Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Ten Years After: Latino Immigrant Workers Helped Rebuild New Orleans

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Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005

 

 

The SuperDome housed local citizens who fled the flooding

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and literally destroyed large parts of the Southeast, including New Orleans.  The ten year anniversary of this natural disaster has received considerable attention.

The government's response to Hurricane Katrina, including the response of President George W. Bush and the federal government, was harshly criticized.  Criticism focused on mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath. More specifically, the criticism focused on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the city.

Hurricane Katrina also had immigration consequences, many of which were addressed in my lecture at the Houston University Law Center in 2007.  The lecture was published in the Houston Law Review.   (Raquel Aldana and Anna Shavers offered commentary on the lecture.).  Here is an abstract of my lecture:

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina crippled the Gulf Coast. National and international television networks televised the widespread destruction virtually non-stop for days. Many observers identified failures by all levels of government, beginning with the failure to take adequate steps to prevent the flooding to the painfully slow reconstruction of the gulf region.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race soon emerged at the center of a heated – and often over-heated – controversy. African Americans comprised a substantial number of the flood victims seen on television screens around the world. As the federal government slowly responded and nothing less than anarchy reigned on the streets of New Orleans, critics forcefully contended that the race of many of the victims contributed to the slowness and ineptitude of the response. Rap star Kanye West put it most bluntly: George Bush doesn't care about black people, a position with which nearly three-quarters of African Americans polled in September 2005 agreed. Evidently feeling it necessary to squarely address the charge, President Bush vigorously denied that the race of the victims in any way influenced the federal government's emergency response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane.

Another group – an often invisible group – suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Immigrants, including many from Latin America, were the silent victims of the deadly hurricane. Thousands of immigrants were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. However, most reports, while critical of the governmental response to the hurricane, failed to even mention, much less criticize, the widespread indifference to the plight of the many noncitizens displaced by the mass disaster.

The general public did not look sympathetically upon immigrants. Government's failure to provide relief failed to generate much of a public response, much less trigger any general expression of outrage. The denial of disaster relief to noncitizens, as well as aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws in the wake of the hurricane, was consistent with the times, which were filled with calls for increased immigration enforcement and the popular perception that immigrants – especially undocumented ones – constituted a serious social problem that must be addressed.

As the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast began, immigrant workers responded. Workers were in short supply; as efforts to return to some semblance of normalcy began, many businesses were hard-pressed to field a workforce. Rather than applaud the assistance of noncitizens in the resettlement and rebuilding efforts, politicians and the public expressed fear and apprehension about the possibility that new immigrants transform the racial identity of New Orleans as well as hurt the job prospects of U.S. – especially African American – citizens. Unlike others willing to help, immigrants were criticized and feared, not welcomed and lauded.

Indeed, local citizens and public officials demanded action to halt immigrants from taking American jobs and changing the racial identity of a major southern city. The African American mayor of New Orleans expressed fear about the city being overrun by Mexican workers. He later stated that it was nothing less than God's will for New Orleans to be a chocolate – not a Mexican – city, presumably expressing the hope that it would be reconstructed as the African American enclave that it had been. In the public discussion of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, race was considered central to the city's past and future identity.

Although a fascinating story in and of itself, the plight of immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster teaches deeper lessons about society's views of immigration and immigrants in the modern United States. First, despite their many contributions to U.S. society, immigrants generally, as a historical matter, have been deemed unworthy of public benefits whatever their personal circumstances. Welfare assumes an even worse name for immigrants than it does for citizens. The failure of government to provide relief to immigrants after Hurricane Katrina thus fits comfortably into a deep and enduring American tradition.

Second, immigrants – especially undocumented ones – who seek gainful employment in the United States often are characterized as economic parasites who take jobs from U.S. citizens. Throughout its history, this nation at various times has narrowed the immigration laws, ratcheted up border enforcement, and engaged in mass deportation campaigns, based on the unproven claim that immigrants from displacing American workers, which is a special concern in poor economic times. Time and time again, commentators and activists have contended that immigrant labor adversely affects African Americans in the job market.

Public opinion in the United States poses a most unfair Catch 22 to undocumented immigrants, who are characterized as both abusers of public benefit programs and as job takers who hurt U.S. citizens. Put simply, they either do not work and consume welfare or work and steal jobs. Much of this, of course, is old news to the most casual student of this nation's immigration history. However, even though a plethora of scholarship exists on the problems that riddle the immigration bureaucracy, there has been precious little analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the regulation of immigration by administrative agencies. This is surprising given the great power, including the authority to remove noncitizens from the country, which such agencies possess over the lives and destinies of immigrants. Rather, immigration law, although administered and enforced through a complex and powerful administrative bureaucracy, is considered to be a specialty area outside the mainstream of administrative law.

A problem that has arisen in the U.S. government's response to immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is symptomatic of a more general failure of American democracy – the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to all persons affected by its actions. This Article critically considers the reasons for the lack of responsiveness of that bureaucracy to the needs of immigrant communities and analyzes a glaring political process defect. By so doing, I hope to encourage a sustained examination of the issue, which deeply afflicts the administration and enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws, a complex regulatory body of law filled with vast delegations of discretion to the bureaucracy.

Most generally, the frequent failure of the agencies that administer the immigration laws to fully consider the impacts of laws and regulations on noncitizens suggests a fundamental flaw in the conventional rationale for deference to administrative agencies. The Supreme Court, in perhaps the leading administrative law decision of the post-World War II period, Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., has emphasized that reviewing courts ordinarily should defer to the interpretations of statutes by administrative agencies because the Executive Branch, through election of the President, is politically accountable to the voters and that decisions properly delegated to agencies are necessarily political ones. The administration of the immigration laws thus poses a fundamental problem for the democratic rationale for deference: if we entrust agencies with making and enforcing the laws because of their political accountability, what should we do if a specific agency is only accountable to part of the people affected, directly or indirectly, by its decisions?

Both lawful and undocumented immigrants, barred from having any formal political input – namely, the vote – into the administrative state, are frequently injured by decisions of the bureaucracy. Citizens, whose interests often diverge from those of noncitizens, are indirectly affected by the decisions of the immigration bureaucracy but, whatever its limitations, have a full voice in the national political system through election of the President. Some citizens, of course, have family members and friends affected by immigration law and its enforcement and may advocate politically for pro-immigrant laws and policies. Still, immigrants lack the political capital of the ordinary citizen constituency of an administrative agency.

The lack of balance in political input between the affected communities can be expected to result in agency rulings and decisions on immigration matters that fail to fully consider the interests of immigrants. This fact helps explain why, especially in times of social stress, the rights of immigrants have been marginalized by the immigration agencies, as well as by Congress, throughout U.S. history. The politically powerful dominate, while the weak – noncitizens – have their interests under-valued and often suffer punishment.

Part I of this Article summarizes the context surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster and how the stage was set for a racially-charged debate over the government's actions in response to the disaster as well as the mistreatment of immigrants. Part II critically analyzes how government harshly treated immigrants in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how political failure within administrative agencies contributed to this treatment, just as it has throughout U.S. history. This structural flaw further helps explain why we know so little about the silent suffering of immigrants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and, more generally, in American social life. It also suggests deep problems with the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to noncitizens.

As it turns out, Hurricane Katrina is symptomatic of a more general problem in the governance of the United States. A shadow population of millions of undocumented immigrants who are abused and exploited, live in the United States and lack any formal input into the political process. They, along with many lawful immigrants, hold second class status in U.S. social life and, more specifically, are part of a low wage caste of color. Although more diluted than the old racial caste in place in the days of Jim Crow, it is a racial caste no less, marked by a subordinated status and subject to exploitation. To make matters worse, the democratic problem identified in this article is not limited to the immigration bureaucracy, but is a more general problem of U.S. government.

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As this news story reports, Latino immigrants who came to the New Orleans and the Southeast to assist in rebuilding efforts are establishing more permanent roots in the region.  Many of those workers claim that they still have not been paid for their rebuilding work.

 

 

KJ

August 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Who's Next? Trump Goes After Spanish Immigrant, Celebrity Chef Jose Andrés

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The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump has sued celebrity chef José Andrés, who backed out of a deal to open the flagship restaurant in Trump’s D.C. luxury hotel.  Trump has filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Andrés.

Earlier this month, Andrés, an immigrant from Spain, scrapped plans to open a restaurant in Trump’s $200 million redevelopment project after the Trump made incendiary comments about undocumented immigrants from Mexico. At the time, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, suggested that the chef could expect to hear from their lawyers.

KJ

August 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Immigration Article of the Day: Critical Analysis: National Security and Targeting of Particular Communities Post 9/11 in Canada by Sadiq Al-Ali

Critical Analysis: National Security and Targeting of Particular Communities Post 9/11 in Canada by Sadiq Al-Ali,York University - Faculty of Liberal Arts & Profressional Studies September 1, 2014

Abstract: The central argument that will be advanced within this piece is that particular communities within Canada have been disproportionately targeted and have incurred unequal costs vis-à-vis others in light of the security certificate program within context of post 9/11. The paper will be divided into four sections framed within a Canadian context that looks at how particular communities were affected by the security certificate program. The first section attempts to critically engage with the contested definition of national security, and the relevance of the notion as it pertains to the historical experiences of particular groups, while explicating its applicability in light of identity and immigration policy. The second section addresses how the logic of security found within state legislation, provides the need legitimacy for the state to engage with controversial security measures, that undermine both the legal rights and human rights of the subject targeted (i.e. non-citizen/citizen). The third section brings forth the practice of racial profiling to the forefront in conjunction with how national security measures have impacted racialized communities and individuals in light of Agamben’s ‘state of exception’ concept and the costs of the racial profiling. While the final section examines the role of the judiciary and its treatment of the IRPA as it pertains to refugees in light of international norms by reflecting upon a number of cases. The objective of the latter is to see whether the Court has assigned priority to International Human Rights Law as a way to remedy those disproportionate targeted by the state.

KJ

January 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

From The Bookshelves: Junot Díaz


Photo via NPR

Dominican author Junot Díaz is no stranger to this blog. (See prior posts here here here here and here).

But as it's the new year and some readers might not be at the AALS conference in DC (maybe you're home in the company of a virus in Norman, OK for example) - you might just be looking for a good book to read. And one of the best books I read all year was The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Sure, it's from 2008. But you may have missed it. And it truly is a wonder.

But maybe you don't have time for a novel. A novel is a commitment after all. And once you pick of The Brief Wonderous Life, you won't be able to stop until you've devoured it whole.

So for a taste of the power of Díaz' writing, I offer you something shorter: his essay for Conde Naste Traveller on Fukuoka, Japan's Next Great Food City. Seriously. It's amazing.

And here's the musical accompanyment to that article:

 

-KitJ

January 3, 2015 in Books, Food and Drinks, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dude, what’s that smell? The Sriracha shutdown and immigrant excess

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In "Dude, what’s that smell? The Sriracha shutdown and immigrant excess," Anita Mannur (Miami) and Martin F. Manalansan, IV (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), co-editors (with Robert Ji-Song Ku) of Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (NYU Press, 2013), analyze the ongoing dispute over the production of the hot sauce Sriracha in a hardscrabble Southern California town, which in my youth was known for its unsightly rock quarry, many freeways, and a drag racing speedway.

In 2013, Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures sriracha, was sued by the town of Irwindale, California for causing “burning eyes, irritated throats, and headaches” to its residents. "Huy Fong’s owner and creator David Tran’s mistake was in assuming that the sriracha boom meant that the town of Irwindale would accept the changes that came with the presence of Asianness. In many ways, his story was that of the consummate Asian American model minority who had made his mark through hard work and perseverance in America. From origins in Vietnam to “making it” as an ethnic entrepreneur in the US, the story of sriracha, and in particular that of Huy Fong, can be understood as a quintessentially Asian American story."

KJ

December 31, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: David Tran From Vietnam | CEO, Huy Fong Foods

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David Tran From Vietnam | CEO, Huy Fong Foods

Born in Vietnam, David Tran named his company, Huy Fong Foods, after the boat by which he immigrated to America. Seeking to create a kind of Heinz ketchup for the Vietnamese-American community, he bottled and sold his own unique take on Thai sriracha sauce, blending fresh red jalepeños, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Without the help of any advertising, his product has since exploded in popularity far beyond its original audience. It is now a global product sold in major supermarkets, heralded by celebrity chefs, and trumpeted by zealous fans across the Internet.

For a while. Huy Fong Foods was embroiled in a controversy (and a lawsuit) in Southern California due to objections from some quarters over the smells generated by the manufacturing of the company's signature hot sauce.

KJ

November 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Maneet Chauhan, Master Chef (India)

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Born in India,Maneet Chauhan is a chef and television personality. Previously the Executive Chef of several notable restaurants including Vermilion Chicago and Vermilion New York, she is featured as a judge on Chopped on the Food Network.

Chauhan began her culinary career at the WelcomGroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal, India, where she graduated at the top of her class. She then attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. As an apprentice chef, she worked in India with the Oberoi Group, Taj Group, Welcome Group and Sheraton Group.

In 2003, at the age of 27, she became the opening executive chef of Vermilion in Chicago, earning her 3-Stars from The Chicago Tribune. In 2007, she moved to New York City to open At Vermilion. Her style is described as "global fusion" with roots in Indian cuisine.

Chauhan was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the Easter Egg Roll Hunt 2014.

KJ

November 7, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hot Sauce Embroiled in Local Controversy in SoCal

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Ernesto

Law Professor Ernesto Hernandez-Lopez comments on a "hot" dispute in Southern California.  Local politics in California has ignited fear for fans of Sriracha, an extremely popular hot sauce, created for pho, a Vietnamese soup, and now fancied for Asian, taco and fusion dishes, sushi and street food. Celebrities, home chefs, even workers from the mailroom to the top offices are fans. Sriracha lovers around the globe are closely monitoring the actions of a small Los Angeles suburb that recently went to court to stop its production. The small city of Irwindale, east of Los Angeles, argues that Huy Fong Foods, maker of Sriracha, a hot chili sauce, emits harmful odors from a new plant within the city boundaries.  Click the link above to read more about the dispute.

By the way, David Tran, the founder of Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures Sriracha, has an amazing refugee story. See here, here, here.

KJ

 

March 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

From the Bookshelves: Soft Soil, Black Grapes: The Birth of Italian Winemaking in California by Simone Cinotto

 

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Soft Soil, Black Grapes:  The Birth of Italian Winemaking in California by Simone Cinotto 277 pages March, 2014 ISBN: 9781479832361

Winner of the 2013 New York Book Show Award in Scholarly/Professional Book Design

From Ernest and Julio Gallo to Francis Ford Coppola, Italians have shaped the history of California wine. More than any other group, Italian immigrants and their families have made California viticulture one of America’s most distinctive and vibrant achievements, from boutique vineyards in the Sonoma hills to the massive industrial wineries of the Central Valley. But how did a small group of nineteenth-century immigrants plant the roots that flourished into a world-class industry? Was there something particularly “Italian” in their success? In this fresh, fascinating account of the ethnic origins of California wine, Simone Cinotto rewrites a century-old triumphalist story. He demonstrates that these Italian visionaries were not skilled winemakers transplanting an immemorial agricultural tradition, even if California did resemble the rolling Italian countryside of their native Piedmont. Instead, Cinotto argues that it was the wine-makers’ access to “social capital,” or the ethnic and familial ties that bound them to their rich wine-growing heritage, and not financial leverage or direct enological experience, that enabled them to develop such a successful and influential wine business. Focusing on some of the most important names in wine history—particularly Pietro Carlo Rossi, Secondo Guasti, and the Gallos—he chronicles a story driven by ambition and creativity but realized in a complicated tangle of immigrant entrepreneurship, class struggle, racial inequality, and a new world of consumer culture.

Skillfully blending regional, social, and immigration history, Soft Soil, Black Grapes takes us on an original journey into the cultural construction of ethnic economies and markets, the social dynamics of American race, and the fully transnational history of American wine.

Simone Cinotto teaches History at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.

KJ

March 20, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Digital Release of Made in L.A.

 

Made in L.A. made its Digital Premiere on September 17, 2013, in celebration of Latino Heritage Month.

Made in L.A. is an Emmy award-winning feature documentary that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer. In intimate verite style, Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience. Compelling, humorous, deeply human, Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

WATCH NOW ON: Apple iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google/YouTube, Microsoft X-Box, Sony Playstation, SundanceNow, Vudu and Vimeo On Demand.  We are excited that the digital release will bring Made in L.A. to new and diverse audiences and that it will greatly increase access to the film!

 

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KJ

September 26, 2013 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Banda Star Jenni Rivera, Daughter of Mexican Immigrants, RIP

 

  

Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as “the Diva of Banda,” died early Sunday in a plane crash outside Monterrey, Mexico, after a performance there. She was 43.

Rivera began recording in 1992, and her recordings often have themes of social issues, infidelity, and relationships. Her tenth studio album, Jenni (2008), became her first number-one album in the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the United States. In 2010, she appeared in and produced the reality TV show Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C.

A U.S. citizen by birth, Rivera was born in Long Beach, California. Her parents were immigrants from Mexico.  Fans have been mourning at Rivera's home in Encino.

Rivera was a champion of immigrants rights.   On May 29, 2010, tens of thousands of protesters converged on Phoenix to denounce Arizona's immigration enforcement law known as S.B. 1070.  While other well-known musicians stayed away, or just signed a petition, Rivera showed up and marched five miles in scorching heat.   She went on to play a full concert and gave a speech for immigrant rights and justice for the community she came from and never left.

KJ

December 11, 2012 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks, Music | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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To all our ImmigrationProf readers, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  Enjoy the pumpkin pie.

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And the turkey y mole.

KJ

November 22, 2012 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Herring? What the Heck?

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Americans are thinking about delicious Turkey.  Or is that tradition changing? 

In the immigrant capital of Los Angeles, Thanksgiving does not always involve turkey and mashed potatoes. In LA, Thanksgiving dinner may include a kebab or mole.  Turkey mole truly is the best.

"For those who eat turkey, there will be birds basted with butter, sure, just as there will be turkeys on tables throughout Southern California that have been stuffed with a delectable sticky rice mixture, Chinese style, rubbed with chile powder and served with chocolatey black mole Oaxacan style, or marinated in a garlic-sour orange Cuban-style mojo to make it, frankly, tastier."

Read on by clicking here and finding out what some other Angelenos are eating on Turkey Day.

KJ

November 21, 2012 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 18, 2011

David Bacon: Poverty and Hunger on the Border

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In "BORDER COMMUNITIES ARE GROUND ZERO FOR HUNGER," David Bacon for New American Media writes about th epoverty in the U.S./Mexico border region.

April 18, 2011 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SF Changes Policy on Immigrant Youth Offenders, Mayor's Policy Rejected

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In the latest round arising from a blow-up last year over some Honduran youths charged with drug dealing that San Francisco did not report to federal immigration authorities, Jesse McKinley of the N.Y. Times (see also the S.F. Chronicle report) reports that the San Francisco board of supervisors voted Tuesday to overturn a city policy ordered by Mayor (and candidate for Governor) Gavin Newsom last summer, which requires the police to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they arrest a juvenile on felony charges who they suspect is undocumented. Under the policy, an estimated 100 undocumented minors have been turned over to federal immigration authorities.  Under the policy as changed by the S.F. board of supervisors, referrals would be required only after juveniles were convicted of crimes, not merely upon arrest. "Immigration advocates say that referrals upon arrest have resulted in the deportation of innocent youths, the breakup of families, and a fear among immigrants of contacting the police when they are the victims of crime."

ImmigrationProf blogger Bill Hing and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center worked diligently to ensure that the Board of Supervisors approved this new change in policy.

UPDATE:  For a N.Y. Times blog posting on the new law, including comments from Professors Rose Villazor (Hofstra) and Pratheepan Gulasekaram (Santa Clara), click here.  I think that Professor Gulasekaram has the better of the argument as it applies to the new SF policy, which does not involve enforcement of the immigration laws by local authorities (like the Hazelton ordinace, for example) but only whether to report a youth offender to the federal immigration authorities upon arrest or conviction. 

KJ

October 21, 2009 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks | Permalink | TrackBack (0)