Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Immigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States Reflections on Future Directions for Reform by Harry Holzer

From the Urban InstituteImmigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States Reflections on Future Directions for Reform by Harry Holzer:  This paper reviews the evidence on the effects of less-skilled immigration to the U.S., and considers the implications of this evidence for immigration reform ideas. It begins with a review of the costs of less-skilled immigration, in terms of competition to native-born American workers and fiscal costs; as well as the benefits of such immigration in the form of lower prices to consumers, higher profits for employers, and greater efficiency for the U.S. economy. The paper then reviews various reform ideas that have been proposed in Congress in recent years, and also considers a range of other ideas, that would likely raise the net benefits associated with less-skilled immigration to the U.S.


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

Seventh Circuit finds BIA summary affirmance procedure to benefit noncitizens and not just DHS

Ward v. Holder No. 10-2063

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

2011 U.S. App. Lexis 1184 (January 21, 2011)

Ms. Ward and her daughter entered the United States on a K visa march 2004. Ms. Ward married her U.S. citizen fiancé May 2004. The marriage dissolved shortly thereafter without a filing of an adjustment of status application. Ms. Ward was placed in removal proceedings November 2006. Ms. Ward submitted a VAWA self petition which was denied April 2007. In December 2008 an immigration judge denied her application for VAWA cancellation finding that Ms. Ward was by "clear and convincing evidence" ineligible for cancellation. The BIA affirmed the IJ’s decision on March 31, 2010; a single board member issued a three page decision.

Ms. Ward’s counsel appealed to the Seventh Circuit arguing that the lengthy opinion demonstrated that the board member went beyond the scope of his power to affirm, modify, or remand an immigration decision in a "brief order" pursuant to 8 CFR Sec. 1003.1(e)(5). In other words, if the case merited a decision of such length, then it merited a three-judge panel review.

The Seventh Circuit in Martinez-Camargo v. INS 282 F.3d 487 (7th Cir. 2002) established a two-pronged test to evaluate whether the failure to adhere to an immigration administrative guideline rendered the underlying action taken invalid. The first prong is to ask whether the regulation in question serves a "purpose of benefit to the alien." The government in the present case argued that Sec. 1003.1(e)(5) was a case management regulation to help the Board handle cases and therefore not intended to benefit the alien. The Seventh Circuit disagreed stating that "The fact that the presence of a ‘need to review a clearly erroneous factual determination’ is a basis for three-member panel review underscores that the regulations were designed in the interest of justice as well as efficiency."


The second Martinez-Camargo prong requires the court to determine whether the alleged violation of the regulation set forth therein prejudices the petitioner. The Circuit found that there was neither prejudice nor a violation. 8 CFR Sec. 1003.1(e)(5) has been found not to be prejudicial in general. As to the plaintiff’s contention that the fact that the BIA board member issued a longer than average decision was not conceivable under the regulatory scheme, the circuit countered that "To require referral to a three-member panel in each case that lends itself to more than a cookie-cutter order would be contrary to the plain language of Sec. 1003.1(e)."



January 25, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

University of Miami Immigration Clinic Does Good!

The Immigration Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law, directed by Professor Rebecca Sharpless, sought guidance from USCIS about whether certain criminal dispositions constitute misdemeanors within the meaning of the Temporary Protect Status statute and regulation. Last week, USCIS issued guidance stating that a conviction in which criminal court had certified that the defendant would receive no jail time does not constitute a misdemeanor for TPS eligibility.

The Clinic had requested guidance because Florida courts routinely certify in minor cases that the defendant will not receive any jail time, thus taking away indigent defendants' right to an attorney at government expense.  Because the TPS regulation specifies that a misdemeanor is a crime "punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or less," there was an argument that convictions obtained after a "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification fell outside the TPS definition of misdemeanor.

In its January 21, 2011 guidance, USCIS agrees with this position. The guidance states:

"The Department has concluded that a Florida "no jail" or "no incarceration" certification . . . fundamentally changes the maximum possible sentence for an offense by removing the possibility of incarceration for that offense. As a result, the Department has further concluded that an offense with such a certification . . . does not meet the definition of a misdemeanor under 8 CFR 244.1 because it would not constitute an offense punishable by imprisonment."

The guidance goes on to remind TPS adjudicators that "they are to request USCIS counsel to review any case where it appears that the applicant may be ineligible for TPS on the basis of two misdemeanors" and cites to its previous guidance about certain New York infractions (a result of advocacy by NYU's Immigrant Rights Clinic).


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

When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws and the Communities They Damage


Courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center website

Read the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the impacts of the state and local immigration laws promoted by newly-elected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  The four towns and one state examined in this report all saw a crisis in race relations as conflicts between Latino immigrants and mostly white natives escalated. Latinos reported being threatened, shot at, subjected to racial taunts and more. Police are having trouble getting cooperation from any in their Latino communities. Pro-immigrant activists have been threatened with notes that promise to “shed blood” to “take back” communities. The mayor of one town had his house vandalized after opposing a proposed law and was warned by federal agents to be careful; he ended up retiring after four terms in office. Angry protests and counter-protests, along with dangerously rising tensions, have rocked one town after another. In some communities, business districts have largely collapsed.

Behind all of this stands Kris Kobach, a former Kansas City law professor who was just elected Kansas secretary of state. For the better part of the last six years, Kobach has been chief legal counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). He helped to write and defend in court the laws in Hazleton, Valley Park, Farmers Branch, Fremont and Arizona.



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

ACLU Sues Border Patrol for Retaliating against Agent for Political Beliefs


Courtesy of ACLU-NM website

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who was fired because of his political opinions.  Bryan Gonzalez was an agent with two years of experience and excellent performance reviews when the Border Patrol terminated his employment after learning that Gonzalez held certain political opinions pertaining to drug legalization and immigration. 

Patrolling near Deming, New Mexico in April 2009, Gonzalez pulled his vehicle up next to a fellow CBP agent who was in the same vicinity. In the course of a casual discussion concerning the drug-related violence in Mexico, Gonzales remarked that he believed that legalization of drugs would be the most effective way to end the violence. He also related to the other agent that, as a former dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, he understood the economic factors that drive migrants to cross the border without documentation to seek work.

Here is the complaint in the case.


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

Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Growing Phenomenon with Few Easy Solutions

In Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Growing Phenomenon with Few Easy Solutions of Migration  Information Source, Amanda Levinson provides an overview of unaccompanied child migration and the context within which children migrate. She analyzes legal and policy responses in the United States and the European Union, focusing in particular on why children migrate alone and where they originate from, how unaccompanied minors are processed through the immigration system, and the treatment they receive while in custody. The feature also examines trends in asylum decisions in both the United States and EU Member States, and relevant legislation pertaining to the phenomenon of unaccompanied child migration.


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

Monday, January 24, 2011

The High Cost of Local Immigration Law Enforcement

From the Center for American Progress:

Unconstitutional and Costly
The High Price of Local Immigration Enforcement
By Gebe Martinez

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the leader of the court fights for local immigration enforcement, is in the tank for at least $2.8 million with some estimates totaling $5 million as it defends its ordinance.

Read and download the full report.

A handful of local communities across our nation enacted unconstitutional, discriminatory, and costly immigration controls in recent years in an effort to chase away undocumented immigrants and their families and friends, many of whom are American citizens. This growing backlash against immigrants was driven by fear, economic uncertainty, and cultural differences in these localities: small towns in New Jersey, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Texas, and one county in Virginia.

Congress must enact a comprehensive immigration plan that realistically addresses illegal immigration. Until then, cities that act on their own will find a high price to pay. This report looks at five communities that threw anti-immigration statutes onto their books without fully considering their impact.


January 24, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

House Republican Agenda: Mass Deportation of Workers

From SEIU, NILC, AFL-CIO, and America's Volce:

House Immigration Leaders Camouflage Anti-Labor History with Pro-Worker Rhetoric

Labor and Immigration Leaders Expose their True Agenda: Mass Deportation of Immigrant Workers and Families

Washington – This week, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are launching the GOP’s approach to immigration for the 112th Congress with a series of Immigration Subcommittee hearings that use our nation’s jobs and economic crisis to peddle a mass deportation agenda.  Labor and immigration experts highlighted the hypocrisy behind the Judiciary Committee approach, given the fact that these Members of Congress have long track records of voting against pro-worker policies, and oppose comprehensive immigration reform that would bring more employers and workers onto the tax rolls and level the playing field in the workplace. 

On the call, America’s Voice Education Fund released a new report that analyzes the Judiciary Committee members’ voting records on worker and immigration issues.  The report finds that 100% of the veteran House Judiciary Republicans earned an “F” grade from America’s leading labor unions, while the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a notorious anti-immigrant organization that has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, gave each of these members an “A” grade. 

In fact, the current immigration system, designed by Rep. Smith and his colleagues in the mid-1990s, has led to a dramatic increase in spending on enforcement every year, and yet the number of undocumented immigrants in our country has grown to 11 million.  If the nation followed through on the radical mass deportation plans of Smith, Gallegly, and King, it would cost American taxpayers nearly $300 billion more to implement, and blow a $2.6 trillion hole in our nation’s economy.  Instead, requiring undocumented immigrants to be legal would ensure that they and their employers are paying their full and fair share of taxes and end the stranglehold that abusive employers have on workers.  Comprehensive immigration reform would add $5 billion in new revenue to our nation’s tax coffers and boost the overall economy by $1.5 trillion.

By cloaking themselves in a pro-worker coat but consistently voting against any real, positive labor reform, the veteran Republican leaders are engaging in dangerous policy and bad politics. 

“The scorecards don’t lie,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “These members want to expel millions of Latino immigrants – which is why they are so highly regarded by extremist organizations such as FAIR – and consistently vote against the interests of American workers – which is why they are given failing grades by the labor movement.  Their hypocrisy is blatant, their strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement’ policies is unrealistic and un-American, and the fact they are becoming the face of the Republican Party in the run up to 2012 may well doom the Republican presidential nominee.” 

“The proposals set forth by Smith, Gallegly, and other members of the House Judiciary committee are simply mass deportation masquerading as economic stimulus,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC).   “If they were truly concerned with workers’ rights and providing Americans with economic security, the House Judiciary Committee would work with members on both sides of the aisle to focus on sound policy proposals, like comprehensive immigration reform and strong labor and employment laws that will create a shared prosperity for all Americans. It’s time to stop shopping piecemeal immigration enforcement-only measures and start working together on real solutions to fix our broken immigration system and faltering economy.”

Arlene Holt-Baker, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO, continued, “With these hearings, House Republicans are attempting to recast their agenda as pro-worker but do not realize they are at risk of losing all credibility if they continue down the path of mass deportation and the status quo.  Without comprehensive immigration reform, the new leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are making this bad situation even worse.  American workers need a policy that will level the playing field, turn workers into taxpayers, and restore the rule of law.”

Eliseo Medina, International Secretary Treasurer, SEIU, concluded, “Rep. Smith, Gallegly, and King are false prophets with no interest in helping working families, they have consistently opposed policies that help workers and the American taxpayers. By failing to deliver a solution, the GOP is backing itself into a corner with Latino and labor voters that it may never be able to get out of. We cannot 'enforcement-only' our way out of this problem and doing so, as they suggest, will waste tens of billions of dollars our country doesn't have on programs that only hurt the small business owners and workers who follow the rules.”

Click here to view a copy of the report: http://www.americasvoiceonline.org/TheAntiWorkerGOP

Click here to listen to a recording the call: http://americasvoiceonline.org/page/-/HouseJudiciaryCommittee.mp3


January 24, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Artist uses butterflies to encourage Congress to address Immigration

Artist Julie Pace wanted to create a symbolic message that is positive, optimistic, and could encourage others and our leaders to create an immigration solution for our country. This week she is delivering butterfly art poster to each and every member of congress. To see the artwork and read more about the artist and her project click here.


January 24, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Geraldo on the Prospects for Immigration Reform

Many pols in the know are pessimistic about immigration reform.  TV news celebrity Geraldo Rivera sees it differently:  "Despite the crushing disappointment from the failure of the Dream Act, now, with both Jeb Bush and Bill O’Reilly on the side of comprehensive immigration reform, the underdog issue might have a chance."  To read further, click here.


January 24, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Greenhouse on the Legacy of the Virtual Border Fence

Read Linda Greenhouse, now of Yale Law School, who on how the Executive Branch, Congress, and the Supreme Court all got it wrong when it comes to the now-abandoned billion dollar "virtual" border fence. Her punch line:  "Good fences may make good neighbors, but bad fences make bad law."



January 24, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant Start-Ups Seen as Key to Revitalizing Michigan Economy

In his first State of the State Address, new Michigan Governor Rick Snyder outlined a a road map to bolster the state's lagging economy.  Among other measures, to help reverse the brain drain that hampers Michigan's ability to attract high-tech industries, the statel will develop initiatives to encourage immigrants with advanced college degrees to move to Michigan. "One-half of startups in Silicon Valley have a foreign national as one of the founders. Immigration made us a great state and country. We need to embrace the concept again as a way to speed our reinvention," Snyder said.  For more on the initiative, click here.


January 24, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chipotle Firings Remind Us: Employer Sanctions Should be Repealed

Steve Alexandar writes for the Star-Tribune:

Chipotle Mexican Grill said on Thursday that it had fired a substantial number of the 1,200 employees at its 50 Minnesota restaurants after a federal immigration audit found some were undocumented workers.

The circumstances of the firings, which began in early December, sparked a protest by several dozen people around noon on Thursday at a downtown Minneapolis Chipotle restaurant. Minneapolis police arrested eight participants after they chained themselves together inside the restaurant. They were cited for trespassing.

Denver-based Chipotle would not disclose how many Minnesota workers were fired. Protesters said the number was 700. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, which conducted the Chipotle worker audit, declined to comment. However, a source said the number of Minnesota employees fired was closer to 350. Chipotle has apparently replaced the terminated employees. Its Minnesota employment was 1,200 both before and after the firings, said spokesman Chris Arnold.

The protesters didn't claim that all the fired employees were legal U.S. workers, but they did assert that the workers were fired without much explanation and without being given time to provide documents proving they were legal U.S. workers. They also claimed that fired workers had to endure delays in being paid. The claims, if true, would appear to be violations of Minnesota's labor laws. Read more...

The basis for these audits and firings is, of course, employer sanctions laws. Friends, the laws cause unjustied pain and suffering in immigrant communities and show a lack of understanding of why workers migrate to the United States. They utterly fail to recognize that we need to address the root causes of undocumented migration. As David Bacon and I have pointed out, employer sanctions must be repealed.


January 23, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Special Naturalization Ceremony in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 21 with a special naturalization ceremony at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is a museum and teaching facility devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. The museum memorializes the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins.

2011 marks the second year USCIS has hosted naturalization ceremonies to commemorate Dr. King’s fight for equality, justice and opportunity for all Americans, including America’s newest citizens.

USCIS honored Dr. King’s service and sacrifice at several other special events across the country, including a ceremony on January 11 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennesee, and another at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia on January 14 where speakers included Elder Bernice A. King, daughter of Dr. King, and Martin Luther King, III.

A list of these special ceremonies is available on the USCIS website. For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog, The Beacon.


January 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Protests of Immigration Raids in Ellensburg, Washington

Television news in Seattle
 report that the community in Ellensburg, Washington  community met Friday night to confront authorities on the recent immigration raids that shook up a small central Washington community.  Several community members expressed outrage at the tactics used by federal agents and questioned whether another raid was planned. The Department of Homeland Security that they had arrested 14 people and taken another 16 into custody. Thirteen of the people arrested were charged with visa fraud and government identification fraud, and three of the 13 have also been charged with a false claim to U.S. citizenship, DHS said. The one remaining person of the 14 has been charged with re-entry into the U.S. after deportation, according to DHS.

The Mexican community in Ellensburg expressed special concern over the immigration raid, which is not surprising since it appears that most, if not all, of those arrested were from Mexico. 


January 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hiding In America: Life in the Shadows

We know of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  But we should not forget their very human, and real, stories.  Here is one from the Willamette Weekly.


January 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)