Thursday, November 13, 2014
Seung Min Kim on Politico reports that Republicans, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have indicated that immigration will be a large part of their line of questioning of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch in her confirmation hearings begin, which should be after the new Republican majority is seated in January. It appears that the questioning will center on the extent of the power of the President to issue executive orders on immigration, which (as recently as yesterday in China) he has promised to do in the near future.
Immigration may be an issue the other questioning of the nominee. The U.S. Department of Justice, headed by the Attorney General, houses the Exeecutive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the home of the immigration court system and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Among other things, the hearing process in the immigration courts for unaccompanied minors from Central America has been a topic of debate in recent months. In addition, high level officials in the EOIR have come under scrutiny for nepotism in the hiring of interns.
As a federal prosecutor, Lynch successfully prosecuted New York police officers accused of beating and sodomizing Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant. As the New York Times reported, "The officers were white, Mr. Louima black, and the harrowing episode rekindled racial tensions and anger at the police in New York City in 1997."
Among her professional experience, Lynch has worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which prosecuted high-profile suspects accused of committing genocide there in 1994.
From the Bookshelves: Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy Edited by Josh DeWind and Renata Segura
Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy Edited by Josh DeWind and Renata Segura
As a nation of immigrants, the United States has long accepted that citizens who identify with an ancestral homeland may hold dual loyalties; yet Americans have at times regarded the persistence of foreign ties with suspicion, seeing them as a sign of potential disloyalty and a threat to national security. Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government brings together a group of distinguished scholars of international politics and international migration to examine this contradiction in the realm of American policy making, ultimately concluding that the relationship between diaspora groups and the government can greatly affect foreign policy. This relationship is not unidirectional—as much as immigrants make an effort to shape foreign policy, government legislators and administrators also seek to enlist them in furthering American interests.
From Israel to Cuba and from Ireland to Iraq, the case studies in this volume illustrate how potential or ongoing conflicts raise the stakes for successful policy outcomes. Contributors provide historical and sociological context, gauging the influence of diasporas based on population size and length of time settled in the United States, geographic concentration, access to resources from their own members or through other groups, and the nature of their involvement back in their homelands. This collection brings a fresh perspective to a rarely discussed aspect of the design of US foreign policy and offers multiple insights into dynamics that may determine how the United States will engage other nations in future decades.
Authors: Josh DeWind is Director of the International Migration Program of the Social Science Research Council. He is the co-editor of The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience. Renata Segura is Associate Director of The Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum of the Social Science Research Council.
Immigration Article of the Day: Citizenship and Punishment: The Salience of National Membership in U.S. Criminal Courts by Michael T. Light, Michael Massoglia, Ryan D. King
Citizenship and Punishment: The Salience of National Membership in U.S. Criminal Courts by Michael T. Light (Purdue University), Michael Massoglia (University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Sociology), Ryan D. King State University of New York (SUNY) - Sociology October 31, 2014 Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research Paper
Abstract: When compared to research on the association between immigration and crime, far less attention has been given to the relationship between immigration, citizenship and criminal punishment. As such, several fundamental questions about how noncitizens are sanctioned and whether citizenship is a marker of stratification in U.S. courts remain unanswered. Are citizens treated differently than noncitizens – both legal and undocumented – in United States federal criminal courts? Is the well documented Hispanic-white sentencing disparity confounded by citizenship status? Has the association between citizenship and sentencing remained stable over time? And are punishment disparities contingent on the demographic context of the court? NAnalysis of several years of data from U.S. federal courts indicates that citizenship status is a salient predictor of sentencing outcomes – more powerful than race or ethnicity. Other notable findings include the following: Accounting for citizenship substantially attenuates disparities between whites and Hispanics; the “citizenship effect” on sentencing has grown stronger over time; and the effect is most pronounced in districts with increasing noncitizen populations. The findings suggest that as international migration increases citizenship may be an emerging and powerful axis of sociolegal inequality.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: President Obama is planning to unveil a 10-part plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy via executive action -- including suspending deportations for millions -- as early as next Friday, a source close to the White House told Fox News. Click for more details of the rumored plan.
TRAC Immigration reports that here has been a dramatic drop in the number of detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the latest available data from the agency. In the eighteen month period from the end of FY 2012 through March 2014, there has been a 39 percent decrease in the number of ICE detainers sent to local, state and federal law enforcement officials. This 39 percent decline translates into around 9,000 fewer ICE detainers issued each month, or more than 100,000 fewer a year.
Detainers, often called "immigration holds," have been a primary tool that ICE uses in order to detain and deport individuals it is seeking. These official ICE notices ask local, state and federal law enforcement agencies not to release suspected non-citizens held at their facilities in order to give ICE an opportunity to take them into its custody and initiate deportation steps.
TRAC evaluates the possible explanation for the rather dramatic decline in detainers:
"The reasons for the drop in ICE detainer use over the last year and a half are not entirely clear. TRAC shared its findings with ICE and asked the agency for insights into what was driving this downward trend. However, ICE declined to comment on why its agents were issuing fewer detainers.
Many factors could be at work. For example, ICE may be issuing fewer detainers because the agency had already located and deported many of the noncitizens who had committed serious crimes or were a threat to public safety, leaving fewer such individuals in the country left to deport. Hard data to confirm or refute this supposition, however, are unavailable.
On the other hand, ICE could be reacting in part to growing criticism of the Secure Communities program. Compliance with detainer requests was long considered mandatory. However, the agency recently acknowledged that compliance with ICE detainers is actually optional since detainers are simply requests and "they are not mandatory as a matter of law." (See letters to Congress dated February 25, 2014) Litigation over the legitimacy of ICE's use of detainers under SC has resulted in several recent court decisions along a similar vein, and also holding that honoring ICE detainers may violate an individuals' Fourth Amendment's rights and subject local jurisdictions to liability for false imprisonment. The end result of all of these developments is that an increasing number of state and local jurisdictions no longer automatically comply with ICE detainers and are refusing to hold individuals arrested for minor violations or those whose release poses little risk to public safety. Thus, ICE may have cut back issuing detainers where it felt they would not be honored.
Changes in the agency's geographic focus no doubt also has had an impact on detainer trends. ICE reports that its removals are increasingly coming from apprehensions by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. There is little need to use detainers when individuals apprehended at the border are directly turned over to ICE for detention and removal. However, here it is difficult to disentangle whether the shift to greater border enforcement was a cause or consequence of the falling use of detainers. Whether the drop in ICE detainers was a cause or consequence of stepped up border removals, these two alternative pipelines together kept ICE detention beds filled in compliance with congressional mandates and fed the flow of ICE deportations."
Immigration Article of the Day: Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement by Sasha Costanza-Chock
Abstract: In Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! MIT professor Sasha Costanza-Chock provides a richly detailed account of transmedia organizing in the immigrant rights movement, from the historic marches of 2006 to the recent wave of mobilization against the ballooning detention and deportation system. Despite the current spotlight on digital media, he finds, savvy activists leverage visibility across the changing media ecology, and employ cross-platform, participatory, action-linked strategies that are, in the best cases, accountable to their communities. The revolution will be tweeted, but tweets alone do not the revolution make.
This report, which includes a radio interview, discusses the criminal trial of Rasmea Odeh for allegedly giving false answers on her application for citizenship, which she was granted in 2004. The questions she is alleged to have answered falsely concerned her criminal record.
Odeh was convicted by an Israeli military court in 1969 for her role in a series of bombings that led to the death of two civilians. She spent ten years in an Israeli prison. Odeh denies her involvement and says she was forced to confess after weeks of brutal torture in Israeli custody.
Odeh supporters say she confessed to the crime under torture—and US officials were well aware of her background through the immigration process. A spokesman for Odeh said that she even testified about her experience before the United Nations. “She was a very well-known political prisoner.” “So it’s disingenuous for the United States to then say, 20 years later, that she lied on her application.”
The district court did not allow the defense to submit any evidence that she had been tortured. Supporters claim that Odeh is a victim of selective prosecution because of her activism on behalf of Palestinian and women’s causes.
Friday, November 21st, 2014, 7 PM to 8:30 PM at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) 600 River Street, Austin, TX 78701
The Texas-made film follows our government's response to refugees and migrants in the creation and expansion of new private prisons for these families in remote and isolated areas of the Southwest. Reversing the progress of the immigrant rights movement and his own previous decisions, President Obama has surpassed the Bush administration in expanding the use of detention centers for refugee families. This history is portrayed and told by the people who live it and shines light on the growing grassroots movement fighting to close these family prisons and welcoming our neighbors with compassion.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, participants in the film and organizers working on solutions and with information on how to get involved.
Caroline Bettinger-López on Jotwell favorably reviews Shani M. King, Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors, 50 Harv. J. Legis. 331 (2013). She writes:
"Some of the summer’s biggest news headlines focused on the surge of children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras who, fleeing widespread violence and extreme poverty, have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to seek refuge in the United States.1 The border crisis has sparked a highly politicized debate, with compromise solutions shifting steadily to the right. The most recent bipartisan proposal would, in many cases, require detention of minors (in violation of the 1997 Flores v. Reno settlement requiring the release of migrant children, when possible, to relatives or foster care) and result in rapid deportations without due process.
Within this contemporary context, Shani King’s Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors, provides a fresh perspective on the issue. King argues that three constellations of international and regional human rights standards—children’s rights, immigrants’ rights, and the right to civil counsel—should be interpreted together to provide the right to free legal counsel for unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings."
A father in New York feels that he is being asked to do something he can’t legally do in order to get custody of his little girl. The man, we’ll call him Juan, is an illegal immigrant. Some people may say that his status is his fault and he should pay the consequences. Caught in the middle is his two-year old daughter. She is in foster care and faces losing her father forever.
Juan feels that he may be deported any day. Regardless, he has retained an immigration attorney to fight for him and help him get his daughter back.
Juan has not been accused of mistreating his daughter. His ex-wife lost custody of the little girl and Juan wants his daughter with him. Conflicting laws and rules are making it tough for Juan to succeed. The Department of Children’s Services advised Juan that he can have his daughter if he gets a New York driver’s license. Being an illegal immigrant, Juan is not able to get a drivers license. Juan is caught in a labyrinth of rules that can confound almost anyone..
Roughly 85 percent of all immigrant families, with children, are mixed-status family units where one parent is either legal or illegal and has at least one child who is a US citizen. According to a report published in 2012 by the Applied Research Center, approximately 4.5 million American children come from mixed-status families.
According to some legal observers and politicians, the root of the problem is the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. It basically says that anyone born in America is automatically a US citizen. Children born inside America’s borders to parents in the country illegally, draw their first breath as American citizens.
Some members of Congress, notably Senators Graham and Kyl, are talking publicly about the need to modify the amendment.
Claiming that the amendment is being abused, the pair point to instances of wealthy foreign nationals coming to the US just long enough to give birth to a child. So far, legislation to modify the constitution has not been introduced and the talk about changing the law is, for now, just talk. As the conversation heats up, the millions of immigrants who enter America illegally stand to be affected as well.
Child Custody Rights of Undocumented Aliens
Undocumented aliens in New York and elsewhere do not give up their rights to child custody just because they’re in America illegally. The legal battle can be long and, at times, heart breaking, but regardless of a parent’s legal status, certain rights still apply.
- The American constitution promises that even if someone is in the country illegally, they can still have their day in court. The American justice system does not require someone to be a legal resident, or citizen, in order to pursue child custody. Although there can be consequences, including deportation, from going to court, the court is still open to everyone
- Right to Seek Custody. An individual can be the custodian of their child regardless of their legal status. Other aspects will be examined closely though, including whether or not the child, or other parent, is a legal citizen.
- Right to Protect the Child. Even if one or both parents is an illegal alien, The court’s decisions regarding child custody are made in the best interests of the child. The court will look at who can best support and provide for the child. The court will also try to determine if the custody seeking parent was ever found guilty of child abuse.
The state family court and the immigration court are two different, unrelated systems. Often they find themselves dealing with the same case. Each court will make its own decision based on a different set of laws and objectives. A non-citizen may find themselves in the position of having to obey contradicting rulings from both courts.
In some cases, if an illegal alien has been given custody, or merely visitation rights, and an immigration judge has ruled to give the non-citizen permanent residence, a higher court could dispute the decisions. If this occurs, the non-citizen would have to go through the immigration process again and seek a new ruling. With a minimal amount of decisions published on this matter, the immigration judge has to base his decision on his perception of the case and the parties involved.
Being an undocumented alien doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s skill and abilities as a parent. Yet many are caught in a legal bind and will likely remain so until laws are changed.
Arkady Bukh, Esq
Bukh Law Firm
14 Wall St, New York NY
From the Bookshelves: Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization Edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez
Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization Edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, October, 2014
In the current historical moment borders have taken on heightened material and symbolic significance, shaping identities and the social and political landscape. “Borders”—defined broadly to include territorial dividing lines as well as sociocultural boundaries—have become increasingly salient sites of struggle over social belonging and cultural and material resources. How do contemporary activists navigate and challenge these borders? What meanings do they ascribe to different social, cultural and political boundaries, and how do these meanings shape the strategies in which they engage? Moreover, how do these social movements confront internal borders based on the differences that emerge within social change initiatives?
Border Politics, edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, explores these important questions through eleven carefully selected case studies situated in geographic contexts around the globe. By conceptualizing struggles over identity, social belonging and exclusion as extensions of border politics, the authors capture the complex ways in which geographic, cultural, and symbolic dividing lines are blurred and transcended, but also fortified and redrawn. This volume notably places right-wing and social justice initiatives in the same analytical frame to identify patterns that span the political spectrum. Border Politics offers a lens through which to understand borders as sites of diverse struggles, as well as the strategies and practices used by diverse social movements in today’s globally interconnected world.
Contributors: Phillip Ayoub, Renata Blumberg, Yvonne Braun, Moon Charania, Michael Dreiling, Jennifer Johnson, Jesse Klein, Andrej Kurnik, Sarah Maddison, Duncan McDuie-Ra, Jennifer Bickham Mendez, Nancy A. Naples, David Paternotte, Maple Razsa, Raphi Rechitsky, Kyle Rogers, Deana Rohlinger, Cristina Sanidad, Meera Sehgal, Tara Stamm, Michelle Téllez
Monday, November 10, 2014
Immigration Impact reminds us of a modern immigration milestone -- Saturday marked 20 years since California voters overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the state, a policy that backfired and led to a massive political shift in the state, which now includes many Latinos in the state legislature. The measure was Proposition 187, part of 1994’s “Save Our State” initiative, and its repercussions are still being felt today.
Since 1994, many states -- most recently, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and others -- have followed California's lead and passed immigration enforcement laws. Most of them have largely been struck down by the courts as infringing on the federal power to regulate immigration.
Last January, the California Supreme Court ruled that Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant waiting for 20 years for an immigrant visa, was eligible to practice law in the state. Here is an update on his new law practice.
Garcia has opened an office as a is a civil litigation lawyer who represents clients in car accidents. He does not practice immigration law. After being sworn in as a lawyer, Garcia rented an office in the rural Northern California college town of Chico, hired a secretary, hung his law degree on the wall, dressed in suits appropriate for an attorney, and began airing commercials on Spanish-language television and radio. He also works as a motivational speaker, talking about his experience growing up in the U.S. and Mexico and of achieving his dream to practice law.
Garcia arrived with his parents in California when he was an infant. He lives in the Chico area where his father — a naturalized U.S. citizen — operates a successful beekeeping business. Garcia applied for a green card in 1994 and is hopeful he will finally receive one soons. After graduating from a public high school, Garcia earned a paralegal certificate from Chico State University. He attended California Northern School of Law in Chico at night, graduating in 2009. He passed the California bar exam on his first attempt.
This Saturday, Rockwall, Texas made the news as the city saw police in riot gear standing guard as white supremacists rallied on the steps of the county courthouse against illegal immigration. One resident reportedly said that seeing Ku Klux Klan members flying neo-Nazi flags was a first for her.
In "THE FATE OF EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION AFTER THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS," Gary Endelman and Cyrus D. Mehta offer the political case -- for Reublicans and Democrats -- for President Obama to exercise forceful leadership and take executive action on immigration.
The NYT has produced a new video on the 1980 murder of Maryknoll nuns in El Salvador: A Search for Justice. You can watch it below. The video is accompanied by an article Laying Out a Case for Deporting Human Rights Abusers, which tackles the question of whether individuals complicit in human rights violations should be deported despite long term residence in the US.