March 19, 2011
Kansas Anti-Immigrant Bill on Life Support
From the Associated Press:
An Arizona-style bill that would require police to check the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the country illegally seems to be on life support in the state Legislature.
A Kansas House committee failed Friday to move the measure at the last meeting the panel was scheduled to have t his year. Read more...
For Public Safety, Local Cops Should Not Enforce Immigration Laws
Sean Webby writes for the San Jose Mercury News:
As some states such as Utah look to put cops on the front lines of immigration enforcement, San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore and other prominent law enforcement officials warned Wednesday that using their shrinking pool of officers to target illegal immigrants is inefficient, costly and would make their cities more dangerous, not less.
"I am looking at laying off 300 officers, so now more than ever I need to focus on partnerships with communities," Moore said during a national teleconference sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum. "This (the issue of immigration enforcement) has become a wedge in our communities and we need to remove that wedge."
The teleconference was part of a larger public effort by some high-profile police executives to communicate to political leaders and the public that the increasing calls for more aggressive and local immigration enforcement efforts could adversely affect them.
The officials noted, in particular, immigration crackdowns in Arizona and Utah and other proposals that seek to have local law enforcement enforce immigration laws, primarily a federal function.
Looking to reassure its own large and growing Latino community, San Jose has long broadcast that it does not participate in immigration raids. And officers are ordered not to investigate someone's immigration status during arrests. Read more...
March 18, 2011
Halt Deportation of Noncitizens with Mental Disabilities
From the Legal Action Center:
Immigration Judges Should Exercise Authority to Halt Proceedings
Against Noncitizens with Serious Mental Disabilities
Legal Action Center Files Amicus Brief Supporting Termination of Removal Proceedings
Washington D.C. - This week, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and Texas Appleseed filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) supporting Immigration Judges' authority to terminate removal proceedings against noncitizens with serious mental disabilities where a full and fair hearing would be impossible. Because immigration courts lack many of the due process protections that exist in other areas of our judicial system, more specific safeguards are necessary to protect the most vulnerable populations.
The LAC and Texas Appleseed filed the brief in the case of B-Z, a longtime legal permanent resident diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, who could not understand the purpose of the proceedings, assist counsel with his defense or present coherent testimony. The brief argues that immigration courts should adopt standards for evaluating mental competency similar to those employed in federal criminal or civil trials. Furthermore, Immigration Judges should be permitted to appoint counsel where non-citizens with serious mental disabilities are not competent to proceed on their own. Additional safeguards, including the appointment of a guardian ad litem, may also be required for noncitizens who are so severely incapacitated that they cannot understand and assist with their hearings even with the assistance of counsel. Finally, the brief contends that termination is proper where no conceivable set of safeguards would enable the respondent to participate meaningfully in proceedings and the record supports some inference of eligibility for relief.
"Given the high stakes and complex issues involved in removal proceedings, Immigration Judges must be allowed to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that no one is wrongfully deported," said Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center.
B-Z is represented by Rachel Kling of the Florence Project in Arizona. Texas Appleseed was represented by attorneys at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, in Washington, D.C. Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights also filed amicus briefs in this case.
See also this article: Systemic Failure: Mental Illness, Detention, and Deportation
Providence Wants Out of S-Comm
Gregory Smith writes for the Rhode Island News:
The city administration has asked that it be allowed not to participate in Secure Communities, a controversial federal program in which criminal suspects arrested by the police are checked to see if they are subject to deportation or other enforcement action by immigration officials.
Secure Communities will create fear in the immigrant community and mistrust between the community and the police, thus “risking the public safety” of Providence, Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which runs the program.
Under Secure Communities, the fingerprints and other information of a person charged with a crime are sent to the FBI which, in turn, looks for matches in a database of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The aim, according to the government, is to identify and deport undocumented immigrants who commit crimes. Read more...
Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law
USCIS invites interested parties to participate in a teleconference on April 14, 2011 at 2:00PM (Eastern Time) regarding the unauthorized practice of immigration law and building the capacity of immigration service providers. The Office of Public Engagement, in collaboration with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) will present an overview of the BIA accreditation and recognition process and address suggested topics as submitted by stakeholders.
To Participate in the Teleconference
To participate in the teleconference, send an email to the Office of Public Engagement, Intergovernmental Affairs Division at USCIS-IGAOutreach@dhs.gov by March 31, 2011 and place Capacity Building in the subject line of your email. Include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email. Once an RSVP email has been received, USCIS will provide you with call-in information specific to this call.
To submit agenda items or questions to be discussed during this engagement, participants must submit suggested items and questions to the Office of Public Engagement no later than March 31, 2011. Agenda items and questions should be sent as Word document or PDF.
To Join the Call
On the day of the engagement please use the information provided by USCIS to join the teleconference. We recommend calling in 10 minutes prior to the start of the call.
IACHR PUBLISHES REPORT ON IMMIGRATION IN THE UNITED STATES
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published its Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process. The report contains the conclusions of an investigation the IACHR carried out to ascertain whether policies and practices on immigrant-related detention in the United States were compatible with the country's international obligations in the area of human rights. The report also includes recommendations for ensuring that detention policies fulfill those obligations.
One of the Inter-American Commission's main concerns is the increasing use of detention based on a presumption of its necessity, when in fact detention should be the exception. The IACHR is convinced that detention is a disproportionate measure in many if not most cases, and that programs that provide for alternatives to detention would be a more balanced means to serve the State's legitimate interest in ensuring compliance with immigration laws.
For those cases in which detention is strictly necessary, the Inter-American Commission is troubled by the lack of a genuinely civil detention system with general conditions that are commensurate with human dignity and humane treatment, as well as special conditions called for in cases of non-punitive detention. The IACHR is also disturbed by the fact that the management and personal care of immigration detainees is frequently outsourced to private contractors, yet insufficient information is available concerning the mechanisms in place to supervise the contractors.
The Inter-American Commission is also concerned by the impact that detention has on due process, mainly with respect to the right to an attorney which, in turn, affects a person's right to seek release. To better guarantee the right to legal representation and, ultimately, to due process, stronger programs offering alternatives to detention are needed and the Legal Orientation Program must be expanded nationwide.
The Inter-American Commission is particularly troubled by the lack of legal representation provided or facilitated ex officio by the State for cases of unaccompanied children, immigrants with mental disabilities, and other persons unable to represent themselves. The IACHR is also disturbed by the rapid increase in the number of partnerships with local and state law enforcement for purposes of enforcing civil immigration laws.
The Inter-American Commission finds that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has failed to develop an oversight and accountability system to ensure that these local partners do not enforce immigration law in a discriminatory manner by resorting to racial profiling, and that their practices do not use the supposed investigation of crimes as a pretext to prosecute and detain undocumented migrants.
For the investigation on which this report is based, the IACHR visited six immigrant detention centers: Southwest Key Unaccompanied Minor Shelter (Phoenix, Arizona); Florence Service Processing Center (Florence, Arizona); Pinal County Jail (Florence, Arizona); T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center (Taylor, Texas); Willacy Detention Facility (Raymondville, Texas); and International Education Services Unaccompanied Minor Shelter (Los Fresnos, Texas).
The Commission also held thematic hearings, took testimony from immigrants in detention and their family members, and consulted immigration experts in the United States, nongovernmental and international organizations that work on these issues, and attorneys and defenders of the rights of migrant persons.
The IACHR also sent out a questionnaire for the State, as well as individuals and civil society organizations, to answer. The IACHR thanks the government of the United States for the cooperation it provided for the Commission to be able to visit the detention centers and for its willingness to cooperate with this investigation.
The observations presented by the federal government in October 2010 to the draft version of this report have been very valuable in assessing those areas in which advances have already been made and where immigration reform is producing concrete results toward compliance with international human rights obligations.
Latin Music Legends U.S. Postage Commemorative Forever Stamps Honor Entertainment Giants
Five legendary musicians and performers of the Latin sound whose contributions have had a lasting impact on American music — Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz — today were honored on U.S. commemorative Forever stamps. The stamps have gone on sale nationwide at Post Offices and online at www.usps.com/shop.
Among the distinctive musical genres and styles represented by the music legends featured on the Forever stamps are Tejano, tango, samba, Latin jazz and salsa. The honorees are:
Texas-born Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971-1995) — known to fans simply as Selena — helped transform and popularize Tejano music by integrating techno-hip-hop beats and disco-influenced dance movements with a captivating stage presence. A Grammy recipient, the “Queen of Tejano” broke gender barriers with record sales and awards. Even after her tragic death, Selena remains an important representative of Latin culture.
A superb and evocative singer, Carlos Gardel (1890?-1935) was one of the most celebrated tango artists of all time. Raised in Argentina, Gardel helped popularize the tango in the United States, Europe and throughout Latin America through his performances and recordings. Known as “the man with the tear in his voice,” also achieved fame as one of the stars of Spanish-language cinema.
Born in Portugal and raised in Brazil, Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) achieved fame as a samba singer before moving to New York City, where she gained celebrity in theater, film and radio. The “Brazilian Bombshell” appeared in 14 Hollywood musicals and recorded more than 300 songs. Her exotic colorful outfits and persona also became her signature.
Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Tito Puente (1923-2000) was a musical virtuoso known as El Rey, “The King.” With dynamic solos on the timbales and orchestral arrangements that have become classics in Latin music, Puente helped bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream audiences. He performed for more than 60 years, and his legacy includes more than 140 albums.
A dazzling performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean music, Celia Cruz (1925-2003) had a powerful contralto voice and a joyful, charismatic personality that endeared her to fans from different nationalities and across generations. Settling in the United States following the Cuban revolution, the “Queen of Salsa” performed for more than five decades and recorded more than 50 albums.
A Language and Education Profile of Immigrants across the United States
Language and education access are crucial aspects of immigrant integration — and as our newly compiled US data show, both opportunities and barriers are marking this transition for immigrants and the communities in which they live. This month's Data Hub newsletter by the Migration Policy Institute brings to your attention key state-by-state and national statistics on immigrants education and language skills. Browse the "Language and Education" fact sheets by state (and for the entire United States) to search for levels of education, rates of English proficiency, and linguistic isolation among immigrants, as well as the many diverse languages spoken at home (courtesy of a data well known as the 2009 American Community Survey). Here are some interesting facts we found:
* New destination states face rising LEP population: Between 2000 and 2009, the immigrant Limited English Proficient (LEP) population — defined as persons age 5 and older who reported speaking English "not at all," "not well," or "well" — more than doubled in Alabama and South Carolina, and grew by 80 percent in Kentucky. (Note: This dramatic increase can be attributed, in large part, to a traditionally small LEP population in those new destination states). In comparison, the size of the national LEP immigrant population increased by 27 percent during the same period.
* High demand continues for English language instruction: In 2009, 52 percent of the 38.3 million immigrants (age 5 and older) in the United States were LEP individuals. Nearly two-thirds of all LEP immigrants in 2009 resided in the five so-called "traditional" immigration states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.
* Some states are poised to benefit more than others from having a highly educated immigrant workforce: Foreign-born adults in West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, were significantly more educated (40 percent or more had at least a bachelor's degree) than immigrants in the United States on average (27 percent had a BA or higher). In contrast, slightly more than half of foreign-born adults in New Mexico had no high school diploma.
* Immigrants are concentrated on the high and low ends of the education continuum: Nationally, 27 percent of immigrant adults had a bachelor's degree or higher (compared to 28 percent for the native born). In contrast, the share of immigrant adults with less than a high school diploma was 32 percent (compared to only 11 percent among the US born). To learn more, go to the Data Hub's 2009 ACS/Census tool and select the state of your choosing (or click on the small map of the United States if you look for national data).
International Migration: A Case Against Building Ever-Higher Fences
Here is a paper worth reading by most Americans: "International Migration: A Case Against Building Ever-Higher Fences" Economic Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 66-72, 2011 PIOTR ZIENTARA, University of Gdansk. ABSTRACT: International migration, seen as a powerful force of truly global character that is shaping today's socio-economic reality, is a highly controversial and politicised issue. This paper explores its ramifications in the context of a growing backlash against immigration across the rich world. Specifically, it argues that the free flow of people - like the free movement of goods and capital - is beneficial to developed and developing economies alike and, in doing so, shows how migration produces win-win outcomes. Thus the study, while admitting that inflows of foreign-born workers pose challenges and entail trade-offs, makes a case for the liberalisation of immigration policies. The paper deepens our understanding of the issues at hand and constitutes a voice in favour of liberal-policy choices.
March 17, 2011
AZ BIRTHRIGHT BILLS FAIL
The five bills in Arizona attacking immigrants went up for vote today (yes on St. Patrick's day) in Arizona and failed by a wide margin. Business groups had sent a stern letter to the Legislature warning of huge economic backlash if the bills were enacted. Although the proponents are not done (they are considering ballot measures), the fact that so many legislatures voted against it (albeit on economic grounds rather than humanitarian grounds) is welcomed news.
Florida Rally Against Immigration Proposals
From News 13 in Florida:
A Bay area group is going to Tallahassee today to speak out against controversial immigration proposals.
About 40 families left Clearwater at 6:30 a.m. today. They'll join hundreds of others for a 1 p.m. rally on the steps of the old State Capitol.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition organized the rally to protest immigration legislation that's making it's way through the statehouse.
One controversial change being considered centers around the Electronic Verification System or E-Verify.
Currently, all government agencies are required to use it to ensure their employees are eligible to work in the United States. However, some Florida lawmakers want to require all employers to use that system.
Critics said that could easily lead to racial profiling.
"Can you tell me do I have the documents?" asked Juan Pablo Chavez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "You don't know. Probably you will assume because of the color of my skin, my accent." Read more....
March 16, 2011
New LatinoJustice PRLDEF President Named
LatinoJustice PRLDEF today announced Juan Cartagena as its new President and General Counsel. Cartagena will join LatinoJustice PRLDEF on April 11. Cartagena is a constitutional law and civil rights attorney with extensive litigation experience in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, education and language rights. He served as a staff attorney at LatinoJustice in the 1980s.
Guatemalans sue U.S. over medical experiments
CNN reports on a troubling story: "A group of Guatemalans who were infected with syphilis during U.S. human experiments and their heirs have filed a lawsuit against U.S. health officials. The class action lawsuit, filed this week, alleges that the U.S. government violated a number of national and international laws when it carried out the experiments in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948."
Virgil Peck's Crude, Offensive Remarks
From Ted Ruthizer of Immigrants' List:
During a Kansas House Appropriations Committee discussion about methods used to exterminate feral swine (which include shooting them from a helicopter), state lawmaker Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro) suggested that his state use the same approach to address immigration.
“It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem,” said Peck.
After being publicly rebuked for claiming that undocumented immigrants be treated like wild hogs and shot by marksmen in helicopters, Rep. Peck issued this terse apology: "My statements yesterday were regrettable."
There are many ways to describe your outlandish comments, Rep. Peck; regrettable hardly scratches the surface.
Help us send a message to lawmakers like Rep. Peck. Help us say it loud and clear: Hateful rhetoric against immigrants, hateful rhetoric that incites violence is not only regrettable; it will cost you your job.
Donate now to elect pro-immigrant lawmakers who unlike Rep. Peck not only recognize the immense contributions by the immigrant community to this country, but lawmakers who recognize immigrants for what they are: human beings.
UCLA Undergraduate going wild on Asians
For those who say that racism against Asian Americans is dead in the United States, watch this video posted on YouTube by a UCLA undergraduate.
March 15, 2011
Death Match 2011: Eastman Versus Roman on Birthright Citizenship
Kiyemba, Guantanamo, and Immigration Law: an Extraterritorial Constitution in a Plenary Power World by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez
Abstract: Immigration law is central to justifications for why five men remain detained indefinitely at Guantanamo, despite having writs of habeas approved in 2008. Since then, the Court of Appeals in Kiyemba v. Obama I, II, and III has used plenary powers reasoning to justify detentions under immigration law. The detainees are all non-combatants and Uighurs, Turkic Muslims from China. The Supreme Court may review these cases. Kiyemba I and III concern their judicial release into the U.S., while Kiyemba II regards barring their transfer because they may be tortured overseas. These cases raise significant constitutional habeas issues, but they also justify detentions with plenary powers. This reasoning defers immigration issues to the political branches and denies rights because of a detainee’s alien status or presence overseas. This Essay argues that immigration law, i.e. plenary powers, provides a “fall back” legal justification for Guantánamo detentions. This is especially important after the Supreme Court’s finding in Boumediene v. Bush that aliens on the base enjoy constitutional habeas rights. A critical non-legal context produces the Kiyemba detention quagmire. A transnational analysis of this context points to the normative influence of assumptions on diplomacy, culture, geopolitics, individual rights, and the War on Terror.
NILC Critique of New Utah Immigration Law
Utah Governor Gary Herbert today signed into law immigration measures that together create the nation’s most broadly sweeping state immigration enforcement scheme. Largely modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070, HB 497 requires police to interrogate individuals and verify their immigration status in a wide array of situations, promoting harmful and costly incentives for law enforcement to racially profile. The second bill, HB 116, attempts to create a “guest worker” program for undocumented workers currently in Utah. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, on HB 497 and HB 116:
“Today, the first Arizona copycat legislation has been signed into law, and our fears of a patchwork immigration policy have been realized. While Utah policymakers may have been striving to develop a different approach to Arizona, the new laws unfortunately suffer from the same fatal flaw as Arizona’s SB 1070: they are fundamentally unconstitutional. Taken together, the laws signify an even more sweeping state takeover of federal immigration regulation.”
“We share Utah’s frustration with the federal government’s failure to create a functional immigration system. Decades of inaction in Washington have led states to attempt to come up with their own solutions. However, state-led attempts to regulate and enforce immigration law are a costly, ineffective, and often unconstitutional answer.
“One of the laws signed today correctly identifies immigrant workers as a vital part of Utah’s society and economy. However, states simply do not have the power to grant or deny work authorization to immigrants. Therefore, this law does nothing more than create false hope for immigrant workers in Utah, as they will not have a viable path to legal status under this law and will continue to be vulnerable to federal immigration enforcement measures as well as the new state enforcement scheme enacted through HB 497.
“The actions of lawmakers in Utah, Arizona, and other states threatening to follow down their path should serve as a clarion call to reluctant federal legislators to finally fix our broken immigration system. Our country needs federal policymakers to step up to the plate and get serious about enacting humane and functional immigration reform. Rather than marginalize immigrant communities and target people of color, states must focus on enacting laws that recognize immigrants’ contributions and build stronger and more inclusive communities.”
For a summary of the legislation, clcik here. Download Utah-bills-analysis-2011-03
U Visa and VAWA Seminars
From the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
Advanced Issues & Hot Topics in U Visa & VAWA Cases
Los Angeles Seminar
March 22, 2011, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm (3.25 CA MCLE)
Immigration Center for Women and Children
634 S. Spring Street, Suite 727, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Sally Kinoshita, ILRC Deputy Director and author of ILRC’s U Visa and VAWA manuals
Alisa Daubenspeck, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)
Cynthia Lucas, Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC)
Deadline to register: 3/16/11
Click here to register
At this seminar, we will cover cutting-edge, hot topics in U visa and VAWA cases, including possible U visa age out issues, U adjustment of status, consular processing of U visas, as well as overcoming inadmissibility issues and prior removals for both U visa and VAWA cases. We will discuss, at length, when to pursue a VAWA self-petition versus VAWA cancellation versus a U visa, and we will also analyze complicated scenarios to determine the best strategies in pursuing a U visa versus VAWA.
See entire calendar & register: www.ilrc.org/seminars
April Action Day and Immigrant Day
From SIREN (San Jose, CA):
April Action Day and Immigrant Day are coming up soon.
April Action Day on April 16, 2011 will be a day where everyone around the state will meet to kick off the June electoral campaign to protect core services in the state budget and urge the state to protect our most vulnerable communities, including immigrants.
We are also gearing up for Immigrant Day on May 24, 2011! Please make sure to register by the deadline and let Zelica Rodriguez at Zelica@siren-bayarea.org know that you will attend in order to prepare the events that day and coordinate transportation. We want everyone to get involved and advocate for immigrants in Sacramento through meetings with local legislators. REGISTER NOW!