Friday, October 7, 2011

GOP candidates boycott Univision debate

Major GOP presidential candidates are threatening to boycott a debate sponsored by Univision, the Spanish-language media giant.  Six candidates, including Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, have indicated that they may not attend Univision’s proposed January debate because of a dust-up over coverage of Senator Marco Rubio (Rep.-Florida). The candidates scattered after allegations surfaced that Univision had “publicized an embarrassing story about the senator’s brother-in-law because Rubio wouldn’t do an interview on the show ‘Al Punto,’ which has espoused a liberal line on the hot topic of immigration.”


It seems to me that the controversy concerning a prominent Latino national politician, Sen. Marco Rubio, gave the Republican candidates the perfect "out" for avoiding the tough questioning one might expect on immigration from the Spanish-language media. To this point, the candidates generally speaking have sought to appear as "tough-as-nails" on immigration, something that would likely alienate the Latino audience watching a debate on Univision.  The candidates may well have heard about how California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman wilted under fire -- to now-Governor Jerry Brown's benefit -- on the immigration issue in a debate on Spanish-language television in October 2010.

Click here for more on the controversy.


October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mayor Bloomberg Launches Citizenship Campaign

From NYC:Bloomberg


City Agencies, CUNY Citizenship Now! and The Legal Aid Society join to help qualified City employees and their families apply for U.S. Citizenship

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama and Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Edna Handy today announced they are teaming up with CUNY Citizenship Now, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, NYC Service and the Legal Aid Society to launch the NYCitizenship Initiative, a free service for eligible City employees and members of their family who are seeking to apply for U.S. citizenship. NYCitizenship will provide free immigration information and assistance to eligible City employees and members of their family who are lawful permanent residents and seeking information on the application process to become U.S. citizens. Experienced volunteer lawyers will be on hand to provide no-cost legal information and assistance to help individuals navigate through the naturalization process. Individuals will be invited to a special swearing-in ceremony upon successful completion of the naturalization process. Mayor Bloomberg announced this initiative on his weekly radio show “The John Gambling Show with Mayor Mike” on WOR AM 710 this morning.

“Our City’s workforce is made up of many talented immigrants who came to this country in search of opportunities and a better life for their families,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Lengthy government applications can seem daunting so we want to help all city employees who are ready to become naturalized citizens. Thanks to our partners offering this free and voluntary service, we can help more New Yorkers realize their American dreams and fully participate in our country’s democratic process.”

“The NYCitizenship initiative will help support our City’s immigrant workforce by connecting eligible lawful permanent residents to the information and services they need to successfully pursue citizenship,” said Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama. “There are so many benefits to becoming a naturalized citizen, so if you are an eligible city employee and are looking to start the process – we can help.”

“DCAS is pleased to work with Commissioner Shama on supporting this important initiative,” said Commissioner Wells-Handy.  “We are always aiming to deliver services better, faster, cheaper and greener.”

“Making New York City a place of inclusion that embraces those who are a committed to making our City vibrant is a Mayoral priority,” said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford. “NYC Service is committed to engaging New Yorkers to help accomplish this task and strengthen our communities.”

“CUNY is very pleased to partner with the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs and the Legal Aid Society to provide free citizenship assistance to New York City employees,” said CUNY Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson. “This public service partnership will help the workforce navigate a frequently daunting maze of federal regulations so they may more fully realize their hopes and dreams.”

“Our goal is to provide top quality legal assistance at no cost to city employees,” said Allan Wernick, Director of CUNY Citizenship Now! “It is our way of saying "thank you" to New York City’s civil servants.”

“The Legal Aid Society is proud to be part of this unique collaboration to provide critical application assistance and representation to New York City employees and their families,” said Steve Banks, Attorney-in-Chief.  “This initiative will no doubt have a positive impact on immigrant families and New York City communities and further demonstrate NYC’s continued commitment to its vibrant immigrant residents.”

The first informational session will take place on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the Surrogates Court. To register, visit MOIA’s website at by October 14th. To learn more about how to register, you can call 311.

What to Bring:
• Green Card
• List of home addresses and dates from past five years
• List of employers (names and addresses) and dates worked from past five years
• Dates and itineraries of trips outside of U.S. since becoming a permanent resident
• Children's complete names, birthdates, and A#'s, if applicable
- Marriage certificates and divorce judgments
• If you have ever been arrested, cited or detained, or if you appeared in court for any reason, before or after you obtained your green card, bring ALL certified court and police documents


October 7, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Article of the Day: "Public Interest Law: Facing the Problems of Maturity" by LOUISE G. TRUBEK

"Public Interest Law: Facing the Problems of Maturity" University of Arkansas Little Rock Law Review, Vol. 33, 2011 Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1162 LOUISE G. TRUBEK, University of Wisconsin Law School.

This article discusses the history and current status of public interest law. It examines the seminal work of the 1970s that established public interest law and contrasts the early period with the complexities and challenges today. It opens with a discussion of the key aspects of enterprise in the 1970s: creation of a new institutional form, the new role of public interest lawyer, the business plan for financing the firms and the economic, institutional regulatory justification. That the project has succeeded and public interest law has become a permanent part of the U.S. legal system. Looking at where we are today however there are two unfinished projects: inequality in society and the limits of the regulatory process. Lawyers today are redesigning the 1970s concepts to meet the challenges. They are engaging in collaborative practices, utilizing new roles as collaborators and facilitators, locating additional compensation and participating in public interest endeavors around the world.


October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Addressing Some Misperceptions About Mexican Immigration: The Immigration Debate -- “This is a fact-free zone.”

In Addressing Some Misperceptions About Mexican Immigration, DAMIEN CAVE responds to some of the common misconceptions among the nativists who flock to comment negatively on news stories about immigration and immigrants on websites. He has been told that immigration "is a fact-free zone."


October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Some Latinos See Obama 'Betrayal' On Immigration

NPR reports on the growing Latino alienation with President Obama, especially his immigration policies. Here is the punchline to the story:

"The Republicans running for president, with the exception of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are taking a hard line on immigration issues. ."So the real worry for the president isn't Latinos voting for Republicans — it's that they won't vote at all." (emphasis added).


October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jails and Jumpsuits: the U.S. Immigration Detention System – A Two-Year Review

A report issued today by Human Rights First reveals that despite a 2009 commitment to overhaul the immigration detention system, the United States continues to hold the overwhelming majority of its nearly 400,000 detained asylum seekers and other civil immigration law detainees in jails and jail-like facilities across the country. The facilities are expected to cost American taxpayers more than $2 billion in 2012. The report, “Jails and Jumpsuits: Transforming the U.S. Immigration Detention System – A Two-Year Review,” notes that former prison officials and other corrections experts have found that less penal conditions in detention can actually help improve safety inside a facility, a finding echoed in multiple studies. It outlines steps that the administration should take to end its reliance on facilities with conditions that are inappropriate for asylum seekers and other civil immigration law detainees, and to bring U.S. detention practices into compliance with international human rights standards.


October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lost in Detention




Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.


Lost in Detention: PBS Frontline, Oct. 18, 2011

FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop investigate the Obama administration’s controversial get-tough immigration policy; featuring Maria Hinojosa.



October 7, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

From the Bookshelves: Hidden in the Heartland The New Wave of Immigrants and the Challenge to America by Nancy Brown Diggs

Hidden in the Heartland The New Wave of Immigrants and the Challenge to America by Nancy Brown Diggs

An eye-opening analysis of undocumented immigration in the U.S.: As other teens returned home from school, thirteen-year-old José Silva headed for work at a restaurant, where he would remain until 2:00 a.m. Francisca Herrera, a tomato picker, was exposed to pesticides while she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby without arms or legs. Silva and Herrera immigrated illegally to the United States, and their experiences are far from unique. In this comprehensive, balanced overview of the immigration crisis, Nancy Brown Diggs examines the abusive, unethical conditions under which many immigrants work, and explores how what was once a border problem now extends throughout the country. Drawing from a wide spectrum of sources, Hidden in the Heartland demonstrates how the current situation is untenable for both undocumented immigrants and American citizens. A vivid portrait of the immigration crisis, the book makes a passionate case for confronting this major human rights issue — a threat to the very unity of the country.


October 6, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Argument preview: Judicial review of claims to relief from removal of lawful permanent residents

On October 12, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Judulang v. Holder, but another case in which a lawful permanent resident is facing removal based on a criminal conviction.   For my preview of the Judulang case on SCOTUSblog, click here.

UPDATE (10/12):  Click here for the transcript to teh oral argument.


October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Alabama Losing Necessary Workers

Phillip Rawls writes for the Associated Press:

Alabama's strict new immigration law may be backfiring. Intended to force illegal workers out of jobs, it is also driving away many construction workers, roofers and field hands in the country legally who do backbreaking jobs that Americans generally won't.

The vacancies have created a void that will surely deal a blow to the state's economy and could slow the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa and other tornado-damaged cities.

Employers believe they can carry on because of the dismal economy, but when things do turn around, they worry there won't be anyone around to hire. Many legal Hispanic workers are fleeing the state because their family and friends don't have the proper papers and they fear they will be jailed.

Rick Pate, the owner of a commercial landscaping company in Montgomery, lost two of his most experienced workers, who were in the country legally. He spent thousands of dollars training them to install irrigation systems at places like the Hyundai plant.

"They just feel like there is a negative atmosphere for them here. They don't feel welcome. I don't begrudge them. I'd feel nervous, too," Pate said. Read more...


October 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Louisiana Community Leader Facing Imminent Deportation

From the National Immigration Law Center:

A month ago, Arlyn was arrested during a raid in Kenner, Louisiana. Please call ICE to prevent him from being deported in the next three days. Numbers are below.

On August 29th, Arlyn and two dozen other workers gathered to collect their unpaid wages. It was an ambush. ICE had coordinated with 3 law enforcement agencies to carry out an immigration raid. The arrests were violent.

The arrested workers are members of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and the Congress of Day Laborers. They were involved in a dispute with their employer over failure to pay minimum wages and other egregious labor rights violations. ICE knew that. But rather than give these workers the civil rights and labor rights protections they deserve, ICE is deporting them. ICE’s actions contradict the agency’s recent public statements about its enforcement priorities and its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Most of the workers arrested during the raid have been released from detention and await deportation proceedings. But Arlyn and three others remain in detention.

Make a phone call now and tell ICE not to deport Arlyn and the other community leaders arrested during the raid.

Call to STOP the deportation of these important Community Leaders:
Call DHS head Janet Napolitano: 202-282-8495
Call ICE head John Morton: 202-732-3000
Call Scott Sutterfield, Acting ICE Field Office Director, at 318-335-7500 ext.7650

Sample Script:
I am calling to ask that four civil rights leaders be released from detention immediately and be allowed to remain in the US. Their names and immigration numbers are Arlyn Jose Caranza-Espinal A#094-923-622, Pedro Moreno-Cruz A# 098-500-026, Luis Ramon Franco-Martinez A# 099-653-230, and Cesar Gutierrez A# 088-018-479. Please stop their deportation.

For further information or to support the campaign please contact Jacinta Gonzalez at, (504) 655-6610.


October 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dual Citizen of the Day: Elizabeth Taylor (UK/US)

Elzabeth taylor 

ElizabethTaylor (1932–2011) was one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. National Velvet (1944) was Taylor's first success, and she starred in Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Butterfield 8 (1960), played the title role in Cleopatra (1963), and married her co-star Richard Burton. They appeared together in 11 films, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which Taylor won a second Academy Award. 

Taylor received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Legion of Honour, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, who named her seventh on their list of the "Greatest American Screen Legends." Taylor died of congestive heart failure in March 2011.

A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, Taylor was a British citizen through her birth on British soil (in London) and a U.S. citizen through her parents.

Shortly before the beginning of World War II, Taylor's parents decided to come to the United States to avoid hostilities.  They settled in Los Angeles, California.



October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and Deporting U.S. Citizens as Aliens by Jacqueline Stevens

U.S. Government Unlawfully Detaining and Deporting U.S. Citizens as Aliens by Jacqueline Stevens (Northwestern) Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 18, No. 3, p. 606, 2011

Abstract: This Article presents original research on the rate at which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is detaining and deporting U.S. citizens, even though ICE has no jurisdiction over U.S. citizens. The article provides legal, historical, constitutional, and public policy analyses of these actions, and presents several case studies. The penultimate section evaluates, through a historical analysis of family law, the jurisprudence of recent Ninth Circuit decisions on acquired U.S. citizenship claims. The conclusion offers recommendations for changes in policy and procedures to end the unlawful practice of deporting and detaining U.S. citizens.


October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Washington D.C. Showing: Tony & Janina’s American Wedding


Tony & Janina’s American Wedding Immigration documentary film screening Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 4:45pm 2237 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC

Wasilewski family and the filmmakers in attendance

Honoring Tony, Janina and Brian Wasilewski at a special screening of the documentary film Tony & Janina's American Wedding at the U.S. House of Representatives' Rayburn House Office Building.

Four years ago, wife and mother Janina Wasilewski was deported from the US, taking their then-six year old son Brian with her. The personal and passionate film Tony & Janina's American Wedding follows husband and father Tony's struggle to reunite his family and restore his wife's honor following a 20 year odyssey within the American immigration system. Driven by a grass roots campaign led by the filmmakers, reaching out to everyday Americans – and with support from members of Congress, the legal and human rights communities, the Wasilewski family was recently reunited in Chicago. Janina has just received U.S. Permanent Residency Status. The Wasilewski family, and filmmakers Ruth Leitman and Steve Dixon, will be in attendance at this important event.

Featured speakers include Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and others. We invite members of Congress, their staff, families, concerned citizens and the general public to join us in recognizing the Wasilewskis and the filmmakers for their work in public service and advocacy to highlight our fractured US immigration system.

Wednesday October 12, 2011 - 445pm U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn House Office Building Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street Room 2237 / 2nd floor Washington, DC 20515-1304 Main entrance along Independence Avenue, S.W For additional information about this event or the film, please contact: Steve Dixon / Ruthless Films 708-613-4073,


October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: Living "Illegal": The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration

Living illegal 

Living "Illegal": The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration by Marie Friedmann Marquardt, Timothy J Steigenga, Philip J. Williams, Manuel A. Vasquez

Today’s polarized debates over immigration revolve around a set of one-dimensional characters and unchallenged stereotypes. Yet the resulting policy prescriptions, not least of them Arizona’s draconian new law SB 1070, are dangerously real and profoundly counterproductive. A major new antidote to this trend, Living “Illegal” is an ambitious new account of the least understood and most relevant aspects of the American immigrant experience today. Based on years of research into the lives of ordinary migrants, Living “Illegal” offers richly textured stories of real people—working, building families, and enriching their communities even as the political climate grows more hostile. Moving far beyond stock images and conventional explanations, Living “Illegal” challenges our assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and how they have adapted to the often confusing patchwork of local immigration ordinances. This revealing narrative takes us into Southern churches (which have quietly emerged as the only organizations open to migrants), into the fields of Florida, onto the streets of major American cities during the historic immigrant rights marches of 2006, and back and forth across different national boundaries—from Brazil to Mexico and Guatemala. A deeply humane book, Living “Illegal” will stand as an authoritative new guide to one of the most pressing issues of our time.


October 6, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Opposition to New Jersey ICE Detention Expansion



Thousands angered by Essex County Freeholders’ decision to house immigrant detainees at local jail demand more humane conditions on petition at; hundreds to attend Newark rally on Sunday.

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ – Hundreds of concerned New Jersey residents will march on Sunday in opposition to an expanded contract with a local jail that would include housing up to 1,250 immigrant detainees.

The march will include members of Pax Christi NJ, more than 18 immigrant rights and religious organizations, and individuals who signed a petition on calling for more humane conditions in the jail. They will march to Essex County Correctional Facility, which has been been accused of inhumane conditions including restrictions on visits from family, lawyers, and clergy; inadequate food and general safety; and denial of access of medical services.

WHAT: March and rally in opposition to inhumane conditions at for-profit detention center WHERE: Beginning at Peter Francisco Park (Adjacent to Newark Penn Station) in Newark, NJ, and marching to Essex County Correctional Facility & Delaney Hall, 356 Doremus Ave., Newark, NJ
WHEN: 1:30pm - 4:30pm, Sunday, October 9, 2011

“The Essex County Executive and the Freeholders want us to believe that they can spin the misery of the immigrants in their custody into gold for the rest of the residents of Essex County, but they are perpetuating an environment in which profit is the primary motivator while shirking their responsibility for oversight,” said faith leader Kathy O’Leary, who launched an online campaign on calling for a community oversight board and immediate improvement of the conditions at the jail for immigrant detainees, as well as a full termination of the contract.

O’Leary is a member of Pax Christi NJ, one of the groups organizing the rally. A large coalition of faith groups is asking that the Freeholders ensure visiting hours that include evenings and weekends; contact visits for family members; no restrictions on visits, phone calls, and other contact with lawyers and clergy; adequate mental and physical health care; healthy food that complies with dietary restrictions and religious observances; unrestricted access to communal religious services; and regular outdoor recreation free from exposure to hazardous environmental conditions. O’Leary’s petition on has already garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

“Kathy O’Leary and Pax Christi NJ’s campaign to win humane conditions for immigrant detainees is quite impressive,” said Jackie Mahendra,’s Director of Organizing for Immigrant Rights. “ is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it’s been really incredible to see this campaign take off.”

Live signature totals from the Kathy O’Leary and Pax Christi NJ’s campaign:


October 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

RIP Civil Rights Advocate Derrick Bell (1930-2011)

Derrick Bell, a legal scholar who worked to expose the persistence of racism in America, has died at age 80. Bell gave up a Harvard Law School professorship to protest the school’s minority hiring practices. Bell was the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School and later the first black dean of a law school (Oregon) that is not historically black. For his obituary, click here.

Bell book 

Professor Bell's pioneering work was Race, Racism, and American Law, which was published in its sixth edition in 2008. The Derrick Bell Reader, edited by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, offers a capsule summary of Bell's many contributions, to race, civil rights, and Critical Race Theory.


October 6, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

DHS Secretary Defends Enforcement Record, Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday at American University defended the Obama administration's enforcement of the immigration laws, touting the dramatic increase in the numbers of deportations over the last few years. Her response was directed at Republican critics who have claimed that the administration is not enforcing the immigration laws. It was not a response to the critics -- critics who largely have been ignored -- that the Obama administration is too aggressively enforcing the immigration laws through a dedication to an "enforcement now, enforcement forever" approach to immigration.


October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Surge in the Profiling of Latinos

With the increasing number of "show me papers" laws passed by state legislatures, as well as increased border enforcement by the U.S. government (including but not limited to Secure Communities), should we be surprised by the reported increase in racial profiling of Latinos by law enforcement? See this troubling story from AlterNet.


October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reaffirming Protection: Strengthening Asylum in the United States Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention

A Dialogue Event Sponsored By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Office in Washington, DC, Human Rights First, Georgetown Law, Human Rights Institute

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 Conference at Georgetown Law

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM Evening Reception hosted by Jones Day

SPACE IS LIMITED – Please RSVP to Katie Ryan at

The year 2011 marks the 60th Anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the touchstone for governments and civil society in protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. The United States was among the leaders to call for and draft the Convention in the wake of World War II. In the decades since its accession to the 1967 Protocol to the Refugee Convention, which incorporates all the substantive provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the United States has done much to establish a robust domestic system for protecting individuals who seek refuge from political, religious and other forms of persecution. The 1980 Refugee Act incorporated many of the substantive provisions of the 1951 Refugee Convention into U.S. asylum law. Yet a number of gaps in protection remain. In the framework of the Commemorations year, UNHCR and U.S. civil society groups have proposed a number of pledges* the United States government could make to address many of those gaps. UNHCR, Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute, and Human Rights First have organized a full-day conference bringing together experts from the government, advocacy and academic communities, asylees and UNHCR to have an in-depth discussion of key protection issues presented in the proposed pledges and to develop next steps to enhance the U.S. domestic protection system.


October 5, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)