July 14, 2012
Is Stone's Film Savages Racist?
Oliver Stone's latest epic is the film Savages, set in southern California. The movie is about two independent marijuana growers based in beautiful Laguna Beach battling a violent Mexican cartel engaging in a hostile takeover attempt. The film, with generous amounts of graphic violence, is not likely to calm anyone's concerns about the drug wars along the U.S./Mexico border.
It seems fair to say that the film is receiving decidely mixed, if not more negative than not, reviews. An informative New Republic review can be found here.
One reviewer considers the film to "racially insensitive" as well as one of Stone's worst. I have seen the film and can say that it seems as if no person of Mexican ancestry -- at least who is not killed -- is positively depicted; at the same time, none of the main characters are without serious flaws. However, the violent "muscle" for the American pot growers (Taylor Kitsch) is portrayed in a much more heroic light (a la Chuck Norris) than his cartel counterpart (Benicio del Toro) who is reminiscent of Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in the iconic Scarface.
Another Deportee, Another Family Torn Apart: Bring Melvin Avila Santos back home to his family!
Here this plea from Melvin's family:
Melvin was deported from the US to Honduras July 2010 after spending 15 years in the US. After waiting two years, trying to return to the US legally, USCIS denied Melvin's I-601 Hardship and I-212 Permission to Reapply waivers in July 2012. Melvin's wife of 7 years, 5 year-old daughter, 7 and 13 year-old sons, 8 year-old stepson, in-laws, and friends all miss him very much. His wife and the two children they have together have only been able to visit him once since his deportation; his oldest son and his stepson have not seen him since the day he was taken into custody on June 30, 2010. Melvin keeps in touch regularly by telephone, which has kept the relationships strong. Melvin has health issues, including Diabetes and Depression, and no access to health insurance. He has been mugged at least 10 times since being in Honduras and was almost killed several of those times. He has been unable to obtain employment in Honduras, so his wife has had to send him money regularly, which is a financial strain for her, as a single mother of three. Many days he goes hungry. His wife and children are also suffering multiple hardships, including emotional and financial. His wife's depression and anxiety, dating back to 2005, has intensified in his absence, as she has had to work full-time on top of finishing school and caring for three children, who have had some emotional and behavior issues since their father's removal. Melvin has a job awaiting him in the US that will allow him to support his family and give him access to health benefits. Melvin is a convert to the LDS faith and is a committed husband and father. Please sign this petition and then share with your family and friends to help bring Melvin home to his family!
The petition is at Change.org.
July 13, 2012
Guest Post: Mike Quinn, America Needs A DREAM
There are many ways the US would benefit from the DREAM Act. From new companies that provide jobs, to more income tax revenues, not to mention a more committed military protecting our national interests. This forward-thinking idea could have been paying rich dividends to this country for over a decade now, and could have helped point us to more successful immigration laws as a result.
Instead of progress we are stuck bickering about maybes and what-ifs. Instead of putting ideas like the DREAM Act to the test, and then fixing and refining the idea until it produces a desired result, we are stuck in a sink-hole of contradictory statements about the possibility of future consequences. The paralysis of analysis does very little to instill a positive outlook for growth. Instead of having a bright national future, we are stuck with the failures of our current immigration policy and our lack of ability to fix it.
Today, Hi-tech entrepreneurs, college grads and our military personnel who are not citizens of this country, have no real incentive to help make this country better. When they get their final notice to leave the country, they will inevitably return to where they came and work to make those countries stronger and more competitive. By sending them back home, we are creating more competition for ourselves.
Deporting highly educated and motivated people would seem to run contradictory to statements portraying a need to focus on the economy first, or to give every available job to an American, while in reality, it is the lack of action that harms our economy as well as our current job situation. As we slowly pull ourselves out of this financial mess, we will see plenty of room for STEM job graduates, more than our own colleges are currently producing.
Adding complexity to this paralysis problem is the notion that we need fifty different immigration policies coming from fifty different states. We are seeing firsthand the negative consequences of imposing draconian measures on our police force and creating mini fascist republics: Crops are being left to rot in the fields; schools are reporting drops in attendance; crimes are going unreported; small businesses are leaving; and the local economies are reporting losses of revenue.
Another glaring problem that could have been avoided by passing the DREAM Act are embarrassing international consequences such as the huge Mercedes Benz fiasco. Alabama spent considerable time and resources lobbying that company to put a manufacturing plant in their state, only to arrest one of their executives who was driving to work one day. This is no model for promoting foreign investment in our country, nor is it an example of how to lead our weak economy to a speedy recovery. A successful DREAM Act could sew the seeds for more positive immigration initiatives, and foster better attitudes towards our immigrant citizens.
The DREAM Act Lite plan being promoted mysteriously by some Republicans, is a purely political move. It is predicted to target and exclude any new Democrats from entering the voting community. If this proves to be true, then the Democrats will have no incentive to vote for a Republican-only authored bill, and we will again be left arguing what-ifs and doing nothing. We should strive as a society to distance ourselves as far from a politically based decision as possible, keeping only our country’s, and our citizen’s best interests at heart.
Legal permission to be in this country for undocumented immigrants is a fine first step, but an incomplete idea. It is imperfect in its basic design for either of the two categories of people this act will benefit: foreign students and foreign US military servicemen. Each of these groups of immigrants has particular needs if they are going to become an asset to our country and the communities where they will live.
It is a well known fact that a contract is only as good as the person least willing to abide by its terms. We should seek an immigration policy that has something for everyone: STEM students; military candidates; entrepreneurs; and US citizens. The DREAM Act, as it was originally intended, does exactly that. It gives young immigrants the goal of citizenship to work for. It gives America new, committed, respectable citizens that will pay taxes and contribute to the general well being of our society. It takes an extremely narrow and self-centered viewpoint to see otherwise.
Doing nothing about our current immigration problem, so far, has only gotten us agitated, defensive and confused. Doing nothing still, will get us more of the same, and Americans seem to be ready for some change.
Passing the DREAM Act, and not a rumor of an idea of one, is what this country needs to help get this country back on the road to economic growth and security, as well as pave the way for more broader immigration solutions for the rest of our immigrant citizens.
Now that we know what it is we need, it's time to get organized and get this thing done! If you haven't registered to vote, do it now, and this november, let's send a message to Washington: Work together and give us results -- or go home!
Mike J. Quinn is a father of a multi-national family and has been trying for over 5 years to unite his family with US citizenship. He has also employed thousands of immigrants of various immigration statuses, in over 25 years as a restaurant manager. Currently he is the Author of America Needs A DREAM and the upcoming novel, "The Dishwasher's Son," about an American teenager who accidentally gets deported, and his incredible journey getting back into his own country. He blogs about immigration at http://www.southoftheborderbook.com.
Chicken Little in the Voting Booth The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen “Voter Fraud” July 13, 2012
Without much evidence to support their claim, legislators across the country have introduced a string of restrictive voter ID laws with the intention of curbing “voter fraud.” The only problem is that there is no problem.
Election experts agree that modern-day voter fraud is a very rare occurrence in the U.S., leaving many to speculate that supporters of these restrictive laws are using “voter fraud” legislation to disenfranchise large groups of voters—i.e. racial minorities, immigrants, and low-income voters—who may vote for the “wrong” candidate.
Today, the Immigration Policy Center released an updated Fact Check that dispels the myth of voter fraud and provides much-needed context to this “solution in search of a problem.”
“Government records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year," according to a report by Project Vote. The National Journal also points out that “a five-year investigation by the Bush Justice Department turned up virtually no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” According to Lorraine C. Minnite, an expert on voter fraud, allegations of voter fraud “shrewdly veil a political strategy for winning elections by tamping down turnout among socially subordinate groups” such as racial minorities, immigrants, and the poor.
Unfinished Dream--The Struggle Continues
From the Interfaith Coalition:
"An Unfinished DREAM: The fight must continue"
West Contra Costa County
5555 Giant Highway,
Richmond CA 94806
This month's vigil will be led by several undocumented student "dreamers" on the theme:
An unfinished DREAM: The fight must continue!
We will take the time to remember the struggles the Dreamers have faced throughout the actions this movement has lead to change the narrative of the broken immigration system. An acknowledgement of how this new DHS policy is a step towards fixing the broken immigration system.
We will gather at the West Contra Costa County Detention Facility as a reminder of how the immigration system is unfair and tears apart our families, friends and neighbors.
Please bring a noisemaker for our sacred Moment of Noise- where we let the detainees know that we have not forgotten them.
Springsteen on Immigrants
Across the Border
Bruce Springsteen's work has made it to the ImmigrationProf blog (and here) in the past. In 2010, he was honored with an Ellis Island Family Heritage Award. Springsteen's maternal grandfather Antonio Zerilli immigrated to America through Ellis Island from Italy in 1900.
In the book Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll -- a "must read" for any true Springsteen fan, Professor Marc Dolan ties the three songs about Mexican immigrants (the first three above) to Springsteen's time living in southern California in the 1990s.
Springsteen has been attacked on Peter Brimelow's anti-immigrant blog VDare as an advocate of "open borders" based on the song "American Land."
Law professor assists in prosecuting Guatemalan war crimes
In 2010, Professor Michelle McKinley, an international law professor at Oregon Law, responded to a call from the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) to go on a war crimes observation mission in Guatemala. The objective of the mission was to support prosecution of the perpetrators of mass violence during the 30-year Guatemalan civil war, which formally ended in 1996. For details about Professor McKinley's important work, click here.
Fighting for U.S. Citizenship in American Samoa: Tuaua v. United States
American Samoa has been a part of the United States for more than a century. Nonetheless, current federal law classifies persons born in American Samoa as so-called “non-citizen nationals” – the only Americans so classified – thus denying the plaintiffs their constitutional citizenship guaranteed by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is also the U.S. State Department’s policy to imprint a disclaimer in the plaintiffs’ passports that reads: “THE BEARER IS A UNITED STATES NATIONAL AND NOT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN.” As a result, the plaintiffs and others born in American Samoa are denied the same rights and benefits as other Americans who are recognized as citizens, including the right to vote, the right to apply for and hold many jobs and the right to bear arms.
On July 10, 2012, Constitutional Accountability Center filed litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to vindicate the Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship at birth, contesting the constitutionality of federal laws and policies that deny U.S. citizenship to persons born in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. The lawsuit was filed today by CAC, the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP and preeminent American Samoa attorney Charles V. Ala’ilima, on behalf of Leneuoti Tuaua and other individuals born in American Samoa, as well as the Samoan Federation of America. The case also breaks new ground for CAC: it is the first time CAC has brought trial court litigation.
Ten Ways Immigrants Help Build and Strengthen Our Economy
On July 12, the White House Blog posted Ten Ways Immigrants Help Build and Strengthen Our Economy. It offers the top 10 ways immigrants help to grow the American economy.
1. Immigrants start businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants.
2. Immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and according to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion annually.
3. Immigrants are also more likely to create their own jobs. According the U.S. Department of Labor, 7.5 percent of the foreign born are self-employed compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born.
4. Immigrants develop cutting-edge technologies and companies. According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel.
5. Immigrants are our engineers, scientists, and innovators. According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. Additionally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited with contributing to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities.
6. Immigration boosts earning for American workers. Increased immigration to the United States has increased the earnings of Americans with more than a high school degree. Between 1990 and 2004, increased immigration was correlated with increasing earnings of Americans by 0.7 percent and is expected to contribute to an increase of 1.8 percent over the long-term, according to a study by the University of California at Davis.
7. Immigrants boost demand for local consumer goods. The Immigration Policy Center estimates that the purchasing power of Latinos and Asians, many of whom are immigrants, alone will reach $1.5 trillion and $775 billion, respectively, by 2015.
8. Immigration reform legislation like the DREAM Act reduces the deficit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, under the 2010 House-passed version of the DREAM Act, the federal deficit would be reduced by $2.2 billion over ten years because of increased tax revenues.
9. Comprehensive immigration reform would create jobs. Comprehensive immigration reform could support and create up to 900,000 new jobs within three years of reform from the increase in consumer spending, according to the Center for American Progress.
10. Comprehensive immigration reform would increase America’s GDP.The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that even under low investment assumptions, comprehensive immigration reform would increase GDP by between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent from 2012 to 2016.
Tucson Freedom Summer
Julianne Hing on Colorlines writes that Arizona's ethnic studies ban may have shut down Tucson’s Mexican American Studies classes. But this summer, educators are holding weekend community forums to educate the city about the now-banned ethnic studies courses. It’s just one component of what’s being called the Tucson Freedom Summer, a month of events geared toward engaging Tucson to fight back against the law and revive the program it targeted. Tucson Unified shut down the Mexican American Studies program in January, and since then, the resistance has been multi-pronged and endlessly creative. As educators remain embroiled in a legal fight to challenge HB 2281, the community needed to come together to find other ways to resist.
In related news, Robert S. Chang and Anjana Malhotra of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law and a team of lawyers at Bingham McCutchen led by Sujal J. Shah have joined Richard M. Martinez as attorneys for the plaintiffs seeking to have declared unconstitutional the Arizona law that has led to the elimination of Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Program and the removal of books from its classrooms. See Download Press release - july 12 2012
July 12, 2012
Border Conference in El Paso
The Border Network for Human Rights has announced that a group of law enforcement executives, faith leaders, business leaders, academics, lawmakers, members of the media and human rights organizations will gather this Saturday in El Paso to examine the misconceptions about the Border region. For months now, allies of BNHR in law enforcement, academic, religious institutions, community and advocacy organizations, and local, state and federal elected officials, have been working on an analysis of how they envision the border in 25 years and beyond. They have been asked to consider the values that drive their visions coming to fruition. They have asked their peers from many communities along the U.S.-Mexico border for input. Each of these narratives will come together on July 13th and 14th, 2012 to form one shared statement that expresses the hopes and needs of multiple sectors in our society. We are having this conversation together with Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officials so that we can get their reaction as well as feedback about the ways that collaboration lends itself to solutions.
Tattoos: New Ground of Inadmissibility?
Miriam Jones writes in the Wall STreet Journal:
December, Hector Villalobos traveled from Colorado to his native Mexico for an interview, part of his application for U.S. permanent residency. Mr. Villalobos expected to be gone a couple of months to complete the process.
Seven months later, U.S. consular officers haven't allowed the 37-year-old handyman to return home to his wife and three children. The problem: tattoos—some associated with violent Mexican gangs—on Mr. Villalobos's body.
"He likes tattoos, just like many Americans like tattoos" said Veronica, his American wife of six years, who says her husband isn't affiliated with any criminal organization. Mr. Villalobos says he got his tattoos—some in Mexico, some in the U.S.—because he thought they were cool.
In recent years, immigration attorneys say, concern about foreign gangs entering the U.S. has prompted Washington to delay or deny green cards, or legal permanent residency, to some applicants with tattoos. Read more...
Latinos Equal Immigrants? Immigration Issues Dominate Media Focus on Latinos
The Maynard Institute reports something that we should all pay attention to: Issues related to immigration dominate mainstream media coverage about Latinos. But the coverage also underscored a major flaw in the media’s treatment of Latinos: rarely are they mentioned in reporting on issues other than immigration.
July 11, 2012
Maggie Jones: Postville, Iowa, Is Up for Grabs
Rural Postville, Iowa became famous in immigration circles in 2008 when the largest workplace immigration enforcement raid in U.S. history occurred there. Maggie Jones in the New York Times Magazine in "Postville, Iowa, Is Up for Grabs" provides an interesting update on Postville and tells us how the town was destroyed by the raids and has yet to be rebuilt economically, culturally, or socially.
Facts on Immigration Today
From the Center for American Progress:
In the last few weeks immigration has popped back on the public’s radar as an issue to follow. From the President’s June 15th announcement that his administration would grant deferred action to DREAM Act-eligible youth, to the recent Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States, to candidates’ efforts to court the sought-after burgeoning Latino vote, the policy and politics of immigration aren’t far from the front pages.
Still, the immigration debate is characterized by volumes of misinformation and the issue will only pick up speed as we approach the November elections.
With you in mind, we’ve published “The Facts on Immigration Today, ” an indispensable guide to the current and essential facts on a complex topic. We hope you’ll keep this useful guide at your fingerprints in the coming months.
Here are some examples:
Immigrants largely arrive through legal channels
There were 39.9 million foreign-born people in the United States in 2010.
44 percent were naturalized citizens.
24 percent were legal permanent residents.
29 percent were unauthorized migrants.
3 percent were temporary legal residents (such as students or temporary workers).
50.9 percent of our nation’s foreign born are women and 54.2 percent of naturalized foreign-born persons are women.
The foreign-born share of the overall U.S. population is 12.9 percent today, lower than the highest percentage (14.8 percent) achieved in 1890.
Most immigrants have made a home in the United States
11.5 million undocumented immigrants were living in the United States in January 2011, an increase of one-third since 2000, when there were 8.5 million undocumented immigrants.
86 percent of undocumented immigrants have been living in the United States for seven years or longer.
5.2 percent of the U.S. labor force consisted of undocumented immigrants in 2010, even though they comprise only 3.7 percent of the nation’s population.
45 percent of unauthorized immigrant households are composed of couples with children. By comparison, the figure for U.S. native households and legal immigrant households is 21 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
16.6 million people are in families with at least one undocumented immigrant, and 9 million of these families are of “mixed status” with at least one unauthorized adult and one U.S.-born child.
4.5 million U.S.-born children had at least one unauthorized immigrant parent in 2010, an increase from 2.1 million in 2000.
Birthright Citizenship Good for Americanization
Alex Nowrasteh writes in the National Journal:
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 144 years ago on July 9, provides for the grant of birthright citizenship to the American-born children of unauthorized immigrants and lawful immigrants with various forms of residency. Despite the current controversy around this provision, the 14th Amendment is unintentionally successful as a policy for assimilating the children of immigrants.
Immigrants to the U.S. assimilate very quickly. Speaking of America’s openness to immigrants, former President Ronald Reagan stated, “An immigrant can live in France but not become a Frenchman; he can live in Germany but not become a German; he can live in Japan but not become Japanese, but anyone from any part of the world can come to America and become an American.” Americans, immigrants, and their descendants become Americans. Our system of birthright citizenship makes “Americanization” even easier.
Today, in some respects, they assimilate even more rapidly than previous immigrant waves such as the Irish. What happens to societies that accept large numbers of immigrants but don’t extend birthright citizenship to children is a warning of what could happen here if birthright citizenship is ever discontinued. Read more...
Drop the 'i' word? Debating the term 'illegal immigrant'
What is the appropriate terminology -- illegal alien, illegal immigrant, undocumented immigrant, etc.? For alternative viewpoints from me, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the Associated Press, see MSNBC.com. I have previously written on this topic for Concurring Opinions.
The comments to the discussion are "enlightening" as well as troubling. Here is an example:
"OMG really people?!! call them what you want, i call them illegal, and a volley of other colorful words. but i say the US adopt a recipratory rule. the person coming here illeagly gets the same treatment as an illegal would in their native country!! thats only fair. if i am illeagly in mexico, and tthe punishment is jail and automatic deportation, then that is what it should be here for any illegal mexican. if mexico sees me being there as punishable by death, then so should we!! and i think we should adopt the same laws as status in the other countries. for instance, as a non citizen of mexico, i cannot own property in some areas of mexico. i think the only place an illegal should be able to "own" property is in the necular test sights of nevada. the US is going about this all wrong. treat the invading criminals like they would treat you or I if we were illegal in their country. then we will really see how "unfair" america is. or we could do exocutions of illegals found on the border and have a healthy coyote and vulture population, and not have to worry about this crap at all." (emphasis added).
NAFSA on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
NAFSA: Association of International Educators offers some explanation of what it wants in comprehensive immigration reform. Three central concepts for such reform are:
1. Immigration reform should be fair.
2. Immigration reform should be based in facts.
3. Immigration reform should promote our shared future.
And comprehensive immigration reform would have three components:
1. Enforcement—sometimes divided into border security and interior enforcement.
2. Visa reform broadly—including employment-based visas—based on levels of skill and agricultural employment, plus family-based immigration.
3. The undocumented—resolution of the status of some 11 million undocumented people living in the United States.
Immigration Article of the Day: Chrystin Ondersma, Undocumented Debtors
Abstract: The recent recession has increased anti-immigrant sentiment and has inspired increasingly harsh measures directed at illegal immigrants, who are accused of taking jobs from authorized residents. For example, Arizona attracted national attention with its new law that makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally and requires local law enforcement to arrest individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, and South Carolina recently adopted similar measures. Additionally, some anti-immigrant activists have proposed new interpretations of the Constitution that would bar the American-born children of undocumented immigrants from citizenship. Undocumented immigrants are also disproportionately burdened by the economic slowdown, as jobs largely held by undocumented immigrants diminish in number. Undocumented immigrants face high unemployment rates in the wake of declines in construction and manufacturing. At the same time, Congress has considered some legislative proposals to help undocumented immigrants, none have been adopted. Bankruptcy is an important safety net for those in financial distress. Entering bankruptcy proceedings can stop harassing calls from creditors, wipe away medical debt, cancel credit card debt, forestall a foreclosure, or prevent lenders from suing borrowers personally when a foreclosed property is sold for less than what it is worth. Bankruptcy is also available, at least in theory, to undocumented immigrants. The Bankruptcy Code contains no requirement that the debtor prove lawful status. Yet, the legal literature has not addressed the availability of bankruptcy for undocumented debtors. Although bankruptcy may be a crucial tool for undocumented debtors in financial distress, these debtors face substantial barriers to bankruptcy filing. As this Article reports, few undocumented debtors seek or obtain bankruptcy relief.
A fascinating topic and, as far as I can tell, the first law review article of its kind.
Lamar Smith Objects to Obama Deferred Departure Policy
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), long a foe of comprhensive immigration reform, registers his fervent objections to President Obama's new deferred removal policy in this letter. Download Lamar Smith letter to John Morton (3)