Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Exploitation of Another Latina Domestic Service Worker: Mildred Patricia Baena

As everyone now knows, at least one California Governor ran into controversy earlier this week with respect to a domestic servive worker.  And the gory details -- his wife and mistress both had overlapping pregnancies bearing his child, to name one example -- it makes Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's harsh treatment of a long-time domestic service worker, which hit the presses and blogospheres in the heat of the fall campaign, seem tame by controversy comparisons.

Fox News Latino reports that Latinos are up in arms over the response to the news that Mildred Patricia Beana, an immigrant from Guatemala and long-time domestic service worker in the Governator/Maria Shriver home, is the mother of the former governor's son.  Many celebrity/entertainmnt blogs have posted pictures of Baena from her MySpace page.  A number of the comments to the stories about Baena have been crude, mean, sexist, and worse.  Some Latinos have come to Baena's defense.

For a thoughtful analysis of the entire Scwarzenegger/Baena/Shriver matter in its larger context, see Earl Ofari Hutchinson's analysis on American Chronicle.

As Vicki Ruiz, Mary Romero, and others have written, domestic service workers -- and especially women of color -- are often exploted and disposed of in the workplace.  The Governor's relationship with Mildred Patricia Baena, as well as Meg Whitman's quick disposal of Nicky Diaz, are two recent examples that are little more than the tip of the iceberg.


May 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Top Science Students are Children of Immigrants

From the National Foundation for American Policy:

Telephonic Press Conference, Monday, May 23, 1 PM EST to Release New Research on the Children of Immigrants in Science

Study Finds Significant Proportion of Nation’s Top High School Science Students are the Children of Immigrants

Arlington, VA – On Monday, May 23, 1 PM EST, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), an Arlington, Va.-based, nonpartisan policy research group, will release a major new study on the impact of the children of immigrants on scientific achievement in America.

The study, authored by Stuart Anderson, NFAP’s executive director and a former head of policy at the INS, examined the backgrounds of finalists of the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search, the nation’s top competition for outstanding high school science students. The results carry important implications for America’s immigration policy.

Three of America’s top science students, along with parents, will join the study’s author on the press call.

Questions on the press conference should be directed to

TELEPHONIC NEWS CONFERENCE INFORMATION:  The National Foundation for American Policy will give details on a new report via a telephonic news briefing. 

WHEN:  1:00 PM Monday, May 23, 2011 (12:00 PM Central, 11:00 AM Mountain, 10:00 AM Pacific)

HOW:  Dial: 888-297-0360 and then use Confirmation Code: 8638591

WHO:             Stuart Anderson, Exec. Director, National Foundation for American Policy, author of study.

                        Michelle Abi Hackman (Great Neck, NY), finalist, Intel Science Talent Search.

                        Selena Shi-Yao Li (Fair Oaks, CA), finalist, Intel Science Talent Search.

                        Shubhro Saha (Avon, CT), finalist, Intel Science Talent Search.

                        Daniel Hackman (Great Neck, NY), father of Michelle, refugee from Iran.

                        Samar Saha (Avon, CT), father of Shubhro, came to America on H-1B visa from India.

The National Foundation for American Policy -- Established in the Fall 2003, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization based in Arlington, Virginia focusing on trade, immigration and related issues. The Advisory Board members include Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati, Ohio University economist Richard Vedder, former U.S. Senator and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, former INS Commissioner James Ziglar and other prominent individuals. Over the past 24 months, NFAP’s research has been written about in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major media outlets. The organization’s reports can be found at


May 21, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ZUMBATHON for Immigrant Rights

From Cecily Clements:

Dear friends and family,
I write to personally invite you to the ZUMBATHON® FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS being held on June 4, 2011 at 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Women’s Building in San Francisco (3453 18th Street, San Francisco, CA:  This event is being sponsored by my law firm (the Law Office of Cecily E. Clements ( and ZFlow Fitness, the company started by my best friend and paralegal, Stefanie Canahui, who is a certified Zumba® instructor.  (For more information about her classes, visit her website at  The Zumbathon® will be a 90 minute Zumba® party (If you are wondering, what is zumba?  Learn about it here: that will benefit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (  For a little background on what this event means to me, please read below. 
Two years ago, Stef and I took a huge leap of faith.  We were working together at a well-known immigration law firm in downtown San Francisco and, although we were making a decent living and gaining valuable experience, neither of us were truly happy.  We worked ridiculous hours, never exercised, ate like crap, and were generally miserable.  Something had to change for both of us.  Not knowing what the future had in store, we both decided to quit our jobs and make that change a reality. 
Without any real plan, we started our new lives.  Stef went to school and pursued a new form of exercise that she had recently started to love - Zumba® - and I concentrated on my other full-time job, being a mom.  Soon enough, however, I missed practicing immigration law and decided that I wanted to work in the field again.  I began doing contract work for my mentor from law school and eventually, through the support of other practitioners in San Francisco, I started my own immigration law practice in June of 2009. 
A few months later, Stef told me that she was required to do an internship for school and asked if she could do it at my law firm.  Of course I said yes!  She started working for me and (to my immense benefit) has continued to do so to this day.  Around the same time, Stef became a certified Zumba® instructor; Zumba® was becoming a huge part of her life.  A true inspiration to all, Stef has revolutionized her life through Zumba® -  she has lost 70 pounds and has dramatically improved her health, both physically and psychologically.  Zumba® is by far the most fun I have ever had exercising (besides soccer of course) and I quickly became addicted as well.  So addicted that I also became a certified Zumba® instructor in October of last year! 
Now, I am proud to say that Stef and I are both healthier and happier than we have ever been.  The choices we made were difficult, but worth it.  The best part is that through all of these changes, we were able to continue pursuing our passion – immigration law.  As an immigration attorney and paralegal we have been able to help some very deserving people.  Here are the stories of just a few of our clients whose cases we have won over the past two years.  (Their identities are hidden to protect their privacy):
*A Honduran mother of three who was subject to extreme domestic violence including being kidnapped, repeatedly raped, physically beaten and psychologically tortured.  When her abuser finally tried to kill her and the Honduran police refused to protect her, she was forced to leave her children behind and flee the country.  Suffering from severe Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, she lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear and was unable to come forward and tell her story for a period of four  years.  Finally, when her abuser attempted to kidnap her daughter in Honduras, she found the courage to apply for asylum.  We won her case last week.  She will now be able to bring her three children legally to the United States and later will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency in the US.*
*A young Guatemalan man who came to this country at age fifteen due to persecution of his family based on their indigenous identity.  His brother and father were severely beaten, another brother was killed, and another brother was brutally stabbed four times (and fortunately survived).  He did not come forward initially because he came to this country so young, but was forced to confront his situation when he was picked up in an early morning ICE Raid on his home.  We won his case in December, 2010 and he will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency later this year.*
*A young American mother of a four-year-old whose Mexican husband was forced to return to Mexico in order to obtain his residency.  When his application was initially denied, she came to us, desperate for help.  She had to move out of her apartment because she could not afford it on her own.  Her son was suffering from psychological issues due to the separation from his father and she was struggling to support herself through school while being a single mother.  Her situation became so serious that during our representation of her she attempted suicide.  Fortunately, she survived her suicide attempt and her husband’s case was granted last summer.  They are now reunited as a family and the husband will be eligible to become a US Citizen in two years.*
These are just some of the stories of the individuals that Stef and I have had the privilege to help.  Stef and I love the work that we do and we hope to do it for many years to come.  I can honestly say, however, that I would not be in the position to help these people were it not for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (“ILRC”).  I rely on the ILRC’s publications and technical resource program every single day in my practice and owe a lot of my success to their constant dedication to helping legal advocates of immigrants.  
That is why Stef and I decided to combine our two passions – Immigration Law and Zumba® - to create the ZUMBATHON® FOR IMMIGRANT RIGHTS: a 90 minute Zumba® class with the BEST instructors in the Bay Area where all proceeds go to benefit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.  As mentioned above, the Zumbathon® will be held June 4, 2011 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Women’s Building in San Francisco, CA. 
Please come out and join us to support the ILRC.  Although the individuals mentioned above have won their cases, there are countless more out there who need similar support.  If you have never tried Zumba before – this is the perfect opportunity to try it!!  The music is contagious and the routines are easy to follow.  It is going to be 90 minutes of energetic fun to raise money for a very worthwhile organization.  Hope to see you there! 

For information on how to register for the event, please email Stef at  Can’t wait to dance with you all!!

PS.  A lot of people on this email do not live in the Bay Area and I know will likely not be able to make it to the event – but please pass the word on to anyone you know who does live in the area!  And if you are down for a road trip, we’d love to see you!! :D

Cecily E. Clements, Esq.

Law Office of Cecily E. Clements
180 Montgomery Street, Suite 1250
San Francisco, CA 94104
t: 415.989.9020
f: 415.989.9021


May 21, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More Calls to End the Secure Communities Program

From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

When our communities demand public safety and full rights, what part of "opt out" doesn't the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) understand?

Over the last two years, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other DHS officials have made contradictory statements that local governments and their police departments can opt out of the controversial "Secure Communities," or S-COMM, program. Then without logic or explanation, DHS/ICE immediately retracts the option, declaring that collaboration is mandatory.

And now there is a flurry of news stemming from the release of materials from DHS that show the lack of transparency and misinformation about the program and provisions for opting out of S-COMM. The materials were released after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic.

This is all further evidence of the need to end S-COMM.

In NNIRR's latest report, Injustice for All: the Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime, we describe how S-COMM and other immigration policing jeopardize and undermine our communities' right to health care, safety, civil and labor rights, civil liberties, freedom from fear, and equality. ICE-police collaboration thrives on and fuels new forms of racial discrimination and racial profiling.
We call for an end to these programs and support the call for a moratorium on S-COMM that is being raised by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a chorus of groups around the country.
Disconnect the Problem, Restore Our Rights
Immigration-policing and ICE-police collaboration circumvent due process rights and reinforce racial, ethnic and religious profiling -- all illegal in the U.S.
Under S-COMM, police send the finger-prints of persons they arrest to DHS to check their immigration status or to see if the arrestee has committed a deportable offense. What's wrong with this picutre? In the flash of a finger-print scan, a person can end up being jailed until DHS can come get her for deportation -- regardless of the charges, without a their day in court or a conviction. Families are crushed and forcibly separated from their loved ones as DHS/ICE terrorizes communities.
Our elected officials can end the flagrant abuses just by disconnecting the line to DHS.
Different state and local governments are making this their preference on S-COMM. The Illinois House took a step in the right direction and approved a bill to opt out of the Orwellian S-COMM initiative. Back in November 2010, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn first suspended S-COMM to conduct a full review of its impacts. After the legislation passed, Quinn wrote to DHS informing them that IL police would no longer participate in S-COMM.
Immediately afterwards, DHS turned right around and said no, Illinois must continue sending the finger-prints of arrestees to see if they can be deported.
The California legislature is moving a similar bill that would allow counties and other localities to also opt out of S-COMM. Community groups and their partners are pressuring local and county officials and police to do the right thing and disconnect from S-COMM.
These actions are important and build awareness and support for our demand to end immigration policing and ICE-police collaboration at the federal, local, county and state levels.
DHS's policies, practices and strategies of criminalization have to be rolled back, starting with ending S-COMM -- on their own, through legislative relief such as Illinois's decision, or civil disobedience. DHS's lousy strategy and programs of immigration-police collaboration will not stand.
The demand for opting out is a good start to restoring rights and instilling confidence in communities that police are there to protect and serve, not detect and deport. And let's continue the fight to end all punitive immigration policing and collaboration programs.


May 21, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Canadian Media See Controversy in Law School Hire of Deputy AG Who Signed Rendition Order

The ABA Journal reports on the controversy about an American law professor's involvement in the "war on terror" during the Bush administration -- and, surprisingly enough, this time it is not about John Yoo and UC Berkeley.

Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson 
is joining the University of Georgia law school as a professor. Thompson, who recently retired as general counsel for PepsiCo, served in the Bush Justice Department.  The controvesy surrounds Thompson’s signature on rendition papers for Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen detained at the airport in New York and sent to Syria for interrogation. Arar says he was beaten and tortured before Syria released him.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has issued a statement earlier this week expressing “profound concern” about the University of Georgia law school’s decision to hire Thompson.

May 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Going South, Coming North: Migration and Union Organizing in Morristown, Tennessee

"Morristown: In the Air and Sun” is a film by Anne Lewis that explores the ways that the global economy has been hitting working people both in Tennessee and in Mexico. It takes up many issues, including plant closings and capital flight, immigration and union organizing.

Fran Ansley and Anne Lewis have written a multi-media essay in Suthern Spaces at Emory University based on the film and on the longer political project of which it is a part.  “Going South, Coming North: Migration and Union Organizing in Morristown, Tennessee” is part of a Southern Spaces series on “Migration, Mobility, Exchange and the U.S. South.” Here is the overview:

"Silvia Perez, her husband Alfredo (who works in an assembly plant owned by Sylvania), and their three children in Ciudad Juárez. Courtesy the Perez family. This multimedia essay augments the 2007 Appalshop film Morristown: in the air and sun, a documentary about the migration of industrial capital and the arrival of immigrant labor in and around Morristown, Tennessee. Fran Ansley and Anne Lewis situate the film within the context of workers’ responses to globalization, particularly the effects of NAFTA after 1994. They follow the two-way currents now so evident in many southern towns where industrial plants move south and migrant labor comes north across the international border. As a way to examine the connections between labor rights and immigrant rights, the essay juxtaposes a local labor union campaign with anti-immigrant legislation across the state and the country, through text, still images, and video."


May 21, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deportation 101 Conference

From Detention Watch Network:

May 26-28, 2011 in Arlington, VA
Deportation 101

Deportation 101 is a nationally renowned training and curriculum  designed for a wide range of service providers, organizers, and advocates and will be offered in two parts at the Turning the Tide Summit.  

Thursday, May 26 at 2pm

Deportation 101: PoliMigra and Our Criminal (In)Justice and Deportation Systems (Part I) Michelle Fei, Immigrant Defense Project; Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the NLG; Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network; Manisha Vaze, Families for Freedom

The first of this two-part workshop provides a historical and political context for, and practical information about, how the criminal (in)justice system and deportation systems work and how PoliMigra functions at the intersection of these systems. We will also discuss different PoliMigra programs (Secure Communities, Criminal Alien Program, 287(g)) and ways for communities to fight back. 

Friday, May 27 at 9:30am

Deportation 101: Tips & Strategies to Fight Back Against Deportation in Your Community (Part II) Michelle Fei, Immigrant Defense Project; Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the NLG; Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network; Manisha Vaze, Families for Freedom; Carlos Garcia, Puente; Ravi Ragbir, New Sanctuary Movement

In this second part of Deportation 101, participants will role-play to learn tips when facing ICE in the criminal justice system, discuss organizing strategies to stop the deportation of individual families, and build from the stories of those directly affected by deportation and detention to demand larger policy solutions. 

The basics on detention and deportation and guidance on organizing

Money Trail to Your Jail

Kung Li, former director of the Southern Center for Human Rights; Emily Tucker, Detention Watch Network; Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership

This workshop will outline the influence of private interests on immigration enforcement and detention practices, situating the problem within the larger prison industrial complex. We will identify the main players and their mechanisms for influence, provide some statistical information about the extent of that influence today, and conclude by highlighting some strategies for combating this growing problem.

Dignity Not Detention: Stopping the Mass Incarceration of Immigrants (Strategy Session) 

Facilitated by Detention Watch Network

This strategy session will highlight the link between the expanding enforcement and detention systems. Participants will hear from one another about the impact of detention in their communities and discuss strategies to limit that impact. We will discuss the connection between S-Comm, ICE's plan for new detention beds, and the influence of the private prison industry on immigration detention. The session will also address ways to fight mandatory detention, the key legal mechanism for putting immigrants behind bars.

For a full schedule go to:

May 20, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

End the Secure Communities Program


Its time to put S-Comm on ice.

For Norma, for Isaura, for Maria, for all the survivors of domestic violence and innocent people swept up in this dragnet, it’s time for a freeze on the flawed and failed so-called “Secure Communities” mass deportation program.

Last year we started to expose the damages and the dishonesty of s-comm. People didn’t believe it was shakeable but now the program is facing an investigation and coming under fire.

Earlier this week, the LA Times and Huffington Post broke a new story. A contractor responsible for much of the program’s expansion spoke out and indicated a cover-up from the top on down.

He said in a letter to Congresswoman Lofgren, “I believe key elements in the ICE correspondence [to you] are inaccurate and misleading… ICE painted itself into a corner and needed someone to blame.”

Even before he came out, the Governor of Illinois already decided to pull his state out of the program because of the damage it caused and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called on President Obama to freeze the program pending investigations.

Nationally we’re calling for a halt to the program. Sign the Petition to put a freeze on S-Comm now.

Please sign and spread the petition so that we can bring this engine of mass deportation to a halt.

And if you haven’t already, plan on joining organizers and community members from the front-lines of the S-Comm fight at the Turning the Tide Summit in Virginia next week. Sign up today before registration closes.

For more information contact Jazmin Segura at


May 20, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hawaii's Hispanic Population Increases by Almost 38%

They keep coming!!  U.S. Census demographic data released Thursday that shows a 37.8 percent increase in Hawaii's Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010.  For more on this interesting development, click here.


May 20, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Businesses Leaving U.S.

Immigration Impact writes that eestrictionists often perpetuate the myth that immigrants are not needed in our current economy—that they take jobs and hurt American workers. But research has shown that immigrants not only grow the economy, but help create jobs and are part of the solution to our economic woes. However, while immigrants can create jobs and start new businesses here in the U.S., they’re choosing to do it somewhere else in recent years due to our complicated and dysfunctional immigration system.  Click the link above to read more.


May 20, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Colors of America: 5th Grade Immigration Essay

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the installation dinner of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in San Jose, California. Part of the program. Part of the program included the reading of the top five essays by local 5th graders who entered AILA's Creative Immigration Writing Contest. One essay stood out to me:

The Colors of America
by Austin Wang

There was once a dull little city named Greyland. The people there were all the same. The same grey outfits, boring personalities, and rule filled culture. However, no one could change it because it was law that everyone in Greyland had to be the same. The people slinked by like forgotten, lonely shadows. None of them had hopes, dreams, or creativity. The city was a sink hole of dark depression.

Then one day came along a young boy named Billy. He was different, his clothes were colorful and so was his attitude. He bounced joyfully down the street, spreading happiness wherever he went. One brave little gray kid came up to Billy and said "Why are you so different?"

"There's nothing wrong with different" Billy shrugged.

"Well, there is in this city, different isn't allowed" a group of people said together.

Billy smiled and said, "Follow me and I'll show you what you've been missing out on." He gestured towards a boat docked a few blocks away. So, they snuck over to the boat and boarded. "Let's go!" Billy yelled and they were off. Many of the grey people were unsure of coming with Billy, but it was too late now. After sailing for several weeks on the bright blue ocean, they finally arrived at a place called America. "Wow, look at all those different people" someone yelled.

"Look at all those colors!"

"There are some cool and different cultures!"

"Everyone's so free!" Everyone was amazed and smiling, but then one little kid asked, "Is different good, how can people mix so well?" Billy's face split into a grin and he produced a sheet of paper from his pocket. Then, he gave each person a paintbrush and a different color. "Now everyone, add your color to the paper", he instructed. Everyone did it with strange looks on their face. Then they exclaimed, "It looks really great!"

"See, every color adds a little something special, and they blend so well. This is like America, everyone adding their own little touch to the big picture and what is that big picture?"

"Everyone is different in America!" they exclaimed. Soon the little grey people became different too. They became different colors and their personalities changed as they realized what a great thing it was to be different. Afterwards there was merry white, wild red, mysterious black, shy brown, creative green, cool blue, optimistic purple, and silly yellow. Next, they picked up their painting and made it into a picture of America, with many different colors, all mixed together. "America was different and mixed, but different is good" they all thought as they made their way into America as immigrants.


May 19, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Al Madrigal Debuts on the Daily Show

On his first bit as Senior Latino Correspondent on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Al Madrigal takes on President Obama and immigration reform.




May 19, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: René Galindo, Undocumented & Unafraid: The DREAM Act 5 and the Public Disclosure of Undocumented Status as a Political Act

René Galindo, Undocumented & Unafraid: The DREAM Act 5 and the Public Disclosure of Undocumented Status as a Political Act
 (University of Houston Law Center, IHELG Monograph 11-02).

Abstract The political advocacy of undocumented students was apparent during 2010 through demonstrations across the country in support of the DREAM Act. Among those demonstrations was the national Coming Out of the Shadows event held in Chicago in March 10 where students publicly disclosed their undocumented status as part of the Undocumented & Unafraid campaign. On May 17 a historic even occurred when five students, now known as the DREAM Act 5, practiced civil disobedience by staging a sitin inside Senator McCain’s office in Tucson. Three of the students arrested were undocumented immigrants. The present study examines the public disclosure of undocumented status as political act on the part of undocumented students. Letters written by four of the DREAM Act 5 to the president, press media reports and interviews, and information from student advocacy blogs were examined. The primary data source, the students’ letters, were considered testimonios since they contained the students’ coming out statements, their migration stories, explanations of their civil disobedience, and appeals for President Obama’s support of the DREAM Act. The analysis focused on the function of the public disclosure of undocumented status in challenging the societal exclusion, invisibility, and dehumanization of undocumented immigrant students.

Professor Galindo teaches at the University of Colorado Denver.


May 19, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AG Announces Appointment of Juan Osuna as Director for the Executive Office for Immigration Review

Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the appointment of Juan Osuna as the permanent Director for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at the Department of Justice.  Osuna had been serving as Acting Director.


May 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

USCIS Toolkit on Citizenship


USCIS offers the Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to community organizations that assist immigrants aspiring to become U.S. citizens. The toolkit provides educational materials that focus on both naturalization and civics.

This week, USCIS released an expanded edition of the toolkit, which now includes:

A start-up guide for organizations who want to expand ESL, civics, and citizenship education
-Suggestions on how to use the toolkit in your community
-A short film about the naturalization process and test
-Civics Flash Cards, multimedia study tools, and much more
-One free toolkit is available to immigrant-serving organizations. You can find a list of eligible organizations on our registration page. Interested individuals or organizations that do not qualify to receive a free toolkit may purchase a copy from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Online Bookstore.


May 18, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hearing On Challenges Facing Immigration Courts

From the American Immigration Council:

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Key Hearing on Challenges Facing Immigration Courts

Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center commends Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for convening today’s hearing on “Improving Efficiency and Ensuring Justice in the Immigration Court System.” Immigration courts have long suffered from crushing backlogs that can delay the scheduling of hearings for years at a time.  Additionally, immigrants who appear before these courts enjoy fewer legal protections than most Americans expect from any fair system of justice.   With the dramatic and rapid escalation of immigration enforcement policies and resources, too little attention has been paid to the many challenges that face our immigration court system.

The backlogs in our nation’s immigration courts are longer today than at any time in U.S. history.  In many U.S. cities, immigrants must wait eighteen months or longer for a hearing before an immigration judge.  These backlogs not only delay the removal of noncitizens with no lawful claim to remain in the United States, but also impose hardships on individuals—such as asylum seekers—whose status and ability to work remain in limbo until their cases are resolved.  The troubles that have long faced our immigration court system have been magnified and compounded by the Department of Homeland Security’s increasing reliance on state and local law enforcement agencies.  So long as the federal government continues to expand its enforcement efforts through programs like Secure Communities and ignores the need for court reform, our nation’s immigration courts will continue to be flooded beyond capacity. 

Moreover, immigrants in removal proceedings have historically been denied the very rights that Americans have come to expect from civilized justice systems.  Unlike criminal defendants, immigrants who cannot afford an attorney have no right to appointed counsel.  Immigrants can also be removed on the basis of hearsay and other evidence that would be excluded in federal courts.  Vulnerable immigrants, including those who lack mental competency, are often deported without inquiries into their ability to comprehend the proceedings against them.  And the immigration court system remains largely exempt from crucial checks and balances like judicial review.

“For far too long, immigration courts have failed to provide a fair and efficient system of justice for immigrants in this country,” said Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center at the American Immigration Council.  “While the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform should remain Congress’s ultimate goal, improving the immigration courts would help treat a chronic, if underappreciated, symptom of our broken immigration system.”


May 18, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2011 E Pluribus Unum Prize Winners

The Migration Policy Institute has announced the four winners of its 2011 E Pluribus Unum Prizes for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, honoring an Hispanic economic development initiative in Kansas City, a refugee resettlement agency in San Diego, a Philadelphia-based organization with affiliates across U.S. college campuses that match student volunteers with immigrant elders and a San Francisco-based program with centers in nine cities that helps foreign-trained professionals rejoin the health care field at their skill level.

The E Pluribus Unum winners, each given a $50,000 award, reflect the diversity of actors in the public and private sectors that are involved in immigrant integration efforts at the state and local levels. The winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. at which U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will provide the keynote address.

The prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to encourage the adoption of effective integration practices and to inspire others to take on the important work of integrating immigrants and their children so they can become full participants in U.S. society.

The E Pluribus Unum winners (click on links for more detail about each initiative) are:

Hispanic Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City: Founded in 1993, HEDC helps immigrant entrepreneurs in Kansas City realize their business potential through bilingual business development training and a business incubator program. HEDC, which has assisted in the start-up and growth of more than 1,100 new immigrant businesses, is helping bring new economic vitality to once-languishing areas of Kansas City, business by business.

The International Rescue Committee in San Diego: One of 22 U.S. branches of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the IRC in San Diego assists more than 1,100 refugees from around the world each year, helping them successfully resettle and become self-sufficient, productive members of the community. The IRC in San Diego provides the refugees assistance in opening businesses and obtaining jobs, access to credit-building loans, English literacy and citizenship instruction, financial literacy courses and even access to urban farming. Crucially, these programs are also open to the broader community, with the IRC in San Diego assisting another 5,000 community members each year.

Project SHINE – Philadelphia: From its inception at Temple University’s Intergenerational Center in 1997, Project SHINE (Students Helping In the Naturalization of Elders) has trained nearly 10,000 college students to work with elderly immigrants and refugees, helping integrate more than 40,000 members of this often overlooked immigrant population more fully into American society. Project SHINE is now active on 19 campuses and one non-profit in nine states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas, and also partners with immigrant communities and local health/aging networks. Through Project SHINE, student volunteers are trained to tutor immigrant and refugee seniors in English language and civics education, helping many prepare for taking their citizenship exam.

The Welcome Back Initiative – San Francisco: Based in San Francisco with nine centers across the United States, the Welcome Back Initiative has worked with more than 11,000 foreign-trained immigrant health professionals to help them return to the health care workforce at their skill level. Created in 2001, WBI helps these doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and other health professionals get licensed and credentialed in the United States by providing them with orientation and pathways to the education and professional English language training they need to successfully rejoin the health care field. Through partnerships with colleges, community groups and local governments, the WBI model has been replicated in Boston, Denver, New York, Providence (RI), San Diego, San Antonio, the Seattle area and suburban Washington, D.C.

This year, for the first time, the E Pluribus Unum Prizes also presented a Corporate Leadership Award.

Marriott International received the Corporate Leadership Award for its innovative Global Language Learning initiative, which makes language learning available throughout its 106,000-person U.S. workforce, from entry-level occupations to the managerial ranks. More than 10 percent of Marriott’s workforce has taken advantage of language programs that are based on readily available technologies and instruction. The company-sponsored programs help immigrant workers learn English and U.S.-born staffers become proficient in foreign languages.

Profiles, videos and more information about the honorees can be found at For more information, or to set up interviews with award winners, please contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or; or Burke Speaker at 202-266-1920 or


May 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UC Hastings Grants Honorary Degrees to WWII Internees

The May 15 graduation ceremony at the University of California Hastings College of the Law included a special honor. As Karen Sloan reports, Hastings granted honorary degrees to seven Japanese-American students who had been enrolled at the school during the early 1940s but were unable to complete their studies because they were interned or faced other hardships during World War II. "We think for a law school to do this is quite important," Dean Frank Wu said. "It was quite touching." According to the article, "The only honoree who the school was able to confirm was still alive — 92-year-old Clark Kuichi Saito — attended the commencement ceremony with his son, Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Timothy Saito. . . . According to the law school, 10 students of Japanese ancestry attended the school in 1942, the year President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order that authorized the roundup of Japanese-Americans into internment camps."

Frank Wu
is Chancellor and Dean at UC Hastinbgs.


May 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

500 Arrested in Chiapas on the Way to the "Land of Opportunity"


CNN reports that Mexican authorities said they arrested more than 500 illegal immigrants from Central America and Asia who were crammed inside two tractor-trailers heading toward the United States. X-ray equipment detected the immigrants at checkpoints in Chiapas.  Inside the tractor-trailers, were 513 people from El Salvador, Ecuador, China, Japan, Guatemala, India, Nepal, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.


May 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: "The American Dream Deferred: Family Separation and Immigrant Visa Adjudications at U.S. Consulates Abroad"

"The American Dream Deferred: Family Separation and Immigrant Visa Adjudications at U.S. Consulates Abroad" Marquette Law Review, Vol. 94, p. 101, 2011 Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 11-13 MARQUETTE LAW REVIEW, Marquette University - Law School.  ABSTRACT:  The immigration system in the United States is broken and needs to be fixed. Despite this long-standing political reality, there remains widespread disagreement regarding solutions to many of the problems involved. The immigration issues that tend to garner the most attention include border security, high-profile workplace raids, guest worker programs, and the estimated 12 million undocumented people living in the U.S. These are extremely important issues that Congress must address in any attempt to fix the broken immigration system. Although these issues are the most widely recognized, there is a lesser-known issue that is just as important and profoundly impacts the lives of immigrants and U.S. citizens alike: the lengthy or permanent separation that many families are forced to endure when applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. This problem arose with the creation by Congress in 1996 of what are known as the unlawful presence bars to admission. After more than ten years since the passage of the unlawful presence bars, it is now appropriate to look closely at their impact and examine whether they constitute sound public policy. This Comment argues that they do not. This Comment explains how the system puts families through unnecessary and unjustifiable hardship by imposing a punishment that is disproportionate to the seriousness of the immigration violation. This Comment points to the lack of evidence that the unlawful presence bars significantly deter illegal immigration, and the fact that they tear families apart or force them to move abroad. For these reasons, this Comment recommends that Congress make sensible changes that will promote family unity while imposing penalties that are more proportionate to the seriousness of the immigration violation.


May 18, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)