April 17, 2010
Gutierrez: Obama Must Act Now and Lead Reform Efforts
Congressman Luis Gutierrez wrote on Huffington Post today:
It is open season on the Latino community in Arizona. In Phoenix, Tucson, and across the state, people in Latino neighborhoods are afraid to leave their houses, afraid to be apart from their children for even a minute, and afraid to walk the streets because they feel their arrest on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant could happen at any moment. It is a horrifying glimpse at what our future holds across the country if we continue down the path the Obama administration is leading us on immigration.
This week, we saw how destructive things are getting. The combination of a harsh piece of anti-immigrant legislation advancing in the Arizona legislature and a massive, well-publicized federal enforcement action against a broad human smuggling network has sent the unmistakable message to Arizona's one million immigrants and two million Hispanics: there is a target on your backs and authorities are coming after you.
President Obama, who promised immigration reform but has failed to make it a priority or use his office to make good on his campaign promises, is now able to see what lies ahead. The Obama administration has escalated mass deportation as our singular approach to immigrants and this has combined in Arizona with anti-immigrant hysteria that is festering to the point that state and local elected opportunists are taking matters into their own hands - with complete federal acquiescence.
We are now deporting people at a rate of 1,000 per day -- with nearly half of the arrests in the state of Arizona -- and now the state legislature is on the verge of escalating that pace dramatically. A law (SB 1070) that passed the state House this week and is probably headed to Governor's desk for signature, authorizes state and local police to round up anyone "suspected" of being an undocumented immigrant. As if that weren't bad enough, the law throws in a bounty of $500 in fines and a possible misdemeanor conviction on criminal trespassing if the particular lawman involved happens to guess correctly and the person they arrest cannot prove they are here legally.
As we know from experience in Arizona and elsewhere, giving police such a broad mandate to arrest and book people "suspected" of looking a certain way isn't just an invitation to racial profiling, it's like waving a green flag and saying "gentlemen start your engines." It is an insult to American justice and one of the harshest assaults on basic civil rights in recent American history.
Then Thursday, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency compounded the panic with one of the biggest Arizona enforcement actions in history, taking down an alleged state-wide smuggling ring. Let's be clear, I support targeted enforcement against smuggling rings exploiting our broken immigration system and preying on vulnerable immigrants, but the timing of this show of force could not have been more destructive.
Television screens across the state flashed images of 800 federal officers unleashed in Phoenix and Tucson, taking people to jail and multiplying the sense of siege in immigrant and Latino communities. After years of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Latino neighborhood sweeps, harsher and harsher state laws that target Latinos and immigrants, and escalating federal deportation, I'm afraid we have turned a very dangerous corner in the war on immigrants.
And we have heard nothing from the President. Click here for the rest of the post.
Arizona's Law a Drop in the Bucket
We have reported much this week about about Arizona's new anti-immigrant/pro-racial profiling bill. Arizona, however, is far from alone. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a searchable database of immigrant-related state laws for 2009, with 222 laws enacted and 131 resolutions adopted in 48 states. It is update through March 9, 2010.
When will we see comprhensive immigration reform and federal action that will end the state and local anti-immigrant agitation?
Federal Aid to States for Refugees Cut to the Bone
The N.Y. Times reports that "Illinois and nine other states received more than half of all incoming refugees to the United States in 2008, the last year for which data is available. Yet severe cuts in financing —Illinois will receive $2.5 million in 2010 for resettlement services, down from $7.5 million in 2000 — have strained the budgets of local resettlement agencies." At the same time, more refugees are coming to the United States. "Since 2003, refugee arrivals in Illinois have increased 175 percent, and the number of countries sending refugees has gone to 60 from 31. Iraqi refugees, according to the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement, went from zero to 1,298 from 2006 to 2009, making Chicago home to the second-largest Iraqi population in the country after Detroit." And more than hal;f of teh refugees worldwide are women.
April 16, 2010
Mexico Speaks on the State of Arizona's Efforts to Regulate Immigration (and Persons of Mexican Ancestry Generally)
Washington D.C., Abril 15, 2010 STATEMENT FROM THE EMBASSY OF MEXICO (Attributable to Spokesman, Ricardo Alday)
The Embassy of Mexico is deeply concerned by the potentially dire effects that the final enactment of legislative initiatives, such as SB1070 currently under discussion in Arizona, may have for the Civil Rights of Mexican nationals. As it has been raised by national Latino and immigrant rights organizations, initiatives that exclusively criminalize immigration create opportunities for an unduly enforcement of the law through racial profiling. Mexico also observes with concern the likelihood of negative effects that this measure, should it be approved, may have for the future development of friendship, commercial, touristic and cultural ties that have characterized the relationship between Mexico and Arizona for generations, particularly with the State of Sonora. Through its vast consular network, the Government of Mexico will continue to provide any and all consular assistance required by our nationals in this country in order to guarantee the protection and full exercise of their fundamental rights regardless of their immigration status.
* * *
One rationale for federal regulation of immigration (and the plenary power doctrine) is the potential negative foreign affairs impacts of state and local regulation. The Arizona law suggests that, at least in some instances, this fear may be quite real.
The Truth About Immigrants in the Job Market
Julia Preston of the N.Y. Times reports on a frequently ignored aspect of modern immigration to the United States: "In 14 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York and San Francisco, more immigrants are employed in white-collar occupations than in lower-wage work like construction, manufacturing or cleaning. The data belie a common perception in the nation’s hard-fought debate over immigration — articulated by lawmakers, pundits and advocates on all sides of the issue — that the surge in immigration in the last two decades has overwhelmed the United States with low-wage foreign laborers." (emphasis added).
April 15, 2010
DOL Secretary Solis convenes summit on health and safety of Latino workers: True Political Leadership (Which We Need on Immigration Reform):
The U.S. Department of Labor announced that "Each year, thousands of workers in the U.S. are injured or killed on the job as a result of preventable incidents, and Latino workers are killed and suffer work-related injuries at higher rates than all other workers. It is with these tragic statistics in mind that U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today convened an historic National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety."
Broad Coalition Urges President Obama And Congress To Oppose Biometric National ID
A broad coalition of groups today sent a letter to the White House, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee urging them to oppose a proposal by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would include a biometric national ID card in comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Signatories are from across the political spectrum and include advocates for privacy, consumer rights, gun owners, limited government and religious liberty. Click here for more.
The Future of Immigration Reform: When Will There Be Real Political Leadership?
These are exciting times for students of U.S. immigration law and policy. Scholars from across the political spectrum have identified a myriad of problems with the current immigration system, too much enforcement, too little enforcement; too much immigration, too little immigration, etc.
At the same moment, politicians and the public are making noises about immigration reform. And we have a President who has expressed support for immigration reform. There is a House bill on the table (CIR ASAP). Moreover, a bipartisan pair of Senators have offered a blueprint for immigration reform.
Rumors about what might happen next abound. Some say that immigration reform won’t be this year. It won’t be next year. It will be an issue put off until the second term of the Obama administration (which is just what happened in the last administration). Others say – often vociferously – that it is now or never.
The question is whether someone can pull the trigger and start the ball rolling – and keep things moving -- on immigration reform happen. Some are working behind the scenes trying to make things happen. But the nation needs political leadership from the top. Mr. President, is help really on the way?
Earned Income Credit for Day Laborers and Others
Today is tax day and the earned income tax credit can be beneficial to many immigrant workers.
Report Urges Better Access to Tax Credit- Many Low-Income Workers Have Difficulty Claiming EIC
Today is Tax Day, a time of consternation for last-minute filers struggling to complete and submit their tax returns by the deadline. For low-income workers who rely on the New York State Earned Income Credit (EIC) to help make ends meet - city and state earned income credits constitute about 15 percent of working poor families' annual income in New York City - the filing process can be especially stressful.
According to a new report by New York Appleseed and The Financial Clinic, although the state EIC is considered one of New York's most effective means of fighting poverty, many qualifying workers are prevented from claiming thousands of dollars in tax credits each year because they are self-employed or paid mainly in cash.
Written with the pro bono support of White & Case LLP, "All Work and No Pay" shows that low-income self-employed workers and cash earners - taxi drivers, childcare providers, day laborers, etc. - are unable to claim EIC because they face income-documentation requirements that are ambiguously defined, poorly explained, and improperly administered. The report is available here.
"In spite of the publicity given to EIC as an anti-poverty measure, its current documentation rules lead to the denial of rightful claims by a huge population of cash earners," said David Tipson, director of New York Appleseed. "Our report outlines a number of ways to make sure that deserving individuals and families are not shut out."
New York City estimates that more than 150,000 residents never claim their federal, state and city earned income tax credits, totaling more than $160 million. To claim EIC, workers must document their earned income, but this requirement, as currently administered by tax authorities, trips up cash earners in ways that are unrelated to whether or not they deserve the EIC.
Some of the most notable obstacles facing cash earners are that tax forms and instructions do not state that income documentation is required or explain how to provide such documentation - cash earners are not issued W-2 forms or the like - nor is there a clear legal standard as to what constitutes sufficient documentation.
Accordingly, New York Appleseed recommends, among other things, the establishment of a clear and specific standard for minimum documentation; the publication and distribution of clearer instructions and guidance; and the elimination of all auditing targets related to the EIC. Noting the importance of financial literacy materials as a remedial tool, the report also shows that cash earners confront the same challenges affecting other EIC claimants, including limited understanding of the tax system, limited fluency in English, and limited access to low-cost tax preparation services.
For more information, contact David Tipson at 212.848.5468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 14, 2010
Comment on Arizona's Mistake
Earlier today, Kevin Johnson posted information on the Arizona Legislature's draconian legislation that is headed for the governor's desk. Here's a comment from America's Voice:
Arizona Republicans Make A Mistake of “Prop. 187” Proportions
Washington, DC – The Arizona State House of Representatives just voted in favor of Draconian legislation that declares open season on immigrants and Latinos in the state. If signed into law by the governor, S.B. 1070 – the so-called “Safe Neighborhoods” bill -- would make every undocumented worker in Arizona guilty of a criminal offense and require state and local police to go after them. Supporters of the legislation have cited clothing, music or an accent as details that should prompt a criminal investigation—a suggestion that should send chills through the entire population, not just Latinos, for its blatant endorsement of profiling by appearance instead of behavior.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“Arizona Republicans have just made a mistake of ‘Proposition 187’ proportions, by voting along party lines to support a piece of legislation that treats every immigrant and Latino in Arizona like a common criminal and does nothing to fix our broken immigration system. The Governor must veto this irresponsible legislation that will undermine community policing, cost millions for Arizona to defend in the courts, and take us further away from the goal of a rational, controlled, and smart immigration system.”
California’s notorious 1994 Proposition 187, which barred undocumented immigrants from receiving an array of social services but was widely seen as an attack on all immigrants and Latinos, marked a political turning point in the immigration debate in that state. As National Public Radio noted years later, the “subsequent backlash among the Latino community may have been largely responsible for turning California into a solidly blue state.” In Arizona, S.B. 1070 passed the state house on a party line vote, with all 35 Republicans voting yes, 21 Democrats voting no and 4 Democrats not voting. It will go back to the Senate to approve House-passed changes and proceed to the Governor’s desk for signature or veto.
Not only is S.B. 1070 a dangerous political move for Republicans in a state where Latino voters make up 15% of the population, but it is a dangerous policy proposal as well. Law enforcement leaders from across the country have denounced policies like S.B. 1070 that encourage racial profiling, place major unfunded mandates on budget-strapped state and local police, upend law enforcement priorities, and destroy relationships between crime victims and police charged with protecting them.
Sharry concluded: “The real answer to the crisis of illegal immigration is not criminalizing undocumented workers, but passing comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial will be the first on the National Mall to recognize a person of color and a man of peace, not a president or a veteran of war. In 1996 Congress authorized the Memorial Foundation to raise funds to establish a national memorial to honor the legacy of Dr. King on the National Mall. The memorial’s very existence signifies that we as a people believe Dr. King and his legacy deserve this esteemed placement in what can be considered America’s “Hall of Fame.”
We want to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by leading a collaborative funding, design, and construction process in the creation of a memorial to honor his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change.. The vision of a memorial in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is one that captures the essence of his message, a message in which he so eloquently affirms the commanding tenants of the American Dream — Freedom, Democracy and Opportunity for All; a noble quest that gained him the Nobel Peace Prize and one that continues to influence people and societies throughout the world. Upon reflection, we are reminded that Dr. King's lifelong dedication to the idea of achieving human dignity through global relationships of well being has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty within each of us— a duty to be both responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy. Dr. King championed a movement that draws fully from the deep well of America's potential for freedom, opportunity, and justice. His vision of America is captured in his message of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America's true strength lies in its diversity of talents. The vision of a memorial in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is one that captures the essence of his message, a message in which he so eloquently affirms the commanding tenants of the American Dream — Freedom, Democracy and Opportunity for All; a noble quest that gained him the Nobel Peace Prize and one that continues to influence people and societies throughout the world. Upon reflection, we are reminded that Dr. King's lifelong dedication to the idea of achieving human dignity through global relationships of well being has served to instill a broader and deeper sense of duty within each of us— a duty to be both responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy.
This month of April marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Dr. King and we are commemorating his life and work by creating a memorial in our nation's capital. The Washington, DC, Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial will honor his life and contributions to the world through non violent social change.
More from Harry Reid and Immigration Reform
From America's Voice:
On Immigration Reform, Listen to What Majority Leader Reid Says, Not What the Chattering Class Hears
Nothing Has Changed, Reid Still Backs Reform
Washington, DC – Despite a spate of headlines this morning to the contrary, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made his commitment to bringing immigration reform to the Senate floor this year crystal clear.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Though it may disappoint breathless headline writers and purveyors of conventional wisdom, who used Reid’s remarks as fodder for their own beliefs about the politics of immigration, we remain on track for comprehensive immigration reform this year and confident about Senator Reid’s commitment to the issue.”
Yesterday, Reid was asked by Capitol Hill press to say what issues would make it to the Senate floor during the next work period, which ends with the Memorial Day recess. He was not asked about what issues would be taken up by numerous Senate committees. Reid ticked off the issues to be taken up by the full Senate, and mentioned that neither the Supreme Court nomination nor immigration reform were slated to come to the floor in May.
But a number of reporters immediately jumped on his comments as a sign that the Majority Leader was “backtracking,” filing stories with headlines like the New York Times’ “Reid Hits Pause Button on Immigration” or POLITICO’s “Harry Reid Punts on Immigration.” But it seems some of these outlets are more interested in what they think than what the Senate Majority Leader says.
Capitol Hill reporters should know better. Both immigration reform and a Supreme Court nominee have to go through the Senate Judiciary Committee before they are brought to the Senate floor. The expectation is that a Schumer-Graham immigration reform bill will be taken up by the Judiciary Committee in May, prior to consideration of a Supreme Court nomination. In fact, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has made it clear that as soon as a bill is ready he is prepared to move forward.
So, what did Senator Reid actually say about the issue? Last Saturday, speaking to a crowd of 10,000 in Las Vegas, he apparently surprised pundits in Washington when he vowed to take up immigration reform in 2010, saying, “We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now...We need to do this this year.”
Then, once the chattering class began to misinterpret his statement from yesterday, Reid’s office issued a statement to clarify his intentions: “Make no mistake, as soon as he gets a bill from Sens. Schumer, Graham and the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Reid will bring immigration reform to the floor of the U.S. Senate, and hopes Republicans will join Democrats in doing what’s right for our country.”
“He couldn’t be any clearer—Majority Leader Reid is ready to move forward once he has a bill to work with. All eyes now turn to Senators Schumer and Graham, who need to finish their bill so it can move through the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible,” said Sharry.
Latino USA on immigration, hate crimes, and the courts
Latino USA, with Maria Hinojosa, focuses this week on the courts and the rights of immigrants, both those in the U.S. with documentation and the undocumented. There is a report on hate crimes on Latinos. In addition, the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has issued a report calling into question the provisions of “Section 287(g)” — which allows local police enforcement of Federal immigration law. Also — deportation as a consequence of a guilty plea: the Supreme Court on the right to counsel. And — the music of jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenon.
The Wild, Wild West: Arizona Passes Another Anti-Immigrant Bill
Nicholas Riccardi of the L.A. Times reports that "Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday approved what foes and supporters agree is the toughest measure in the country against illegal immigrants, directing local police to determine whether people are in the country legally." Here is a copy of the bill.
According to the San Francisco Weekly, "Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon told SF Weekly that he believes the bill is racist and will be struck down in the courts for being unconstitutional. Basically, he says, it's reversing the burden of proof to make a person have to prove he or she _isn't_ an illegal immigrant."
April 13, 2010
Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2009
The Department of Homeland Security has released the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2009. It is full of immigration data!
The Fiscal Bottom Line on Immigration Reform: Enforcement-Only Strategies Tax the System While Comprehensive Reform Nets Economic Benefits
With Tax Day just around the corner, we are reminded of the fiscal implications of immigration enforcement and immigration reform. Today, the Immigration Policy Center releases a fact check, The Fiscal Bottom Line of Immigration Reform, which finds that the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars on costly border and interior enforcement measures which ultimately hurt American families and communities and don't deter unauthorized immigrants. Instead, IPC points to a different approach to addressing unauthorized immigrants - implementing a legalization program through comprehensive immigration reform - which would generate billions of dollars in additional tax revenue as newly legalized immigrants' wages and tax contributions increase over time.
The IPC has also synthesized a number of state studies which assess the economic impact of immigration on state and local economies through federal and state taxes. Highlights from the fact check include:
• Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, the budgets of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - the border-enforcement and interior-enforcement components of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - have increased dramatically. CBP's budget grew from $6 billion in FY 2004 to $11.4 billion in FY 2010, while ICE's budget increased from $3.7 billion to $5.7 billion over the same period.
• A January 2010 study by Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, conducted for the Immigration Policy Center and the Center for American Progress, estimates that during the first three years after legalization, the higher earning power of newly legalized workers "would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue."
• A January 2010 study from the University of Southern California estimates that because unauthorized immigrants earn less than they would if they had legal status, the California state government lost out on $310 million in income taxes in 2009, while the federal government missed out on $1.4 billion.
Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples
There's a lot going on in our fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples and our families. We continue to work to get more co-sponsors for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and to make sure that we are included in any upcoming Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) legislation that will end immigration discrimination and recognize LGBT relationships at the federal level.
Binghamton, NY passes resolution in support of UAFA.
--On April 8, Binghamton, NY passed a resolution in support of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Binghamton now joins more than 35 other cities and municipalities across the US that have either passed a resolution or written a letter to Congressional representatives in support of equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples. According to Tom Tierney, the O4I point person behind these resolutions and letters of support, "Binghamton is in the top 10 population centers in New York and is right on the edge of District 24, which is represented by Rep. Michael Arcuri, a Democrat who has not signed on to co-sponsor UAFA." We will be letting Rep. Arcuri know people in his state need his support at the federal level.
Minneapolis and Cambridge, MA pass resolutions in support of UAFA.
--Two other cities have also passed resolutions this month in support of UAFA. When a city goes on record in support of federal legislation like UAFA it is saying to its residents and representatives alike that same-sex binational couples within its jurisdiction deserve equal immigration protection under US law. Can your city, county or state get behind a resolution? Click here to read more about how to pass a resolution or contact Tom at email@example.com.
Debbie Ellis speaks out at Cambridge hearing.
--O4I member Debbie Ellis spoke out for same-sex binational couples in Cambridge. She says, "I know it helps our cause to put a real person behind these words and resolutions that we send out to government officials. Real stories, real people. It's harder to ignore when I'm standing in front of you telling you I have to move to Canada." Watch Debbie's testimony on YouTube. In addition to Tom Tierney at O4I, Debbie would like to thank Melanie Nathan of Private Courts Inc. and Steve Ralls and Chris Taylor from Immigration Equality for their help in preparing her testimony.
IN THE NEWS
Rufus Wainwright's Partner Needs a Green Card
--Openly gay singer Rufus Wainwright went on record last week about US immigration issues facing same-sex binational couples when he said, "I am very aware of living in the US, of the conundrum that you can't marry your gay partner and give him citizenship. He has to apply for a green card and he may or may not get accepted, which is annoying when you're in a committed relationship. If we were straight, we could get married and he'd get his American passport and it would make a lot of sense."
Cyndi Lauper Gives a Damn
--The Give a Damn campaign for LGBT equality features Cyndi Lauper as the campaign's spokesperson. The campaign identifies 12 areas where LGBT people face significant challenges due to lack of federal protections. Immigration is one of these issues. The campaign spells things out clearly with the tag line, "Family or Country? That's No Choice at All".
Immigration Lateral Moves 2011
From Dan Filler's list on Faculty Lounge, there appear to be two immigration law scholars who will be moving laterally this year:
Professor Leticia Saucedo will be moving from UNLV to UC Davis. She will serve as Director of Clinical Legal Education and teach immigration and employment law.
Professor David Thronson will be moving from UNLV to Michigan State.
There are some other rumored possible immigration law professor moves. Stay tuned! Please let me know if I missed any.
Immigration Rally in Seattle Draws Many Asians
New America Media reports that "Thousands of activists gathered in downtown Seattle April 10 to rally for comprehensive immigration reform. The Washington Immigration Reform Coalition (WIRC) For America, a collection of more than 60 human rights groups statewide, hosted the event in Pioneer Square as a part of the National Day of Action. Asian leaders played a key role in the demonstration."
Immigrant of the Day: Marcelino "Chelino" Garcia (Mexico)
As a teen, Marcelino “Chelino” Garcia entered the United States illegally twice. The first time, he walked nearly 200 miles from Tecate a border town in Baja California, Mexico, to Los Angeles, a trek that took eight days. But after three years, he went back to Mexico. The second time, he swam across the Rio Grande River from Acuña, Mexico, to Eagle Pass, Texas, with several other boys. They were then driven to Dallas in the trunk of a car. That time, he stayed.
Garcia, now 46, is a legal U.S. citizen and a highly successful entrepreneur at the forefront of the Oklahoma City area Hispanic community. He is the founder of the Chelinos Mexican Restaurant chain, which operates 11 restaurants and several other businesses. He is a source of inspiration for immigrants young and old.