Sunday, March 5, 2017

Trump plans to sign updated travel ban early next week


Expect another controversial week for the Trump administration.  The courts put the kibosh on President Trump's January 27 Executive Order suspending travel by nationals from seven predominantly Muslim nations.  The administration gave up defending that order and is reissuing a narrower one.  CNN and other media outlets are reporting that Trump plans to sign updated travel ban early next week President Trump is planning to sign an updated executive order banning travel from certain Middle Eastern and African countries early next week, possibly as soon as Monday, at the Department of Homeland Security, an administration official told CNN, cautioning that plans could change.

Trump was scheduled to sign the order last Wednesday but pushed it back after his joint address to Congress received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

March 5, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

DHS Website on Immigration Executive Orders


The Department of Homeland Security has a webpage with links to the following:

Executive Orders

Implementation Memos

Fact Sheets

Press Releases

Additional Information / Links

The webpage states that:

"In January 2017, the president announced a series of Executive Orders that provide the Department with additional resources, tools and personnel to carry out the critical work of securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws, and ensuring that individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety cannot enter or remain in our country. Protecting the American people is the highest priority of our government and this Department."


March 5, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Santa Cruz Police Were Lied to by DHS

From San Jose Mercury News and KQED Radio:

Santa Cruz, California, police say they were misled by the Department of Homeland Security into helping make immigration arrests during a raid on suspected gang members.

Police Chief Kevin Vogel and Assistant Chief Dan Flippo said at a news conference on Thursday that federal officials lied when they assured them a Feb. 13 joint operation would not include immigration-related arrests during a raid on the El Salvador-based gang known by the names MS-13 and Mara Salvatrucha.

Flippo said he didn’t learn of the immigration arrests until the next night, when dozens of protesters disrupted a City Council meeting to voice their displeasure.

‘We can’t cooperate with a law enforcement agency we cannot trust.’Police Chief Kevin Vogel

Vogel said the department no longer trusts the Department of Homeland Security, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and will no longer work with the agency.

“I want to underscore that we would never have participated or cooperated in this operation if we had known that it included immigration enforcement,” Vogel said. “As a result of this betrayal of trust, we will be taking a long and hard look about whether we will cooperate with this federal agency in the future. 

Read more.


March 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why mass deportations are costly and hurt the economy


Mark Humphrey Jenner on The Conversation considers the economic costs of the mass deportations that President Donald Trump has pledged to oversee.  Although the moral issues with mass deportations have received considerable attention, the economics haven’t been explored as comprehensively. "And the costs of mass deportations will likely be significant.  These include the impact on economic growth and the labor force, which have received some coverage, but there are several other factors that ought to be considered, such as the debts and dependents left behind by those deported and the costs of giving them the boot."


March 4, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

To Read or Not to Read? Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams


In a tweet early Friday morning, President Trump hailed Nick Adams’s new book, Green Card Warrior,” as a “must read,” suggesting that it offered lessons on how to reimagine the U.S. immigration system. Carlos Lozada writing for the Washington Post disagrees:

"Well, now I’ve read it, and it is not a must read. If not for the president’s endorsement, the book would barely rate a must acknowledge. It is, however, a must laugh, a must groan, and, if “Green Card Warrior” is indeed where Trump is finding ideas for immigration reform, it is also a you must be kidding me."

The official abstract of the book Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams reads as  follows:

"Nick Adams had it all: charisma, energy, a promising TV career, a new organization and an approved Green Card petition. The world was at his feet. 

Then came the unexpected sabotage and political persecution from one individual. It began a spiral of destruction – finances, family, health and career. He almost lost it all.

Green Card Warrior is an explosive and startling exposé into the world of legal immigration and what many must endure to come to America. 

Rising conservative star Nick Adams reveals how he was persecuted by the Obama Administration, and offers an incisive critique of the immigration system – both legal and illegal. 

This eye-opening account shows how the Obama Administration has broken new ground in its intimidation and harassment of political opponents, now using its State Department to screen and select immigrants based on their politics. 

In Green Card Warrior, Adams recounts his personal tale, setting it against the larger story of the broken legal immigration system, and unfairness of illegal immigration in America today."                               

Nick Adams is the Founder and Executive Director of FLAG, The Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness. He is a speaker, lecturer, author and commentator. Adams holds degrees in Media and Communications, Government and International Relations, Germanic Studies, and Education from the University of Sydney.


March 4, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Santa Ana, CA: Leading the Way on Sanctuary Cities, Possibly on Universal Representation Too

Lawrence Downes writes in today's op-ed column for the New York Times about how the city of Santa Ana in Orange County, CA has emerged as a local leader in the immigration resistance against the current Administration. Yes, Orange County - a historically Republican county, a majority of whom cast Democratic votes for the President in the most recent election.

"When the Council gave final approval to its sanctuary ordinance in January, by a 6-to-0 vote, it was the culmination of months of persuasion by residents who feel the force of Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant threats intimately. They argued that Latino and Asian families, including many unauthorized immigrants with citizen children, have fought for a foothold in this country and deserve to live in safety and peace. They pointed out that using the local police as immigration enforcers takes them away from their primary responsibility, the safety of the community. It wastes crime-fighting resources. It costs too much. And it’s constitutionally dubious for localities to detain people for no other reason than an administrative request from ICE.


Success has encouraged the residents of Santa Ana to consider the next steps. Now that we’re a sanctuary city, what else should we do? How about finding lawyers to help people in detention fight deportation? A resolution to examine the issue came before the Council the other night. Students, lawyers and community members waited through hours of legislative minutiae for a chance to testify. At about 12:30 in the morning, the resolution passed unanimously."


March 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Hiring Staff Attorney (SoCal)

From the ACLU:

"The ACLU SoCal's Immigrants' Rights Project protects and advances the rights of immigrants. We tackle problems through creative campaigns that involve policy advocacy, legal advocacy and litigation, and community education and organizing. Our advocacy is national, statewide, and local to Southern California. We work closely with a statewide ACLU of California Immigrants' Rights team, the national ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, as well as ACLU colleagues working for economic justice, criminal justice reform, education reform, racial justice, and LGBTQ and women's' rights.

Our office has been at the forefront of litigation and advocacy on a number of immigrants' rights issues. Our immigrants' rights priorities are:

  • Expanding the right to appointed counsel for people in deportation proceedings;
  • Ending prolonged and unnecessary immigration detention; and
  • Ending unconstitutional immigration enforcement practices and disentangling local police agencies from immigration enforcement work.

We are looking for a dynamic, experienced, creative, and thoughtful attorney who will focus on a range of immigrants' rights issues using an array of advocacy tactics to achieve social change. This person will investigate and analyze problems immigrants are experiencing and devise and implement campaigns to solve those problems through legal advocacy and litigation, policy reform and policy implementation, community education and organizing, and digital and media advocacy.

In the immediate term, the attorney will focus on litigation to advance a right to appointed counsel for children facing deportation; advocacy to promote and develop local and state strategies to enhance access to counsel for people facing deportation; and litigation related to discriminatory federal practices that treat immigrants from Muslim-majority countries differently in the process of applying for important immigration benefits.

Litigation and Policy Advocacy

  • Build and implement effective legal advocacy, policy reform campaigns, alone and in a team, to effect change at the local, state, and national level by influencing government agencies, law enforcement agencies, executive branch officials and legislators.
  • Investigate, develop and litigate high-impact cases in federal court; serving as lead and co-counsel and working in conjunction with other staff within the ACLU SoCal and partner organizations.
  • Serve as a legal and policy expert and draft legal advocacy letters, amicus briefs, legislation, regulatory comments, reports, policy briefs and coalition sign-on letters.
  • Conduct legislative advocacy through lobbying, testimony, and legislative briefings.

Community Engagement, Media and Digital Advocacy

  • Devise and present engaging "know your rights" presentations and engage in public speaking.
  • Devise and strategically distribute "know your rights" and other educational materials.
  • Write op-eds, blog posts, and social media content.
  • Grow and deepen relationships with community partners, coalitions, and stakeholders.
  • Provide technical support and strategic leadership to community groups, advocates and organizers in the region.
  • Organize, lead, and participate in community education events and meetings.

People Management

  • Hire and manage fellows and interns.

The Immigrants' Rights Staff Attorney will report to the Director of Immigrants' Rights, and will work closely with the Advocacy and Legal Director, other legal, policy, organizing, legislative and communications staff at ACLU SoCal and other ACLU of California offices, as well as a variety of coalitions and community-based and advocacy organizations.


The ACLU SoCal anticipates hiring an attorney with three to six years' experience, though applications from a range of experienced attorneys will be considered. Applicants must have excellent research, writing, analytic, interpersonal, communication, and time-management skills. Applicants must also have patience, emotional intelligence and cultural competency, including the ability to participate in, create and sustain inclusive and engaging spaces for people of all races/ethnicities, genders, ages, classes, and geographies. Applicants must be able to occasionally work evenings and weekends, and travel throughout the region and, occasionally, other parts of the country.

Strong candidates will have demonstrated experience using advocacy, community engagement, and litigation as part of a creative response to civil rights violations in affected communities; relevant experience working on immigrants' rights; and be a flexible team player but also comfortable working independently and taking initiative. Spanish language fluency is preferred."


March 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Clinical Professor (Immigration) Openings at University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota's James H. Binger Center for New Americans is hiring not just one but two clinical professors for work with immigrant detainees and on federal immigration litigation.  Position announcement is below!

Associate Clinical Law Professor, Detainee Rights-University of Minnesota.  The Law School is seeking applicants for a clinic faculty position beginning Fall 2017 in the area of immigration and detainee rights. The clinic faculty member will work in the James H. Binger Center for New Americans [CNA] specifically in the Detainee Rights Clinic, which is one of three interrelated CNA clinics along with the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic. This is a 100% time, 12 month academic professional and administrative (P&A) appointment. Priority deadline for applications is March 17, 2017. For more information, go to and reference job number 315805.  The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer and educator.

Associate Clinical Law Professor, Federal Immigration Litigation-University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Law School is seeking applicants for a clinic faculty position beginning Fall 2017 in the area of immigration and detainee rights. The clinic faculty member will work in the James H. Binger Center for New Americans [CNA] specifically in the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic, which is one of three interrelated CNA clinics along with the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and the Detainee Rights Clinic. This is a 100% time, 12-month academic professional and administrative (P&A) appointment. Priority deadline for applications is March 17, 2017. For more information, go to and reference job number 315810. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer and educator.


March 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

Nyu press

Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

Neocitizenship explores how the constellation of political and economic forces of neoliberalism have assailed and arguably dismantled the institutions of modern democratic governance in the U.S.  As overtly oligarchical structures of governance replace the operations of representative democracy, the book addresses the implications of this crisis for the practices and imaginaries of citizenship through the lens of popular culture.  Rather than impugn the abject citizen-subject who embraces her degraded condition, Eva Cherniavsky asks what new or hybrid forms of civic agency emerge as popular sovereignty recedes.               

Drawing on a range of political theories, Neocitizenship also suggests that theory is at a disadvantage in thinking the historical present, since its analytical categories are wrought in the very historical contexts whose dissolution we now seek to comprehend. Cherniavsky thus supplements theory with a focus on popular culture that explores  the  de-democratization for citizenship in more generative and undecided ways.  Tracing the contours of neocitizenship in fiction through examples such as The White Boy Shuffle and Distraction, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, and in the design of American studies abroad, Neocitizenship aims to take the measure of a transformation in process, while evading the twin lures of optimism and regret.


March 3, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network Launches 24 Hour Hotline


The San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN) is a unique collaboration of legal and service organizations dedicated to aiding the immigrant community in San Francisco.

As San Francisco comes into sharper conflict with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement tactics, residents now have a hotline to call when they spot Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweeps and dragnets.   The San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN) set up the hotline at (415) 200-1548 to give the community a one-stop shop to report ICE raids. When tips arrive at the hotline about suspected ICE actions, such as check points or neighborhood sweeps, SFILEN sends its own personnel to the scene to canvass the area, inform community members of their legal rights, and provide legal support to intervene in deportation proceedings as needed.  

The hotline, which was recently deployed, supports residents of San Francisco County. SFILEN is encouraging groups in other communities to set up similar efforts.   

SFILEN has also released a tip sheet on how to confront ICE enforcement actions that can be found here. It is also available in Spanish here.

Beyond the hotline, SFILEN works with 13 partner organizations to provide legal support to the low-income immigrant community. Resources can be found at:   “The civil liberties infringement at the heart of recent ICE raids and sweeps has broad implications for everyone. Residents and families are not obligated to submit to searches and coerced ID checks while engaging in law-abiding activities, which means that these broad ICE enforcements often involve an element of deception or coercion,“ said Ana Herrera, Managing Attorney at Dolores Street Community Services. “Immigration officials can still pursue appropriate actions with a warrant or as part of a legitimate investigation. This new hotline and San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy will help us avoid these legally questionable broad sweeps that have focused on law abiding, working people and families and which have employed racial profiling.”   

Members of the community can donate to support the SFILEN's hotline online through this link.


March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Human Rights Watch: Immigration Memos Will Wreak Havoc on Rights

Border patrol

The Trump administration’s new immigration enforcement memorandums outline striking and sweeping changes to immigration policy that will have a dire impact on the rights of immigrants and their families and hurt the communities they live in, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a “question-and-answer” analysis. The US Department of Homeland Security released the memorandums on February 20, 2017.

These new policies are designed to facilitate deportations of millions of people through expanded application of procedures that have been shown to harm long-term residents, their US citizen family members, and asylum seekers fleeing persecution and violence. They also take a “no holds barred” approach to enforce problematic laws in place since 1996 that have already caused enormous harm to US families. The Human Rights Watch analysis of the likely impact of these new enforcement policies is based on decades of research into the US immigration system and the operation of the 1996 laws.

“President Donald Trump recently suggested he may be open to reforming the US immigration system, but his enforcement memos indicate no interest in creating a more reasonable and humane system,” said Grace Meng, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, the memos promise the broadest and most draconian application of already harsh laws.”

As widely reported, the memos outline new enforcement priorities that essentially make every undocumented immigrant in the US an enforcement priority. The documents also indicate that the Trump administration may facilitate and fast-track the deportations of millions of people by expanding “expedited removal,” a procedure that boils down to immigration agents filling out and signing forms. Currently, expedited removal is applied to migrants apprehended within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days after they enter the US. As Human Rights Watch has documented, border agents’ application of expedited removal already results in human rights violations for Central Americans fleeing gang violence.

The memos also take aim at asylum seekers, including women and children from Central America, calling for expanded detention, changes to the asylum application process, and stripping protections for child migrants traveling alone. They call for expansion of programs involving local police in immigration enforcement, which have been shown to increase the distrust of police in immigrant communities and racial profiling, neither of which facilitate increased public safety.

“We have yet to see the full impact of Trump’s immigration policies, but the new DHS memos are a clear road-map to massive rights violations,” Meng said. “If Trump is serious about protecting and improving US communities, he should develop policies that protect the rights of everyone in them.” For the question-and-answer document on the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement memos, click here.


March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Centro Legal and City of Oakland Sue Comfort Inn and Choice Hotels


Shira Levine
Centro Legal de la Raza
Alex Katz
City Attorney's Office
 City Attorney and Centro Legal de la Raza sue hotel chain 
and local affiliate over violations of labor laws and
Oakland's minimum wage ordinance
Complaint is the City's first lawsuit under the minimum wage law Oakland voters passed in 2014
OAKLAND, CA - An international hotel chain and its affiliate in Oakland systematically violated state labor laws and Oakland's minimum wage ordinance by refusing to pay overtime, failing to provide sick leave and engaging in other illegal conduct towards employees, according to a lawsuit City Attorney Barbara J. Parker and Centro Legal de la Raza filed on January 31st.

This is the City's first lawsuit under the minimum wage ordinance Oakland voters passed in November 2014.

The City of Oakland, The People of the State of California, Matilda Cortez et al. v. Choice Hotels International, Inc. et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG17847671

Evidence shows that Defendant Quality Inn on Enterprise Way in Oakland and its parent company, the Delaware-based Choice Hotels International, (1) forced employees to work off the clock and without pay before and after their shifts, (2) provided inaccurate wage statements to workers, (3) refused to provide rest, meal and bathroom breaks required by law, (4) failed to provide overtime and sick leave (5) and retaliated against employees who called in sick. The violations of the state Labor Code, California Business & Professions Code and Oakland's Municipal Code have been ongoing for at least four years.

"Women and workers of color face higher rates of wage theft and exploitation," City Attorney Parker said. "Every worker in California, regardless of their profession, race, gender or their immigration status is entitled to basic rights including sick leave and a minimum wage. My Office is committed to fighting this abuse, which not only violates state and local laws, but also undermines the stability and well-being of Oakland families."

The City Attorney on behalf of the City of Oakland and the People of California, and Centro Legal de la Raza on behalf of the employee plaintiffs, jointly filed this lawsuit.

"Six women, all former housekeepers at Quality Inn in Oakland, came together to Centro Legal de la Raza because Quality Inn had been stealing their wages for years," said Shira Levine, Litigation Staff Attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza. "Fear and employer retaliation permeate the housekeeping industry and allow employers to perpetuate exploitation. These six immigrant women overcame their personal fear and united to demand justice from their employer. For the first time, the City of Oakland and a nonprofit have joined forces in court to confront workplace exploitation. Through this partnership, we will seek justice for the workers we represent and deliver the clear message that wage theft will not be tolerated in the City of Oakland."

The plaintiffs, all monolingual Spanish speakers, say they were intimidated by management and feared losing their jobs if they objected to violations.

"I felt bad about the job because we were suffering a lot, we worked a lot but we were not paid any overtime or given any sick time," said plaintiff Matilda Cortez (as translated by Centro Legal). "Even if we brought in a doctor's note, we were not paid for our sick time off. We did a lot of difficult work, cleaning rooms, cleaning up garbage outside, and cleaning the whole hotel, but we were not paid for all of this work."

"We all came together to bring this claim because we are stronger as a group, and because so many of us were exploited," Cortez said. "I want to finally be paid correctly for the hard work I did, but I also want Quality Inn to start paying the workers who are still there what the law requires and to stop taking advantage of workers."

The lawsuit seeks unpaid wages and compensation owed to employees, plus penalties, damages, attorney's fees and other costs.

In November 2014, Oakland voters overwhelmingly passed Measure FF, which established a minimum wage, requiring payment for accrued sick leave and payment of service charges to hospitality workers.

The measure established a minimum wage in the City of Oakland of $12.25 per hour, beginning on March 2, 2015. The minimum wage rate increases every year on January 1 based on increases in the cost of living, and this year is set at $12.86 per hour. The law also requires that employers in Oakland provide paid sick leave to their employees, and that hospitality employers who collect service charges from customers pay all service charges to their hospitality workers.

March 2, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Atlanta Immigration Court Judges Fail to Uphold Ethical Standards: SPLC, Emory University School of Law: Judges Made Prejudicial Statements,


Immigration Court judges in Atlanta are failing to uphold ethical standards that ensure immigrants receive fair and impartial treatment – failures that warrant an investigation, according to the findings of a project by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Emory University School of Law.

In a letter sent to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today, the organizations documented how judges made prejudicial statements – sometimes expressing hostility – toward immigrants in court. The letter also describes how judges disregarded legal arguments and standards, failed to provide adequate interpretation services for immigrants, and cancelled hearings with little to no notice.

The EOIR oversees the nation’s immigration courts, including the Atlanta Immigration Court, which denies asylum at the highest rate of any immigration court – 98 percent. The average bond set by its judges is typically 41 percent higher than the national average ($8,200 versus $11,637).

 “Immigration judges must be impartial, but our findings show that Atlanta Immigration Court judges regularly flout the ethical standards that govern their conduct,” said Lisa Graybill, SPLC deputy legal director. “While the evidence of bias and prejudice should disturb anyone who believes in the neutrality of tribunals in this country, it can be a matter of life or death for the immigrants who appear in front of these judges.  

“A 98 percent denial rate on asylum applications – compared to a national average of 57 percent – means that some of these men, women and children are almost certainly being sent home to die. The judges must be held accountable.”

The findings are based on court observations conducted by Emory University law school students over a seven-week period in the fall of 2016 as part of the SPLC’s efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in the nation’s immigration court system.

The students observed proceedings involving 196 respondents and five judges, offering a look into a court system that, despite being open to the public, is rarely attended by anyone other than immigrants, their families and lawyers.  

 “These observations confirm the Atlanta Immigration Court’s reputation as a system where judges fail to respect the rule of law,” said Professor Hallie Ludsin of Emory Law School, who led the law students in their court monitoring. “The practices that we observed suggest that these judges conduct their courts in a way that clearly discourage fair adjudications.”

 The investigation found that during a hearing where Judge William Cassidy rejected a request for bond, he compared an immigrant to “a person coming to your home in a Halloween mask, waving a knife dripping with blood.” In a private conversation after a case, Cassidy told an observer for the project that the United States should be more like Russia, noting that “if you come to America, you must speak English.” Cassidy also said his cases involve people “trying to scam the system” and that none of them want to be citizens.

Immigration Judge Jonathan Pelletier responded to a courtroom discussion between attorneys about a point of law by saying, “I won’t listen” – indicating a disregard for the basic principles of law. Nearly all observers of Judge Earle Wilson’s courtroom reported that during hearings he routinely leaned back in his chair, placed his head in his hands and closed his eyes. He held this position for more than 20 minutes as a woman seeking asylum described the murders of her parents and siblings.

The project also found that interpreters were not always available for people appearing before the court. Other times, interpreters translated an immigrant’s statements, but not what was said by others. Immigrants were sometimes provided a summary of what happened after the hearing, effectively preventing them from participating in court. Judge Michael Baird completed a bond hearing without an interpreter present for a Portuguese-speaking immigrant.

Last-minute cancellations of proceedings are another issue. Judges often failed to notify the immigrants appearing before the court, the attorneys, court clerks or detention center staff of cancellations. Many immigrants must travel a significant distance to these hearings and pay attorneys for their time despite a cancellation. ICE attorneys and interpreters are also inconvenienced by such cancellations.

“We must have confidence that our immigration courts ensure due process and fairness,” said Eunice Cho, SPLC staff attorney. “Unfortunately, these findings suggest that is simply not the case in the Atlanta Immigration Court.”

The SPLC will soon expand its immigration court observation with the launch of the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, which will provide pro bono legal representation to immigrants detained in the southeastern United States. Observation of other immigration courts will be one component of this initiative.


March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dana Milbank: Do vigilantes see Trump giving them a wink and a nod?

Updated Report Finds Undocumented Immigrants Annually Pay $11.74 Billion in State and Local Taxes

A newly updated report released today provides data that helps dispute the erroneous idea espoused during President Trump’s address to Congress that undocumented immigrants are a drain to taxpayers. In fact,  like all others living and working in the United States, undocumented immigrants are taxpayers too and collectively contribute an estimated $11.74 billion to state and local coffers each year via a combination of sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes, according to Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

On average, the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants pay 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes every year. While it is unlikely to happen in the current political environment, undocumented immigrants’ state and local tax contributions could increase by up to $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform, boosting their effective tax rate to 8.6 percent.  

“Good policy is informed policy,” said Meg Wiehe, ITEP director of programs. “Just as the horrendous impact of breaking up families under a mass deportation policy should not be ignored, nor should policymakers overlook the significant contributions undocumented immigrants make to our state and local revenues and the economy.

“Keep in mind most state and local taxes are collected from people regardless of citizenship status,” Wiehe added. “Undocumented immigrants, like everyone else, pay sales and excise taxes when they purchase goods and services.  They pay property taxes directly on their homes or indirectly as renters. And, many undocumented immigrants also pay state income taxes.”

The report provides critical context at a time when the president is pushing immigration policies that partly rely on the flawed assumption that immigrants are a drain on the nation’s economy. It includes state-by-state and national estimates on undocumented immigrants’ current state and local tax contributions.

Key Findings:

  • Undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local governments, collectively paying an estimated $11.74 billion in state and local taxes. Contributions range from just over $550,000 in Montana, with an estimated undocumented population of 1,000, to more than $3.1 billion in California, home to more than 3 million undocumented immigrants.
  • Undocumented immigrants’ nationwide average effective state and local tax rate (the share of income they pay in state and local taxes) is an estimated 8 percent. For comparison, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average effective tax rate of just 5.4 percent, and the average effective rate for the middle quintile is 8.7 percent. So, undocumented immigrants are paying an average effective state and local tax rate that is on par with middle-income taxpayers. 
  • Granting legal status to all 11 million undocumented immigrants as part of a comprehensive immigration reform and allowing them to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2.1 billion a year.  Their effective tax rate would increase from 8 to 8.6 percent.
  • There is no doubt a mass deportation policy would have an impact on businesses and the economy.  There would also be an immediate impact on many state and local coffers without the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants.   

This report focuses on state and local taxes, but its findings mirror those at the federal level. Many undocumented immigrants pay federal payroll and income taxes as well as excise taxes on items such as fuel. Full immigration reform at the federal level would decrease the deficit and generate more than $450 billion in additional federal revenue over the next decade, according to a 2010 report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

To view the full ITEP report or to find state-specific data, click here.


March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

An open letter by Juan Garcia Mosqueda : A LPR Denied Re-entry into the United States

An open letter by Juan Garcia Mosqueda

Dear Friends,

This past Friday, February 24, 2017, I was denied entry into the United States—the nation where I have been legally residing for the past ten years. The procedure was dehumanizing and degrading every step of the way. After being escorted to the secondary inspection premises, I was brought down for interrogation where I was questioned under oath and threatened with the possibility of being barred from entering the country for five years. The border patrol officer denied me the right to legal counseling, arrogantly claiming that lawyers had no jurisdiction at the borders. Shortly after my sworn statement was delivered to the chief officer in charge, they informed me that I was not permitted to come into the country and, therefore, would be forced onto the return flight to Buenos Aires later that evening. During the following fourteen excruciatingly painful hours, I was prohibited from the use of any means of communication and had no access to any of my belongings, which were ferociously examined without any warrant whatsoever. I was deprived of food. I was frisked three times in order to go to the bathroom, where I had no privacy and was under the constant surveillance of an officer. Finally, I was escorted by two armed officers directly onto the plane and denied my documents until I reached my destination, Buenos Aires.

This 36-hour nightmare is nothing but clear evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the United States, carried out by an administration that is more interested in expelling people than admitting them. I was educated in America, worked at prestigious design entities, and, now, as you all know, own a gallery which employs Americans and non-Americans alike. Chamber supports architecture and design studios in the United States and abroad. I own several properties in New York and have collaborated in numerous projects with architects, contractors, and construction workers to bring to life projects around the city. We have created a network within the creative industries that span all disciplines and media that help individuals sustain their practices and do what they love. We proudly carry the New York flag to every fair that we do and every project we initiate across the globe. We self-publish books printed in the United States. And, needless to say, we pay considerable federal and state taxes that help fund many of the societal aspects that fuel the American engine.

Although I am not an American citizen, Chamber is an American product that I hope adds to the cultural landscape of the country. The gallery was conceived in alignment with the same idea of inclusion that was found in the streets of the Lower East Side (where I live and was denied access to) not so long ago: a melting pot of all nationalities and religions, importing ideas from abroad to a culturally embracing metropolis. We have worked with over 200 artists and designers, from Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Amsterdam to Santiago, in our less than three years of existence and rely heavily on social mobility to get our message across and display the works that we want to show.

To my American friends, I urge you to contact your congressmen and push for immigration reform. Push for a system that does not alienate, intimidate, and bully foreigners but that, on the contrary, welcomes and encourages citizens from all countries to want to keep investing in and contributing to your wonderful country.

This coming Thursday, I will not be able to celebrate the opening of our newest show, Domestic Appeal, which my team and I worked hard to conceive, and will not be able to meet some of the incredible participants that are traveling to the United States to take pride in displaying their creations in one of the most culturally relevant cities on the planet. 

Please come see it, have a glass of wine, and enjoy it on my behalf!

Hope to see you all very soon,
Juan Garcia Mosqueda 
Buenos Aires, Argentina

March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

DACA Recipient Arrested After She Publicly Expresses Fears of Removal


The immigration enforcement actions of the Trump administration continue to strike fear in immigrant communities from coast to coast.  The latest:  A  22-year-old immigrant who was in the process of renewing her status to remain in the country legally was detained by immigration agents shortly after she spoke at a news conference of her hope that “Dreamers” and other immigrants be given a path to citizenship.

Daniela Vargas, an Argentine citizen who was brought to the county when she was 7 and later received protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Jackson, Miss., as she and a friend drove from a rally and news conference, according to her attorney, Abigail Peterson.


March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

'We film- therefore we are' : The Participatory Video Initiative


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has a new project designed to empower migrant communities.

Over the last decade, IOM and partner organizations have had many challenges providing assistance to these isolated, vulnerable populations. Cultural differences and language barriers, as well as a lack of resources and basic infrastructure, make it difficult for these communities to find sustainable solutions.

It turns out that asking the youth for their own ideas on how to address different issues is key to finding appropriate ways to meet the basic needs of this community.  In that way they become comfortable and ready to participate in the proposed solutions.

But communication with marginalized communities is challenging and the potential for misunderstandings is considerable. In Leda, moreover, where a local dialect is predominant and no formal education system exists, the majority of the population, particularly youth, do not have a voice in how to respond to short and long term needs.  To address these challenges, IOM launched its Participatory Video initiative.
Our makeshift studio in Leda is a large unfurnished room of a new clinic, yet to be inaugurated. We conduct the first Participatory Video workshop with a group of young volunteers from the community. The workshop focused on giving these youth the tools to express their views by creating their own short videos. The idea behind this concept is that making a video is easy and can be an effective way of bringing people together to discuss issues, voice concerns or simply tell their stories.

The Participatory Video process includes:
• Workshop participants receive guidance on how to use video equipment through games and exercises.
• Facilitators help the group identify important issues in their community and then select one topic to focus on.
• Participants direct and film short videos and messages on the chosen topic.
• Completed videos are shared with the community and wider audiences to disseminate the group's messages.

With the assistance of local IOM staff, we began the workshop with short games and exercises, guiding the participants on how to use basic video and audio equipment, and discussing important issues in their community. Once comfortable, the youth agreed on creating a video message on the need for education and schools in their settlement.

Over the course of the workshop, the discourse began shifting from emotional anecdotes to assertive statements and solution proposals. It was a reflection of how empowering the participatory video process had been, enabling the group to take their own action to find a solution to their own problems, and to communicate their needs and ideas to an audience including influencers and decision-makers far beyond the reaches of their makeshift settlement in rural Bangladesh.



March 2, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Immigrant Defense Fellow Wanted at NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic


The NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic is seeking applicants for an Immigrant Defense Fellow for a two year term, beginning in the summer of 2017.  The Immigrant Defense Fellow will serve as both a staff attorney and a teaching fellow in the Immigrant Rights Clinic and the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law.  The Fellow will work on the varied docket of the clinics, will supervise students, and will participate in teaching the clinic seminars.

The fellowship is an opportunity to develop a career in social justice advocacy and/or clinical teaching. The fellow will receive support for research and professional development. Past fellows with the Immigrant Rights Clinic and the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic have proceeded to positions in public interest lawyering and clinical teaching.

Please see the attached announcement for further details. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through April 1, 2017.


March 1, 2017 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mem Fox: "In that moment I loathed America"

Mem Fox is a children's author. If you have a little one, or need a good gift for a little one, my all-time favorite book of hers is Time For Bed. It is, above all, gentle. ("It's time for bed, little calf, little calf. What happened today that made you laugh?") I just pulled a copy off my kiddo's shelf and was hit with a wage of nostalgia for his little toddler body in my arms as I read him a good-night story.


As Kevin noted earlier this week, Mem Fox was subject to intense secondary screening during a recent visit to the United States. She has now published a first-person account of her ordeal with The Guardian. It's a chilling read, and I strongly commend it to you.

Her account is rich with detail about the room she was sent to for secondary screening, the fellow migrants waiting for questioning, and their treatment by CBP. "[T]his is not the way to win friends," she writes.

They made me feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady and I am a feisty, strong, articulated English speaker. I kept thinking that if this were happening to me, a person who is white, articulate, educated and fluent in English, what on earth is happening to people who don’t have my power?

It would be excellent reading for a segment on admission procedure.


March 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)