July 9, 2011
Suit to Block Implementation of Alabama's Tough-on-Immigrants Law
As ImmigrationProf predicted, it was only a matter of time. Yesterday, a group of civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit that seeks to enjoin the enforcement of Alabama's new immigration law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center were among the groups suing. The Alabama immigration law is something of a wish list of restrictionist immigration measures. Download AL_Immigration_Law_stamped_Complaint
My educated guess is that a suit to enjoin the South Carolina immigration law is next.
States Must Lead the Charge for Immigrant In-State Tuition
Anti-immigration groups repeatedly oppose legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. What they do not realize is that access to higher education is an essential step if undocumented immigrants who have been living long-term in certain states are going to find their way out of a common cycle of poverty and low-wage (and often under-the-table) work to become productive, tax-paying and eventually legal citizens of this country.
It should be known that such legislation often targets young immigrants in their teens and 20s who were brought to the country illegally as minors, perhaps even as babies, by their parents or other family members. They typically know English well and have graduated from high school in a U.S. state. They often know no other life except life in the States. Despite opposition, many states have enacted or are considering laws that would allow undocumented immigrants who have graduated from high school in a state access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. This access to in-state tuition is critical for two reasons:
1.) Undocumented immigrants do not generally have access to federal student aid. To qualify for student financial aid, students typically must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder). By denying them access to in-state tuition, the out-of-state rates price immigrant students out of a higher education, essentially denying them realistic access.
2.) Children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for their parents' immigration law violations, or for bureaucratic delays in pursuing citizenship.
One of the most recent victories in this critical area impacting immigrants took place in Connecticut, where Gov. Dannel Malloy recently did a ceremonial signing of a bill that would allow illegal immigrant students to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, according to NBC Connecticut. To be eligible for in-state tuition there, students must have graduated from a high school in Connecticut and file a statement saying that they have applied or intend to apply for legal citizenship, the article explained. A story in the New Haven Independent highlights the grassroots effort that led to the passing of this legislation in Connecticut.
Victories in Connecticut however are dampened by struggles in states like Maryland, where opponents of a recently-enacted law similar to Connecticut's are collecting signatures to bring the matter to a referendum, according to the Baltimore Sun. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law in May that would allow undocumented immigrants access to in-state tuition. To be eligible for in-state tuition, immigrant students must have attended high school in Maryland for three years, and show that their family had filed state tax returns, the article pointed out. This allows them to pursue an education at a discounted rate at a public community college and be able to transfer to a four-year college at the reduced rate after accumulating 60 credits.
Then there are states like Pennsylvania, where legislation has recently been introduced for a similar bill, and proponents are just beginning the process that took legislatures in other states so long to put into effect. The article pointed out that only 11 states have enacted such laws.
In conclusion, getting the word out about the benefits of such laws through grassroots and formal efforts, as well as acquainting the general public with the stories behind the immigrants impacted by such laws, is what will get these laws passed. Proponents of these state laws must be vigilant, as such laws can all too quickly be overturned by a misinformed public. The more states that rise up and say they want these laws, the more clout there will be for the ultimate passage of the federal DREAM act. The ultimate goal? A path both to citizenship and a better life for immigrants in every U.S. state.
July 8, 2011
Originalism and Birthright Citizenship
Here is a link to a worthwhile Birthright Citizenship blog posting by Michael Ramsey.
There are two parts to his posting, but this particular one thoroughly rebuts the arguments made by John Eastman, Edward Erler, and Michael Spalding about the original meaning of the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause.
July 23 Angel Island Dedication
From the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation:
This 4th of July heralded the nation's 235th birthday. It is always a great day of celebration for it reminds us of the ideals and revolutionary fervor that cast our country's foundation.
In a similar way, the upcoming July 23 dedication of the Immigrant Heritage Wall reminds us of the passion that fuels the drive to consecrate this collection of 100 year old buildings. Very few people are alive today who passed through the Immigration Station's doors, but their stories of courage and perseverance live on through descendants who carry the torch of knowledge and remembrance. The Immigrant Heritage Wall, which contains 200 plaques, upon which multiple generations acknowledge their immigrant ancestors is a remarkable achievement. It is a concrete manifestation of a collective will enabling once buried stories emerge from the murk of time to assert their rightful place in America's evolving story.
AIISF wishes to thank the California State Parks for making this wall available to us. Most of all, we wish to thank the hundreds of donors who gave to the Centennial Campaign to create the Immigrant Heritage Wall and to support the Immigrant Voices project. Because of your generosity, our stories will be told for years and years to come imparting lessons that will hopefully further reconciliation and humane treatment of immigrants.
Celebrate Fearless Activists
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. LGBTQ and undocumented youth spurring others to come out of the shadows.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.”
In June, fifteen winners were announced 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.
Can an Undocumented Immigrant Be Admitted to Practice? California Supreme Court Must Decide
The ABA Journal reports on a case that might have great practical significance for a group of law students. A California State Bar panel is set to decide whether to deny an applicant a law license because he is undocumented. Sergio Garcia came to the United States from Mexico with his parents when he was 17 months old. The state bar recently began asking applicants about their immigration status, so there apparently are other California lawyers already admitted to practice who aren't legal residents of the U.S.
Garcia says he's been waiting 17 years for a family-based visa and expects it could be another 15 years before he gets one. As ImmigrationProf recently reminded readers, because of annual per country ceilings on immigration, prosepective immigrants from a few nations, including Mexico, have to wait many years longer than immigrants from other nations to come lawfully to the United States.
July 7, 2011
ACLU, Maricopa County Reach Settlement in Lawsuit By U.S. Citizen, Legal Resident Illegally Arrested During Worksite Raid
The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has settled a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, over the illegal stop, arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident during a 2009 immigration raid at Handyman Maintenance, Inc. in Phoenix. As part of the settlement, Maricopa County agreed to pay $200,000 to Julian and Julio Mora and their lawyers in exchange for the dismissal of the lawsuit.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in August 2009 by 68-year-old Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, 21, a U.S. citizen. The father and son were singled out from white drivers on a public roadway, stopped without justification, ordered out of their truck, zip-tied, and transported to a worksite immigration raid being conducted nearby. Once taken to the worksite, they were detained by Sheriff’s Office personnel for three hours (along with over a hundred Latino workers) without food, water, or the ability to use the bathroom unescorted, until they were given a chance to prove that they were lawfully in the United States.
In April, a federal court judge in Arizona ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office violated the Fourth Amendment in stopping and arresting the Moras without cause and that the County was liable for damages.
The Moras were represented by the by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the cooperating law firm Ryals & Breed of St. Louis.
Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Andre Segura of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Lai and Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona, and Stephen Ryals of Ryals & Breed, P.C., of St. Louis, Missouri.
Why you’ve heard of Caylee, but not Brisenia or Marchella
Courtesy of Presente.org
Leslie Berestein Rojas makes an extremely interesting set of observations in the wake of the much-publicized trial of Casey Anthony. A jury recently acquitted Anthony of murder in the death of her young daughter Caylee Anthony. After making headlines for months, the Anthony case continues to make the news. As Berestein Rojas observes, other tragic criminal cases involving children – the death of 4-year-old Marchella Pierce in New York and the murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores (which was covered in ImmigrationProf) in Arizona during a home invasion – have received relatively scant mediacoverage. "The stories of these three children are equally sad, how they died equally gut-wrenching. One difference is that Caylee was white, Marchella was black, and Brisenia was Mexican American. Does race and ethnicity factor into how these cases are reported?"
The 9/11 Effect and its Legacy on U.S. Immigration Laws: Conference at Penn State Law
Penn State Dickinson School of Law will be holding a conference on "The 9/11 Effect and its Legacy on U.S. Immigration Laws" on September 16.
Confirmed speakers include:
Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
Donald Kerwin Jr., Vice President for Programs, Migration Policy Institute
Sin Yen Ling, Staff Attorney, Asian Law Caucus
Priya Murthy, Policy Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together
Jumana Musa, Deputy Director, Rights Working Group
Sarah Paoletti, Associate Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Wendy Patten, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Institute
Victor Romero, Professor of Law, Penn State Law
Kareem Shora, Senior Policy Adviser, Department of Homeland Security
Margaret Stock, Attorney and Lt. Col., Military Police Corps., U.S. Army Reserve
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights and Clinical Professor, Penn State Law
Julie Myers Wood, President of ICS Consulting, LLC (ICS) and Immigration and Customs Solutions, LLC and former Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security
For more details, click here.
From the Bookshelves: Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico by Debra Lattanzi Shutika
Since the 1990s, migration from Mexico to the United States has moved beyond the borderlands to diverse communities across the country, with the most striking transformations in American suburbs and small towns. This study explores the challenges encountered by Mexican families as they endeavor to find their place in the U.S. by focusing on Kennett Square, a small farming village in Pennsylvania known as the "Mushroom Capital of the World."
In a highly readable account based on extensive fieldwork among Mexican migrants and their American neighbors, Debra Lattanzi Shutika explores the issues of belonging and displacement that are central concerns for residents in communities that have become new destinations for Mexican settlement. Beyond the Borderlands also completes the circle of migration by following migrant families as they return to their hometown in Mexico, providing an illuminating perspective of the tenuous lives of Mexicans residing in, but not fully part of, two worlds.
Obama Compromise? DREAM Act + E-Verify?
David Harrison writes for Congressional Quarterly:
President Obama hinted [last week] that he might support attaching a Democratic initiative to grant legal status to some illegal immigrants to a Republican measure mandating employment verification — a combination that could improve the chances of passage of two stand-alone bills that are unlikely to advance individually.
The idea was originally floated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., but received a cool reception by bill sponsors on both sides of the aisle.
Reid had suggested attaching a Senate measure known as the DREAM Act (S 952), which would grant legal status to some young people brought the country illegally who enroll in college or join the military, to a GOP-backed bill that would require all employers to check the legal status of new employees using an online verification system known as «E-Verify».
Asked at his news conference Wednesday whether he would sign an «E-Verify» measure (HR 2164, S 1196)) if it reached his desk, Obama stopped short of threatening to veto it, saying he would support an employer verification mandate only as part of a broader overhaul of immigration.
“We need to have a more balanced approach than just a verification system, OK?” he said.
Obama strongly supports the DREAM measure, but expressed concerns that the online verification system is not error-proof and needs to be improved before it is mandated nationwide. Read more...
Mexican National Facing Death Penalty in Texas Tonight
The U.S. Supreme Court today is considering the fate of a Mexican national sentenced to death. Humberto Leal Garcia, convicted of rape and murder in 1994, is scheduled to be executed tonight in Texas. Both the U.S. and Mexican governments have filed amicus briefs urging the Court to stay the execution. Garcia claims that his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which requires law enforcement officials to inform foreign nationals of their right to have consular officials notified of their arrest, were violated.
UPDATE A 5-4 Supreme Court failed to stay the execution and Garcia was executed at 6:21 CT.
The New Prosecutorial Discretion by Geoffrey A. Hoffman
There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the policy memoranda from ICE Director John Morton, which clarifies that immigration authorities may exercise prosecutorial discretion in appropriate cases. The new memoranda provide that crime victims are not to be targeted. Such victims are often afraid to assist police in prosecuting their offenders because the victims themselves are worried about being deported. There are visas which may be available in appropriate cases where such victims assist in the investigation or prosecution and meet other criteria. This is especially important in human trafficking cases and in other cases where undocumented immigrants may be crime victims or serve as informants.
Furthermore, the memoranda set forth a non-exhaustive list of factors to be considered in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Some of these include, for example, length of time in the United States, pursuit of education here in this country, military service, contributions to the community, criminal history or lack thereof, whether the person is the primary caretaker of a sick relative, whether the person's spouse is pregnant or nursing, cooperation with law enforcement, the person's age, among other factors. Importantly, the memoranda also includes a series of negative factors to be considered militating against the exercise of discretion, where the person under consideration is a felon, gang member, national security risk or serious immigration violator. These considerations show an effort by the government at the operational level to make nuanced decisions about persons in removal proceedings.
The memoranda also for the first time recognizes persons who have civil rights issues and complaints. Particular attention is to be paid to plaintiffs in non-frivolous lawsuits regarding civil rights or civil liberties violations, as well as individuals who are engaged in a protected activity, such as union organizing, complaining about employment discrimination or housing conditions. The memoranda also confirm that prosecutorial discretion can be exercised at any stage of proceedings and is designed to ensure that “victims, witnesses, and plaintiffs” are not deterred from calling police and pursuing justice. How and whether the new policy will be implemented by the officials on the ground is an open question, but it is a step in the right direction.
It has been reported that the United States currently has the capacity to deport about 400,000 people per year. The most recent statistics show the current administration deported a record number: more than 387,000 persons in 2010. The 400,000 number has been estimated to be less than 4 percent of the total number of undocumented persons in the United States, according to a previous Morton memorandum. Given such a situation, how could one not be in favor of a targeted approach to deportation? The important point is simply this: prosecutorial discretion frees up governmental resources to deport real criminals who may pose actual threats to our security. The inability of the anti-immigrant faction to see this and stubbornly to insist on treating all immigrants alike reveals their bias and unsophistication.
Former President George W.H. Bush implored us to make the United States "a kinder and gentler nation." In his Inaugural Address he pledged in "a moment rich with promise" to use American strength as "a force for good." That moment has come. There must be a recognition that immigrants, even the undocumented ones, have complicated and at times compelling histories. What gets left out of the picture in the blunt-edged reasoning of the anti-immigrant agenda is the fact that not all undocumented people are exactly the same. Not everyone who is caught up in the system of detention and deportation is a threat to our country.
Of course it is far easier to be lazy in our thinking, to paint with a broad brush. It is far easier to take a "deport them all" approach. When we do that no one has to confront any particular person's suffering. No one has to recognize a particular person’s story. Such an approach also fits with the message that illegal immigrants are to be blamed for our societal ills, from the economy to the wild fires in Arizona. Those who work with immigrants and are familiar with their issues, including our government officials, understand that to blame a group of people sets a dangerous precedent. It creates an "other" who is blamed and must be at fault, absolving us of any responsibility. It ignores the rich tradition of the United States of fairness and justice, as recognized by Mr. Bush, and on the basis of which this country was founded.
Geoffrey A. Hoffman, Director, University of Houston Immigration Clinic
Acting on a Dream: The Obama Administration Speaks Out in Strong Support of the DREAM Act
Last week, top Obama administration officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security during the first-ever Senate hearing on the recently re-introduced Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S. 952). Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford Stanley, reiterated the President’s strong support of the DREAM Act and explained how the DREAM Act is good for our economy and global competiveness, our security, and nation’s military readiness.
My Fellow American: Watch the Video and Take the Pledge
America has always been a melting pot, but the post-9/11 world can be hostile. Recent mosque protests and congressional hearings on American Muslims are all unfortunate examples of a rising tide of fear. This climate of suspicion toward our fellow Americans compromises the great values for which the United States proudly stands.
The My Fellow American website includes a 2 minute film in response to the climate facing Muslims in the United States. The site also has other features including the ability to share stories and taking the "My Fellow American" pledge.
10 Countries Facing the Biggest Brain Drain
Onlineuniversities.com has an article entitled “10 Countries Facing the Biggest Brain Drain,” with a top 10 list of countries losing skilled professionals through human capital flight. The countries are:
4. South Africa
Immigrant of the Day: Yulia Zagoruychenko (Russia)
Yulia Zagoruychenko (born September 11, 1981) is originally from Russia where she began dancing at age four. She pursued Latin dancing and, at 21, moved to America. Yulia became the U.S. National Professional Latin Dance Champion. Yulia and her partner, Riccardo Cocchi, were World Latin Professional Champions and 3-times undefeated U.S. National Professional Latin Champions. They appeared on the popular U.S. televison show "Dancing With the Stars."
July 6, 2011
Poetic Resistance to SB1070
La Bloga and the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 invite you to the every Tuesday poetry festival, On-Line Floricanto. Five poets, occasionally more, share work centered around Arizona's breathing-while-brown racist legislation and attitudes.
HELP Separated Children Act to be Re-Introduced
From First Focus:
We are writing to urge you to support the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act or the “HELP Separated Children Act,” which will be re-introduced soon by Senator Al Franken, by signing on to an endorsement letter. Many of you signed on last year, and we hope you can support again. The bill would require that all individuals apprehended through ICE or local enforcement measures – including individuals with detainers lodged against them - will be screened to determine if they are the parent, legal guardian or primary caregiver of a minor child in the US. If they are found to be a parent, legal guardian or primary caregiver they will receive special protections designed to preserve family unity. We also expect Representative Lynn Woolsey to re-introduce the companion bill in the House, and we’ll follow up to seek your support for that bill once we have final language available.
As you all know, increased ICE enforcement has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents. It is extremely difficult for parents to make arrangements and maintain communication with their children from immigration detention and parents are not guaranteed an opportunity to make care arrangements for their children at the time they are apprehended. Sometimes, parents are deported and are unable to take their children with them. In the most extreme cases, children end up in foster care and there have been an increasing number of recent reports of parents who have had their parental rights terminated. In all cases, family unity and child well-being are compromised.
The Help Separated Children Act would provide critical, nationwide protocols to help keep children with their parents, legal guardians or primary caregivers and out of the foster care system while their parent’s, legal guardian’s or primary caregiver’s case is pending. It does so by ensuring that parents, legal guardians and primary caregivers benefit from consideration of the best interest of their children or wards in all decisions and actions relating to their detention, release or transfer. It also ensures that parents who must be detained can make care arrangements of their choice and have an opportunity to participate in custody proceedings and maintain a relationship with their children. Furthermore, the bill increases parent’s, legal guardian’s and primary caregiver’s ability to be reunified with their children at the time they are deported and provides other due process protections.
We have drafted the attached letter of support and invite your agency to sign on. To see a copy of the draft or to sign-on, please email Wendy Cervantes, First Focus, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for signatures is Friday July 8th (5:00 PM EST)
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (202) 657-0637. Thank you in advance for your support.
Wendy D. Cervantes
Vice President, Immigration and Child Rights Policy
1110 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
From the Bookshelves: Migration and Climate Change
“Migration and Climate Change” A UNESCO publication on one of the greatest challenges facing our time.
Climate change is becoming an increasingly significant factor in migration, even if nightmare scenarios predicting a human tide of “environmental refugees” are unfounded and counter-productive, concludes the first authoritative overview of the relationship between climate change and migration, published by UNESCO and Cambridge University Press.
“Migration and Climate Change” brings together the views of 26 leading experts from a range of disciplines such as demography, climatology, economics, geography, anthropology and law. They present case studies from Bangladesh, Brazil, Nepal and the islands of the Pacific, analyzing the often alarming statistics and tearing down the myths associated with one of the most-discussed but least-understood aspects of climate change.
The publication emphasizes that while increasingly important, climate change is only one of a range of factors that push people to leave their homes and sometimes their countries. Ignoring this “multicausality” has distorted and polarized public debate on the issue which has “become heavily politicized.”
The authors acknowledge that tropical cyclones, heavy rains and floods, drought and desertification, and sea-level rise are increasingly influencing migration. The authors stress the need for more research, but also point out the necessity for practical action at all levels. They suggest a number of options, such as diversification of economic activity; changes in government attitudes to rural-urban and cross-border migration, by abandoning restriction and criminalization, and helping people to move in conditions of safety and dignity; and a “new, fine-grained collaborative effort to understand the real challenges and to find solutions.”