Saturday, January 29, 2011

CARECEN Celebrates 25th Anniversary

From the Central American Resources Center:

CARECEN turns 25 -- Romero Vive Event honoring Father Jon Sobrino, Eric Quezada & Maria Gallo!

Estimados Colegas y Amigos/Dear Colleagues and Friends!

I am writing to share with you the exciting news that this year CARECEN turns 25!  We are now a young adult full of possibility and past the challenging teen years –thank you all who have contributed to our success!  To celebrate and honor our legacy, the Romero Vive Event Committee has selected 3 exemplary leaders to be honored at our second annual event March 31st.   Our goal this year is to raise enough money to hire a new immigration attorney. Did you know that the whole Latino community only has 4 immigration lawyers between all 4 non-profit organizations that do legal immigration work?  -- A shame given that Latino immigrants are overwhelmingly the targets of the wave of detention and deportation we have been facing the last few years.  

As centroamericanos, we are very grateful to the diverse communities that opened their arms and welcomed us in our time of greatest need. We are also proud that we have worked hard to create our own institutions, do for ourselves and work on behalf of our community. The three people the event organizing committee and CARECEN board selected to receive the Romero Vive Award are exemplary individuals:  FATHER JON SOBRINO, ERIC QUEZADA AND MARIA E. GALLO – all have been advocating and leading on behalf of Latinos and immigrants in our city and fighting for the dignity of poor people in El Salvador and Central America.  It is important to us that we showcase leadership on behalf of social justice in different realms of the work.

I am also writing to invite you to come celebrate with us on March 31, 2011, from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Green Room at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center. The event will celebrate the life and work of Monsignor Óscar Romero. Assassinated by the Salvadoran military in 1980, Monsignor Romero was a staunch defender of human rights and advocate of social justice. The Romero Vive Celebration will honor the work of three individuals who embody his legacy.

A Jesuit priest and theologian, Father Sobrino is well-respected for his contributions to liberation theology and dedication to the Salvadoran people’s struggle for justice. In 1989 he narrowly escaped assassination by the Salvadoran military for his outspoken work to bring about a resolution to the brutal Salvadoran civil war. He currently resides in El Salvador.  Father Sobrino has an amazing following and many of you have already requested individual meetings with him. Unfortunately, because of his health he will spend most of his time resting and his only appearance in San Francisco will be at our event. 

Born in San Francisco of Guatemalan parents, Eric Quezada is a long-time community activist. He is currently executive director of the Dolores Street Community Center, and has worked at the Mission Housing Development Corporation and the Mission Economic Development Agency. He serves on a number of community agency boards, as well as acting as vice-chair of San Francisco’s Democratic Central Committee. 

Originally from Modesto, Maria Gallo is a senior vice president with the Corporate Social Responsibility Group of Union Bank. Her passionate advocacy on behalf of Latinas and Latinos has won her awards from such organizations as the California Latino Civil Rights Network and Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. She’s presently a board member of the Latino Community Foundation and an advisory member of Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

CARECEN continues to hold the vision that cost the lives of so many in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and here in the US -- including Mons. Romero –“It is not God’s will that some have everything and others have nothing.” So we work hard to build collaboration across sectors, race, neighborhoods – to make sure the poor are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to succeed in our country and in Central America.  PLEASE JOIN US IN SAYING – THE POOR DESERVE DIGNITY, MONS.ROMERO, PRESENTE!

We sent out the hold the date card on email last week. I have attached it for you to forward to your community to make sure they are represented.  We are sending the formal invitation to the printer early next week.

I am humbled by your commitment and hard work to assure that Latino, immigrant, poor and disenfranchised communities thrive and have the political power we deserve!

Ana C. Perez
Executive Director


January 29, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mike Honda's Message to Republicans: CIR Now


A Pitch to My Republican Colleagues: Immigration Reform Now
by Congressman Mike Honda

[Article written for Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network]
House Speaker John Boehner’s pick of Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) over Rep Steve King (R-IA) to chair the Judiciary immigration subcommittee is one step closer to the kind of reform for which past administrations, from President Obama to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, have long called.  While both Representatives may be opposed to the kind of reform for which House Democrats are calling, Gallegly may be inclined to take the path more reasoned, especially if Democrats message effectively on the economic advantages to reform.  There are many.
Immigration brings with it formidable fiscal implications. Keeping immigrants here or sending them home can save or cost taxpayers dearly, depending on what course is chosen. Just count the ways that reform, which puts our undocumented immigrations on the path to legalization, could foot our country’s finances.
First, any deportation plan of America's undocumented immigrants would cost our country's gross domestic product a whopping $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years, according to a study by UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda. Conversely, if we embrace comprehensive immigration reform, we add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next 10 years. Hinojosa-Ojeda also projected that the economy would benefit from a temporary worker program, which would raise the GDP by $792 billion.
Second, immigrants who become citizens consistently pursue higher-paying jobs and higher education, spend more and provide higher tax revenue. Just imagine what 12 million newly documented Americans could do for the economy. The legalization process also brings economic benefits like the retention of remittances. Reform will reunite families separated by our immigration system and keep monies in the U.S., instead of having workers send substantial portions of their salary to their family members abroad. As an example of the potential, U.S. remittances to Latin America alone totaled almost $46 billion in 2008. Of that, Mexico received almost $24 billion. Reducing remittances offers obvious cash infusion for our economy, as billions of dollars currently being sent overseas would instead be spent in American shops and restaurants, creating jobs and helping to get our economy going.
Third, by affording 2.1 million American students the opportunity to pursue higher education or military service, our government could collect $3.6 trillion over the next 40 years. The DREAM Act, which failed to pass the Senate last month but remains bipartisan, offers a conditional six-year path to legal permanent U.S. residence for immigrant youth brought here as children who demonstrate good moral character and complete at least two years of higher education or U.S. military service. Without the DREAM Act, about 65,000 students a year –honor-roll students, star athletes, talented artists and aspiring teachers – will graduate high school and then hit a roadblock. Instead of entering college or the military, and gaining upward mobility and higher education, they are forced to live in the shadows and work low-paying jobs.
Fourth, the Reuniting Families Act, which I will reintroduce in this Congress, will allow all Americans to be reunited with their families, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender permanent partners.  The economic benefits of this policy also cannot be overstated: American workers with their families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those living apart from loved ones for years on end. By pooling resources, families can do together what they can't do alone -- start family businesses, provide care for the young and old, create American jobs and contribute more to this country's welfare. The healthier the community, the more expendable income is available and the lower the burden on government social services. This correlation is well researched and well substantiated, but it is up to us to make it a reality.
We understand that during tough economic times, the natural reaction is to close the borders and look inward. Yet, the irony of anti-immigration sentiment, which fears a loss of jobs for Americans if more immigrant workers enter the United States, is that it is fiscally more prudent to legalize, insure, employ, reunite and educate our immigrants than to keep families apart.
This is a time when we must use every available resource to stimulate our economy and control government spending. To my fiscally conservative Republican colleagues, the onus is on you. Left to future Congresses, the number of undocumented immigrants will only increase and the visa waits will only get longer. Meanwhile, we lose an opportunity to do what's right economically. The fiscal case is clear: Reform now.

January 29, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 28, 2011

ICE Set to Deport University of Arkansas Honors Student

An unfortunate story from CHANGE.ORG:

"Jonathan Chavez, an honors student at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, was on his way home to visit his parents when immigration authorities nabbed him on a bus and hauled him to a private detention facility in Florida. His crime? Despite the fact that his parents have legal status in the United States, Jonathan does not possess legal status because his naturalization process was stalled when he turned 18."


January 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The (Asylum) Story of Andre and Mikhail Bulatov from Kazakhstan

Read this story from GonzoTimes about two asylum-seekers from Kazakhstan.



January 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kavanagh: Citizenship is not a Door Prize

When John Kavanagh introduced his bill attacking birthright citizenship, he had some choice words:

Julianne Hing writes for Colorlines:

True to its word, Arizona dropped its long-promised anti-immigration bills attacking birthright citizenship. Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh filed two bills [yesterday] in the Arizona House, and State Sen. Ron Gould was also expected to file his own.

“Those two companion bills have one purpose,” Kavanagh told Colorlines. “We want to trigger a Supreme Court review of the phrase ‘subject to jurisdiction thereof’ which is contained in the 14th Amendment.”

Kavanagh said he believed that statements from the 14th Amendment’s authors and initial Supreme Court decisions reveal that the amendment was never intended to grant citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.

“We believe the current interpretation is wrong,” he said. . . .

“If we get the correct court decision…we will not be dispensing citizenship like a door prize,” Kavanagh said. “Especially not for those whose parents snuck into this country illegally through the back door.” Read more...


January 28, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Margaret Stock on Birthright Citizenship

Read an interview with Margaret Stock on birthright citizenship.  It tells you all you need to know about the misguided efforts to curtail birthright citizenship.


January 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mixed Verdict in Shenandoah, PA Police Cover Up Case in Killing of Luis Ramirez

Photo Courtesy of Latino Politics Blog

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a jury verdict in the case of an alleged police coverup of the hate killing of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in rural Shenandoah, Pennsylvania in July 2008:

"One of three former Shenandoah police officers accused of obstructing an FBI investigation into the beating death . . . was convicted Thursday of the most serious charge against him. Former Police Chief Matthew Nestor and subordinates William Moyer and Jason Hayes were accused of helping a group of white high school football players cover up their roles in the July 2008 attack on 25-year-old Luis Ramirez. A federal jury deliberated 14 hours over two days before reaching a split verdict. The jury acquitted the defendants of conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation. Nestor was found guilty of falsifying his police report, a charge that carries up to 20 years in prison. Moyer, who had faced five counts, was found guilty of lying to the FBI and acquitted of the others. Hayes was acquitted of both charges against him."

For a summary of the protracted legal history of the Shenandoah case, which included an acquital of the teens who beat Luis Ramirez to death on criminal charges in state court followed by their convictions of  hate crimes in federal court, click here.  In the federal prosecution, the jury found that two former high school football players in the small town of Shenandoah violated Ramirez's civil rights in a violent assault. A key issue in the case was "the mindset of a quartet of belligerent teens who called Ramirez a `spic,' told him to go back to Mexico and assaulted the immigrant with their fists and feet."

Shenandoah is not far from Hazelton, PA, a town that over the last few years has seen much anti-immigrant activity and, last fall, had its immigration law ruled to be unconstitutional by a federal court of appeals.


January 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Articles From SSRN

Here are some new immigration articles from the Social Science Research Network:

 "Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost: Immigration Enforcement’s Failed Experiment with Penal Severity" Fordham Urban Law Journal, Forthcoming TERESA A. MILLER, State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.  ABSTRACT: This article traces the evolution of “get tough” sentencing and corrections policies that were touted as the solution to a criminal justice system widely viewed as “broken” in the mid-1970s. It draws parallels to the adoption some twenty years later of harsh, punitive policies in the immigration enforcement system to address perceptions that it is similarly “broken,” policies that have embraced the theories, objectives and tools of criminal punishment, and caused the two systems to converge. In discussing the myriad of harms that have resulted from the convergence of these two systems, and the criminal justice system’s recent shift away from severity and toward harm reduction, this article suggests that the criminal justice system has been more proactive in compensating for its excesses than the immigration enforcement system and discusses the reasons why.  BLOGGER'S NOTE:  PROFESSOR MILLER'S CRIMMIGRATION SCHOLARSHIP IS ALWAYS FIRST-RATE!

"Because You're Mine I Walk the Line: The Trials and Tribulations of the Family Visa Program" Fordham Urban Law Journal, 2010 EVELYN HAYDEE CRUZ, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.  ABSTRACT: The current backlog of over 3.5 million immigration visas places strains on mixed immigration status families and exacerbates the undocumented population problem. Families who choose to wait for a visa to become available before reunifying may strain the family unit. Those who reunify in the United States without first obtaining legal status face deportation and inadmissibility because of their unlawful residence in the United States. Congress has made some attempts to alleviate these strains. Unfortunately, the broad intent of these statutory changes has run up against narrow administrative interpretation. Nonetheless, in the present political climate, administrative solutions that seek to solve inadequacies in the current system are more politically expedient than installing a completely new family visa program. Therefore, immigration reform efforts must focus on expansive statutory interpretation of these and other existing statutes. In this essay I outline the social costs of an inadequate family visa program and offer some suggestions for administrative improvements to the program that do not necessitate legislative action. However, the inadequacies of the current family petition system must eventually be addressed through a congressional overhaul of the process. Therefore, I visit the history of narrow administrative interpretation of immigration legislative action to highlight how important agency interpretation is in the drafting of immigration legislation. I conclude the essay by discussing the elements I believe should be included in family visa petition reform.  BLOGGER'S NOTE:  IMMIGRATIONPROF BLOGGER CRUZ ALWAYS IS PROVOCATIVE, INTERESTING, AND ON-POINT.  AND WHO CAN PASS ON AN ARTICLE WITH A TITLE BASED ON A JOHNNY CASH SONG!

"Who Belongs? Immigrants and the Law in American History" BLACKWELL COMPANION TO AMERICAN LEGAL HISTORY, Alfredy Brophy, Sally Hadden, eds., Wiley-Blackwell, 2012 ALLISON BROWNELL TIRRES, DePaul University College of Law.  ABSTRAT: This essay will appear in the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to American Legal History. The essay explores the major works and themes in the history of U.S. immigration law, including attention to the histories of immigrants themselves. One of the challenges, and opportunities, of studying immigrants and the history of immigration law is grappling with the contradictions and inconsistencies of this politically-charged category. Immigration law is a window onto American perceptions of national identity. According to the classic formulation, the U.S. is a "nation of immigrants," its past and future tied inextricably to the waves of migrants who came, and continue to come, to its shores seeking the mythical "American Dream." Yet alongside that mythical, constitutive story of inclusion is an equally strong story of exclusion, more often than not along lines of race, class, and political ideology. Law has played a pivotal role in both these stories, serving alternately as a mechanism for drawing in immigrants and as a tool for excluding and marginalizing them. Law has been, and continues to be, central in shaping and defining the immigrant experience in the United States. This essay seeks both to explain the general trends over time in immigration law as well as to introduce the reader to the seminal texts in the field. It is divided into four main sections which proceed in rough chronological order, each exploring the major secondary literature and themes for that particular time period.  BLOGGER'S NOTE:  I NEVER CAN GET ENOUGH IMMIGRATION HISTORY!



January 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

EOIR Announces the 10th Anniversary of the Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project

In a press release on the U.S. Department of Justice website, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) reminded us that it today is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project. EOIR implemented the Project in January 2001, to improve access to legal information and increase pro bono representation for individuals whom the Department of Homeland Security is detaining while their immigration cases are under appeal. The Project is a joint effort between EOIR and a non-governmental organization (NGO). Since its start, the Project has succeeded in securing pro bono representation for more than 700 aliens around the country - individuals who would not have otherwise had representation.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2010 Immigration-Related Laws and Resolutions in the States

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that state legislatures enacted a record number of laws and resolutions addressing immigration issues in 2010: 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions, for a total of 346. An additional 10 bills passed legislatures but were vetoed by governors. During the same period in 2009, 44 states enacted 202 laws and adopted 131 resolutions, for a total of 333. An additional 20 bills were vetoed.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Federal courts in Arizona declare judicial emergency

Amanda Bronstad of the National Law Journal reports that the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona has declared a judicial emergency that will temporarily lift the deadline for moving criminal defendants to trial.  Chief Judge Roslyn Silver acted on the late U.S. District Judge John Roll's request last year to declare an emergency in the district, which has one of the highest caseloads in the country due to actions involving illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Roll was killed in the recent shootings in Tucson, Arizona.

The order took effect immediately and will last until February 19.  For links to various documentes related to trhe order, see here.

In the District of Arizona, criminal case filings have increased by 65% since 2008, when federal authorities ramped up enforcement near the border. The bulk of the caseload is assigned to the Tucson division, where three judges handle about 1,200 cases each and two of the district's three vacancies are located. The district has 13 authorized judgeships and is eligible for five additional judgeships. Visiting judges from other courts have been assisting the district.


January 27, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AZ Legislators' media blitz on plans to introduce bills challenging the 14th Amendment's interpretation

Today, AZ legislators announced that they would be introducing four bills that challenge the 14th Amendment's interpretation of birthright citizenship.  No bill has actually been introudced despite this being the second time that they have announced their impeding introduction.  A link to the story on the local paper can be found here


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Aggressive ICE Raid in Ellensburg, WA

Lornet Turnbull writes for the Seattle Times:

Kixcia Barrientos awoke early Thursday morning to a flashlight shining through the mobile home she shares with her parents and 15-year-old brother. There was someone shouting at her parents to get on the floor.

Her next image was of her mother and her father, a local pastor, walking down the hallway toward the living room — their hands cuffed.

"They asked if they should handcuff me and my brother, and someone else said 'there was no need,' " said the 11-year-old, who was born in this country.

Kixcia, a sixth-grader at Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, said the agents searched the home for documents, photographed some of what they found and carted away other things. "Then they took my mom and dad away."

She and her brother are staying with relatives.

Her parents were among 30 people arrested in a raid in Ellensburg early Thursday morning by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Homeland Security Investigations following a year-and-a-half-long probe into an operation that involved the manufacture and sale of counterfeit ID and work documents.

"Those who create and sell fraudulent documents compromise our nation's legal identification system," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Washington state. Fourteen people — 13 of them women and all of them Latino — were arrested on criminal warrants following grand-jury indictments. They made their initial appearances in federal court in Yakima on Friday.

The other 16 people had been identified during the course of the investigation and were arrested Thursday on immigration-violation charges, ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said.

Thirteen of them were transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, and the three others were released on humanitarian grounds.

The early-morning raid and arrests rattled the central Washington town of 17,000 people, home to Central Washington University.

Census figures show about 7 percent of Ellensburg residents are Latino.

Residents described helicopters circling mobile-home parks, and the community buzzed with fantastic tales about agents busting through doors of a middle school to haul students from their classrooms. Read more...


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Save Ethnic Studies, Inc.

On January 1, 2011, HB 2281 became effective in Arizona, a law passed in April 2010 that potentially bans ethnic studies programs in Arizona public high schools. A group of concerned individuals hasestablished a non-profit (501(c)(4)) to raise funds for a legal fight against HB 2281. To find out more about their efforts and the law in question click here.


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

House Subcommittee Name Change Signals Enforcement

From the Immigration Policy Center:

House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement: A Preview of What's to Come

Washington D.C. - Yesterday, the newly named House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held its first hearing of the new session entitled, "ICE Worksite Enforcement - Up to the Job?" The name change seems to be a signal that Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly will focus on enforcement, rather than immigration reform this session. It is hardly surprising, then, that the first hearing of the year was designed to challenge the Obama administration's decision to move from the massive worksite raids of the past to the use of employer worksite audits.

The following statements were made today during a pre-hearing press conference call organized by the Immigration Policy Center:

Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center said:

The Obama Administration's stepped up worksite enforcement efforts include conducting a record numbers of I-9 audits and collecting millions of dollars in fines. While this is an improvement over the arrests and round-ups involved in large-scale raids, which targeted workers, this new strategy is not without controversy. Across the country, I-9 audits, when not carefully conducted within the guidelines ICE has set for itself, can inadvertently lead to hardships for employers and workers alike, leading to the firing of thousands of workers, and leaving employers without the workers they need.  If today's hearing is any indication of the committee's long-term vision, then we are in for sound bites rather than substance, and a call for the good old days of immigration enforcement first and forever."

Emily Tulli, Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center said:

"This enforcement-only agenda, with military-style raids as its centerpiece, may make for good PR, but it is ineffective policy. These raids terrorize communities, shutter businesses, and hurt our local economies. This enforcement-only model is not only unsustainable and inhumane, but also doesn't fix our broken immigration system. Instead of looking backwards, we need to focus on practical solutions that help American workplaces thrive. ICE has a unique opportunity to meet their goals while helping to support labor law enforcement. Our economic recovery depends upon allowing good employers to thrive, while ensuring that bad apple employers who exploit workers are appropriately punished. ICE should use its significant enforcement dollars to target and penalize the worst employers, helping to create an incentive for employer compliance with immigration and labor law."

Javier Morillo-Alicea President of Service Employees International Union Local 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota said:

"We are going to see more and more small business going underground and paying people off the books as a way not to be audited. The assumption that an ICE audit results in unauthorized workers being replaced by authorized workers should be checked. It's time for us to look at the problem and understand that we cannot deport our way out of illegal immigration nor can we audit our way out of illegal immigration."

Dan Siciliano, Senior Lecturer in Law and Associate Dean for Executive Education and Special Programs at Stanford Law School said:

"There is no evidence to support the idea that worksite raids open up jobs for U.S. workers. Most immigrant workers-mid-skill, low skill, documented and undocumented-don't compete with American workers. The 2010 Census is showing us that this trend has accelerated over the last decade. We have a low-skilled worker gap in the country. The overall skill level of US workers is increasing, which means those low skill jobs are becoming harder to fill. It isn't right to look at the economy and workforce as a set of little boxes whereby you pluck someone out of workplace, leaving a perfect empty seat for someone to fill. Labor force dynamics are much more complex than that."


January 27, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AALS Immigration Program Podcasts

Here are podcasts of the immigration programs at the 2011 Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, courtesy of AALS President Michael Olivas.

The Effect of Globalization on Children:

Immigration and Higher Education:

Due Process in the Era of Mass Immigration Detention


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Changes at the Refugee Survey Quarterly

This New Year brings new directions for the Refugee Survey Quarterlya peer-reviewed journal focusing on the challenges of forced migration from multidisciplinary and policy-oriented perspectives. Refugee Survey Quarterly provides a vehicle for wide-ranging analyses and exploration of forced migration related issues. The RSQ also acts as an authoritative forum for the dissemination of ideas and expertise between the academic community, policy- and decision-makers, and practitioners.

Published four times a year, the RSQ will continue to publish one thematic special issue each year, but the other three issues will now be open issues, publishing articles across a broad range of subjects and disciplines. A complete description of the journal, including the sort of articles we are looking for, can be found at the link above. More information for authors can be found here.


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The State of the (Immigration) Union


President Obama delivered the State of the Union Speech last night.  (For the CNN video and a transcript, click here.).  His focus was on the U.S. economy but, much like last year's State of the Union, he made a couple of fleeting -- and, in the end, disappointing -- references to immigration:

"That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here."

"Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation."

Some observers of the President's speech quickly commented that words are not enough on immigration reform.  Like last year, words without detailed proposals, hard work, and political action will not result in immigration reform.  Admittedly, the repeated failure of congressional passage of immigration reform and the DREAM Act, along with the steady increase in detentions, deportations, and border enforcement, have been deeply disappointing for those who had hoped that the Obama administration would bring improvements to the U.S. immigration system.  The State of the Union address only reminds us of that disappointment with little real hope for reform.

Even though focusing on the economy, the President could have emphasized in detail as one blogger suggested before the speech, rather than the ever-so-brief suggesting, that

--  immigrant entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors can help the U.S. economy rebound;

--  foreign students and researchers can help our universities and colleges and promote innovation in the American marketplace;

--  immigrants have and can revitalize depressed urban areas and cities and they pay taxes;

--   immigrant workers can contribute labor, skills, and tax revenues to the U.S. economy; and

--  anti-immigrant measures at the state and local level cost millions to defend in court and hurt, not help, state and local economies and communities.  If an example is necessary, take a look at what has happened in Arizona over the last year.

Before the global economic downturn, the European Union, which had engaged in the grand experiment of integrating national economies and labor markets, had seen great economic successes.  Now, with the United States raising the drawbridge, nations other than the United States are successfully competing for graduate students, researchers, innovators, and workers.  And our economy has suffered.   

The bottom line is that immigration should not be viewed in isolation but as an an integral part of what makes up U.S. society, the U.S. economy, and the very fabric of America.  President Obama and our political leaders must remind the nation of that and in fact do something more than include a few words in a speech to meaningfully address the various issues that need to be addressed in the current U.S. immigration system.


January 26, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Federal Immigration Worksite Enforcement: Background and Principles

Tomorrow, the House Immigration Subcommittee will hold its first hearing of the new session on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in worksite enforcement efforts. In order to provide additional perspective and context in advance of the hearing, the Immigration Policy Center is releasing two papers:

A Framework for Effective Immigration Worksite Employer Enforcement (IPC, Jaunary 25, 2011) This paper provides background on immigration worksite enforcement efforts and lays out principles that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the administration's immigration worksite enforcement program. The principles include: accountability to stated priorities, accessibility of information, uniformity and consistency of standards, and proportionality of sanctions.

After the Raid is Over: Marshalltown, Iowa and the Consequences of Worksite Enforcement Raids (IPC Special Report, January 25, 2011) This paper examines the effects of a large immigration raid on a single company in America's heartland. It reviews the ICE raid on the Swift & Company pork processing facility in Marshalltown, Iowa in 2006 and the toll it has taken on the community's financial, social, and human capital.


January 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening: ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Director

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
Center for Equality, New York or California
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), founded in 1920, is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization, with more than 500,000 members and is dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality embodied in the U.S. Constitution.   Founded nearly twenty-five years ago, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project (IRP) is dedicated to expanding and enforcing the civil liberties and civil rights of non-citizens and to combating public and private discrimination against immigrants. For more than two decades, the Project has been at the forefront of almost every major legal struggle on behalf of immigrants' rights through class action lawsuits, law reform litigation, judicial rulings and legal advocacy. At this important moment in the nation’s history, the ACLU invites applications for the next Director of its Immigrants’ Rights Project.  
The Immigrants’ Rights Project is part of the ACLU’s Center for Equality which works to uphold the federal Constitution’s promise that all Americans will receive equal protection of the law. The Center also includes the ACLU’s Racial Justice, Voting and Disability work.  The Director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project will report to the Director of the Center for Equality and will manage project offices located in both New York and California.
The Project Director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project will oversee a team of litigators and support staff with an active docket of cases in federal district and appellate courts throughout the country, and in the Supreme Court.  The cases cover access to the courts, immigrant detention, racial profiling of immigrants, due process in immigration proceedings and strategic challenges to state and local anti-immigrant laws and practices. 
The Immigrants’ Rights Project has successfully litigated  many major regional and national class action suits, argued landmark cases in the United States Supreme Court, established historic precedents, won many major appellate rulings in virtually every court of appeals,  and achieved major settlements benefitting hundreds of thousands of class members and individuals. 

Currently, the Project is leading the national legal strategy against state and local anti-immigrant laws, including Arizona’s SB1070; pursuing major challenges to immigration detention laws and practices; pursuing appellate cases to establish core constitutional principles related to habeas corpus, Fourth Amendment remedies, and due process rights; pursuing several cases challenging post-9/11 policies and practices that violated constitutional rights; and is litigating numerous cases in Arizona and elsewhere on racial profiling and police abuse of immigrants.  In addition, the Project supports and helps to coordinate the immigration litigation of the ACLU’s 53 affiliates.

The Project Director also plays a major role in developing and coordinating the ACLU’s non-litigation advocacy on immigration issues.  Through the ACLU’s Equality Center, the Project works closely with the ACLU’s Affiliate Support and Advocacy Department to develop and implement advocacy strategies for the ACLU’s 53 affiliates.  Working with the Communications Department, the Project helps to develop the ACLU’s strategy and messaging on immigration, and its staff provides leading ACLU spokespersons on the issues.  Working with the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, the Project works to inform both federal legislation and administrative initiatives. 

• In collaboration with the Center Director, determine the ACLU’s vision and priorities on civil liberties and human rights issues on behalf of immigrants;
• Engage with immigrant communities and advocacy groups in shaping the Project’s vision and priorities;
• Develop and oversee implementation of strategic litigation plans to achieve the Project’s vision and priorities;
• Supervise a team of litigators and support staff, who work to protect and advance the civil rights and constitutional protections of non-citizens; 
• Work with other departments of the ACLU to develop and coordinate the ACLU’s non-litigation advocacy on immigrants’ rights;
• Ensure that the Project’s resources are used effectively in support of Project priorities, including developing and administering a budget for the Project and overseeing overall project administration;
• Advise, support and inspire ACLU state affiliates to pursue and expand work on immigrants’ rights issues in their own jurisdictions independently and in collaboration with the National ACLU;
• Work with the ACLU’s Development Department to communicate the Project’s goals and successes to foundation and individual donors and prospects;
• Collaborate with other departments of the ACLU, particularly the other projects within the Center for Equality, to strengthen constitutional values and protection for non-citizens as well as identifying issues of racial justice with particular impact on non-citizens;
• Partner with sister organizations and advocates to further immigrants’ rights and to enhance the role of due process and constitutional values in the debate over immigration policy and law;
• Be a public spokesperson in speeches, debates, the media and other settings to advance the ACLU’s vision of the constitutional and civil liberties principles that apply to non-citizens.

The ideal candidate will be strategic, ambitious, and creative, and should have the following experience and qualifications:

• A J.D. degree strongly preferred; it or other training and background appropriate to the Director’s roles and responsibilities required; 
• Significant experience either litigating complex constitutional cases or experience in immigration policy development and advocacy; 
• A demonstrated dedication to civil liberties and human rights and a familiarity with and commitment to issues relating to the constitutional and civil rights of immigrants;
• An ability to develop and implement multi-faceted advocacy campaigns that include litigation, lobbying and advocacy, communications, public education,  and community organizing;
• Experience working with immigrant communities preferred;
• Demonstrated leadership skills including experience supervising and mentoring a strong and diverse team of highly-talented lawyers and/or other professional advocates;
• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to write and speak persuasively to diverse audiences, including lawyers, advocates, funders, donors and opinion leaders;
• A strong record of working in coalition with other public interest advocates and organizations;
• A demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences, including the general public, national and local media, policy makers, and others;
• An ability to anticipate and act on events and opportunities decisively and resourcefully, to advance the Immigrant Rights Project’s vision locally, regionally, and nationally;
• Excellent analytic and writing skills; 
• Willingness and ability to travel;
• Fluency in spoken and written Spanish a significant asset.


The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.
LOCATION:  Either the New York City or San Francisco ACLU office.


Please send a cover letter, resume and writing sample by email to - reference [IRP-05/WACLU] in subject line – or by mail to:

Human Resources
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this job posting.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, which will not be before February 26, 2011.


January 25, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)