Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rethinking Conventional Wisdom on Border Security

From the Immigration Policy Center:

Immigration Policy Center has released two “Perspectives” on border enforcement: How to Fix a Broken Border: Hit the Cartels Where It Hurts, part one of a three-part series by Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General, and Guns, Drugs, and Money: Tackling the Real Threats to Border Security, by Josiah Heyman, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Terry Goddard argues in How to Fix a Broken Border: Hit the Cartels Where It Hurts that “much of the ‘secure the border’ debate is nonsense. Again and again, symbols trump reality, misinformation buries the truth. Programs like building a bigger border wall or enlisting police in the local enforcement of immigration laws are sold as ways to make the border more secure. They will not.” According to Goddard, our border-enforcement resources should be deployed not against unauthorized immigrants, but against the criminal cartels in Mexico that control the smuggling of people, drugs, guns, and money across the border.  “A more effective border strategy starts with the…torrent of cash pouring across the border into the cartel pocketbooks. So, go after the money. Taking away the profit cripples the organization. Conversely, as long as the money from drug sales and human smuggling—which may total more than $40 billion a year—flows to the cartels, the violence in Mexico, the sophisticated smugglers crossing our border, and the perception that nothing is being done to defend the border will continue.”

Josiah Heyman argues in Guns, Drugs and Money: Tackling the Real Threats to Border Security  that: “1) the U.S. border communities themselves are secure; 2) the main risks to that security are potential, not actual—stemming from the dangers posed by criminal organizations, not by migrants or international terrorists; and 3) there is a mis-prioritization of resources away from ports of entry toward migration enforcement.” Heyman recommends that the federal government “take an intelligence-driven approach to homeland security, rather than a mass migration enforcement approach.” And he recommends that the government “shift resources from enforcement in between ports of entry (border patrolling, fences/walls, drones, etc.) to ports of entry, the higher likelihood travel path for guns, drugs, assassins, and terrorists.”


September 17, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is the Kinder, Gentler Obama Removal Policy Really Kinder, Gentler?

Nathan Pippenger's article in the New Republic would suggest that the "new" Obama policy of prosecutorial discretion in removal cases is just talk, not action.  Admittedly, the results are to this point mixed.


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

State poised to restrict use of E-Verify database

Bernice Yeung on California Watch  
writes that California is poised to nullify immigration enforcement ordinances in about a half dozen California cities by restricting the use of E-Verify, the U.S. government's database that can be used to check the immigration status of job applicants and workers. Under the Employment Acceleration Act, passed by the California Senate last week and currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, state and local governments could not require California businesses to use E-Verify to attempt to identify undocumented employees.

It willbe interesting to se whether Governor Brown signs the bill into law.  As Attorney General, he was a proponent of the Obama Administration's Secure Communities program, which is controversial among many local governmental agencies.


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Springsteen: The Rising -- An Inspirational Ode to the Courage of the Nation after 9/11

As you know, I have taken a somewhat dim view of the hullabaloo over the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001. Still, I think that we can draw some inspiration from some of the responses of real people doing their best on that fateful day as captured in the Bruce Springsteen song "The Rising."

Have a great weekend!


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Day Laborers Prevail in Ninth Circuit, Redondo Beach Ordinance Struck Down!

An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has overruled precedent and reversed a Ninth Circuit decision upholding the City of Redondo Beach's ordinance regulating the solicitation of work by day laborers.  See COMITE DE JORNALEROS v. REDONDO BEACH, Nos. 06-55750 & 06-56869 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc).  Judge Milan Smith wrote the majority opinion.  There is a concurrence by Judge Ronald M. Gould; Special Concurrence by Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr.; and a Dissent by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

In introducing the majority opinion, Judge Smith wrote:

A pair of day-laborer organizations challenge a City of Redondo Beach (Redondo Beach or the City) anti-solicitation ordinance that bars individuals from ôstand[ing] on a street or highway and solicit[ing], or attempt[ing] to solicit, employment, business, or contributions from an occupant of any motor vehicle.∫ Redondo Beach Municipal Code fl 3- 7.1601(a) (the Ordinance). We agree with the day laborers that the Ordinance is a facially unconstitutional restriction on speech.

Our analysis is guided by certain well-established principles of First Amendment law. In public places such as streets and sidewalks, “the State [may] enforce a content-based exclusion” on speech if the “regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.” Perry Educ. Ass’n v. Perry Local Educators’ Ass’n, 460 U.S. 37, 45 (1983). For content-neutral regulations, the State may limit “the time, place, and manner of expression” if the regulations are “narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication.” Id.

We conclude that the Ordinance fails to satisfy the narrow tailoring element of the Supreme Court’s “time, place, and manner” test. The Ordinance is not narrowly tailored because it regulates significantly more speech than is necessary to achieve the City’s purpose of improving traffic safety and traffic flow at two major Redondo Beach intersections, and the City could have achieved these goals through less restrictive measures, such as the enforcement of existing traffic laws and regulations. Because the Ordinance does not constitute a reasonable regulation of the time, place, or manner of speaking, it is facially unconstitutional.

Never one to mince worfds, Chief Judge KOZINSKI (a previous ImmigrationProf Immigrant of the Day), with whom Judge BEA joined, in "deep dissent" started his opinion by stating that "This is folly."

Professor Kristina Campbell, who worked on the case an attorney at MALDEF, has questioned the reliance on the First Amendment to vindicate the rights of day laborers.  Here is the MALDEF press release about the decision.

UPDATE (9/22):  The N.Y. Times editorial on the Ninth Circuit decision is an interesting read.


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

S-Comm Task Force Issues Recommendations Amid Resignations

From the LA Times:

A group tasked with suggesting fixes for the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program released its report on Thursday as five committee members resigned in disagreement, including all three union members and a retired police chief.

The task force recommended the Department of Homeland Security start over and "reintroduce" the program in areas where it has proved unpopular, and recommended undocumented immigrants with minor traffic offenses be exempted from removal proceedings through the program. The five members of the 19-member task force resigned because they could not support the final recommendations and disagreed with the committee's decision-making process.

Arturo Venegas, retired police chief of Sacramento and director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, said the committee's recommendations fall "far short" of the principles he kept in mind throughout the council.

"I believe that people with minor infractions, such as driving without a license, will still be put into deportation proceedings based on the scheme recommended by the task force," he wrote in a letter to Chuck Wexler, chairman of the task force. "Immigrants will continue to fear that contact with the police could lead to deportation, crimes will go unreported, and criminals will remain free to prey on others."

Secure Communities, a central part of the administration's goal to deport 400,000 undocumented immigrants per year, relies on fingerprints taken by local police to detect and remove undocumented immigrants. But critics of the program argue it nets too many people who commit minor crimes, such as traffic violations, or who are charged but never convicted. Read more...

Response from NILC:


Program Should Be Shelved, Not Tweaked

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid a flutter of resignations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advisory Council Task Force today released its report and recommendations on Secure Communities, a fingerprint sharing immigration enforcement program that has eroded public trust in law enforcement. The recommendations were not signed by several of the task force’s 20 members, some of whom called for the suspension of the program in order to correct fundamental flaws. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today’s report unsurprisingly outlines several major and systemic flaws with Secure Communities. Although the task force members rightly identified many of this program’s detractions, which sever crucial ties between communities of color and law enforcement and decimate public trust between immigrant communities and the Obama administration, they failed to make the crucial call to terminate this harmful program. We commend those task force members who chose to resign rather than add their names to this incomplete report and endorse DHS’s repeated attempts to tinker with a program that is beyond repair. Unless Secure Communities is halted, it will continue to wreak havoc on the communities many of the members of the task force care about.

“The task force identified a few substantive recommendations that would reduce the number of people caught in Secure Communities’ dragnet. Unfortunately, past experience shows that when it comes to this pernicious immigration enforcement program, such recommendations go under advisement, and are never actually implemented.

“Ultimately, even major changes to Secure Communities will not restore public trust in law enforcement. The Obama administration must abandon this fundamentally flawed program. Enforcement-only immigration policies may score political points among a few voters, but it is already leading to anger and apathy among many voters who recognize these policies come at the price of community engagement and public safety. We urge DHS and its task force members to instead expend their time, intellect, and efforts on ending our country’s mass immigration enforcement-only strategies and work to increase prosperity and true safety in our communities.”


September 16, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Full Transcript of Obama’s speech to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute: “reforming” immigration system “crucial for our economic future”


Here is a transcript of President Obama's speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.  The President, not surprisingly, endorses his jobs bill, the DREAM Act, and comprehensive immigration reform.  Do any of these bill have a chance of passing?


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

9/11 Immigration Symposium at Penn State: Live Streaming and Recording

Live streaming and recording of today’s symposium can be found here. My friend Susan Akram (Boston University) is talking right now.  For details, see here.


September 16, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

100,000 Pledge for New Conversation on Immigration


Thousands join an unprecedented campaign on by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, who is calling for a new conversation on immigration.

WASHINGTON, DC – More than 100,000 people all across the United States have joined an extremely popular campaign on started by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who came out as undocumented in an explosive New York Times article earlier this year.

Following the publication of the article, Vargas started a project called Define American and launched his commitment drive on asking Americans to pledge to listen and participate in a new conversation on immigration, as well as offer their own definitions of what it means to be an American.

“The only way to solve a problem is to tell the truth about it, and I wanted to share that truth about my own story, as well as the stories of immigrants and the communities they live in nationwide," explains Jose. “The time has come for to strike up a more civil, inclusive, common sense debate about immigration in America. I am overwhelmed by the response: 100,000 Americans from different backgrounds and from all over the country coming together to spark a powerful new dialogue about what it means to be an American."

The enormous response of the online pledge has included over 4,363 comments in addition to the 100,000 signatures, and Vargas has shared some of those comments and stories on television appearances on major news networks. This fall, Define American is planning to launch initiatives to spread the unique stories of ordinary Americans defining what it means to be American in different ways.

“What Jose Antonio Vargas and Define American have accomplished in just a few months is astounding,” said Director of Organizing Jackie Mahendra. “Jose has already changed the U.S. immigration debate by courageously sharing his story, and he has involved hundreds of thousands of Americans in that conversation through his pledge on It’s incredible, the power one story and one campaign can have.”

Jose Antonio Vargas’s campaign on has been covered by major outlets across the country including Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report and MTV. Jose Antonio Vargas has shared his story on ABC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, FOX News, and several other outlets.


September 16, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sign of the Times: Bus company offers "border crisis" tours


Here (and here and here) is a true sign of the times.  Grey Line Tours in Tuscon, Arizona is offering visitors a different kind of tour.  Tourists can jump on a bus as part of the new "Border Crisis: Fact and Fiction" tour. The website for the tour states that

"Take your own fact-finding mission on the US-Mexico Border. Don't let the politicians and news broadcasters become your only source of information. Expect to run the Border fence line, interact with ranchers and border officials, inspect the Human Borders water tanks and tour a ranch right in the middle of the action. This apolitical tour aims to educate and alert you to the reality of living on the border. Includes Lunch."


September 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Country Profile -- Canada's Immigration Policy: a Focus on Human Capital


Migration Information Source  profiles Canada's immigration policy.  Canada has long been a country of net immigration and has designed its current immigration policy around attracting highly educated and skilled migrants for entry into its labor force. In this country profile, Ashley Challinor discusses the challenges associated with this approach and provides a sense of the actual scale and nature of migration into Canada.

Canada may have some immigration law and policy lessons for teh United States.


September 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Filipina Teachers Teaching in U.S. Inner Cities

From POV:

A Century After American Educators Helped Create Public Schools in the Philippines, Filipino Teachers Are Returning the Favor - in America's Inner Cities
"The Learning is like no other teaching film - it sensitizes you in fresh and unexpected ways to the transactions between instructors and students." - Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun
One hundred years ago, American teachers established the English-speaking public school system of the Philippines. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. Ramona Diaz's The Learning is the story of four Filipina women who reluctantly leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore. They hope to use their higher salaries to transform their families' impoverished lives back home. But the women bring idealistic visions of the teacher's craft and of life in America, which soon collide with Baltimore's tough realities.
The Learning has its national broadcast premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 at 10 p.m. on POV (Point of View) on PBS. (Check local listings.) The film will stream in its entirety on the POV website, Sept. 21 - Oct. 21. POV is the winner of a Special Emmy for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking, an IDA Award for Best Continuing Series and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers' 2011 Award for Corporate Commitment to Diversity.

September 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Arrests of "Low Priority" Individuals Continue

From Northwest Immigrant Rights Project:

If  you have been reading news articles about immigration lately, you maybe as confounded as we are.  On the one hand, you may have read about the Obama Administration's announcement that it plans to shift its policy on deportations "from going after those who pose no security or public-safety threat to focusing enforcement on those who do."

But you may have also read a story the very same week about how Border Patrol agents arrested a Korean man-who posed no threat to anybody-at a farmers market in Port Angeles in what one witness described as "so clearly a case of racial profiling." 

Unfortunately, President Obama and his advisers in Washington, DC appear to be disconnected from what federal immigration agencies are doing in local communities around the country, including here in Washington State. 

As you may have read in one of many recent reports, the U.S. Border Patrol has greatly expanded its presence in our State, but increasingly it appears to be focusing its resources on exactly the kinds of individuals that the Administration says it does not want to deport: long-time residents with deep ties to the community and no criminal history. Even the Border Patrol's own agents in our region have started to come forward to decry how the agency is wasting precious resources.

What is perhaps most frustrating about all of this is that the President does not want to own up to what his Administration is doing. Recently, a White House official noted that despite the announcement about the review of pending deportation cases, the Administration still expected to continue deporting approximately 400,000 people each year. 

But the official suggested that the Administration's hands were tied because the number of deportations was tied to how much money Congress allocated to immigration enforcement.  In other words, it seems that the Administration is saying: "we don't mean to deport so many, but Congress is making us do it."  Well, this argument may carry some weight if the amount of funding the Administration was requesting were quite limited and Congress had substantially increased it, but that is not the case: the Administration is essentially getting what it is asking for.  In its most recent budget request to Congress, the Administration is asking for even more Border Patrol agents than ever.  

We can only guess that this increase in funding is necessary because we'll soon need more agents who can patrol farmers markets in our region.  

Jorge L. Barón
Executive Director


September 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Community Integration of Newcomers

Stronger Together:
Community Integration of Newcomers
September 20, 2011, 12:00pm – 1:30pm (EST)

Admission is free.

RSVP to attend this event
Watch Live Online
Featured panelists:
Laurent Gilbert, Mayor, City of Lewiston, Maine
Patrice O’Neill, Co-Founder and CEO, The Working Group
Michael Byun, Executive Director, Asian Services In Action, Inc.
David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America

Vanessa Cárdenas, Director of Progress 2050, Center for American Progress

America’s new arrivals have always been one of our nation’s greatest sources of strength and, at times, challenge. When newcomers arrive to a community, they bring great assets, but their presence can also cause tension within the receiving communities, particularly those who do not have the institutional support to facilitate integration.‬

‪Though widely experienced, the challenges of integration are largely ignored and too little attention is given to how local communities can help facilitate, or impede, the process of integration of new arrivals.‬

Please join us for a fascinating two-part event that breaks new ground in a phenomenon as old as our nation—how communities sometimes cower, but more often conquer fears and grow stronger by embracing differences. First, an abridged screening of a soon-to-be-aired PBS documentary entitled “Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness” that gives a clear-eyed view how the town of Patchogue, New York, reacted and rebounded after an immigrant was killed in a hate crime attack by local teenagers.‬

Following the screening, experts from across the nation will discuss the importance of focusing on what receiving communities can do to help integrate new arrivals, and what others can learn from communities that have taken the lead in creating a dynamic process of integration. The discussion will draw heavily from a two-day gathering of experts on integration and a soon-to-be-released CAP report.


September 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Rising Souls, Singing Scorpions A Documentary

 Rising Souls, Singing Scorpions is a documentary film by award-winning filmmakers Paul Espinosa and Mark Day about Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez, a southern California musician and community organizer based in San Diego. It’s a moving story of individual perseverance and an engaging tale of how art and culture can play a role in achieving justice and social change.


September 14, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

HUNDREDS PETITION TO KEEP YOUNG FLORIDIAN WITH HER FAMILY: A test of the Obama Administration's true commitment for prosecutorial discretion

In just a few hours, hundreds of people have joined a campaign on calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt the deportation of 21-year-old Jennifer Lopez, a DREAM Act-eligible woman in Palm Beach. The campaign on was launched by Manuel Guerra, a leader of the South Florida student activist group Students Working for Immigrant Rights who himself successfully won a fight against deportation after nearly 800 people signed a petition on

 Guerra launched the campaign for Lopez after he heard she was placed in removal proceedings following a routine traffic stop. Student activists say that under new guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Lopez does not meet the criteria for deportation because she has no criminal background, was brought to the country as a young child, and cares for two critically ill and handicapped siblings, both of whom are U.S. citizens.

“I still cannot believe that despite the announcement of the new deportation policy by of the White House, we still see people like Jennifer Lopez put into deportation proceedings, after getting stopped by the police,” said Manuel Guerra, who launched the campaign on “This shouldn't be happening anymore. I think she deserves the same chance as I do: a chance for the American Dream. We are not criminals, we are just people who want to live normal lives like anybody else.”

News of the online petition campaign’s success is likely to increase pressure on Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Within hours of the campaign’s launch, Manuel Guerra had gathered more than 200 signatures on, the world’s fastest growing platform for social change. The activists plan to launch a social media campaign, and at the current rate of growth, the petition is expected to have more than 1,000 supporters by next week.

“It’s been inspiring to watch this campaign take off,” said Director of Organizing Jackie Mahendra. “Manuel Guerra benefited when his friends started a campaign for him on That campaign was successful in stopping his deportation, and now he is fighting for Jennifer through the platform. The fact that the campaign has grown so quickly demonstrates that Jennifer's story is resonating with others, too.” Jennifer Lopez is currently in deportation proceedings and is likely to receive a hearing within three weeks.

Live signature totals from Manuel Guerra’s campaign for Jennifer Lopez.


September 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dying to Work

Much menial labor in the United States today is performed by undocumented migrant workers—many of whom risk their lives in thousand-mile journeys simply to get to the United States. A year ago this August, 72 of those migrants—58 men and 14 women—were on their way to the US border when they were murdered by a drug gang at a ranch in northern Mexico.

A group of Mexican journalists and writers have created a website,, to commemorate each of the victims, some of whom have never been identified. The New York Review of Books has prepared a selection of English translations of their work.


September 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 US Census

The U.S. Census Bureau released the findings from their report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010. This report found that in 2010, median household income declined, the poverty rate increased and the percentage without health insurance coverage was not statistically different from the previous year. Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.


September 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Conference: Breaching Borders: State Encroachment into the Federal Immigration Domain?

Breaching Borders: State Encroachment into the Federal Immigration Domain? October 20-21, 2011 Sponsored by the Washburn University School of Law Center for Law and Government and the Washburn Law Journal

 Washburn Law is pleased to host a symposium exploring the political and legal controversies mounting at the intersection of federal and state immigration law. Three plenary sessions will provide a comparative assessment of state immigration policies, explore immigration and employment, and re-visit the concept of birthright citizenship. Speakers and panelists include:

- Kris W. Kobach, Secretary of State for Kansas;

- Nora V. Demleitner, Dean and Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law;

- Peter H. Schuck, Simeon E. Baldwin Professor Emeritus of Law, Yale Law School;

- Margaret Stock, Adjunct Instructor, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Political Science;

- Peter S. Vincent, Principal Legal Advisor, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A complete schedule of presentations and speaker information is available here.  Registration for the symposium is complimentary. Seating is limited. To ensure sufficient accommodations you must pre-register online at the above website.


September 13, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Border Apprehensions at 40 year low!

Fox News Latino reports
that "The number of immigrant arrests on the border with Mexico stands at its lowest level in 40 years, undermining conservative claims that the zone is `out of control' and leading activists to insist the time is right for comprehensive immigration reform."


September 13, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)