June 23, 2012
Immigrant (and Naturalized Citizen -- and Voter) of the Day: Claudia Garate-House (Chile)
From the San Francisco Bay Area: Chilean immigrant Claudia Garate-House, whose story of abuse as a domestic service worker made her a symbol of the fledgling movement of undocumented immigrants rights, last week took the oath to become a U.S. citizen at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Garate-House emerged publicly in 1993 to demand justice for her mistreatment only to be deported by immigration authorities. Garate-House returned to California several times, crossing the border by foot and by car, even dodging bullets. After being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, Garate-House registered to vote.
Immigration Article of the Day: A Global View of Cross-Border Migration by Julian Di Giovanni, Andrei A. Levchenko, and Francesc Ortega
A Global View of Cross-Border Migration by Julian Di Giovanni (International Monetary Fund (IMF)), Andrei A. Levchenko (University of Michigan - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)), and Francesc Ortega (Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)).
Abstract: This paper evaluates the welfare impact of observed levels of migration and remittances in both origins and destinations, using a quantitative multi-sector model of the global economy calibrated to aggregate and firm-level data on 60 developed and developing countries. Our framework accounts jointly for origin and destination characteristics, as well as the inherently multi-country nature of both migration and other forms of integration, such as international trade and remittance flows. In the presence of firm heterogeneity and imperfect competition larger countries enjoy a greater number of varieties and thus higher welfare, all else equal. Because of this effect, natives in countries that received a lot of migration – such as Canada or Australia – are better off. The remaining natives in countries with large emigration flows – such as Jamaica or El Salvador – are also better off due to migration, but for a different reason: remittances. The quantitative results show that the welfare impact of observed levels of migration is substantial, at about 5 to 10% for the main receiving countries and about 10% for the main sending countries.
June 22, 2012
Blogging from El Salvador #7
In meeting with environmentalists in El Salvador, you begin to be overwhelmed by the environmental challenges faced by the country. Central America produces only 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, but climate change is evident. Rainfall levels are at an all time low; droughts, earthquakes, and food security are omnipresent. More than 95 percent of El Salvador’s surface water is contaminated; and the hope that a new water law will be enacted in a few months that will provide the framework for some reform. Almost 85 percent of fruits and vegetables consumed in the country are imported. In short, after Haiti, El Salvador suffers from the hemisphere’s worse environmental degradation.
As with problems that were generated by NAFTA for Mexico, CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) has not helped El Salvador’s economy. The private sector is not reinvesting in the country. Betting on the ability to export under CAFTA was a gamble that did not work for the country. Because the price of gold has skyrocketed in recent years, greedy foreign mining companies want to come in and exploit the country and its land. When attempts were made to stop the Pacific Rim Canadian mining company, the company sued the country for billions of dollars, and the final chapter to the lawsuits have not been written. Indigenous populations have attempted to protest the mining efforts.
Over the years, the war, the poor economy, and environmental exploitation has caused a great migration of El Salvadorans out of the country. Some 2.5 million live in the United States; the current population of El Salvador is about 6 million. Annually, those living in the U.S. send remittances back home, valued at about $3.5 billion per year. The average wage in El Salvador is about $2 per cay. The smuggling fees to the U.S. are about $3000 to $7000, assuming that the person can make it safely through Mexico, where smugglers and drug traffickers have merged operations. They control the travel routes. Disappearances are common, because culprits understand that migrants are carrying cash to pay smugglers. Kidnappings are common.
Migration tears apart the social fabric of the society in El Salvador—an unfortunate process that began during the civil war from 1980 to 1992. Today, almost 40 percent of households are headed by a single mother.
Pew Research on Asian Americans in Flawed
From Julianne Hing of Colorlines:
It’s not every day that deep and rigorous research about Asian Americans is released to the public. So when the well-respected Pew Research Center released “The Rise of Asian Americans,” a comprehensive report on the community on Tuesday, it should have been reason enough to celebrate. Instead, the report, which hailed Asians as the fastest-growing and highest-achieving racial group in the country, drew widespread criticism from Asian American scholars, advocates and lawmakers who raised alarm about the report, and warned against taking it seriously at all. Poor research of an oft-overlooked community, it turns out, might do more damage than no research at all.
We are “deeply concerned about how findings from a recent study by the Pew Research Center have been used to portray Asian Americans,” the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, a network of civil rights advocacy groups said on Wednesday. The report’s authors, the AACAJ said, “paint a picture of Asian Americans as a model minority, having the highest income and educational attainment among racial groups. These portrayals are overly simplistic.”
The Pew report included both census data and social trend polling of the six largest Asian-American ethnicities—Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. These communities make up 85 percent of the roughly 17 million Asian Americans. According to Pew, half of Asians in the U.S. graduated from college, compared with just 30 percent for the general population, and report a median annual household income of $66,000 when Americans as a whole make $49,000.
Pew’s results are filled with nuggets of information that cement the idea that Asians are exceptional in other ways. They report the greatest satisfaction with their lives, and are more invested in traditional markers of success. Pew found that Asian Americans place a higher value on having a high-paying profession and a successful marriage than other racial groups. They also care more than the general public about “being a good parent.” Asian Americans are just 6 percent of the U.S., but are actually the fastest growing racial group in the country.
Critics say the Pew report mixes some fact with too much mythology about what people imagine Asians to be. While a portrayal of Asian Americans as high-achieving, and adept at overcoming humble beginnings to reach great financial and educational success seems flattering, many Asian Americans say this frame is not only factually inaccurate, it’s damaging to the community.
The Real Story Behind The Numbers
“Our community is one of stark contrasts, with significant disparities within and between various subgroups. The ‘Asian Pacific American’ umbrella includes over 45 distinct ethnicities speaking over 100 language dialects, and many of the groups that were excluded from this report are also the ones with the greatest needs,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
More than a third of all Hmong, Cambodian and Laotian Americans over the age of 25 don’t have a high school degree, for instance. While some Asians may report incomes at or higher than whites, Cambodian and Laotian Americans report poverty rates as high as, and higher than, the poverty rate of African Americans, according to the 2010 census. Even among those that Pew included in its study, like Chinese and Vietnamese Americans, these groups report a below average attainment of high school diplomas, said Dan Ichinose, director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center’s Demographic Research Project. The more complex and far less exciting explanation for Asian Americans’ relatively high rates of education has more to do with immigration policy, which has driven selectivity about who gets to come to the U.S. and who doesn’t, said Ichinose. But a focus only on those in the upper echelons of the community renders everyone else invisible.
At the start of the recession, Asian Americans may have been more well-situated to ride out the worst of it, but as the recession has stretched on, Asian Americans have actually suffered the worst from long-term unemployment, the Economic Policy Institute found earlier this year. And 2.3 million Asian Americans are uninsured, said Deepa Iyer, head of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together. Read more....
From the Book Shelves: The Law of Asylum by Deborah E. Anker
This comprehensive treatise covers asylum law in the U.S. and includes detailed discussion of all the elements of the refugee definition: the meaning of well-founded fear, persecution, and the five grounds (race, religion, nationality, social group membership, and political opinion). It also discusses withholding of removal protection and protection under the Convention Against Torture.The book describes, interprets, and provides extensive authority, synthesizing different strands and sources of U.S. domestic law, with references to international sources. It covers basic procedures for applying for asylum and related relief, and it reviews other forms of protection available to asylum seekers.
Prepare for Next Week's Arizona v. United States Decision
Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue its decision in Arizona v. United States, a case addressing the legality of the Arizona immigration law known as SB 1070. To help undertand the case and its impact on other states with similiar laws, the Immigration Policy Center has offered the following background materials and resources.
For a complete analysis of the Supreme Court case, see the Q&A Guide to Arizona v. United States: What You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Case Involving SB 1070
For a short analysis on how the Supreme Court decision may impact state laws, see Q&A on What Arizona v. United States May Mean for States with Similar Immigration Laws.
For more information on the costs and consequences of state immigration control laws, see Q&A Guide to State Immigration Laws: What you Need to Know if Your State is Considering Anti-Immigrant Legislation.
For my prediction on the outcome, click here.
Romney Now Conciliatory on Immigration Reform in Speech to Latino Leaders in Florida: Do you Believe this Mitt?
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney repeatedly took progressively tougher positions on immigration enforcement. A few days after President Obama announced an important new immigration policy, Romney offered what he called a strategy for “bipartisan and long-term immigration reform” in a speech to a convention of Latino elected officials in Florida.
To the shock of none. Romney dropped the confrontational tone he previously took on immigration during the Republican primary and promised to to help immigrants and their families while increasing border enforcement. For analysis, click here.
What does Mitt Romney really think about immigration?
Think Progress discusses how Republicans previously rejected the proposed (by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) removal of caps on the lawful admission of spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. THe removal of the cap was part of a nuymber of previous comprehensive immigration reform proposals.
June 21, 2012
Report on H2-B Program: Reforms Needed to Prevent Exploitation of Temporary Workers
Today, National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) released a report on the H2-B Program. The report highlights cases of exploitation from Texas to Tennessee, and calls for reforms that would end employer abuse and protect both guestworkers and U.S. workers.
The report was prepared by the Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights on behalf of NGA. Congratulations to JJ Rosenbaum of NGA and to law students Allie Sievers (’12) and Stacie Hunhoff (’12) who worked on the report.
When's Sheriff Joe Gonna Go? Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Arrests 6 Year Old on Suspicion of Being Undocumented
Presidential Obama and Candidate Romney are making nice to immigrants (and Latino voters) nowadays. Not so for Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona. According to Huffington Post, on the same day that President Obama announced a policy that will make it easier for some young undocumented immigrants who came as children to temporarily remain in the United States, Sheriff Joe's office, which is not known for having a good civil rights record, arrested a 6-year-old girl suspected of being undocumented. Apparently not even a civil rights lawsuit by the Justice Department can deter Sheriff Joe.
2011 Naturalizations: Nearly 700,000 New U.S. Citizens
This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report presents information on the number and characteristics of foreign nationals aged 18 years and over who were naturalized during 2011.1 Data were obtained from administrative records of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security. Here is the latest naturalization fact sheet
In 2011, the total number of persons naturalizing was 694,193. The leading countries of birth of new citizens were
People’s Republic of China (32,864)
Immigration Article of the Day: Judging the Judges: Appellate Review of Immigration Decisions by Scott Rempell
Judging the Judges: Appellate Review of Immigration Decisions by Scott Rempell South Texas College of Law, South Texas Law Review, Forthcoming
Abstract: Immigration can be a divisive issue and the federal appellate courts must decide thousands of immigration cases every year. The outcomes of these decisions have large ramifications for the immigrants facing deportation and the executive agencies tasked with enforcing immigration law. The appellate judges adjudicating these cases hold a wide array of beliefs about the efficacy of the current immigration system. While the scope of appellate courts’ review of immigration decisions appears rigidly circumscribed by statute, the true breadth of appellate court review is much more porous. Thus, the governing framework provides judges with a fair amount of latitude when deciding how they are going to assess an immigration case. This article examines how judges’ immigration predispositions can factor into their decision-making processes. The goal of this article is not to fault judges for expressly or implicitly bringing to bare their perceptions on immigration matters. Indeed, even the sincerest effort to remain neutral cannot erase the individual beliefs and experiences that necessarily couch a judge’s decision-making lens. Rather, this article seeks to identify instances, on both sides of the spectrum, where appellate judges’ viewpoints may lead to outcomes that do not comport with the legal framework of their oversight prerogative. A measured degree of divergence among judicial approaches to immigration cases can be beneficial. However, decisions that stray too far from the established framework negatively impact immigration law and the adjudication process in a number of significant ways.
June 20, 2012
The Daily Show on the New Obama Immigration Policy
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart pokes fun at the deluge of Republican criticism of President Obama for allegedly bypassing Congress to allow certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to temporarily remain in the country.
Protecting All Workers: New Video Resources
Today, the Justice Department announced the launch of two short educational videos, created by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC). The office enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act , which requires employers to treat all authorized workers fairly in regards to hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee, as well as in the employment eligibility verification process, regardless of their citizenship status or national origin. The first video, “Refugee Reverification,” highlights a common problem faced by refugees and asylees. When Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire, the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 allows workers to provide any acceptable document to establish their authorization to work – not limited to a new EAD. However, some employers may demand a new EAD or additional documents from these workers and may violate the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.
The second video encourages employers, employees and advocates to attend a free webinar and learn how to avoid and prevent unfair employment practices related to immigration.
Pew Research Center’s Comprehensive Report on Asian Americans
Explore Pew Research Center’s comprehensive report on Asian Americans, which examines population trends, education, income and values of this important group. The detailed analysis provides new insight about Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans and Japanese Americans. The report finds that Asian immigrants now outnumber Latino immigrants.
Happy World Refugee Day!
For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on 20 June in several countries. The UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June. The General Assembly therefore decided that 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
This year the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, will start marking World Refugee Day by rolling out a striking new campaign, "Dilemmas," which is a development of the award-winning "1" campaign launched last year. "Dilemmas" depicts some of the tough choices facing refugees, helping the public to empathize with, and understand, their dilemma.
June 19, 2012
Blogging from El Salvador #6
We met with Maria Serrano who is now the Minister of the Interior of El Salvador. She is definitely not a prototypical politician.
Minister Serrano is the subject of the film: Maria’s Story: A Documentary Portrait Of Love And Survival In El Salvador’s Civil War, first released some 20 years ago, telling her story. She was an activist and mother engaged in the armed struggle of the period on the side of the FMLN. Serrano, a onetime campesino organizer pushed into the revolution by government repression of the citizenry, gives a very personal account of El Salvador’s fight for resources for the poor. If you told her years ago she would be carrying a gun and leading military operations for the FMLN, Serrano says, she might have thought you crazy. But as the government became more intolerant and violent, hundreds of Salvadorenas and Salvadorenos linked up with revolutionaries in hopes of a better life and an end of measures that strangled with country’s underclass.
Credit is due to the filmmakers for avoiding the dewy romanticism that oftentimes accompanies stories of women, particularly mothers, in political movements. Life is hard in El Salvador’s jungles as seen in Maria’s Story. Serrano sardonically talks about the boots she must wear in spite of holes simply because they cost so much. And she and her children, who are with her in the forests out of necessity based on fears of death squads, treat their lives not as a hero’s journey, but a measure of seeking freedom. As Serrano tells the story, El Salvador’s civil war is not about the government versus socialist insurgents, but about economically disadvantaged people who have nothing fighting because they have everything to gain. Even if the fight means giving every child and every drop of blood, Serrano says, the guerrillas of this moment believe they have no choice but to take up weapons and force a change for the Central American nation’s desperately hungry and destitute people. Serrano warmth and devotion to the cause, in spite of the very real military threats guerillas faced in these days, is nothing less than stunning. However, Maria’s Story avoids making this a tale of a woman humanizing the revolution through her gender, but of a fighter humanizing the revolution by seeing what poverty and suffering have wrought upon her people. This approach has a variety of effects, but most notably in Maria’s Story, viewers get a glimpse into a movement where gender is a consideration, but clearly so many women are actively involved in the revolution that relegated roles or gendered assumptions are tossed aside, at least in the film. Serrano effectively articulates the objectives of the revolution of the time, and reminds viewers that the guerrillas’ world is hardly glamorous. That larger purpose, she indicates, pushes them forward despite the miseries they face.
Today, as the Minister of Interior, Serrano is striving to push for meaningful educational reform. She believes that education is a basic human right, and she wants her administration to provide books, food, and supplies for all children to attend school in the country, because the “biggest slavery is to be ignorant.” She tries to work with the governors of all the states across the country to coordinate these efforts. She understands that things are not perfect in El Salvador, but progress is being made. The global recession, storms, dengue fever, and other natural catastophies have made reform difficult. But the government is trying to engage in more community economic development in trying times.
In order for lasting change to occur, she reminds us that it is not “the state that is at the center of change. The person is.”
Third Circuit Affirms Convictions of Defendants in Luis Ramirez Killing
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Julio Fuentes (Puerto Rico-born and the first Latino to sit on the Third Circuit), has affirmed criminal civil rights convictions of defendants in the killing of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez in 2008 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
The killing of Luis Ramirez occurred in a place that the average American probably would not think of as a place where many Mexican immigrants live, much less a hotbed of anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican sentiment. As in nearby Hazleton, the home of an infamous anti-immigrant ordinance that remains under scrutiny in the courts, jobs and relatively inexpensive housing had attracted an influx of Latina/o immigrants to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, a small working-class coal mining town.
Looking for work, Luis Ramirez moved to Shenandoah from Mexico. One Saturday night in July 2008, a group of white teenagers beat Ramirez to death near a Shenandoah park. During the beating, they called Ramirez a “spic” and yelled: “This is Shenandoah. This is America. Go back to Mexico. Tell your (expletive) Mexican friends to get the (expletive) out of Shenandoah.”
The Ramirez killing attracted national attention. Several news stories equated the killing to a “lynching,” invoking the bitter memories of the “lynch law” that kept African Americans firmly in their place in the Jim Crow South. The Ramirez killing resulted in multiple criminal prosecutions.
First, an all-white jury in Pennsylvania state court acquitted the white defendants of third degree murder, aggravated assault, and related charges. The defense had characterized the encounter as “a street fight that ended tragically.” Apparently swayed by this gentle characterization of the horrific events of that violent evening, the jury found the defendants guilty of the least serious criminal charge, simple assault, even though the assault resulted in Luis Ramirez’s death.
Evidence suggests that the racial composition of the jury affected the outcome of the state criminal prosecution. After the conclusion of the trial, the foreman of the jury went public to claim that the all-white jury was more sympathetic toward the white defendants than to the Mexican victim; indeed, he stated that “some people on the jury were racist [and] had their minds made up before the first day of the trial.” One potential juror with a Spanish surname had been dismissed from the jury; it appears that no Latina/os served on the jury in a trial about the hate killing of an immigrant from Mexico.
Recognizing that justice had not been done in the state prosecution, the U.S. Department of Justice to its credit intervened and brought a criminal civil rights prosecution in federal court. After a trial, the jury found that two of the defendants violated Luis Ramirez’s civil rights; the judge sentenced them to nine years in prison, much longer than they had been sentenced on the state assault conviction. This was the set of convictions that the Third Circuit afformed yesterday.
The U.S. government also brought a criminal prosecution based on an alleged cover-up of the Ramirez killing by the former Shenandoah police chief and two officers, who sought to protect what they apparently considered to be “innocent” teens. The jury acquitted the defendants of conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation, but found the chief of police guilty of falsifying a police report. The jury also found one officer guilty of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation but acquitted him on the other counts; another police officer was cleared of all charges. The Third Circuit affimed the convictions.
The Ramirez killing, as well as the legal responses to the tragedy, sounds eerily reminiscent of the violence directed at African Americans in the South during the hey-dey of Jim Crow. Sympathetic state court juries refused to punish white violence against minorities. Local police sought to protect the white perpetrators of the violence.
Nor does it appear to be mere coincidence that the tragic killing of Luis Ramirez came at a time of a heated national debate over immigration – and a rapid proliferation of state and local immigration enforcement legislation passed after considerable acrimony in the region and nation. National agitation about immigration, and frequent allegations about the great damage to the nation done by immigrants, almost unquestionably influenced the young men who told Luis Ramirez to “go back to Mexico” before beating him to death.
To add to the historical parallels, the federal civil rights prosecution brought by the U.S. government resembled those brought to combat violence against civil rights workers and African Americans in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. The aim was to remedy the problem of all-white juries acquitting white defendants accused of violence against civil rights activists and Blacks in state courts.
The killing of Luis Ramirez unfortunately is not all that extraordinary. In 2008, white teens in Patchogue, New York engaged in what they characterized as the “sport” of “beaner hopping” and brutally killed an Ecuadoran immigrant. In 2010, racial tensions led to violence against Mexican immigrants in Staten Island, which provoked a federal investigation. In 2011, two anti-immigrant extremists were sentenced to death for the murder of a father and his young daughter, both of Mexican ancestry, in a home invasion in Arizona. These cases are the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of hate incidents annually directed at Latina/os and immigrants in the United States.
Limited Impacts of Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion
As of May 31, 2012 a total of 4,585 cases were closed under a special Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program announced last August. Under this program, the number of cases closed due to prosecutorial discretion (PD) was up from 2,609 as of the end of March, but still amounted to only 1.5 percent of the 298,173 cases pending before the Immigration Courts as of the end of last September. The Los Angeles Immigration Court now leads the country with the largest number of closures under this program -- 534. The Denver Immigration Court was second with 401, while the San Francisco Immigration Court was third with 387. TRAC's latest report can be viewed here.
U.S. Immigration Detention System Falls Far Short of Human Rights Standards, Should be Reformed
Human Rights First reports that, on June 21, 2012 the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Francoise Crépeau will present his first report to the Human Rights Council. The report focuses on the detention of migrants and alternatives to detention – areas of escalating concern globally as states continue to detain migrants and asylum seekers in ways that are inconsistent with human rights law and standards. The report’s recommendations provide a guide for states to use in reforming their migration detention policies. For the United States, which has set such a poor example for the rest of the world, the report makes clear that key elements of its immigration detention system – including mandatory detention, lack of prompt court review of detention, the use of jails and jail‐like facilities – fall far short of human rights law and standards.
First survey of international refugee assistance organizations finds widespread failures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex refugees
As increasing numbers of refugees flee persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM) and Indiana University sociologists have released the first ever survey of attitudes of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) serving asylum seekers and refugees worldwide. NGOs provide crucial support and protection for refugees, including essential medical, legal, housing and educational services. The survey found that NGOs often fail to adequately protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees and asylum seekers. Many NGOs ignore the refugees’ plights or are ill-equipped to work with LGBTI people. Those gaps were identified across the globe but were starkest in countries where protection is most needed. For example, although nearly all NGOs said LGBTI refugees deserve protection, a significant minority stated that they were not willing to provide that assistance.
n recognition of World Refugee Day on June 20, ORAM is issuing a call to action with several key recommendations to address the protection gaps for LGBTI refugees: NGOs should affirmatively create non-threatening and welcoming environments for LGBTI individuals, encouraging staff to openly engage with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity while avoiding stereotypes and assumptions; NGOs should build their knowledge and capacity on core LGBTI issues through ongoing, context-specific sensitization trainings; and NGOs should adopt codes of conduct preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.