June 18, 2011
Notes from Arizona: Who's Holding the Keys? Preemption Issues and Immigration Policy: The Courts, the States and the United States
On Thursday, I participated in a panel discussion with Professor Jack Chin (Arizona) on preemption and immigration policy at the State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention, which this year was held in Tucson. Professor Chin focused on the infirmities with Arizona's S.B. 1070 while my comments looked at the impact of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting on the Ninth Circuit's decision in United States v. Arizona invalidating four critical immigration provisions of S.B. 1070. As I have said on other occasions, I think for a variety of reasons that one should not read too much into the Whiting decision with respect to its impact on the Ninth Circuit's ruling in the S.B. 1070 case.
The panel of two professors was followed by a panel of attorneys who litigated Whiting, including Eric Shumsky of Sidley Austin LLP, which represented the Chamber of Commerce, and Mary O'Grady, former Solicitor General, Arizona Attorney General's Office.
As one might expect given that the panel focused on Arizona's immigration laws in the state of Arizona at the Arizona State Bar's annual convention, there was a good-sized audience in attendance. Questions were thoughtful and respectful, which should not be surprising to me but might be to some who have read about the heated debate over immigration in Arizona. Among those in attendance was Justice Scott Bales of the Arizona Supreme Court; Justice Bales delivered a memorable Edward Barrett Lecture on Constitutional Law at UC Davis this past spring.
Will DHS Changes to Secure Communities be Enough?
As regular readers of ImmigrationProf know, the Department of Homeland Securitiy's Secure Communities program has sparked a firestorm of controversy. Elise Foley on Huffington Post discusses some of the changes to the program announced by DHS on Friday, which include the emphasis on prosecutorial discretion in a new memo by ICE Director John Morton. The changes have not ended calls (and here) to end the program.
Extension of National Guard Deployment on Border Cannot be Justified
News outlets have reported that the Obama Administration will extend the mission of 1,200 National Guard troops that were deployed on the southwest border last summer. The administration has extended the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops along the Southwest border for an additional three months. The troops sent to assist the Border Patrol last August were scheduled to withdraw at the end of June, but have been ordered to remain in place until Sept. 30.
"We are disappointed that the Administration has acquiesced to the shrill voices who have repeatedly called for more and more enforcement resources at the border, regardless of cost or need. In extending the National Guard mission on the border, the Administration appears to be undermining its own efforts to underline the facts showing that the border is safer and more secure, and that we now need to focus on fixing our broken immigration system.
As the President himself said in a recent speech in El Paso, Texas, there are opponents of immigration reform who will never be satisfied with the level of immigration enforcement in place. They will never be satisfied with the number of Border Patrol on the border. They will never be satisfied with the length and height of the border fence. No matter how safe our border communities have become, the opponents of reform will continue to move the goal posts.
The President knows that we cannot enforce our way to a functioning immigration system. Fixing our dysfunctional immigration system means, in addition to enforcement, reforming our outdated admission system to facilitate legal immigration and finding a realistic way for the millions of undocumented immigrants now living and working in our country to gain legal status by registering with the government, getting a criminal background check, learning English, and paying taxes.
In a recent appearance before Congress, Deputy Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello, referring to the new Border Patrol agents hired since last summer, said “we feel we are ready” to replace the National Guard soldiers that were temporarily deployed. To keep those 1,200 troops on the border another three months, as the Administration is contemplating, will cost taxpayers more than $25 million dollars. This expense comes in addition to the staggering costs of maintaining the largest-ever Border Patrol force along the U.S.-Mexico Border, plus all the technology and support from other agencies deployed at our borders. With our enormous budget deficit and a protracted fight over raising the debt ceiling, this expense cannot be justified.
It’s time the President set a goal post of his own, and stop acquiescing to a minority of lawmakers who will continue to find excuses to avoid doing the hard work of fixing our broken immigration system."
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.
New Morton Memo on Prosecutorial Discretion
Earlier this week, Bill Hing blogged about how the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton said at the AILA annual conference Thursday that he wanted to give field attorneys more latitude to decide which immigrants to target for deportation.
Here is a June 17, 2011 memo from Morton on on "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities ofthe Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens." The memo emphasizies that "ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should always consider prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis. The decisions should be based on the totality of the circumstances, with the goal of conforming to ICE's enforcement priorities."
Below are certain classes of individuals that, according to the Morton memo, warrant particular care.
"The following positive factors should prompt particular care and consideration:
• veterans and members ofthe U.S. armed forces;
• long-time lawful permanent residents;
•. minors and elderly individuals;
• individuals present in the United States since childhood;
• pregnant or nursing women;
• victims ofdomestic violence; trafficking, or other serious crimes;
• individuals who suffer from a serious mental or physical disability; and
• individuals with serious health conditions."
The memo further states that, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, "the following negative factors should also prompt particular care and consideration by ICE officers, agents, and attorneys:
• individuals who pose a clear risk to national security;
• serious felons, repeat offenders, or individuals with a lengthy criminal record of any kind;
• known gang members or other individuals who pose a clear danger to public safety; and
• individuals with an egregious record ofimmigration violations, including those with a record ofillegal re-entry and those who have engaged in immigration fraud."
Importantly, the memo states that, "[w]hile ICE may exercise prosecutorial discretion at any stage of an enforcement proceeding, it is generally preferable to exercise such discretion as early in the case or proceeding as possible in order to preserve government resources that would otherwise be expended in pursuing the enforcement proceeding."
June 17, 2011
The Constitutional Rights of Illegal Aliens Under the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments
In "The Constitutional Rights of Illegal Aliens Under the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments" on the Volokh Conspiracy, UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh looks at the recent decision in United States v. Portillo-Munoz, in which a divided Fifth Circuit panel holds that undocumented immigarnts do not have Second Amendment rights because they are not part of “the people,” and suggests that they may lack Fourth Amendment rights as well.
A few years ago, there was a controversy surrounding a similar Fourth Amendment ruling by then-Judge Paul Cassell, who now teaches at Utah College of Law.
10th Annual Human Rights on the Hill: A Decade of Direct Action & Diplomacy
Initiating a Peoples' Revolution for Human Rights in America and Abroad; Implementing International Human Rights Law in Our Domestic & Foreign Policy
June 27 - July 2, 2011 Daily 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington, DC 20008
Talks & Topics Include:
State of Four Freedoms in the World
Realizing the Recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review
Economic, Social & Cultural Rights in America: 70th Anniversary of Roosevelt's Vision
US Responsibilities to UN Treaty Bodies -- CERD, CAT & ICCPR
US Actions to Ratify International HR Conventions -- Disabilities, CRC and CEDAW
Peace is a Human Right
Climate Legislation in the U.S. Congress & Upcoming COP 17 in Durban
Organizations that have presented in the past include the U.S. Agency for International Development, United Nations Information Center, International Human and Peoples' Rights Law Program, International Committee of the Red Cross, U.S. Department of State, Alliance for Peacebuilding , The World Bank, Peace Action, Amnesty International, U.S. International Council on Disabilities, and United for Equality.
Special Agenda Item: National Workshop on the Universal Periodic Review and the US: Implementing the Recommendations to Realize Human Rights At Home
7th Annual Fundamental Freedoms & Human Rights Film Festival featuring documentaries at noon every day
Sponsors: Four Freedoms Forum, UDC International Human & Peoples' Rights Program, Hawaii Institute for Human Rights, Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation and US Human Rights Network.
Morton: ICE Attorneys Should Have More Prosecutorial Discretion
From the Sacramento Bee:
Agency Director John Morton said he was seriously considering an order that would give ICE lawyers more independence and more discretion "not to assert the full scope of the agency's authority in each and every case." It would extend to the Customs and Border Protection agency, which arrests hundreds of thousands of people each year along the U.S.-Mexico border.
He didn't elaborate and declined to answer questions after his remarks to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, leaving some uncertainty about how much impact his edict would have on the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Still, his comments drew strong applause from the attorneys, who have complained that government lawyers are often straightjacketed in deciding which cases to pursue in immigration court. Read more . . .
Seton Hall International Human Rights/Rule of Law Project Wins Big in Third Circuit!
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down an opinion earlier this week, written by Judge Dolores Sloviter and joined by Circuit Judges Greenway and Stapleton, on the national security bar to withholding of removal in Yusupov v. Holder (Download Samadov Third Circuit Opinion.06.16.11). The case was litigated by Seton Hall International Human Rights/Rule of Law Project students under the supervision of Baher Azmy and Anji Malhotra (and supported by an amicus brief submitted by immigration law scholars).
The Third Circuit reversed the BIA's finding, which was based in part on computer evidence of al Jazeera and other videos and a warrant from the Uzbek government, that two Uzbek nationals were not entitled to withholding under 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(B)(iv), which bars relief if there "are reasonable grounds to believe that the alien is a danger to the security of the United States." The Court found insufficient evidence to support the BIA's determination because the government failed to articulate how the petitioners were a threat or provide evidence of petitioners' actions, conduct or associations, and instead relied upon impermissible speculation and guilt by association evidence.
The Third Circuit states on page 4, note 2:
"This court expresses its gratitude to Amici Curiae – Columbia Law School‘s Human Rights Institute; the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund et. al. (―AALDEF‖) and Immigration Law Scholars – for their submissions."
GOP Candidates Debate Immigration?
On June 13, the (announced) Republican presidential candidates debated in New Hampshire on CNN. The moderatopr was John King, CNN anchor. They included:
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS
FORMER GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA
HERMAN CAIN, GODFATHER PIZZA CEO
Here is a portion of the CNN transcript of the debate touching on immigration:
FAHEY: Yes, thanks, John. I'm here with Lydia Cumbee. She lives in Franconia, and she is a naturalized citizen who moved to New Hampshire several years ago from Minnesota, of all places. And she's got a question about immigration.
QUESTION: As a naturalized American citizen who came here legally, I would like to know how you, as America -- as president, plan to prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, educational, or welfare systems?
KING: Senator Santorum, why don't you lead off on that one?
SANTORUM: Well, I'm the son of a legal immigrant in this country and -- and believe in legal immigration. That is a great wellspring of -- of strength for our country.
But we cannot continue to provide -- the federal government should not require states to provide government services. And I have consistently voted against that and believe that we are, unfortunately -- my grandfather came to this country -- I announced in Somerset County. He didn't come here because he was guaranteed a government benefit. He came here because he wanted freedom.
And I think most people who come to this country -- certainly all people who come here legally -- want it because they wanted the opportunities of this country. And that's what we should be offering. We should not be offering to people -- particularly those who broke the law to come here or overstayed their visa -- we should not be offering government benefits.
KING: And so, Dr. Paul, to you on this one, the question comes up, though, once they're in the country illegally, you have -- compassion sometimes bumps up against enforcing the law and state budget crises. A 5-year-old child of an illegal immigrant walks into an emergency room. Does the child get care?
PAUL: Well, first off, we shouldn't have the mandates. We bankrupted the hospitals and the schools in Texas and other states. We shouldn't give them easy citizenship.
We should think about protecting our borders, rather than the borders between Iraq and Afghanistan. That doesn't make any sense to me.
But on -- on coming in, you know, there was a time when government wasn't -- we didn't depend on government for everything. There was a time when the Catholic Church actually looked after...
KING: But should they get care? Should they get care? Should taxpayers have to pay for that care?
PAUL: No, they should not be forced to, but we wouldn't -- we shouldn't be penalizing the Catholic Church, because they're trying to fulfill a role. And some of the anti-immigrants want to come down hard on the Catholic Church, and that is wrong.
If we believed in our free society -- as a matter of fact, this whole immigration problem is related to the economy. People aren't coming over as much now because it's weak. When we had a healthy economy, some of our people didn't work (ph) and people flowed over here getting jobs. So there is an economic issue here, as well.
But, no, if you have an understanding and -- and you want to believe in freedom, freedom has solved these kind of problems before. You don't have to say, oh, you're not going to have care or there won't be any care and everybody is going to starve to death and -- and die on the streets without medical care. That's the implication of the question. That's just not true, and you shouldn't accept it.
KING: Mr. Cain, another issue that's come up in recent years...
... as this debate has bubbled up is the whole question of birthright citizenship. If there are two illegal immigrants, two adults who came into this country illegally, and they have a child, should that child be considered a citizen of the United States?
CAIN: I don't believe so. But let's -- let's look at solving the real problem, OK? Immigration is full of problems, not one. This is why we keep kicking the can down the road. Secure the borders. Get serious about securing our borders.
Number two, enforce the laws that are already there.
Number three, promote the path to citizenship, like this lady did, by getting -- cleaning up the bureaucracy.
And here's how we deal with the illegals that are already here. Empower the states to do what the federal government hasn't done, won't do, and can't do. Then we won't be getting into the problem that was raised.
We are a compassionate nation. Of course they're going to get care. But let's fix the problem.
KING: Well, to empower the states, Mr. Cain says, Governor Pawlenty, do you support, then -- Arizona has its version, parts of it -- parts of it, employee enforcement law, have been upheld. The big SB 1070 making its way to the Supreme Court. Alabama just has a new bill. Would you want to be president of the United States in which each state can decide what it does? Or would you make the point, look, this is a federal purview, period?
PAWLENTY: I'm a strong supporter of state rights, but if the federal government won't do its job -- in this case, protecting and securing our border -- then let the states do it. And they will. And...
... when President Bush asked governors to volunteer their National Guard to go to the border to help reinforce, through Operation Jump Start, our border, I was one of the few governors who did it. I sent Minnesota National Guard there to reinforce the border, and it works. And that's what we need to do.
And, by the way, this issue of birthright citizenship again brings up the importance of appointing conservative justices. That result is because a U.S. Supreme Court determined that that right exists, notwithstanding language in the Constitution. I'm the only one up here -- I believe I'm the only one up here -- who's appointed solidly, reliably conservative appointees to the -- to the court.
KING: I want to do one more on this issue. President Bush and Senator McCain spent a lot of time on this, Mr. Speaker. I want your view. There are an estimated maybe 20 million illegal immigrants in this country. People have different numbers. If you were going to round them all up -- Congressman Tom Tancredo on this stage four years ago would have said round them up and kick them up, they broke the law, they shouldn't be here. I don't know where the money would come from in this environment.
So I want you sense. Do you -- is that what the states should be doing, the federal government should be spending money and resources on? Or -- or like President Bush and like Senator McCain, at least in the McCain-Kennedy days, should we have some path to status for those who are willing to step up and admit where they are and come out of the shadows?
GINGRICH: One of the reasons this country is in so much trouble is that we are determined among our political elites to draw up catastrophic alternatives. You either have to ship 20 people out of America or legalize all of them.
That's nonsense. There's not -- we're never going to pass a comprehensive bill. Obama proved that in the last two years. He couldn't get a comprehensive bill through with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and he didn't even try, because he knew he couldn't do it.
You break this down. Herman Cain's essentially right, you break it down. First of all, you control the border. We can ask the National Guard to go to Iraq. We ask the National Guard to go to Kuwait. We ask the National Guard to go to Afghanistan. Somehow we would have done more for American security if we had had the National Guard on the border.
But if you don't want to use the National Guard, I'm...
Just one last example. If you don't want to use the National Guard, take -- take half of the current Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy in Washington, transplant it to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. You'll have more than enough people to control the border.
KING: All right. Let's...
GINGRICH: No, but let me say this, John. No serious citizen who's concerned about solving this problem should get trapped into a yes/no answer in which you're either for totally selling out protecting America or you're for totally kicking out 20 million people in a heartless way. There are -- there are humane, practical steps to solve this problem, if we can get the politicians and the news media to just deal with it honestly.”
Ron Paul has it right about the economy driving (or not) immigration. And Newt intersperses some right (there are "human, practical" solutions) and wrong (send half of DHS to Texas). But the rush to reduce public benefits, kill birthright citizenship, and militarize the border, sounds ominous indeed.
Big Apple Mayor on Immigration
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a champion of immigration and immigrants, gave a speech yesterday at a Council on Foreign Relations symposium on "The Future of U.S Immigration Policy" hosted by Ted Alden in Washington D.C. He called for reforms aimed at using immigration to spur job creation and economic revival. There were also other panels featuring, among others, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of USCIS, Vivek Wadhwa, Alfonso Aguilar and Angela Kelley. A video link to the speech and the panel sessions is here.
THE “NEW AMERICAN” FORTUNE 500
A new report out this month from the bipartisan business and political group Renew Our Economy concludes that immigrants help drive the largest U.S. companies and the American economy. Download New-american-fortune-500-june-2011
Key findings include:
"More than 40 percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Even though immigrants have made up only 10.5 percent of the American population on average since 1850, there are 90 immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 18 percent of the list. When you include the additional 114 companies founded by the children of immigrants, the share of the Fortune 500 list grows to over 40 percent.
The newest Fortune 500 companies are more likely to have an immigrant founder. Just shy of 20 percent of the newest Fortune 500 companies — those founded over the 25-year period between 1985 and 2010 — have an immigrant founder.
Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants employ more than 10 million people worldwide. Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies alone employ more than 3.6 million people, a figure equivalent to the entire population of Connecticut.
The revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants is greater than the GDP of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China and Japan. The Fortune 500 companies that boast immigrant or children-of-immigrant founders have combined revenues of $4.2 trillion. $1.7 trillion of that amount comes just from the companies founded by immigrants.
Seven of the 10 most valuable brands in the world come from American companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Many of America’s greatest brands — Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, and McDonald’s, to name just a few — owe their origin to a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.
Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies drive a wide range of industry sectors across the American economy. Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants are not confined to a small subset of industries or fields. Instead, they range across aerospace, defense, Internet, consumer products, specialty retail, railroads, insurance, electronics, hospitality, natural resources, finance, and many other sectors.
The report shows how America’s economy has always profited from the steady influx of foreign-born talent. But in the new 21st century global economy, we must do more to welcome the next generation of entrepreneurs, as opportunities improve around the world and competing countries roll out the red carpet. For years, America has loomed largest in the minds of the most enterprising individuals around the world. But as the global marketplace evolves, we cannot count on remaining their top choice. Budding entrepreneurs from new powerhouses like China and India see ever-better business environments back home. Countries like the U.K., Canada, and Australia are taking bold steps to draw ambitious, talented people to their shores. Meanwhile, the American immigration system continues to raise barriers to these individuals, driving away the bright foreign students who attend our universities and keeping out the aspiring businesspeople who would otherwise come here.
First and foremost, we must pursue smart immigration policies that better encourage the brightest and most entrepreneurial to build their businesses and create jobs in the U.S. We must provide incentives and opportunities for foreign students to stay after graduating from our universities with advanced degrees, especially in critical fields like science and technology. We must make it easier for American businesses to hire and keep the highly skilled workers they need to thrive. And we must create a visa specifically for the aspiring entrepreneurs who will found the Fortune 500 companies of tomorrow, rather than driving them and their investors elsewhere to create the jobs we need here."
June 16, 2011
Father's Day and Angel Island Immigration Station
From the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation:
Greeting to you as we head into a Father's Day weekend. For many Angel Island descendants, especially for those of you who are Chinese Americans, Father's Day reminds us of what enigmatic figures our fathers could be. Many of the Chinese men and boys who immigrated through Angel Island we were in actuality illegal immigrants, i.e. they were "paper sons," who were allowed to enter the U.S. based on a lie. Thus, many of them said little about their actual history, choosing instead to stick to a script memorialized in coaching books and seared into their consciousness. Having a buried past did not, however, prevent them from being loving albeit strict parental figures.
Judge Delbert Gee memorializes his father, Stanley Gee, in a lovely tribute posted to the Immigrant Voices section of www.aiisf.org. He reminds us to cherish the memories of our loved ones who endured many hardships in order to pave a smoother path for future generations.
Please join us on Saturday, July 23 at the Immigration Station for the dedication of the Immigrant Heritage Wall. It is a wonderful and lasting tribute to all immigrants.
Review of Law's Detour
Here is a somewhat skeptical review of review of Peter Margulies's book LAW’S DETOUR: JUSTICE DISPLACED IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION by David S. Mann, Professor Emeritus, College of Charleston.
Immigration Article of the Day: "On Making Persons: Legal Constructions of Personhood and Their Nexus with Human Trafficking" by KAREN E. BRAVO
"On Making Persons: Legal Constructions of Personhood and Their Nexus with Human Trafficking" North Illinois University Law Review, 2011 KAREN E. BRAVO, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis. ABSTRACT: This article identifies and analyzes the role of law in constructing personhood and the impact of such a construction on human trafficking. Who is a “person? Are all human beings “persons?” Are children, legal immigrants, undocumented migrants, ex-convicts, and/or individuals who have been trafficked “persons” or “quasi-persons” under contemporary law? The concept and term “person” is ubiquitous in the legal literature – in statutes, constitutions, and treaties. It is deployed and manipulated by courts and legislatures to give and withhold rights to groups, entities, and individuals within societies. However, where legal recognition and protection of personhood is withheld, it creates vulnerability and increases opportunities for exploitation, including human trafficking.
June 15, 2011
Crackdown on Fraudulent Immigration Lawyers
Julia Preston writes for the NY Times:
Immigration officials are teaming up with federal and state prosecutors, the Federal Trade Commission, lawyers’ groups and immigrant advocate organizations in a new nationwide effort to combat an epidemic of schemes by people posing as immigration lawyers.
The campaign, which will begin in Washington on Thursday, is an effort by the Obama administration to step up one form of assistance to immigrant communities, which have intensified their criticism of President Obama as they have faced a record pace of deportations in the last two years. . . .
The initiative is led by Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency whose director, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, is a former federal prosecutor in California. In that position, Mr. Mayorkas said in an interview, he had brought a number of cases against people illegally practicing immigration law. He said it was “heartbreaking” to learn, when he came to the agency in Washington, that the problem had not abated.
Since January of last year, the immigration agency has tested the program in pilots in New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio and four other cities.
In New York, Wilmer Rivera Melendez, a Puerto Rican with a criminal record including a conviction for bigamy, coaxed as much $75,000 each from 14 immigrants from Guyana, claiming he was an immigration lawyer with two decades’ experience. Most of the immigrants were in deportation proceedings by the time the Manhattan District Attorney's office stopped him. Mr. Rivera was sentenced in January to two years in jail. . . .
Officials hope the campaign will ease the overload in the federal appeals courts, which hear appeals from immigration courts. Judge Harry Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in California, said that court had seen a surge in immigration cases, with 37,990 cases in the last eight years.
“So many of these people were represented so poorly by incompetent or disbarred lawyers, or they were snared in the clutches of notarios,” Judge Pregerson said in an interview. “It’s a huge scam that has disrupted the lives of thousands of families.” Read more..
A Documentary: Hot Coffee
A documentary Hot Coffee, airing on HBO on Monday, June 27, offers many lessons about the American civil justice system, watch it. Among other things, the film presents the facts of the much-maligned McDonald's "hot coffee" case. More than that, the film provides information about the challenges ordinary folks face in seeking justice.
POWER Act Introduced to Combat Worker Exploitation
From the National Immigration Law Center:
The POWER Act Would Thwart Bad-Apple Employers Who Abuse the System and Gain Unfair Advantage
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-C) yesterday introduced the POWER (Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation) Act, legislation that that, if passed, would expand the right to organize and offer key protections to all workers. Below is a statement from Emily Tulli, policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center:
“For too long, bad-apple employers have taken advantage of the broken immigration system by reporting workers who assert their labor rights to immigration enforcement officials, hurting organizing efforts for all workers. The POWER Act would put an end to the unfair advantage unscrupulous employers currently enjoy by closing the legal loophole between immigration and labor law. In doing so, the POWER Act will finally level the playing field for employers who play by the rules and respect workers’ rights. We hope colleagues of Sen. Menendez, Rep. Miller, and Rep. Chu will follow in their footsteps and pass this much-needed legislation.”
Freedom From Fear Awards to 15 "Ordinary People"
Congratulations to the 15 honorees!!
(Minneapolis, MN, June 15, 2011) Four DREAM students who walked 1500 miles from Miami to Washington DC to dramatize the barriers facing undocumented immigrants. Two men—one American and one South Asian—who rescued trafficked guest workers from virtual bondage. A police chief who was vilified for speaking up against local enforcement of federal immigration laws. An African American legislator in the Deep South who helped pass a model anti-racial profiling ordinance, citing the unlawful targeting of immigrants in his state.
These and other “unsung heroes” are recipients of the first Freedom from Fear Awards, honoring “ordinary people who have committed extraordinary acts of courage on behalf of immigrants and refugees — individuals who have taken a risk, set an example, and inspired others to awareness or action.” Fifteen winners were announced today at the 2011 Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, MN.
The Awards are particularly fitting on the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides that helped dismantle segregation in the South, and on the heels of the Arab Spring that has shown the power of ordinary people overcoming their fear, said sponsors of the Awards.
The Freedom from Fear Award was created by philanthropic leaders Geri Mannion and Taryn Higashi as a way of “paying forward” $10,000 they received as co-recipients of the 2009 Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking, presented by the Council on Foundations. Friends and colleagues contributed additional funds to meet a $100,000 challenge grant from the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, thus enabling 15 winners to receive $5,000 each and a commissioned art piece. The awards were administered and produced by Public Interest Projects (PIP).
Higashi explained the founders’ motivation, “Immigration is a very controversial issue right now. We wanted to recognize some of the incredible unsung heroes who are standing up in their communities—sometimes at great personal risk—to make this a more just and humane society for immigrants.”
The new one-time prize attracted 380 nominations from 42 states through online outreach and word-of-mouth. “We were so inspired by reading all these stories—young people risking deportation to educate policy makers, police officers who resist racial profiling, business people who challenge their peers,” said Mannion. “It’s worth celebrating how many courageous people are working to keep us strong as a nation of immigrants.”
Several Freedom from Fear Award winners will speak during the closing session of Netroots Nation on Saturday, June 18th. Netroots Nation is an annual conference that will attract several thousand progressive bloggers and organizers to Minneapolis this year.
For further information of the award winners, click on each name below (in some cases, one prize was given to a group of winners working together):
Erika Andiola: Phoenix, AZ.
Andiola was an honors student at Arizona State University who lost her scholarships when the state changed its eligibility laws for undocumented residents. She became one of the leaders of the Arizona DREAM Coalition, working tirelessly to organize students and to educate powerful elected officials about the DREAM Act—including U.S. Senators John McCain and Harry Reid, and Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce—all while risking arrest and deportation.
Osfel Andrade: Anaheim, CA
Andrade filed a class-action federal lawsuit against his former employer on behalf of approximately 500 workers demanding back wages for years of exploitation and discrimination. The company retaliated by reporting him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Andrade is courageously challenging the practice of unscrupulous employers who use the threat of immigration retaliation to suppress worker rights.
Xiomara Benitez Blanco: Chapel Hill, NC
Blanco was targeted, sexually harassed and blackmailed by an Immigration Services officer who threatened her with deportation. Despite the potential peril and ongoing medical challenges, she filed a complaint, cooperated with ICE and other agencies and testified against her tormenter in court. The case resulted in the officer serving a 12-month jail sentence and drew attention to the threats immigrants face by unscrupulous agents.
Maria Bolanos Hernandez: Hyattsville, MD
When she called the police for assistance in a domestic dispute, Bolanos found herself re-victimized and ensnared in “Secure Communities,” a controversial immigration enforcement program that checks the immigration status of everyone brought into a local jail. Unwilling to accept her deportation as a fait accompli, Bolanos spoke out against the detrimental effects of Secure Communities on families and community policing.
Wei Chen, Xu Lin, Bach Tong, and Duong Nghe Le: Philadelphia, PA
Beaten repeatedly by other students and ignored by school officials, these Philadelphia high school students organized a powerful campaign—including an eight-day boycott and a federal civil rights lawsuit—that finally forced their school and the district to protect the safety of Asian immigrant students. They have since gone on to help lead a citywide campaign for non-violent schools.
David Cho: South Pasadena, CA
Cho “came out” as undocumented on the steps of LA City Hall, risking everything in his life as a successful student and the first Korean American drum major of the UCLA marching band. He explained to his parents, “Unless our generation speaks out, the politicians won’t tackle it. They have to see our faces.” Cho will be attending UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to obtain his master’s degree in Public Policy and ultimately hopes to become a U.S. Senator one day.
Jack Harris: Phoenix Arizona
Harris is the former Chief of Police of Phoenix, Arizona who recently retired after 39 years of service. Harris spoke out at great personal and professional risk about the importance of protecting the rights and safety of everyone in the community–including immigrants. He opposed passage of AZ Senate Bill 1070 because its requirement for police to routinely enquire about the immigration status of residents, on the grounds that it would effectively end community policing, drain resources from the core mission of crime-fighting, and lead to possible racial profiling.
Gene Lefebvre and Sarah Roberts: Tucson, AZ
Lefebvre and Roberts are co-founders of No More Deaths, which provides humanitarian aid to those crossing the US-Mexico border. Lefebvre and Roberts have trained thousands of volunteers to walk the remote trails of Southern Arizona in scorching heat carrying jugs of water, food and medical supplies to prevent death and suffering in the desert.
Chokwe Lumumba: Jackson, MS
Lumumba is an African American member of the City Council of Jackson, Mississippi with a long history of activism in the civil rights movement. He wrote and helped to pass a model anti-racial profiling ordinance, citing the unlawful targeting of immigrants in his state, that has helped to create a much more positive climate in the city for immigrants.
Mark Massey: Sand Springs, OK
Massey is a Pentecostal lay minister and the quintessential Good Samaritan who did not turn away when 53 Indian “guest workers” appealed to him for aid. He helped them to escape their servitude, housed and fed them. He has since spent nearly a decade helping more than 500 Indian workers in similar straits to gain freedom and legal status, first in his native Oklahoma and later in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.
Gaby Pacheco, Juan Rodriguez, Felipe Matos and Carlos Roa: Miami, FL
These four students walked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington, DC to bring attention to the barriers faced by undocumented young people and their families. For five months they overcame constant fear of arrest and deportation, anti-immigrant protesters including the Ku Klux Klan, and their own physical exhaustion. The Trail of DREAMs successfully inspired communities throughout the Southeast, as well as tens of thousands of other DREAMers and policymakers. In the year since the Trail concluded at the White House, the four walkers have remained outspoken leaders against the criminalization of immigrants and for humane immigration reform.
Antonella Packard: Saratoga Springs, UT
Packard is a successful Mormon Hispanic businesswoman, Republican and civic office holder who has been fearless in taking on the conservative establishment in Utah, aggressively advocating for DREAM Act protesters, the local Bosnian Muslim community, and other immigrants. She has used her status to bridge divides across parties and advance immigrant rights in this conservative state.
Rigo Padilla, Reyna Wences and Tania Unzueta: Chicago, IL
These three young people formed the Immigrant Youth Justice League after they successfully stopped the deportation of Padilla in 2009. Drawing inspiration from the LGBTQ movement and past immigrant rights organizing, they organized the first “National Coming Out of the Shadows Days” and have galvanized DREAM students around the country to publicly declare themselves “Undocumented and Unafraid.” More information here.
Aby Raju: Macon, GA
Raju was one of hundreds of guest workers hired by a U.S. company and held in an isolated labor camp. Along with 250 others, he escaped and traveled on foot from New Orleans to Washington, DC in the spirit of Gandhi, building relationships with African Americans along the way. In DC the workers launched a 29-day hunger strike and testified in Congress against abusive labor traffickers. Raju’s four-year efforts have led to national recognition from the labor movement and the civil rights community about the ugly realities of the guestworker program.
Elizabeth Ruiz and Rick Covington: Vancouver, WA
These two friends—one an undocumented Latina mother in deportation hearings and the other a 74-year-old white Navy retiree—have thrown themselves into building support for immigration reform in their community. They have spoken at countless events, gone door-to-door to educate neighbors, led voter registration drives and been arrested in civil disobedience actions. Together they have sparked a chain reaction of ordinary people in Washington State standing up for immigrants.
Tres Vidas: The Film
Tres Vidas (Three Lives) is a live music theatre work for singing actress and onstage music trio (cello, piano and percussion), based on the lives of three legendary Latin American Women: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni. The music ranges from traditional Mexican folk and Argentine tango songs sung in Spanish to instrumental works by composers such as Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Golijov. You can watch a sample of the show by clicking here.
The show will tour throughout the United States for the 11th consecutive year during the September/October 2011 Hispanic Cultural Awareness Celebration. In addition to evening performances, we offer daytime shows and educational programs that can be tailored to your scheduling and budget needs.