Saturday, August 21, 2010

Help Immigrants Find Citizenship and ESL Classes


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Citizenship has partnered with the National Institute for Literacy to expand America’s Literacy Directory to include listings of local citizenship classes. America’s Literacy Directory ( is a free website that lists adult literacy class offerings (searchable by zip code) in communities nationwide.

If your organization offers adult citizenship, English as a Second Language, EL-Civics, or other adult education services, please add your program information to the America’s Literacy Directory website. 

The process is simple.  You can input your organization’s information directly into the America’s Literacy Directory website through:  The attached instructions will guide you through this process.  You may also call 1.877.810.1826 if you have questions or need technical assistance. 

Please input your information by September 30, 2010 and please continue to update your program information as necessary to ensure immigrants have access to accurate information on class offerings in their community.

Thank you for your assistance with this important effort to help immigrants find opportunities to prepare for naturalization.


August 21, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Guide for Immigration Advocates

From the Immigrant Legal Resoource Center:

Click here  to order now

2-Volume Book or CD-ROM: $295 Private Attorneys/Gov’t; $195 Nonprofit    

2-Volume Book & CD-ROM Combo: $355 Private Attorneys/Gov’t; $235 Nonprofit

A Guide for Immigration Advocates is a practical and essential tool for beginning immigration attorneys, immigration law firms employing paralegals, and non-profit community based organizations.

This resource is unique among immigration law manuals because it is a comprehensive detailed overview of immigration law that is both practical and easy to use. Instead of merely containing articles on immigration law topics, the Guide is a how-to manual, containing clearly worded explanations of each subject. It also includes sample applications, charts, and practical advice on working with your clients to elicit the information you need, in order to assist them efficiently and accurately.

A comprehensive A-to-Z tool that covers the basics of immigration law: family visa petitions, relief from removal, political asylum, bonds and detention, grounds of deportability and inadmissibility, removal proceedings, and constitutional and statutory rights of immigrants. It also addresses the division of labor within the Department of Homeland Security, contains an expanded discussion of U, K, and V visas, includes recent changes to consular processing, and provides an explanation of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act, the Child Citizenship Act, VAWA self-petitioning provisions, and more.


August 21, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Music Break: Sinaloa Cowboys by Bruce Springsteen


Miguel came from a small town in northern Mexico.

He came north with his brother Louis to California three years ago

They crossed at the river levee, when Louis was just sixteen

And found work together in the fields of the San Joaquin

For the rest of the lyrics, click hereHere is a video.

The Boss has some other immigration-themed as well, including American Land (lyrics) and Across the Border (lyrics).


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

DREAM Letters to President Obama

From Citizen Orange:

The "DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama" is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

[Note from Kyle de Beausset: Selvin wrote this letter right before he got into a minor car accident on April 9, 2010.  He was set to get his high school diploma in June but has been in detention ever since.  I have chosen reproduce Selvin's letter as I found it in his empty room, rather than polish his slight grammatical errors, to allow his character to shine through.]

Dear President Barack Obama,

From the bottom of my heart, I plead to my God that you and your entire family receive blessings from the highest God while you are reading this letter.  I admire and thank you for the great labor that you are fulfilling as a president in this big nation.  My name is Selvin Ovidio Arevalo.  I came to this country when I was 15 years old.  I came from Guatemala to this country to fulfill my dreams because I always have believed that this is a country of many opportunities for those whom want to succeed. Since I came to this country, I have been going to school to learn and enhance my English.   Three years ago, I enrolled with Adult Education in Portland, ME, for my high school diploma.  Finally, in this June 2010, I shall have my high school diploma.  I am already enrolled in college transition.  I wish that at the end of this yar, I can go to college, but what concern me about is getting financial aid.  I cannot qualify for any financial aid because I am not legal in this country.  The reason that I write you is to plead you for a solution to my problem.  I have been a Christian since I was a kid.  For eight years, I have been praying to my God to touch the heart of the leaders of this country to provide me legalization.  I think that I have three important reasons for why I want to be legal in this country.  First reason: I want to go to college and have a degree of computer science and more.  Second: I am one of the leaders of a Christian church in Portland, Maine.  I am the treasurer of the church, a musician; I play instruments in the chorus of my church, and a youth leader.  Third: I have not seen my family (parents, sisters, and brother) for eight years.  I have shed tears for them, but I am waiting until a legalization to go to see them.

I appreciate and thank you for spending your time reading this letter.  Once again, I plead you for a solution to my problem.  My faith is great; I believe that one day I am going to be legal in this country.  Then my dreams will become true.  Once again, thank you for your good will and I hope you have a wonderful time.  May the peace of God be with you forever and ever!

Selvin Arevalo Ovidio

How you can help Selvin: Click here.


August 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gypsies leave France amid crackdown on illegals

TIME reports that "France has begun the first deportations of 700 members of the Roma Gypsy minority, to Romania and Bulgaria, as part of its controversial crackdown on communities officials hold responsible for criminal activity."

Sound familiar?  Is France trying to copy Arizona?


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

Film "Mao’s Last Dancer" Opening Soon Near You!

A movie, Mao’s Last Dancer, will be released tomorrow.  It is getting rave reviews.  Listen to Kyle MacLachlan's interview about his role as Houston immigration lawyer Charles Foster.


August 19, 2010 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Prominent Legal Experts Call Repeal of 14th Amendment a Red Herring: The Real Solution is Immigration Reform

Yesterday, legal experts from across the political spectrum, including the deans of the Liberty University School of Law, the University of California Davis School of Law and a professor of law at West Point, came together on a national telephonic conference to discuss the constitutional implications of recent calls by Republican Senators to change the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that grants citizenship to the children of immigrants born in the United States. Experts agreed that this latest political move is a misguided attack on immigrants and a distraction from real Congressional action on a practical and lasting solution to our broken immigration system.

Mat Staver, Dean of conservative Liberty University School of Law and the Founder and Chairman of the Liberty Counsel explained the origins of the 14th Amendment and why immigration issues would not be solved by its repeal. “The debate about repealing the 14th Amendment is just political rhetoric. The attempt to amend the constitution is highly unlikely; in contrast you can fix the issue more justly through legislation. A constitutional amendment would only look at one narrow problem; a comprehensive reform would secure the border, enforce our laws and provide an opportunity of earned legal status for the undocumented immigrants living in our shadows. We need to keep our eyes focused on the ball…we need comprehensive immigration reform.”

“The debate over birthright citizenship is a red herring and a smoke screen from the larger discussion on immigration reform,” said Kevin Johnson, Dean of UC Davis School of Law and Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicano/a Studies. “It would require a Herculean effort to change the constitution…It would take a number of years and it would engage the nation in a furious debate. There are number of bad policy reasons why the abolition of birthright citizenship does not make much sense.” Dean Johnson pointed to the unsustainability of the current immigration system and the need to fundamentally fix it: “By almost all accounts the current system is broken…Without comprehensive immigration reform we will have a continuation of what we have right now: mass removals, mass detentions, deaths on the border, more human trafficking and a large undocumented population. The true issue and the one that we really should focus on and I hope the nation will focus on is comprehensive immigration reform.”

Margaret Stock, Immigration attorney and Law School Professor, West Point and Univ. of Alaska Anchorage explained that a repeal of the 14th amendment would create enormous unnecessary hurdles: “You cannot take away citizenship retroactively. If we amend or reinterpret the 14th amendment, it’s only going to affect people born in the future. It will not solve the current problem of millions and millions of undocumented people here and their children.” Attorney Stock highlighted the vast contributions of current U.S. citizens benefited by the 14th amendment, including prominent ones such as Governor Bobby Jindal: “Right now we have hundreds of thousands of citizens, who are children of immigrants, serving our country well. They are serving in our military, some of them are politicians, and some of them are national leaders of industry. If we deprive similar people of citizenship, we will not only reduce the nation’s tax base but America will be loosing a tremendous amount of manpower.”

To access a recording of the briefing on birthright citizenship, please visit


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

The Law Professor Progeny of Undocumented Immigrants on Birthright Citizenship

Read Paul Finkelman, James Anaya and Gabriel J. Chin Parents, Children, and Citizenship by Birth on Huffington Post.  It begins:

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, children born in the United States are citizens, even if their parents are not. Inspired by Arizona's new (and partially suspended) law regulating unauthorized immigration, Senators Mitch McConnell, John Kyl, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Representative John Boehner, and other Republican leaders have proposed considering amending the Constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the United States but whose parents are undocumented. As law professors we oppose the proposed change, not only for historical and legal reasons, but also on deeply personal grounds. We are the face of the children of illegal aliens, people who are not just abstractions but parts of the human mosaic of the American nation. As it happens, all three of us are the grandchildren of individuals who entered the United States without authorization. From our perspective, the proposal is unwise.

(emphasis added).


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

Border Action Network Deputy Director Opening

Border Action is Arizona is currently hiring a Campaign & Organizing Director, and Deputy Director! Click here for more info on these positions and internships at BAN.


August 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Creating a New Future for American Muslims

By Wajahat Ali

In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.

Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America's founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.

Stories of the Prophet Muhammad most effectively communicate the Quran's eloquent exhortation to tolerate and embrace diversity: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other])" (49:13).  The Prophet's cordial diplomacy and communication with the Christian, Abyssinian King yielded one of the first alliances of the young Muslim community. Furthermore, the Prophet displayed unconditional love for his diverse companions, who comprised the gamut of Arab society including former slaves, orphans, widows, wealthy dignitaries, and non-Arabs. 

Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice.

If a person were to read these stories comprising the core values of Islamic and American history, one would assume their respective cultural fabrics resemble a generous, messy, lively, colorful mosaic perpetually adding and experimenting with new colors, styles, and hues to beautify its narrative.

And yet nine years after the two towers fell, we hear and see daily stories of vile stereotyping, fear-mongering, and hysteria tearing the frays and revealing miserly and stingy threads unwilling to accept or bind with the "others." Click here for the rest of the piece. Written for "The Future of Islam" series up on Patheos.


August 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Enforcement Reports and More from DHS

Click here for some new immigration statistical reports from the Department of Homeland Security:

Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2009 August 2010 (PDF, 4 pages 409 KB) This report presents information on the apprehension, detention, return and removal of foreign nationals during fiscal year 2009.
Data on Enforcement Actions Access data on enforcement actions for fiscal year 2009.

Estimates of the Resident Nonimmigrant Population in the United States: 2008 June 2010 (PDF, 5 pages – 344 KB) This report provides estimates on the resident nonimmigrant population by category of admission, country of citizenship, state of destination, age and gender.


August 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rise, Fall, Rise, and Fall of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The U.S. Congress has spent a good portion of the first decade of the 21st century debating immigration reform. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, two acts of Congress significantly tightened the U.S. immigration laws in the name of the “war on terror.” Congress later considered more far-reaching reform legislation. In December 2005, the House of Representatives passed the Sensenbrenner Bill, which included many enforcement-oriented provisions such as criminalizing the mere status of being undocumented, resulting in mass marches in favor of justice for undocumented immigrants. The Senate later passed a more moderate comprehensive immigration reform bill but Congress ultimately failed to enact it into law. The end result was that Congress could only agree to authorize an extension of the fence along the U.S./Mexico border, little more than a gesture at immigration reform.

With the election of President Obama in 2008, some immigrant rights advocates were hopeful about the possibility of passage of comprehensive immigration reform by Congress. While expressing support for comprehensive immigration reform, Senator Obama had supported driver’s license eligibility for undocumented immigrants, and the DREAM Act, which would provide for undocumented college students to regularize their immigration status.

However, the initial optimism about the possibility for immigration reform during the Obama administration has dimmed after the administration’s initial steps on immigration. President Obama appointed Janet Napolitano, the former Governor of Arizona, to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; with respect to immigration, she has focused on enforcement, with the promise of future positive improvements for immigrants through immigration reform. One of the latest enforcement moves by President Obama was to send more than a thousand National Guard troops to the U.S./Mexico border. Disparate negative impacts on Latina/os – including but not limited to deaths on the border, increases in human trafficking, and racial profiling -- result from increased border enforcement.

Still, some kind of comprehensive immigration reform continues to be on the minds of some lawmakers. In early 2010, two proposals were on the table in the U.S. Congress, one in the House and one in the Senate. In the summer of 2010, President Obama made a speech in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The fall 2010 midterm elections cooled much interest by members of Congress in immigration reform.

Immigration reform is an important issue to many Latina/os, who voted in large numbers for President Obama, because of the direct and palpable impact on the greater Latina/o community, including many U.S. citizens who are of Latina/o descent. Immigration law and enforcement is viewed by many Latina/os and U.S. citizens as a central civil rights issue, touching deeply on important issues of race and class.

The claim of color-blindness through an expressed desire to simply enforce the U.S. immigration laws, is frequently employed in attempts to avoid addressing the impacts of comprehensive immigration reform, as well as the possible failure of its enactment, on communities of color. We saw the same phenomenon with respect to the disparate racial impacts of the Arizona law, which, it was claimed, simply seeks to enforce the U.S. immigration laws. Color-blindness is an effective rhetorical tool for restrictionists and others to legitimately pursue racial ends, namely to limit immigration from Mexico, as well as Latin America generally and Asia and Africa. Even if one disagrees with the claim of any discriminatory intent, it is clear that the measures have disparate impacts on people of color.


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

COLUMN: Birthright Citizenship Debate Is a Thinly Veiled Attack on Immigrant Mothers

"Conservative attempts to deny birthright citizenship to children of some immigrants are sexist and racist," by Gebe Martinez, Ann Garcia, and Jessica Arons. Read on. This is a refreshing article, which expressly mentions the "racism" word, unlike many of the other defenses of birthright citizenship.

For a comparative constitutional critique of the call for abolition of birthright citizenship, click here.


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

EOIR's Proposed Change to Hotline is Problematic

From the EOIR:

FALLS Church, Va. – The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced [Monday] the
launch of a new, upgraded automated case information system, which is designed to assist respondents
and their representatives and families in learning the current status of their proceedings. The toll-free
number, 1-800-898-7180, has not changed, but a new local number, 240-314-1500, is in service. The
system becomes effective August 23, 2010, and callers will need to be prepared to enter both the alien
registration number and the date of the respondent’s charging document.

The new technology and comprehensive features establish a higher level of security for the
respondent. The system will now require callers to enter the date of the relevant charging document
before accessing information specific to a case. For ease of use, EOIR has posted on its website a
document called “How to Find Charging Document Dates.” This document displays samples of the most
commonly used charging documents and indicates to visitors where to locate the necessary date.
“EOIR is constantly evaluating its programs to improve the way we serve the public,” said EOIR
Acting Director Thomas Snow. “This new valuable voice response tool will provide the public with what
it has requested – more specific information in a more reliable system with enhanced security measures to
protect respondents’ privacy.”

To access this more secure case information system, please call 1-800-898-7180 or 240-314-1500
and have the alien registration number and relevant charging document date ready. During the system
change, the telephone numbers may be inaccessible from Friday August 20, 2010, at 10:00 p.m. until
Monday August 23, 2010, at 6:00 a.m.

Note: According to immigration service providers, this proposed change is problematic. According to Susan Reed of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, respondents trying to obtain legal assistance will be adversely impacted by this change. Under the new requirement, individuals who do not have access to their NTA will not be able to access their case information and will likely miss their immigration hearing.

Immigrants detained in ICE custody will also be gravely affected by the new requirement. Detained immigrants are routinely not in possession of their NTAs either because ICE did not serve the NTA on them or detention officers placed the NTA in the property room or other area that may be very difficult for the detainee to access. Since 84% of detained immigrants appear pro se, the new requirement will add to their confusion, lead to added strain on the court, and likely prolong detention. Additionally, many advocates and organizations who serve detained immigrants depend on the accessibility of the EOIR hotline to determine the best resources to provide indigent detainees. Many detainees are unaware of their case status and therefore what relief they may be eligible for, or the best course to pursue their case. Given the exceptionally high pro se rate for detained immigrants, it’s unrealistic to assume that even 50% of those detained will have access to an attorney or other assistance to explain the location of the charging document date, or how to acquire a charging document. Adding this requirement will make it impossible for many organizations that are not able to engage in full representation, including the LOP providers mentioned above, to provide proper advice or guidance. This additional roadblock in an already complicated and difficult process can only serve to further burden this incredibly vulnerable population and the advocates who serve them.


August 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mexico's Migration Policies after Fox: A Return to a 'Policy of No Policy'?

Here is a new paper from teh Social Science Research Network that should be of interest to readers:

"Mexico's Migration Policies after Fox: A Return to a 'Policy of No Policy'?" APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper ALEXANDRA DELANO, The New School.  ABSTRACT:  Until recently, little attention had been paid to the role that migrant-sending states play in shaping migration flows, the impact of their migration policies in the diaspora’s activities in relation to the home country, and the bilateral or multilateral framework in which these policies and activities take place. Recent changes in the Mexican government’s policies towards the 30 million Mexican migrants living in the United States and current developments in the debate over U.S. immigration reform highlight the importance that the Mexican diaspora has acquired in both countries’ domestic politics given its size, its economic power and its growing political participation in both countries. Missing from these discussions at the academic and policy level is a systematic study of the various domestic, transnational and international factors that have historically shaped Mexico’s positions on emigration control and diaspora engagement, and their relevance in the context of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Since 2006, with the end of the Fox administration, characterized by its activism on migration issues and its proposal for a US-Mexico migration agreement, the Mexican government has opted for a more discreet approach to these issues, particularly with regards to its position on comprehensive immigration reform. For some, this signals a return to a traditional “policy of having no policy”, while the Mexican government explains this simply as a refocusing of strategies in a new domestic and bilateral context but without changing the priority given to migration issues. Similar variations have occurred in the past based on Mexico’s considerations of economic and political conditions in Mexico as well as the status of the bilateral relationship with the United States. However, this paper argues that an unprecedented transnational context where migrants are increasingly active, both economically and politically, a bilateral context where relations between the Mexican government and US actors have expanded in the NAFTA context and an international context with increasing attention to migrants’ rights and the migration-development nexus makes a return to Mexico’s so-called “policy of having no policy” increasingly untenable.


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

Foreclosures Hit Latinos Hard

Robert Selna writes for the San Francisco Chronicle:

A review of the damage wreaked on California communities by the housing bust shows that Latino households suffered nearly 50 percent of the foreclosures and that loan defaults are concentrated in the state's Central Valley.

That area, which includes the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, features six of the top 10 California metro areas for foreclosure concentrations, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, which released a comprehensive report Tuesday.

No California communities have experienced a higher percentage of defaults than Modesto, Merced and Stockton - each of which had a foreclosure percentage of around 16 percent between late 2006 and 2009, the study found.  Click here for the rest of the story.


August 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interview With CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin

Here is an interview with Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin.  Among other things, Bersion said "why he believes the Texas-Mexico border is secure, why deportations of criminal aliens have reached unprecedented levels, why trade between the U.S. and Mexico is as robust as ever and what he thinks motivates most undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S."


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

Asylum Ruling in Case Of President's Aunt Produced in Redacted Form

The Boston Globe reports that "The immigration judge who granted President Obama’s aunt asylum three months ago based his decision on the fact that an anonymous federal official had disclosed information about her immigration status to the media, a `reckless' act that exposed her to heightened threats of persecution in her native Kenya, according to the ruling, obtained yesterday by the Globe."

The link above includes a link to a pdf of the ruling, which is heavily redacted in places.


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

Cristina Rodriguez: The 14th Amendment is key to the American experiment

In the face of the onslaught of recent attacks, NYU's Cristina Rodriguez defends birthright citizenship on CNN.comHere and here are other defenses, which have become too numerious to post.  The N.Y. Times "Room for Debate"  collected some opinions on the future of birthright citizenship.  


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

Sheriff Joe to Get His Just Desserts? Justice Dept. Threatens to Sue Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio in Civil Rights Inquiry

The Washington Post reports:

Justice Department officials in Washington have issued a rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he doesn't cooperate by Tuesday with their investigation into whether he discriminates against Hispanics. The civil rights probe is one of two targeting the man who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" -- a federal grand jury in Phoenix is examining whether Arpaio has used his power to investigate and intimidate political opponents and whether his office misappropriated government funds, sources said.


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