Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ellison urges support for binational same-sex couples

The Minnesota Independent has an article about Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-Minn) support for "The Uniting American Families Act" and it's inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform.


February 6, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post by Robert Gittelson: Observations on the Political Career of Bob (the Proud Racist) Kellar: May it R.I.P.

 For the past couple of weeks, I, along with my fellow Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition members, have taken the lead in what has become a national dialogue about racism and devisiveness in our nation, in the wake of the firestorm surrounding the YouTube admission by Santa Clarita California City Councilman Bob Kellar that he is a “proud racist.” Through our two press conferences about this issue, we have intentionally elevated the public’s awareness of this statement, in what has become a successful effort to initaite a national public discussion about the role of racism not only as it affects our greater discourse about CIR, but how it affects the integration and cohesiveness that our great nation demands and deserves.


However, at this point, I think that it is time to move forward, and not waste any more time on the likes (or dislikes) of Bob Kellar. As they say, why beat a dead horse? Kellar has unwhittingly and unwillingly served his purpose. He has become sufficiently marginalized, and through the efforts of our coalition, and like minded institutions and individuals from all over the nation, the divisiveness of the racist agenda has been exposed as a false choice. I am eager to put this disgraceful issue behind us. We have “bigger fish to fry.” The debate on whether to inact CIR is moving quickly to the forefront of our national agenda. Hopefully, we have used the Kellar issue to demonstrate the urgency of keeping this debate grounded in the facts, and elevated above the mundane elements of bigotry and political self interest.


Toward that end, I want to try to put into perspective - through my own thoughts, as well as the thoughts of people who are probably much smarter and more inciteful than myself - exactly why enacting CIR will help our society to heal itself. We must cast off the shackles placed upon our society through the evil efforts engendered by the most “biased elements” and the “depraved misconceptions” of the prejuduced and closed minded amongst us. I spoke to the press about this concept at our first press conference:


When a community leader “leads” this debate in the direction of racism and bigotry, it does a tremendous disservice to the majority of Americans that seek an actual solution to the problems inherent in our broken immigration system, and moves this debate in a direction that is not constructive, sidetracking this issue by playing on emotions instead of a factual analysis of issues.... We need to drive this debate back to the facts, and toward the middle ground; away from the issues that add to the divisiveness, and distract from the solutions to this issue....However, it will only be possible to achieve that if we can keep this debate focused on building upon the common ground that truly does exist, and by working in good faith to solve this problem, instead of allowing it to remain as a festering blister upon the civil landscape of our society. It is incumbent upon both the media and the leaders on each side of this debate to make a good faith effort not to allow this issue to spin out of control due to the deeply emotional ideologies that surround both sides of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform argument.


The very eloquent Charles J, Chaput, the Archbishop of Denver, put this into a very precise context, when he recently stated:


We need to remember that how we treat the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the unborn child and the foreigner reflects on our own humanity. We become what we do, for good or for evil. If we act and speak like bigots, that’s what we become. If we act with justice, intelligence, common sense and mercy, then we become something quite different. We become the people and the nation God intended us to be. The future of our country depends on it.


My personal beliefs on these issues have been greatly influenced through the thoughts and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King. In his famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail, he wrote the definitive social comment on human rights, when he rightly stated that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He also could have been writing that letter to Bob Kellar and his “ilk” directly, when he wrote that we must, “…help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood."


Discrimination against 10 per cent of our population weakens the whole social fabric. Race and poverty are not merely sectional problems but American problems. King took seriously the indivisibility of human existence. "In a real sense," he wrote, "all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly"


This is a time of great possibility for our nation. We took a tentative first step toward the moral high ground, and voted for change. Now we have to have the courage to embrace it. We stuck our toe in the water when we voted for Obama. Now we have to be brave enough to go “all the way in.” There is nothing easy or comfortable about confronting racial issues. However, doesn’t that fact make these conversations all the more important? I recently wrote:


So, what does all of this have to do with Comprehensive Immigration Reform? Everything. I know in my heart, and in my mind, that racial intolerance is behind a percentage of the “anti’s” resistance to CIR. How high of a percentage? I don’t know, but does it really matter? The fact is that to a degree, there is an element of racial bias that is behind the “anti” movement. Ironically, it will not be until long after CIR passes, perhaps not until a generation or two has passed, that we will see real progress toward the assimilation of immigrants into the “accepted” mainstream of our culture, and the seamless fabric of our society. That is the way it is, because that is the way that it has always been in America, and around the world.


In his work, Dr. King emphasized the importance of integration, as it relates to racial harmony. Bob Kellar is a community leader, buts erroneously leads us away from a harmonious community:


As Dr. King described it, integration involves the creation of a community of relationships among people who view one another as valuable, who take pride in one another's contributions, and who know that commonalities and synergies outweigh any extra efforts that bridging differences may require.


"a society where men are physically desegregated and spiritually segregated, where elbows are together and hearts apart. It gives us social togetherness and spiritual apartness. It leaves us with a stagnant equality of sameness rather than a constructive equality of oneness."   "The solidarity of the human family" is a phrase he frequently used to express this idea. "We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,"



"A section of the white population, perceiving (Latino) pressure for change, misconstrues it as a demand for privileges...The ensuing white backlash intimidates government officials who are already too timorous." "We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice."


I especially want to point out that in Bob Kellar’s short speech, his comments about “wanting to puke,” and “I’m a proud racist,” have garnered most of the national attention and outrage. However, I feel duty bound to point out that right at the start of the speech, he made an extremely false and frankly ignorant statement that goes to the heart of the debate about CIR:


“You know what? If we would just deal with the illegals, we wouldn’t have a deficit in the state of California? Do you realize that? That’s how many billions they’re costing the taxpayers.”


Now, this comment, which is right out of the FAIR, NumbersUSA, CIS propaganda playbook, is patently untrue. The deficit in California is projected to be 19.9 billion dollars this year. According to the recent study released by Manuel Pastor of USC, the undocumented already contribute positively to the State through both their direct and indirect tax contributions. It is disingenuous to try to scapegoat any part of the financial crisis of California on the undocumented, let alone the whole problem. It serves no constructive function toward solving the budget crisis of California, much less the greater problem of fixing our broken immigration system, by hijacking this debate through ignorant misinformation and propaganda. And yet, the restrictionists do it all the time.


My friend Jorge- Mario Cabrera of CHIRLA, the organization that commissioned the USC study, wrote clearly about this issue recently in the Huffington Post:


I am a card-carrying immigrant rights advocate, but I do not expect everyone else to be one. I do expect elected leaders such as Mr. Kellar to represent their constituents' needs and to show respect for the diverse population in their cities, and the diversity of opinion that population includes. Mr. Kellar shows neither..... Thus, he adopts populist language, anti-immigrant stances, and dangerously befriends groups with supremacist ties passing as concerned citizens. His engagement with the very real issue of immigration reform is disrespectful and ignorant.


I might mention that despite all of the negative attention Bob Kellar has brought to his community, and the tremendous outcalling that has risen up in outrage from all over the United States, Kellar steadfastly refuses to back down an inch. I guess that if he is going down, he intends to do it in a blaze of questionable glory and ill repute. For example, here are a few stories or letters that recently appeared in the local Santa Clarita Signal newspaper


On Tuesday, Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon - who, technically, agrees with Kellar that the government should secure the border and not offer amnesty - said Kellar should say he's sorry and move on. McKeon was the founding mayor of Santa Clarita and is now the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Armed Services. "I am going to continue to be very clear: There will be no apologies coming from Bob Kellar," Kellar said. "I am shocked to find elected representatives at every level of government failing to address this issue. It's unconscionable," he said.


So what's wrong with Bob Kellar? Is he just too dumb to realize he's encouraging divisiveness in the Santa Clarita Valley? Doesn't he care about putting local people in the national spotlight, residing in the home of "proud racist" Councilman Bob Kellar?

It doesn't really matter what prevented Kellar from accepting responsibility for his actions and their negative consequences. He is an unrepentant embarrassment to the city and does not deserve to sit on the City Council.


...this man can no longer be considered a credible public representative of all of Santa Clarita....He is truly out of step with modern America and has given this beautiful city a black eye.... I am a proud American citizen, and I can tell you for a fact it has nothing to do with being a proud racist. You and your supporters belong to an era long gone.





Kevin Johnson hit the nail on the head, when he wrote about this for ImmigrationProf Blog in The "Proud Racist": A Symptom of Deeper Problems.


Unfortunately, racism and nativism at some level influence the views of some people about immigration and affect the national immigration debate.  There are more Bob Kellar's out there than we would like to admit.... I would hope that we could turn down the volume on the hyperbole and dogma in the public discourse over immigration.  Only then can we engage in a much-needed constructive discussion of immigration reform.


The Professor’s comments go the heart of our decision to let Bob Kellar’s dead political career rest in peace. Enough about the negative, let us accentuate the positive. Comprehensive Immigration Reform remains the best, and only true option that is available to our country to fix the crisis that our antiquated Immigration System has left us with. In addition to the financial, national security, and quality of life benefits that CIR would provide for the United States, let us thank Bob Kellar for reminding all of us that we haven’t finished the work of civil rights leaders such as MLK. Electing a black President was an important step forward, but we haven’t reached our ultimate destination; one in which our society doesn’t have a permanent shadow minority underclass that exists amongst us without rights. We still have a long way to go to reach the “promised land.” CIR provides a pathway forward; the Bob Kellars of the world would lead us down a dark pathway back to our troubling racial past.

February 6, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 5, 2010

FIU Immigration Law Clinic Wins Millions on Behalf of Liberian Torture Victims

Here is the press release:

FIU College of Law wins $22 million damage award for victims of Liberian torture



MIAMI (February 5, 2010) - Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Chuckie Taylor, owes five Liberian victims more than $22 million in damages for torturing and persecuting them while he headed the infamous Liberian Anti-Terrorism Unit under his father’s dictatorial rule, according to a ruling issued today in federal court.

Florida International University’s College of Law, through its Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, represented Rufus Kpadeh, Nathaniel Koah, Esther Koah, Mamie Doris Koah, and Anthony Sonkarlay, in a 13-month-long civil trial that argued Chuckie Taylor imposed irreversible physical and psychological damage on the plaintiffs.

“The victims have finally had their day in court in this case,” said Troy Elder, director of the clinic and co-counsel in the case. “They suffered unspeakable horrors, crossed an ocean and faced their attacker, and now, even though money can never undo the damage that has been done to them, Miami federal court has sent a clear message that torture is unacceptable in a civilized society. It also is amazing that our student lawyers were able to defeat in civil court someone who was once so feared.”

Chuckie Taylor is the son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, who is currently being prosecuted in The Hague. In 1997, Chuckie Taylor was appointed by his father to the position of commander of an elite special forces group known as the Liberian Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATI).

The trial follows Chuckie Taylor’s 2008 conviction under the Convention Against Torture, when he was found guilty and sentenced to 97 years in federal prison.

“Our students and law clinic did outstanding work in this case,” said College of Law Dean R. Alexander Acosta, who as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida prosecuted Chuckie Taylor under the Convention Against Torture. “The victims suffered incomprehensible pain at the hands of Mr. Taylor, and I hope the judgment that our law clinic worked to achieve will help them to repair their lives.”

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan described Chuckie Taylor’s acts as “a chilling example to man’s inhumanity to man.”

The Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at FIU’s College of Law allows students taking part in the clinic to act as student attorneys on behalf of disadvantaged immigrants from all over the world. The clinic has also recently expanded to provide assistance in areas of international human rights work in various countries.



February 5, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CJ Roberts and the Supremes Weigh When a Drug Misdemeanor is an "Aggravated Felony": Or, the Alice in Wonderland Quality of the U.S. Immigration Laws

SCOTUS blog is collecting materials on Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, which the Court granted cert in will be argued on March 31, 2010.  The issiue in the case is whether a person convicted under state law for simple drug possession (a federal misdemeanor) has been “convicted” of an “aggravated felony” on the theory that he could have been prosecuted for recidivist simple possession (a federal felony), even though there was no charge or finding of a prior conviction in his prosecution for possession.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DHS FY 2011 Budget Request: Napolitano Seeks to Deliver on "Enforcement Now, Enforcement Forever"

Immigration Impact comments that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano unveiled, "exemplifies the enforcement mentality which pervades the federal government’s approach to immigration. The two immigration-enforcement components of DHS—Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—consume 30% of the department’s total budget, while the immigration-services component, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is allotted a mere 5%."  The DHS budget request for FY 2011 totals $56.3 billion—an increase of 1.7% over the department’s enacted FY 2010 budget.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Report: Immigrant Workers Help Increase Wages for All Workers

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has released a new study, Immigration and Wages, which confirms what many other economists have found: "that immigration has a small but positive impact on the wages of native-born workers overall." The EPI report makes clear, the plight of low-wage native-born workers can not be blamed on immigrants and scapegoating immigrants for the nation's economic woes will do nothing to help American workers. For an Immigration Impact summary of the report, as well as a link to the report, click here.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tea Party and Immigration Politics

Marcelo Ballvé writes for New American Media:

The Tea Party movement has energized activism against President Obama’s vision for immigration reform.

The link between tea partiers and immigration politics developed last summer, when the impact of [undocumented] immigration on the health care system became a prominent side issue in town hall debates.

Since then, [undocumented] immigration has steadily gained ground on the Tea Party agenda.

Immigration “is one of our main issues in the state of North Carolina,” said David DeGerolamo, co-founder of Tea Party group NC Freedom, in a phone interview. “And what it comes down to is that the United States is a republic based on the rule of law. What part of illegal is right?”

DeGerolamo is scheduled to give a talk today on “How to Unite State Tea Party Groups” at the National Tea Party Convention, which began yesterday in Nashville. Click here for the rest of the piece.


February 5, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Latinos Launch Immigrant Justice Campaign

The 2010 National Latino Congreso called upon Congress and the President to immediately enact the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIR ASAP) currently in the House of Representatives. 1,000 delegates and leaders at the Jan 29-31, 2010 El Paso convention voted to launch an immediate advocacy campaign in Legislative leadership districts, Latino-influence districts, and swing districts as well as visit Capitol Hill and the White House during the February through May period.

Approximately 1,000 leaders and activists comprising the 4th National Latino Congreso (NLC) approved resolutions calling for Immigrant Justice Week of Action focused on local Congressional Districts during Feb 22-28, Immigrant Justice Days of Action in State Capitals and Washington, DC on March 23-25, capped by a National Immigrant Day of Action on May 1, 2010.

The NLC hosted delegations from over 100 organizations and elected officials for the three-day convention on politics and policy. The delegates, observers, speakers, and guests came from eleven states (Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Mississippi, Virginia, Illinois, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC), as well as Mexico and Venezuela.

Over 250 organizations, elected officials and prominent individuals endorsed the Latino Congreso, representing millions of Latino leaders and activists. Issue experts and resource people as well as national Latino organization presidents also addressed the various plenary and breakout sessions. Some 57 resolutions amendments were approved by the delegates, they can all be viewed at


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Uprooted: The International Migration of Children

UC Davis School of Law today is hosting a conference entitled "Uprooted:  The International Migration of Children" and focuses on some of the most vulnerable migrant populations.  The conference is co-sponsored by the UC Davis Journal of International Law & Policy and the Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy,  The first panel looked at "The International Context that Pushes Migration" and included Professor Diane Marie Amann (UC Davis, Director, California International Law Center at King Hall), Jayne Fleming (Reed Smith), Professor Rhacel Salazar Parrenas (Brown), and Chivy Sok (Ginetta Sagan Fund for Women and Children of AIUSA).  The second panel on "Global Paths to the United States:  The Migration Process" included Professor Jim Smith (UC Davis), Professor Holly Cooper (UC Davis), and Anita Khashu.  The keynote speaker was M. Aryah Somers (Staff Attorney/KIND Fellow).  The last panel (but surely not least) was on "Status in the United States" with Professor Bill Hing (UC Davis), Professor Roberto Gonzalez (Washington), Professor Linda Kelly Hill (Indiana-Indianapolis), and Professor David Thronson (UNLV) (yes, David was at the Wayne State immigration conference that I blogged about yesterday in Detroit AND this one in Davis, California!  he certainly is interested in spreading the good word.).

The panels were informative, thoughtful, and often powerful.  I left the conference happy that we have such incredible intellectuals and activists thinking about these incredibly important issues.

Keep an eye out for the symposium issue to be published in the next year or so.  We will let you know when it is available.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Gone But not Forgotten: TOMMY TANCREDO IS BACK! Tea Party Moving to Immigration?

Just when you thought you were safe, Tommy Tancredo, anti-immigrant zealot and former member of the Tancredogun1
U.S. House of Representatives, comes back. Zachary Roth of TPM reports that, in a recent speech in which he berated President Barack Hussein Obama, "Tancredo declared that President Obama was elected because `we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.' Literacy and civics test, of course, were notoriously used during the Jim Crow era to keep blacks from voting."  In other words, the immigrants and minorities elected President Obama.

Tancredo gave a speech at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee that began yesterday.  According to New American Media, the Tea Party movement appears to be dabbling in anti-immigrant politics.  This does not sound good.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Lotte Lehmann (Germany)

Lotte Lehmann
(1888–1976) was a soprano who gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss; the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier was considered her greatest role.  During her long career, Lehmann also made more than five hundred recordings.

Lehmann was born in Perleberg. After studying in Berlin with Mathilde Mallinger, she made her debut in Hamburg Opera in 1910 as a Page in Wagner's Lohengrin. Lehmann made her debut in London in 1914, and from 1924 to 1935 she performed regularly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.  She also appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival (1926-1937)

In 1930, Lehmann made her United States debut in Chicago. Just before Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, Lehmann immigrated to the United States, where she sang at the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera until 1945.

After her retirement from the recital stage in 1951, Lehmann taught master classes at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, which she helped found in 1947. For her contribution to the recording industry, Lehmann has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1735 Vine St.

The Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara was named in her honor. The Lotte Lehmann Foundation was begun in 1995 with the dual missions to preserve and perpetuate Lotte Lehmann's legacy, and to honor her dream of bringing art song into the lives of as many people as possible.


February 5, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Data on Federal Court Prosecutions Reveal Non-Violent Immigration Prosecutions Up, Organized Crime, Drugs and Weapons Charges Down

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) and Warren Institute at the University of California at Berkeley recently released reports highlighting the dramatic increase in federal immigration prosecutions and the link to Operation Streamline, a DHS program which mandates federal criminal prosecution of all persons caught crossing the border unlawfully.

The Warren Institute report highlights the impact of Operation Streamline on immigration enforcement and the TRAC report shows that federal immigration prosecutions rose to record levels during fiscal year 2009 and how a shift in priorities has created the largest number of federal immigration prosecutions of non-violent border crossers ever. The trade-off is while the federal government spends billions of dollars prosecuting non-violent immigration violators, more serious criminals involved in drugs, weapons, and organized crime face a lower probability of prosecution.

To read the Immigration Policy Center fact sheet highlighting data from both reports, click here.


February 5, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pointers on H-1B Applications

From Charles Miller:

Successful  H-1B Petition Strategy Requires Planning

Planning pointers for employers and employees in advance of April 1, 2010, the first H-1B filing day.

Employers use the H-1B visa category to employ nonimmigrant foreign workers who possess the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree for professional jobs each year.  The first date that H-1B petitions will be accepted by the USCIS for employer filing for 2010 employment is April 1st. 

The competition for the 58,200 H-1B numbers is keen. In April 2007 and 2008, there were USCIS random selections first for the 20,000 petitions qualifying under the “master’s or higher degree” advanced degree exemption, then for the 58,200 threshold bachelor's degree numbers.  

While the current economy may reduce the number of petitions from the 2008 record levels, it is unlikely that the low cap numbers will be sufficient for the current annual demand. To maximize the chances for successful H-1B visa employment authorization consider the following:

1.  File the H-1B Petition properly. An improperly filed petition will be rejected and a delayed refilling may also be rejected if it misses the cutoff date. In 2008 the CIS refused new filings after a 5 day filing window.  Later filed petitions missed the opportunity to be included in the computerized random selection or “lottery”.

2.  Higher Education pays off. U.S. advanced degree recipients’ petitions are placed in a more favorable pool of an additional 20,000 cap exempt numbers.  There is also competition for those additional numbers as that cap was also reached within the initial 5 day filing window period in 2008.

3.  Extra numbers for Free Trade Visa applicants.  H-1B1 Professionals from Chile (1,400) and Singapore (5,400) are given extra numbers and as they are used they are subtracted from the annual worldwide total. These Free Trade numbers are unlikely to be used up in 2010. The H-1B1 visa category allows specialty professional employment for qualified persons who possess the threshold bachelors’ degrees.

4.  Canadian and Mexican TN professionals are treated favorably.  Certain professionals from those NAFTA treaty countries are permitted TN status without the need to compete for H-1B numbers. TNs are eligible for a three year admission, providing new flexibility for an employer’s long-term employment strategy. Unlike the H-1B program, the TN status allows for an unlimited number of extensions for qualified professionals. 

5.  E-3 Australian professionals have advantages. Australians are eligible for E-3 professional visa status, a program which is not limited by the H-1B cap.  The advantage to the E-3 visa status is that there is no petition required for a nonimmigrant visa application, just an LCA and job offer; spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization and an indefinite number of extensions are available.

6.  Extraordinary persons are treated extraordinarily well.  The O-1 category for aliens of extraordinary ability is a non-cap alternative for persons who have reached the highest level of accomplishment in their fields.


February 4, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ronald Reagan: Not a “Pure” Republican When It Comes To Immigration

Rivlin has an excellent column on News Junkie Post on the problems of the Republican National Committee seeking to stake out a "purity pledge" on issues, which they named after modern conservative hero Ronald Reagan,by candidates seeking RNC support.  One of the pledges is “We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants.”

The problem is that President Dutch signed the last major effort at comprehensive immigration reform, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.  As part of that compromise bill, IRCA included the most famous amnesty program of all-time in U.S. history.


February 4, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Virtual Border Fence in Jeopardy?

AP reports that "An ambitious, $6.7 billion government project to secure nearly the entire Mexican border with a "virtual fence" of cameras, ground sensors and radar is in jeopardy after a string of technical glitches and delays."


February 4, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wayne State Comprehensive Immigration Reform

I am spending the day at the Wayne Law Review's symposium on comprehensive immigration reform.  Profesor Jonathan Weinberg and the Wayne Law Review put together a great event.  I had the honor of delivering the opening keynote and offered ten principles to guide immigration reform  (I posted a link to the paper on the ImmigrationProf blog earlier this week).  The first panel on "Localization of Immigration Reform:  Balancing the Federal-State Relationship" included Michael Wishnie (Yale), Deep Gulasekaram (Santa Clara), Cristina Rodriguez (NYU), and Rose Cuison Villazor (Hofstra).  Michael A. Olivas (Houston) gave a bang up keynote over lunch entitlled "Immigrant Children:  Hiding in Plain Sight in the Shadows," with a focus on the future of Plyler v. Doe (1982).  After lunch, a panel on "Factors to Reform:  Migration, Asylum, Social Cohesion and Political Economy" with Michael Olivas, Ragini Shah (Suffolk), David Abraham (Miami), and Rachel Settlage (Wayne State).  The next panel focused on "Reforming the Immigration System for Families and Vulnerable Populations" and included David Thronson (UNLV), Sarah Rogerson (Baltimore), Bridgette Carr (Michigan), and Marisa Silenzi Cianciarulo (Chapman).  The final panel focused on "Crimmigration" law and included Huyen Pham (Texas Wesleyan), Angela Banks (William & Mary), Andrew Moore (Detroit Mercy), and Lori Nessel (Seton Hall).

The symposium has had a full house throughout the day.  The presentations were excellent and the audience included faculty, students, and community members.  It really has been a rich discussion of an important -- and topical -- topic.  Wayne State University Law School should be proud.


February 4, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Article: Death is Different and a Refugee's Right to Counsel

The Cornell International Law Journal is publishing an important article arguing that indigent non-citizens seeking political asylum have a constitutional right to an attorney at government expense. The article, "Death is Different and a Refugee's Right to Counsel," by Stephen Yale-Loehr (Cornell) and John R. Mills and Kristen M. Echemendia, two former students, asserts that the current failure to appoint attorneys at government expense for indigent non-citizens seeking asylum or protection under the Convention Against Torture violates due process. As has been stated in the criminal context, "death is different." Where death is on the table, there is a heightened need for reliability and accuracy. The article analogizes from death penalty cases to argue that due process requires a right to appointed counsel in cases concerning indigent non-citizens applying for asylum or relief under the Convention Against Torture. The issue is important because of recent significant and highly publicized problems with the immigration court system. The American Bar Association just released a report making several recommendations to promote fairness, independence, efficiency and professionalism in deciding cases in immigration court.  Among other things, the ABA report recommends more attorneys to represent indigent noncitizens in immigration court proceedings. The Mills, Echemendia and Yale-Loehr article goes further by contending that appointing attorneys for indigent asylum seekers at government expense is more than good policy; the Constitution requires it because of the potential life or death stakes involved.


February 3, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Part of Oklahoma Immigration Law Struck Down by 10th Circuit

The efforts of the state's to regulate immigration continues and it now looks increasingly likely that the Supreme Court will enter the fray.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit yesterday (Download 08-6127[1]) in Chamber of Commerce v. Edmondson struck down two provisions of an Oklahoma law (Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007) purporting to regulate the employment of immigrants. The court, in an opinion by Judge Carlos Lucero (with Judge Kelly concurring in part and Judge Hartz, concurring and dissenting)  held that the provisions that sought to create a new civil action to penalize businesses that employ unauthorized workers and impose a punitive tax on businesses that decline to verify the employment eligibility of independent contractors, are preempted by federal immigration law. The court upheld the district court's injunction prohibiting enforcement of these provisions.

The Tenth Circuit split on the lawfulness of a provision of the Oklahoma law mandating that all public contractors enroll in the federal E-Verify system. There was no majority decision on the validity of Oklahoma's E-Verify mandate. The Tenth Circuit disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's 2009 decision upholding a similar Arizona  law.  A petition for certiorari in the Arizona case is currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The emerging circuit split makes it more likely that the Court will grant cert.

The Tenth Circuit remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

For more on the decision, click here and here.


February 3, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MALDEF, ACLU/SC AND NDLON FILE LAWSUIT CHALLENGING CITY OF COSTA MESA’S ANTI-SOLICITATION ORDINANCE: Civil rights groups say ordinance violates day laborers’ First Amendment rights

Here we go again!  Today, MALDEF, the ACLU of Southern California and the National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network (NDLON) announced a lawsuit challenging the City of Costa Mesa’s anti-solicitation ordinance as unconstitutional. The civil rights groups filed the lawsuit against the City of Costa Mesa on behalf of the Asociacion de Jornaleros de Costa Mesa and the Colectivo Tonantzin, whose members have been restricted from peaceably expressing their need and availability for employment in the city’s public areas due to the ordinance.

MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said, “Free speech, one of our most cherished rights, belongs to everyone in society. Day laborers seeking work have as much right to express themselves as the largest corporation employing hundreds of thousands. Costa Mesa’s anti-solicitation ordinance violates this vital and longstanding constitutional principle.”

The city’s anti-solicitation ordinance prohibits any person standing on a sidewalk or other public area from soliciting employment, business or contributions in any manner deemed to be intended to attract the attention of traveling vehicles. The ordinance subjects day laborers and other solicitors to a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment up to six months.

“This ordinance is simply illegal. Not only does it discriminate against day laborers but it prohibits protected speech. It’s so sweeping that it bans school children from holding car wash signs on the street or could prevent struggling businesses from using sign spinners,” said Belinda Escobosa Helzer, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California.

Federal courts throughout the country have consistently stricken down anti-solicitation ordinances, and have ruled in favor of preserving the free speech rights of day laborers, which allows them to continue to solicit work and provide for their families. “Day laborers have contributed to the Costa Mesa economy for decades,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. He continued, “Particularly during these tough times, the hard work they provide the community should be rewarded and not the target of destructive law enforcement practices.”

The plaintiffs, Asociacion de Jornaleros de Costa Mesa and the Colectivo Tonantzin, are represented by attorneys Saenz and Gladys Limon of MALDEF, and Escobosa Helzer, Hector O. Villagra and Peter J. Eliasberg of the ACLU of Southern California. They are joined by co-counsel, Chris Newman of NDLON.

More information on the case, Asociacion de Jornaleros de Costa Mesa v. Costa Mesa, is available online at:


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

Problem with "Guest" Worker Programs 101: Suit Points to Guest Worker Program Flaws

Julia Preston for the N.Y. Times writes of the exploitation of noncitizen workers in existing "guest" worker programs and reminds of the pssoble abuses in future guest worker programs.


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