Saturday, November 12, 2011

Low-Income Immigrant Rights Conference

From the National Immigration Law Center:

Domestic workers
You now have one more week to register for the 8th National Low Income Immigrants’ Rights Conference at the discounted early bird rate! Register before November 17 to save 20 percent off the regular registration fee.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet with advocates from across the country and discuss how to protect against anti-immigrant attacks, preserve the social safety net, and advance a pro-migrant agenda in 2012.
We hope to see you there!


November 12, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Book of the Day: Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America

Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions, and Deportations in Post-9/11 America by Tanya Maria Golash-Boza

Immigration Nation provides a critical analysis of the impact that U.S. immigration policy has on human rights. In the wake of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was founded to protect America from the threat of terrorist attacks. However, along with dramatic increases in immigration law enforcement — raids, detentions, and deportations have increased six-fold in the past decade — American citizens, families, and communities have ultimately borne the cost. Although family reunification is officially a core component of U.S. immigration policy, these same policies often tear families apart. Pundits and politicians nearly always frame this debate in terms of security and economic needs, but here, Tanya Maria Golash-Boza addresses the debate with the human rights of migrants and their families at the center of her analyses.


November 12, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Civil Rights Division Head Says Hate Crimes on the Rise

Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, noted in an address Thursday evening the number of hate crimes in the United States is rising. Perez, speaking before the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia’s annual Equal Justice Awards ceremony, said that, “Regrettably, our business is booming, and our business is booming because there is an undeniable headwind of intolerance around the nation. We’ve prosecuted more hate crimes cases in the last year than we had in the last decade.”

As the overheated national debate over immigration -- with no end in sight -- continues, we can expect hate crimes against Latinos and immigrants to continue, as has been the case over the last several years.


November 12, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Disabled and Disserved: The Right to Counsel for Mentally Disabled Aliens in Removal Proceedings" by ALIZA B. KAPLAN

"Disabled and Disserved: The Right to Counsel for Mentally Disabled Aliens in Removal Proceedings" Georgetown Immigration Law Review, Forthcoming ALIZA B. KAPLAN, Lewis & Clark Law School.

ABSTRACT; In May 2011, in Matter of M-A-M, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for the first time examined the issue of mentally disabled aliens and their vulnerability in immigration proceedings. To assist Immigration Judges (IJs), the BIA created a framework to analyze cases where issues of mental competency are raised. While this decision appears to recognize the unjust plight of mentally disabled respondents in removal proceedings, it is wholly insufficient in providing meaningful due process protection to aliens with mental disabilities. Given the complexities of immigration law and the profound impact that legal representation can have on an alien, those with mental disabilities cannot be expected to properly defend themselves against removal without legal representation.


November 12, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Associated Press Should Drop the I-Word

From the Drop the I-word Team:
It's time to take action.

Although the Associated Press updated its stylebook last week, they still insist on using the i-word to define people. While many reporters and editors are re-evaluating how they describe undocumented immigrants in a way that does not dehumanize them or compromise constitutionality, accuracy and professional journalistic ethics, the change from the AP still falls short.

But with your help, we can change that.

The Associated Press is looking ahead to the 2012 edition of the AP Stylebook and would like to hear from readers. This is the perfect time to tell the AP to drop the i-word and to let them know "illegal immigrant" is dehumanizing, racially charged, inaccurate, not legal terminology and not conducive to understanding the immigration debate.

CLICK HERE NOW TO TAKE ACTION and let them know that use of the i-word is indefensible. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, Nov. 15. Sample text is below, which you can cut and paste into the AP submission form.

When you've sent your submission you will be sent a confirmation email. Be sure to follow through and click on the link within the email to complete the action!

We thank you for your continued support,

The Drop the I-Word Team


November 11, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Stories Growing Up Undocumented in the United States

From E4FC:

Next Thursday, we invite you to The Booksmith in San Francisco to listen to E4FC students read and discuss their autobiographical stories from THINGS I'LL NEVER SAY: STORIES OF GROWING UP UNDOCUMENTED IN THE UNITED STATES, recently published in the Harvard Educational Review.

In this moving collection, E4FC students talk about not being able to return to their homelands, about wanting to be accepted as Americans, and about the fear of living in the shadows. Together, their narratives create a sense of a young immigrant's journey: departure, crossing, arrival, alienation, and attempts at claiming a new home. 

At next Thursday's public event, students will share their stories and engage in a lively discussion about current immigration issues and the power of personal narrative to change public opinion and policy.

Event Details

Date and Time: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 6:45-9:00PM
Venue: The Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Student Authors:

 Catherine Eusebio, 
Ingrid Hernandez
, Jirayut Latthi
, Mario Lio, and 
Fermín Mendoza

6:45 PM Reception
7:30 PM Reading & Discussion


November 11, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From the Bookshelves: States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System by Miroslava Chávez-García


States of Delinquency:  Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System by Miroslava Chávez-García

This unique analysis of the rise of the juvenile justice system from the nineteenth to twentieth centuries uses one of the harshest states—California—as a case study for examining racism in the treatment of incarcerated young people of color. Using rich new untapped archives, States of Delinquency is the first book to explore the experiences of young Mexican Americans, African Americans, and ethnic Euro-Americans in California correctional facilities including Whittier State School for Boys and the Preston School of Industry. Miroslava Chávez-García examines the ideologies and practices used by state institutions as they began to replace families and communities in punishing youth, and explores the application of science and pseudo-scientific research in the disproportionate classification of youths of color as degenerate. She also shows how these boys and girls, and their families, resisted increasingly harsh treatment and various kinds of abuse, including sterilization.


November 10, 2011 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Deportees Strain Mexican Border Towns

From NPR:

For many Mexican migrants who've just been deported from the United States, the border city Reynosa is where the American Dream dies.

Maria Nidelia Avila Basurto is a Catholic nun who heads a church-run shelter for deportees in Reynosa, in the northeast corner of Mexico, just across from McAllen, Texas.

"Many of them arrive with nothing," she says. "We have to give them everything — clothes, shoes, everything."

Last year, the U.S. deported a record number of immigrants. Almost 400,000 people who were in the country illegally were arrested and sent back to their home countries.

The vast majority were Mexicans, and many were released into dangerous cities like Reynosa. The city is struggling to deal with the thousands of deportees who arrive each month and are vulnerable to violent thugs, drug gangs and corrupt officials. . . .

The Mexican government does help deportees with one-way bus tickets to their home states, and the U.S. government has started flying more of them into Central Mexico, but still thousands end up being exiled each month into violent border cities such as Reynosa.

Migrant advocates here say that roughly 30 percent of the deportees immediately turn around and head north. They'd rather take their chances with the U.S. Border Patrol than venture out into an environment where they could get beaten, robbed, kidnapped or worse. Read more...


November 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FILM: Left in Baghdad

With Veteran's Day tomorrow, check out "Left in Baghdad," a short film about a soldier who loses his left arm in Iraq and adjusts to his new life back home.


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sikhism to be Taught in Texas Schools

From the Sikh Coalition:

The Sikh Coalition along with the Texas Sikh community was successful in adding Sikhism to the Social Studies state mandated curriculum last year.  As the next step, the Coalition hoped to work with Texas textbook publishers to ensure that information about Sikhism printed in the next revision cycle would be updated and accurate.

However, due to budget constraints, the Texas Education Agency has put the textbook revision process on hold indefinitely.  At the beginning of the 2011 – 2012 school year, Texas teachers were nevertheless mandated to start teaching Sikhism alongside the rest of the world religions.  However, if these educators do not have textbooks or any other educational resources to do so, how will that happen?

Sikh Coalition Reaches Out to Texas Teachers
This year, the Coalition has led and organized several teacher workshops throughout the state in an effort to equip Texas teachers with appropriate information about the faith.  The Sikh Coalition presented information that could be used by teachers to teach Sikhism at the following conferences:

    Friends of Geography (FOG) Conference – Houston, TX (September 24)

    Asia Society Texas Center Educator Nights Series – Houston, TX (October 19)

    Texas Alliance For Geographic Education (TAGE) Conference – Austin, TX (October 21)

The presentations consisted of a brief introduction to Sikhism, a short video, and a question and answer session.  Each attendee was also given a 20-page packet containing lesson plans, information on Sikhism, ways to respond to Sikh bullying incidents, and a resource list that contained links to books, films, and teacher resources online.  Click here to see pictures!

The presentations were also followed by a turban and patka tying demonstration, in order to dispel any myths that people might have about the dastaar.  Some presentations even had a tabla demonstration and featured traditional Punjabi clothing.  Many educators who attended have already requested Sikh awareness presentations and/or resources for their school.

Rita McMahon from Dulles High School in Fort Bend ISD in Houston said that the Coalition’s presentation was “a perfect introduction to Sikhism.  My new knowledge will help my students understand other people in diverse communities!”

In addition, the Coalition hosted a Sikh Awareness presentation to 300 students and a dozen educators at two Houston high schools: Sharpstown International School and the Houston Academy for International Studies.

Thank you

The Coalition would like to express its heartfelt thanks to both Paul Pass, the Education Coordinator at the Asia Society Texas Center and Dr. Jo Beth Oestreich, the TAGE conference coordinator for organizing these workshops and inviting teachers to attend.

The Coalition would also like to thank the local sevadaars from Houston and Austin for assisting in these presentations: Manpreet K. Singh, Parminder Singh, Shawn Bhatia, Gurkaran Singh, Harmeet Kaur, Prabhjot Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Surinder Singh, Moninder K. Chadha, Mohini Kaur, Gurinderjit Singh, and Sahib Singh Chadha.

If you are a Texas parent/student and want Sikh resources sent to your teacher or a Sikh Awareness presentation done at your school, please email


November 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Right to Appointed Counsel in Deportation Proceedings

From the Los Angeles Times:

In 2009, President Obama vowed to overhaul the nation's immigration detention system. Since then, his administration has taken some steps to deliver on that promise, such as providing detainees improved access to medical care and closing troubled facilities. But it has yet to provide the most meaningful fix: ensuring that indigent immigrants in detention have access to legal counsel.

Until now, federal courts have held that only criminal defendants are entitled to court-appointed counsel. An immigration case, even if it involves detention, is a civil matter. As a result, the vast majority of detainees, including children and the mentally ill, are forced to represent themselves in immigration court.

This month, however, a federal judge in Los Angeles could help bring some fairness to the system. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee has been asked to decide whether to grant class-action status in a lawsuit brought on behalf of mentally disabled immigrant detainees who don't have the money to pay for legal representation. If Gee certifies the class under the Rehabilitation Act, which requires the government to accommodate people with disabilities, it could help hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

That would be a great start. But much more is needed to ensure that all detainees are afforded fair treatment under the law.

A 2011 study, headed by a federal judge, found that immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to win their cases than those without. Put simply, an immigrant's access to an attorney can be as important as the facts in his or her case. Read more....


November 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FBI Produces More Documents About Secure Communities

National Day Labor Organizing Network, Center on Constitutional Rights and the Cardozo Law Immigration Justice Clinic have released a new selection of key documents relating to Secure Communities, a controversial program, recently produced by the FBI through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.  Check out the documents at the link and let ImmigrationProf know what you find.


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Who's Debate Gaffe is Bigger? Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's or Texas Gov. Rick Perry's?


Arizona Governor Jan Brewer -- Running for Governor of Arizona


Texas Governor Rick Perry -- Running for President of the United States

What do you think?


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Report: Quantifying Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio

Scholars at UCLA have released (and here) the results of "Quantifying Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio," a study analyzing content that denigrates vulnerable communities. "We have analyzed . . . three conservative talk shows in which we found statements attacking vulnerable groups like Hispanics," Francisco Xavier Iribarren, assistant director at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center.

In recent months, as previously reported on ImmigrationProf, some talk show radio shows in the Los Angeles area, sometimes referred to as the "Latino Metropolis," have been criticized for anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican diatribes.


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post: A New Take on States’ Rights: Can Local Governments Opt Out of Federal Immigration Enforcement? By Christopher N. Lasch, J.D.

A New Take on States’ Rights: Can Local Governments Opt Out of Federal Immigration Enforcement? By Christopher N. Lasch, J.D.

Last year, the U.S. government deported 400,000 immigrants, the most in any year of our history. But on October 18 in California, the Santa Clara County board of supervisors declared its independence from federal immigration enforcement, announcing the county would no longer routinely honor federal immigration detainers.

The discussion of states’ rights in the immigration debate has largely focused on the question of whether states such as Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia, may “opt in” by passing local immigration enforcement measures to supplement the federal government’s enforcement. Santa Clara County’s decision, while similarly grounded in the Tenth Amendment’s reservation to the states of powers not explicitly granted to the federal government, affirmatively answered an equally important question: Can local governments opt out of immigration enforcement?

Questions about opting out made news in April when immigration advocates released documents concerning the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program. Routinely, local law enforcement officials submit booking fingerprints to the FBI for criminal background checks. Under Secure Communities, these fingerprints are then transmitted by the FBI to DHS, which then determines which prisoners to target for immigration enforcement.

Since its inception in 2008, opponents have denounced Secure Communities, charging it encourages racial profiling, diverts local resources from crime control, and makes communities less safe by discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes or cooperating with police. The documents released in April also highlighted another problem with Secure Communities: While DHS touted the program as aimed at “high-threat criminal aliens,” some 79% of immigrants targeted actually had either no criminal record or convictions for only traffic or minor offenses.

Following the April release of documents, an outraged Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) questioned whether federal immigration officials had lied by telling local jurisdictions they could opt out of the FBI-DHS data sharing, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged the President immediately to “freeze” Secure Communities, and several states announced withdrawal from Secure Communities.

The federal response to the state backlash was equally strong. In August, DHS terminated every agreement it had entered into with the states, declaring such agreements unnecessary to data sharing under Secure Communities and rendering withdrawal from Secure Communities at best a symbolic gesture.

Yet in declaring local cooperation unnecessary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement overlooked a crucial fact. While the data sharing between the FBI and DHS may not need local cooperation, the principal enforcement tool behind Secure Communities absolutely depends on it.

Once immigration officials target a prisoner for enforcement, DHS issues a civil immigration detainer, a document requesting local officials to hold a prisoner beyond his or her release date so DHS can gain custody. Detainers cannot function without the voluntary cooperation of state and local officials. While a federal regulation declares local officials “shall” continue to hold the prisoner, there is good reason to believe this regulation exceeds the federal government’s power to tell state officials what to do. The Tenth Amendment forbids unfunded mandates that allow the federal government to commandeer state resources without reimbursement. And if there is one thing DHS has been clear about, it is that state and local governments will bear the expense of holding prisoners under immigration detainers.

Santa Clara is the most recent example of a local government effectively resisting immigration detainers. In June, San Francisco implemented a policy dishonoring some detainers. On September 7, county commissioners in Cook County, Illinois voted to stop complying with federal immigration detainers completely, with one commissioner describing the problem as a “$15 million unfunded mandate.” And now Santa Clara County will no longer honor immigration detainers unless the federal government agrees to pay the costs of detention, and then only if the prisoner has been convicted of a serious crime. The county refuses to honor any detainers for juvenile prisoners.

While some states and localities are deploying the “states rights” argument in support of the most onerous local anti-immigrant measures, these local governments are using the Tenth Amendment to resist overzealous federal immigration enforcement and uphold the civil rights of immigrants. On firm constitutional footing, they have taken a stand against an enforcement mechanism that co-opts local resources to serve the widely criticized and dubiously effective Secure Communities program. Other local governments should follow their courageous examples.

Christopher N. Lasch is an assistant professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he teaches in the Criminal Law Clinic.

November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Law and the Proportionality Requirement by Michael Wishnie

"Immigration Law and the Proportionality Requirement" University of California Irvine Law Review (immigrtaion symposium), Forthcoming MICHAEL J. WISHNIE, Yale Law School.

ABSTRACT: Proportionality is the notion that the severity of a sanction should not be excessive in relation to the gravity of an offense. The principle is ancient and nearly uncontestable, and its operation is well-established in numerous areas of criminal and civil law, in the United States and abroad. Immigration law, which is formally civil but functionally quasi-criminal, has not previously been subject to review for conformity to constitutional proportionality principles arising under the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause, nor under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. This essay contends that there is no reason in principle or precedent that removal orders should not be subject to constitutional proportionality review. A removal order is sufficiently punitive to trigger proportionality review, and metrics adapted from the criminal sentencing and civil punitive damages context are available to conduct in practice the sort of proportionality review that is well-established in many other areas of law. Moreover, the statutory provision requiring an immigration judge to “decide whether an alien is removable from the United States” at the conclusion of removal proceedings must be understood to incorporate Fifth and Eighth Amendment proportionality requirements, pursuant to the constitutional doubt canon of statutory interpretation. Proportionality review rarely results in a court displacing a criminal sentence, punitive damages award, or other sanction. Nevertheless, an immigration judge may not impose, and a reviewing court must set aside, a removal order that is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the underlying misconduct, just as the Fifth and Eighth Amendments require in punitive damages awards, civil fines, land use exactions, and capital and noncapital criminal sentencing.


November 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

16 Foreign Governments Challenge South Carolina Immigration Law

JURIST reports that

"Sixteen Latin American, Caribbean and South American governments have filed supporting briefs in a lawsuit filed last week by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) challenging the South Carolina's newly adopted immigration law. The briefs contend that the new law will `impede effective and consistent diplomatic relations,' and encourage `an imminent threat of state-sanctioned bias or discrimination' of their citizens. The countries are also concerned about the detrimental effects the new law will have on trade and tourism."


November 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Survey Reveals ICE Officials' Sporadic Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) released a new survey today finding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and attorneys across the country are applying different standards on prosecutorial discretion despite the issuance of national policy memoranda this summer. The report, which includes information about all 28 ICE offices nationwide, shows that most ICE offices have not even implemented the two headquarters’ memos. These discrepancies reflect a need for ICE and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership to issue additional guidance to its rank and file.

“We felt that ICE’s June 2011 memoranda about the use of prosecutorial discretion in certain types of immigration cases were clear and straightforward,” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. “But,” Pelta continued, “these survey results show that ICE agents and attorneys are not willing to use the discretion they are responsible for implementing without further guidance. They are asking for more, and the agency’s leadership should help them get it,” said Pelta. According to Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, "the June 2011 memo lays out a basic premise in law enforcement: the proper exercise of discretion is an integral part of any law enforcement effort to focus its resources effectively. If, as this survey reveals, many local immigration officials are unwilling to accept this basic premise, then the challenge for DHS and ICE is to back the memo up with the leadership, training and support necessary to make sure that these policies are actually being implemented."

The June 17, 2011, memo outlines for ICE agents and attorneys the factors that would deem an immigration case a low priority for enforcement action. They include ties to America including service in the U.S. armed forces, schooling, contributions to the community, and other equities for enforcement officials to consider when deciding what course of action to take in a particular case.

Key findings from the AILA/AIC survey, Holding DHS Accountable on Prosecutorial Discretion, highlight the fact that while a few ICE offices have begun to implement the guidance, most have not and many are actively resistant. Some officials said their jobs are “to arrest and deport.”

“ICE agents and attorneys need to understand that this guidance provides them with more tools to effectively deploy their resources and weigh where they can be most effective in furthering law enforcement objectives. It also helps them to administer the law fairly, so that the six-year-old daughter of a legal immigrant won’t be deported to El Salvador and a Bosnian refugee on the verge of citizenship, with a U.S. Citizen wife and two children, won’t be separated from his family,” concluded Pelta.


November 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Moving to U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed

Here is an interesting N.Y. Times response to the claim that an immigrant must learn English to succeed in the United States.


November 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lawsuit Filed on Access to Counsel

From the Legal Action Center:

Lawsuits Filed Against Department of Homeland Security Seek Greater Transparency
American Immigration Council Seeks Disclosure of Records Regarding Access to Counsel
Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) this week filed two lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  The LAC pursued disclosure of these records, as well as records from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed last March.  To date, USCIS has failed to turn over any documents, and CBP has turned over only a few excerpts from its practice manuals.  ICE has informed the LAC that it conducted a search for records, but that it is “unable to locate or identify any responsive records.”  The LAC has filed an administrative appeal of ICE’s determination and will pursue litigation if necessary. 

These FOIA requests were prompted by the results of a survey conducted by the LAC and the American Immigration Lawyers Association that revealed widespread restrictions on access to counsel before USCIS, ICE and CBP.  Such limitations include bars on attorney presence at CBP inspections, limitations on the ability to consult with attorneys in ICE detention facilities and during questioning by ICE, and restrictions on attorneys’ ability to participate in interviews before USCIS.  The survey also highlighted significant variations in policies and practices in DHS offices throughout the country. 

The LAC has long advocated for the right to counsel in immigration settings, including meaningful access to an attorney.  The LAC currently is pursuing administrative reforms to secure improved access to counsel in all DHS proceedings.  The information sought through our FOIA requests will assist in this work and in advising immigration lawyers regarding how best to safeguard their clients’ right to counsel. 

Dorsey & Whitney LLP is co-counsel with the LAC on these FOIA cases.


November 9, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)