Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blogging from Vietnam - Part 1


I arrived in Hanoi yesterday. I’m in Vietnam for several days accompanying a group of University of San Francisco law students who will be working here this summer. I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to do some blogging from here.

In 1975 when the United States withdrew its troops from Vietnam, the number of Vietnamese Americans was negligible. However, the 2010 census will likely reveal that the current Vietnamese American population is about 1.7 million. That’s amazing growth, and refugee policy has everything to do with that.

Vietnamese Americans have made themselves noticeable by contributing to the revitalization of various urban centers—think Orange County, the San Jose area, New Orleans, and Dallas. Their food enriches the cuisine of many cities. They have also been made conspicuous by the media—sometimes for the educational accomplishments of the children, sometimes for the economic threat they are perceived as posing to white fishermen, sometimes for their experiences as victims of anti-Asian hate crime, and sometimes as gang members.

For all this newfound prominence, the presence and growth of Vietnamese America does not obviously translate into much that is revealing about immigration law and policy. After all, Vietnamese came to the U.S. as part of our involvement in the war, mostly through refugee rather than immigration categories. Refugee law and policy has historically been understood by scholars and policymakers as importantly distinct from immigration law and policy. It expresses, we are told, the national community’s need to make ad hoc judgments in response to its humanitarian sensibilities. Conventional immigration law and policy, by contrast, reflect judgments about growth in light of political, social, and economic concerns. In effect we are asked to believe that whatever might appear noteworthy about Vietnamese Americans and how they got here is largely separable from the experiences of other Asian immigrants.

But what we know about other Asian American groups, particularly Chinese, Japanese, South Asians, invite a closer look at largely unexamined facets of refugee policy. Attention should be focused on the likelihood of multiple national agendas, the hidden continuities between refugee and admissions laws and policies, the reassertion of familiar instruments of control,, and the superficiality of our understanding of the Vietnamese.

I’ll come back to these themes in my next Vietnam blog. For now, let me say that arriving in Hanoi yesterday was eye-opening. The vibrancy of the city is overwhelming. The people are full of energy. The streets are crowded, the smells are good. There is life.


June 4, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Why are so many of the answers on the U.S. citizenship test wrong?

A recently naturalized U.S. citizen, Dafna Linzer, in an entertaining article on Slate, wonders why the U.S. government can't get the questions for the naturalization test quite right.


June 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

They Keep Coming: Alabama Passes Its Own Immigration Law, Copycat Arizona

Photo Courtesy of the State of Alabama Official website

The Alabama legislature has passed a tough new immigration bill.  For the USA Today summary of the law, click here.

The Alabama House and Senate passed the immigration law by wide margins and the bill now awaits the Governor's signature.  Governor Robert Bentlley is on record in support of a tough immigration measure.

If signed into law, the Alabama bill, among other things, would (1) bar undocumented studemts from public colleges and universities; (2) require law enforcement to check the immigration status of persons about whom they have a "reasonable suspicion" about immigration status; (3) make it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country unlawfully; (4) impose penalties on businesses that knowingly employ someone without legal status -- with the possible suspension or revocation of the employer's business license; and (5) require employers to use E-Verify.

Put simply, the Alabama law is a kind of "greatest hits" of restrictionist measures found in Arizona and other state immigration laws.  The requirements on law enforcement obviously were inspired by Arizona's S.B. 1070.  The Alabama business licensing and E-Verify provisions are much like those of the Arizona law upheld last week by the Supreme Court in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.  For analysis of Whiting, click here.

Julia Preston of the N.Y. Times quotes Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is an advocate of laws like Alabama's and has been dubbed by Newsweek as "Deporter in Chief," as saying that "Alabama is now the new No. 1 state for immigration enforcement."


June 4, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 3, 2011

From the Bookshelves: As French As Everyone Else? A Survey of French Citizens of Maghrebin, African, and Turkish Origin by Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj

As French As Everyone Else? A Survey of French Citizens of Maghrebin, African, and Turkish Origin
by Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj.

France is often depicted as the model of assimilationist or republican integration in the international literature on immigration. However, rarely have surveys drilled down to provide individual responses from a double representative sample. In As French as Everyone Else?, Sylvain Brouard and Vincent Tiberj provide a comprehensive assessment of the state of integration in France by systematically comparing the "new French" immigrants, as well as their children and grandchildren born in France, with a sample of the French general population. The authors' survey considers a wide range of topics, including religious affiliation and religiosity, political attitudes and political efficacy, value systems (including gender roles, work ethics, and anti-Semitism), patterns of integration, multiple identities and national belongings, and affirmative action. As the authors show, despite existing differences, immigrants of Maghrebin, African, and Turkish origin share a wide scope of commonality with other French citizens.


June 3, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Law & Society "Author Meets Reader" panel on Tierra Y Libertad: Land, Liberty and Latino Housing by Steven W. Bender

As I posted earlier in the day, I am headed down to the Law & Society annual meeting in San Francisco later this week.   On Saturday at 2:30, I am participating on an "Author Meets Reader" panel on the wonderful book Tierra Y Libertad: Land, Liberty and Latino Housing by Steven W. Bender.  Other panelists include Rose Villazor (Hofstra), Ernesto Hernandez (Chapman), Tom Romero (Denver), and Marcia Zug (South Carolina).  Here are my comments.  Download Tierra y libertad2


The panel discussion of Tierra y Libertad proved to be lively, thoughtful, and offered glowing reviews of Professor Bender’s book. Professor Marcia Zug chaired the panel, with Professor Ernesto Hernandez, Professor Tom Romero, and Professor Rose Villazor all offering different insights and perspectives on the book. The readers praised the ambition, importance of the topic, and engaging character of the book. Professor Zug asked each panelist to relate a personal story to the topic of the book.

In discussing the book, I analyzed Tierra y Libertad from an immigration and Latina/o civil rights perspectives. Villazor evaluated the book through a immigration law and property law lens. Romero analyzed evaluating the book's importance as legal history as well as the importance of this kind of racial history. Hernandez lauded the book’s engaging and entertaining methodology, with history, personal narratives, and law interwoven and presented in a compelling fashion that truly gripped the reader. The author, Steve Bender, responded to the praises with graciousness while also offering his thoughts on why he approached the book in the way that he did and outlining future avenues for scholarly research.


June 2, 2011 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Inter-American Commission Orders United States to Stop Deportations to Cholera-Stricken Haiti

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a strongly-worded order yesterday directing the United States to refrain from deporting 33 men and women from the United States to Haiti. The order is in response to the controversial move of the United States to deport people with U.S. criminal records to Haiti despite the country’s continuing struggle after last year’s massive earthquake. A coalition of rights groups sent a letter (PDF) signed by nearly 3,400 individuals to President Obama and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today urging the administration to stop deportations to Haiti until conditions improve and Haiti ends its unlawful practice of jailing deportees.

The IACHR, an international tribunal of the Organization of American States, issues such “precautionary measures” only in extreme circumstances to prevent irreversible harm to the people who appear before it. The IACHR's order follows its February 4, 2011 order instructing the U.S. not to deport 5 similarly-situated men to Haiti in light of the life-threatening conditions for deportees in that country.

“How many people must die before the U.S. government stops this senseless, inhumane policy of death by deportation?” said Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.

“Thousands of Americans across the country have called upon our government to do the right thing and prevent more deaths,” said Farrin Anello, Supervising Attorney of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. “We urge the president and Secretary Napolitano to immediately suspend deportations.”

Advocates say the IACHR's actions recognize the inhumane treatment of people deported to Haiti over the past five months and the hardship suffered by their children and spouses who remain in the U.S., many of whom are U.S. citizens. Upon arrival in Haiti, deportees are routinely jailed in horrific conditions, made even more life-threatening by the cholera epidemic there. 34-year-old Wildrick T. Guerrier became ill and died in Haiti only nine days after being deported in January 2011 and others have also fallen seriously ill. On April 15 and May 11, 2011, however, the U.S. deported individuals with serious physical and mental illnesses to Haiti without ensuring their access to life-saving medicines, food, water and sanitary conditions. The U.S. government has planned another deportation flight for later this month.

The deportations continue despite the Obama administration’s recognition of the life-threatening nature of deportation to Haiti. On May 17, President Obama extended and re-designated the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which permits Haitians living in the United States who have no more than one misdemeanor conviction to remain here for eighteen months. The State Department has also advised U.S. citizens not to travel to Haiti.

“By extending Temporary Protective Status to some Haitian nationals, the U.S. government acknowledges the humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” said Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Sunita Patel. “The right to life is absolute - a criminal conviction does not absolve the U.S. from its obligation not to send someone to a country where their life is at risk.”

Cholera and widespread homelessness are two problems in Haiti which have a particular impact on deportees and which are only worsening with the arrival of the rainy season in Haiti. Just yesterday, USAID confirmed 5,300 deaths from cholera since the outbreak of the disease last October. A recent study in the medical journal Lancet estimates 800,000 future cases of cholera. This past week, large-scale evictions and massive violence against tent city residents has worsened an already-desperate situation.

Both orders were issued in response to a case filed with the IACHR by the coalition of rights groups who penned the letter sent to the Obama administration today, including the University of Miami Human Rights and Immigration Clinics, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Alternative Chance, FANM/Haitian Women of Miami and the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

For more information, visit and CCR's legal case page at


June 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Law and the Legitimation of Discrimination

The annual meeting of Law & Society is this week in San Francisco.  Tomorrow, I am on a panel on "Constructing and Dissolving Boundaries: Federalism and Distribution of Powers."  Expect lots of discussion of Arizona's S.B. 1070.  My paper is entitled "Immigration Law and the Legitimation of Discrimination." It is adapted from Kevin R. Johnson, The Racially Disparate Impacts of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 & the Failure of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, ASU Law Journal for Social Justice (2011).  Here it is.   Download Law and society 20112


The panel was lively, interesting, and downright enjoyable, not the way that I ordinarily describe a panel discussion at an academic conference. It included Nestor Davidson (University of Colorado; Fordham fall 2011), Chair and Discussant, and Annie Decker (Yeshiva), Katherine Desormeau and Michael Tan (ACLU), and Justin Steil (Urban Planning Ph.D student, Columbia).  Each offered fascinating – and deep -- insights into the legal and other complexities of state and local efforts to regulate immigration.

From an immigrant advocates’ perspective, Desormeau and Tan critically analyzed the Secure Communities program championed by the Obama administration; the program requires local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  From very different methodological approaches, Decker (Law) and Steil (Urban Planning) offered thoughtful analysis about the reasons for the local responses -- both inclusive and exclusive -- toward emerging immigrant communities.  My contribution focused on the importance of civil rights concerns of immigrants to the debate over the relative allocation of power between federal and state/local governments in immigration.

As Chair of the panel, Professor Davidson posed provocative and thoughtful questions to each of the panelists.  Last but not least, the audience participated as well with many questions and comments.


June 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Did Arizona Really Win at the Supreme Court?

My reactions to the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting (May 26, 2011):

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld Arizona's "Legal Workers Arizona Act" (LAWA) enabling the state to revoke the business licenses of employers who hire undocumented workers. The ruling on the state's version of an "employer sanction" law passed in 2007 (not to be confused with the state's broader anti-immigrant SB 1070 passed last year and also headed for the high court) may backfire big time for the state.

In March, the Arizona state senate voted down five aggressively anti-immigrant bills (including an attack on birthright citizenship for children born in Arizona). A major reason was push back from the business community. Some 60 Arizona-based CEOs (including U.S. Airways, Ernst & Young, Wells Fargo Bank, and Cox Communications) penned a letter to lawmakers, urging them to stop passing harsh anti-illegal immigrant laws. The Arizona business community has been devastated (to the tune of $200 million) by boycotts and other backlash caused by the national attention SB 1070 has garnered. That means fewer jobs and less tax revenue. This is the result of citizens and residents across the nation pushing back with their wallets against SB 1070.

The effect on the state's convention and tourism industry after SB 1070 was immediate. Corporations and event planners, troubled by Arizona's anti-immigrant image, canceled convention reservations in Phoenix -- ordinarily a popular convention site. The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association cite data on bookings showing Phoenix's ranking had dropped from the top four destinations nationwide to 23rd.

The fact that other states are mimicking Arizona's anti-immigrant strategy is foolish for them as well. Eliminating the undocumented workforce without providing an avenue for their labor to be utilized in the United States would have devastating economic consequences throughout the country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers important data. Although immigrants account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, they make up about 15 percent of the workforce. They are overrepresented among workers largely because the rest of our population is aging: Immigrants and their children have accounted for 58 percent of U.S. population growth since 1980. This probably won't change anytime soon. Low U.S. fertility rates and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers mean that immigration is likely to be the only source of growth in what we call the "prime age" workforce -- workers ages 25 to 55 -- in the decades ahead. As record numbers of retirees begin drawing Social Security checks, younger immigrant workers will be paying taxes, helping to ease the financial pressures on the system. Read more at Huffington Post.


June 2, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Rethinking Points Systems and Employer-Selected Immigration

Advanced industrialized economies are now widely using one of two competing models for selecting economic-stream immigrants: Points-based and employer-led selection.

Points-based systems, which admit immigrants who score high enough on a list of qualifications and experiences, appeal to policymakers because they are transparent, flexible, and can be adjusted to meet evolving economic needs or respond to evidence on immigrants’ integration outcomes. But since employers are not involved in selection, points systems often admit immigrants who are unable to find work at their skill level once they arrive. This undermines both integration and the long-term economic benefits of immigration.

Employer-driven systems, by contrast, allow employers to select the workers they need, subject to government regulations. Being selected by an employer is evidence that immigrants’ skills are needed and thus guarantees that they will have a job when they arrive. However, it also raises concerns that employers may manipulate the system in order to access cheaper labor, or that workers will be too dependent on their employers and hence vulnerable to exploitation.

In Rethinking Points Systems and Employer-Selected Immigration (Download Rethinkingpointssystem[1]), Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios Papademetriou and Policy Analyst Madeleine Sumption examine hybrid selection systems, which combine the best ideas from both points-based and employer-driven models. The result, the authors find, are selection systems that have much of the flexibility of points systems while also prioritizing employer demand. As a result, some of the most successful immigrant-selection models rely on temporary-to-permanent visa pathways that admit workers initially on temporary work permits but provide a clear and predictable path to permanent residence to those with good integration prospects.


June 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post: Colleen Bradford Krantz on her book “Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation”


The letter was inside the folder the sheriff was sorting.

"Guess you can see this,” he said.

I was in Denison, Iowa, going through Crawford County Sheriff’s Office records as I researched my book, “Train to Nowhere; Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation.” The book and companion documentary examine the 2002 deaths of eleven undocumented immigrants, whose bodies were found in Denison when a grain worker opened a locked railcar.

I read the note as then-Sheriff Tom Hogan waited for my reaction. It was a hand-written letter from a woman in another state. Hogan said it had arrived within days of the national news reporting on the discovery of the bodies in Denison. The letter said:

“This is [a] wonderful way to solve the illegal alien problem. Let’s hope we find hundreds more, no, make that thousands more, freight cars full of dead spics. Maybe then these worthless criminals will stay in Mexico where they belong.”

I knew that emotions could run high on either side of the immigration issue, but this was hard for me to believe. Here was someone who had heard a summary of how these eleven had died inside a sweltering railcar that had been locked from the outside, and presumably felt nothing – not even pity – for the group and what they endured.

I drove away from Denison that day feeling like my instincts had been right: if I was going to tell a story that related even distantly to immigration, it had to be as neutral as I could manage. I was going to set aside the advice I had heard from some I encountered in the book and film world (no one I ended up working with) that I had to have a political agenda if I was going to tell this story. I was new to this setting, having left behind the world of newspaper reporting, and I had listened, wondering if I could really be so far off with my plans to tell this story journalistically.

I really don’t have a political agenda, I would tell them. After all, if I had the answers to the immigration issue, I’d run for Congress. Wasn’t it acceptable anymore to simply tell a compelling story in as even-handed a manner as possible and let the readers walk away to draw their own conclusions?

The letter affirmed that this issue is emotional enough (though I don’t think such views are at all representative of most people who worry about illegal immigration). I was convinced it was better to avoid the animosity that can come from both sides of the debate. Perhaps that was my “agenda” – to get Americans to recognize our blind spots in the debate. I wanted those who automatically judged anyone in a Border Patrol uniform as being unfeeling and cruel to get to know Alonzo, the retired immigration agent who led the death investigation team. And I wanted those who viewed all undocumented immigrants as lawbreakers with a sense of entitlement to get to know Byron, a Guatemalan teen who only wanted the pride of earning his own money instead of taking money from his older siblings.

Monte Reel, an author and former South American correspondent for the Washington Post, shared the following comments about the “Train to Nowhere” story, which gave me hope that I had succeeded in my attempt to honestly share viewpoints from both “sides.”

“The issue of illegal immigration is so complex that anyone who declares himself to be unequivocally on one side or another probably isn’t that informed. …If someone [approaches] this with pre-formed opinions about the issue, this [story] probably won’t change their minds. But I don’t think that’s the point,” Reel wrote. “I think it will get them to acknowledge the complexities and to recognize immigration as a human – and not theoretical – issue. That, to me, seems to be the point, and I think it succeeds incredibly well.”

Colleen Bradford Krantz’s book, “Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation,” is being released this month. This is Day 3 of her week-long “blog tour.” Join her next at  The book can be purchased at or on Amazon. Learn more at or follow Colleen on Twitter @bradfordkrantz


June 2, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: "Searching for the Key in the Wrong Place: Why 'Common Sense' Credibility Rules Consistently Harm Refugees" by JAMES PARRY EYSTER

"Searching for the Key in the Wrong Place: Why 'Common Sense' Credibility Rules Consistently Harm Refugees" Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2011 JAMES PARRY EYSTER, Ave Maria School of Law.  ABSTRACT:  This article examines serious flaws in the asylum process, not just in the United States, but in other developed countries as well. Notwithstanding an affirmative obligation under international treaty to not return a refugee to his country of origin, legislatures in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other receiving nations have, since the terror attacks of 9-11, drafted laws that place an irrationally high burden on the asylum applicant to prove the credibility of his testimony. This primacy of credibility serves as a threshold issue: failing to establish credibility, the claimant has little chance that other evidence will be considered. Despite a widespread belief in the intuitive ability of the ordinary person to judge a witness’s reliability based on the consistency, completeness, and coherency of testimony, numerous psychological investigations have established that memory is, by its nature, plastic, inconsistent and incomplete. Memories are particularly unreliable for victims of trauma. Furthermore, studies conclusively show that people, regardless of special training, cannot distinguish between lies and the truth at a rate not much higher than pure chance would produce. While jurisprudence permits a certain degree of error in truth determination in exchange for expeditious resolution of controversies, the irrationally high standard of proof for refugees’ credibility currently results in an unacceptable rate of wrongful denials, condemning those who fled harm to forced repatriation to their persecutors. And, because credibility determinations are considered findings of fact, they are exempt from appellate review, absent “clear error.” After arguing that an asylum seeker should be compared to an alleged crime victim, rather than an alleged criminal, five solutions are suggested to lessen the hardships currently caused by the primacy of irrational credibility determinations.

Blogger's Note:  Credibility determinations generally are the make-it-or-break-it of an asylum claim.  Nonetheless, there has been precious little academic scrutiny of how immigrtaion courts make credibility determinations in asylum cases.


June 2, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2011 Honoree: Michael J. Ortiz - LexisNexis Matthew Bender Daniel Levy Memorial Award

FROM BENDER'S IMMIGRATION BULLETIN:  2011 Honoree -- Michael J. Ortiz has been honored with the LexisNexis Matthew Bender Daniel Levy Memorial Award.

Michael J. Ortiz, Directing Attorney, Immigration Unit, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), supervises and handles matters in areas of naturalization law, and supervises staff and directly assists clients in cases arising under VAWA, asylees and refugees and victims of human trafficking and torture. Members of LAFLA’s Immigration Unit have worked alongside Mr. Ortiz on behalf of low-income immigrants on various projects: from drafting comments to published USCIS Memoranda that will impact portions of the immigrant community at large, and LAFLA clients in particular, to naturalization workshops serving anywhere from a handful to hundreds of people; from receiving technical assistance from him on writing motions and appeals to co-writing them. His commitment and focus never wavers. This quiet, consistent commitment to low-income immigrants and their struggles is inspiring to others and has changed the lives of many in Los Angeles and beyond.

Award Presentation Reception AILA Annual Meeting Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 8:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. America’s Cup, B-D, Fourth Level, Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego Refreshments Served

A member of the Editorial Board of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, Daniel Levy died at the age of 48on September 14, 2001, in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Levy was a prolific author, litigator, and scholar, and was widely known and loved by many in the immigration bar. With this annual award Matthew Bender® seeks to honor an individual who emulates the values that informed Mr. Levy’s life and work:

- enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of immigrant clients;

- deep scholarship in immigration law; and

- an expansive vision of justice.


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Values Added: Immigration and the American Way

A video on features Don Kerwin of the Migration Policy Institute and Jerry Kammer of thr Center for Immigration Studies, offers two very different views of immigration.


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Post-9/11 Registration Effort Ends, but Not Its Effects

Sam Dolnick of the New York Times writes of the continuing impacts of the U.S. government's "special registration" program for Arab and Muslim noncitizens.  The impacts linger despite the fact that the program was discontinued a little over a month ago, and despite the fact that the

"[t]he registration program uncovered little intelligence — 11 of the more than 85,000 men who came forward in the first year were found to have ties to terrorism — but it caught thousands of people who had been living in the country illegally, leading to a significant wave of deportations."


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Deportation in the Time of Cholera: DHS's Mixed Response to Haiti's Earthquake

Today, the Immigration Policy Center released Deportation in the Time of Cholera: DHS's Mixed Response to Haiti's Earthquake by Royce Bernstein Murray, Esq.

Days after the tragedy of the January 12, 2010, earthquake, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano swiftly exercised her discretion to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This enabled tens of thousands of Haitians already in the U.S. to apply for work permits and remain in the country without fear of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suspended removals to Haiti - including more than 1,000 Haitian orphans who were paroled into the U.S. for adoption by American parents.

At the end of 2010, however, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hit a fork in the road. While gearing up for the final push before the mid-January 2011 TPS registration deadline – historically the time when the largest number of individuals register – ICE informally announced that it was resuming deportations to Haiti in December and anticipated deporting approximately 700 Haitians by year’s end. Over 300 Haitians were quickly rounded up, transported to remote detention centers in Louisiana far from their attorneys and family members, and prepared for removal. Despite a raging cholera epidemic (especially in the detention centers where Haitian deportees are routinely held), the first planeload of 27 Haitians was sent back on January 15, 2011. Ten days later, Wildrick Guerrier - a lawful permanent resident who had lived in the U.S. for 17 years - died of cholera-like symptoms in a Haitian jail cell. ICE deported a second group of 19 Haitians on April 15.

While the U.S. doesn’t typically suspend all removals to a TPS-designated country for more than a brief period, doesn’t Haiti’s extensive earthquake damage and recent cholera outbreak arguably make it an exception to the rule? What more can be done and what alternatives are there to deportation in the time of cholera?


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

California 5th Grader Wins National Immigration Essay Contest

The American Immigration Council has announced the winner of its 14th Annual “Celebrate America” Creative Writing Contest. Maya Young Wong of Altadena, California, won for her poem entitled “My Grandfather Ben.” Maya’s entry was chosen out of more than 6,500 entries from fifth graders across America. As the grand prize winner, Maya will attend the American Immigration Council’s annual benefit in San Diego, California where she will read her winning entry.

Maya’s poem describes the life of her grandfather coming from his Guangzhou village in China to America, his “Gold Mountain.” In less than 500 words Maya, a student at Castelar Elementary School in Los Angeles, was able to tell the saga of her grandfather’s journey to the United States, working in a laundry business, becoming a soldier and getting married. 

From China sailed my Grandfather Ben.
He came to America when he was four plus ten.
His Guangzhou village was small and poor
And he helped his mother with farming chores.
Every morning he gathered bits of firewood
And drew water from the well as much as he could.
From morning to night he slaved like an ox.
But it was never enough to fill the rice box.
So his parents said, "You'd better leave home
And go to America where you can roam".
Until you find a great place of your own.
America, Gold Mountain, is the place to go
Big and wide, and high and low.

To read the poem in its entirety click here.

 Maya never knew her grandfather who died before she was born. But, she heard of his adventures from her grandmother who Maya describes as a “super, super, amazing storyteller.”  Maya admits it was hard choosing between the stories of her grandfather and grandmother but ultimately she thought her grandfather’s tale should be told “because he needed to be recognized for all the great things he did in his life.”

Maya’s teacher, Ms. Dianne Manke, has been teaching at Castelar Elmentary School in the heart of Los Angeles’ Chinatown for 40 years. According to Maya, “Ms. Castelar has been teaching us how to write poetry since September and will help us put together poetry books of our writings for graduation.”

The top entries from each participating chapter of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Assocation were reviewed by a panel of teachers, immigration attorneys and authors who narrowed it down to a top five. The top five were ranked by celebrity judges including Olympic Gold Medalist in wrestling, Henry Cejudo; the President of the America Federation for Teachers, Randi Weingarten; Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Gerda Weissman Klein; and Senator Dan Inouye. The winning entry will be read into the Congressional Record and the top five winners will receive a flag flown over the Capitol in their honor.



June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Asian Immigrants in the United States

The United States has a long history of immigration from Asia and, although it isoften lost in teh cantankerous debate over immigration, many Asians continue to immigrate and are affected by immigration enforcement (and the failure of comprehensive immigration reform).  

Asian Immigrants in the United States by Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute, provides a wealth of information.  As of 2009, there were more than 10.6 million Asian immigrants in the United States. Immigration from Asia has increased considerably since the 1965 US Immigration and Nationality Act, which removed national-origin quotas that favored European immigration. In 1960, the Asian born accounted for just 5 percent of the foreign-born population in the United States, but by 2009, their share increased more than five-fold to account for nearly 28 percent of immigrants.

Today, the Asian born are the country's second-largest immigrant population by world region of birth, behind those from Latin America. The top three countries of origin of Asian immigrants are the Philippines, India, and China, and California, New York, and Texas are home to nearly half of all Asian immigrants in the country.

Among other things, Asian immigrants are more likely than other immigrants overall to become naturalized US citizens. Last year, 251,598 Asian-born immigrants attained citizenship through naturalization. 


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Policy on the Edge: Failures of Border Security and New Directions for Border Control

The Center for International Policy's TransBorder Project is pleased to share its new report "Policy on the Edge: Failures of Border Security and New Directions for Border Control." This new International Policy Report, written by Tom Barry, discusses the unsettled state of America's post-9/11 border security policy.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 set off a multibillion-dollar border security bandwagon. Much like the way the Bush administration launched the “global war against terrorism” and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a burst of misguided patriotism, the administration also thrust us into a new era of homeland security and border security with little reflection about costs and consequences.

Despite massive expenditures and the new commitment to “border security,” our border policy remains unfocused and buffeted by political forces. In the absence of a sharp strategic focus, the management of the U.S.-Mexico border continues to be the victim of the problems and pressures created by our failed immigration and drug policies.

Nearly ten years after we rushed into the new commitment to “secure the border,” author Tom Barry writes it’s time to review and evaluate our new border policy, and to change course. The report recommends a new policy framework that charts the way forward through regulatory solutions—for immigration, drugs, gun sales, border management—that are more pragmatic, effective and cost-efficient than current policies. The report recommends discarding the current border security framework for border policy and advocates:

• Cost-benefit evaluation of the border security buildup;

• Moratorium on new border security funding;

• Address the failed drug prohibition, gun rights and immigration policies that drive illegal border crossings;

• Terminate the new rash of federal-local border security programs; and

• Set forth a new vision of pragmatic immigration reform that is not conditioned on the ambiguous notion of border security.

Tom Barry, the author of this timely policy report, directs CIP’s TransBorder Project, which provides expert analysis on U.S.-Mexico border issues, immigration policy, and homeland security policy. Barry is the author of Border Wars, forthcoming from MIT Press in September.


June 1, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Breaking News: Cuomo to Suspend NY Participation in S-Comm

From NY1 News:

Governor Andrew Cuomo will at least temporarily pull New York out of the federal Secure Communities program pending a review of the controversial policy, NY1 learned Tuesday.

Cuomo's announcement is expected to come this week.

The governor has been under pressure by some elected officials and civil libertarians to suspend participation in the program, which federal officials say is designed to improve public safety by identifying undocumented immigrants who may then face deportation.

Critics say the program oversteps boundaries, unfairly targets innocent people and does not achieve its goals. Click here for a related video.


June 1, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Right to Leave Any Country by Dimitry Kochenov

The Right to Leave Any Country by Dimitry Kochenov University of Groningen - Faculty of Law in INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION LAW, Sir Richard Plender, ed., Martinus Nijhoff, 2012.

Abstract: The paper analyses the current state of the right to leave any country in International Law. Having provided a brief outline of the key instruments of International Law both at the general and at the regional levels responsible for the formal shaping of the right (I.) the analysis moves on to a brief outline of the history of the right predating the entry into force of the documents described in the first section (II.) The focus then shifts to the assessment of the key challenges emerging in the context of the practical operation of the right. The role played by passports in making the right under scrutiny usable in practice is addressed (III.) The piece then proceeds to provide a brief assessment of the essential components of the possible limitations of this right (IV.) and concludes with a brief outline of the main findings, essentially coming to ask the question whether the right to leave any country including your own is de facto guaranteed in International Law, coming to a mildly negative conclusion.


June 1, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)