Saturday, January 7, 2012
From Fox News Latino:
As the economic and demographic landscapes of both Mexico and some countries in Latin America undergo tectonic shifts, and our own economic growth continues to wane, suddenly, in a remarkably short time, immigration to America, both lawful and unlawful, has fallen – dramatically.
And while most of us are not more than a generation or two away from the immigrant’s experience, most Americans, strangely, ignore what current immigration trends say about our economic condition. But, the rise and fall of immigrants coming to America, both lawful and unlawful, speaks to the state of our economy – and it should concern us all.
Recent U.S. census figures show that the new arrival numbers of Mexican nationals, the largest immigrant group residing in the United States (some in violation of U.S. immigration law), have tumbled to almost negligible levels. In fact, fewer than 100,000 who entered into the United States unlawfully in 2010 hailed from Mexico; significantly lower than the 525,000 who did the same from 2000 to 2004 according to reports.
We are not only seeing a decrease in border crossings overall, but interestingly enough, we are now seeing a significant increase in the percentage of those entering the country with required documents. Recent figures indicate that 38 percent of total border crossings in 2011 were made with documentation; while in 2007, only 20 percent had entered with required credentials. Read more....
Julia Preston writes in the NY Times:
The federal agency in charge of deportations is conducting a far-reaching training course to push immigration enforcement officers and prosecutors nationwide to focus their efforts on removing immigrants convicted of crimes.
The training course is the clearest sign yet that administration officials want to transform the way immigration officers work, asking them to make nuanced decisions to speed deportations of high-risk offenders while halting those of illegal immigrants with clean records and strong ties to the country. The policy is President Obama’s most ambitious immigration initiative before the November elections, senior administration officials said.
But in a new sign of the deep dissension over immigration, the union representing some 7,000 deportation officers of the agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, has so far not allowed its members to participate in the training. Without the formal assent of the union, the administration’s strategy could be significantly slowed for months in labor negotiations.
...The cornerstone of the policy is a June 17 memorandum by John Morton, the director of ICE, in which he laid out a list of no fewer than 31 factors that ICE officers should weigh when deciding whether to proceed with a deportation. Peter S. Vincent, ICE’s top lawyer, added further guidelines on Nov. 17. Read more...
Friday, January 6, 2012
Immigration creates jobs for native-born Americans. That is the fundamental finding of a new study from the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership For A New American Economy, entitled Immigration and American Jobs. The study—authored by Madeline Zavodny, a professor of economics at Agnes Scott College—reinforces the findings of numerous other studies which have demonstrated that there is no correlation between immigration and unemployment. Specifically, Zavodny analyzes Census data with the aim of answering one pivotal question: “In states with more immigrants, are US natives more or less likely to have a job?” Zavodny focuses on two groups in particular: immigrants with advanced degrees, and immigrants of any skill level who are in the country on temporary visas.
Professor Wendy Parmet (Northeastern) won a victory for immigrants in the Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday. The SJC held that struck down a provision of a Massachetts law denying lawwful immigrants access to a subsidized health insurance program. Specifically, the court found that the discrimination in the program violated the right of immigrants to equal protection under the Massachusetts Constitution. For details, click here.
One would think that the U.S. government might conclude that immigration enforcement efforts might be reduced (and money saved) given that migration patterns, due to the lagging U.S. economy, are changing dramatically. Mexican migration patterns reportedly are changing, with the estimated net migration to the United States at or near zero. Moreover, the undocumented population has decreased by an estimated 1 million, from 11 to 10 million, in the last few years.
To its credit, the administration has announced (and here) some positive reforms to the political process. Still, there continue to be distressing reports of the immigration process run amok, including, but not limited to,
-- the apparent deportation of a U.S. citizen teenager to Colombia;
-- deportation of an undocumented quadriplegic injured in a workplace accident in Chicago to Mexico where he now is in a hospital unequipped to meet his medical needs;
-- the threatened deportation of a college graduate to a country that she does not know;
-- the abuses of the private mass detention industry; and
-- harsh asylum positions taken by the U.S.government, with threatened deportation of noncitizens who face physical violence in their native land.
And these are just some of the reports from the news over the last week or so. The persistent reports of abuses in the U.S. immigration system suggest that there are some deep institutional flaws in the immigration bureaucracy that must be corrected. It is dismaying to hear consistently about deaths on the border, wrongful deportations, detention abuses, etc. The reports are so constant that, sadly enough, they are neither surprising or really news. They are a sad commentary on immigration justice American style.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk have been together for 19 years. They're married and live in the Castro, but have been living under the threat of separation because Wells is a U.S. citizen and Makk a citizen of Australia.
That threat ended Wednesday, when they won a two-year stay of Makk's deportation.
"We're still dizzy from the news," said Makk, 49. "We are elated."
Because the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bars all federal marital rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples, Makk was denied consideration for a green card based on his marriage to Wells, who suffers from severe AIDS-related illnesses. Makk is his primary caregiver.
"I'm relieved, really excited and relieved," said Wells, 56. "I am so grateful I don't have to worry about Anthony being taken out of the country."
The couple's plight, first covered by The Chronicle in June, triggered international media attention.
On Wednesday, the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a letter to Makk saying he has been granted "deferred action" on his case for two years. The agency said the stay is "an exercise of prosecutorial discretion" that allows the agency not to pursue deportation for a specific period. Read more...
From Associated Press:
The Obama administration plans a rule change to help reduce the time undocumented immigrant spouses and children are separated from citizen relatives while they try to win legal status in the United States, a senior administration official said.
Currently, undocumented immigrants must leave the country before they can ask the government to waive a three- to 10-year ban on legally coming back to the U.S. The length of the ban depends on how long they have lived in the U.S. without permission.
The official said Thursday the new rule would let children and spouses of citizens ask the government to decide on the waiver request before the undcoumented immigrant heads to his or her home country to apply for a visa. The undocumented immigrants still must go home to finish the visa process to come back to the U.S., but getting the waiver ahead of time could reduce the time an undocumented immigrant is out of the country.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposed policy change had not been made public.
The waiver shift is the latest move by President Barack Obama to make changes to immigration policy without congressional action. Congressional Republicans repeatedly have criticized the administration for policy changes they describe as providing "backdoor amnesty" to undocumented immigrants.
Immigrants who do not have criminal records and who have only violated immigration laws can win a waiver if they can prove that their absence would cause an "extreme hardship" for their citizen spouse or parent. The government received about 23,000 hardship applications in 2011 and more than 70 percent were approved, the official said. Read more...
Margaret Stock thoughtfully analyzes two cases (Bluman v. Federal Election Commission and Louisiana v. Bryson) currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that involve noncitizens and the political process. Bluman involves the constitutionality of a ban on political controbutions by noncitizens who are not lawful permanent residents but are lawfully in the United States. Bryson involves the counting of noncitizens by the Census, which affects the allocation of seats to the states in Congress.
The American Constitution Society, with support from the Ford Foundation, is hosting a symposium on The Constitutionality of Immigration Legislation: The State of State Laws. The keynote speaker is Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
The conference is set for Tuesday, February 7, 2012 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. State Bar of Georgia 104 Marietta St. NW, Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30303.
UPDATE (Jan. 12): For further analysis and discussion of the response to the Obama proposal, click here.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
ImmigrationProf Blog previously reported about last October's symposium Breaching Borders: State Encroachment into the Federal Immigration Domain? sponsored by Washburn University School of Law's Center for Law and Government and the Washburn Law Journal. Video from the plenary, lunch, and dinner sessions is now available and may be viewed here or at Washburn Law's YouTube channel for the symposium.
From Immigration Advocates Network
The Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) is excited to announce the launch of ImmigrationLawHelp.org (www.immigrationlawhelp.org), a new website to help low-income immigrants find free or low-cost legal help. The website provides information about more than 900 nonprofit immigration legal services providers in all 50 states.
Using data from IAN's recently launched National Immigration Legal Services Directory (http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory), ImmigrationLawHelp.org was designed to address the lack of reliable information available to low-income immigrants by providing an easy-to-use online directory of legal services providers. In addition to the ability to search for nonprofit legal services by state, county, and detention facility, the website allows users to find organizations by languages spoken, types of legal and other services provided, and specific areas of legal assistance. It is available in English and Spanish.
ImmigrationLawHelp.org was created in partnership with Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit that works to increase access to justice through innovative uses of technology, and one of IAN's founders. It was developed with support from the Four Freedoms Fund.
Seth Freed Wessler writes for Colorlines:
Sam Kitching, a soft-spoken, round old man dressed in civilian clothes who works for the Sheriff’s department at the Baker County Jail put his hand on my shoulder and, addressing me as “young man,” said, “It’s very important that you be careful in there. They might have AIDS and might try to grab your hand and push something into it.”
“AIDS?” I ask.
“They could,” he said. “These men can be dangerous.”
A younger man dressed in a tight, dark green Sheriff’s uniform unlatched the door into one of the pods that holds several dozen federal immigration detainees.
Mostly Latino and black and all dressed in orange jump suits, unzipped with the arms tied around waists, the men stood or sat at metal tables in groups of four or five in the three-sided concrete room.
“Zip up,” the guard yelled as the door opened.
The detainees pulled the jumpers up over their shoulders and I followed the guard, Kitching and a young Legal Aid attorney named Karen Winston into the pod. A man stood on a grated walkway in front of one of the two-bed jail cells where the detainees eat, sleep, bathe and go to the bathroom. The rest of the men were below in the concrete room where they pass all their time—there’s only one hour of recreation time in an enclosed gravel yard. Read more...
David Bacon writes in the Nation:
Roberto Ortega tried to make a living slaughtering pigs in Veracruz, Mexico. “In my town, Las Choapas, after I killed a pig, I would cut it up to sell the meat,” he recalls. But in the late 1990s, after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened up Mexican markets to massive pork imports from US companies like Smithfield Foods, Ortega and other small-scale butchers in Mexico were devastated by the drop in prices. “Whatever I could do to make money, I did,” Ortega explains. “But I could never make enough for us to survive.” In 1999 he came to the United States, where he again slaughtered pigs for a living. This time, though, he did it as a worker in the world’s largest pork slaughterhouse, in Tar Heel, North Carolina.
David Ceja, another immigrant from Veracruz who wound up in Tar Heel, recalls, “Sometimes the price of a pig was enough to buy what we needed, but then it wasn’t. Farm prices were always going down. We couldn’t pay for electricity, so we’d just use candles. Everyone was hurting almost all the time.”
Ceja remembers that his family had ten cows, as well as pigs and chickens, when he was growing up. Even then, he still had to work, and they sometimes went hungry. “But we could give milk to people who came asking for it. There were people even worse off than us,” he recalls.
In 1999, when Ceja was 18, he left his family’s farm in Martinez de la Torre, in northern Veracruz. His parents sold four cows and two hectares of land, and came up with enough money to get him to the border. There he found a coyote who took him across for $1,200. “I didn’t really want to leave, but I felt I had to,” he remembers. “I was afraid, but our need was so great.”
He arrived in Texas, still owing for the passage. “I couldn’t find work for three months. I was desperate,” he says. He feared the consequences if he couldn’t pay, and took whatever work he could find until he finally reached North Carolina. There friends helped him get a real job at Smithfield’s Tar Heel packinghouse. “The boys I played with as a kid are all in the US,” he says. “I’d see many of them working in the plant.”
North Carolina became the number-one US destination for Veracruz’s displaced farmers. Many got jobs at Smithfield, and some, like Ortega and Ceja, helped lead the sixteen-year fight that finally brought in a union there. But they paid a high price. Asserting their rights also made them the targets of harsh immigration enforcement and a growing wave of hostility toward Mexicans in the American South.
The experience of Veracruz migrants reveals a close connection between US investment and trade deals in Mexico and the displacement and migration of its people. For nearly two decades, Smithfield has used NAFTA and the forces it unleashed to become the world’s largest packer and processor of hogs and pork. But the conditions in Veracruz that helped Smithfield make high profits plunged thousands of rural residents into poverty. Tens of thousands left Mexico, many eventually helping Smithfield’s bottom line once again by working for low wages on its US meatpacking lines. “The free trade agreement was the cause of our problems,” Ceja says. Read more...
For my treatment on this issue, go here .
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Here is an abstract of Professor Lee's article:
More than two-thirds of the unauthorized immigrant population - roughly eight million out of 11.2 million - is in our nation’s workforce, and growing evidence suggests that unauthorized workers are more likely than their authorized counterparts to experience workplace-related violations. Although scholars have begun shifting their focus to the agencies empowered to regulate immigrants in the workplace, important questions remain unanswered. Why, for example, has the Department of Labor (“DOL”), our nation’s top labor enforcement agency, struggled to protect unauthorized workers against this exploitation despite the scope and seriousness of the problem? And why has Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), our nation’s top immigration enforcement agency, resisted taking into account the labor consequences of their actions? Our ignorance is becoming increasingly indefensible given that agencies often have the final word within an immigration universe characterized by legislative stasis. A closer look reveals a peculiar dynamic: ICE has relatively little interest in regulating the relationship between employers and unauthorized workers, while the DOL has a relatively high interest but lacks the autonomy to effectively do so - a dynamic that tends to foster interagency conflict, ultimately enabling the problem of labor exploitation to persist. What is the way out? Borrowing the insights of administrative law scholars, this Article argues that increasing the ability of the DOL to monitor immigration enforcement decisions can help minimize the externalities that ICE actions ordinarily force the DOL to absorb. This monitoring framework constrains the ex ante stage of decision-making, complements existing immigration scholarship (which has tended to focus on ex post remedies like expanding the ability of the DOL to issue temporary visas), and pushes back on ICE’s law enforcement culture (which has traditionally resisted the incorporation of labor norms). Moreover, the monitoring framework is able to track evolving problems of coordination and to identify emerging vulnerabilities as the Executive’s immigration enforcement authority continues to grow and outpace the development of adequate constraints on the exercise of that authority.
It is that time again! This week, hundreds of law professors from across the United States are converging on Washington, D.C. for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). This year, the AALS President is immigration expert and author of a recently-published immigration book (No Undocumented Child Left Behind (2012)), Professor Michael Olivas (Houston). For those of you coming East, keep in mind that this year’s annual meeting will be a bit chilly; it was about 32 degrees F in D.C. when I arrived this afternoon.
As usual, the annual meeting has a number of immigration-related programs. The Section on Immigration Law program on Saturday at 3:30-5 p.m. is entitled “Responding to Immigration Flows Resulting from Failed States and Civil Wars: From Western Europe’s Response to the Crisis in the Middle East and North Africa to the United States’ Response to Mexico.”
The Section on Constitutional Law is sponsoring a Thursday afternoon (2-3:45) program on American Citizenship in the 21st Century. Panelists include Garrett Epps (Baltimore) (moderator), Rose Cuison Villazor (Hofstra), Rogers Smith (Penn/Political Science), and yours truly. The panel will discuss the latest debates over birthright citizenship, “anchor babies,” immigration reform, and much more. The panelists are fortunate to have Epps, author of the leading law review article on the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as moderator.
There are other programs that may be of interest to ImmigrationProf readers.
An AALS program on Thursday morning (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) is entitled “Haiti After Two Years.”
The Section on International Human Rights has a program on Friday morning (8:30-10:15 a.m.) on “New Voices in Human Rights.”
The Section on Africa has a panel on Friday afternoon (4-5:45 p.m.) on “The International Criminal Court and Its Focus on Africa: Helping or Hindering Peace on the Continent?” This panel includes my former colleague Diane Marie Amann, now of the University of Georgia School of Law and founder of the blog IntLawGrrls.
Besides catching up with, and making new, friends, the AALS annual meeting is a time for honors. My dear friend, the late Professor Keith Aoki, will be honored with two posthumous awards, the Clyde Ferguson Award of the AALS Minority Groups Section for a career dedicated to racial and social justice, and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Teacher of the Year Award. The Ferguson award will be given at the Minority Groups Section luncheon on Thursday. Keith will be honored with the SALT award at its annual gala on Saturday night.
Besides good conversation and a great law publishers’ exhibit, there is always something new and different at the AALS annual meeting. The inaugural Law and Film Series will feature some great films, including “Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice.” Professor Reynoso, a civil rights icon, was an Associate Justice on the California Supreme Court and a law professor at the New Mexico and UCLA law schools before coming to UC Davis School of Law. Abby Ginzberg, the producer and director of the film, will be on hand at the screening to talk about the film and answer questions.
If you are in D.C. for the AALS annual meeting, or simply are in the neighborhood and want to say hello, please feel free to stop by the friends of UC Davis law school reception on Thursday at 7 p.m.
UPDATE (1/7): Here is some more information about the Immigration Section panel on Saturday afternoon. The title is "Responding to Immigration Flows Resulting from Failed States and Civil Wars: From Western Europe's Response to the Crisis in the Middle East and North Africa to the United States' Response to Mexico," Abstract :The political situation in North Africa and the Middle East has already led to greater migration to Western Europe, with Western European countries reacting differently, and often very defensively to the (potential) influx of refugees and others. Many of these countries have had individual agreements with Libya, for example, to restrict and prevent migration from countries further South. The current political upheaval makes those countries unable, or unwilling, to police and enforce such agreements. As a result, some EU member states have begun to close their borders to their neighbors, endangering a core concept of the European Union. This situation presents an interesting contrast -- or analogy -- to the U.S. response to immigration resulting from the current violence in Mexico, potential political change in Cuba, and environmental and human rights problems in Haiti. Similarly, Canada has been faced with the influx of boat people who have been fleeing political oppression or economic deprivation farther away. The political and legal response has also often been to restrict access. What could the United States, Canada and Western Europe learn from each other regarding their legal responses to these situations? What best practices could they develop in addressing such situations before they arise? How have human rights considerations, including refugee protection, impacted political and legal decision-making in these different situations?
1) Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy, American Progress
2) Uffe Holst Jensen, Counsellor, Home Affairs, Political, Security and Development Section, EU Delegation to the United States
3) Professor Audrey Macklin, University of Toronto
“It's very frustrating," Lorene Turner said.
She has spent hours on Facebook trying to find her granddaughter, Jakadrien.
"Once I get home I am up until 3 or 4 in the morning searching and looking," Turner said. "It's all I can think about. Finding my baby."
Turner has been searching for Jakadrien since the fall of 2010, when she ran away from home. She was 14 years old and distraught over the loss of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce.
Turner searched for months for a clue.
"God just kept leading me," she said. "I wake up in the middle of the night and do whatever God told me to do, and I found her."
Turner said with the help of Dallas Police, she found her granddaughter in the most unexpected place - Colombia.
Where she had mistakenly been deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011. Read more...
From the Asian Law Caucus:
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, along with the members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) - Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Justice Center, Asian American Institute and Asian Pacific American Legal Center - mourn the loss of civil rights leader Gordon Hirabayashi, who passed away on January 2, 2012 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at the age of 93. His former wife, Esther Hirabayashi, passed away in Edmonton just hours later on the same day. She was 87.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, his children, Marion, Sharon, and Jay, his brother, James, and his sister Esther (also known as Tosh Furugori). "He was a great father who taught me about the values of honesty, integrity and justice," says his son, Jay Hirabayashi. "He was rightly recognized as a hero, but he never saw himself that way. He saw himself as someone who did what he had to do to stand up for the rights he believed in."
In 1942, Hirabayashi was a 24-year-old student at the University of Washington when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, ordering the incarceration of 120,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry. Hirabayashi, an American citizen, turned himself into the FBI in order to intentionally defy a curfew law imposed on all west coast residents of Japanese ancestry. After he was arrested and convicted, Hirabayashi appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Similar to Korematsu v. United States (1944), and Yasui v. United States (1943), the Supreme Court sadly ruled in Hirabayashi v United States (1943) that the curfew law was justified due to military necessity. Hirabayashi was sent to a prison camp in Arizona.
In 1983 and 1987, after the discovery of new evidence proving the government had known there was no grounds for the mass incarceration, both Korematsu and Hirabayashi re-opened their cases, leading their convictions to be overturned in the U.S. District Court N.D. Cal. and the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Cir., respectively. Their cases never reached the U.S. Supreme Court again, and the high court's decisions in Korematsu v. United States and Hirabayashi v. United States are widely condemned as one of the darkest chapters in American legal history. Min Yasui's case was also re-opened in the 1980s, but Yasui passed away in 1986 before his second case was decided.
"Gordon Hirabayashi was a principled man of peace who, with the courage of his convictions, left us with an enduring legal and social legacy," says Rodney L. Kawakami, lead attorney for the Hirabayashi 1980s legal team. "He inspired us to remember that our Constitutional rights come with a price and that we have an obligation to be constantly vigilant to protect these cherished rights by speaking out in times of crisis, even when unpopular."
Hirabayashi went on to teach sociology for many years at the University of Alberta in Canada. In 1999, the former Catalina Federal Honor Camp near Tucson, AZ, where Hirabayashi was sentenced to hard labor in the 1940s, was renamed the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. Since 2007, the East West Players, an Asian American theater company, has produced stage productions based on his life. In May 2011, acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal released an unprecedented "confession of error" in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases.
From the USCIS Texas Service Center
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been alerted to a new telephone scam apparently targeting Bhutanese refugees. A man identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” calls from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, (202) 436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they are eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan. To claim the money, they are instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money.
Be advised that this is NOT a legitimate solicitation.
At least one refugee has been coerced into making multiple payments as “processing fees”, totaling more than $5,000.
So far, reports are localized in Texas, but ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam and avoid giving any personal information or payments to unknown callers.
Please note that the federal government does not demand processing fees or security deposits from grant recipients. If you are the target of a suspicious request, please contact your local police or resettlement agency for further assistance.
Nominations for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk are currently being accepted. The annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of a human rights defender or group of human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.
The Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender's work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work.
Nominations will be accepted until January 30. Please click here for access to the secure nomination form.