Saturday, January 28, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) Weighs In on Immigration

Professor Ediberto Román on Huffington Post passionately praises Senator Marco Rubio's (R-Florida) speech yesterday on immigration. On the heels of the Republican Presidential debate on Thursday night in which the candidates sounded tough on immigration (although not as tough as they sounded in South Carolina),the Senator called on Republicans and others to set aside the harsh rehtoric that divides, not unites, and reform the immigration laws. Professor Román hopes for more in the future from Senator Rubio and the U.S. Congress, possibly even passage of the long-awaited DREAM Act.

For more on Senator Rubio's speech, click here.


January 28, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Judge Removes Arizona Candidate with Limited English Proficiency

From the NY Times:

Lawyers for Alejandrina Cabrera, a candidate for the City Council in the border community of San Luis, Ariz., said Thursday that they might appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court a lower-court ruling that Ms. Cabrera be removed from the ballot because she did not speak English proficiently.

Judge John Nelson of the Yuma County Superior Court ruled late Wednesday night that Ms. Cabrera be struck from the ballot because she did not know enough English to do the job. In removing Ms. Cabrera, Judge Nelson agreed with the recommendation of a linguist who had conducted tests of Ms. Cabrera and found her English skills lacking. Read more...


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Amnesty International: Migrants Need Socks

From Amnesty International:

Migrants Making Dangerous Journey Through Mexico 'Desperately Need Socks,' says Amnesty International

Human rights organization launches new migrant rights campaign: urges Mexican authorities to take action

(Washington, D.C.) -- A thought-provoking new campaign by Amnesty International highlights the plight of thousands of Central American migrants travelling across the region every year by calling for donations of a particular, humble item of clothing.

When Amnesty International asked migrants what one thing they would take if leaving the country, the answer was: "socks."  

"Most migrants told us that they had no possessions with them at all because they expected to be attacked and robbed on the journey and that anything of value would increase their chances of kidnap," said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International. "Much to our surprise, the migrants did tell us that one thing they desperately needed on their journey were socks. On journeys that can be up to hundreds of miles, untreated blisters risk lives and a fresh pair of socks can make all the difference."

In a three-minute campaign video filmed in Mexico, members of the public are asked: "If you had to leave your country and could only take one thing, what would it be?" Residents of Mexico City gave answers ranging from "identity cards" to "Tabasco sauce."

Their responses starkly contrasted with those given by migrants, whose request for socks has led to the launch of a website - - where the public can watch the campaign video and make donations.

Migrant rights advocates will gather at the Interior Ministry in Mexico City on Thursday, January 26, at 7 pm (Mexico time). Hundreds of pairs of old shoes that symbolize the difficult conditions migrants go through will be hung in front of the building, while the campaign video is projected onto the building. Amnesty International experts will be on hand to speak to the media about their experiences working with migrants.

Driven by grinding poverty and insecurity, Central American migrants travel north to Mexico in the hope of eventually reaching the United States. Many face kidnap, rape and murder at the hands of criminal gangs, often in collusion with authorities, during their passage through Mexico.

Those responsible for the abuses are rarely held to account and many cases of abducted or murdered migrants are not adequately investigated.

"Migrants are determined to risk all in the hope of a better future, but the reality is that for many the journey through Mexico - one of the most dangerous journeys in the world - will be devastating," said Knox.

The Mexican government has failed to live up to promises to protect migrants from widespread human rights abuses.

"Despite the Mexican government’s promise of change, laws and other official measures are having little or no impact and systematic abuses of migrants continue unabated," said Knox. "For the past two years we’ve been calling on Mexico’s federal authorities to develop and implement an action plan to protect migrants. We hope this new campaign will put pressure on the government to turn promises into action."

Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the many brave migrants who travel across Mexico and asks the public to donate socks via

There are no official figures for the numbers of migrants travelling illegally through Mexico but 60,000 were detained and repatriated in 2011. Every year tens of thousands of women, men and children travel through Mexico without legal permission as irregular migrants. More than nine in every 10 are Central Americans, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua. The vast majority are headed for the U.S. border hoping for a new life.

Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that is both a destination and transit route for migrants, as well as a starting point for emigration as thousands of Mexicans try to cross the border with the United States in search of work.

In February 2011, the National Human Rights Commission reported that 11,000 migrants had been kidnapped in the previous six months. Throughout 2011, migrant rights defenders have been subject to attack, death threats and intimidation in reprisal for their efforts to support migrants. Fray Tomas, who runs "La 72"” migrants’ shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco state, has received anonymous death threats over the phone and been insulted by state police and members of the military.

During Mexico’s appearance before the U.N. Committee on the Protection of all Migrant Workers in April 2011, it was clear that the government lacked a concrete plan of action to tackle the migrants’ rights crisis in the country.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.

For images including stills from the video and images of migrants please contact Gwen Fitzgerald at For more information, please visit


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Real Meaning of "Self-Deportation"

From the Immigration Policy Center:

The term “self-deportation” has found its way into the GOP presidential primary race, with candidate Mitt Romney outlining a vague immigration platform which includes "self-deportation," or the idea that unauthorized immigrants will voluntarily choose to leave the U.S. if life here is made unbearable enough. While "self-deportation" may be a new idea to some, those who monitor immigration policy understand that it is code for “attrition through enforcement” - a plan pursued by extremist immigration-control organizations in Congress and state houses across the nation. 

Mr. Romney explains how he thinks "self-deportation" would work by saying “if people don’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place they can get work.”  However, as described in a forthcoming report from the Immigration Policy Center, "self-deportation" - or, more accurately, "attrition through enforcement" - goes far beyond denying unauthorized immigrants work. The strategy is currently embodied in state laws that include provisions denying education, transportation, and even basic services like water and housing to anyone who cannot prove legal immigration status. So far, the states that have attempted to roll out this plan have done little more than undermine basic human rights, devastate local economies, and place unnecessary burdens on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.

There is little evidence that "attrition through enforcement" is causing unauthorized immigrants to leave. In fact, a July 2011 study from the RAND Corporation found that, despite improved economic conditions in Mexico and worsened conditions in the United States, fewer Mexican immigrants returned to Mexico in 2008 and 2009 than in the two years before the recession.

The Urban Institute’s Juan Pedrozo has also pointed out that “it’s tough to tell whether (and how many) immigrants have left a community if you are looking right after a state passes a law. It can take years of evidence to test claims of a mass exodus.” Moreover, “growing evidence suggests that most immigrants (especially families with school-age children) are here to stay, except perhaps where local economies are particularly weak.”

Furthermore, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, “nearly two-thirds of the 10.2 million unauthorized adult immigrants in the United States have lived in this country for at least 10 years, and nearly half are parents of minor children,” most of whom are U.S. citizens. There is no reason to believe that they are going to “self-deport” as their ties to the country have grown much deeper.

Whether you call it “self-deportation” or “attrition through enforcement,” this is a policy that offers no genuine solution to the growing instability of our immigration system. Relying on a strategy conceived by immigration restrictionists and pursued by opportunistic politicians is no game plan. This country deserves to hear more detailed and thoughtful approaches from politicians and policy makers—ones that will offer a way forward, rather than ones grounded in divisive and punitive approaches to unauthorized immigration.

For more information, contact Wendy Sefsaf at or 202-507-7524.


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Romney's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric is Nothing New

From the Center for American Progress:

History Repeats Itself as Romney Takes a Hardline on Immigration   
  GOP Frontrunner Embracing Harsh Anti-Immigration Rhetoric

 Mitt Romney's recent embrace of hardline anti-immigration rhetoric could cost him in key states like Florida and Nevada.
By Ann Garcia, Philip E. Wolgin

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney once tacitly supported immigration reform. Sadly, his recent embrace of hardline immigration positions is a show we’ve seen before with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, and it targets the fastest-growing demographic in the country. With his new stance Romney risks losing not only the Latino vote but many non-Latino voters as well.

In the last few weeks we’ve seen Romney take a hard right-turn on immigration, first telling an audience that he would veto the DREAM Act if president, and then accepting the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the author of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 and Alabama’s H.B. 56, among a slew of state and local anti-immigrant bills. Read more...


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Latinos Feel the Brunt of the Bad Economy

From the Mexican American Political Association:

Hispanics Say They Have the Worst
of a Bad Economy

by Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Gabriel Velasco and Seth Motel


A majority of Latinos (54%) believe that the economic downturn that began in 2007 has been harder on them than on other groups in America.

Large shares report that they or someone in their household has been out of work in the past year (59%); that their personal finances are in "only fair" or "poor" shape (75%); that they canceled or delayed a major purchase in the past year (49%); or that they are underwater on their mortgage (28% of Latino homeowners).

The findings are drawn from a new telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,220 Hispanic adults conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. For a full description of the survey methodology.

Latinos, who make up 16% of the population of the United States, have long trailed other Americans on most measures of economic well-being, but analyses of recent government trend data indicate that the gaps have widened since 2005, a period that encompasses the housing market crash and the Great Recession.

For example:

Household wealth: From 2005 to 2009, median household wealth (all assets minus all debt) among Latinos fell by 66%, compared with a drop of 53% among blacks and 16% among whites (Kochhar, Fry and Taylor, 2011).

Unemployment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among Latinos in December 2011 was 11.0%, up from 6.3% at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007. Over the same period, the national unemployment rate increased from 5.0% to 8.5%.

Poverty: Between 2006 and 2010, the poverty rate among Hispanics increased nearly six percentage points-more than any other group-from 20.6% to 26.6%. By contrast, poverty rates among whites increased from 8.2% to 9.9%. And among blacks,1 poverty rates increased from 24.3% to 27.4% (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor and Smith, 2011).

The new Pew Hispanic survey finds that most Latinos are broadly aware of these trends. Fully 54% say Hispanics have been hurt more than other groups by the economic downturn of the past four years, while just 5% say they have been hurt less. Some 38% say Hispanics have been affected about as much as other groups.
In their responses to a more detailed battery of questions, Latinos are more downbeat than the general public about various aspects of their economic lives.

For example:

Personal finances: Just 24% of Latinos rate their personal finance as excellent or good, compared with 38% of the general public.

Unemployment: Some 59% of Latinos say someone in their household has been out of work and looking for a job in the past year, compared with 51% of the general public.

Homeownership: Some 28% of Latino homeowners say they owe more on their home than they could sell it for today, compared with just 14% of homeowners in the general public.

Despite these downbeat assessments about their current economic circumstances, Latinos are more upbeat than others about the prospect for better days ahead-both for themselves and their families in the short term and for their children over the long haul.
Fully two-thirds (67%) of Latinos say they expect their financial situation to improve over the next year, compared with 58% of the general population who say the same. Also, two-thirds (66%) of Latinos say they expect their children to eventually enjoy a standard of living that is better than theirs is now. By contrast, just 48% of the general public says the same.

The Latino population, at 50 million strong, is the largest minority group in the country. Some 52% of Latino adults are immigrants, and 48% were born in the United States. As is often the case, the new survey finds significant differences in the attitudes and experiences reported by these two groups.

In general, immigrants are more downbeat. For example, 62% of Latino immigrants say Latinos have been more hurt by the bad economy than other groups, compared with 45% of the native born who say the same. Just 16% of immigrants say their economic situation is "excellent" or "good," compared with 32% of the native born. And 63% of immigrants say they expect their financial situation and that of their family to improve in the coming year, compared with 71% of the native born.

Immigrants, however, are more likely than the native born to say their children will eventually have a higher standard of living than theirs is now-72% versus 59%.


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mexican Consulate in NY Will Issue Passports and IDs

From the NY Immigration Coalition:

Wednesday, February 1st to Sunday, February 5th
Time: 9 AM - 3 PM

St. George, Staten Island
Curtis High School
  105 Hamilton Avenue,
Staten Island, NY 10301                                       

For more information please contact:
Curtis High School, Edna Fornecker (718) 390-1803 or
El Centro del Inmigrante, Kevin Ferreira (718) 420-6466 or

To download the flyer, please click here.


January 27, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration First Topic of Discussion in Republican Presidential Debate in Florida

The Republican candidates still standing after the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina primaries, including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum, debated at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville last night. It is kind of funny but the candidates sound much more balanced on immigration in Florida, with a heavy immigrant and Latino population (especially in the southern part of the state), than they did in South Carolina. Indeed, Mitt Romney unabashedly proclaimed that "I am pro-immigrant." Who would have guessed?

Here is an excerpt of the part of the debate focused on immigration from the transcript courtesy of CNN:


QUESTION: Can you tell me what specific actions you'll take to address the costly consequences of illegal immigration while preserving the rights of those who seek to immigrate legally?

BLITZER: All right.

Senator Santorum, let's take that question. But also, in the course of that question, express your opinion on what we heard from Governor Romney, that self-deportation, or illegal immigrants leaving the country voluntarily, is a possible solution.

SANTORUM: Well, the possible solution is -- I actually agree with Governor Romney. The bottom line is that we need to enforce the laws in this country.

We are a country of laws. People come to this country. My grandfather came to this country because he wanted to come to a country that respected him. And a country that respects you is a country that lives by the laws that they have. And the first act when they come to this country, is to disobey a law, it's not a particularly welcome way to enter this country. What I've said is from the very beginning, that we -- we have to have a country that not only do you respect the law when you come here, but you respect the law when you stay here.

And people who have come to this country illegally have broken the law repeatedly. If you're here, unless you're here on a trust fund, you've been working illegally. You've probably stolen someone's Social Security number, illegally. And so it's not just one thing that you've done wrong, you've done a lot of things wrong. And as a result of that, I believe that people should no -- should not be able to stay here.

And so I think we need to enforce the law at the border, secure the border. Secondly, we need to have employer enforcement, which means E-verify and then we need to have not only employers sanctioned, but we have to have people who are found who are working here illegally, they need to be deported. That is again the principle of having a rule of law and living by it. I am very much in favor of immigration. I'm not someone -- my dad came to this country and I'm someone who believes that -- that we need immigration. We are not replacing ourselves.

We have -- we need not only immigration for -- to keep our population going, but we need immigration because immigrants bring a vitality and a love of this country that is -- infuses this country with -- with great energy. And so, I support legal immigration, but we need to enforce the law and in fact, if you don't create an opportunity for people to work, they will leave because they can't afford to stay here.

BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you've suggested that self- deportation as advocated by Governor Romney is in your words, "An Obama level fantasy." Why?

GINGRICH: Well look, I think that first of all, you should control the border, which I have pledged to do by January 1, 2014. You should fix legal immigration in terms of visas so people can come and go easily -- more easily than doing it illegally. You should also make deportation easier so when you deport people who shouldn't be here. The 13 gang members, for example. It should be very quick and very clear.

You should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they minimize fraud, which the federal government won't do. And you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate it. I actually agree that self-deportation will occur if you're single. If you've only been here a short time. And there are millions of people who faced with that, would go back home, file for a guest worker program and might or might not come back.

The one group I singled out, were people who have been here a very long time who are married, who may well have children and grandchildren. And I would just suggest that grandmothers or grandfathers aren't likely to self-deport. And then you've got a question. I -- I offered a proposal, a citizen panel to review whether or not somebody who had been here a very long time, who had family and who had an American family willing to sponsor them, should be allowed to get residency, but not citizenship so that they would be able to stay within the law, but would not have any chance of becoming a citizen, unless they went back home. I don't think grandmothers and grandfathers will self-deport.

BLITZER: Governor Romney, the few times and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that -- that program could work?

ROMNEY: Well, you've just heard the last two speakers also indicate that they support the concept of self-deportation. It's very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they're able to work here and then you have an E-verify system that's effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it's been counterfeited, then those employers would be severely sanctioned.

If you do that, people who have come here illegally won't be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport. I don't think anyone is interested in going around and rounding up people around the country and deporting 11 million Americans -- or, excuse me 11 million illegal immigrants into America. Now, let's look at -- and -- and I know people said, but isn't that unfair to those 11 million that are here and have lived their lives here and perhaps raised children here? But I think it's important to remember, that there are three groups of people that are of concern to us.

One are those that have come here illegally, 11 million. The second is the group of people who are brought over by coyotes and who are in many cases abused by virtue of coming into this country illegally. And the third, are the four to five million people who are waiting at home in their own nations trying to get here legally. They have family members here asking them to come here. Grandparents and uncles and aunts. Those are the people we have a responsibility for. And the second group as well, those that are abused. We -- we're concerned about them.

Let's focus our attention on how to make legal immigration work and stop illegal immigration.

BLITZER: All right. Governor Paul -- sorry, excuse me, Congressman Paul you're from Texas. The state with the longest border with Mexico. Is this a viable option, what we just heard?

PAUL: Well, I'd talk about it, but I don't see it as being very practical. I think it's a much bigger problem.

You can't deal with immigration without dealing with the economy. The weaker the economy, the more resentment there is when illegals come in. If you have a healthy, vibrant economy, it's not a problem; we're usually looking for workers.

Even under today's circumstances, a lot of businesses are looking for workers and they don't have them. They're not as well-trained here.

But also, the way we're handling our borders is actually hurting our economy because the businesspeople -- you know, visitors have a hard time coming in. I mean, we don't have a well-managed border. So I think we need more resources and I think most of the other candidates would agree we need more resources. But where are the resources going to come from?

I have a suggestion. I think we spend way too much time worrying about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Use some of those resources on our own border.


BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you had an ad, but you pulled it this week, in which you described Governor Romney as the most anti-immigrant candidate. Why did you do that?

GINGRICH: Why did we describe him that way?

Because, in the original conversations about deportation, the position I took, which he attacked pretty ferociously, was that grandmothers and grandfathers aren't going to be successfully deported. We're not -- we as a nation are not going to walk into some family -- and by the way, they're going to end up in a church, which will declare them a sanctuary. We're not going to walk in there and grab a grandmother out and then kick them out.

We're not going -- and I think you have to be realistic in your indignation. I want to control the border. I want English to be the official language of government. I want us to have a lot of changes.


I am prepared to be very tough and very bold, but I'm also prepared to be realistic, because I've actually had to pass legislation in Washington and I don't believe an unrealistic promise is going to get through, but I do believe, if there's some level of humanity for people who have been here a long time, we can pass legislation that will decisively reduce illegality, decisively control the border and will once again mean the people who are in America are here legally.

BLITZER: I just want to make sure I understand. Is he still the most anti-immigrant candidate?

GINGRICH: I think, of the four of us, yes.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Governor.

ROMNEY: That's simply unexcusable. That's inexcusable. And, actually, Senator Marco Rubio came to my defense and said that ad was inexcusable and inflammatory and inappropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife's father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive.

Don't use a term like that. You can say we disagree on certain policies, but to say that enforcing the U.S. law to protect our borders, to welcome people here legally, to expand legal immigration, as I have proved, that that's somehow anti anti-immigrant is simply the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has characterized American politics too long.

And I'm glad that Marco Rubio called you out on it. I'm glad you withdrew it. I think you should apologize for it, and I think you should recognize that having differences of opinions on issues does not justify labeling people with highly charged epithets.

GINGRICH: I'll tell you what...


I'll give you an opportunity to self-describe. You tell me what language you would use to describe somebody who thinks that deporting a grandmother or a grandfather from their family -- just tell me the language. I'm perfectly happy for you to explain what language you'd use.

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, I think I described following the law as it exists in this country, which is to say, I'm not going around and rounding people up and deporting them.

What I said was, people who come here legally get a work permit. People who do not come here legally do not get a work permit. Those who don't get work will tend, over time, to self-deport.

I'm not going to go find grandmothers and take them out of their homes and deport them. Those are your words, not my words. And to use that rhetoric suggests to people that somehow, if you're not willing to keep people here who violated the law, that you're anti- immigrant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am pro-immigrant. I want people to come to America with skill and vitality and vibrance. I want them to come legally. There are grandmothers that live on the other side of the border that are waiting to come here legally. I want them to come here, too, not just those that are already here.


GINGRICH: Well, so we have gone -- we've gone from your Washington attack when I first proposed this and you said it was outrageous; it would be a magnet to you're accepting the fact that, you know, a family is going to take care of their grandmother or their grandfather.

The idea that you are going to push them out in some form by simply saying they can't go get a job -- I think the grandmother is still going to be here. All I want to do is to allow the grandmother to be here legally with some rights to have residency but not citizenship, so that he or she can finish their life with dignity within the law.


ROMNEY: You know, our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. Our problem is -- all right.


ROMNEY: Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It's school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It's people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.

And the real concern is the people who want to come here legally. Let's let legal immigrants come here. Let's stop illegal immigration.


BLITZER: The rhetoric on immigration, Governor, has been intense, as you well know, as all four of you know, and anyone who watches television knows. You had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish "the language of the ghetto."

What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: I haven't seen the ad, so I'm sorry. I don't get to see all the TV ads. Did he say that?

BLITZER: Did you say that?

GINGRICH: No. What I said was, we want everybody to learn English because we don't -- and I didn't use the word "Spanish." We do not want anyone trapped in a situation where they cannot get a commercial job, they cannot rise, and virtually every parent of every ethnic group -- and by the way, they are 94 languages spoken at the Miami-Dade College -- 94 languages. And that's why I think English should be the official language of government, and that's why I think every young American should learn English.

And my point was, no one should be trapped in a linguistics situation where they can't go out and get a job and they can't go out and work. So I would say as much as Governor Romney doesn't particularly like my use of language, I found his use of language and his deliberate distortion equally offensive.


ROMNEY: I'd like -- I doubt that's my ad, but we'll take a look and find out. There are a bunch of ads out there that are being organized by other people.

But I think our position on English in our schools and in our nation is the same, which I believe English should be the official language of the United States, as it is. I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English.

So, when I was governor, I fought for -- actually, before I was governor, I fought for, during my election and thereafter, a program to have English immersion in our schools so our kids could learn in English. I think we agree on this, which is, you know what? Kids in this country should learn English so they can have all the jobs and all the opportunity of people who are here.


Stay tuned! Who knows how "soft" on immigration the Republican candidates will get as they head to states with heavy Latino populations and ringing the alarm bell that "they keep coming" proves less effective than in the early primary states.


January 27, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post: Jane Smith, The Ramifications of Alabama HB 56

To call Alabama HB 56 a controversial law would be an exercise in the most diplomatic forms of understatement. Since its passage in June 2011, the law has been critical in contextualizing the fundamental issues underlying the U.S. immigration debate. The law highlights the current randomness and subjectivity of immigration reform by giving state and local authorities the power to question the legality of a person’s immigration status on the basis of mere suspicion. The implications of such harsh, anti-illegal immigration policies have become ever more prominent in the public mind as candidates for the Republican nomination attempt to hedge questions on the subject. Indeed, though the economy looms as the prime talking point for all politicians, it’s the legislation like Alabama HB 56 (and the lack of powerful legislation such as the DREAM Act) that keeps immigration an issue of nearly equal importance.

But what notable changes have taken place in Alabama since the passage of such harsh anti-illegal immigrant legislation? Bloomberg reports that the state is leading the nation in lowered joblessness rates. According to the report, Alabama went from a jobless rate of 8.7% to 8.1% in time between November and December, and this is after already boasting a lowered rate from earlier in the year. Of course, proponents of Alabama HB 56 cite this decline as a direct effect of the state’s renewed vigilance against illegal immigrants in the workforce. Although reports also indicate that Alabama’s lowered jobless rate—at least in part— should be accredited to an increase in statewide hiring trends. It seems unlikely that Alabama HB 56 singlehanded solved unemployment issues in the state, though proponents of the law like to perpetuate the scenario of job-hungry American citizens taking the available jobs previously held by illegal immigrants. In a way it’s unfortunate that the state’s economy is experiencing a growth period at this time, because it gives proponents of Alabama HB 56 circumstantial evidence that the law is justified.

But there are ramifications of HB 56’s passage that receive markedly less media coverage. The law doesn’t just affect illegal immigrants working in Alabama. By making detection and deportation much more likely among illegal immigrants, the law threatens to disrupt entire family structures established in the state. Opponents of undocumented workers and illegal immigrants usually picture someone working in the service industry, taking a job that in their mind could easily be filled by an American citizen. What they don’t see is the family that that person supports with their low-paying job. In her article in The Huffington Post, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund examines the costly affects of HB 56 on the children of illegal immigrants. She explains how the new law has the potential to transform schoolteachers into immigration officers legally obligated to determine the immigration status of their students. Federal courts are currently investigating that aspect of the law, but if it indeed goes into effect, Marian Edelman worries that Alabama will create an environment recalling the troubling days of segregation in Alabama schools.

The effects of Alabama HB 56 can hardly be quantified at this point, but so far it has proven to do nothing more than perpetuate controversy and make the conversation surround immigration in the United States all the more contentious.

Byline: This is a guest post by Jane Smith from background check. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to:


January 27, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sports Fans: University of Georgia Football Loses Out Due to Undocumented Immigrant Ban


ESPN reports that the University of Georgia Bulldogs lost a prized football recruit who had to step back from a commitment to play there because of Georgia's prohibition of students from selective public universities who cannot establish a legal immigration status.

UPDATE (2/3):  Chester Brown reportedly ended up committing to the University of Central Florida.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

John Lennon's Immigration File


The late John Lennon had a complicated immigration history with the good old USA, some of which we have highlighted on ImmigrationProf (here, here, here).  For you music and immigration fans, here is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services voluminous immigration file on John Lennon


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Faster, Safer, and Smarter: A Modern Visa System for the United States

Ted Alden and Liam Schwartz have written a paper for the Council on Foreign Relations arguing for changes to the visa processing system to speed up entry for immigrants and nonimmigrants without weakening security. It builds on President Obama’s announcement last week that a number of steps will be taken to speed up visa processing.  A shorter version also appeared in the Wall Street Journal.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Case C- 34/09 Ruiz Zambrano: A Respectful Rejoinder by Olivas and Kochenov

Case C- 34/09 Ruiz Zambrano: A Respectful Rejoinder by Michael A. Olivas Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center Member and Dimitry Kochenov Professor of Law, University of Groningen

 In summer 2011, the Common Market Law Review published a case-note dedicated to the legal analysis of the Ruiz Zambrano case of the CJEU, which is of great interest. Both of us fully agree with the authors, Professors Hailbronner and Thym, that the case is of fundamental importance in that it represents ‘a permanent move beyond the confines of “market citizenship”’ (1269), supplying one of the first examples when EU citizenship alone sufficed to the CJEU to bring the case within the scope of EU law, building on ‘EU citizenship as such’ (1263). This general agreement is one of the reasons why we are of the opinion that their note warrants a brief elaboration and rejoinder - in accord with tradition and Review practice.

The note written by two eminent scholars falls short, in our respectful opinion, of reflecting the essence of the case in a sufficiently accurate and objective manner. We have two concerns: the treatment of the facts on the ground, and the legal conclusions that flow from the analytic treatment of these ‘facts.’ The combination of the two results in demonizing and blaming the immigrant family, especially employing unfortunate restrictionist clichés and stereotypes that present immigrants from the third world who come to Europe as selfish criminals abusing the law. This phenomenon of scapegoating, of course, occurs regularly in the EU and throughout the West, both through nativist legislation and through the public discourse, which has given way to hateful terms and provocative and derogatory argot.

We do not suggest that anything crafted by Professors Hailbronner and Thym is inappropriate. However, we are concerned that their careful parsing of the facts as they might wish them to be, might deter others from actually reading the important case under consideration.

Using the lenses we suggest allows a clearer view of the actual situation. Every day, various immigration and refugee authorities record and transmit facts, sometimes great and sometimes small and ordinary. Like false rumors that can become unrecognizable when retold over time, facts can get lost in the shuffle and morph into inconvenient facts. When this occurs for a terrorized family that finds itself enmeshed in a complex legal dispute, conducted in a foreign language, it is little wonder that such small details can get lost in translation and again in litigation. But, unlike these families, scholars can, and must take a step back and read carefully and appreciate the degrees of ambiguity and nuance inherent in the cases they read, drained of the lives they record.

Leaving aside the philosophical discussion on global equality and possible justifications of closing the borders to prevent the arrival of the needy, our point is quite simple: legal scholarship should not mischaracterize the basic, constitutive facts that gave rise to a legal dispute at hand, especially in situations where the destiny of the most vulnerable and needy is decided, as occurs in immigration and refugee cases tried and adjudicated in the EU every day. We would conclude that facts in a case-note are particularly in need of care, when the facts might throw a shadow on the soundness of the derivative legal conclusions. With respect, we would dispute the treatment of the facts in the earlier case-note by professors Hailbronner and Thym, and would remand for reconsideration. We have learned much over the years from studying their earlier work, but the lesson learned here is not that which they intended.

For the full paper, see Download MAOlivas2012W1.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lunch Anyone? Immigration Rights Group Delivers Tacos to East Haven Mayor

Five hundred tacos are scheduled to be delivered today to East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo’s office as part of a social media campaign blasting his quip that he “might have tacos” when asked what he would do to reach out to the Latino community in light of a federal indictment of of East Haven’s police officers for violating systematically the civil rights of Latinos. “The mayor has shown a total lack of respect for the constituents he has been sworn to serve to the best of his ability,” said Henry Fernandez, spokesman for Reform Immigration for America, hich started a “text a taco” campaign to blast Maturo’s insensitive remarks.

As of today, more than 2,200 people have shown their support for East Haven’s Latino community by texting TACO to 69866. “Today’s delivery signifies the support the Latino community has gotten nationwide by people outraged by the alleged police abuse of Latinos and the mayor’s indifference to them,” Fernandez said.

At today’s delivery, one taco will be delivered to the mayor along with an invitation to open up a dialogue on how to improve relations with the Latino community. The remaining tacos will be delivered to a local soup kitchen.

Here are the details for today’s taco delivery: WHEN: 1:00 pm ET, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 WHERE: East Haven Town Hall, 250 Main St. East Haven, CT, 06512 WHO: Taco delivery will be met by JUNTA for Progressive Action.

Here is a video of the Mayor of East Haven and the controversial comments:


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Post: Betsy Cavendish: New CFPB Regulation on Remmittances

The new consumer protection agency, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, just issued its first major rule, providing for transparency and remedies in remittances. One of the key reasons people come to this country is the hope of earning sufficient money to help support loved ones in home countries. Indeed, people in the U.S. send $79 billion abroad annually through remittances. This rule affects these transactions and could help drive down the cost of remittances by allowing consumers to shop for the best deal.

By one year from now, when the final rule goes into effect, consumers in most instances will get a disclosure, up-front, before any cash changes hands, of how much their recipient will receive in the local currency. They are entitled to a receipt, too, and all the remedies of EFTA, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. If for some reason, like finding a better deal up the street, the consumer wants to cancel the transaction, she or he has 30 minutes to do so. Consumers will get disclosures in languages that the remittance companies use for marketing in that area and will be notified of their rights should the transaction go awry. Significantly, US companies will be strictly liable for the acts of their agents abroad -- they won't be able to defend a discrepancy in the total amount told would be available by saying that they told the agents not to tack on extra fees.

This rule signals tremendous respect for those who come here, work hard, and send money to home countries. The U.S. sends the most money abroad of any country, and our legal regime will become a model for the world. According to the World Bank, the world market for remittances is $440 billion/year, with $325 billion/year going to developing countries. If by having information about how much money will be available for pick up helps drive down the price of sending money by 1/2 of one percent, the savings will be $2 billion annually, largely flowing to or staying with low income people on the sending or receiving end. Taking only the U.S. volume of remittances, for each half percent decline in the total cost of sending remittances, $395 million more dollars will stay in the pockets of people sending money abroad from here or will be sent to their family members abroad.

Remittances are critical to developing economies and the cost and security of remittance transactions are of deep concern to immigrants in this country. Remittances dwarf charitable contributions to the developing world as well as official development assistance.

The law, part of Dodd-Frank, and this week's final rule, mark a tremendous development for immigrants in the U.S. and around the world, as well as migrants' families who depend on remittances for basic needs.

Betsy Cavendish, Executive Director, Appleseed Appleseed, a network of public interest justice centers in the U.S. and Mexico, has been working to facilitate entry for immigrants into our financial system on safe, fair terms for more than a decade. Samples of it work on remittances can be found here.

January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

MISPLACED PRIORITIES: The Failure of Secure Communities in Los Angeles County

A report released today by the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the UC Irvine School of Law finds that, despite the Obama Administration's recent announcements that is prioritizing deportation of serious criminals, Secure Communities continues to ensare crime victims, traffic offenders, and others who have committed no criminal offense. Based on individual stories and an analysis of available data, the report concludes:

"ICE’s failure to adhere to its own stated priorities is a feature rather than a reparable flaw of the [Secure Communities] program. The program has been constructed and implemented on the assumption that if an individual has any contact with law enforcement—even if that contact stems from a traffic offense—that individual represents a threat to the community. ICE uses its stated criminal priorities as part of a rhetorical strategy to assuage the concerns of states and localities. In operation, however, ICE casts a wide net and offers little relief to worthy candidates for prosecutorial discretion; the vast majority of those deported through Secure Communities have merely had contact with local law enforcement and have not committed serious crimes."

For an op/ed by two law students who, along with Professor Sameer Ashar, authored the study, click here.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the U.S. Economy, Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs and strengthen the economy, and the U.S. should tailor immigration laws and policies to encourage the best and the brightest to create businesses on U.S. soil, according to a new joint report issued today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Immigration Policy Center (IPC). The report, Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the U.S. Economy examines immigrant entrepreneurship in many different sectors, including neighborhood, growth, transnational, and science and technology firms, and demonstrates how these immigrant businesses create jobs for U.S. workers and contribute to America’s economic growth.

In a related development, the Immigration Learning Center has created the Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame that was announced during the call. The Hall of Fame, which includes Levi Strauss, Andrew Carnegie, and Sergey Brin (Google), pays tribute to 61 immigrants who made significant contributions to the U.S. economy. Collectively, these companies generate revenues of more than $900 billion and employ more than 2 million people.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Recentering Foreign Affairs Preemption in Arizona v. United States: Federal Plenary Power, the Spheres of Government, and the Constitutionality of S.B. 1070

"Recentering Foreign Affairs Preemption in Arizona v. United States: Federal Plenary Power, the Spheres of Government, and the Constitutionality of S.B. 1070" Cleveland State Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, 2012 PATRICK J. CHARLES, Government of the United States of America - Air Force.

ABSTRACT: With the Supreme Court granting certioari in Arizona v. United States, it will be the first time in thirty years that the Court will hear a foreign affairs preemption case concerning immigration. It is a fact that most commentators have overlooked as they focus on the case in the constraints of traditional preemption theories. Indeed, the federal government is claiming the laws are unconstitutional under a number of preemption approaches, but the focal point of each theory is that Arizona’s law conflicts with the comprehensive federal scheme as to impede on foreign policy. This Article answers the question: 'Is foreign affairs preemption concerning immigration an all or nothing doctrine as different lower courts and immigration scholars contend? This article answers this by reconstructing the Founders' Constitution concerning the division of federal-state power over immigration, and compares this historical data with Supreme Court foreign affairs preemption precedent .The article concludes both the Founders' Constitution and Supreme Court precedent stipulates a three-part test for any state immigration law to be saved from foreign affairs preemption. If one applies this contstruct to Arizona S.B. 1070 and other "attrition through enforcement" laws, many of the provisions are foreign affairs preempted.


January 26, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matter of D-X & Y-X 25I&N Dec. 664 (BIA 2012)
The Board of Immigration Appeals published a decision today finding that a facially valid permit to reside in a third country (even if fraudulently obtained) constitutes prima facie evidence of an offer of firm resettlement. In the case at hand, two chinese nationals had obtained residence permits in Belize. The female national had used the permit to travel to the U.S. and reenter Belize. The male national had worked in Belize. Therefore, the fact that the permits may have been fraudulent did not undercut the government's showing of firm resettlement and the respondents were unable to establish an exception based on the facts.EQ

January 25, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest Blog by Jennifer Yanni: End the Secure Communities Program

As Kevin Johnson noted yesterday, President Obama called for comprehensive immigration reform and the passage of the DREAM Act in his State of the Union address. Yet, his administration continues to implement the Secure Communities program that detrimentally affects hard-working individuals and families who would benefit from CIR and the DREAM Act. There's definitely some hypocrisy there.

Guest blog from  Jennifer Yanni, Third-year student at UCLA School of Law

Dear Mr. President,

Mr. President. What an impersonal name. It bears no indication of the person you are.

Barack Hussein Obama. Now that’s more like it. That tells me volumes about who you are. It tells me that you are the son of immigrants. It tells me that you are a male who sounds – and perhaps even looks – racially ambiguous.

I’ve heard your stories many times. I’ve heard how you grew up not knowing your father. I know that you’ve told millions of Americans that you were raised by a single mother. What was it like to grow up without a parent? Was it excruciating? Was it terrible to think that you grew up in a broken family and there was nothing that you did to cause it? Was it remotely like how millions of children feel when their parents are deported in the dead of night? Of course not. Your experience must have been fundamentally different.

I’ve heard that you were schooled in Indonesia. Are you Indonesian? No? So, you were an immigrant for much of your life. How did that make you feel? Did you feel marginalized? Did you feel like a second-class citizen? Did you feel like you never belonged? Of course you didn’t! If you had, you would’ve understood what it feels like to be an immigrant in this country. You would’ve realized that immigration policies only create strangers out of neighbors, parents, and friends.

I’ve heard you mention that you married a “sister.” A woman who, in every respect, embodies what a strong, intelligent, Black woman ought to be. I admire your persistence to stay within your community. I can tell that it has been your way of maintaining a fundamental connection to the Black community. But, what is it about such a close-knit group of people that you find to be so salient? How is it any different from the immigrants who find themselves within their own communities, realizing that though they may not be able to identify with many others, they can identify with each other.  But, of course. Your community must have been irreconcilably different.

I’ve heard that your middle name is Hussein. Wasn’t that also the name of Muhammed’s grandson? That’s interesting. You share a name with one of the founders of a religion that so many Americans have come to associate with hate and death. How did you overcome that? By failing to include it on statements? By claiming that you were, first and foremost, a loyal American? And that worked? I wonder if you’d feel the same way if one of the 9/11 terrorists were named Hussein. But, of course, none of them must have been. After all, the Hussein’s of the world are coming in through the U.S.-Mexico border. That must be the reason why border enforcement has become so fierce and unforgiving. While your name may have set you apart, you must have never felt different.

I’ve heard you mention that your daughters will never benefit from affirmative action. I’ve heard you claim that no one would ever think them to be anything other than privileged. So, who is unprivileged? Could it possibly be the millions of undocumented individuals in the nation who fulfill menial, low-paying jobs because they’re not found to be deserving of anything greater? Could it be the people who are doomed to a perpetual cycle of hardship and injustice? Surely, your daughters will never know such people. Why would they? Those people are fundamentally different.

Barack Hussein Obama, who are you? For years you’ve told Americans that you were anything they wanted you to be: black, transcending race, educated, the son of hardworking parents, privileged, an underdog. You name it, you’ve been it. You’ve blinded us with your rhetoric and sweet-talked us with your empty promises. You’ve done everything you can to make us think that you were everyman’s man. Your appeal to uniqueness and your claims to be different have been nothing but lies. Barack Hussein Obama, if you truly are the man you claim to be, I challenge you to use those differences in your re-election. Use your past to decide the future of so many undocumented immigrants. Be the man that we, who elected you, believed you to be. Put an end to the injustices of immigration policies. Put an end to border patrols treating migrants as wayward dogs to be shot at. Put an end to S-Comm and the way in which it breaks up families and communities.

You owe it to yourself, but, first and foremost, you owe it to us.


January 25, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)