Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cook County Defies Secure Communities Program

Don Babwin writes for the Associated Press:

The release of more than 40 suspected undocumented immigrants jailed in Cook County on felonies has added fuel to a contentious debate over public safety and local authorities' defiance of a White House program that aims to pursue more criminal deportations.

The program depends on police and sheriff's deputies to hold suspected illegal immigrants who get arrested beyond the time when they would otherwise be released. But commissioners in the county around Chicago recently adopted a new law that orders the sheriff to ignore all federal requests to detain immigrants after they complete their sentences or post bail.

Other places, such as San Francisco, have taken similar measures, part of a backlash against the Obama administration, which many say is unfairly seeking to deport immigrants accused of traffic violations and other minor offenses. But Cook County's new ordinance is the first to forbid a sheriff from holding suspected felons as well as those accused of misdemeanors.

. . . Detaining the immigrants is supposed to give federal agents time to pick up the suspects and begin the deportation process. But one after another, local governments have complained about that the Secure Communities program, which gives immigration agents access to fingerprints collected at jails. They say the practice costs too much money and treats immigrants unfairly, especially those accused of only small-time offenses such as shoplifting, traffic violations or drunken driving. Read more...


October 5, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Farmers Realize the Need for Immigrant Workers

Kirk Johnson writes for the NY Times:

How can there be a labor shortage when nearly one out of every 11 people in the nation are unemployed?

That’s the question John Harold asked himself last winter when he was trying to figure out how much help he would need to harvest the corn and onions on his 1,000-acre farm here in western Colorado.

The simple-sounding plan that resulted — hire more local people and fewer foreign workers — left Mr. Harold and others who took a similar path adrift in a predicament worthy of Kafka.

The more they tried to do something concrete to address immigration and joblessness, the worse off they found themselves.

“It’s absolutely true that people who have played by the rules are having the toughest time of all,” said Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado.

Mr. Harold, a 71-year-old Vietnam War veteran who drifted here in the late ’60s, has participated for about a decade in a federal program called H-2A that allows seasonal foreign workers into the country to make up the gap where willing and able American workers are few in number. He typically has brought in about 90 people from Mexico each year from July through October.

This year, though, with tough times lingering and a big jump in the minimum wage under the program, to nearly $10.50 an  hour, Mr. Harold brought in only two-thirds of his usual contingent. The other positions, he figured, would be snapped up by jobless local residents wanting some extra summer cash.

“It didn’t take me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” Mr. Harold said, standing in his onion field on a recent afternoon as a crew of workers from Mexico cut the tops off yellow onions and bagged them. Read more...


October 5, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: Malaquias Montoya by Terezita Romo

Working Malaquias Montoya by Terezita Romo

for more than four decades in a variety of media, from drawings and paintings to murals and the silkscreen prints for which he is best known, Malaquias Montoya has pursued a singular artistic vision that promotes the dignity of labor, exposes assaults on human rights, and provokes resistance in the face of injustice. Montoya cofounded the influential Chicano artist collective known as the Mexican-American Liberation Art Front in 1968, inspiring a generation of artists and activists and continuing to do so today through his teaching and by widely exhibiting his overtly political and visually arresting works.


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

Will Jerry Brown sign the California Dream Act?

Hing on the Alabama Immigration Law

Bill hing 
Listen to immigration blogger Bill Hing talking talk about the Alabama immigration law on Wisconsin Public Radio.


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

The Arizona Project Receives a MacArthur Documentary Film Grant

The Arizona Project (Working Title), a searing new documentary about Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070, is one of only eight documentaries to receive a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Catherine Tambini, in partnership with Carlos Sandoval, is directing and producing the film. The film is scheduled for completion in early 2012, in time to contribute to the immigration debate that is intensifying with the presidential election cycle.

The Arizona Project captures the explosive emotions and tragic toll behind Arizona’s headline grabbing struggle with illegal immigration. Tracking the year after Arizona passes SB1070, its controversial “papers please” law, the unflinching film tells the personal stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue and depicts a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values. Noting the foundation’s commitment to independently produced films, MacArthur Vice President for Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives Elspeth Revere said, “Documentaries supported by MacArthur use compelling stories and characters to illuminate serious issues in approachable, creative and engaging ways."


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

Should Schools Help Catch Illegal Immigrants?

Check out N.Y. Times Room for Debate today. The topic of the day is " Should Schools Help Catch Illegal Immigrants? Alabama's new law requires schools to ascertain the immigration status of their pupils. Is this constitutional?"

The respondents are:

Rosemary C. Salomone (St. Johns's), author, "True American"

John C. Eastman, Chapman University School of Law

Peter Spiro, Temple University law professor

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies

Michael Olivas (Houston), author, "No Undocumented Child Left Behind"


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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RELEASE: How Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law Could Hurt the State’s (and the Nation’s) Economy

Today, the Center for American Progress released “How Georgia’s Anti-Immigration Law Could Hurt the State’s (and the Nation’s) Economy,” a report that explores the economic impacts of Georgia’s H.B. 87, a harsh anti-immigrant law modeled after Arizona’s S.B. 1070. The report, written by Georgia-based journalist Tom Baxter, combines existing information on agricultural losses from H.B. 87 with in-depth reporting and interviews with growers who are experiencing the ramifications of the law’s passage in April of this year. It also examines the long-term consequences for the state—and for America’s food security as a whole—if migrant workers continue to avoid Georgia. The report’s findings include: 2011 losses

• $300 million estimated loss in harvested crop statewide

• $1 billion estimated in total economic impact on Georgia’s economy

• Untold millions in losses to the economies of small towns and farmers dependent on immigrant labor Future losses

• $797 million loss per year in crop value across the state if Georgia replaced all of its handpicked crops with mechanized crops that do not require migrant labor

• $1.2 million loss per year in crop value for the average small farmer if he or she replaced all of their handpicked crops with mechanized crops that do not require migrant labor

• Untold millions in losses to the economies of small towns and farmers dependent on immigrant labor H.B. 87’s full effects may not be observable in Georgia for many months or even a few years.

The preliminary findings laid out in this report should provide a cautionary tale for legislators in other states considering their own version of anti-immigrant legislation. And the damages from this law go beyond economic. During the press call held today to release the report, Uvalda, Georgia Mayor Paul Bridges said, “The interesting impact that I’ve seen is how communities have been torn apart…we have a rip in our social fabric because we are separating families based on fear of the impact of this law.” 


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

From the Bookshelves: Banished to the Homeland: Dominican Deportees and Their Stories of Exile by David C. Brotherton and Luis Barrios

Banished to the Homeland: Dominican Deportees and Their Stories of Exile by David C. Brotherton and Luis Barrios

The 1996 U.S. Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act has led to the forcible deportation of more than thirty thousand Dominicans from the United States, with little protest or even notice from the public. Following thousands of Dominican deportees over a seven-year period, David C. Brotherton and Luis Barrios capture the experience of emigration, imprisonment, banishment, and repatriation on this vulnerable population. Filled with riveting life stories and uncommon ethnographic research, Banished to the Homeland relates the modern deportee’s journey to broader theoretical studies of transnationalism, assimilation, and social control, exposing the dangerous new reality created by today’s draconian immigration policies.


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Legomsky Named Chief Counsel, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

It has been announced that Stephen H. Legomsky, the John S. Lehmann University Professor at the Washington University School of Law, has been appointed Chief Counsel, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, effective October 24, 2011. Steve is an authority on U.S., comparative, and international immigration, refugee, and citizenship law and policy. His book, Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy, has been the required text at 175 law schools since its inception. He has won several awards, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual award, given to one immigration law professor in the United States, and Washington University’s Arthur Holly Compton Award, given annually to one university faculty member for career accomplishments. He has also been appointed to visiting positions at Oxford University, Cambridge University, and other universities in the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, Suriname, Singapore, and Israel.

Congrats Steve!


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Give "Criminal Aliens" a Second Chance

Friends: this is my reaction to the ICE announcement last week that 2900 arrests were made during Operation Cross Check. From Huffington Post:

ICE Raid 
With great fanfare last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced the arrest of some 3,000 convicted "criminal aliens" during a its seven-day national "Operation Cross-Check" enforcement operations. The attention-grabbing announcement emphasized that more than 1,600 had felony and highlighted seven of the arrestees who had been convictions for kidnapping, attempted murder, armed assault, or child molestation. That's juicy information for law-and-order enthusiasts and the anti-immigration establishment.

The problem with these types of ICE actions and announcements is that they blur the picture of who makes up the so-called "criminal aliens." Immigrants who commit crimes and are subject to deportation come from all over the world: Mexico, Asia, Canada, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The U.S. Supreme Court has even endorsed the deportation of a Somalian refugee, convicted of assault, back to Somalia, where no formal government exists. In 2002, the United States began deporting Cambodian refugees convicted of crimes back to communist-dominated Cambodia. So while ICE may indeed be rounding up and removing hundreds of so-called "illegal immigrants" who have committed crimes, the agency is also engaged in deporting lawful permanent resident aliens (those with "green cards") and refugees convicted of crimes. And these deportees have served their sentences in the criminal justice system before being deported.

. . . Ridding the country of criminal elements attributable to foreign sources sounds like an admirable goal, but there are several arguments against using deportation as the means to achieving this goal. The first is the impact that deportation has on family members who remain and employers. Second, many deportable foreign nationals have resided in the United States since infancy. Third, deportation implies a failure on the part of the criminal justice system to rehabilitate incarcerated persons, forcing them to serve sentences imposed by U.S. courts and leave the country immediately afterwards in order to protect the public. Rethinking removal and developing reasonable alternatives is a challenge that requires our immediate attention. Our current deportation policy destroys the lives of those who fall prey to it, and it destroys U.S. families and communities in the process. Nothing is gained, and ultimately, we all lose. We need to be restoring pre-1996 discretion to immigration judges to enable them to make a fair assessment of whether an immigrant deserves a second chance. Short of that, ICE needs to exercise its discretion to grant a probation-type period to individuals to observe their behavior.

. . . The experiment that we call America is a test of our character and our willingness to believe that we can have a strong country that is caring and diverse. Showing compassion and fairness in our immigration policies is not a sign of weakness. Rather, those traits demonstrate a confidence in a rule of law and system of government that metes out punishment when necessary, but understands that regulating the lives of those who seek to live within our borders must be done with the utmost compassion, dignity, and understanding. As in previous generations, there is much to admire about individuals who come to our shores seeking freedom and a better life. Whether they are fleeing persecution or entering to seek work in order to better their lives, the newcomers of today are not much different from those of the past. Once here, welcoming newcomers and understanding the challenges that they will be facing are imperative. As they become part of our neighborhoods and communities, some may make mistakes, but we do well to remember that supporting rehabilitation, giving a second chance, and providing ways for individuals to mature are essential elements of a civil society. While these traits of a civil society benefit individuals, they benefit us all as a common community. Although traits of forgiveness may immediately benefit the individual, in the end, we all benefit. When an individual finally turns the corner and becomes a contributing member, the entire community benefits -- socially, emotionally, and economically. Read more...


October 4, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Stop Pending Trade Agreements

I have been critical of NAFTA because of its devasting effect on jobs in Mexico and the resulting pressures on Mexicans who look north for opportunities to feed their families.

On a related note, here is a message from the AFL-CIO:

Dear Friends:

You don’t hear from me often. I spend most of my time on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress, making the voices of working people heard in front of lawmakers and educating them about what’s important.

But today, I have a really important favor to ask of you. It will take about three minutes: I need you to pick up the phone and call 1-800-718-1008 right now to stop three unfair trade deals.

Here’s why:

The Korea agreement is the largest offshoring deal of its kind since NAFTA. If enacted, it likely will displace 159,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. And its glaring loopholes would allow unscrupulous businesses to import illegally labeled goods from China and possibly even from sweatshops in North Korea—potentially without any tariffs at all.
In Colombia, one trade unionist is murdered almost every week and almost none of the murderers is brought to justice. In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia—more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed, despite Colombia’s heralded “Labor Action Plan.” Would we reward a country where 51 CEOs were killed last year?
And the Panama agreement has many of the problems of the other two deals, like deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety, labor and environmental laws. Panama is also a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.

I’ve done everything I can to try and get through to President Obama and leaders in Congress to stop these trade agreements behind the scenes. But it looks like many of our leaders in Washington—both Democrats and Republicans—are siding with corporate lobbyists instead of learning from the experience of working Americans.

For years, lobbyists have promised politicians that new trade agreements would lead to job creation and greater prosperity for our country. The “jobs” argument gives politicians a convenient excuse to push these agreements—which are good for the mega-rich but terrible for the vast majority of Americans. It’s sad, but not surprising, that many of our leaders in Washington are parroting these corporate talking points—and even are claiming these agreements will help solve America’s jobs crisis.

But what workers actually have experienced from new trade agreements is horrible. They have caused a devastation of our manufacturing sector, more outsourcing of service-sector jobs and a growing trade deficit that leaves us more and more in debt to the rest of the world.

Working people know the reality of these trade agreements better than corporate lobbyists—and Congress needs to listen. Please call 1-800-718-1008 right now.

Since it looks like a majority of our leaders are siding with lobbyists, I need your help to make sure Congress hears the voices of working people.

We’ve organized a national call-in day today to stop these unfair trade deals. Please pick up the phone and make your voice heard right now. Again, the number to call is: 1-800-718-1008.

Thank you for your help.

In Solidarity,

Bill Samuel
Legislative Director, AFL-CIO   


October 4, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Debate Over Multiculturalism: Philosophy, Politics, and Policy

The heated debate over multiculturalism has been made all the more salient by the recent attacks in Norway carried out by Anders Breivik in the name of cultural conservatism and the political rhetoric of popular right-wing parties in Europe's north. Irene Bloemraad of the University of California, Berkeley, sheds light on the various meanings of the term "multiculturalism" and provides insights on the effects of multicultural policies on immigrant integration.


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Foreign-Born Wage and Salary Workers in the US Labor Force and Unions

Of the 14.8 million union members in 2010, 12 percent were foreign born. Migration Policy Institute's Jeanne Batalova examines the data on immigrant participation in the US labor force and unions.


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished? Alabama’s New Immigration Law – A Threat to Conservative Values

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished? Alabama’s New Immigration Law – A Threat to Conservative Values" ELIZABETH RIESER-MURPHY, University of Miami - University of Miami Law Review; KATHRYN DEMARCO, University of Miami - University of Miami Law Review.

Many people consider religious freedom and the freedom to contract to be core conservative values. This article will explore whether Alabama’s new immigration bill, HB 56, infringes on these conservative values and, if so, whether such infringements are unprecedented and/or unconstitutional.


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Death on the Border

Here is a series of compelling videos from No More Deaths. Damien Cave of the N.Y. Times reports on the current situation facing migrants along the U.S./Mexico border, with many migrants from Mexico crossing again and again.


October 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 3, 2011

From the Bookshelves: Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders by Adam M. McKeown

Melancholy order 
Columbia University Press is pleased to announce the publication in paperback of Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders by Adam M. McKeown

As Adam M. McKeown demonstrates, the push for increased border control and identity documentation is the continuation of more than 150 years of globalization. Modern passports and national borders are not only inseparable from the rise of global mobility. They are also tied to the emergence of individuals and nations as the primary sites of global power and identity. McKeown's history links the practices of border control to attempts to control Asian migration around the Pacific in the 1880s. New policies to control mobility had to be justified in the context of contemporary liberal ideas of freedom and mobility, generating such principles as the belief that migration control is a sovereign right of receiving nations and that it should occur at a country's borders. McKeown shows how the enforcement of these border controls required migrants to be extracted from social networks of identity and reconstructed as isolated individuals within centralized filing systems. Methods originally created to exclude Asians from full participation in the "family of civilized nations" are now the norm between all nations and have helped to institutionalize global cultural and economic divisions, such as East/West and First and Third World designations.


October 3, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


The documentary film, HELL AND BACK AGAIN, opens October 5 in New York City (October 14 in Los Angeles) and will continue to rollout nationwide through November and December. From his embed with US Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan, photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis reveals the devastating impact a Taliban machine-gun bullet has on the life of 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris. The film seamlessly transitions from stunning war reportage to an intimate, visceral portrait of one man's personal struggle at home in North Carolina, where Harris confronts the physical and emotional difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian life with the love and support of his wife, Ashley.

Hell and Back Again - Trailer from New Video on Vimeo.


October 3, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Press Conference: Alabama’s Immigration Law is An Unprecedented Attack on Children and Families

Representatives from children, family and faith organizations gathered on a national press conference on October 3 to denounce Alabama’s stringent immigration law as a sweeping attempt to frighten the immigrant community and tear families apart. Last week a federal judge in Alabama refused to block the toughest provisions of Alabama’s immigration law, H.B. 56, effectively becoming the harshest immigration law in the nation. Under the law, police is authorized and to question and arrest individuals they “reasonably suspect” are in the country illegally and people and businesses—including utilities companies—are prohibited from entering into business contracts with unauthorized immigrants.  Alabama also became the first state in the nation to require school officials to ask children enrolling for the first time about their immigration status and that of their parents.

Panelists raised concerns about the negative impact of the Alabama law on women and children. The March 2010 Community Population Survey, U.S. Census, estimates that in 2009, 79,000 children in Alabama lived in immigrant families. According to the most recent KIDS COUNT data, among children in immigrant families nationally, 88 percent are U.S. citizens.


October 3, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Video on Prosecutorial Discretion

Here is one attempt to explain the prosecutorial discretion policies under the June 17 Morton memo and recent White House amendments. Unfortunately, the application of the memo has been very inconsistent.


October 3, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)