit of social change.

Here is a draft of my remarks.  Download usf_ccomments1.wpd

KJ

February 10, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)