Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Immigration Judge Postpones Deportation Proceedings For Two Years, Allowing Married Gay Binational Couple to Remain in U.S.
Directs Government Attorneys To Act on Request for Termination of Deportation Proceedings Within Sixty Days
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This morning in San Francisco, Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol -- a married same-sex binational couple -- appeared before Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter for a deportation hearing and were permitted to remain in the country despite the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages by the federal government. This is the latest in a series of recent court rulings that have demonstrated the inequality that DOMA forces same-sex couples to live under.
Specifically, the judge laid out two options. She gave the government 60 days to decide whether it will agree to drop deportation proceedings against Alex -- a Venezuelan citizen -- altogether. If the government elects not to drop proceedings, the same judge will revisit the case again in September 2013, ensuring that Doug and Alex are protected from deportation for at least two more years allowing them to return to building a life together with their family, including Alex's two step-children.
"Today the Immigration Judge demonstrated compassion and understanding for Doug and Alex as a married binational couple, granting them a reprieve from deportation by postponing further proceedings to September 2013," said Lavi Soloway, lawyer for Doug and Alex, and founder of Stop the Deportations. "The Judge also gave the government 60 days to inform the court whether it will agree with our request to terminate these proceedings pursuant to prosecutorial discretion guidelines issued June 17 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. We will continue to advocate for termination of these proceedings and a moratorium on all deportations of spouses of lesbian and gay Americans."
"Today's hearing was one more step in the march toward full federal equality for LGBT Americans and those they love," said Robin McGehee, executive director of GetEQUAL. "Doug and Alex's courage to stand up for their family and the tens of thousands of other families facing deportation from this country is nothing short of inspirational. We will continue to work on cases like these that highlight the lived discrimination that LGBT folks in this country face, and will not stop until we can rest our heads at night knowing that we are fully equal under the law."
"We are pleased with the progress that this case demonstrates." said Mickey Lim, Vice President of Out4Immigration. "However there are thousands of same-sex binational couples who are still living with uncertainty because of the Defense of Marriage Act and many more that have already been exiled or separated by this unfair discriminatory law. We applaud Doug and Alex's courage to put a face on the issue and will continue to work towards securing equal immigration rights for same sex couples! We look forward to the day when we can welcome all of our friends and families back home!"
Alex came into the U.S. 12 years ago from Venezuela and overstayed a tourist visa, an immigration violation that straight binational couples can easily remedy once married; as a gay married couple, Doug and Alex do not have that option. Many same sex binational couples are legally married like Alex and Doug, but they are still treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government. There is only one reason Doug and Alex faced deportation proceedings at all — the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that the President and the Attorney General have both determined to be indefensible and unconstitutional.
To support the couple and to show widespread public support for their right to remain together, legally, in the United States, many organizations working for full federal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans held a rally outside the courthouse in San Francisco where the hearing is scheduled to take place. Organizations leading the rally efforts include GetEQUAL, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, and Stop the Deportations.
These organizations launched a petition drive last week to show public support for Doug and Alex, garnering close to 17,000 signatures of individuals who are supportive of assigning all the same rights and responsibilities to same-sex binational couples as to heterosexual binational couples.
Organizations supportive of the couple and the rally include API Equality, API Legal Outreach, Asian Law Caucus. Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Central American Resource Center, Chinese For Affirmative Action, Equality California, Immigration Equality, Love Honor Cherish, National Center For Lesbian Rights, National Immigration Justice Center, San Francisco Immigrant Legal And Education Network, and the San Francisco LGBT Center.
Representatives Mike Honda (D-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) have also been actively supportive of the couple, and provided written statements that were read at the rally. Rep. Lofgren's statement included a passionate plea for binational families, including the excerpt below:
"Legally-married couples are being torn apart today in America because our laws unconstitutionally discriminate against same-sex marriages. Each and every day, American spouses are being forced to make unacceptable choices: live their lives separated from one another by thousands of miles, abandon their lives in this country and move someplace else, or break the law and go into hiding. This is a heartbreaking situation all across the United States. I believe the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the government should respect legally-married same-sex couples. I am confident that DOMA one day will not be law. The whole country will look back and understand it was simply discrimination."
Speakers at the rally included Bevan Dufty (Former San Francisco Supervisor), Phil Ting (San Francisco City Assessor/Recorder), Vincent Pan (Chinese for Affirmative Action), Ross Mirkarimi (San Francisco Supervisor), Lavi Soloway (Attorney for Doug & Alex), Heidi Li (API Legal Outreach), Ming Wong (National Center for Lesbian Rights), Ana Perez (CARECEN), Annette Wong (SFILEN), Dusty Araujo (National Immigrant Justice Center), and Judy Rickard (Author, “Torn Apart: United By Love Divided By Law”).
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Ricardo "Ricky" Romero, Jr. is Major League Baseball pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. The son of an undocumented father from Mexico, Romero grew up in East Los Angeles and has made the most of his opportunities. Romero was named to the American League All-Star Team and will play in the MLB All Star game tonight.
Romero is dating ImmigrationProf Immigrant of the Day, 2010 Miss USA Rima Fakih.
From the Bookshelves: Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border by Rachel St. John
Line in the Sand details the dramatic transformation of the western U.S.-Mexico border from its creation at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 to the emergence of the modern boundary line in the first decades of the twentieth century. In this sweeping narrative, Rachel St. John explores how this boundary changed from a mere line on a map to a clearly marked and heavily regulated divide between the United States and Mexico.
Focusing on the desert border to the west of the Rio Grande, this book explains the origins of the modern border and places the line at the center of a transnational history of expanding capitalism and state power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Moving across local, regional, and national scales, St. John shows how government officials, Native American raiders, ranchers, railroad builders, miners, investors, immigrants, and smugglers contributed to the rise of state power on the border and developed strategies to navigate the increasingly regulated landscape. Over the border's history, the U.S. and Mexican states gradually developed an expanding array of official laws, ad hoc arrangements, government agents, and physical barriers that did not close the line, but made it a flexible barrier that restricted the movement of some people, goods, and animals without impeding others. By the 1930s, their efforts had created the foundations of the modern border control apparatus.
Drawing on extensive research in U.S. and Mexican archives, Line in the Sand weaves together a transnational history of how an undistinguished strip of land became the significant and symbolic space of state power and national definition that we know today.
Rachel St. John is associate professor of history at Harvard University. Listen to her interview about the book on NPR.
A recent ImmigrationProf Immigrant of the Day, Judge Denny Chin, a Second Circuit judge sitting by designation on the district court, granted U.S. citizenship to a decorated Vietnam veteran who years ago killed his wife and later made a remarkable turnaround in prison. In a carefl decision in the case, Judge Chin repeated what the Ninth Circuit said in 1950: "no man is beyond redemption."
It seems like the major news outlets have again "discovered" slavery and sex trafficking. MSNBC and CNN on special pages of their websites highlight the problem of modern day slavery in the United States and, indeed, the entire world.
Unfortunately, as we have seen in California, human trafficking and slavery have increased with the greatly increased efforts at border enforcement. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of State released the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report. This victim story from the report makes clear that forced labor is not limited to the sex industry:
"Ravi was among hundreds of workers lured to the United States from India by an oil rig construction company operating in the Gulf Coast. Lacking skilled welders and pipefitters to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina struck the area in 2005, the company brought Ravi and others from India on H-2B visas, promising them permanent visas and residency. But, the promises were false. Instead, Ravi was forced to live with 23 other men in a small room with no privacy and two toilets. The camp was lined with barbed wire and security guards, so no one on the outside knew Ravi’s whereabouts. The company charged so much for food and a bunk bed that Ravi was unable to send any money home or repay the money he borrowed for his travel expenses to the United States. When the workers began organizing to protest their working conditions, the company began arbitrary firings and private deportations of the protest leaders. Those who remained filed a class action lawsuit and applied for [Trafficking Victim Protection Act]immigration services."
It might be surprising to some that, over the last few years, immigrants have fared fairly well in a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2010, the Court ruled in the blockbuster decision of Padilla v. Kentucky that a noncitizen could base an ineffective assistance of counsel claim on an attorney's alleged failure to inform him of the removal consequences of a criminal conviction. This case continues to have major ripple effects, in no small part because of the U.S. government's focus on "criminal aliens" in its removal efforts.
In the same Term that it decided Padilla v. Kentucky, the Court rejected the U.S. government's expansive definition of "aggravated felony" subjecting an immigrant to removal based on a state misdemeanor drug conviction.
The 2010 Term was not an outlier. In the previous Term, immigrants won 3 of the 4 immigration decisions issued by the Court, including some fairly significant victories involving stays of removal and the elements for criminal identity theft.
This Term, however, immigrants did not fare so well in the Supreme Court.
In Chamber of Commerce of United States of America v. Whiting, the Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the Arizona law penalizing, and possibly subjecting to revocation, the business licenses of the employers of undocumented immigrants, is not preempted by federal immigration law. While I think that the decision should not be read expansively -- and, for example, does not dictate a finding that Arizona's S.B. 1070 is constitutional, the Whiting decision unquestionably fueled efforts of state legislatures to regulate immigration. Only time will tell what the legal limits on the states in this sphere will be.
In another case from this Term, Flores-Villar v. United States, the Court by a 4-4 vote affirmed the Ninth Circuit's rejection of a constitutional challenge to distinctions in the nationality laws that establish different citizenship standards for children born out of wedlock outside of the United States, depending on whether the child’s mother or father was a U.S. citizen. This sort of gender discrimination is something that only can be found nowadays in the immigration laws, shielded as they are by the plenary power doctrine (an enduring relic of the era of the Chinese exclusion laws).
In addition, the Court vacated and remanded in light of Whiting the Third Circuit decision striking down much of the infamous City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania ordinance designed to regulate immigration, which, among other things, barred landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. While this kind of action is fairly common when the Court decides a case with similar issues as those raised in a petition for certiorari, the ordinance in the Hazleton case is much broader than the state law at issue in Whiting. One can only hope that the Court does not see the two laws as very similar.
There was one sliver of hope for immigrants in the Court's actions from last Term. The Court denied certiorari in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, in which the California Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a California law (AB 540) allowing graduates of California high schools, including undocumented students, to pay the same fees as state residents to attend the University of California, California State University, and community college systems. One, of course, should not read too much into a denial of cert. Still, the order allows states like Califonia, at least for now, to have in-state fee systems that, in certain circumstances, allow certain undocumented students to pay in-state fees.
We will see what the next Term holds for immigrants. Will the Court decide the constitutionality of Arizona's S.B. 1070?
The MLB All Star game will go on tonight, with the calls for a boycott not gathering much steam. Although some players have voiced disfavor of the law, no players appear to be boycotting the game and any criticism seems rather subdued. Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for the players to discuss the Arizona immigration law.
The good news is that the boycott is still being discussed as is Arizona's venture into immigration regulation, which has helped spark similar action in Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia. At some point, Congress or the Supreme Court will hopefully act in a responsible way to address the state efforts to regulate immigration.
The SCOTUSblog.com cert petition of the day involves the retroactive application of Padilla v. Kentucky. Today’s Petition of the Day is in Morris v. Virginia and seeks review of a Virginia Supreme Court decision. The petition raises these issues:
1. Whether Padilla v. Kentucky applies retroactively to ineffective assistance of counsel claims raised on collateral review; and
2. Whether Virginia provides adequate postconviction remedies when petitioner and others similarly situated are precluded from vindicating violations of the right to effective assistance of counsel under Padilla.
From Fox News Latino:
The movement against Alabama's harsh crackdown on undocumented immigrants is being led, in some respects, by the church.
The latest example was Sunday in Huntsville, where a few hundred people gathered in a downtown park for an interfaith prayer rally to protest the law.
Many participants wore white and carried candles; some pastors wore clerical garb.
The mobilization of the church, for some, is a chance for Bible Belt redemption.
During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and `60s, many state churches didn't join the fight to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. Some cross-burning Ku Klux Klan members took off their hoods and sat in the pews with everyone else on Sunday mornings, and relatively few white congregations actively opposed segregation. Some black churches were hesitant to get involved for fear of a white backlash. Read more ....
Kojo Nnamdi is an American radio journalist. He was born on 8 January 1945. He is the host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show (for podcasts, click here) and The Politics Hour on WAMU, and the Evening Exchange broadcast on WHUT-TV. Nnamdi was born in Guyana and immigrated to the United States in 1967 to attend college. He began his broadcast career in 1973.
Jason Beaubien on NPR has an interesting three part series on the journey of hundreds of thousands of migrants illegally cross from Mexico into the United States. Some of them have traveled thousands of miles to reach American soil. The journey, which was always perilous, has become even more dangerous as Mexican drug cartels strengthen their control over the smuggling, kidnapping and extortion of migrants.
As the series makes clear, immigrants seeking to come to the United States often are willing to risk their lives to journey north, a fact demonstrated once again by the reports of a group of immigrants from Mexico who were stranded on an island off the coast of California as their tried to journey by boat to the U.S.
The Florence Project is publishing a book by its Criminal Immigration Consultant/Legal Director Kara Hartzler. The book, Surviving Padilla: A Defender’s Guide to Advising Noncitizens on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions is a 120-page easy-to-use handbook for criminal defense attorneys that offers a practical step-by-step method for analyzing the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and advising clients of them.
•What Does Padilla v. Kentucky Require Me to Do?
•A Three Step Process for Determining Immigration Consequences
•Practical Tips for Negotiating with Prosecutors
•Top Ten Mistakes Defenders Make
“An expert and useful book that will give any lawyer a functional, working understanding of the issues, a method for analyzing criminal cases involving non-citizens, and a set of strategies and techniques to get the best outcome for the client.” - Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin, Co-author of the ABA Amicus Brief in Padilla v. Kentucky and cited in the majority and concurring opinions.
Mexican and Central American Immigrants in the United States by Kate Brick, A. E. Challinor, and Marc R. Rosenblum
Mexican and Central American Immigrants in the United States by Kate Brick, A. E. Challinor, and Marc R. Rosenblum examine the age, educational, and workforce characteristics of immigrants and the second generation from Mexico and Central America. Compared to the US born and other immigrant groups, Mexican and Central American immigrants are younger, more likely to be male, and more likely to be married with children, most of whom are native-born US citizens. They have lower education levels than the US born, and Mexicans in particular have the lowest levels of formal education of any immigrant group. Both Mexican and Central American immigrants also have lower levels of English language proficiency than other immigrants. Their workforce participation rates are very high, but are concentrated in low-paying jobs; as a consequence, Mexican and Central American immigrants earn incomes lower than other foreign-born groups and substantially lower than their US-born counterparts. The fact that a high proportion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America are unauthorized supersedes all other considerations for some stakeholders in the debate, and sharply constrains these immigrants' economic, social, and political opportunity structures.
This report is the latest research released through an MPI-European University Institute (EUI) research partnership funded by the European Union.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Ministry of the Interior announced Monday that the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program (MIRP) - a bilateral, voluntary program that ensures the safe return of Mexican nationals found to be unlawfully in the Sonora Arizona desert region of the United States to their places of residence in the Mexican interior - has resumed for the eighth consecutive summer.
First initiated in 2004, MIRP was designed as a bilateral effort between the United States and Mexico to reduce the loss of human life and to break the cycle of organized crime linked to the smuggling, trafficking and exploitation of migrants along the Arizona/Mexico border.
Under MIRP, Mexican nationals apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in the Yuma and Tucson sectors are taken to DHS facilities in Nogales and Yuma, Ariz., where candidates are medically screened, meet with Mexican Consulate officials and are offered the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the program.
"The Mexican Interior Repatriation program offers illegal aliens an opportunity to voluntarily return to their homes, away from the dangers of the Sonoran Desert, and demonstrates how the governments of Mexico and the United States are working together to save lives," said Randy Hill, chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector (emphasis added).
Candidates for MIRP also include those who are identified as "at risk" due to criteria like age, physical condition or distance from their hometowns, as these populations are particularly vulnerable to heat or risk of victimization by criminals operating in border regions.
Aliens who have been convicted of violent crimes are ineligible to participate in MIRP. Individuals who volunteer to participate in the program are flown from Tucson International Airport to Mexico City. Upon arriving in Mexico City, participants are provided bus transportation to their hometowns in Mexico's interior.
This year's first repatriation flight departed Tucson International Airport Monday, and flights are scheduled to continue this year through Sept. 28.
More than 102,000 Mexican nationals have been safely returned under MIRP since it started in 2004.
Monday, July 11, 2011
From the National Immigration Law Center:
President Obama and Congressional Leadership are seeking a sweeping agreement on the debt limit and deficit. Critical safety-net programs for low and middle-income immigrant and native-born families are on the chopping block.
These federal programs provide critical services, including food, health care and income support that working families cannot afford to lose. Low-income families, including those that include immigrants, need these services most during an economic downturn. Eliminating funding for these programs is an assault on all vulnerable populations, including immigrants, at the expense of giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. The truth is: we’ll all feel it. The proposed budget cuts will decimate programs and take us a giant step backward in our effort to create a more just society.
WE — and our friends and families — MUST ACT NOW.
Click here to submit a message to the White House. Tell President Obama and Vice President Biden that they must protect low-income programs in the negotiations to reduce the deficit. Insist on fair increases in revenues to prevent reckless cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and other essential services.
PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY
AT 2:00 PM Chase Field Main Gate
Phoenix, AZ - Stepping up to the plate against the most powerful state elites and the opposition of economic interests that have successful manipulated the placement of the 2011 MLBA All-Stars Game in Arizona, home of AZ SB1070, the Boycott Commission of the Comités de Defensa del Barrio will hold a press conference today at 2:00 PM to denounce the immoral collusion driven by the private prison industry, and their lobbying arm the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in cahoots with AZ Senate President Russell Pearce (author of AZ SB1070) and law enforcement personalities across the state.
One of the identified financial backers in the scheme to produce a steady flow of inmates for the private prison industry via corrupt legislative ties such as those which produced AZ SB1070 and other copycat bills across the country is Ken Kendricks owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Another target of denunciation for the Boycott of the Huelga del Pueblo is MLB Commissioner of Baseball Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
"What kind of land that calls itself free, can deny the Spirit of Humanity?" said Tupac Enrique Acosta as the official report on the Community Impact of AZ SB1070 by the Boycott Commission of the Comités de Defensa del Barrio was being compiled for publication tomorrow Tuesday July 12, 2011 at 5:30 PM.
The press conference today is a continuation of a long series of Boycott actions at the national and international level going at least three years to Strike Out AZ SB1070. Another press conference is scheduled for Tuesday at 11:00 AM to receive solidarity delegations arriving in Phoenix for the peaceful protest and Boycott Picket at the All-Stars Game itself tomorrow.
Last year many baseball stars denounced Arizona's racist law SB1070 and declared that they would boycott the All Star Game if SB1070 was not repealed, including star player Adrian Gonzalez. A year later, in spite of a partial injunction that came as a result of the federal lawsuit against SB1070, community members testify to the fact that the criminalization of the community is in fact in full effect and worsening.
. . .
Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana and the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) declare their unconditional support of Los Comites en Defensa del Barrio (Committees in Defense of the Barrio) and the call for a complete boycott of the Major League Baseball All-Stars Game to commence July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.
"Let it be known far and wide that a growing number of organizations throughout the country are following the direction of Los Comites en Defensa del Barrio, which has taken the lead in organizing the resistance to the increased repression and persecution of our families in the state of Arizona," declared Nativo Lopez, National President of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana and MAPA. He added, "We will not be dissuaded by political personalities, media commentators, and sports pundits or authors, and even some immigrant advocates, to align ourselves with a "boycott-lite" approach and only call on players and sympathizers to bear white ribbons in protest of SB1070 and the policies of Governor Jan Brewer. This would be tantamount to calling off the boycott of all things and events in Arizona until SB1070 is repealed, and this would be a betrayal to all the families and workers who are bearing the brunt of the repression on a daily basis."
Lopez emphasized that the organizations on the ground and on the front-lines of the movement to repeal SB1070 and confront the daily persecution of workers and their families should be recognized and heeded, and not the politicians, political commentators, or even advocates from afar who have good distance from the repression.
Los Comites en Defensa del Barrio are convening a press conference today and tomorrow to continue their activities to encourage support for the MLB All-Stars Game boycott and to denounce collusion between Arizona Senator Russell Pearce (legislative author of SB1070) and the private prison industry and its lobbying arm, American Legislative Exchange Council.
Charles Kenny writes for Bloomberg Businessweek:
For a country of immigrants, the U.S. remains vexed about how to deal with the fact that people from elsewhere still want to come here. Two successive Presidents have now been stymied in their attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The latest foray is the DREAM Act, a narrow but important piece of the immigration reform puzzle that would, at a minimum, give the children of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. The bill failed in the Senate last December, despite the Obama Administration’s support. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reintroduced the act in May, but the prospects for passing any meaningful legislation before the 2012 election are slim.
In the meantime, the millions of illegal immigrants already here must continue to live and work in the shadows, one false move away from arrest and deportation. Indeed, legislation in states such as Alabama and Georgia is moving toward treating not just illegal immigrants, but also those who employ them, as criminals. And yet if forced to do without illegal labor, vast sectors of the U.S. economy, from agriculture to construction, would founder—not to mention the putting greens infested by crab grass and the children who would run riot without care. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports legalizing undocumented workers who are “already contributing to our economy,” provided they don’t otherwise run afoul of the law.
What makes the political impasse over immigration particularly frustrating is that hiring an illegal alien is good for the illegal alien, good for the U.S. economy, and good for the country he or she comes from. So what’s not to like? In cases like this, there is only one moral course available for true patriots: Go find an illegal to hire. Huge numbers of people in border states are doing precisely that. Read more...
Here is my contribution (S.B. 1070: Federal preemption and why the Court won’t address civil rights issues).
I will update this entry as other contributions are posted.
Richard Samp, Washington Legal Foundation, The constitutionality of S.B. 1070
Peter Spiro, Temple, Why the Court will duck S.B. 1070 case (for now)
Roderick Hills, NYU, Textualism and open questions about S.B. 1070
Carissa Hessick, Arizona State University, Mirror image theory in state immigration regulation
Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania, The constitutionality of “attrition through enforcement”
Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute, S.B. 1070: Constitutional but bad policy
Carol Swain, Vanderbilt, Why the Court should uphold S.B.1070
Hope Lewis, Northeastern, Human rights implications of Arizona v. United States
Margaret Stock, professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Counsel to the firm at Lane Powell PC, Arizona v. United States: The tail wagging the dog on regulating immigration enforcement
Lauren Gilbert, St. Thomas, Presuming preemption: Implications of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting
Larry Joseph, Arizona v. United States:Narrowing “prevent-or-frustrate” conflict preemption