Saturday, February 20, 2010

Transit Justice and Minority Communities

The lawsuit discussed in this post involves several low-income immigrant communities.

From Public Advocates:

Coinciding with this week’s anniversary of the stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA), we’re celebrating a powerful step forward in our transit justice work and writing to share the exciting news.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that we filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) charging that Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) failed to consider community needs and input, violating the civil rights of low-income minority residents, in the planning of the Oakland Airport Connector project. In the first action of its kind, FTA has pulled $70 million in federal stimulus funds from a BART expansion project due to multiple civil rights violations.

This victory for equity and accountability is garnering national and regional attention. A few headlines:

NY Times: U.S. Blocks $70 Million for Rail Line in Bay Area “This is a powerful statement by the Obama administration saying that a project is not shovel-ready until it is fair,” said Guillermo Mayer, a staff lawyer for Public Advocates.”

AP: Feds Deny BART $70M for Oakland Airport Connector 

Bay City Newswire: Other Transit Agencies Gain After BART Loses $70M 

Five years ago we sowed these seeds when we filed Darensburg v. MTC.   I credit our amazing team, and our clients, Urban Habitat, TransForm and Genesis, for creativity, patience and perseverance in pursuing this complex struggle to ensure fairness for all.  We are also grateful to our donors and Board for the vision to invest in this work.

Our education team is also watch-dogging stimulus funding. In reviewing the State of California’s application for federal stimulus and Race To The Top dollars, we discovered that the State is manipulating numbers in an attempt to qualify for funds without having to spend more on public education.

In short, California is attempting to evade the minimum level of effort toward school funding in 2009-10 and 2010-11 as required to receive ARRA funds and also fails to meet the minimum requirements for the requested FY 2010-11 Maintenance of Effort waiver under ARRA.

Along with our partners in the Parents and Students for Great Schools coalition (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Californians for Justice and Pico California), we sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging him not to approve California's applications for stimulus dollars until the state meets the minimum education spending requirements called for by Congress.

Just today’s examples of how we work daily to make rights real for marginalized communities.

Celebrate with us in person at our 39th Anniversary Event on Wednesday, April 28th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco!


February 20, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Please Help Support Qing Wu

Yesterday, Bill Hing posted a story about Qing Hong Wu, a lawful permanent resident who is facing for crimes committed years ago even though he has gotten his life in order.  Here is a not ethat I received this morning:

To whom it may concern:

My name is Jenny Gong, the sister of Qing Hong Wu. I am contacting you to first and foremost thank you for addressing your opinion on this ordeal my brother is in at the current time. I am writing to you for support of my brother's situation in preventing him from deportation and release from detention.

The following are ways in which we'd like you to support us:

1. There is an online public petition which will be sent to the Governor of NY. Will you please sign the online petition to support Qing:

2. You can also help by contacting the Manhattan D.A.'s office at 212-335-9000 and request that he (DA Vance) grant Qing Wu retroactive youthful offender status.

3. Also, if you can, will you please write letters of support to Governor Paterson' office with a carbon copy to Peter Kiernan, Office of the Counsel to the Governor.

Governor Paterson

State Capitol Albany, NY 12224

Peter Kiernan, Esq.

Office of the Counsel to the Governor State Capitol

Albany, NY 12224

4. Please help us spread the word to sign the online petition and contact the DA’s office as well as the Governor’s office.

 When you have done so please forward the information to your friends and family. Every call and comment counts for support and help Qing reunite with his family. I thank you in advance for your help and support. If there is any questions or comments, feel free to email me.

Jenny Wu []

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

Friday, February 19, 2010


Asia's potential to become the new global leader in the 21st century and what that may portend for human rights and economic development will be the subject of a February 26 symposium sponsored by the University of California, Davis Law Review. American philosopher Martha Nussbaum and a number of other leading scholars from across the country are scheduled to speak during the daylong conference entitled "The Asian Century?" Nussbaum will deliver a talk entitled "Democracy, Education and the Liberal Arts: Two Asian Models."

Other panelists will explore how the rise of Asia may affect multinational corporations, intellectual property, human rights, gay rights, national security law and constitutional law. Speakers also are expected to probe U.S. attitudes toward Asia and how that affects the country's relationship with Asian nations, as well as the effects of India's laws and legal norms on the rapid expansion of Indian multinationals.

Panels will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Wilkins Moot Courtroom at the UC Davis School of Law. All sessions are free and open to the public. Panelists include:

* Professor Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago Law School

* Tom Ginsburg, professor of law, University of Chicago Law School

* Anil Kalhan, associate professor of law, Drexel University School of Law

* Yong-Sung (Jonathan) Kang, assistant professor of law, University of Washington School of Law

* Holning Lau, associate professor of law, University of North Carolina School of Law

* Teemu Ruskola, professor of law, Emory Law School

* Peter Yu, Kern Family Chair in Intellectual Property Law, Drake Law School

UC Davis law professors Lisa Pruitt,  Keith Aoki, Afra Afsharipour, Madhavi Sunder, and Anupam Chander also will participate.

The UC Davis Law Review is the school's premier student-run publication and is ranked 31st among U.S. legal journals.

UPDATE:  Clickhere for IntLawGrrl Diane Amann's review of the sympsoium.


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

Observing Immigration Court Hearings

Interested in watching an immigration court hearing.  Check out this Fact Sheet (Download ObservingImmigrationHearings021910) from the Executive Office for Immigration Review.


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

FROM THE BOOKSHELVES: True American Language, Identity, and the Education of Immigrant Children by Rosemary Salomone

True American Language, Identity, and the Education of Immigrant Children by Rosemary Salomone

How can schools meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of newcomers? Do bilingual programs help children transition into American life, or do they keep them in a linguistic ghetto? Are immigrants who maintain their native language uninterested in being American, or are they committed to changing what it means to be American?

In this ambitious book, Rosemary Salomone (St. John's) uses the heated debate over how best to educate immigrant children as a way to explore what national identity means in an age of globalization, transnationalism, and dual citizenship. She demolishes popular myths—that bilingualism impedes academic success, that English is under threat in contemporary America, that immigrants are reluctant to learn English, or that the ancestors of today’s assimilated Americans had all to gain and nothing to lose in abandoning their family language. She lucidly reveals the little-known legislative history of bilingual education, its dizzying range of meanings in different schools, districts, and states, and the difficulty in proving or disproving whether it works—or defining it as a legal right. In eye-opening comparisons, Salomone suggests that the simultaneous spread of English and the push toward multilingualism in western Europe offer economic and political advantages from which the U.S. could learn. She argues eloquently that multilingualism can and should be part of a meaningful education and responsible national citizenship in a globalized world.


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

Advocacy Needed on Health Care for Immigrants

From the National Immigration Law Center:

Ask Congress and the President to Enact Health Care Reform that Includes Immigrants

We are calling on progressive leaders who care about immigrants to make three phone calls before February 25th to register the urgency of enacting health care reform that provides affordable health insurance to more families, including immigrants. 

Please call the White House, Senate Leader Reid, and House Speaker Pelosi to urge the passage of health care reform that does not punish immigrants.  Specifically, insist that health care reform:
1)    remove the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants in Medicaid; and
2)    allow undocumented immigrants to purchase private health insurance through the Exchange. 

These calls will have the greatest impact if made by your executive director or board chair.  This is perhaps our final opportunity to influence health care reform in support of fair and inclusive policies. 

On February 25, 2010, the White House will host a health care reform summit with Congress, and Democratic leaders may act soon after to pass significant health legislation.  While there are many promising policies being considered, the current design of health reform legislation excludes many legal immigrants and hurts undocumented immigrants.  We have a chance to speak with a unified voice to demand fair, economically sound fixes in any health care reform legislation that moves forward in order to protect immigrants. 

Take Action
Call your contacts in the offices of these three leaders, or call the following phone numbers and leave a message.  Please make these calls before the health summit on Thursday, February 25.

1) President Barack Obama, The White House, 202-456-1414
2) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 202-225-0100
3) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), 202-224-3542

In addition, it would be helpful for leadership of your organization to share the same message with the following health reform policymakers within the Democratic majority (a general phone number for Congress is 202-224-3121):  Senators Baucus (MT) and Harkin (IA), and Representatives Van Hollen (MD), Clyburn (SC), Waxman (CA), Rangel (NY), Miller (CA), and Becerra (CA).

The current state of play is extremely concerning for immigrants.  It is likely that the Senate-passed bill (HR 3590) will be the foundation of final health care reform legislation.  Unfortunately, the Senate bill falls short on immigrant inclusiveness, which is why your calls are urgently needed now.  There is still an opportunity to improve health care equity for immigrants. 

The Senate bill includes the following policies that hurt immigrants:
•    Fails to remove the 5 year waiting period for legal immigrants in Medicaid.
•    Prohibits undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance at full cost in the newly-created private health insurance Exchanges. 
•    Prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving tax credits and non-emergency health care programs such as Medicaid and CHIP.
•    Fails to ensure that residents from Compact Free Association territories are eligible for Medicaid.

After more than a year of bi-partisan committee hearings, negotiations, and floor debates, both the House and Senate had passed landmark legislation before the December recess and had begun to discuss how to merge the two bills.  The goal was to pass health care reform legislation for the President's signature before the State of the Union address.  However, the January special election in Massachusetts left the majority party without a needed 60-vote margin, forcing the Democratic leadership to seek other paths to enactment of health care reform.  Public opinion polls show that many voters recognize the need to improve America's health care system, and support for reform remains strong.

The President is committed to finishing health care reform and has scheduled a White House health care summit for February 25, 2010 and invited leadership from both parties to attend.  The summit will be televised on CSPAN.  It is likely Democratic leadership or the President will present an initial proposal for discussion prior to the summit.  However, advocates anticipate that further compromises will be made in order to pass health care reform legislation, which may move through Congress quickly after the summit.

Everyone needs health care to achieve the American Dream.  Our political leaders need to ensure immigrants have the same opportunities to reach that dream.


February 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

In Support of AgJOBS Bill

An LA Times editorial recognizes the need for the passage of AgJOBS:

In  the last days of 2008, President George W. Bush's administration gave a parting gift to agribusiness: The Labor Department rescinded certain hiring regulations and lowered minimum wages for temporary foreign workers, undoing labor protections that had been in place since 1988. For two decades, growers had maintained that those requirements, attached to H-2A visas for guest workers, had hindered their ability to keep a steady, reliable flow of workers in their fields and orchards. By contrast, labor unions argued that the provisions, passed during the Reagan administration, provided protections against unfair competition for American workers while safeguarding a foreign population subject to exploitation.

The pendulum swung back in favor of labor last week when the Obama administration reinstated some of the rules that Bush rescinded, which will result in higher wages for guest workers and stricter government oversight of employers. Under the Bush rules, foreign farmworkers often found themselves earning less than state and federal minimum wage; under the new regulations, that won't be the case. Also, growers must once again try to hire American workers by posting vacancies on an electronic list, and must receive certification from the Labor Department; currently, they simply attest that no U.S. citizens want their jobs and they can hire abroad.

The United Farm Workers celebrated the changes, citing horror stories about migrant workers who had to use their savings to bribe job recruiters in their countries -- an illegal but common practice -- then arrived in, say, North Carolina, only to find that the promised job would end one month later. The Western Growers Assn. deplored the revisions, citing horror stories of farmers unable to hire enough U.S. workers to pick crops and watching them rot in the fields while bureaucrats fiddled.

There is a way forward, however, that appeals to both sides: the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, known as the AgJOBS bill, currently languishing in Congress. Labor likes it and growers like it. The bill would allow legal agricultural guest workers as well as undocumented farmworkers already in the U.S. who have worked 150 days between 2006 and 2008 the opportunity to earn a "blue card" -- temporary immigration status with the possibility of permanent legal residency. Click here for the rest of the editorial.


February 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Sad Deportation of LPR Who Entered at Age 5

As I've written in Deporting Our Souls: Values, Morality, and Immigration Policy (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006) and Detention to Deportation—Rethinking the Removal of Cambodian Refugees, 38 U.C. DAVIS. L.REV. 891 (2005), we need reform to the deportation laws that at least reinstates discretion to immigration judges in cases of longtime lawful residents who have committed aggravated felonies. Many of these individuals are rehabilitated and deserve a second chance. Nina Bernstein writes for the NY Times:about another victim of our overly harsh laws:

The judge and the juvenile had grown up on the same mean streets, 40 years apart. And in fall 1996, they faced each other in a New York court where children are prosecuted as adults, but sentenced like candidates for redemption.

The teenager, a gifted student, was pleading guilty to a string of muggings committed at 15 with an eclectic crew in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The judge, who remembered the pitfalls of Little Italy in the 1950s, urged him to use his sentence — three to nine years in a reformatory — as a chance to turn his life around.

“If you do that, I am here to stand behind you,” the judge, Michael A. Corriero, promised. The youth, Qing Hong Wu, vowed to change.

Mr. Wu kept his word. He was a model inmate, earning release after three years. He became the main support of his immigrant mother, studying and working his way up from data entry clerk to vice president for Internet technology at a national company.

But almost 15 years after his crimes, by applying for citizenship, Mr. Wu, 29, came to the attention of immigration authorities in a parallel law enforcement system that makes no allowances for rehabilitation. He was abruptly locked up in November as a “criminal alien,” subject to mandatory deportation to China — the nation he left at 5, when his family immigrated legally to the United States. Clickhere for the rest of the story.


February 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Famed Former NYC DA: "the way we treat immigrants is a national disgrace and I’m ashamed of what we do"

Legendary former New York City District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has this to say about how the United states treats immigrants:

"I think, the way we treat immigrants is a national disgrace and I’m ashamed of what we do. I think anybody who’s here in the United States, legal or illegal, is entitled to the full protection of the law and they’re not getting that. I set up an immigration program in the D.A.’s office and I publicly announced, over half a dozen times, that we would turn nobody over to the Federal authorities, as long as they continued to deprive these undocumented immigrants of their constitutional rights. And it’s a very, very serious problem, and again its a stain on our reputation. There are 2 problems one is the problems with laws themselves, and second is the way they are applied." (emphasis added).

For more, click here.


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

Old Bad Memories of Alan Simpson

President Obama has named Alan K. Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader, and Erskine B. Bowles, a top official in the Clinton White House, to chair a special commission to solve the nation's budget problems, administration officials said Tuesday. I truly wish them much success on tackling this important issue. But I cannot help but be reminded of Alan Simpson's long history attacking family immigration.

From the early 1980s to 1996, the leading voice attacking family immigration, especially the sibling category, was Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming. Simpson had been a member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy that issued a report in 1981 calling for major changes in the immigration laws. After the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA)  was enacted to address the issue of undocumented migration through employer sanctions and legalization, Simpson turned his attention to legal immigration categories. At the time, although 20 percent of preference categories were available to labor employment immigrants (54,000), when the unrestricted immediate relative immigration categories were added to the total number of immigrants each year, fewer than 10 percent of immigrants who were entering each year were doing so on the basis of job skills.
In fact, soon after the Select Commission report, Senator Simpson proposed the elimination of the sibling immigration category. At the core of what became a long crusade, Simpson’s complaint was that brothers and sisters are insignificant relatives for immigration purposes – that in U.S. culture, the sibling relationship is simply not close enough to justify providing an immigration preference. He ignored the many experts who testified in hearings before the Select Commission stressing the importance of family reunification – including between siblings – over employment-based visas. Demographer Charles Keely testified that:
We, as a nation, cannot only accept, but are enriched in countless ways, by traditions which honor the family and stress close ties not only within the nuclear family of spouses and children but also among generations and among brothers and sisters. Attacks on family reunification beyond the immediate family as a form of nepotism are empty posturing.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the U.S.-Asia Institute, and others testified in favor of retaining the category. One organization opposing Simpson’s proposal, The American Committee on Italian Migration, noted:
For Italians and for many other ethnic groups, brothers and sisters, whether or not they are married, are an integral part of the family reunion concept. Elimination of this preference category would violate a sacrosanct human right of an American citizen to live with his family according to his own traditional life style.
Arizona Democratic Senator Dennis DeConcini, also a member of the Select Commission, added his voice to the debate:
Proposals have been offered to eliminate the [sibling] preference. It is felt by some to be too generous, as it refers to horizontal rather than a vertical family concept. . . . But to deny that brothers and sisters are an integral part of the family is to impose upon many ethnic groups a narrow concept of family and one that especially discriminated against the Italian-Americans. We also should stress the rights of U.S. citizens by allowing them to bring their families to America. This view should precede the technical notion that we need certain types of specialist and skilled workers.
In fact, the Select Commission overwhelmingly had endorsed the policy of keeping brothers and sisters as a preference category.  Proposals to eliminate family categories created by the 1965 amendments were to be rejected.
The reunification of families should remain one of the foremost goals of immigration not only because it is a humane policy, but because bringing families back together contributes to the economic and social welfare of the United States. Society benefits from the reunification of immediate families, especially because family unity promotes the stability, health and productivity of family members.
Simpson did not relent and in the late 1980s, at a time when legal immigration continued to be dominated by Asians and Latinos even after “diversity programs” were being implemented to aid non-Asian and non-Mexican immigrants, he wanted the family immigration numbers reduced or at least managed. His legislation, S. 358, was approved by the Senate in July 1989, which would establish a ceiling of 630,000 legal immigrants for three years. Of the total, 480,000 would be reserved for all types of family immigration and 150,000 would be set aside for immigrants without family connections but with skills or job-related assets. After numerous markups and hearings, the House of Representative passed Democratic Congressman Bruce Morrison’s H.R. 4300, a rather different bill, on October 3, 1990. This bill actually would reduce family immigration more dramatically – thereby reducing the number of Asian and Latino family immigrants, providing 185,000 family-based visas and 95,000 employment-based visas annually.
The Morrison bill was attacked for its wholesale elimination of temporary work visas for professionals. The concern was that the spigot actually might be closed on foreign workers. Also, the possible elimination of H-1 nonimmigrant status for certain professions outraged immigration lawyers, who called it a “must-kill” provision. Another one of Morrison’s more controversial suggestions was to tax employers who use alien employees. One early proposal required businesses to pay 15 percent of an alien’s salary into a federal trust fund used to train U.S. workers. As introduced, the bill would impose a flat user fee dependent on the size of the company. After furious negotiations, especially with fellow Democratic Congressman Howard Berman from Los Angeles, Morrison agreed to drop proposals that would have reduced the number of family-based visas, persuaded by Berman’s argument: “To cut back on the ability of new Americans to be with their family members betrays the core American value and tradition of emphasizing the integrity of the family.”
As passed, H.R. 4300 would increase the number of legal immigrants to 775,000 a year from the prior 540,000. It would also speed the process of uniting families, attract more skilled workers, and create a new diversity category for immigrants from countries whose nationals have largely been excluded in the past. After passing the bill, the House changed the bill number to S. 358 to enable it to go to a joint House-Senate conference. However, many Senate conferees were opposed to the more liberal House bill and negotiated to cap legal immigration and place new measures to control illegal immigration, including tougher provisions against criminal aliens. The House conferees insisted on a sunset cap in the bill and wanted extra visas to go to relatives rather than to skilled workers. But Senator Simpson refused to agree, leading the Wall Street Journal to dub him a “one-man border control” and “Stonewall Simpson.”  Eventually compromises were reached and Congress passed S. 358.
Enacted on October 26, 1990, the compromise bill would allow 700,000 immigrants from 1992 to 1994 and 675,000 annually in subsequent years.  For the time being, proposals to cut back on family immigration were defeated, and the Immigration Act of 1990 had responded to lobbying efforts by American businesses. The Act was a significant, and to some a revolutionary, revision of the focus of U.S. immigration law. After passage of the Act, although the main thrust of immigration law continued to be family immigration, highly skilled immigrants would be deliberately encouraged to resettle in the United States more than ever before. In the long run, the annual number of employment-based visas would nearly triple from 54,000 to 140,000 per year.
Although Simpson was disappointed that he failed to reduce the Asian- and Latino-dominated family categories in 1990, he was able to install an overall numerical cap. Furthermore, for Simpson, the new employment categories and expanded diversity programs could attract real American stock – those who were not Asian or Latino: “we [now] open the front door wider to skilled workers of a more diverse range of nationalities.”
Up to his retirement in 1996, Senator Simpson fought to eliminate the sibling category. On the eve of the 1996 presidential election, Congress  enacted rather heinous immigration reform relating to deportation, asylum, and procedural issues. Until the late spring 1996, the threat that the immigration legislation also would include cutbacks on legal immigration categories was real. Congressman Lamar Smith and Senator Simpson again took aim at the siblings-of-U.S.-citizens category as well as the category available to unmarried, adult sons and daughters of lawful resident aliens (category 2B). Their efforts ultimately were not successful, so the 1996 legislation did not reduce family immigration.


February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrants and Health Insurance

From Chung-Wha Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition:

Dear friends,

The New York Immigration Coalition is pleased to announce the release of two reports regarding immigrants and health insurance.  As the U.S. grapples with ways to enroll more individuals in health insurance, these reports provide valuable new insights into the barriers immigrants face and the steps policymakers should take to dismantle these barriers. 

“Mutual Responsibility”: A Study of Uninsured Immigrants’ Perspectives on Health Insurance in New York City  was written with funding from the United Hospital Fund and research assistance from the New York Academy of Medicine.  Based on focus groups conducted with uninsured immigrants and on interviews with community-based public-health-insurance enrollers, the findings shatter the myth that uninsured immigrants place a disproportionate burden on the health care system.  In reality, uninsured immigrants delay seeking health care or avoid it altogether because of immigrant-specific concerns and fear of medical bills; they resort to informal consultations with pharmacists, non-practicing immigrant health care professionals in the U.S., and medical providers in their home countries to address their health care needs; and they want health insurance and would buy it if it were affordable.  The report highlights the importance of bilingual and bicultural community organizations that help individuals navigate the health care system, and presents a range of issues to consider when seeking solutions.

The NYIC gratefully acknowledges the report’s coauthors, Maysoun Freij, Adam Gurvitch, Amanda Ferrandino and Linda Weiss, as well as the insights of Danielle Holahan (UHF).  Many thanks also to the dedicated community-based organizations that recruited for and conducted the focus groups and the enrollers who consented to be interviewed.

Health Insurance and Immigrants: Obstacles to Enrollment and Recommendations, funded by the New York State Health Foundation and written in collaboration with New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage, serves as a valuable resource for policymakers and advocates who want to achieve meaningful health reform for immigrants.  The report examines in detail the numerous barriers immigrants face in accessing health insurance, illustrated by case examples collected by community-based advocates over ten years, and offers recommendations for policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels.  As the movement to achieve affordable health care for all marches forward, policymakers must address the myriad barriers faced by immigrants, both with and without legal status.

The NYIC thanks coauthors Mark Scherzer, Esq. and Adam Gurvitch for their partnership on this important report.


February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Update on Hunger Strike at Port Isabel Detention Center

From the Southwest Workers Union:

For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb. 12, 2010
Contact: 956.207.2571

Unite to change oppressive policies, end the exploitation, And end the violence right now.
U.S. Government officials are abusing immigration detainees as well as community members in South Texas. There are numerous federal civil and federal criminal violations that are occurring. These violations affect the free speech, due process, of immigration detainees and the immigration rights community.
There is a proactive hunger strike by immigration detainees, and a family member of one of the detainees, that has been ongoing for some time. This is the third such hunger strike in less than a year. It is up to the immigrant rights community to enlighten the rest of America and the world to shame the U.S. Government into changing policy.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) swarmed housing units at PIDC and assaulted numerous detainees who were hunger striking and/or proactive in speaking against inhumane treatment. Many were moved to other facilities in order to hide the abuses. Divide and conquer tactics were used against detainees. This occurred on Feb. 10, 2010, which was one day after Anayanse Garza of the Southwest Workers’ Union (SWU) and other concerned community members attended an open meeting, including Zoila Molina (mother of Hunger Striker Ronald Molina and who herself was fasting for days), held by Phyllis Coven, Acting Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning. The meeting was designated for non-governmental and community-based organizations. However, SWU members and other concerned inhabitants of South Texas were not invited although they had previously requested to speak to Phyllis Coven via a written request to Regional Field Director Michael J. Pitts. Community members searched for the meeting and found it, last minute, at a local hotel. A local news program brought a video camera. Phyllis Coven did not feel comfortable being on camera. Community members insisted on a transparent meeting. If the meeting was supposed to be open and announced on the internet, there should have been total transparency in what was being discussed.
Hunger striker Vishnawath Ramlakhan called Southwest Workers’ Union. Anayanse placed Mr. Ramlakhan on speaker phone and he told the listeners, including ICE Field Office Director, Michael Pitts, that he was a hostage of the U.S. Government. Phyllis Coven and her colleagues at the meeting decided not to listen to his pleas, turned their backs on the community and left the room.
Human Rights are first and foremost. Stop the abuse against immigration detainees, as well as abuse of community members in South Texas who defend their civil liberties and human rights. According to detainees there are numerous federal civil and federal criminal violations that are occurring. These violations affect the free speech, due process, of immigration detainees and the immigration rights community.


February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ICE Detention Center for Women and Children in New Mexico?

Steve Ramirez writes for the Las Cruces Sun-News:

LAS CRUCES - Would it be a detention facility or a family residential center, as the development group pushing the plan refers to it?

Perhaps more importantly, would it be an economic boost for Las Cruces, or a dangerous, risky endeavor?

There are far more questions than answers among Las Cruces residents and city officials about a proposed facility on the city's West Mesa where undocumented migrants would be kept.

"There's still a lot of information out there that has to be gathered," Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. "As a result, we will bring this issue up at the six City Council district meetings that are planned. We'll then schedule at least two additional meetings after that, one of those at City Hall, and then go from there. Based on what we hear, we hope to be ready to make a decision about the facility by either late April or early May."

Emily Carey, program coordinator for the Regional Center for Border Rights, in Las Cruces, said she supports efforts for more public participation on the proposal.

"Certainly, I would encourage greater public transparency, I would encourage a public hearing," said Carey, a representative of the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I would encourage the City Council to exercise due diligence on this highly complex issue." Click here for the rest of the story.


February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

International Migration Conference

From the UC San Diego Center for Comparative Immigration Studies:

University of California International Migration Conference
Please note updated schedule

On March 12, 2010, CCIS will host a University of California-wide conference on international migration. If you are interested in attending the conference, please contact Ana Minvielle, The conference will be held in the Deutz Conference Room of the Institute of the Americas. For directions, please visit the IOA website.

Sponsored by CCIS, The Gifford Center for Population Studies at UC Davis, the Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy at UC Irvine, and the UCLA Migration Study Group

Introduction (8:30 – 8:45 AM)

David FitzGerald and John Skrentny, CCIS, UCSD

Panel 1. Ethnicity and the Politics of Immigration (8:45 – 10:30 AM)

Marisa Abrajano, Political Science, UCSD

Dina Okamoto, Sociology, UC Davis

Louis DeSipio, Political Science, UC Irvine

Natalia Molina, Ethnic Studies, UCSD

Chair and Discussant: Zoltan Hajnal, Political Science, UCSD

Break (10:30 – 11:00 AM)

Panel 2. Assimilation and Transnationalism (11:00 AM-12:45 PM)

Thomas Soehl, Sociology, UCLA

Kyeyoung Park, Anthropology, UCLA

Cinzia Solari, Sociology, UC Berkeley

Chair and Discussant: Erin Hamilton, Sociology, UC Davis

Panel 3. Immigration and the Welfare State (1:45-3:30 PM)

Shannon Gleeson, Latin American and Latino Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Frank Bean, Sociology, UC Irvine

Cybelle Fox, Sociology, UC Berkeley

Chair and Discussant: Micah Gell-Redman, Political Science, UCSD

Break (3:30-4:00 PM)

Panel 4. Immigration Law and Control (4:00-5:45 PM)

David FitzGerald, Sociology, UCSD

Kamal Sadiq, Political Science, UC Irvine

Jennifer Chacon, Law, UC Irvine

Chair and Discussant: David Kyle, Sociology, UC Davis

For directions to CCIS, visit our website. For further information, please contact Ana Minvielle at or 858-822-4447.

February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Census Website Available in Asian Languages

Asian American Justice Center Launches Census 2010 Web Site 
WASHINGTON — In leading the effort to ensure that Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians are accurately counted in the upcoming census, the Asian American Justice Center and its partners launched a Web site to serve as a clearinghouse for census materials aimed at AAPI communities.

Part of the Fill in Our Future campaign, provides information translated into 25 languages, public service announcements, videos, brochures and educational materials to help with community outreach. The site brings all the information to a central location so that communities across the country can readily access, download and use the information for census outreach without duplicating efforts, thereby reaching even more AAPIs before Census Day, April 1.

At one can find: questions asked on the census form, frequently asked questions; the impact on your family and your community; confidentiality of responses, details about questions regarding race, ethnicity and faith; where to get help; a census timeline; and organizing around census. Materials are available in: Bengali, Chamorro, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Chuukese, Gujarati, Hawaiian, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Marshallese, Nepali, Punjabi, Samoan, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tongan, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The Fill in Our Future campaign is the first from AAPI Action,, which is a resource center for up-to-date information about the needs, concerns and successes of the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities. Last year AAJC, the Asian American Federation, the Asian American Institute, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Asian Pacific Fund, created a national network of community-based organizations focused on achieving an accurate census, particularly in regards to counting AAPIs.

Like many minorities, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians, including recent immigrants and people with limited English skills, are among the most likely to be missed by the census. The campaign strives to decrease the chances of the communities being undercounted during the 2010 Census through effective community outreach and education. The campaign provides technical assistance and training to local partners and nonprofits. It also coordinates a network of more than 50 organizations dedicated to reaching AAPIs through materials dissemination, workshops and trainings.

AAJC is administering grants to 29 groups in 21 states to bolster these activities. For more information please visit


February 18, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Criminal Alien Program ICE's Biggest and Least Understood Enforcement Program

The Criminal Alien Program (CAP)--a program administered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)--is designed to screen inmates in prisons and jails, identify deportable non-citizens, and place them into deportation proceedings. However, in the years since CAP was initiated, there have been concerns about whether or not ICE is actually targeting immigrants with serious criminal records.

Today, the Immigration Policy Center releases a new Special Report, The Criminal Alien Program: Immigration Enforcement in Travis County Texas by Andrea Guttin, Esq., which provides a history and analysis of ICE's problematic enforcement program, as well as a case study of CAP implementation in Travis County, Texas. While ICE claims that CAP's focus is "dangerous criminal aliens," the data show that legal as well as unauthorized immigrants with a wide range of criminal history--or no criminal history at all--are being identified for deportation. Other concerns surrounding the CAP include racial profiling, pre-textual arrests, immigrant distrust of local police, underreporting of domestic violence and finally, misuse of immigrant detainers--which are being used by CAP and other immigration enforcement programs (such as Secure Communities).

The CAP report shows that:

• CAP is the program responsible 48% of all deportable immigrants identified by ICE in FY 2009-more than the 287(g) program, Fugitive Operations, and the Office of Field Operations combined.

• A large percentage of immigrants apprehended under CAP are not criminals at all. An October 2009 DHS report found that 57 percent of immigrants identified through the CAP program in FY 2009 had no criminal convictions, up from 53 percent in FY 2008.

• In Travis County, a majority of immigrants placed under detainer were arrested for a misdemeanor as their most serious charge. In 2008, 58 percent of the detainers were placed on those charged with misdemeanors-up from 38 percent in 2007 and 34 percent in 2006.


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

African Americans, Civil Rights, and Immigration

A special event:

African Americans, Civil Rights and Immigration: A Legacy of Inspiration and Leadership
Mr. Wade Henderson, President, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award

 Mr. Ben Ali, founder and owner, Ben's Chili Bowl

Immigrant Achievement Award

to be accepted by his sons
Reverend Dr. Derrick Harkins, Pastor of the historic 19th Street Baptist Church

 Master of Ceremonies
Special gospel entertainment provided by

 David Griffiths
Award winning composer and Musical Director for the 19th Street Baptist Church
Friday, March 26, 2010
6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception

7:00 p.m. Awards Ceremony

Marriott Metro Center
775 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Purchase your tickets today!

All proceeds support the work of the American Immigration Council. 
For sponsorships, please contact Elizabeth Stinebaugh at (202) 507-7517 or


February 17, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Why Quote Nativists and Pretend that They are Unbiased Observers?

A L.A. Times article today reviews proposed benefit cuts to legal immigrants.  In support of the limits, the article quotes the following:  "'Five years is a legitimate time to ensure that people who have come here the right way are willing to assimilate and be loyal tax-paying Americans,' said Barbara Coe of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform."   

One wonders why the L.A. Times could not find someone a bit more balanced than Barbara Coe to comment.  An ardent supporter of California's Propistion 187 in 1994 (which a court found unconstitutional), Coe has been a leading voice for the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law CenterThe Center includes this in its description of Coe as one of the nation's "nativists":

"Vitriolic, conspiracy-minded and just plain mean, Coe routinely refers to Mexicans as `savages.' She claims to have exposed a secret Mexican plan (the `Plan de Aztlan') to reconquer the American Southwest [Coe reportedly has claimed that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is part of this conspiracy.]. Last May, at a `Unite to Fight' anti-immigration summit in Las Vegas, she launched the kind of defamatory rant for which she is infamous. `We are suffering robbery, rape and murder of law-abiding citizens at the hands of illegal barbarians,' she warned her cowering audience, `who are cutting off heads and appendages of blind, white, disabled gringos.'" (emphasis added).

Can't the venerable L.A. Times, one of the nation's leading newspapers, find somebody a bit more reputable to comment on immigrant benefit restrictions?


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

New Immigration Articles

Here are a few new immigration articles from the Social Science Research Network (

"Explaining Immigration Unilateralism" Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 104, No. 3, 2010  JENNIFER GORDON, Fordham University - School of Law.  ABSTRACT:  Classical economists have long argued that trade and labor migration are functionally the same. Global wealth is maximized, they assert, when both goods and labor move freely across borders. There indeed similarities between the movement of people and the movement of goods, but in many ways the disparities between the two are far more apparent. If labor migration and trade are so alike, why have many developed nations maintained high barriers to migration even as barriers to trade have fallen sharply? The contrast between the weak global patchwork governing the movement of people and the strong framework governing the movement of goods is another sign of those distinctions. Why has the United States aggressively pursued multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements on trade while remaining stubbornly unilateral in its approach to labor migration? This essay contends that the consistent story of factor mobility told by economists misses three key differences. First, the flow of human beings has political, social, and economic impacts on developed nations that differ from the flow of goods. Second, trade is reciprocal while migration is generally a one-way flow. Both of these facts reduce the incentive of developed nations to accept increased migration. Finally, the benefits developed nations do receive through migration are, unlike the benefits of trade, almost always available through unilateral action rather than through negotiation with developing countries. The essay concludes by suggesting how we might better approach labor migration in order to maximize wealth and distributive justice on a global scale.  [PROFESSOR GORDON'S WORK IS ALWAYS WORTH READING.]

"Humanising Non-Citizens: The Convergence of Human Rights and Human Security" HUMAN SECURITY AND NON-CITIZENS: LAW, POLICY, AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, A. Edwards and C. Ferstman, eds., Chapter 1, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ALICE EDWARDS, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University.  ABSTRACT: The past decades have seen enormous changes in our perceptions of 'security', the causes of insecurity and the measures adopted to address them. Threats of terrorism and the impacts of globalisation and mass migration have shaped our identities, politics and world views. This chapter analyses these shifts in thinking and, in particular, critically engages with the concept of 'human security' from legal, international relations and human rights perspectives. We consider the special circumstances of non-citizens, such as refugees, migrants, and displaced and stateless persons, and assess whether, conceptually and practically, 'human security' helps to address the multiple challenges they face.

"Alienated: A Reworking of the Racialization Thesis" American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Forthcoming MING CHEN, University of California, Berkeley.  ABSTRACT: This article revises widespread application of the racialization thesis to Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians following September 11. It suggests in its place an “alienation thesis” to describe the formation of an alien identity for those perceived and treated as noncitizens. This thesis draws on Asian American and critical race scholarship to re-interpret sociological understandings of the post-September 11 response to Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. The article concludes that shifting conceptions of this phenomenon is critical to reforming “alienating” practices that function not only to cause harm to their intended targets, but also to distort the legal requirements of immigration law and equality jurisprudence.   [MING CHEN IS PURSUING SOME FASCINATING AVENUES OF SCHOLARSHIP.]


February 17, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Freeing a Family from CBP Custody: A Lawyer's Perspective

For Carl Schusterman's perspective, click here.


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