Saturday, April 3, 2010

Arizona Poised to Enact More Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Ole Ole Olson writes for News Junkie Post:

The state legislature of Arizona is poised to pass a bill that makes the presence of an undocumented immigrant anywhere in the state illegal. Many experts believe this is an unconstitutional measure aimed at appeasing angry conservative voters in the 2010 elections.

Arizona is ground zero for the debate about immigration policy in America, and you can feel it. Nowhere is the atmosphere more charged and polarized between those pushing for harsher laws and reformers. Nowhere is there a more heightened sense of the demographic changes taking place in the country, and more sharp views about it either way.

The dominant political apparatus in Arizona is currently conservative, but many in the Tea Party movement are attacking the incumbents from the right for not being ‘conservative enough’ on many issues, first and foremost immigration. This is ironic, because the original Tea Parties were grassroots libertarian events, and the official Libertarian Party platform clearly states their stance on an open border policy. Ever since the traditional conservatives rolled their astroturf over this fledgling movement and took it over, the rhetoric has become harsher and harsher against immigration, possibly explaining why there are so few latinos in attendance. Regardless, the ground campaign of the Tea Parties has re-energized anti-immigration forces to push politicians from the right.

The Arizona senate recently passed bill 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa). The bill has a few provisions.

-It outlaws the hiring of day laborers off the street
-Prohibits anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant
-Forces police to check the residency status of people they suspect are in the country illegally

House bill 2632, which was sponsored by Rep. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) is identical, and has just passed the State House committee and is ready for a vote on the floor, likely on Tuesday. It could possibly be signed by Governor Jan Brewer the same day. Click here for the rest of the piece.

bh

April 3, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Honduran Teen Released from ICE Custody

Valarie Honeycutt Spears writes for the Herald-Leader:

Julio Martinez, 19, sat in a Wisconsin jail Thursday morning, fearing he would be deported to his native Honduras because his mother missed an immigration hearing a decade ago.

But later in the day, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials released the 2009 graduate of Franklin County High School, and he headed back to Kentucky.

Martinez's attorney, Rachel Newton of Louisville, credited his release to "tremendous pressure" from family, friends and students from Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, which Martinez attended in the fall. He was arrested March 17 at his job at Lexington's Amazon warehouse.

"This case speaks to multiple failings of our immigration system and several of the many ways in which the system is broken," said Newton.

Newton said that Martinez's mother fled Honduras in fear of her life and that Martinez "was victimized by circumstances in which he had no say in what was happening to him. He had no say in coming to this country. He had no say in missing his court date."

On Monday, about 40 people protested in front of U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler's Lexington office in an effort to bring attention to Martinez' situation. Newton said Chandler, Sen. Jim Bunning, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin all made inquiries on Martinez's behalf.

Durbin, a Democrat, is the chief proponent for The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants who arrived as children and graduated from U.S. high schools to earn conditional permanent residency.

On Thursday morning, Newton filed a motion to rescind the order to remove Martinez from the United States and reopen the case. She said ICE officials immediately filed a response saying they didn't oppose the motion.

Martinez now must wait for a Texas judge to rule on whether to reopen his case. If the ruling goes against him, Martinez probably will be taken back into custody, Newton said. In any event, he must visit the ICE office in Louisville in May, she said. Click here for the rest of the story.

bh

April 3, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 2, 2010

US Labor Secretary sends message to America’s under-paid and under-protected: Solis announces national campaign and commits to bringing justice to nation’s working poor

CHICAGO — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today used the historic setting of Chicago’s famed Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, on the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, to unveil the U.S. Department of Labor’s "We Can Help" campaign. Solis committed to helping the nation’s low-wage and vulnerable workers, and reminded them that her agency’s personnel will not waver in protecting the rights guaranteed by law to every worker in America. "I'm here to tell you that your president, your secretary of labor and this department will not allow anyone to be denied his or her rightful pay — especially when so many in our nation are working long, hard and often dangerous hours," Secretary Solis told an energized crowd of workers, community advocates and leaders. "We can help, and we will help. If you work in this country, you are protected by our laws. And you can count on the U.S. Department of Labor to see to it that those protections work for you."

Today's event marked the beginning of the "We Can Help" nationwide campaign. The effort, which is being spearheaded by the department's Wage and Hour Division, will help connect America's most vulnerable and low-wage workers with the broad array of services offered by the Department of Labor. The campaign will place a special focus on reaching employees in such industries as construction, janitorial work, hotel/motel services, food services and home health care. It also will address such topics as rights in the workplace and how to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division to recover wages owed. Through the use of Spanish/English bilingual public service announcements — featuring activist Dolores Huerta and actors Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales, the launch of a new Web site at http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp and a toll-free hotline, 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), the department is renewing its emphasis on reaching and assisting workers who often find themselves denied the pay legally guaranteed to them by law.

The campaign also underscores that wage and hour laws apply to all workers in the United States, regardless of immigration status. "The nation's laws are for the protection of everyone who works in this country," said Secretary Solis, speaking from the site where President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Labor Secretary Frances Perkins once worked. "It is appropriate and correct that vulnerable workers receive what the law promises, and that no employer gain a marketplace advantage by using threats or coercion to cheat workers from their rightful wages. I have added more than 250 new field investigators nationwide — an increase of a third — to help in this effort. If you are a worker in America, on this day, we promise you a new beginning and a new partnership to ensure you receive the wages you deserve."

 Chicago's Hull-House opened in 1889 when Jane Addams, the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, rented the site to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises to improve conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago. By its second year of existence, Hull-House was host to 2,000 people every week and today remains a central force in reaching out to Chicago's poor.

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DHS on TPS

A source who seeks to remain anonymous reports the following:

"Today, I participated in a 1 hour call in with DHS re TPS. Some statistics:

38,000 TPS applications as of yesterday (rounded figure)

10% rejection rate

5% of the applications contain fee waivers

50% of the fee waivers are approved. (The normal fee waiver approval rate for non-tps is 50-60%).

Contact email for questions/problems: lockboxsupport@dhs.gov"

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Billions of Dollars to Haiti, What Next?

A U.N.-sponsored donor conference in Haiti exceeded expectations and generated nearly $10 billion in pledges to help Haiti recover from a Jan. 12 earthquake, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said on Wednesday's PBS NewsHour that the donations will help Haiti move "beyond the emergency phase into real, lasting recovery and development. And the theme of the conference today ... is to build back Haiti better." Now that the pledges have been made, what are the next steps? For that, PBS talked to Monika Kalra Varma, director of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. You can watch the conversation by clicking the link.

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Undocumented immigrants less than 1 percent of California college enrollment

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Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Steve (Blame the Illegals) Poizner promises to get rid of those pesky "illegal aliens" sapping our public benefits (most of for which they are inelgible) and using "our" schools and universites.  The facts show that not much money would be saved with respect to undocomented college students, especially since undcoumented students are not elibible for financial aid or federally-supported student loans.  Moreover, according to Susan Ferris in the Sacramemnto Bee, undocumented students account for less than 1 percent of the California college and university enrollment.  "The data come as both Republican candidates for governor are calling for the practice to end, saying the cash-strapped state can't afford to let illegal immigrants attend state-supported colleges at resident rates."

Perhaps Poizner agrees with Republican icon Ronald Reagan, who said famously that "facts are stupid things,"  the apparent mantra of the entire restrictionist movement.

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

La Americana -- The Film

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Our film, La Americana, is an award-winning documentary that follows a young Bolivian woman's journey to the U.S. to save her ailing daughter.  Here is the trailer.

The movie puts a human face on the ways in which immigration policies affect families on both sides of the border. The film screened at festivals worldwide and is used by major organizations and universities to engage audiences around immigrant rights and immigration reform. The film is being released on DVD and will be aired on PBS later this year.

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Government Report Condemns 287(g) Program

From the Immigration Policy Center:

Enforcement Gone Wild
OIG Report Highlights Continued Failures of ICE Enforcement Program

Washington, D.C. -Today, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a long-awaited report that offers a damning critique of the 287(g) program, confirming many of the criticisms levied against the program by community leaders, law enforcement officials, and immigration groups, including the Immigration Policy Center.  Despite problems with the 287(g) program, it has recently been expanded to additional jurisdictions.

The report, The Performance of 287(g) Agreements, identifies numerous shortcomings that lead to abuse and mismanagement and raises serious questions about the wisdom of state and local immigration enforcement partnerships with ICE. 

According to the report, the 287(g) program:
-Is poorly managed and supervised, and ICE has not instituted controls to promote effective program operations;
-Lacks strict guidelines for implementation, which results in different implementation methods in different jurisdictions;
-Lacks an adequate and consistent vetting process for jurisdictions that apply for the program, as well as for officers applying to be deputized under the program;
-Does not gather data necessary to track how the program is being used;
-Lacks a process for reviewing Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) on a regular basis, and for modifying or terminating an MOA as necessary.
-Has not taken action against law enforcement agencies that are clearly violating the terms of the MOA, nor adequately trained deputized officers about immigration law or their authority under the MOA;
-Lacks public outreach efforts, and often provides the public with misleading or inaccurate information about the 287(g) program.
This report follows on the heels of recent revelations and reports that ICE is failing to prioritize genuine threats to the community.  The Washington Post recently reported that a senior ICE official sent a memo to field offices outlining an enforcement strategy which emphasized large enforcement quotas rather than focusing on serious criminals.  Similarly, the OIG found that 287(g) programs have not prioritized serious criminal immigrants, and performance standards by which local officers are evaluated focus on the number of immigrants encountered, not the seriousness of their crimes.

"The OIG report is further evidence that the Administration has yet to distinguish between deporting large numbers of immigrants and making us safe," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "In the rush to engage state and local law enforcement on federal immigration matters, ICE has created a program that lacks oversight, undermines community relations, and breeds mistrust.  As proven time and time again, a deportation-driven strategy exacts a high toll on individuals and communities with little real impact in stopping illegal immigration."

bh

April 2, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Deportation and Child Welfare

From the UC Davis Immigration Clinic:

Deportation of Lawful Immigrant Parents Harms Well-Being of U.S. Citizen Children

New report finds 88,000 U.S. citizen children lost lawful immigrant parent within ten year period
The U.S. has deported the lawful immigrant parents of nearly 88,000 citizen children in just a decade, according to a new report released today from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Davis law schools. The report, In the Child’s Best Interest?, finds that forced removal of lawful permanent resident parents (or green card holders) convicted of relatively minor crimes can lead to psychological harm, behavioral changes, and disruptions in the health and education of tens of thousands of citizen children.

The report, based primarily on new analysis of data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a joint project of the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; and the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, School of Law.

Drastic revisions to U.S. immigration laws in 1996 have led to large numbers of deported lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who now make up nearly 10 percent of immigrants deported from the U.S. More than 68 percent of this group is deported for minor crimes, including driving under the influence, simple assault, and non-violent drug offenses.

The revised immigration laws now severely restrict the ability of judges to consider the impact of deportation on children. In the Child’s Best Interest? recommends restoring judicial discretion in all cases involving the deportation of LPRs with U.S. citizen children.

“As Congress considers immigration reform, it’s time to focus on how the current system tears apart families and threatens the health and education of tens of thousands of children,” said Aarti Kohli, director of immigration policy at Berkeley Law’s Warren Institute. “This report makes a strong case for restoring judicial discretion so immigration judges can weigh the best interests of children when deciding whether to deport a parent.”

The report found that, in the decade between April 1997 and August 2007, the U.S. deported nearly 88,000 lawful permanent residents for mostly minor criminal convictions. These deported legal residents had lived in the U.S. an average of 10 years, and more half of them had at least one child living at home. Approximately 50 percent of the children were under the age of 5 when their parent was deported.

In 1996, Congress also significantly broadened the category of crimes considered an “aggravated felony.” Although this category initially included only the most serious offenses, it now includes non-violent theft and drug offenses, forgery, and other minor offenses, many of which may not even be felonies under criminal law. Lawful permanent residents convicted of an aggravated felony are now subject to mandatory deportation and other severe immigration consequences.

“Parents who are deported on the basis of criminal convictions are being punished twice for the same mistakes,” said Raha Jorjani, clinical professor at the Immigration Law Clinic at UC Davis. “Even after successfully completing their criminal sentences, they are subject to penalties within the immigration system—and risk losing their families. It’s often the children in these families that suffer the most. This nation should take into consideration the impact on families of uprooting individuals with such strong ties to the U.S.” 

Families interviewed for the study reported negative health impacts, such as increased depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Children also reported plummeting grades, increased behavioral problems, and the urge to drop out of school to help support the family.

The study compares U.S. immigration policy to international standards that more adequately address potential family separations in deportation hearings.

“The rights to health and education are firmly entrenched in international human rights law, and nearly every major human rights treaty recognizes the need for special protection of children,” said Laurel Fletcher, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Berkeley Law. “The U.S. should consider revising its policy to mirror European human rights standards, which permit judges to balance a nation’s security interest with the best interests of the child when considering deporting a parent.”

bh

April 2, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Murder Heating Up McCain's Campaign

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Terry Greene Sterling
on the Daily Beast has become a hot issue in Senator John McCain's contested Republican primary campaign.  A rancher was killed near the border and, although no one has been arrested for the crime, some are blaming the crime on undcoumented immigrants or drug traffickers.  McCain's Republican opponent, J.D. Hayworth, refers to McCain -- to use Sterling's words -- as "a border enforcement wimp" responsible for the rancher's death.  Sounds like a barn burner of a campaign!  No wonder McCain has given up on comprehensive immigratrion reform.

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U.S. immigration sees rise in Mexican asylum seekers

Over the last couple of years, asylum applications by Mexican citizens seeking refuge in teh United States -- have increased, as have the approvals.  For more on thisl story, click here.

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Par for the (Detention) Course

One might think that, in light of the massive increase in immigrant detentions over the last 15 years, the U.S. government at some point would get it right -- detain the right people under humae conditions for reasonable periods of time.  But, we could (as others do), blog day in and day out over government abuses in the detention of immigrants.  (See, for example, the story earlier this week on the report on immigrant detention by Texas Appleseed.).

Nina Bernstein provides us with the latest immigration detention-gone-haywire story:  "More than three dozen Haitian earthquake survivors were released from Florida immigration jails on Thursday after more than two months in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

KJ

April 2, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Demographic and Economic Data on Hispanics by State

The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, has released updated profiles of the Latino population in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Derived from the 2008 American Community Survey, these profiles feature downloadable data on the demographic and economic characteristics of the Latino populations in each state.

The Center also updated the national portraits of Hispanics and the foreign-born population adding data on racial self-identification and health insurance coverage. Almost one-third of Hispanics identify with "some other race" compared with less than one percent of the non-Hispanic population. Hispanics are twice as likely as the overall population to lack health insurance coverage. Among foreign-born Hispanics, one-in-two lacks health insurance coverage.

Here is a brief commentary on the profiles.  Updated data on the Latino population in U.S. counties will be forthcoming shortly. County data through 2007 are currently available on the Center's website.

KJ 

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

They Keep Coming -- NEW AMERICANS IN THE GRANITE AND GREEN MOUNTAIN STATES: Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are a Growing Economic Force in New Hampshire and Vermont

The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an important part of New Hampshire and Vermont's economies, labor force, and tax base. Immigrants and their children are a growing economic and political force as consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. With the nation working towards economic recovery, Latinos, Asians and immigrants will continue to play a key role in shaping the economic and political future of the Granite and Green Mountain States.

 Highlights from New Hampshire include: Immigrants made up 5.1% of Granite Staters (or 67,735 people) in 2007.

-- The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $902.4 million and Asian buying power totaled nearly $963.2 million in New Hampshire in 2009.

-- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from New Hampshire, the state could lose $893.2 million in economic activity and $396.7 million in gross state product.

Highlights from Vermont include:

--  Immigrants made up 3.5% of Vermonters (or 21,410 people) in 2007. The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $251.6 million and Asian buying power totaled $178.7 million in Vermont in 2009.

--  If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Vermont, the state could lose $794.8 million in economic activity and $294.6 million in gross state product.

There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make in New Hampshire and Vermont and the important role they will play in the states' political and economic futures.

KJ

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Presidential Proclamation Honoring César Chávez

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Here is President Obama's proclamation, on what would have been César Chávez's 83rd birthday, declaring March 31 to be Cesar Chavez day.

Click here for a response from the Chávez family and the United Farm Workers.

KJ

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

An Immigration Judge on the Need for More Immigration Judges

Listen to Immigration Judge Dana Marks on the need for more immigration judges, law clerks, and independence, to deal with the caseload.  The average immigration judge, she says, has 1200 cases compared to 480 cases for the average federal district court judge.

KJ

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mayorkas and Morton on MPI videos

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas details his agenda for his agency, and discusses E-Verify, fees, the transformation initiative, processing of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, and other top priorities for USCIS.  In addition, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary John Morton details his agenda for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the kickoff of the Migration Policy Institute's new speakers series, Leadership Visions. During his speech, Morton discussed ICE's detention reform proposals, 287(g), Secure Communities, and other agency priorities."

Links on right side of MPI home page.

A tip of the hat to Bender's Immigration Bulletin, a great source of immigration news!.

KJ

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Books

Native-born Californians regain majority status

The L.A Times reports that "For the first time since the 19th century Gold Rush, California-born residents now make up the majority statewide and in most counties, according to a USC study released Wednesday. And experts predict even Los Angeles -- long a mecca for new immigrants -- will become majority California-born by the time the 2010 census is completed."  Dowell Myers, a USC urban planning and demography professor, coauthored the study. According to Myers, "`But people are living in the past. They still think we are fighting off hordes of migrants.'"

KJ

April 1, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alan Bersin Appointed CBP Commissioner

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees welcomed the arrival of Commissioner Alan Bersin today, following his appointment by President Obama Saturday.

With a background as federal prosecutor and as a big supporter of Operation Gatekeeper, Bersin can be expected to maintain the "enforcement now, enforcement forever" approach of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when it comes to immigration.

KJ

March 31, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)