Friday, October 19, 2012

From the Bookshelves: Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class by Jody Agius Vallejo


Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class by Jody Agius Vallejo 2012

"Vallejo tackles an extremely important topic which others have not been willing or able to see—the rise of a Mexican American middle class. Challenging prevailing views, this book focuses not on predictions of downward assimilation, but on the real means by which children of Mexican immigrants are joining the middle class."— Rubén Hernández-León, University of California, Los Angeles

"Barrios to Burbs is the important and largely untold story of the Mexican American middle class. By taking us inside the lives of middle-class Mexican Americans, Vallejo demonstrates how the socioeconomic diversity among people of Mexican descent offers both promise and potential peril for the people she studies. This is a landmark book and a must read for anyone who hopes to understand America's largest ethnic group in all of its complexity."—Tomás R. Jiménez, Stanford University, author of Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity

"A sensitive, compelling, and engaging account based on in-depth research of an overlooked and understudied population: the Mexican American middle class. Full of insights about patterns of family obligation and ethnic identification among them—as well as different pathways to middle-class status—this richly drawn study is an important contribution to our understanding of immigration and diversity in 21st century America."— Nancy Foner, Hunter College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York, author of In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration

"Jody Vallejo's novel study fills a void in research that for too long has focused too narrowly on Mexican immigrants trapped at lower rungs of the mobility ladder to the neglect of their prospects of success. She makes a significant contribution to the understanding of segmented assimilation and offers a compelling story of the Mexican American middle class."— Min Zhou, University of California, Los Angeles, author of Contemporary Chinese America

Too frequently, the media and politicians cast Mexican immigrants as a threat to American society. Given America's increasing ethnic diversity and the large size of the Mexican-origin population, an investigation of how Mexican immigrants and their descendants achieve upward mobility and enter the middle class is long overdue. Barrios to Burbs offers a new understanding of the Mexican-American experience. Vallejo explores the challenges that accompany rapid social mobility and examines a new indicator of incorporation, a familial obligation to "give back" in social and financial support. She investigates the salience of middle-class Mexican Americans' ethnic identification and details how relationships with poorer coethnics and affluent whites evolve as immigrants and their descendants move into traditionally white middle-class occupations. Disputing the argument that Mexican communities lack high quality resources and social capital that can help Mexican Americans incorporate into the middle class, Vallejo also examines civic participation in ethnic professional associations embedded in ethnic communities.


October 19, 2012 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AP memo clarifies how to use the phrase ‘illegal immigrant’

Speaking of terminology, the Associated Press, which as been at the center of the debate of how undocumented immigrants should properly be referred to by the press, has released a memorandum on use of the phrase "illegal immigrant."  I am not sure how satisfying the elaboration is but you be the judge.  Here is the punch line:

 "The debate over whether or not to use `illegal immigrant' will continue. The best thing news organizations can do is have conversations amongst themselves — and perhaps with their audiences as well — about whether they should use it, when and why."


October 19, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Rosie Perez mocks Mitt Romney's 'it would be helpful to be Latino' comment in new video



October 19, 2012 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama ("Gang Bangers") and Romney ("Undocumented illegals") Both Miss the Reality Boat



Rhetoric has long been a staple in national discussions over immigration in the United States.  Over the decades, terms from "wetbacks" (and a 1954 U.S. deportation campaign known as "Operation Wetback") to "illegal aliens" have been used in polite company to discuss immigrants -- and, today, most frequently immigrants from Mexico.

In the second Presidential debate, both candidates offered their own terminological flare to the current national discussion over immigration reform.  President Obama enthusiatstically touted his administration's success in deporting "gangbangers" while Mitt Romney coined the new term "undocumented illegals."  Both references deserve examination.

In referring to "gangbangers," President Obama was seeking to justify his administration's record levels of deportations over the last several years, including nearly 400,000 in the last two fiscal years.  Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has emphasized the administration's current focus on removal of "criminal aliens."  However, studies have shown that many of the immigrants subject to removal under programs like Secure Communities have been charged with relatively minor crimes (e.g., driving without a driver's license) or are not criminals at all.  While in the debate, the President suggested that the focus of the administration's removal efforts was on "gangbangers" (and who could not want to deport "gangbangers"?), serious criminals do not constitute teh vast majority of the roughly 400,000 immigrants a year who are deported. 

Many observers understand that increased enforcement by the Obama administration is a political price that some believe must be paid to convince Congress to pass comperhensive immigration reform.  Whatever the political calculation, the results are disappointing -- record levels of deportations and no comprehensive immigration reform.

Mitt Romney's new phrase -- "undocumented illegals" -- politically seems the worst of all worlds.  Use of teh word "illegals" will likely alienate Latinos and the defenders of immigrant rights.  At the same time, the word "undocumented" will alienate the restrictionists, like Romney immigration advisor Kris Kobach, who are more likely to prefer the term "illegas" or "illegal aliens."

And the beat goes on.


October 19, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Migration Management in Mexico and Central America

Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

Migration has emerged as a critical policy issue for Mexico and Central America over the course of the last three decades. While most attention has focused on Mexican migration to the United States, Central American transit migration through Mexico has increased in size and visibility since the 1980s, generating policy and governance issues for Mexico. For much of the 1990s, the Mexican government expressed no clear preference to either control or openly tolerate Central American transit migration. Its main law governing immigration was the 1974 General Population Law, which focused on family unification and was framed as a response to the challenges of the era, notably large-scale emigration from Mexico. But with calls from Mexican civil society and others to improve policy coherence and implementation, as well as improve protections for migrants who are vulnerable to abuse as they transit through Mexico en route to the United States, Mexico in 2011 adopted a sweeping new migration law. Regulations for the Ley de Migración were published just weeks ago and are due to take effect in early November.

In New Approaches to Migration Management in Mexico and Central America, senior researchers Francisco Alba and Manuel Ángel Castillo of El Colegio de México trace the history of migration trends and policy in Mexico and Central America, and examine Mexico’s new immigration law and implementation challenges. The 2011 law strives to respect the human rights of migrants, facilitate the international movement of people, meet the country’s labor needs, ensure equality between Mexican natives and immigrants to Mexico, recognize the acquired rights of long-term immigrants, promote family unity and sociocultural integration, and facilitate the return and reintegration of Mexican emigrants.

While passage of the law already has reduced bilateral tensions with Central American governments and has granted Mexico new moral authority when advocating on behalf of migrant rights in the United States, the authors note that the law’s ultimate success will turn on policy implementation. They also make the case that while the Ley de Migración may work as an expression of foreign policy, the law appears poorly equipped to address Mexico’s long-term migration challenges and competitiveness.

This report is the latest research from the Regional Migration Study Group, a partnership between MPI and the Latin American Program/Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Study Group, co-chaired by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and former Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein, is a high-level initiative that in 2013 will propose new collaborative approaches to migration, competitiveness, and human-capital development for the United States, Central America, and Mexico.


October 18, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Census Bureau Reports Foreign-Born from Asia Likelier to be Married and to Live in Multigenerational Households

In 2011, the foreign-born from Asia were more likely to be married compared with the total foreign-born and native-born. Households with a householder born in Asia were also more likely to be multigenerational, according to statistics from the 2011 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of foreign-born from Asia who were married was higher (65.8 percent) than for all foreign-born (58.3 percent) or for native-born (46.5 percent). In addition, multigenerational households — three or more generations living together — were more common among households with a householder born in Asia (9.4 percent) than a native-born householder (4.9 percent). Among major country-of-birth groups from Asia, households with a householder born in the Philippines (14.8 percent) or in Vietnam (12.3 percent) were the most likely to be multigenerational.

The metro areas with the largest foreign-born populations from Asia were Los Angeles and New York, both with more than 1.5 million, followed by San Francisco (707,000), Chicago (439,000) and Washington (432,000). (See graphs).

In 2011, about 13 percent of the 311.6 million people living in the United States were foreign-born, including 11.6 million from Asia, accounting for more than one-fourth (29 percent) of all foreign-born.

Today, the Census Bureau also released a brief based on the American Community Survey: The Foreign Born From Asia: 2011. This brief discusses the size, place of birth, citizenship status, educational attainment and geographic distribution of the foreign-born from Asia in the United States.

Additional detailed information about specific Asian country-of-birth groups is available in the report and from the selected population profiles in American FactFinder. Other highlights from the brief and the 2011 American Community Survey:

Countries of Birth

•The five Asian countries of birth with the most foreign-born in the United States were China with 2.2 million, followed by India, 1.9 million; the Philippines, 1.8 million; Vietnam, 1.3 million; and Korea, 1.1 million. (The totals for India and the Philippines are not statistically different from one another).

Educational Attainment

•  In 2011, 83 percent of the 25-and-older Asia-born population had at least a high school diploma and 48 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. By comparison, among the foreign-born 25-and-older from all other regions, 63 percent had at least a high school diploma and 19 percent had at least a bachelor's degree.

•  Among the five largest Asian country-of-birth groups, the 25-and-older foreign-born from India, Korea and the Philippines had the highest percentages with at least a high school diploma, each with 92 percent. Seventy-five percent of the 25-and-older population born in India had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with the 25-and-older population born in Korea (51 percent), China (50 percent) and the Philippines (48 percent). (The totals for Korea and China are not statistically different from one another).

Naturalized Citizen

•The foreign-born from Asia were more likely to be naturalized citizens (58 percent) than the foreign-born from all other world regions combined (40 percent).


•  Four states had more than a half-million foreign-born from Asia: California (3.7 million), New York (1.2 million), Texas (778,000) and New Jersey (593,000).

•  When combined, these four states accounted for more than half of all foreign-born from Asia (54 percent). California alone represented almost one-third of the total foreign-born from Asia.


October 18, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AALS Mid-Year Meeting on Immigration and Property

2013 AALS Workshop on Poverty, Immigration and Property
Call for Presentations and Paper
We are seeking proposals for presentations and papers for the 2013 Mid-Year Meeting Workshop on Poverty, Immigration and Property. The Workshop will be held on June 10-12, 2013 in San Diego, California. The Workshop will begin with registration at 4:00 p.m. and a reception at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, June 10th and conclude at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12th. It will appeal to a wide range of teachers and scholars interested in these and related subject areas.
While the Workshop will feature several plenary panels about a range of issues implicated by the intersection of poverty, immigration, and property, we also plan to include concurrent sessions. For these sessions we are seeking proposals that are in various stages of development. We are exploring the possibility of publication opportunities with various law journals.
We invite any proposal on the topic of the Workshop theme. Possible topics within the purview of the Workshop theme include:
Access to Justice (Labor Camps, Counsel, Language)
Property Implications of Immigration Enforcement
International: Land Distribution, Land Reform, Forced Migration
Race and Property/Race and Immigration
Climate Refugees: Property, Poverty, Immigration
Progressive Property: Pro and Con
Welfare Rights for Immigrants
Employer Sanctions and Licensing
Property Formalization
Home, Housing and Culture
Property and Citizenship
We expect to select three or four presentations for each of the concurrent sessions.  Each presentation will be about 15 minutes, followed by questions from the moderator and the audience.
Interested faculty members should submit a brief written description (no more than 1000 words) of the proposed presentation or paper, along with their résumés. Please email these materials to by Friday, October 26, 2012. We will notify selected speakers by December 1, 2012. Please indicate if you would like the opportunity to receive comments from a senior scholar.   
Faculty members of AALS member schools are eligible to submit proposals for the presentation opportunities or for papers. Visiting and adjunct faculty members, along with graduate students and fellows are not eligible.
Those selected for the presentation or paper opportunity must register for the Workshop and pay the registration fee. Participants are also responsible for their own travel and other expenses. Please direct questions to the Planning Committee members:
D. Benjamin Barros, Widener University School of Law, at
Sheila R. Foster, Fordham University School of Law, Chair, at
Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco School of Law, at
Beth Lyon, Villanova University School of Law, at
Ezra E.S. Rosser, American University, Washington College of Law, at


October 18, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Featuring Rick Baldoz's Book: The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898-1946

In honor of October as Filipino American History Month (as I wrote previously), I want to highlight a relatively recent book by Professor Rick Baldoz (Oberlin College).

His book, The Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1898-1946, was published by NYU in 2011.

Baldoz's main argument "is that incorporation of Filipinos into American society played an important role in shaping the politics of citizenship and race during an important period in U.S history."

A very interesting book, it covers, among other things, the period during which the Philippines was a U.S. territory and the underlying racialized reasons that led the U.S. government to confer U.S. national status and not citizenship to Filipinos.

I strongly recommend the book.


October 18, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Immigration Enforcement and the Fugitive Slave Acts: Exploring Their Similarities by Karla Mari McKanders


Immigration Enforcement and the Fugitive Slave Acts: Exploring Their Similarities by Karla Mari McKanders University of Tennessee College of Law Catholic Law Review, Vol. 61, 2012, Forthcoming

Abstract: Two seemingly different federal enforcement systems that affect the movement of unskilled workers — the 1793 and 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts and current state immigration enforcement policies — have remarkable similarities. Both systems are political stories that are demonstrative of the failure of federalism. The federal government’s current failure to enforce immigration laws has encouraged state and local governments to pass their own laws. Alabama and Arizona have enacted far-reaching laws, which are similar to the federal Immigration and Nationality Act § 287(g) programs. Both have been challenged on constitutional preemption and equal protection grounds. Recent scholarship has focused mainly on whether the state and local actions are constitutionally preempted. Current scholarship has overlooked ways the federal government has previously utilized state and local entities to enforce federal laws that govern individual rights. To date, legal scholars have not engaged in this comparison. This article challenges the notion of the Fugitive Slave Acts’ irrelevance in this context by examining in detail the similarities of both systems and the results that are produced when the federal government is provided with unfettered discretion to abrogate individual rights. The article proceeds in three parts. Part I provides an overview of the implementation and enforcement of the Constitution’s Fugitive Slave Clause and the 1793 and 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts. This Part also explores the implementation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the evisceration of the Fugitive Slave Acts when subsequent immigration laws refused to recognize equal protection rights for immigrants. Part II explores the reverse immigration-federalism story in which states and localities are enacting immigration legislation against the backdrop of federal inaction. Part III explores how both the Fugitive Slave Acts and current immigration enforcement laws create outsiders by failing to protect individual liberty rights. The article concludes with broad doctrinal lessons on immigration federalism and demonstrates how the law and legal actors can perpetuate norms that facilitate the creation of tiered personhood.


October 18, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alameda County, CA Guidelines of Immigration Consequences at the Plea Bargaining Stage


Here is a copy of the Alameda County, California DA's new Guidelines regarding the consideration of immigration consequences at the plea bargaining stage. Download Immigration Guidelines Alameda County DA  The policy is quite similar to the Santa Clara County DA policy that came out last year and I am hoping that this new addition will help others advocate for similar policies statewide (and across the country).

The guidelines recognize that post-Padilla, arguments that the consideration of immigration consequences is somehow illegal or improper have been "put to rest." The guidelines then go on to talk about when it is appropriate for district attorneys to consider immigration consequences and modification of pleas/sentences in order to mitigate those consequences.

The District Attorney in Alameda was responsive to requests for consideration of a policy/guidelines to be applied uniformly in the county. While the guidelines don't bind the DA to a particular outcome, they provide a platform upon which to advocate for what the Supreme Court referred to as "informed consideration" of immigration consequences during the plea bargaining process. We hope this will help forge a new culture of awareness in the county around the treatment of noncitizens accused of crimes and disproportionate nature of immigration consequences.

This effort was made possible by the Alameda County Public Defender Office's willingness to allocate resources to addressing and exploring immigration issues, as well as critical feedback from community advocates like you. Please forward to folks you think would be interested in seeing the policy.

Raha Jorjani, UC Davis School of Law Immigration Clinic


October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama's Focus on Deporting "Gangbangers"

Julianne Hing writes for Colorlines:

President Obama used a new word during the presidential debate on Tuesday night to describe the masses of immigrants he’s deported during his tenure. He called them “gangbangers,” as in:

"What I’ve also said is if we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that’s what we’ve done."

The line was a curious one, given the reality of Obama’s deportation record, which has been marked by mass deportations to the tune of nearly 400,000 every year carried out at a clip unseen by any prior president. The Obama administration has defended its “smart” enforcement tactics by, as Obama did on Tuesday night, pointing out that it makes a point to deport those who have committed serious crimes and are a threat to their communities and national security. And yet, data collected over Obama’s tenure show that among the close to 400,000 people who are deported annually, far from being “gangbangers,” the vast majority have no criminal record whatsoever. . . .

And as the Obama administration struggles to keep up with it do-they-or-don-they-have-it deportation quota, immigration officials seem to be tapping out the numbers of deportable immigrants with criminal records. In the last four years, the percent of those deported with any kind of criminal history has dropped from 17.5 to 14 percent, while those with “aggravated felonies” made up 5.2 percent of those deported in 2008. This year they’re 3.6 percent. That is, while the Obama administration continues to deport roughly the same record-breaking number of people annually, it’s grabbing up everyday people whose deportations the Obama administration has said it has protections in place to prevent, including those who would otherwise be eligible for the federal DREAM Act, parents with U.S. citizen kids in the country who have lived quiet lives, students and fathers who have communities and dreams in the U.S.—people who are hardly the “gangbangers” Obama wants you to think he’s kicking out of the country.

Read more..


October 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Probe of Border Patrol Brutality and Excessive Force

From the Southern Border Communities Coalition

Probe of Border Agency Opens Amidst Wave of Deadly Shootings
Border Groups Alarmed, Fault Leadership Vacuum at CBP

Southern Border Region: After years of advocating for the Federal Government to control the U.S. Border Patrol, the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC)  has learned that the Office of the Inspector General will be conducting an investigation that will look into cases of brutality or use of excessive force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The OIG’s announcement comes at a time of increasingly deadly and disproportionate use-of-force, a problem that is exacerbated by a leadership vacuum at the top of CBP.

Since July of this year, four unarmed border residents have been shot and killed in separate incidents by Border Patrol agents in the southern border region. One San Diego resident, who was a U.S. citizen, was killed in a residential area. Three others were residents of Mexican border communities and were killed while standing in Mexico by bullets shot across the border by Border Patrol agents.  Additionally, a Border Patrol agent was shot and killed by a colleague in a friendly-fire incident near Naco, Arizona, raising to 5 the number of killings in three months, and raising to 19 the number of known killings since 2010.

“The credibility of the 'largest law enforcement agency in the nation' is in doubt, and the public is overdue an explanation. It is time for a full and open investigation into the systemic use-of-force problems within CBP, said Krystal M. Gómez, Advocacy and Policy Counsel ACLU of Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley Office.

Among the victims, was U.S. citizen and mother of five, Valeria Munique Tachiquin, who was shot and killed by a plain-clothed agent, Justin Tackett, in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista. SBCC is gravely concerned about Border Patrol hiring practices after learning this week that Agent Tackett was suspended four times for misconduct as an Imperial County (CA) Sheriff’s Deputy and had a very troubling record in that law enforcement agency. The Sheriff’s Depertament ultimately issued Tackett a notice of termination for “unprofessional conduct, dishonesty, violation of or refusal to obey reasonable regulations, insubordination, violation of rules, incompetence and failure to follow proper procedures for arrest, search and seizure and treatment of persons in custody.”
“Knowingly hiring bad apples, having a policy of shooting first and asking questions later, being accountable to no one, all point to an agency that is out of control. The Border Patrol is rapidly subjecting border residents to a state of violence,”  said Christian Ramirez, human rights director at Alliance San Diego and SBCC director.

The Office of the Inspector General has confirmed it has begun a review of CBP’s use-of-force policy following a letter issued by 16 Members of Congress. Earlier this year, these Members of Congress expressed concerns over the beating death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas while under CBP custody in 2010. That case is still under investigation and not a single agent has been disciplined.

For several years now, the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders have failed to appoint and ratify a Commissioner for CBP.  The top post remains vacant.

“CBP needs to develop a comprehensive plan to fully vet agents, use de-escalation techniques to avoid lethal use of force, and implement a zero-tolerance policy that holds Border Patrol agents accountable when they commit human and civil rights violations,” said Vicki Gaubeca, Director of the Regional Center for Border Rights of the ACLU of New Mexico.

Ricardo Favela, Alliance San Diego, 760.659.3620,
Dione Friends, ACLU of Texas, 713.942.8146,

October 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Providing a Voice to Chinese Railroad Workers

From Stanford University:

Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America's First Transcontinental Railroad.

At any given moment during construction, 10,000 to 15,000 Chinese workers were on the job. And yet remarkably, not a single document created by one of these workers – not even a letter – has ever been found.

Two Stanford scholars are leading a multi-year, transnational research endeavor that aims to finally give a voice to the Chinese laborers whose blasting techniques and sheer fortitude built the railway across the inhospitable mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

In an effort to produce a body of scholarship that will be the most authoritative study on the Chinese railroad worker experience in America, the project organizers are appealing to the public in the hopes of locating long lost documents. Read more...


October 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Needs of Immigrant Women

From Breakthrough:

Americans Call on Presidential Candidates to Address Real Needs And Human Rights of Immigrant Women

Inhumane system forces mothers to choose between protecting children and tearing families apart

NEW YORK — Millions of Americans have clamored for the presidential candidates to articulate a vision for fair, common-sense policies that respect the fundamental human rights of immigrants — especially the immigrant women who are disproportionately affected by our broken, inhumane system. In last night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney took at least one small step: they said the word “immigration” for the first time in over 200 minutes of pre-election debate — and sparred over what hasn’t been done and what hasn’t been working. But both have much farther to go, say voters and advocates for immigrant and women’s rights.

“Last night, President Obama finally — and rightly — spoke about immigrants to America as human beings: people and families who have made both tough choices and great contributions. He rightly noted that immigrants are entrepreneurs and job creators. He rightly characterized Arizona’s SB1070 law as inviting racial profiling and criticized its architect, Kris Kobach — Mitt Romney’s immigration advisor — who is behind the most heartless and damaging immigration policies this nation has seen. He rightly dismissed ‘self-deportation’ as cruelty, not policy,” said Mallika Dutt, president and CEO of global human rights group Breakthrough. “But neither candidate connected all the dots. They talked about violence, but not about violence against women or immigrant women — women like Norma Ortiz, who called the cops to report her violent partner and was nearly deported herself. They talked about the wage gap, but not the wider one faced by immigrant women. They talked about the 'middle class,' but not about the millions of hard-working families forced to live in the shadows.

“Americans are looking to the next president to develop immigration policy that bolsters our economy by supporting immigrants — and that upholds the American values of dignity, equality, and justice for all. We need common-sense immigration reform that will allow hard-working women and men to live freely and without fear in the country that they love.”


October 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

West Coast Premiere of Shenandoah, a Documentary on the Luis Ramirez Killing

Last night, UC Davis School of Law hosted the West Coast premiere of Shenandoah, a documentary about a coal mining town with a rich immigrant heritage, which was dramatically challenged when four of the town’s white, star football players were charged in the beating death of an Mexican immigrant named Luis Ramirez. In it, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Turnley creates a deeply felt portrait of a working class community and the American Dream on trial.

Turnley and Billy Peterson, Executive Producer and CEO of Epic Match Media, were in attendance for the showing of the film. Along with Turnley and Peterson, immigration law expert (and former ImmigrationProf blogger) Professor Leticia Saucedo participated in a fascinating discussion and analysis of the film after the showing.

The film, in my estimation, is much more than about the tragic death of Luis Ramirez, although we learn many insights about that story. The film demonstrates the nation’s need to confront and address racism in modern American social life as well as the often harsh impacts that the changing national and world economies on small-town America.

Shenandoah also reveals much about the tough times in which we live in terms of immigration. Harsh talk of “illegal aliens”, “anchor babies”, and worse create the kind of environment in which a hate crime like the killing of Luis Ramirez by a group of all-American boys can occur. As has been reported, hate crimes directed at Latinos have been at high levels for a number of years.  It does not seem coincidental that the frequently coarse debate over immigration, and the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, has occurred over the same time period of high levels of hate crimes against Latinos.  The film this made me consider just how important moving forward on immigration reform was.

Shenandoah also causes one to think about whether the hyper-aggressiveneess of beloved high school football in a small town contributed to the violence that resulted in a tragic death. A somewhat surprising feature of the film was the personal growth of Brian Scully, one of the perpetrators of the crime, who admitted his role in the horrible incident, later testified against other defendants, and grew personally from his experience (and moved away from high school football).

Last but not least, the U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama brought federal civil rights charges against the wrongdoers after a jury in state court found the defendants guilty of only simple assault, the least serious criminal charge. That intervention thus brought some modicum of justice to those who participated in the beating death of Luis Ramirez. The Obama administration has demonstrated more of an interest in these kinds of prosecutions than the Bush administration.

If you get a chance to see Shenandoah, I highly recommend it.


October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obama, Romney clash over immigration policy during debate




The Washington Post summarized as follows

"President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are clashing over immigration, with Romney accusing Obama of failing to reform the immigration system during his first term. Romney says during the second presidential debate that the nation needs to stop illegal immigration, noting that 4 million people are trying to gain American citizenship legally. He says he won’t grant amnesty to people who come to the U.S. illegally. Obama says Romney has opposed the DREAM Act, a failed bill that would have provided a path to legal status for many young illegal immigrants. He says Republicans in Congress have been unwilling to support comprehensive immigration reform and won’t in the future with Romney as the `standard-bearer' of his party."

Both candidates, not surprisingly, recognized that "This is a nation of immigrants" and embraced legal immigrants.  They also agreed that illegal immigration should be reduced.  Obama defended his record on that and other scores and highlighted that, during the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney proclaimed that he would veto the DREAM Act, endorsed Arizona's S.B. 1070, and did not support comprehensive immigration reform.

For analysis of the sparring in the debate on comprehensive immigration reform by Victor Johnson on the NAFSA blog, click here.


October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Slower Pace for New Closures In ICE Prosecutorial Discretion Program

September 2012 Immigration Court figures show a slowing in the pace of new closures under ICE's Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) program. There were only 1,093 new PD closures during September, the second straight month that PD closures have declined. PD closures now total 9,616 cases since the program was launched last year, or only 3.2 percent of the Court backlog as of the end of last September. TRAC's monthly bulletin on the latest Immigration Court Numbers offers timely statistics compiled from case-by-case Immigration Court records we receive shortly after the end of each month.


October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America


Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America

Violence in three Central American countries is the primary reason behind a dramatic upsurge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border into the United States, and until conditions in these countries change substantially, this trend will be the new norm. The U.S. government is responsible for protecting children who are apprehended alone or without caregivers but has struggled to deal with the influx. Download Border_childrens_report_10-2012

The Women's Refugee Commission released this report.  It examines the reasons behind the influx of unaccompanied children into the U.S. over the last year as well as document the inadequacy of the U.S. response to the influx. In Fiscal Year 2012, the number of children fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries and ultimately referred to Department of Health and Human Service custody after crossing the U.S. border nearly doubled, leaving officials scrambling to adequately care for their needs and ensure proper screening, assistance to legal access and reunification procedures.

The report concludes that this increase in children crossing the border may become a "new normal" and ends with several recommendations to the U.S. government on how the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services can best meet the needs of these children.


October 17, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1.8 Million Eligible for DACA

From the Immigration Policy Center:

There are approximately 1.8 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older.

Roughly 936,933 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might immediately meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative. They comprise 53 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.

Approximately 426,329 immigrants between the ages of 5 and 14 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if the initiative remains in place. They comprise 24 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}.

Roughly 401,280 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if they earn a GED. They comprise 23 percent of all potential beneficiaries {Chart 1}. Read more....


October 16, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Policy Beat Same-Sex Partners Steadily Gain Recognition in Immigration Benefits

Migration Information Source analyzes the gains in immigration law for same sex partners.  The Obama administration has announced a new policy recognizing same-sex relationships in immigration matters – the latest of several such developments since 2011. This article explores the expansion in same-sex couple recognition; it also reports on the STEM visa bill's fate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's position on deferred action, Taiwan's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, and more.


October 16, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)