Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cut the Red Tape: Why Haitians Need Humanitarian Parole Now

Yale law students Jeffrey Kahn and Aaron Zelinsky on Huffington Post contend that "The Department of Homeland Security should send a special team of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officers to Haiti to grant humanitarian parole to those in need of urgent medical treatment in the United States."


January 23, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Files Amicus Brief in Support of Family of Immigration Detainee Who Died Of Cancer That Went Untreated

The health care provided to immigrants in detention has been frequently criticized.  The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the estate of an immigration detainee who died after he developed penile cancer that went untreated while he was in government custody should be allowed to sue the individual Public Health Service officials charged with his care for violating his constitutional rights. The amicus brief was filed in support of the family of Francisco Castaneda, a Salvadoran who died in February 2008 at age 36 after he was denied a biopsy for a lesion that developed on his penis while he was detained at an immigration detention center in San Diego, CA. A government physician charged with Castaneda’s care has said in sworn testimony that she knew a biopsy was the only way to determine whether Castaneda had cancer. She failed, however, to arrange for him to have this critical test.


January 23, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Upbeat Immigration News: Naturalization on Angel Island on 100th Anniversary of Immigration Station

The Contra Costa Times reports that "The Angel Island Immigration Station celebrated a 100-year anniversary Thursday in a fitting way: More than 100 people were sworn in as new citizens of the United States."  Angel Island, of course, is infamous for being the site of the detention of many Chinese immigrants during the era of the Chinese exclusion acts in U.S. history.


January 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lindsay Graham and Patrick Leahy: Let's Tackle Difficult Issues Like Immigration

From America's Choice:

Fork in the Road on Immigration Reform:

Should Congress Move on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or Travel Down a Bridge to Nowhere?

In today’s Congress Daily, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) identified the key lesson both parties need to learn from the special election in Massachusetts this week: the American people sent policymakers to Washington to solve tough problems, not run from them.  He blasted politicians who think the smartest strategy heading into the November mid-term elections is to avoid issues like immigration reform and said, “From my point of view, the real reason we're all here is to govern the country and do hard things.” 

"Is the message that Democrats shouldn't take on anything controversial and is the message that [Republicans] should not work with them on anything controversial?" asked Graham, who has taken the lead as a Republican in crafting a comprehensive immigration bill with Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.  "I hope that's not the message. It's not the message to me," Graham added.  "The message to me was people want you to do things in Washington; just do them openly, transparently and not run up the deficit and increase their taxes."

The same article goes on to quote Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explaining why the Massachusetts results do not mean the death of immigration reform, despite the declarations of some pundits who have been waiting to pronounce the issue dead for months.  As Leahy pointed out: "There's not going to be a Democratic or a Republican immigration bill. It's got to be bipartisan.”  Ironically, immigration reform is one of the few remaining issues that has a chance of garnering bipartisan support and moving forward this year, but only if both parties engage responsibly.

Meanwhile, a group of short-sighted members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution demanding the status quo on immigration, abdicating their responsibility to lead the country forward with a practical solution to the broken immigration system.  Introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement (BRIDGE) resolution demands that the federal government simply do more of what it’s doing already, with the hope that it will eventually work and the 12 million undocumented immigrants in our country will pick up and leave. 

This “Bridge to Nowhere” offers no new ideas to reduce illegal immigration, and instead prohibits Congress from creating any sort of program that brings undocumented immigrants into legal status so that they are paying taxes and playing by the same rules as everyone else. 

 “What is the definition of insanity again?  To continue the same failed strategies over and over again and hope that one day they will work?  Well that’s what we’re seeing today with this Bridge to Nowhere immigration resolution,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “The American people are tired of leaders in Washington refusing to lead.  That is the clear message from the Massachusetts special election, and it’s time for politicians in both parties to wake up.

“Despite conventional wisdom in Washington, immigration reform is one of the few issues that actually has a chance of advancing this year, because it’s in the interests of both parties to do so,” he continued.  “Poll after poll has shown that the American people want a practical solution that will bring immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally into the tax system, punish bad employers who abuse workers, and help honest businesses grow.  Advancing comprehensive immigration reform would show the American people that Democrats are ready to lead, and Republicans are willing to work responsibly on a solution that works for America.  Advancing this Bridge to Nowhere resolution would simply keep the status quo in place, and is the kind of thing voters across the country are fed up with.”   

A December 2009 poll from Benenson Strategy Group shows continued strong support for comprehensive immigration reform among voters, even in a down economy.  Support for reform crosses party-lines, with two-thirds of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents choosing a comprehensive solution over mass deportation or temporary status for undocumented workers. 

“Immigration reform is an issue where the American people are much more pragmatic than some politicians in Washington,” said Sharry.  “Comprehensive immigration reform would reduce the deficit, increase wages, expand the tax base, and restore the rule of law.  The longer Congress delays, the worse the problem becomes.  It’s past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and work on a real solution that will benefit all,” said Sharry. 


January 22, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Reform is Needed This Year

From the Center for American Progress:

Seven Reasons to Push for Immigration Reform this Year
By Gebe Martinez, Marshall Fitz

Immigration reform has been, is now, and always will be a bipartisan issue. It engenders support from both sides of the political aisle because serious lawmakers know that our broken system continues to get in the way of other pressing priorities, that a practical solution is at hand, and that it is in both parties’ interest to get this issue off the table.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle who are concerned about securing the borders and growing our economy will continue to push for immigration reform this year. Here are seven reasons why:

The American public wants its leaders to quit playing politics and to step up and solve tough problems.
Support for comprehensive immigration reform is broad, deep, and bipartisan.
Fixing our immigration system will promote economic growth and stability. Click here for more.


January 22, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Look On! Films on the Juárez Femicides

Regina Austin (Penn) is guest blogging on IntlawGrrls and has a review of two films on the Ciudad Juaréz femicides.


January 22, 2010 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Data on Hispanic and Foreign-Born Populations; New Findings on Census Awareness

The Pew Hispanic Center today released updated statistical profiles of the Latino and foreign-born populations in the U.S. Derived from the 2008 American Community Survey, these profiles feature downloadable data on detailed characteristics of the Latino and foreign-born populations at the national level. On a separate topic, one of the Center's sister projects, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, released a survey yesterday that finds that most Americans think the census is very important and say they definitely will participate. But Hispanics are among those who are less familiar with the census and are less likely to say they definitely will participate than other groups. More on this subject will be forthcoming as the census approaches. Another sister project, Pew Social & Demographic Trends, launched a new feature called All Things Census. This site will feature commentary and discussion on the upcoming census with frequent postings about census methodology, findings and resources. See it at


January 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Detention (Problems) Now, Detention (Problems) Forever?

 Nina Bernstein of the N.Y. Times reports that "Agents in riot gear from Immigration and Customs Enforcement tried to break up a hunger strike by detainees at the Varick Federal Detention Center in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, three detainees at the center said Wednesday in telephone interviews."

Will the administration never be able to get immigration detention fixed?


January 22, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Will We Have "Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever" Forever? The Grim Prospects for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

I tend to think that some of the pessimistic reponse (e.g., President Obama's legislative agenda is dead, he will be a one term President, the sky is falling, etc.) to the loss of a single Democratic seat in the U.,S. Senate is overblown.  Still, there are some very ominous storm clouds on the horizon when it comes to possible immigration reform in 2010.  

News reports suggests that DHS Secretary Janet ("Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever") Napolitano will continue to be the Obama administration's point person on immigration reform.  Rumors have it that the U.S. Senate's immigration reform proposa,, which has not bee introduced yet, will likely be tougher on immigrants than the last one that failed in the Senate.  It is hard to believe that, with the immigration enforcement-devoted Secretary at the immigration reform helm, immigration reform will be worth the candle.  In my estimation, if President Obama is unwilling to take a leadership role on the issue (and expend sufficient political capital on immigration reform) -- and note that the administration has been mum on the immigration proposal introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez in December, immigrration reform is on life support, if not DOA.

To make matters worse, the anti-reform forces are beginning to mount a legislative attack.  Doug Rivlin on GrayRiv on Immigration reports that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) joined several members of Congress (see list below) to introduce an anti-immigration reform-oriented resolution. Even though the resolution would be a non-binding, it would put Representatives on record in support of two propositions:

1.  MORE ENFORCEMENT:  That all employers be required to first check every person they hire against a federal government database known as E-verify in order to get clearance that the person has the ability to work legally in the U.S.; and

2.  NO LEGALIZATION:  That no person who is in the United States illegally can have legal status.

Those signing on to the non-binding resolution:

John Barrow (D-GA)

Bobby Bright (D-AL)

Travis Childers (D-MS)

Mike Coffman (R-CO)

John Fleming (R-LA)

Gregg Harper (R-MS)

Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)

Steve Kagen (D-WI)

Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)

Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

Patrick Murphy (D-PA)

Glenn Nye (D-VA)

Pete Olson (R-TX)

Bill Posey (R-FL)

Phil Roe (R-TN)

Heath Shuler (D-NC)  Too bad the NFL did not work out for Heath!

Gene Taylor (D-MS)

Sorry to start Friday on such a gloomy note but maybe it is time to start the weekend!


January 22, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

FREE: Webcast Seminar on Haiti and U.S. Immigration Law

Thomsen Reuter’s CLE division, West LegalEdcenter, is hosting a FREE webcast seminar on Haiti and immigration law. It focuses on the ramifications of the recent, and significant policy changes announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State pertaining to Haitian nationals currently in the US, as well as orphans in the process of adoption.

Produced by the National Bar Association, the webcast will take place this Monday, January 25, 2010 at 3 p.m. EST.


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Why the Border Fence Makes No Sense!

From the Economist:  "Thousands of miles of fence have been erected along the border with Mexico and the annual budget for the US Border Patrol has risen to $2.7 billion in 2009 from $326.2m in 1992. Nonetheless, illegal immigration is reckoned to have trebled in that time, in part because many people enter the country legally, for example as tourists, but then stay on permanently. According to new data from the Center for American Progress, a think-tank, the cost of apprehending immigrants is rising. Over 791,000 arrests were made by the border patrol in 2008 (the latest year for which data are available), at a cost of just over $3,000 for each arrest."


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ACLU video Portrays Pennsylvania Town Ripped Apart by Anti-Immigrant Law

A new ACLU video tells the story of how the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, went from welcoming immigrants to being the epicenter of an anti-immigrant sentiment that swept through several cities around the country.

In July 2007, a U.S. District Court struck down Hazleton’s ordinance as unconstitutional. The city appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the case remains pending.


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Senator Brown on Immigration

It does not appear that Senator-Elect (and BC law grad) Scott Brown (R-Mass), who will replace immigration stalwart Edward Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, will be much good on immigration reform.  Anti-amnest, anti-DREAM Act, andtidriver's license eligibility for undocumented immigrants, etc.


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Advisory on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Advisory: Next Up, Comprehensive Immigration Reform

TODAY  January 21, 2010, 12:00pm – 1:30pm.

Watch the live Web stream 

For years, politicians have left the problems of a badly broken immigration system to fester and grow. In 2006 and again in 2008, voters sent a clear message to Washington: if you don’t lead, you lose. During his candidacy and his first year in office, President Obama repeatedly promised to overhaul immigration early in his first term. The fastest growing new voting demographic, Latino voters—who flipped four states from red to blue in 2008—fully expect President Obama to keep that promise and work with Congressional leaders to advance immigration reform this year.

Opinion polls consistently show strong support for comprehensive reform among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike, because it is a practical solution that generates revenue, protects workers and honest employers, and restores fairness to a system in crisis.

Please join Center for American Progress Action Fund Internet Advocacy Roundtable, Netroots Nation, and America's Voice for a lively panel discussion about the policy and politics of immigration reform led by Nico Pitney, National Editor of The Huffington Post.

The event will be kick off with remarks by Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), who recently introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation, H.R. 4321, into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Opening remarks by:

Faiz Shakir, Editor-in-Chief, Think Progress

Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), U.S. Member of Congress

Featured panelists:

Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga (Kos), Founder and Editor, Daily Kos; Columnist, The Hill. Author, Crashing the Gate: Grassroots, Netroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics and Taking On the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era

María Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

Andrea Nill, Immigration Blogger and Researcher, Think Progress

Moderated by: Nico Pitney, National Editor, The Huffington Post

Center for American Progress Action Fund 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor Washington, DC 20005


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Oregon Immigration Initiative in the Works

It looks like there may well be an immigration initiative on the Oregon ballot.  According to the Oregon Supreme Court (Download Immig__and_date_geq__09_16_2[1]),

"Initiative Petition 52, if enacted, would amend Oregon law in two different respects. First, it would provide that neither the state, nor any political subdivision of the state, may adopt a statute, regulation, or order that would `prohibit or limit any public official or public employee from cooperating with federal agencies or officials in the enforcement of federal immigration law.' Second, it would direct state election officials to `require satisfactory evidence of United States citizenship from any applicant who is registering to vote for the first time as an Oregon voter' and would specify the documents that would constitute such evidence of citizenship."

Stay tuned and we will let you know how this develops.


January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Retired 3-Star General: U.S. should take Haiti refugees -- "It’s a moral issue. We ought to do what we can to help people."

AP reports that "[r]etired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who was credited with restoring order in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, is calling on the United States, and in particular the governors along the Gulf Coast, to offer refuge to the most vulnerable Haitians affected by the deadly Jan. 12 earthquake. 'It would be nice, very moral, if our governors would reach out and take the vulnerable population to a place that is safe,' Honore said by telephone Wednesday. `It’s a moral issue. We ought to do what we can to help people.'"KJ 

January 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

US lifts Bush-era ban on two Muslim scholars

AP reports that "The US State Department said Wednesday it has lifted an effective Bush-era ban on Muslim scholars Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan, saying neither is deemed a security threat to the United States."

Do you feel any less safer? Probably not.


January 20, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Bay State's New Senator Gains Diverse Constituents Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians an Economic and Political Powerhouse in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Senator-Elect Scott Brown will shortly step into the Senate seat held for nearly half a century by one of the most loyal champions of immigrants to ever sit in Congress. Because of that history, Bay Staters have come to expect that their Senators will understand the important contributions of immigrants to the growth and well-being of their state. Regardless of politics or ideology, as the new Senator gets down to the business of representing his entire state, understanding the significant role of immigrants will become essential. Of all the New England states, Senator Brown's immigrant and new American constituents are perhaps the most diverse and numerous, continuing the tradition of generations of immigrants who helped build Massachusetts.

The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research that shows immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are a political and economic powerhouse in Massachusetts, contributing billions to the state economy, and are part of the very economic engine that keeps the Bay State running strong. IPC research finds:

-- 12.7% (or 403,915) of registered voters in Massachusetts were "New Americans"-naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants.

The state's foreign born population represents over 14% of state's total population and 17% of the state's workforce.

The 2009 purchasing power of Asians totaled $12.7 billion and Latinos totaled $12.4 billion in Massachusetts.

Immigrants in the Bay State paid $1.1 billion in state income taxes in 2007.

Senator-elect Brown will likely be faced with the momentous opportunity to vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill later this year, an issue which will be pivotal in winning the hearts and minds of the over 403,000 New American voters in Massachusetts in 2012.


January 20, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Basketball League Only For White U.S. Citizens

Racism and xenophobia alive and well in the United States. Billy Byler writes for the Augusta Chronicle:

A new professional basketball league boasting rosters made up exclusively of white Americans has its eyes set on Augusta, but the team isn't receiving a warm welcome.

The All-American Basketball Alliance announced in a news release Sunday evening that it intends to start its inaugural season in June and hopes Augusta will be one of 12 cities with a team.

"Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league," the statement said. Click here for the rest of the story.


January 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BREAKING NEWS: Immigrants Win Another in the Supreme Court!

Immigrants are continuing their winning ways in the Supreme Court.  Last Term, immigrants won 3 of 4 Supreme Court immigration cases.  Today, we have another win for immigrants!

Here is the full text of the Supreme Court's decision today in Kucana v. Holder, which was argued in November.  In that case, the law professor Amanda Leiter (Catholic) argued as amicus against judicial review because Solicitor General Elena Kagen agreed with the petitioner on the availability of judicial review of the denial of a motion to reopen.

Having overslept, Kucana, a citizen of Albania, missed a hearing on his asylum and withholding of removal claims.  He sought a motion to reopen the proceedings, which the immigration court and BIA denied.  The Seventh Circuit dismissed the petition for review for lack of jurisdiction, a holding in conflict with six other circuits.  The Suoereme Court granted certiorari to resolve the conflict.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the Court.  Justice Samuel Alito concurred in the judgment.  The Court ruled that the applicable provision of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 by its terms only barred the review of the discretionary judgments by the Attorney General, not the discretionary determinations delegated by the Attorney General to the Board of Immigration Appeals.  Thus, the Court held that courts of appeals have the authority to review denials of motions to reopen by the BIA.    

The Court expressed the view that a motion to reopen is an "'important safeguard'" (citing Dada v. Mukasey, 554 U.S. 1 (2008).  This is a very different approach to motions to reopen than seen in years past, with the Court (INS v. Wang (1981) and INS v. Abudu (1988)) emphasizing the need for the courts to defer to the judgment of the BIA on motions to reopen.  In the Court's estimation, the language of the statute, the history of the statute and regulations, and the presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action, all militated in favor of judicial review of the denial of a motion to reopen.


January 20, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)