Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 20: World Refugee Day

This year, June 20 is Father's Day in the United States.  This year, it is also WORLD REFUGEE DAY.

For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on 20 June in several countries. As an expression of solidarity with Africa, which hosts the most refugees, and which traditionally has shown them great generosity, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000. In this resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June. The Assembly therefore decided that, from 2001, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. [Note: The OAU was replaced by the African Union on 9 July 2002.]

On June 20th of each year, we celebrate the United Nations' World Refugee Day. First recognized in 2000, it is a day to honor the struggle of refugees from all over the world and to recognize the courage that it takes to leave one's homeland in the hopes of a safer, more secure life in a foreign land. World Refugee Day is also a day to recognize the contributions of refugees to this country.

This year's theme for World Refugee Day is "Home."

Here are some refugee-related resources:

On Immigration Advocates Network:

April 2010 DHS Office of Immigration Statistics Report on Refugees and Asylees 

An annual report to U.S. Congress from DHS and other federal agencies regarding the "Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2010"

The Advocates for Human Rights have produced materials on the rights of migrants, including a fact sheet and other resources,

An Advocates' fact sheet on immigration and human rights

Additional resources on using a human rights framework for immigration cases

Immigration resources

Energy of a Nation website

 Amnesty International provides statistics on the 200 million people living outside their home countries in the "Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons" section of their website 

The Department of State publishes an annual report on human rights practices around the globe

Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch publishes an annual report on human rights' issues around the world

International Rescue Committee's efforts to resettle refugees.  For more information, visit

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has developed community and congregational resources for World Refugee Day 2010

Office of Refugee Resettlement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services): Fact sheet on the Office of Refugee Resettlement's goals and structure

Other information and resources on programs that benefit refugees

UNHCR Details about World Refugee Day 2010 activities and suggested activities for local communities 

The UNHCR reports on ongoing activities around the world in "The sun never sets on World Refugee Day events."


June 19, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reason Prevails: U.S. Government WIll Not Seek to Deport Harvard Student

We previously reported that a Harvard student was facing removal.  The Boston Globe now reports that "Eric Balderas, a 19-year-old Harvard biology student who became an international celebrity last week after being arrested for being in the United States unlawfully, is no longer facing deportation to Mexico, officials said last night. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency informed US Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois late yesterday that it would not pursue Balderas’s deportation, said Max Gleischman, a spokesman for Durbin.  . . . [The] Harvard sophomore’s arrest on June 7 as he tried to board an airplane back to Boston after visiting his mother in San Antonio triggered international outcry, support from Harvard officials, and a Facebook page with more than 5,500 people lobbying for him."


June 19, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Say It Ain't So, President Obama! Citizen Writes President Asking for Help, Immigrant Spouse ICEd

Nina Bernstein
tells the troubling story of a U.S. citizen who contacted the President desparately seeking help for her immigrant husband.  ICE came to visit him, asked if he wrote the President, and arrested him.  A government responsive to its citizenry?


June 19, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


Lindsay C. Harrison
, an associate in the District of Columbia office of national law firm Jenner & Block LLP, is the first recipient of the American Bar Association Rosner and Rosner Young Lawyers Professionalism Award. Harrison’s selection recognizes her commitment, professionalism and effectiveness in volunteer legal work, including representing Jean Marc Nken, a Cameroonian immigrant contesting denial of asylum and a deportation order, that resulted in her making her very first oral court argument in an emergency appeal before the Supreme Court of the United States. She prevailed in April 2009, winning a temporary stay of Nken’s deportation, and she continues to represent Nken in subsequent proceedings before the Board of Immigration Appeals and in settlement negotiations with the federal government.

The award will be presented Aug. 6 during the 2010 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The award is supported by the Rosner and Rosner Justice Fund, named by donor Seth Rosner in honor and in memory of his partners, Oscar S. Rosner, his father, and Jonathan L. Rosner, his brother. The award honors young lawyer commitment to legal and judicial ethics, lawyer professionalism, client protection and professional regulation.


June 19, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 18, 2010

TSA Pats Down 18-Month Asian Indian Infant

Larry Margasak writes for the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Azaad Singh cried when he entered the glass enclosure at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport for extra screening.

He was patted down. His bag was searched. And then the security officer went through his prized possessions: his first Elmo book, his second Elmo book, his mini-mail truck.

Azaad, whose name means "freedom," is an American and a Sikh.

He's 18 months old.

Azaad's father, Amardeep Singh, told a House hearing Thursday that he's not sure how he'll one day explain to Azaad why he and his Sikh family seems to always need extra screening.

The House Judiciary civil rights subcommittee is exploring potential legislation to stop racial profiling. Witnesses proposed that Congress require studies to document how often particular groups of victims are stopped or arrested and whether they were threats to the United States. Legislation also should provide for legal redress for those who were wronged.

Witnesses told the committee that profiling remains a national problem for African-Americans; Hispanics are increasingly victims, especially in states and communities that have cracked down on undocumented immigrants; and, since Sept. 11, 2001, Muslims and Sikhs have been regularly targeted. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AFL-CIO President Urges Immigration Reform to Stimulate Economy

Today AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave a major speech on immigration reform in Cleveland. It's important for the leader of working people to speak directly about comprehensive immigration reform as a key element in fixing our broken economy.  It's also notable because he is giving this speech in the Rust Belt--a region of the U.S. that has seen economic devastation and that often scape-goats immigrants for their economic woes.  He gave a similar speech during the elections and was able to move many union members to see beyond racial prejudice in order to better the lives of working people by voting for Barak Obama.  Hopefully, this important speech will have a similar effect by bringing union members to have a more comprehensive, progressive perspective on immigration reform and the global economy. 

Remarks by Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO
City Club of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
June 18, 2010
Thank you, President Roller [City Club Board President Jan Roller]. 
Good afternoon.  I am delighted to be here with you in the great city of Cleveland.  I want to talk to you about the grave economic challenges we face today - and the labor movement’s vision for where we need to go. 
There is no better place to have a discussion about our economic challenges than Cleveland-where business and labor built the American middle class.  Cleveland embodies both the consequences of our failed economic policies of the last three decades - and our hope for a different future.
The economic crisis has hit hard here-116,000 lost jobs in the last decade in Cuyahoga County.  Eighty-six thousand home foreclosures last year alone.  A self-defeating attempt to address budget shortfalls by attacking school budgets and teachers. 
But we can also see a glimpse of a better future in the Lake Erie wind turbine project-with turbines built here in Ohio, in the OneCommunity Project fiber optic network, and in Cleveland’s role as a global center of fuel cell development. 
We’re at a turning point today.  The economic course our nation started on in 1980-the effort to have a low-wage, high-consumption society that imports more and more of what it consumes-has hit the wall.  We cannot afford to stay this course- of letting the private sector and the financial markets run amok, of outsourcing everything that’s not nailed to the floor, and of pushing down workers every chance we get.  And last night's vote by Republicans in the United States Senate to block a simple extension of unemployment benefits for the most hard-pressed people without jobs is just the latest shame.  At some point, there is nobody left to buy the junk that we import from everywhere but here. 
We now face a future of prolonged high unemployment and stagnant or falling wages-unless we do something different.
Today I am going to talk about doing something different.
We need a new national economic strategy for a global economy. 
At the heart of our strategy must be a workforce with world class skills and world class rights and trade policies that serve the interests of the American people.  But today I also want to talk to you about what may seem like a strange subject--immigration--because it is patently clear that we cannot talk about our national workforce strategy unless we face head-on our own contradictions, hypocrisy and history on immigration. 
The truth is that in a dynamic global economy in the 21st century, we simply cannot afford to have millions of hard-working people without legal protections, without meaningful access to higher education, shut off from the high-wage, high-productivity economy.  It is just too costly to waste all that talent and strength and drive.
But immigration reform is not just an economic issue.  The way we as a nation treat the immigrants among us is about more than economic strategy-it is about who we are as a nation. 
I grew up in a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania, not that far from here.  The immigrant path led from the coalmines to Pittsburgh to Cleveland.
And if you look around Cleveland at the ethnic clubs and the churches, you see a city that immigrants built--Hungarians and Poles, Irish and Italians, Serbs and Croats and Jews, as well as African Americans.  Cleveland is a city where the traditions of the places we came from are the very foundation of our community.
It was not easy when my family came to this country.  My parents fled poverty and war from different corners of Europe.  When I was a kid, there was an ugly name for every one of us in all twelve languages spoken in Nemacolin, PA-wop and hunkie and polack and kike.  We were the last hired and first fired, the people who did the hardest and most dangerous work, the people whose pay got shorted because we didn’t know the language and were afraid to complain. 
We got to the mines and the mills, and the people already there said we were taking their jobs, ruining their country.  Yet in the end the immigrants of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation prevailed, and built America.  This is the history of my family, and this is the story of Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Detroit and Chicago and Baltimore and a thousand cities and towns across America. 
And yet today I hear from working people who should know better, some in my own family - that those immigrants are taking our jobs, ruining our country.  Haven’t we been here before?
When I hear that kind of talk, I want to say, did an immigrant move your plant overseas?  Did an immigrant take away your pension?  Or cut your health care?  Did an immigrant destroy American workers’ right to organize?  Or crash the financial system? Did immigrant workers write the trade laws that have done so much harm to Ohio? 
My friends, we are most of us the children of immigrants. 
But there was no labor movement in America until workers learned to look at each other and see not immigrants and native born, not white and black, not different last names, but our common fate as workers.
The labor movement  believes that our goal as a nation should be a future of shared prosperity - not stubborn unemployment and a lost generation.  That our economic strategy must bring us together instead of driving us apart.  Our strategy must help us be the kind of country we want our children to thrive in-the country our history tells us we can be.  The home of the American Dream.
So exactly what is the American Dream?  Some will tell you the American Dream is the idea that in America anyone can become rich.  And the fact that the upper reaches of our society are relatively open is a good thing about our country-but it is not the American Dream.  
The American Dream is not that a few of us will get to be rich, but that all of us will have a fair portion of the good things in life.  Time to be with our families.  The chance for our children to get an education and the opportunity to make their own way in the world.  Laws that protect us, not oppress us. 
The American labor movement is all about the pursuit and the defense of this idea of America.  And we have learned through our history that it is only when working people stand together-in the workplace and at the polling place-that the American Dream is secure.
Recently, the American Dream brought a man my age named Elvino and his son Ramon to America from Mexico.  They are experienced bricklayers and were hired to work on a large mixed-use housing development-a public project.  They and thirty others worked for five weeks, and the contractor just never paid them. 
For too many immigrants seeking the American Dream, this is the American reality.  Hard work rewarded with ripoffs.  And then no way to seek justice.  That’s why I am so proud to be able to say that Elvino, Ramon and their co-workers are taking this injustice to the U.S. Department of Labor, thanks to the efforts of Bricklayers Union Local 18 in Cincinnati and the Interfaith Worker Rights Center-whose members understand that truly an injury to one is an injury to all.
Immigration to the United States is part of a larger picture-the picture of how we are getting globalization wrong.  There is no better way to understand that than to look at what has happened between the United States and Mexico since NAFTA was implemented in 1994.
NAFTA was sold to the American public on the idea that increasing trade with Mexico would create good jobs in both countries and slow the flow of undocumented workers coming to the U.S. from Mexico. 
Instead, inequality has grown and workers’ rights have eroded in both the U.S. and Mexico since NAFTA’s passage.  And illegal immigration flows have tripled.
Today we treat our relationship with Mexico as if it were a national security problem-solvable with military aid and a militarized border.  And that is a dangerous mistake.  The failures of our relationship with Mexico represent a failed economic strategy.  They cannot be solved with guns and soldiers and fences.  They must be addressed through an economic strategy for shared prosperity based on rising wages in both countries.
Instead, at the heart of the failure of our immigration policy is an unpleasant fact, one that you almost never hear talked about openly:  Too many U.S. employers actually like the current state of the immigration system-a system where immigrants are both plentiful and undocumented-afraid and available.  Too many employers like a system where our borders are closed and open at the same time-closed enough to turn immigrants into second-class citizens, open enough to ensure an endless supply of socially and legally powerless cheap labor. 
Our immigration system makes a mockery of the American dream.  The people doing the hardest work for the least money have no legal protections, no ability to send their children to college, no real right to form a union, no economic or legal security-no way to turn their contributions-their years of hard work-into the most fundamental right of all, the right to vote.  That is intolerable for a democracy. 
Recently, I met a young woman named Fabiola, who came to the United States when she was two years old.  Her parents have worked in the United States for twenty-two years.  Fifteen years ago, her father became a U.S. citizen, so all her younger siblings who were born here also are citizens. But Fabiola fell through the legal cracks and is now too old to become a citizen under current immigration law.
But that has not stopped her from working hard to live the American Dream. Recently, she graduated from the University of California  with a degree in international development. But she cannot find a job in her field because she is undocumented.
How does Fabiola’s story make any sense in economic or human terms?   Her talents and her education are being squandered because our immigration system is simply not working.
That is why the AFL-CIO is fighting to fix this broken immigration system as a crucial element of our broader economic strategy.  Because we stand for the American Dream for all who work in our country.  Because we are for ending our two-tiered workforce and our two-tiered society.  And because an underclass of disenfranchised workers ends up hurting all workers.
But we are not for any kind of immigration reform.  We will not support the return to outdated guest worker programs that give immigrants no security, no future here in the United States, no rights and no hope of being part of the American Dream.   
Immigration reform must begin with the principle that workers in the United States deserve to enjoy a fair share of the wealth we create-that wages should move up with productivity.  The labor movement and a broad coalition of faith-based and immigrants’ rights groups have worked with former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall to put together such a program for comprehensive immigration reform.
The AFL-CIO is for a fair path toward legalization for all undocumented workers who are working to realize the American Dream.  We are for the DREAM Act, that gives young people like Fabiola a future in the only country they know. 
We need an independent commission to determine our society’s genuine need for more immigrants, and then we need to build a pathway that allows immigrants to be securely part of our country from day one-able to assert their legal rights, including the right to organize, without fear of retaliation. 
And together with this commission, going forward we are for establishing real penalties for employers who break the law.  We must focus enforcement not on those who come here seeking the American Dream, but on those who would exploit them.
This is the reform the labor movement is fighting for. 
But instead, we see today a dangerous drift toward a politics of hate.  Last month, I went to Arizona to stand with working people who were the target of a hate campaign-a campaign for racial profiling waged by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor.  A campaign to make anyone who might look like an immigrant live in fear of the police.  All of us should fear such a system:  In the end, don’t all of us who aren’t Native Americans look like the immigrants and children of immigrants that we are?  
As President of the AFL-CIO, my message to working people is that we all are bound together by our lives as workers, our dreams for our families, and our hopes for this country’s future.  The labor movement stands for giving all workers in America the right to dream the American Dream. 
Unfortunately, the American Dream is slipping away. 
Today, as in any economic crisis, there are people who offer hatred and divisiveness as the solution to the crisis.  If our political leaders do not lead, if they do not offer help in the present and a clear strategy for prosperity in the future-starting with good jobs-those voices of hate will grow, they will become more powerful, and they will feed on the public’s anger and pain and desperation.
President Obama has laid out in broad terms the approach we need to take.  He has spoken out for creating good jobs, rebuilding manufacturing, taking on the challenge of climate change and energy independence, growing exports and investing in our infrastructure, including our education infrastructure.
If we are truly going to build a world class workforce, we need to restore workers’ fundamental human right to organize and bargain with their employers.  And we need to make sure every worker in America - documented or undocumented - is protected by our labor laws. That is why it is so urgent that we reform our immigration system.
The President’s strategy also requires that we invest in rebuilding our country.  Consider this fact-as a result of the economic recovery act, we are now in the process of planning approximately 500 miles of high-speed rail, including lines here in Ohio.  Sounds good, until you realize that China, a country about the same size as the United States, is in the process of constructing 5,000 miles of high-speed rail.
Restoring workers’ rights and building workers’ skills.  Creating the infrastructure of the 21st century.  Thinking strategically when it comes to trade policy.  These are the strategies for making the American Dream as real for our children as it was for my parents. 
But that will not be enough.  We as a nation must be true to our better selves-employers must not make a buck on the backs of workers who live in fear of deportation, and workers must stand together in the workplace for good jobs, safe jobs, health care for all, and retirement security we can count on.  And so when we talk about making the American Dream real, the labor movement stands for making it real for all of us who do the work of our country.  All of us-no matter what we look like, who we choose to love, or where we come from.  Surely there we can find common ground. 


June 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Whitman Throws Money at Latino Voters in California

During the recent Republican gubernatorial primary campaign, Meg Whitman (the eventual nominee) and her opponent Steve Poizner were doing their best to be win an award for being more anti-immigrant. Whitman ran an ad with former anti-immigrant governor Pete Wilson.

In the ad Meg Whitman says, "Illegal immigrants are just that, illegal…Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver's license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education. And I'll create an economic fence to crack down on employers who break the law by using illegal labor.

To which Pete Wilson replies: This is former Governor Pete Wilson. I know how important it is to stop illegal immigration and I know Meg Whitman. Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration. She'll fight to secure our border and go after sanctuary cities.

Now that she has the nomination, Whitman realizes she needs Latino votes, and she's doing her best to clean up her image with Latino voters:

Joe Garofoli writes for the San Francisco Chronicle:

It will be difficult for Republicans to win statewide office in California without some support from Latino voters, who make up 18 percent of the electorate. Many of them were so outraged by former Gov. Pete Wilson's anti-illegal immigration push 16 years ago that they haven't voted GOP since.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman began trying to woo back Latinos on Thursday - and distance herself from Wilson's legacy - by running ads on Spanish-language networks during the widely seen broadcast of the Mexico-France World Cup soccer match.

In one of the ads, titled "Una Candidata diferente," the narrator says, "She respects our community. She is the Republican who opposes the Arizona law and opposed Proposition 187," the immigration proposition that Wilson supported in 1994.

The 30-second ads, which are airing on Univision, Telemundo and Telefutura, are the most visible example of the Whitman campaign's attempts not to cede Latino voters to Democrat Jerry Brown.

This week, Univision's highly rated Los Angeles station, KMEX, began airing the first of a two-part sit-down with Whitman that is the only on-camera interview she has done in her Atherton home.

And for months, Spanish-speaking Whitman operatives have courted Spanish-language media outlets, appearing on talk shows and news programs to pitch their candidate.

Brown's skeletal campaign, by contrast, has no paid Spanish-speaking staffers doing outreach, relying instead on volunteers. His campaign has no Spanish-language advertising. Click here for the rest of the story. 


June 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lakers Win NBA Championship: Blame the Immigrants!

The Los Angeles Lakers squeaked out a victory in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics last night to win the NBA Championship.  While MVP Kobe Bryant understandably will receive much credit, previous Immigrant of the Day Pau Gasol (Spain), who played tough throughout the series and especially in the final game, should get some credit. And Slovenian-born Sasha Vujacic, who was clutch in sinking two free throws in the last minute of the game (his only points of the night), should get some as well.



June 18, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Human Face of Immigration Law: Arizona Immigrant Women Testify in Congress Against SB 1070

New America Media has a compelling story on the real life impacts of the new Arizona immigration law:  "Five Arizona women painted a picture of abuse, terror, and civil rights violations during a special hearing Thursday before Congress about the impact of a state law that would make it a crime to be undocumented."  Read on.


June 17, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Gary Becker to Immigrants: Show Me the Money

Nobel Laureate and economist Gary Becker, who regularly regularly blogs on immigration with Judge Richard Posner, today will deliver the annual memorial Hayek Lecture in London.  His talk sounds provocative --  the U.S. and U.K. governments should charge each immigrants $50,000 a year.


June 17, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Keith Aoki: Arizona - pick on someone your own size

My colleague Keith Aoki equates the state of Arizona with a bully on the playground in this great op/ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.  However, the comments -- at least the ones that were not censored -- seem to be rooting for the bully.


June 17, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Immigration: What Would Reagan Do?

Peter Robinson, a former speechwriter for conservative icon Ronald Reagan, explains in the Wall Street Journal how I might have much in common with the former President on the issue of immigration.  What about you?  Another example of the political oddities about immigration.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Prosecutions Once More on the Rise

After several months of moderation, U.S. federal immigration prosecutions have returned to the high levels of last summer. According to the most recent figures released by the Department of Justice, there were 8,287 immigration prosecutions in March 2010, up 30 percent from February and more than in any month since July 2009.   Click here.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

Secretary of State Clinton has released the 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report.  The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ImmigrationProf Receives 900,000 Hit!

Today, thanks to you, our faithful readers, the ImmigrationProf blog received its 900,000 hit!  We are pleased that you support this blog.  We have enjoyed keeping our readers up to date on immigration since the blog's launch in September 2005.  On to one million!


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Warmer and Fuzzier Immigration Detention Facilities?

Michelle Roberts writes for the Associated Press:

In an agreement U.S. immigration officials hope will begin to reshape the entire 30,000-bed detention system, some asylum-seekers and immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings could soon be held in facilities where they can wear their own clothes, participate in movie and bingo nights, eat continental breakfasts, and celebrate holidays with visiting family members.

It could end confinement in prison-like facilities — complete with razor wire, jail-style uniforms, armed guards and partitions that prevent physical contact with loved ones — for those who have never been convicted of a crime and are not considered a threat.

Corrections Corporation of America, the largest contractor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has reached a preliminary agreement to soften confinement, free of charge, at nine immigrant facilities covering more than 7,100 beds — a deal that ICE officials see as a precursor to changes elsewhere.

Overall, the facilities are expected to be less prison-like, offering freer movement for detainees, fewer pat downs and better access to legal resources. The agreement calls for fresh vegetables and access to self-serve beverages along with cooking and exercise classes, according to a list released by ICE. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 16, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Indian Immigrants in the United States

The 1.6 million Indian immigrants in the United States are the country's third-largest immigrant group and one of its best educated and fastest growing during the 2000s. Migration Policy Institute's Aaron Terrazas and Cristina Batog use the latest federal data to explore the population's size, geographic distribution, and socioeconomic characteristics.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Candidate Obama Versus President Obama on Immigration Reform

In September 2007, the ImmigrationProf blog ran an exclusive interview on immigration with Senator Barack Obama, then a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.  Nearly, three years have passed and President Obama has been President for close to 18 months. With the passage of time, the interview is well worth reading again.  One unequivocal promise sticks out -- Senator Obama pledged to do what President Bush could not and commence a serious discussion of comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in the White House.


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Arizona to Challenge Birthright Citizenship and the Fourteenth Amendment?

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."  This provision of one of the critical Reconstruction Amendments was designed to overrule Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), the controversial decisision that denied U.S. citizenship to a freed slave and contributed to the Civil War.  In United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1897), the Supreme Court held that a person born in the United States, whatever the immigration status of his or her parents, is a U.S. citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment.

For the most part, scholars are firm suporters of the birthright citizenship rule under the Fourteenth Amendment.  Peter Schuck and Roger Smith's 1985 book Citizenship Without Consent is noteworthy because it is one of the few scholarly pieces that suggests that Congress might be able to eliminate birthright citizenship without a constitutional amendment.  It also generated a firestrom of controversy and considerable academic criticism (and few defenders).

Over the last few months, the state of Arizona (and here) has thrown the equivalent of a two year old's fit about immigration.  The state legislature first passed Senate Bill 1070, requiring local police to enforce the federal immigration laws; the law drew vociferous cries of foul from across the country and claims that it would promote racial profiling of Latinos, a long time problem in Arizona (and the nation).  Next, the Arizona legislature went after ethnic studies programs -- again drawing the ire of Latinos and others nationally.

Now, the state of Arizona wants to go after a constitutional icon -- it wants to challenge birthright citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment by denying birth certificates to "anchor babies," i.e., children of undocumented immigrants.

The attack on birthright citizenship unfortunately is nothing new.  Congress regularly sees bills of dubious constitutionality that would eliminate birthright citizenship.  Such bills to this point have gone nowhere.  This also has been an issue in the states.  In 2008, for example, a group of Arizonans unsuccessfully sought to get an initiative on the ballot that would have denied birth certificates to the chidlren of undocumented immigrants. 

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who favors just about every anti-immigrant proposal out there (including Arizona's SB 1070), supports the new proposal to deny birth certificates to children of undocumented parents born in the United States.  The almost certain unconstitutionality of any such measure (as well as SB 1070) does not deter Senator Pearce and his kindred spirits.

Supporters of the anti-birthright citizenship bill want to pass a law, spark a legal challenge, and, if necessary, take the case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In certain respects, this may be little more than a pipedream -- immigrants over the last few years, including earlier this week in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder have won the vast majority of their cases before the Court as the immigration laws generally have become too far "over the top" even for this relatively conservative Supreme Court.

Russell Pearce and the supporters of anti-immigrant legislation know that the measure, like SB 1070, will be challenged -- perhaps successfully -- in the courts.  They know that the defense of the measures will cost many thousands of dollars, money that the strapped state budget will find it difficult to pay.  Still, the anti-immigrant front keeps coming back for more.  Why?

If it comes to fruition, the Arizona anti-birthright citizenship proposal would have similar impacts as California's Proposition 187, a 1994 initiative that would have denied access to undocumented students to public K-12 education in contravenbtion of the Supreme Court's decision in Plyler v. Doe (1982).  Although a federal court invalidated Proposition 187 as an intrusion on the federal power to regulate immigration, the law "sent a message" to the federal government that it had to do something about immigration.  The Clinton administration unquestionably got the message.  It allocated millions of dollars to border enforcement and commenced many high-profile border operations in the Southwest, including Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego and Operation Hold the Line in El Paso.  Congress passed two tough immigration reform bills in 1996, both heavily weighted toward enforcement, and passed welfare reform that denied benefits to legal immigrants as well as undocumented ones.

The shocking developments in Arizona, including the Arizona anti-birthright citizenship proposal, have already sent a message to the U.S. government, as well as the nation as a whole.  President Obama has deployed more than 100 National Guard to the U.S./Mexico border.  It is likely that more border enforcement is on the way.  The Arizona measures also have drawn a line in the sand on comprehensive immigration refoirm, which was long ago promised by Candidate Obama but is not on the horizon.

So, pardon me, if I do not crow as a law professor that the Arizona anti-birthright citizenship law is clearly constitutional and will likely be struck down by the courts.  If the law is passed, damage will be done.  Immigrants will be hurt.  Latinos will too.  In the end, we as a national community will be damaged.  


June 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Will School Police in Arizona Violate Plyler?

Mary Ann Zehr writes for Education Week:

Nearly two months after Arizona enacted a controversial law requiring police officers to ask about the immigration status of suspected undocumented immigrants involved in a “lawful stop, detention, or arrest,” educators, police agencies, and advocates are beginning to sort out what the new requirements mean for the police officers who work in public schools.

Meanwhile, at least one school district with a large Latino population saw a drop in enrollment right after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed the measure into law on April 23. It is scheduled to go into effect July 28.

“It seems to be clear that some of our families are leaving Arizona to move to other states where they feel they can work and where they feel more welcome,” said Jeff Smith, the superintendent of Balsz Elementary School District #31, in Phoenix. He said his 2,700-student district has lost about 100 students since the legislation was signed, compared with only seven students over a similar time span a year ago.

In the view of some observers, the law presents a potential conflict for school resource officers, who are employed by local police departments in Arizona, rather than school districts. The chance for conflict looms in part because, while police agencies may be compelled to follow the new immigration law, schools are obligated to comply with Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says students’ right to a free K-12 public education did not depend on their immigration status. The ruling says schools should avoid any attempts to determine the immigration status of a student because it might have a “chilling” effect on his or her right to an education.

But Gov. Brewer doesn’t believe the law will have an effect on the precedent set by Plyler v. Doe. “It only arises when there’s a lawful stop, detention, or arrest for some other crime by law enforcement,” a spokeswoman for the governor wrote in an e-mail. “If a student is arrested for a crime, SB [Senate Bill] 1070 will require the student’s immigration status to be checked (there’s no exception for minors), however; that does not conflict with Plyler.”

Breaking Precedent?

Thomas A. Saenz, the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the Arizona law signals that, “for the first time, there would be immigration enforcement in schools, which has always been against federal policy.”

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund joined other civil rights groups June 4 in filing a motion asking a federal court to block the law’s implementation. Their main claim is that it violates a clause in the U.S. Constitution leaving immigration regulation exclusively to the federal government, Mr. Saenz said.

He said a provision in the new state law permitting anyone to sue a police officer for not enforcing it also pushes for broad application of the law. Mr. Saenz said he can see how the law could be interpreted to require police officers to ask about immigration status when students are involved in a wide range of violations, if the school resource officers are deemed to be “law-enforcement officials” while in schools.

Likewise, Chris Thomas, the general counsel for the Arizona School Boards Association, believes that SB 1070, could bring changes for undocumented students attending school. “If police are investigating a crime, not just a violation of school rules, there may be an issue where the police are compelled to ask about immigration status,” he said. Click here for the rest of the column.


June 15, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)