Saturday, December 22, 2012
Here is a happy holiday story. Michelle Tran, a first-generation college graduate, graduated from UC Davis last week. Her mother, Yen Nguyen, came from Vietnam with a sixth-grade education and raised her five daughters on her own, making many sacrifices so they could all go to college. All five are graduates. Tran, an English major, recalls something her mother has always said: "Education is a way to give yourself opportunity."
The December 15 commencement took place on Yen Nguyen's birthday — and she received a surprise gift when Tran stepped forward as the class speaker.
Immigration Article of the Day: Exporting Detention: Australian-Funded Immigration Detention in Indonesia by Savitri Taylor
Exporting Detention: Australian-Funded Immigration Detention in Indonesia by Savitri Taylor La Trobe University - School of Law, Journal of Refugee Studies, 2012
Abstract: Since 2000, Australia has provided significant levels of funding and resources to encourage Indonesia to use immigration detention to deter asylum seekers from making the onward journey to Australia. In this way Australia has effectively extended its domestic policy of immigration detention beyond its own national borders. The provision of Australian funding for detention in Indonesia has resulted in an increased propensity of Indonesian officials to detain. This article examines the outcomes and implications of this transfer of immigration detention policy for asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia. It draws on interviews conducted with individuals who have spent time in Indonesia’s immigration detention centres, and Indonesian immigration officials, to assess the conditions of the detention centres. The particular arrangement between Australia and Indonesia, however, fails adequately to protect the human rights of immigration detainees. Ultimately, the detention of asylum seekers in Indonesia serves as one more barrier to finding effective protection in the Asia-Pacific region.
Obama administration sets U.S. deportation record: Deports Nearly 410,000 Noncitizens (Presumably 75%-plus from Mexico)
In FY 2012 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 409,849 individuals. Of these, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008. This includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. ICE continues to make progress with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Some 96 percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category — a record high. ICE reportedly prioritizes the identification and removal of recent border crossers and conducts targeted enforcement operations with the U.S. Border Patrol.
THe ICE press release fails to mention that the nearly 410,000 of removals breaks the U.S. removal record of about 393,500 in fiscal year 2009. See Fiscal Year 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2011 p. 102. The ICE news release also did not report the nationalities of those removed. However, in fiscal year 2011 (and for several years running), about 75 percent of those deported were from Mexico. The administration may have downplayed the new deportation record in light of past criticism of its removal records, which heavily impact the Latino community and have removed many parents from families for relatively minor criminal violations.
For more enforcement data, click here.
As Bill HIng blogged yesterday, ICE also issued new national detainer guidance. This guidance limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the department's enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes, helping to ensure that available resources are focused on apprehending felons, repeat offenders and other ICE priorities. It is applicable to all ICE enforcement programs, including Secure Communities.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Today ICE Director John Morton issued orders to ICE officials that give in to much of the criticism on ICE detainers that has been voiced by officials in Santa Clara County, CA, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Cook County, IL, and elsewhere.
Morton's memo contains the following language:
Consistent with ICE's civil enforcement priorities and absent extraordinary circumstances, ICE agents and officers should issue a detainer in the federal, state, local, or tribal criminal justice systems against an individual only where (1) they have reason to believe the individual is an alien subject to removal from the United States and (2) one or more of the following conditions apply:
-the individual has a prior felony conviction or has been charged with a felony offense;
-the individual has three or more prior misdemeanor convictions;2
the individual has a prior misdemeanor conviction or has been charged with a misdemeanor offense ifthe misdemeanor conviction or pending charge involves-
-- violence, threats, or assault;
-- sexual abuse or exploitation;
-- driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
-- unlawful flight from the scene of an accident;
--unlawful possession or use ofa firearm or other deadly weapon;
-- the distribution or trafficking ofa controlled substance; or
-- other significant threat to public safety;
-the individual has been convicted of illegal entry pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1325;
-the individual has illegally re-entered the country after a previous removal or return;
- the individual has an outstanding order of removal;
-the individual has been found by an immigration officer or an immigration judge to have knowingly committed immigration fraud; or
-the individual otherwise poses a significant risk to national security, border security, or public safety.
This is an important, partial victory against the Secure Communities program.
Last week, the Congressional Research Service released "Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986" by Ruth Ellen Wasem. Below is the summary:
"Estimates derived from the March Supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) indicate that the unauthorized resident alien population (commonly referred to as illegal aliens) rose from 3.2 million in 1986 to 12.4 million in 2007, before leveling off at 11.1 million in 2011. The estimated number of unauthorized aliens had dropped to 1.9 million in 1988 following passage of a 1986 law that legalized several million unauthorized aliens. Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Research Center, has been involved in making these estimations since he worked at the U.S. Bureau of the Census in the 1980s.
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) reported an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized alien residents as of January 2011, up from 8.5 million in January 2000. The OIS estimated that the unauthorized resident alien population in the United States increased by 37% over the period 2000 to 2008, before leveling off since 2009. The OIS estimated that 6.8 million of the unauthorized alien residents in 2011 were from Mexico. About 33% of unauthorized residents in 2011 were estimated to have entered the United States since 2000, but the rate of illegal entry appears to be slowing. The OIS based its estimates on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Although increased border security, a record number of alien removals, and high unemployment, among other factors, have depressed the levels of illegal migration in recent years, the number of unauthorized aliens residing in the United States remains sizeable. Research suggests that various factors have contributed to the ebb and flow of unauthorized resident aliens, and that the increase is often attributed to the “push-pull” of prosperity-fueled job opportunities in the United States in contrast to limited job opportunities in the sending countries. Accordingly, the economic recession that began in December 2007 may have curbed the migration of unauthorized aliens, particularly because sectors that traditionally rely on unauthorized aliens, such as construction, services, and hospitality, have been especially hard hit.
Some researchers also suggest that the increased size of the unauthorized resident population during the late 1990s and early 2000s is an inadvertent consequence of border enforcement and immigration control policies. They posit that strengthened border security curbed the fluid movement of seasonal workers. This interpretation, generally referred to as a caging effect, argues that these policies raised the stakes in crossing the border illegally and created an incentive for those who succeed in entering the United States to stay. More recently, some maintain that strengthened border security measures, such as “enforcement with consequences,” coordinated efforts with Mexico to reduce illegal migrant recidivism, and increased border patrol agents, may be part of a constellation of factors holding down the flow.
The current system of legal immigration is cited as another factor contributing to unauthorized migration. The statutory ceilings that limit the type and number of immigrant visas issued each year create long waits for visas. According to this interpretation, many foreign nationals who have family in the United States resort to illegal avenues in frustration over the delays. Some researchers speculate that record number of alien removals (e.g., reaching almost 400,000 annually since FY2009) may cause a chilling effect on family members weighing unauthorized residence. Some observers point to more elusive factors when assessing the ebb and flow of unauthorized resident aliens—such as shifts in immigration enforcement priorities away from illegal entry to removing suspected terrorists and criminal aliens, or well-publicized discussions of possible “amnesty” legislation." (emphasis added).
CNN reports that President Barack Obama today will nominate Sen. John Kerry, the former presidential candidate who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next Secretary of State. The senior senator from Massachusetts would succeeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing Secretary.
Powerful words from the editorial pages of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"In awarding a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gordon Hirabayashi in May, President Obama spoke of the courage of the University of Washington student who refused an executive order to be among the 120,000 Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Obama expressed his admiration for Hirabayashi as a champion of civil rights.
"In Gordon's words, 'It takes a crisis to tell us that unless citizens are willing to stand up for the (Constitution), it's not worth the paper it's written on,' " Obama said at a White House ceremony. "And this country is better off because of citizens like him who are willing to stand up."
The president's words were poignant, appropriate - and in direct contradiction with his own administration's insistence on a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes the U.S. military to indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, without due process if the government suspects them of supporting terrorism.
Neither Obama, his predecessor George W. Bush nor the U.S. Congress has shown a willingness to stand up for due process and civil liberties on this issue. Just this week, a House-Senate conference committee preserved the government's ability to detain people indefinitely without trial in the latest version of the bill."
We should never forget the lessons of the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Allan Wernick predicts that "immigration reform with a path to citizenship is a certainty, barring a major catastrophe or upheaval. The question now is what form it will take. The basic outline is clear: legalization of undocumented immigrants, a special program for undocumented youth, increased sanctions against employers who hire undocumented workers (with mandatory electronic verification of employment authorization), expanded visa opportunities for highly-educated professionals and an updated non-immigrant visa program for agricultural workers. Here are some predictions on how the debate on these issues will play out."
Immigration Article of the Day: Examining Maryland's Views on Immigrants and Immigration by Elizabeth Keyes
Examining Maryland's Views on Immigrants and Immigration by Elizabeth Keyes University of Baltimore - School of Law December 10, 2012 University of Baltimore Law Forum (Forthcoming)
Abstract: This article consider's the politics of immigration from the perspective of one state grappling with divergent and confusing federal immigration policies. Although Maryland is not a state that attracts national attention for its treatment of immigrants, its many jurisdictions (with their varying histories and demographics) offer an interesting contrast in approaches taken in response to differing federal initiatives. When immigration regulation moves to the state-level, it reveals the sharp divides that exist within states; it does not resolve the federal-level contradictions, but simply shifts their playing field. The divergence of policies even within a generally pro-immigrant state like Maryland reveals the difficulty for states when the federal government devolves significant enforcement responsibility to the states, with no ability to concurrently devolve responsibility for benefits. The article concludes that recent Congressional paralysis on matters of immigration has inexcusably moved a contentious political conversation to a level of government with no authority to address its real substance. Maryland’s difficulties finding state-wide solutions to the regulation of immigrants within its borders offers a cautionary tale, making it all the more essential that the federal government, and Congress in particular, summon the courage to create a more sustainable framework.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Obama Administration's "Restraint": 200,000 Deportations of Immigrant Parents of U.S. Citizen Children in Two Years
ColorLines has some excellent immigration coverage. In the latest issue, Seth Freed Wessler reports that the Obama administration has racked up 200,000 deportations of immigrant parents with U.S. citizen children in just over two years. Between July 1, 2010, and Sept. 31, 2012, nearly 23 percent of all deportations—or, 204,810 deportations—were issued for parents with citizen children, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Immigration Article of the Day: Does immigration, Particularly Increases in Latinos, Affect African American Wages, Unemployment and Incarceration Rates? by Jack Strauss
Does immigration, Particularly Increases in Latinos, Affect African American Wages, Unemployment and Incarceration Rates? by Jack Strauss, Saint Louis University - Department of Economics December 8, 2012
Abstract: This paper evaluates the impact of immigration on African American wages, unemployment, employment and incarceration rates using a relatively large cross-sectional data-set of 900 cities. An endemic problem potentially plaguing the cross-sectional metro approach to immigration has been endogeneity. Does increased immigration to a city lead to improved economic outcomes, or does a city's improving labor market attract immigrant inflows? The paper focuses on resolving the endogeneity concerns through a variety of controls, statistical methods and tests. Overall, results strongly support one-way causation from increased immigration including Latinos to higher African American wages and lower poverty. Rising immigration including from Latin America is not responsible for higher Black incarceration rates.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
1 Germany 48,088,000 (Diaspora) 608,000 (Foreign Born)
2 Ireland 39,285,000 133,000
3 Mexico 34,824,000 11,673,000
4 United Kingdom 33,243,000 685,000
5 Italy 17,433,000 374,000
6 Poland 9,472,000 462,000
7 France 8,635,000 161,000
8 Puerto Rico 5,410,000 1,602,000
9 Netherlands 4,462,000 81,000
10 China 4,398,000 1,866,000
11 Norway 4,391,000 27,000
12 Sweden 4,036,000 48,000
13 Philippines 3,627,000 1,814,000
14 India 3,472,000 1,857,000
15 Canada 3,176,000 786,000
16 El Salvador 2,271,000 1,265,000
17 Cuba 2,121,000 1,095,000
18 Vietnam 1,999,000 1,259,000
19 Korea 1,825,000 1,083,000
20 Dominican Republic 1,751,000 897,000
Gideon v. Wainwright and the Right to Counsel in Immigration Removal Cases: An Immigration Gideon? by Kevin R. Johnson, University of California, Davis - School of Law, Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming (part of symposium on the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright)
Abstract: Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark case that constitutionally guaranteed counsel to defendants in criminal cases in the United States. Together with the Court’s decision three years later in Miranda v. Arizona, the decision radically transformed the American criminal justice system, both in the courtrooms and in the public eye. Few would disagree that the guarantee of a lawyer in criminal prosecutions can make a world of difference to the ultimate outcome of a case. It surely did for Clarence Gideon, who was convicted of burglary without an attorney but, in a new trial, was acquitted of the charges with the assistance of counsel. Besides affecting the outcomes of individual cases, the guarantee of counsel renders the results of a criminal justice system more legitimate and trustworthy to ordinary Americans. The contributions to this symposium no doubt will highlight the many legacies – legal and otherwise – of Gideon v. Wainwright. In thinking about the important impacts of the decision, it is critical to remember that the case involved a criminal defendant; the Court’s decision rested on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for the accused in criminal prosecutions. As a legal matter, the law sharply demarcates between the many rights available to criminal defendants and the significantly more limited bundle of protections for civil litigants. The rationale for the dichotomous allocation of rights is that the potential loss of liberty justifies significantly greater constitutional protections for the criminal defendant than those available to civil litigants. The all-important criminal/civil distinction is embedded in many of the Bill of Rights, which provide protections to criminal defendants but not civil litigants. As is often the case for dichotomies, the differences between civil and criminal proceedings blur at the margins. There are, for example, civil cases where the stakes are extraordinarily high, so high that they arguably approximate the life and liberty interests implicated by a criminal prosecution. A loss of public benefits or potential eviction from a dwelling, to offer two examples, can have devastating impacts on the lives of people. Importantly, for poor and working Americans, access to the courts with the assistance of a lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of such important civil proceedings.
Part I of this essay first analyzes the right to counsel in civil cases involving litigation for high stakes to poor and working people. Part II proceeds to study the right to counsel in a particular category of civil cases – immigration removal cases, which implicate life and liberty concerns similar in important respects to those raised by criminal prosecutions.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
In Deferred Action Program Revives Debate over Driver’s Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants by Muzaffar Chishti and Claire Bergeron of the Migration Policy Institute discuss teh controversy surrounding the issuance of driver's licenses to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. While Arizona is the only state that has denied driver’s licenses to beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s new deferred action program, officials in Nebraska and Michigan have announced that they will pursue similar policies. The issue of driver's license eligibility has ben an issue in the states for many years.
International Migrants Day is an international day observed on December 18 as International Migrants Day appointed by the General Assembly of United Nations on December 4, 2000 taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world.
On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Resolution 45/158). This day is observed in many countries, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations through the dissemination of information on human rights and fundamental political freedoms of migrants, and through sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure the protection of migrants.
In 1997, Filipino and other Asian migrant organizations began celebrating and promoting December 18 as the International Day of Solidarity with Migrants. This date was chosen because it was on December 18, 1990 that the UN adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families.
The United Nations designated International Migrant's Day on December 4, 2000. The UN invited all member states, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to observe this day by disseminating information on human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, sharing experiences, and undertaking action to ensure the protection of migrants.
International Migrants Day recognizes the contributions made by millions of migrants to the economies of their host and home countries and promotes respect for their basic human rights.
Since 2000, the international community has used December 18th, International Migrants Day, to highlight the human rights of migrants. Making migrants voices heard is the common thread throughout International Migrants Day events.
The United States recognizes International Migrants Day and issued a statement today by Victoria Nuland, State Department Spokesperson:
"On this 12th International Migrants Day, the United States recognizes the more than 214 million migrants in the world today, who constitute more than three percent of the world’s population. The United States’ overarching migration mission is to protect and assist asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants, and to advance effective and humane international migration policies, in order to enhance stability and security and promote human rights. Our work through multilateral institutions, including the International Organization for Migration, and bilateral partnerships promotes international practices that respect the dignity and human rights of all migrants. In addition to engaging in multilateral policy forums, the United States plays a critical role in assisting the world's most vulnerable migrants who have been affected by humanitarian crises."
The American Immigration Council mourns the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye. As the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, he was a stalwart supporter of immigration reform and spoke eloquently about his support for giving young undocumented youth the opportunity to become fully American.
The American Immigration Council was pleased to award Senator Inouye our “Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award” in the Spring of 2011 - an award given to individuals who exhibit a commitment and dedication to our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to the struggle to create fair and humane immigration policies in the United States.
“The comprehensive immigration reform we claim we want in this country will not occur if we do not allow for the basic education of children and if we do not nurture the patriotic spirit of those brave enough to put on the uniform and fight for this country. I was once labeled an enemy Alien by this country but we petitioned the government to allow us to fight and by the end of World War II the 442 Regimental Combat team had suffered the most casualties in the European campaign but was also the most decorated unit of its size in the history of the United States military. By allowing the DREAM Act to sit idle, we extinguish hope for a lot of people and deny too many the opportunity I was given.”
Here is a bio of Senator Inouye from his official U.S. Senate website:
Daniel K. Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the President Pro-Tempore, is known for his distinguished record as a legislative leader, and as a World War II combat veteran with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who earned the nation’s highest award for military valor, the Medal of Honor.
Although he was thrust into the limelight in the 1970s as a member of the Watergate Committee and in 1987 as Chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee, he has also made his mark as a respected legislator able to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact meaningful legislation.
As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Inouye has been able to focus on defense matters that strengthen national security, and enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their families. This reflects his hope for a more secure world, and his desire to provide the best possible assistance to the men and women who put their lives at risk to protect the United States. In addition, he is the Ranking Democrat on the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee and sits on the Rules Committee. He helped establish the Inter-parliamentary Exchange Program between the U.S. Senate and Japan’s legislature, and in 2000 the Government of Japan presented him with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. On June 18, 2011, the Government of Japan made Senator Inouye the seventh American and the first of Japanese descent to receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, the highest award in the order of the Rising Sun.
Early in his tenure in the Senate, Senator Inouye delivered the keynote address at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and was under consideration to become Hubert Humphrey’s vice-presidential running mate that same year. He became the first Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, served as the third-ranking leader among Senate Democrats as Secretary of the Democratic Conference from January 1979 through 1988. He chaired the Senate Democratic Central America Study Group to assess U.S. policy and served as Senior Counselor to the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (also known as the Kissinger Commission).
Senator Inouye has championed the interest of Hawaii’s people throughout his career. With his support, Hawaii’s infrastructure has been strengthened, its economy diversified, and its natural resources protected and restored. For local residents, particularly Native Hawaiians, whose history and welcoming culture give the state its defining characteristics, Senator Inouye has increased job training and employment opportunities, provided more community healthcare, and provided support services and research to help small businesses and diverse sectors, from agriculture to high technology. His imprint is seen on all of the state’s islands through initiatives such as Honolulu and Neighbor Island bus service, steady construction jobs in support of military infrastructure, the diversification of agriculture, the birth of the Kauai High Technology Center and the rise of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the launch of the Maui supercomputer, the expansion of national parks and wildlife refuges in Hawaii, and the protection of Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, the alala (Hawaiian crow), the nene goose and coral reefs.
Senator Inouye got his start in politics in 1954 when he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives; soon after his election, his Democratic colleagues, well aware of Inouye’s leadership abilities, selected him as their Majority Leader. In 1958 he was elected to the Territorial Senate. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he was elected the first Congressman from the new state, and was re-elected to a full term in 1960. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962 and is now serving his ninth consecutive term.
On May 24, 2008, Senator Inouye married Irene Hirano, who is President of the U.S.-Japan Council. He was married for nearly 57 years to Margaret Awamura Inouye, a former instructor at the University of Hawaii, who passed away on March 13, 2006. He has a son, Ken, who is married to Jessica Carroll from Rochester, New York, and a granddaughter Mary Margaret “Maggie” Inouye.
Last Wednesday, dozens of children delivered thousands of hand-written letters and drawings asking Congress to refrain from deporting their family members as part of the "Wish for the Holidays - 2012" initiative. The advocacy project from We Belong Together (Women Unite for our Children and Families) is in its second year - a joint effort of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. As reported here by New American Media, children delivered over 5,000 letters collected from children across the United States. Photos from the event were captured by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and posted on their Facebook page:
The "Children's Declaration on Immigrant Rights and Family Unity", drafted by the movement, demands changes in immigration laws that would keep families together and free children from the fear of their parents being deported.
The same day that the children delivered their letters, Immigration Policy Center and First Focus released a new fact sheet entitled, "Falling Through the Cracks: The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Children Caught Up in the Child Welfare System", available here. Building on increased awareness of the story of Felipe Montes, who won the fight to keep his U.S. citizen children after they were placed in North Carolina's foster care system following his deportation (highlighted on this blog a few weeks ago), the fact sheet highlights major deficiencies in ICE's policies that separate families, sometimes permanently. Namely, it notes the lack of guidelines for screening for parents apprehended outside of worksite operations and the lack of a consistent policy allowing arrestees to make phone calls at the time of their arrest.
With state and federal officials charged with enforcing the laws and state child welfare systems saddled with the resulting child placement issues, both federal and state responses are required. As I noted in an earlier post, California has taken the lead by passing two laws that directly address the issues highlighted in the fact sheet. A federal law proposed in 2010 and reintroduced in 2011 called the "HELP Separated Children Act" would implement screening procedures to identify parents or guardians of minor children in the United States and provide them special protections to preserve family unity. It has failed to pass both years. Whether the immigration reform efforts on the horizon emerge as comprehensive or piecemeal, these existing sources of practical solutions serve as a helpful starting point.
A gallery of the letters and drawings from the children by state can be found here.
-- Sarah Rogerson
Monday, December 17, 2012
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall University School of Law Release Report Documenting Hundreds of Cases of Coerced Medical Repatriation of Undocumented Immigrants by U.S. Hospitals
Today, the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) at Seton Hall University School of Law and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) released a report documenting an alarming number of cases in which U.S. hospitals have forcibly repatriated vulnerable undocumented patients, who are ineligible for public insurance as a result of their immigration status, in an effort to cut costs. This practice is inherently risky and often results in significant deterioration of a patient’s health, or even death. The report asserts that such actions are in violation of basic human rights, in particular the right to due process and the right to life. According to the report, the U.S. is responsible for this situation by failing to appropriately reform immigration and health care laws and protect those within its borders from human rights abuses. The report argues that medical deportations will likely increase as safety net hospitals, which provide the majority of care to undocumented and un- or underinsured patients, encounter tremendous financial pressure resulting from dramatic funding cutbacks under the Affordable Care Act.
The Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall Law School and the Health Justice Project at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest also launched an advocate’s website on medical repatriation today.
How I stopped believing in CIR and learned to love ‘piecemeal’ legislation
I must admit, I once believed in comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). I believed in what it promised, an overhaul of an antiquated immigration system that would result in a conditional path to citizenship for 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the United States. I believed it could be a long-term solution for me, my parents, and my friends who have survived undocumented. Mostly, I thought it was the only tangible solution to a real change in our lives.
But there are three critical things that I have learned about CIR, which have made me a believer in the so-called ‘piecemeal’ or ‘incremental’ approach to improving the lives of immigrants:
1. There is an ugly side to ‘comprehensive’: Legislators use this word because it also includes harsher penalties for future undocumented immigrants (and those who do not qualify for whatever parameters are set), more stringent enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, and employment verification programs that “prevent unlawful employment and rewards employers and employees who play by the rules” (See Hispanic Caucus Principles). Please note that ‘comprehensive’ does not mean it also includes our parents, it is about the implementation of immigration law, and presenting a bill that appeases both Republicans and Democrats of all kinds.
2. CIR bills do not address some of the most urgent problems facing immigrant communities: As of today, none of the proposals have included stopping the current 400,000 deportations per year quota from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants in detention centers, the continued collaboration between DHS and local police enforcement through programs like Secure Communities, or the local laws that make undocumented immigrant life difficult, unlivable. Or take a look at Prerna Lal’s blog, which lists out the many problems that will not be addressed by an immigration bill focusing on the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
3. It will be hard to move forward legislatively. There are plenty of opinions about what can and cannot happen, the effects of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ the wavering potential collaboration between the parties. This, and the experience we had in 2007 and then again in 2010 means that we cannot put all of our hopes for improving the lives of undocumented immigrants in legislation that needs to go through the Senate, Congress and signed by the President. We must look at options that include legislation, but also interpretation and implementation of policy, the use of executive power, the judicial branch, and creative grassroots organizing. Read more...