Saturday, February 13, 2010

California's Undocumented Population Drops 250,000

Kevin Johnson blogged a couple days ago about DHS's estimates on the decline of the unauthorized population in the United States. Teresa Watanabe reports in the LA Times that California's number dropped by 250,000 in the past year. Clear here for the story.


February 13, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Migrant forest workers get $2.75M wage settlement

Associated Press
reports that "a company that provides migrant labor for the forestry industry has agreed to pay $2.75 million to more than 2,200 workers who claimed in a federal lawsuit that they were shortchanged on their wages. Superior Forestry Service Inc., based in Tilly in southeast Arkansas, and the workers filed the class-action settlement proposal Thursday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn. A fairness hearing is set for March 26; U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes, Jr. is expected to grant final approval to the settlement. Three times during the course of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2006, Superior was cited for contempt for improperly contacting workers who were either involved in the suit or could have joined the court action."

Cliock here for the Legal Aid Justice Center press release.


February 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Calexico: California Borderlands

Calexico. located on the U.S./Mexico border in the Imperial Valley east of the San Diego area, is the true story of life in California’s borderlands. Its Mexician counterpart across teh border is Mexicali.  This radio documentary features the stories of people affected by immigration on a daily basis — those who live or work on the California-Mexico border. Listeners meet a cross section of leading characters, from immigrants driving without drivers’ licenses to individuals trying to force immigrants back over the border. Washington Monthly's Peter Laufer and Markos Kounalakis report on the Mexican-American Borderlands in this five-part series.


February 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Public Radio Series: Access to Counsel in Immigration Court

Crosscurrents on San Francisco public radio station, KALW
, has a three part radio series on access to counsel issues in immigration court.  It was put together by a student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, Jude Joffe Block.

Part 1:  The struggle to access legal counsel 

Part 2:  Fraudulent lawyers prey on immigrants

Part 3:  Proposals to make the system more fair


February 13, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Lunar New Year from President Obama

From the White House Office of Engagement
Subject: President Obama Extends Best Wishes for Lunar New Year


The President recorded a video greeting wishing peace, prosperity, and good health to Americans and people across the world who are celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Check out his video greeting here and feel free to share with family, friends, and community:


Kalpen Modi
Associate Director
White House Office of Public Engagement


February 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Detention of Criminal Aliens: What Has Congress Bought?

A new TRAC study -- based on the analysis of hundreds of thousands of records obtained from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an examination of its budget -- explores the changes in ICE's enforcement record since the beginning of FY 2005, when Congress drastically increased the agency's funding for the apprehension and detention of criminal aliens.


February 12, 2010 in Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Report on Asylum Work Authorization “Clock” Released

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights and the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center released a new study, "Up Against the Clock: Fixing the Broken Employment Authorization Asylum Clock." The report examines the laws, policy, and practice of the “Employment Authorization Document (EAD) asylum clock”— a clock which measures the number of days after an applicant files an asylum application before the applicant is eligible for work authorization.


February 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ninth Circuit's Stephen Reinhardt on Moral Turpitude

From Kathy Brady of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

Ocegueda-Nunez v. Holder (9th Cir. 2/10/2010) holding Calif. P.C. 314 (indecent exposure) is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude.    (You have to read the whole opinion to get to the disagreement about exotic dancers.)

Once again we face the question of what is moral turpitude: a nebulous question that we are required to answer on the basis of judicially established categories of criminal conduct. Although that may not be a satisfactory basis for answering such a question, it is the role to which we are limited by precedent as a court of law. Furthermore, any answer based on other considerations would in all probability be unacceptable to one or another segment of society and could well divide residents of red states from residents of blue, the old from the young, neighbor from neighbor, and even males from females. There is simply no overall agreement on many issues of morality in contemporary society.

Morality is not a concept that courts can define by judicial decrees, and even less can it be defined by fiats issued by theBoard of Immigration Appeals, to whose decisions the courts must give great deference. Yet, for the purpose of our immigration laws we are required to follow those determinations and to start by applying categories of offenses that the judiciary or the Board members appointed by the Attorney General have deemed morally turpitudinous in all of their applications. We call this the categorical approach. How sensible those decisions are and how close to rational concepts of morality they may come can be seen by considering one of the offenses involved in the case before us. While under our law numerous felonies are deemed not to be morally turpitudinous, all acts of petty theft automatically qualify for that label and the drastic legal consequences that may follow. As some in today’s society might say, and with good reason, “Go figure.”

{editor's note: my illustrious co-blogster, Kevin Johnson, clerked for Judge Reinhardt after graduating from law school)


February 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Day to Oppose the Use of Child Soldiers

Jessica Slavin on the Marquette Law Faculty and Diane Marie Amann on IntLawGrrls note that today, February 12, marks the eighth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The United States is a party to the protocol (even though it remains one of the only two countries in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child itself).


February 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

San Francisco May Close Newcomer High School

Jill Tucker writes for the San Francisco Chronicle:

For 30 years, San Francisco's Newcomer High School has been the first stop for thousands of new immigrant teenagers struggling in a new country, often with minimal English skills and sometimes low levels of literacy.

One of the first students to enroll found solace at the school after a tidal wave sank the boat carrying him from Vietnam. He clung to a lifeboat for seven hours and spent 10 days waiting for rescue on an island. The rest of his family died.

Such stories still echo through Newcomer's halls, but the school - a one-year transitional program for about 160 students - could fall silent by summer.

District officials want to close the school in June and spread students across four to six comprehensive high schools, where they would get English instruction and receive more resources and services.

"They would have greater access to a breadth of courses for graduation and also electives," said Christina Wong, district special assistant to the superintendent. "If they were interested in music or sports, they would have more access to that."

Closing Newcomer would be "cost neutral," Wong said, with the school's funding reallocated to other high schools to pay for increased new immigrant student services.

Gearing up for a fight
But supporters say the small Inner Sunset school has saved teenagers who otherwise would have been set up to fail, too scared and confused to navigate a high school with 3,000 students. Newcomer students attend the school for a year and then transfer to another school to finish their education.

"Our school is special," said Newcomer teacher Margaret K. Lee, a 30-year veteran of the school. "We really serve the needs of beginning (English language learners) - the low-skilled students."

Newcomer's teachers and current and former students are already gearing up for a fight to save the school. Click here for the rest of the story.


February 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


Dan Kowalski of Bender's Immigration Bulletin declares that ARMEN H. MERJIAN,  A GUINEAN REFUGEE'S ODYSSEY: IN RE JARNO, THE BIGGEST ASYLUM CASE IN U.S. HISTORY AND WHAT IT TELLS US ABOUT OUR BROKEN SYSTEM, 23 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 649 (2009) (Download In re Jarno) is a "must-read for all immigration law students."  Check it out!


February 12, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Human Side of Immigration

The New York Times reports today on the deeply sad story of Elizabeth Drummond, her Ecuadorean husband Segundo Encada, and their three chlidren, who were separated by the unduly harsh and unnecessary enforcement of the immigration laws. Mr. Encada was undocumented in the country when he was deported. Despite having three children with Ms. Drummond, the consulate back in Ecuador questioned the validity of the couple's marriage and created a bureaucratic nightmare, while the couple's lawyers never explained the 10-year bar to them until three years after the family here had already endured terrible economic hardship. Ultimately, Mr. Encada committed suicide and the consulate is left having to explain itself, at least while the case gets the media's attention. This  tragic story is all too common but almost never in the conciousness of the U.S. public.     


February 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Muslim Life in Germany

The English version of Muslim Life in Germany is now available. The study was conducted by the Research Group of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) on behalf of the German Conference on Islam (DIK). The study provides the first nationwide representative database on Muslims in Germany. Based on a survey comprising about 6,000 people from 49 predominantly Muslim countries of origin it offers an unprecedented insight into the diversity of Muslim life throughout Germany. People from different contexts of origin were questioned about religion in everyday life and about aspects of structural and social integration.

The study also covers information with regard to the total number of Muslims living in Germany and their denominational as well as ethnic structure.


February 12, 2010 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

U.S. Labor Dept. reinstates decades-old farm worker protections rules UFW applauds return to bi-partisan farm worker regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced today reinstatement of protections for imported farm workers that were slashed from the nation’s agricultural guest worker program during the last days of the Bush administration in early 2009. The Bush administration's changes to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program, which took effect on January 17, 2009, dramatically impacted wages and working conditions for foreign agricultural workers. Under the Bush rules, agricultural employers could more easily access cheap foreign labor with little government oversight. “The United Farm Workers applauds Secretary Solis for restoring protections for imported farm workers that had been in effect since the Reagan administration. This is a great victory for all farm workers,” said Arturo S. Rodriguez, UFW president. Solis’s rules reversed some wage cuts that were imposed on both U.S. farm workers and foreign field laborers. The new rules would also remedy cutbacks in labor protections and restore the requirement that U.S. workers be hired before foreign laborers are imported, a protection weakened under the Bush regulations. "We now must focus on addressing the nation's agricultural labor supply through legislation, such as the bipartisan, broadly-backed AgJOBS bill, that would let farm workers currently laboring in the United States legally stay by continuing to work in agriculture," Rodriguez added. AgJOBS is a bill negotiated by the UFW and the nation's agricultural industry.


February 11, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Texas National Security Clinic Lecturer Position


Application deadline: 03/03/2010

Job Description

The University of Texas School of Law ( invites applications for the position of Clinical Lecturer for the National Security Clinic (NSC), a full-time, one-year position for the 2010-11 academic year.

Established in fall 2007, the National Security Clinic provides students the opportunity to work on cases and projects relating to terrorism and national security, under the supervision of a Clinical Professor.  The semester-long Clinic's docket has included criminal cases involving material support of terrorism, habeas corpus cases on behalf of persons detained at Guantanamo Bay, damages cases relating to treatment while in detention, and military commission cases against unprivileged enemy belligerents.  Research and advocacy projects have addressed terrorism surveillance and financial privacy, international human rights and humanitarian law, laws relating to the treatment of soldiers and civilian military contractors, and charitable financing of terrorism.  For more information on UT Law's Clinics, see

Responsibilities of the Fellow will include: teaching topics relating to national security law in the clinic seminar, which meets twice a week and includes simulations, discussions, and case rounds; supervising law students and collaborating with co-counsel and clients on Clinic cases and projects; and collaborating with the Clinic Administrator and others on management and administration of the Clinic.  This is a non-tenure track, one-year position for the 2010-11 academic year.  The Fellow likely will have primary responsibility for teaching in the fall semester, with some casework supervision, and primary responsibility for casework supervision in the spring semester, with some teaching.

*    J.D. degree, with 3-5 years experience of litigation in federal court;
*    Admitted to state bar of Texas or another state; admitted to, or willingness to seek admission to, D.C. federal district and circuit courts;
*    Experience or familiarity with national security law, constitutional law, human rights law, and/ or humanitarian law;
*    Excellent written and oral communication skills;
*    Experience supervising law students, law student interns, or lawyers;
*    Secret government security clearance or willingness to apply for one;
*    Clinical law teaching or other teaching experience a plus.

Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.  The University of Texas School of Law is an equal opportunity employer and provides health, dental, vision and other benefits.  Interested applicants should e-mail a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, writing sample, and a list of three references to Sonja Hartley, Clinic Administrator, National Security Clinic, University of Texas School of Law, 727 E. Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX 78705, at


February 11, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Oil Paintings: In Honor of Henry Trueba, Plyler v. Doe, Two Immigrants


In Honor of Henry Trueba

Plyler v. Doe
Plyler v. Doe

Two immigrants
Two Immigrants  


La Virgen y La Niña 

Paintings courtesy of Profesor Christian Faltis, School of Education, UC Davis

February 11, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

APIs Need to Take a Stronger Stance on Immigration Reform

Representative Mike Honda (D-CA)
, the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, in Asian Week makes the cogent case why Asian and Pacific islanders should be interested in comprehensive immigration reform.


February 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DHS: Undocumented Population Down, Recession Looms Large

The Department of Homeland Security has released its latest population estimates of the undocumented population in the United States:  "In summary, DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population living in the United States decreased to 10.8 million in January 2009 from 11.6 million in January 2008. Between 2000 and 2009, the unauthorized population grew by 27 percent. Of all unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2009, 63 percent entered before 2000, and 62 percent were from Mexico."  (emphasis added).

Given that the undocumented population rose sharply before the recession hit and decreased after, it certainly appears that the drying up of jobs -- not the increase in border enforcement (which began in the early 1990s), increases in detention (beginning in 1996), or the heavy duty immigration restrictions that immediately followed September 11, 2001 -- has had the biggest impact on reducing the undocumented population in the United States.  This should give us a good idea of what makes undocumented immigration tick.


February 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ImmigrationProf Reaches 800,000 Hits!

Late yesterday, ImmigrationProf received hit number 800,000 since its inception in September 2005.  Thanks to all our loyal fans for helping us reach this milestone.

Your ImmigrationProf Editors

February 11, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guest Post from Robert Gittelson: My Day Amongst the Anti’s: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Just the other day, I wrote a guest post for ImmigrationProf Blog, in which I explained my involvement in bringing the disgraceful and public anti-immigrant rantings of Bob Kellar, a Southern California City Councilman, to national attention. While I discussed the importance of speaking out against hate speech, and particularly hate speech propagated by elected leaders in this country, I also noted that since we had made our counterpoint, (ad nauseam), I thought that the time had come to move on. I believed that it would be constructive to concentrate my efforts, as well as the efforts of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, (of which I am a proud member), toward the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I also felt that we should leave Bob Kellar, and his ilk, behind us as a disgusting footnote in the troubling racial history of our nation.

Well, sometimes life doesn’t always work out as planned. At our coalition board meeting last Saturday, when this topic came up, I expressed the above opinion. However, to paraphrase Al Pacino in the Godfather, “Every time I try to get out, they suck me back in.” Actually, I was convinced that we should press the case by my fellow members. In a correspondence with Professor Kevin Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis Law School, I expressed my change of heart:

“As you know, in my last post, I advocated that our coalition move on. However, at our meeting last Saturday afternoon, I was turned around by our members. I said that I thought that we had raised the issue, and created a national dialogue, but that we should now devote our energies to passing CIR. However, as other members spoke earnestly about this issue, I could see on their faces, and through their words, that they needed closure. These people, mostly immigrants, wanted to see Justice done, and they weren't ready to move on just yet. They wanted us to proceed on our threat to pursue legal remedies, and so we are.

It has already started to make news. Yesterday we sent out a press advisory for our press conference for tonight at 5:00 pm, when we will announce the legal actions that we have undertaken to force the City to act under their own Code of Ethics, passed in 2008. The L.A. Times already did a story about this, as did NBC and KABC. I suspect that their will be a lot of media there tonight for the Press Conference, as well as to hear us speak to the City Council.

I do think that it is important that bigotry and divisiveness be confronted, exposed, and marginalized, so that the dialogue about CIR can be discussed on its merits, where I believe that it will win. Toward that end, I am glad that we are standing up to those that would lead us backward instead of forward.”

In fact, at 5:00 pm Tuesday we held our Press Conference, and several of us spoke at the Santa Clarita City Council meeting, myself included. For me, it was the culmination of a very long day of CIR advocacy. I started the day with a 6:30 am interview on the Radio with an extremely anti-CIR radio host affiliated with the hate group F.A.I.R., (no sense always preaching to the choir), and didn’t finish speaking out on this issue until almost 10:00 pm last night. I basically spent the entire day dealing with the most virulent elements of the anti-CIR agenda, and, as the Grateful Dead song goes, “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Actually, the press conference was delayed by about a half hour, because supporters of Bob Kellar’s “proud racist” comment confronted us on the City Hall steps, and created a media circus by trying to shout us down, and chanting “Bob Kellar! Bob Kellar!” whenever we tried to speak. Eventually, order was restored, and we spoke to the media to explain why we felt that it was important to confront anti-immigrant or anti-illegal immigrant hate speech, particularly when that speech is made by elected representative leaders. We also explained why we felt that is was important that we press for legal remedies designed to force the city council to enforce their own code of ethics, even when the target of the code violators were, “undocumented.”

The L.A. Times story explained it as follows:

Los Angeles-based immigrant rights advocates announced Tuesday that they have filed formal complaints against a Santa Clarita councilman they say deserves to be censured for violating the city’s code of ethics and conduct by declaring himself “a proud racist.”

The Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition has sent letters to state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that Councilman Bob Kellar “breached the public’s trust and has acted in an unethical, racist, xenophobic and biased manner by making public comments scapegoating so-called illegal immigrants.”

The group also alleges that Kellar violated at least eight provisions of Santa Clarita’s ethics and conduct policy, which requires that municipal leaders be “independent, impartial and accountable to the people they serve.”

The complaint further targets the remaining members of the Santa Clarita City Council, who the immigrant rights’ advocates charge violated their “fiduciary duties and not speaking out and condemning” Kellar’s statements.

When it was my turn to speak to the media, I pointed to the agitators, who were still creating a fuss around the edges of our group. I urged everybody to please calm down, because what I wanted to say was something that perhaps we all could agree with. I explained that the reason that we were denouncing Bob Kellar had more to do with the symbolism that his speech suggested, than simply trying to parse his words as to the meaning of each syllable. I explained that when leaders lead us down the path of divisiveness, it detracts from our ability to come together and actually deal with, much less actually solve the problems facing our society. I pointed out the obvious, as the difficulty that our small group was having in communicating with each other right at that exact moment was a direct result of the divisiveness caused by the remarks of the Councilman. I admitted that the issue of 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of our society was indeed problematic, but that if we actually wanted to fix the problem fairly and comprehensively once and for all, we needed to pass CIR. I also noted that had Bob Kellar simply apologized for his unfortunate remarks, and tried to walk his comments backwards, all of this fuss could have been avoided. He had a chance to affect positive change on the very topic that he exposed in his now infamous YouTube video, but unfortunately, instead of availing himself of numerous opportunities to do so, had instead elected to “double-down” on his remarks, and stand by them. He brought this negative national attention to the City of Santa Clarita through his remarks, and especially through his obstinate refusal to admit his mistake. I also promised that when I had my opportunity to address Bob Kellar directly through my remarks at the meeting, I would offer him and the City Council the opportunity to make this right, and possibly avoid or mitigate the legal actions that they were forcing us to pursue.

Actually, I want to reference here a very good post by my colleague at the Standing Firm Blog Rachel LaBruyere, titled, “When the Extreme Becomes Mainstream.  In her article, she addresses not only Tom Tracredo’s troubling remarks at the recent Tea Party Convention, but goes on to address the real issue we are confronted with:

Those people who “could not spell the word vote or say it in English” could make Tom Tancredo and his crowd obsolete if they don’t grow a brain (and a heart) and realize that “multi-culturalism” isn’t what’s threatening this country, fear of the “other” is. Don’t let fear dictate politics or policy. It’s time for a sensible and humane debate on the topic of immigration reform and those willing to engage in such a debate will be rewarded.

I want to also specifically mention a comment that was posted on this article, as it is very germane to how and why I addressed the City Council:

  Alex // February 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

I agree that it’s hard to appeal to folks’ hearts when they are so hardened against ‘the other.’ Hopefully a tactical approach will help but the issue remains how do we solve the continual problem of fighting lies and misinformation with truth?

When I had the opportunity to address the Council, I first went off text, (I had planned my remarks to fit into the allotted 3 minutes), by stating that I recognized that Bob Kellar had a lot of public support from his community, and that did count for something. I further mentioned that the Council would also be hearing that evening from my fellow Full Rights for Immigrant Coalition members, and that those members would be detailing the legal complaints that we had filed against the City Council due to their failure to take action against Mr. Kellar for his remarks, pursuant to their own Code of Ethics. However, I told them that it was my sincere desire to allow them the opportunity to walk this back, and hopefully come to a fair and equitable resolution.

Without repeating my whole speech, there were a couple of points that I raised. First, I told them:

“I want to offer you and the city an opportunity go make a clean slate. I am going to make a short statement about Comprehensive Immigration Reform. If you feel that you can endorse my statement, than I will recommend to my members that we withdraw our legal complaints, and move on. We can turn this negative argument into a positive resolution for all of us.”

I then when into some detail about what exactly does constitute CIR. I started with all of the things that I knew going in that they would approve of, such as border security, workplace security, enforcement, etc. I then got into the “tricky” issue of earned legalization, intentionally phrasing the “pathway obsticles” in draconian language that I suspected would help the “medicine go down.”

I closed by stating:

“That is what we mean by CIR. You said, “This is an American problem, and we’ve got to deal with it.” Bob, the only true way to effectively deal with this problem, and not just accept the status quo, is to pass a solution, and that solution is CIR. Will you, or will you not, endorse this call for CIR?”

At the conclusion of my remarks, the Mayor spoke to me. She stated that while it was against their rules for Council Kellar to answer me, as Council members were not permitted to address public comments directly, she informed me that she was very interested in pursuing this. She asked me to send them my information about Comprehensive Immigration Reform in writing, so that they could formally respond.

I see this as a tremendous opportunity. Not only will I take the Mayor of Santa Clarita up on her offer, but I intend to avail our CIR advocate community of this opportunity to make the case for CIR, and to do so in a very straightforward, common sense, and public way. I will offer the case for CIR in the form of an open public letter to the City of Santa Clarita. In fact, already this morning, I have contacted the local Santa Clarita newspaper, to ask if they would run this letter in their paper, and they seem amenable to this proposal.

The paper, the Signal, ran an article about last night’s activities, stating in part:

Members of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition are putting pressure on Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar to apologize for comments he made at an illegal immigration rally in January.

Coalition members handed a formal complaint letter to Santa Clarita's City Council at Tuesday night's meeting, outlining which parts of the city's code of ethics they think Kellar violated when he delivered his speech last month.

They also quoted my fellow Full Rights member Juan Jose Gutierrez, "(Kellar) might think he was galvanizing the troops," Gutierrez said. "But I think, if anything, this experience should teach us all that if we are elected to any level of government, we have to be sensitive that what we say may reach farther than we intend."

Let us hope that Mr. Gutierrez is more prescient than he imagined. Let us hope that the reach of Kellar’s comments, and the positive ramifications that we have undertaken to address those comments, reach all the way to Washington, D.C.


February 10, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)