Saturday, February 23, 2013
IAC INAUGURAL CONFERENCE: "SUPERDIVERSITY CALIFORNIA STYLE: NEW APPROACHES TO RACE, CIVIL RIGHTS, GOVERNANCE AND CULTURAL PRODUCTION"
Event Date: Friday, March 1, 2013 - 9:00am to 6:00pm
Event Location: UCLA Faculty Center, California Room
Los Angeles has come to epitomize the global phenomenon of dramatically increased ethnic, racial, linguistic, and religious diversity. With intensified immigration from all parts of the world, new racial complexities, and the steady growth of Latino and Asian American populations, the entire state of California has become “majority-minority” as districts around the nation follow suit. The resulting intercultural mélange has obscured some traditional boundaries, while encouraging new forms of production and being. This new reality raises fundamental questions about the pursuit of equality, social justice, racialization, and the various ways that global pressures interact with and shape our responses to emerging geo-political dynamics. At the same time, ethnic and cultural fusions have launched an explosion of bold new musical, artistic, and even culinary forms. What these changes mean for Los Angeles specifically and the United States remains under-examined and poorly understood. Structured in the form of a one-day conference, with a preconference roundtable on the preceding evening, "Superdiversity California Style" seeks to initiate a conversation about the foregoing developments and identify the kind of research that is necessary to both understand and manage the changing face of our society.
Stephan Aron ● Eric R. Avila ● Asli Bali ● Elise C. Boddie ● Duane Champagne ●
Mishuana R. Goeman ● Laura E. Gomez ● Cheryl Harris ● Bill Ong Hing ● Darnell M. Hunt ●
Jerry Kang ● Kauanui J. Kēhaulani ● Robin D.G. Kelley ● Scott Kurashige ● Taeku Lee ● Chon Noriega ●
Michael Omi ● Jemina Pierre ● Karthick Ramakrishnan ● Angela R. Riley ● Addie C. Rolnick ●
Mark Sawyer ● Brenda Stevenson ● Rene Tajima-Pena ● Rebecca Tsosie ● M. Belinda Tucker ●
Abel Valenzuela, Jr. ● Allison Varzally ● David K. Yoo
Half of the construction workers in Texas are undocumented, according to a new report by an Austin immigrant rights group and University of Texas researchers. The report estimates that as many as 400,000 undocumented immigrants work in construction statewide. Those workers receive lower pay than their U.S.-born counterparts and are less likely to receive safety training or be covered by workers’ compensation. The report concludes the state’s construction industry is dependent on undocumented workers and unable to find enough qualified workers to keep pace with the demand. For more on this report, click here.
In the debate over immigration reform, both President Obama and the group of eight U.S. Senators who have prepared a reform proposal agree that undocumented immigrants should wait at the back of "the line" before obtaining legal residency. But that presents a problem because the wait for a green card can take decades. For more, see this NPR story. The 'Line' For Legal Immigration Is Already About 4 Million People Long by Ted Robbins
The AFLI-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have agreed to some basic principles on immigration reform. Here are some highlights:
"[L]ike the rest of America’s immigration system, the mechanisms for evaluating our labor market needs and admitting foreign workers – as well as recruiting US workers – for temporary and permanent jobs are broken or non-existent. Current immigration policies are rigid, cumbersome and inefficient. What is needed is the creation of a professional bureau in a federal executive agency to inform Congress and the public about these issues together with a system that provides for lesser-skilled visas that respond to employers’ needs while protecting the wages and working conditions of lesser-skilled workers – foreign or domestic."
"We have found common ground in several important areas, and have committed to continue to work together and with Members of Congress to enact legislation that will solve our current problems in a lasting manner. Specifically, we agree that the following principles should guide legislation in the complicated and important area of addressing lesser-skilled immigration to our country:
First, American workers should have a first crack at available jobs. To that end, business and labor are committed to improving the way that information about job openings in lesser-skilled occupations reaches the maximum number of workers, particularly those in disadvantaged communities.
Second, there are instances – even during tough economic times – when employers are not able to fill job openings with American workers. Those instances will surely increase as the economy improves, and when they occur, it is important that our laws permit businesses to hire foreign workers without having to go through a cumbersome and inefficient process. Our challenge is to create a mechanism that responds to the needs of business in a market-driven way, while also fully protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. and immigrant workers. Among other things, this requires a new kind of worker visa program that does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status, provides labor mobility in a way that still gives American workers a first shot at available jobs, and that automatically adjusts as the American economy expands and contracts.
Third, we need to fix the system so that it is much more transparent, which requires that we build a base of knowledge using real-world data about labor markets and demographics. The power of today’s technology enables us to use that knowledge to craft a workable demand-driven process fed by data that will inform how America addresses future labor shortages. We recognize that there is no simple solution to this issue. We agree that a professional bureau in a federal executive agency, with political independence analogous to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, should be established to inform Congress and the public about these issues."
For more on the agreement, click here.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Melbourne Journal of International Law: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: THE IMPACT OF MIGRATION LAW & POLICY 25 & 26 October 2013 Call for Papers
This conference explores the unintended consequences of domestic migration policy, legislation or the application of relevant treaty obligations. Migration Law regulates the movement of people across international borders. The consequences of migration law and policy can traverse migration and human rights law to impact in unexpected areas such as education and unemployment. In a globalised world with rising migration, these unintended consequences can contribute to societal problems ranging from ‘brain drain’ to impacts on employment in particular industries, to the overall financial health of the education sector, and more.
Call for papers
We invite diverse critical and institutional perspectives on the legal challenges and social ramifications arising as a consequence of migration law and policy on: education; employment; human rights; political landscape; society & culture; and tourism. For more information, including the online Abstract Submission form, please go here.
Closing date for submissions: 30 April 2013 Accepted speakers will be eligible for a reduced conference registration rate.
A new Field Poll found that there is now nearly universal support among California voters to allow undocumented immigrants who have lived here for a number of years to stay and become citizens if they have a job, learn English, and pay back taxes. Statewide, 90% of voters now favor this policy.
In addition, in a reversal from previous measures, a 52% to 43% majority favors allowing undocumented residents to obtain California drivers’ licenses. In two previous Field Polls dating back to 2005, majorities opposed this idea.
Greater than seven in ten also support significantly increasing the number of visas granted to immigrants who are engineers or hold other advanced degrees, creating temporary worker programs for current and future undocumented workers, and allowing undocumented students to pay the same in-state tuition fees at the state's public universities as other residents.
At the same time, voters are disinclined to relax some of the policies in place aimed at restricting the flow of undocumented immigrants into this country. There continues to be strong majority support for increasing the number of federal border agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as for imposing stiff penalties on employers and individuals who hire undocumented immigrants.
Immigration Article of the Day: Contemporary First-Generation European Americans: The Unbearable “Whiteness” of Being by Dagmar Rita Myslinska
Abstract: Contemporary European immigrants face unique socio-cultural and legal concerns that go beyond issues of race, class, national origins, or accent discrimination. These concerns are not adequately addressed by laws protecting groups based on their national-origins or ancestries. Scholarship and public discussions are silent on this topic. As a result, European-born Americans fall through the cracks in critical legal theory, not fitting into any of the traditional analytical frameworks. No labels apply to them. Like their predecessors a century ago, they are expected to assimilate easily. At the same time, they are (incorrectly) assumed to always, and uniformly benefit from access to white privilege. In reality, European-born Americans oscillate between being visible as foreigners, and fading into the invisible “white” norm. A closer analysis of their culturally-constructed identity—as illustrated by looking at employment discrimination—exposes the artificiality of the concept of “whiteness.” A more accurate understanding of European immigrants’ experience also calls for a more holistic and consistent definition and application of “national origins” protections under Title VII, and of “race”-based safeguards under section 1981. Looking more critically at the European immigrant experience points to the benefits of separating the concept of foreignness from the study of “race,” which often gets conflated with notions of national-origin and ethnicity.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Join us for a special webinar focusing on assisting victims of workplace crimes in obtaining U nonimmigrant status. We will discuss qualifying crimes, federal and state certifying agency protocols, and the issues that arise specifically in these types of cases. Presenters include: Eunice Hyunhye Cho, Staff Attorney - National Employment Law Project and Sally Kinoshita, Deputy Director - Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
March 14, 2013
11:00 am - 12:30 pm Pacific Time
Last day to register: March 12
MCLE: 1.5 CA
During a recent 50-month period covering FY 2008 through the start of FY 2012, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents issued nearly one million detainers, according to case-by-case records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) through a Freedom of Information Act request.
An immigration "detainer," often called an "immigration hold," is a notice that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents issue to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. It is a primary tool ICE uses to apprehend suspected noncitizens being held by these authorities. In more than two out of three (77.4%) of the detainers issued by ICE, the record shows that the individual who had been identified had no criminal record — either at the time the detainer was issued or subsequently. For the remaining 22.6 percent that had a criminal record, only 8.6 percent of the charges were classified as a Level 1 offense.
While the press have quoted ICE officials as contending that the agency did not track how many U.S. citizens had been inadvertently held in immigration detention, the data released to TRAC indicate that a substantial number of U.S. citizens may be affected. It is illegal for DHS to detain U.S. citizens, and to do so is a significant violation of their constitutional rights. According to ICE records, detainers were issued on a total of 834 individuals who were actually U.S. citizens. In addition, detainers were issued on a total of 28,489 legal permanent residents (LPRs). LPRs — or "green card" holders — are individuals who have been officially granted the right to live and work permanently in the United States. ICE issued detainers on these individuals even though for 20,281 of them ICE had no record of any criminal conviction.
As previously reported on ImmigrationProf, driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants continues to generate controversy and state responses. Bertrand M. Gutierrez of the Winston-Salem Journal reports that newly designed North Carolina driver’s licenses coming this summer will be used to distinguish people who are not U.S. citizens, a measure that state transportation officials describe as a safeguard against voter fraud and civil rights advocates describe as an avenue for discrimination.
Families across the United States remember with nostalgia the food, rides, and atmosphere of the local fairs and carnivals, but hidden behind the memories and bright lights are migrant workers who pay a high price to create these experiences. On the United Nations World Day of Social Justice, the American University Washington College of Law Immigrant Justice Clinic and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) released a report, Taken for a Ride: Migrant Workers in the U.S. Fair and Carnival Industry, that describes the abuses of migrant workers who form the backbone of one of America's favorite pastimes.
The information for the report was gathered using in-depth interviews of migrant fair and carnival workers. Fair and carnival companies bring migrant workers to the U.S. on temporary work visas, known as H-2B visas, to build and operate rides, set up games and serve food at concessions stands. The workers travel with the companies from state to state, typically living in filthy and cramped trailers.
Taken for a Ride uncovers the following abuses and structural defects in the H-2B temporary worker program:
unfair recruitment processes;
wage and hour abuses;
significant health and safety risks;
lack of access to workers' compensation;
limited access to medical care;
isolated and substandard living conditions; and
limited access to legal representation and justice in the courts.
To mitigate these problems, the report recommends that Congress enact retaliation protections for workers who report abuse, extend federally-funded legal services to H-2B workers, close the minimum and overtime wage loophole for amusement industries in federal labor laws, and require that job orders be treated as enforceable contracts. The Department of Labor should forbid employers, recruiters and their agents from charging recruitment fees, conduct inspections of fair employers payroll, and issue rules related to training, breaks and safety equipment to protect the health and safety of fair and carnival workers and the public. The experiences documented by workers in Taken for a Ride are similar to those of H-2B workers in other industries and demonstrate the structural flaws in the H-2B program, despite attempts to improve the program through recent regulations.
LexisNexis® Matthew Bender® announces the Twelfth Annual Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law. The recipient will be announced at the 2013 AILA Conference in San Francisco.
A member of the Editorial Board of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, Daniel Levy died at the age of 48 on September 14, 2001, in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Levy was a prolific author, litigator, and scholar, and was widely known and loved by many in the immigration bar.
With this annual award LexisNexis® Matthew Bender® seeks to honor an individual who emulates the values that informed Mr. Levy’s life and work:
- enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of immigrant clients;
- deep scholarship in immigration law; and
- an expansive vision of justice.
We welcome nominations of all persons (not only attorneys), who have been working on the local and/or state level, as well as those who are known on the national level, and those who have been quietly toiling on behalf of immigrants, wherever they may be located.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeanne Atkinson to the position of Executive Director, effective March 18, 2013. Ms. Atkinson currently serves as the Director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services program for the Archdiocese of Washington. She has worked for Catholic Charities since 1992, directing their highly active and successful legal services program – which operates out of four locations – in 1997 to 1998 and from 2000 to the present. Ms. Atkinson also directs Catholic Charities’ Refugee Center. From 1989 to 1991, she worked as the Legalization Appeals Project Coordinator for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
CLINIC, a subsidiary of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), supports the nation’s largest network of charitable legal programs for immigrants. Its network consists of nearly 220 agencies, operating in 350 offices in 47 states. Collectively, this network serves 700,000 low-income immigrants each year. CLINIC will celebrate its 25th anniversary later this year.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The Road towards Realization of the Motto in Declaration of Independence
As the cornerstone of United States, Declaration of Independence clearly expressed the following motto:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”
Public power: guardian or threat to people’s rights?
I think to a certain extent, I am an anarchist. I hate all kinds of hierarchy. According to the Enlightenment Period philosopher - Rousseau’s classic book – “The Social Contract”, government is formed by contract among equal people. Such opinion is also reflected in the Declaration of Independence. However, the truth is, sometimes, the public power – the government, the legislature and the judicial power can be evil. Consider, for example, the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, where the Supreme Court held that racial segregation was constitutional, paving the way for the repressive Jim Crow laws in the South. Rather than being a guardian of rights, the decision was a threat to people’s rights. Those who exercise public power often forget why we need public power. When you require people to obey the law, remember, the law is the method, not the goal; protection of people’s rights is the objective. However, sometimes, the situation is up-side down. People obey the law, without considering whether the law is just, such as DOMA.
America: are you the lighthouse of democracy and freedom?
America regards itself as the lighthouse of democracy and freedom. But when it comes to same-sex marriage, this seems not to be the case. About two decades ago, in 1995, then-first lady of United States – Hillary Clinton – delivered a famous speech at the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing. The title was “Women’s rights are human rights.” My question is: How about gay rights? There is no doubt that gay rights are also human rights. Advocates for recognizing same-sex marriages for bi-national immigration purposes regard same-sex marriage as a “humanitarian issue;” One U.S. citizen in the situation has concluded that she may have to move to Britain - a country where she will be treated as human being. Eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden) recognize same-sex marriages. Bills legalizing same-sex marriage have been proposed, passed, or are pending in at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay as well as in the legislatures of several sub-national jurisdictions. Given this international movement, will America still be at the vanguard of protecting human rights when a U.S. citizen says she must move to a different country where she will be treated as human being?
Future: how long is the road to realizing an important motto of Declaration of Independence?
When people in the future look back to today, what will they think?
From Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863), from the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving blacks the right to vote (1870) to Brown v. Board of Education when the Supreme Court held that racial segregation in school was unconstitutional (1954), from Martin Luther King’s dream to Barack Obama’s re-election, the road toward equality is not straight, but goals were finally achieved.
Hillary Clinton’s mother was born in the days before 1920, when women had no right to vote; yet a little more than four years ago, Hillary Clinton made a strong run for the White House. It’s remarkable that a mother had no right to vote, by her daughter became a candidate for the highest office.
First we saw African American win civil rights, then women’s rights have been recognized. Today we are engaged in a campaign for gay rights. Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized same –sex marriage. I think everybody knows this is the direction of history—this is the trend of the world. In Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, he asked “how many times must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banned; how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free; how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry; how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” Considering the rough road toward equality for black Americans and women, my question is:
America, this time,
how much blood must you see,
how many heart-broken stories must you hear,
how many true loves must you destroy,
how many basic human rights must you violate,
how high is the price that innocent people must pay
BEFORE you realize the you should live up to the motto in Declaration of Independence,
which was written 237 years ago –
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”
This morning, the Supreme Court decided Chaidez v. United States. Justice Kagan wrote for seven justices and ruled that Padilla v. Kentucky (2010) does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg, dissented.In Padilla, the Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform non-citizen clients of the deportation risks of guilty pleas.
For a preview of the issues in Chaidez v. United States before oral argument, click here. I will be posting analysis of the Court's decision tomorrow.
Connecticut Agrees to Limits on Participation in Federal Immigration Enforcement Program: State settles lawsuit challenging Secure Communities
About a year after federal authorities activated the Secure Communities program in Connecticut, immigrants’ rights advocates are announcing the settlement of a lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) regarding a key aspect of the Secure Communities program. The settlement will drastically limit the number of Connecticut residents handed over to federal immigration authorities for the next four years.
With this policy, DOC has become the first statewide agency in the country to resist the immigration detainer scheme at the heart of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Secure Communities program, which has been heavily criticized for leading to the deportation of thousands of individuals with no or minimal criminal history. As a result of the policy, the number of Connecticut residents turned over by DOC for deportation has already plummeted by approximately 70%. See Download AD 9.3
Sergio Brizuela, a 33-year-old resident of East Haven, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit, Brizuela v. Feliciano, in February 2012 after DOC unlawfully detained him and transferred him to ICE custody. At that time, it was DOC policy to honor requests from ICE to detain individuals even after they posted bail or served their sentences in order to facilitate transfer to ICE custody for deportation. These requests, known as “immigration detainers,” are not warrants and do not lawfully authorize detention.
In response to Mr. Brizuela’s lawsuit and community pressure challenging the policy, DOC committed to conducting a case-by-case review of each person who has been issued an immigration detainer and releasing those who do not meet certain public dangerousness criteria.
DOC’s policy, which has been substantially in place for some months now while the lawsuit was pending, has already led to fewer deportations of Connecticut residents. In 2011, DOC turned approximately 33 individuals over to ICE each month. Now that DOC is conducting its case-bycase assessment, it is turning over fewer than 10 people to ICE each month; this amounts to a 70% decrease in the number of Connecticut residents turned over to ICE each month.
The Obama Administration touts the Secure Communities program as targeting the worst of the worst, but law enforcement and immigrants’ rights advocates criticize the program for sweeping people with little or no criminal history, such as Mr. Brizuela, into the deportation dragnet.
With this settlement, DOC joins law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions—including San Francisco, California; Santa Clara County, California (San Jose); Cook County, Illinois (Chicago); and Washington D.C.—in implementing policies to resist detention for federal authorities under Secure Communities. The DOC policy is the first statewide measure to limit the detention of residents for transfer to ICE.
Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization represents Mr. Brizuela.
The settlement between Mr. Brizuela and DOC, filed yesterday in federal court in New Haven, ensures that DOC’s case-by-case review policy will remain in place for at least four years. In addition, DOC will provide notice, in English and Spanish, to every individual in its custody for whom it receives an immigration detainer and to every individual DOC decides to hold for ICE. The notice will also provide a toll-free number for individuals to call if they believe they are being improperly detained under the policy. DOC will provide data to Mr. Brizuela’s lawyers on a monthly basis regarding all inmates held or released under the policy.
Although the new policy is a significant step forward, it is only a start, as some Connecticut residents may still be detained and turned over to ICE pursuant to immigration detainers.
The N.Y. Times reported yesterday on a very interesting development in sports philanthrophy. Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, has renamed its football stadium after the GEO Group for a $6 million gift. GEO Group is a private prison corporation. One critic compared the naming to "calling something Blackwater Stadium. This is a company whose record is marred by human rights abuses, by lawsuits, by unnecessary deaths of people in their custody and a whole series of incidents that really draw into question their ability to successfully manage a prison facility.”
Accoring to the Times, GEO Group's "income is generated mostly from state and federal prisons and detention centers for illegal immigrants. The company owns or runs more than 100 properties that operate more than 73,000 beds in sites across the world. . . . The company has been opposed by civil liberty and human rights groups and immigrant rights organizations. It has been cited by state and federal regulators and lost a series of high-profile lawsuits."
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Lockups, Land Grabs and Liberation:
Asian Pacific Americans and US Civil Rights
Wednesday, Feb 20 | 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Maier Room, Fromm Hall
Join us for a discussion on Asian Pacific American contributions to civil rights and immigration reform.
Featuring APA civil rights heroes: Karen Korematsu (co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education, and daughter of the late Fred Korematsu) Karen Kai, Robert Rusky, and Don Tamaki (key members of Fred Korematsu’s 1983 coram nobis legal team. Moderated by Professor Bill Ong Hing. Light refreshments to follow.
The panel will be discussing two cases: Korematsu v. United States and Soko Bukai v. YWCA.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the military commanders on the West Coast to issue whatever orders were necessary for national security, including the removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Curfew and exclusionary orders soon followed. Japanese Americans were placed in remote desert and mountain concentration camps in barracks, guarded by barbed wire and guntowers.
Twenty-two-year-old Fred Korematsu chose to defy the order to report to an assembly center. He was arrested and turned over to the FBI. The federal district court in San Francisco found Fred guilty of violating military exclusion orders and sentenced him to five years probation under military authority. Represented by the ACLU, Fred appealed the decision and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court in 1944 (Korematsu v. United States, 323 US 214). The Court upheld the conviction and approved interning Japanese Americans based on possible “disloyal members” who might have “constituted a menace to the national defense and safety.”
Forty years later, a volunteer legal team filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the San Francisco federal district court on behalf of Fred. The team had unearthed new evidence that top government officials knew and covered up intelligence information that Japanese Americans had not actually posed a threat to national security at the time of the internment. In fact, top government officials lied to the Supreme Court about the “military necessity” justification for internment. At the conclusion of oral argument, U.S. federal judge Marilyn Patel vacated Fred’s conviction on grounds of “manifest injustice.” See Korematsu v. United States, 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984).
In 1913, California enacted the nation’s first alien land law that limited ownership to aliens “eligible to citizenship.” The craftiness of the “ineligible to citizenship” bar was that it eliminated the possibility of Asian Americans to own law, because they were explicitly barred from naturalization in 1870. Anyone who broke the alien land law was subject to criminal penalties and their property would be forfeited to the state.
In 1912, a group of Japanese Christian women from the Soko Bukai churches decided to form their own Japanese YWCA. The women wanted to purchase larger space (1830 Sutter Street), but because they believed that the alien land law barred them from owning property, they approached the San Francisco YWCA for assistance in creating a trust to own the property in order to get around the laws. Things went along fine until the Japanese American directors were interned with other Japanese Americans from the West Coast.
When they were released, many of the Japanese American women returned to San Francisco and were instructed to take part in a joint neighborhood program, and the 1830 Sutter building was used as a residential facility for Japanese women and girls returning from the camps. The building continued to serve community functions through the 1990s, but in 1996, faced with financial challenges, the SF YWCA attempted to sell the building and evict the long time nonprofit tenants that were providing services in the area. Unable to resolve the dispute amicably, Soko Bukai brought an action against the SF YWCA seeking the enforcement of the charitable trust and the removal of the SF YWCA as the trustee, so that the property would continue to serve the community as originally intended. After contentious litigation, the community was able to regain control of the building at a price that was far below market value.
Currently in Washington, each side of the isle is urging for legislative immigration reform. Whether or not it will be accomplished has yet to be seen, but both sides are optimistic that a deal may be reached soon. Assuming a deal is reached, the question that will arise is what to do with the current undocumented immigrants that reside in the United States? The current U.S. law forces undocumented immigrants who entered without inspection that wish to apply for lawful status to do so in their originating country of origin. This is and has been an unrealistic policy. Undocumented immigrants that are currently where they want to end up would not go back to their country of origin for the potential chance to return to their current residence and lifestyle. Alternatively, granting all current undocumented immigrants residing in the United States some type of citizenship would not be fair or just. Such action would reward those who undermined the former laws and would be unfair to the immigrants that are respecting the current law and applying legally to enter. The dilemma America would then face is how to fairly treat the current undocumented immigrants that arrived before the new immigration laws take place.
Former Homeland Security Secretary under President George W. Bush, Michael Chertoff, has suggested that the answer might reside in granting temporary work visas to employed undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants that could show proof of employment would be allowed to gain a temporary visa that would allow them to live openly in public and continue contributing to the American economy while applying for citizenship. Although the number of undocumented immigrants that apply for this temporary visa would far outnumber the 400,000 or so temporary work visas the United State typically offers, the number issued would be necessary to bridge the gap from the old policy to the new policy. Benefits of a program that provides temporary work visa issued to employed undocumented workers would be documentation of previously undocumented immigrants; that would result in the United States gaining an accurate count and registry of those who are working and residing in the country, and acknowledgement and reward for undocumented immigrants that have been contributing to our economy.
Proponents will argue that a program that grants visas for employed undocumented immigrants and fast tracks them to citizenship would reward people who broke the law. Although proponents have a valid point, when one considers the comprehensive objective of national immigration reform it is a minor point. Yes, at one point undocumented immigrants did break the law. But many Americans have also broken the law to enable them to stay and to reap benefits of their labor. There have been employers employing them, home owners renting to them and schools teaching their children. The issue is no longer punishing them for breaking the law, but fairly resolving what to do with this group of people who have integrated into our society. From the shadow of darkness faces will emerge of employed undocumented immigrant workers who share our values, contribute to the economy and are parts of our communities.
Furthermore, granting temporary work visas to employed undocumented immigrants and fast tracking their application to citizenship is actually a compromise. While agreeing to let the employed undocumented immigrants stay in our communities that benefit them, opponents will still be able to negotiate how to treat unemployed undocumented immigrant workers.
While hardliner opponents of programs that result in citizenship for undocumented immigrants will want to deport these people, this would likely lead to the exact problem currently faced by undocumented workers living in the shadows of America. A more viable solution would be to extend a period of transition. Unemployed undocumented immigrant workers should be allowed to have six to nine months to gain employment. If during the period of transition employment were to be gained, the employed undocumented worker would be allowed to apply for a temporary work visa. Alternatively if an undocumented immigrant were unable to gain employment during the transition period, they would be eligible for deportation. Once eligible for deportation there would be a deportation hearing, where valid circumstances that prevented an undocumented immigrant from gaining gainful employment during the transition period, such as age, could be voiced. If there was not a compelling reason, then the undocumented immigrant would be deported to his or her national country of origin.
Some might view the program as appeasing to people that broke the law, and the truth is they are correct. The program does appease people that broke the law. It appeases the employers that employed undocumented cheap labor, the businesses that accepted money that was earned illegally, and the immigrants that surreptitiously crossed the border to work and contribute to our economy. The issue of undocumented immigrants did not solely occur in our country via the feet of undocumented immigrants, it occurred due to the desire of the employer, the blind eye of the citizen and the policy of our government, and thus the solutions should be borne on the shoulders of all of the parties.