Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why more and more cities are refusing to help the federal government deport immigrants

Emily Badger of the Washington Post reports on theh growing resistance to Immigration detainers:

"Chicago doesn't cooperate. Neither does Philadelphia. Nor Baltimore, San Diego, Newark, Milwaukee, Miami-Dade or Denver.

One by one, these cities — soon to be joined by New York City — have passed resolutions or enacted new policies refusing to hand over immigrants detained by local police to federal officials for deportation. The strategy, gaining further momentum this year with a statewide law in Colorado, is one way local governments dismayed by a broken federal immigration system have found to undermine it.

At issue are what are called "immigration detainers." The federal government relies on local law enforcement agencies to help identify individuals for deportation. When local police come in contact with suspected immigrants (for reasons ranging from serious offenses to traffic violations), Immigration and Customs Enforcement often issue a detainer, asking local jails and prisons to hold them for 48 hours or more beyond their release to give the feds time to decide if they want to collect and deport them.

The federal government doesn't reimburse local agencies for resources they spend "holding" suspected immigrants on ICE's behalf. And civil rights advocates have repeatedly decried that the practice illegally imprisons people — sometimes for much longer than two days."


October 9, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attacking the Visa Waiver Program

38 countries currently participate in the VWP

September was the month for Congressional attacks on the Visa Waiver program. The seemingly innocuous VWP allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the US without a visa for stays of 90 days or less* (*certain conditions and restrictions may apply).

Some members of Congress view the program as nothing more than a glaring security risk.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) kicked things off on September 10 with H.R. 5434: "To suspend the visa waiver program in order for the Comptroller General of the United States to assess the national security risks posed by the program, and for other purposes."

Congresswoman Candace Miller (R-MI) followed suit on September 15 with H.R. 5470: "To clarify the grounds for ineligibility for travel to the United States regarding terrorism risk, to expand the criteria by which a country may be removed from the Visa Waiver Program, to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report on strengthening the Electronic System for Travel Authorization to better secure the international borders of the United States and prevent terrorists and instruments of terrorism from entering the United States, and for other purposes."

Across the aisle, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) put forth H.R. 5594 on September 18: "To suspend from the visa waiver program any country that has identified passport holders fighting with an Islamist extremist organization, and for other purposes."

So what are these legislators so worked up about? They see the VWP as creating a way for ISIS fighters to gain entry into the United States for, clearly, nefarious purposes.

On Monday, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation held a conference about these issues: Visa Waiver Program and the Safety of America. You can watch the entire conference in the video below.


Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009) spoke at the event (see from 3:10 on in the video above). He warned that the September 2014 efforts to eliminate the VWP would be a "huge mistake" equivalent to:

"trying to conduct an operation that requires a scapel by using a chainsaw. All that happens is you don't achieve your mission and you wind up killing the patient as well."

Chertoff emphasized the "solidarity" that the VWP builds between the US and friendly nations, one that not only enhances national security but also builds trade and economic activity. He went on to conclude:

"The way we deal with the issue of foreign fighters is to use the scalpel of identifying with precision and taking them out, and not the chainsaw of dismantling the program that has served not only the United States well, but our foreign friends and allies overseas."


October 9, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


MALDEF, together with co-counsel from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of California at Irvine School of Law, today filed a lawsuit, Flores v. City of Baldwin Park, alleging that the Baldwin Park Police Department and the City of Baldwin Park unlawfully imprisoned Sergio Flores at the Baldwin Park Police station, detaining him solely on the basis of an “immigration hold,” in violation of the California TRUST Act.

The TRUST Act (AB 4), which went into effect on January 1, 2014, limits cruel and costly immigration “holds” in local jails. California’s TRUST Act sought to restore trust between police and immigrant communities in the wake of the Secure Communities program - a discredited federal deportation program that has led to the separation of hundreds of thousands of immigrant families. In direct violation of the law, Baldwin Park Police intentionally and illegally detained Mr. Flores, who was arrested for driving without a license and has no criminal history, for several days on the sole basis of an immigration “hold” request. As a result of his unlawful detention, Mr. Flores is now facing the prospect of deportation and separation from his U.S. citizen son. 

Additionally, the lawsuit intends to prevent any further wasteful and illegal expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars in detaining individuals on the basis of immigration “holds” alone. The lawsuit alleges that Flores’ unlawful detention shows that Baldwin Park City officials are detaining individuals in violation of the TRUST Act. 


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A life-and-death struggle for asylum in America

This story by Susan Ferriss and Amy Isackson was reported in collaboration with The California Report, a production of KQED Public Radio.  It sheds light on the horrors faced by Central American minors seeking refuge in teh United States.

Here is the story of "Maria": 

While other kids enjoyed summer break, a teenager with more on her mind slipped into her only dressy jacket and traveled south to Anaheim, to a nondescript building housing the local office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Lithe and athletic, the girl knew she’d be less than a mile from Disneyland, “the happiest place on Earth.” But for Maria, a pseudonym, fun was a luxury she couldn’t afford that day in June.

At the tender age of 15, she faced an interview to plead, essentially, for her life — to ask for refuge from violence so chilling her family thought it better to smuggle her to the United States in the spring of 2013.

“Two years ago a friend of mine died in a very cold-blooded way. She died cut to pieces. My best friend,” Maria said in Spanish, beginning to recount what she told a U.S. asylum officer.

As she recalled the story again, Maria’s soft voice trembled, and tears spilled down her cheeks.

She said police in El Salvador asked her to identify body parts pulled from a bag dumped in a river. She recognized a birthmark on her friend’s leg. She said she also witnessed a boy shot and dragged off, after a soccer game — a boy later found hanged. And before she fled, Maria said, she’d been asking her father, a U.S. truck driver, for more and more money so she could pay murderous MS-13 gangsters $60 a month to leave her alone.

“I was traumatized,” Maria sobbed. “I still am from seeing that body split apart. That dismembered head. Those arms … As time went by, I didn’t want to go out, or eat, or do anything. The only thing I wanted to do was to die. I told myself that the same thing could happen to me.”

After the 90-minute interview, the asylum officer told Maria she might know the outcome of her request in two weeks. More than three months later, after starting 11th grade this fall at an L.A. public high school, she was still waiting for an answer.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Undocumented Chinese Migrants & The Restaurant Industry

This week's New Yorker has a fascinating new article entitled The Kitchen Network: America's underground Chinese restaurant workers. (Thanks owed once again to immprof Michael Olivas for pointing out this great piece.)

The article follows the life of "Rain." Rain's journey to the United States started in a rural Chinese village and took him through Fuzhou, Beijing, France, and Mexico, across the Rio Grande, and into the United States.

Rain's work in the United States, currently as a chef for Chinese restaurants, has taken him to locations up and down the East Coast. He has gone from restaurant to restaurant - working to pay off the snakehead who got him to the United States, paying off the lawyer (since arrested) who processed his asylum application, and sending money back to his mother in China.

If you find the New Yorker article interesting, allow me to recommend the movie Take Out. As the fimmakers describe it:

Take Out is a day-in-the-life of Ming Ding (Charles Jang), an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. After borrowing most of the money from friends and relatives, Ming realizes that the remainder must come from the day's delivery tips. In order to do so, he must make more than double his average daily income.

In a social-realist style, the camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, Take Out presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City.



October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Photos from Youth Circulations


Courtesy of Youth Circulations

Youth Circulations is a photo archive tracing the real and imagined circulations of global youth. As anthropologists who research unaccompanied child migration, they frequently encounter a glaring disconnect between the nuanced, transnational lives of the young people with whom we work and the active reduction of these youth into abbreviated tropes--vulnerable victim, delinquent, violent threat, and so--in policy reports and the media. Consequently, Lauren Heidbrink and Michele Statz created Youth Circulations to draw attention to the ways in which these representations delimit and decontextualize young migrants. We also strive to highlight active counter-points, occasions in which youth are portrayed or self-represent as agentive, skilled, creative and relational actors. Taken together, the images, articles and links on Youth Circulations contribute to and complicate contemporary understandings of youth migration. We hope that the site will be a helpful resource, one that incites critique as well as conversation.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Backroads Pragmatists Mexico's Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States by Ruben Flores, Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States by David Pedersen

There are two interesting and topical immigratiuon-related books that I preview here today.


Backroads Pragmatists Mexico's Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States by Ruben Flores

Like the United States, Mexico is a country of profound cultural differences. In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), these differences became the subject of intense government attention as the Republic of Mexico developed ambitious social and educational policies designed to integrate its multitude of ethnic cultures into a national community of democratic citizens. To the north, Americans were beginning to confront their own legacy of racial injustice, embarking on the path that, three decades later, led to the destruction of Jim Crow.

Backroads Pragmatists is the first book to show the transnational cross-fertilization between these two movements. In molding Mexico's ambitious social experiment, postrevolutionary reformers adopted pragmatism from John Dewey and cultural relativism from Franz Boas, which, in turn, profoundly shaped some of the critical intellectual figures in the Mexican American civil rights movement. Ruben Flores follows studied Mexico's integration theories and applied them to America's own problem, holding Mexico up as a model of cultural fusion. These American reformers made the American West their laboratory in endeavors that included educator George I. Sanchez's attempts to transform New Mexico's government agencies, the rural education campaigns that psychologist Loyd Tireman adapted from the Mexican ministry of education, and anthropologist Ralph L. Beals's use of applied Mexican anthropology in the U.S. federal courts to transform segregation policy in southern California. Through deep archival research and ambitious synthesis, Backroads Pragmatists illuminates how nation-building in postrevolutionary Mexico unmistakably influenced the civil rights movement and democratic politics in the United States.

Click here for a review of Backroads Pragmatists.


Migrants money

Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States by David Pedersen

Over the past half-century, El Salvador has transformed dramatically. Historically reliant on primary exports like coffee and cotton, the country emerged from a brutal civil war in 1992 to find much of its national income now coming from a massive emigrant workforce—over a quarter of its population—that earns money in the United States and sends it home. In American Value, David Pedersen examines this new way of life as it extends across two places: Intipucá, a Salvadoran town infamous for its remittance wealth, and the Washington, DC, metro area, home to the second largest population of Salvadorans in the United States. Pedersen charts El Salvador’s change alongside American deindustrialization, viewing the Salvadoran migrant work abilities used in new lowwage American service jobs as a kind of primary export, and shows how the latest social conditions linking both countries are part of a longer history of disparity across the Americas.

Drawing on the work of Charles S. Peirce, he demonstrates how the defining value forms—migrant work capacity, services, and remittances—act as signs, building a moral world by communicating their exchangeability while hiding the violence and exploitation on which this story rests. Theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich, and compellingly written, American Value offers critical insights into practices that are increasingly common throughout the world.


October 8, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Benign Neglect? Policies to Support Upward Mobility for Immigrants in the United Kingdom


Immigrants to the United Kingdom, a popular destination for migrants from within and outside the European Union, benefit from the country's flexible labor market and skills system with multiple points of entry. But the United Kingdom's "work-first" approach to professional development, coupled with limited opportunities to advance into middle-skilled jobs, has left many immigrants stuck on the lowest rung of the ladder.

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Benign Neglect? Policies to Support Upward Mobility for Immigrants in the United Kingdom, assesses how effectively employment services and integration policies are helping migrants advance from low-skilled work or unemployment into middle-skilled jobs.

While the United Kingdom has not traditionally targeted policies at immigrants, instead serving them via general programs, budget cuts and public hostility toward immigration in recent years have made the government even more hesitant to target immigrants with specific integration measures. Immigrants are left relying on mainstream public services, which have been dramatically rolled back in some cases. Policymakers have slashed public funding for vocational training and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, leaving their provision up to employers who may not be inclined to pay for such services.

The report, by Rachel Marangozov, examines the ways that other policies and contextual factors often undermine migrants' entry into the labor market and progression out of low-skilled jobs, including difficulty navigating a complex and ever-changing workforce development system and low demand for training in some sectors, particularly those with high turnover.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

African-Born Population in U.S. Roughly Doubled Every Decade Since 1970, Census Bureau Reports

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the foreign-born population from Africa has grown rapidly in the United States during the last 40 years, increasing from about 80,000 in 1970 to about 1.6 million in the period from 2008 to 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau brief released today. The population has roughly doubled each decade since 1970, with the largest increase happening from 2000 to 2008-2012.

The Foreign-Born Population from Africa: 2008-2012, a brief based on American Community Survey statistics, shows that the African foreign-born population accounts for 4 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population. No African country makes up the majority of these immigrants, but four countries — Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ghana — make up 41 percent of the African-born total.



October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

State of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Series

The Center for American Progress in conjunction with AAPI Data, a project at the University of California, Riverside, have launched a series of reports on the state of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities, featuring the most comprehensive research and analysis of its kind for the AAPI population in the United States. The report series will provide an unprecedented look at this community and provide new insight and analysis along various issue areas including: demographics, public opinion, immigration, education, language access and use, civic and political participation, income and poverty, labor market, consumer market and entrepreneurship, civil rights, health care, and health outcomes.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking by Ronald Weitzer

Weitzer photo1 2_0

New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking by Ronald Weitzer, George Washington University May 2014 The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, v. 653 (May 2014), pages 6-24

Abstract: This article evaluates four popular claims regarding human trafficking’s international magnitude, trends, and seriousness relative to other illicit global activities. I find that the claims are neither evidence-based nor verifiable. Second, an argument is made for carefully conducted microlevel research on trafficking. Several such studies are described, including the contributions to this volume of The Annals. I argue for microlevel research, which has advantages over grand, macrolevel claims — advantages that are both quantitative (i.e., identifying the magnitude of trafficking within a measurable context) and qualitative (i.e., documenting complexities in lived experiences) — and is better suited to formulating contextually appropriate policy and enforcement responses.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Other Countries Deal With Immigration

This short article by Nathan Siegel offers a brief summaries of how some nations other than the United States deal with immigration.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Alan Cumming (United Kingdom)



Born in Scotland, Alan Cumming is an actor who has appeared in numerous films, television shows and plays. His London stage appearances include Hamlet, the Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist (for which he received an Olivier Award), the lead in Bent, and the National Theatre of Scotland's The Bacchae. On Broadway, he has appeared in The Threepenny Opera, the master of ceremonies in Cabaret (for which he won a Tony Award), and Design for Living. His best-known film roles include his performances in Goldeneye, Spy Kids, and X2. Cumming also introduces Masterpiece Mystery! for PBS.

Cumming currently plays Eli Gold on the CBS television show The Good Wife. For that role, he has been nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Satellite Award for his performance.

Cuming recently published a book Not My Father's Son, a memoir about his complicated relationship with his father and the family secrets that deeply affected him.


While retaining his British citizenship, Cumming became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008.

Michael Schulman of the New York Times has a nice profile of Cumming last week.

Hat tip to Kit Johnson for the suggestion of Alan Cumming as Immigrant of the Day.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Upcoming NYC Event: Championing Appointed Counsel in Immigration Proceedings

Will you be in NYC on Thursday October 16? Then head on over to the New York City Bar Association for this great – and free – program: "Championing Appointed Counsel in Immigration Proceedings."

The program starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature:

Sounds like a terrific event!


October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Identifying Deceased Would-Be Border Crosers

Photo by Drew Anthony Smith for the WSJ

Lori Baker is an associate anthropology professor at Baylor. In her spare time, she works to extract DNA from the collected remains of would-be border crossers in an attempt to identify the deceased.

The Wall Street Journal is running a story about Ms. Baker and other volunteer scientists and activists. They are working identify those who have died in South Texas trying to cross the border and whose remains have been buried in unmarked county graves.

NPR also ran a story about Ms. Baker last month. This portion of the interview was particularly compelling:

Baker remembers the first time she identified a body. It was a woman who lived with her mother and struggled to support her two young daughters. The woman decided to migrate to the U.S. to work and send money back to care for her children. But when she was injured during the trip, her smugglers left her behind.

"I thought, 'I gotta find out from that mom if it would have been better just not to know — thinking that maybe she lived and would come home someday,' " Baker said. "And she said, 'No. The hope eats you alive every day.' And now they say they are blessed because they're able to lay flowers on her grave."


October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigrant of the Day: Rachel Weisz (United Kingdom)


Rachel Weisz is an actress. Weisz began her acting career at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in the early 1990s, then started working in television. She made her film debut in the film Death Machine (1994), but her breakthrough role came in the film Chain Reaction (1996), leading to a high-profile role in the films The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). Other notable films featuring Weisz are Enemy at the Gates, About a Boy, Constantine and The Fountain. For her supporting role in The Constant Gardener, she received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors' Guild award. Weisz recently played Evanora in Oz the Great and Powerful. Weisz also works in theatre. Her stage breakthrough was the 1994 revival of Noël Coward's play Design for Living, which earned her the London Critics Circle Award for the most promising newcomer. Weisz's performances also include the 1999 Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer, and their 2009 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in the latter play earned her the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress.

Weisz is a naturalized U.S. citizen.



October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Assessing the Prospects of Competing Agricultural Guest Worker Legislation: The Inherency of Unequal Bargaining Power in a Status Quo of Non-Enforcement by Ian David Baldwin

Assessing the Prospects of Competing Agricultural Guest Worker Legislation: The Inherency of Unequal Bargaining Power in a Status Quo of Non-Enforcement by Ian David Baldwin, George Mason University School of Law September 11, 2014

Abstract: This assessment of the major Congressional proposals by Democrats (HR 1773) and Republicans (S.744) to fashion a new guest worker program critiques the solvency of each proposal through the lens of their effect on illegal immigration. While S.744 may succeed at enticing migrants to apply through the W-Visa program in search of higher wages, portability rights, and the opportunity for a path to citizenship, the proposal may prove untenable to employers who view W-Visa holders as too costly. On the other hand, HR 1773 falls victim to the opposite problem - although growers will appreciate the stability of a workforce with little bargaining power, migrants will have little incentive to sign up for a visa program that affords them piece rate wages equal to what they would earn in an illegal setting.


October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Children Fleeing Central America: Stories From the Front Lines in Florida

Central americae AI Justice’s latest report – Children Fleeing Central America: Stories From the Front Lines in Florida offers a glimpse into a day in the life of the AI Justice staff who are working tirelessly to ensure that the children we serve have a full and fair opportunity to make their case.   Aericans for Immigrant Justice provides a detailed account of the harrowing stories of many children who undertook the perilous journey from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, many to escape deadly gang violence. 


October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Right to Travel: Breaking Down the Thousand Petty Fortresses of State Self-Deportation Laws by Linus Chan


The Right to Travel: Breaking Down the Thousand Petty Fortresses of State Self-Deportation Laws by Linus Chan, University of Minnesota School of Law - Center for New Americans September 10, 2014 Pace Law Review, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2014

Abstract: An examination of the use of the Right to Travel as a barrier to State Self-Deportation Laws. The mass exodus from Albertville, Alabama was not the result of a natural disaster or fears of an invasion by hostile forces. Instead, the residents of Albertville fled Alabama exactly in the manner the state legislators intended when Alabama passed H.B. 56. Alabama’s H.B. 56 is part of a legislative strategy known as “self-deportation” - a term first used to satirize an early ancestor of H.B. 56 that was passed in California as a public referendum titled, Proposition 187. The satirical term transformed into public policy for states that were frustrated by a perceived lack of federal enforcement of immigration laws. The policy got national attention when Mitt Romney adopted self-deportation as part of his platform during the 2012 Presidential election campaign. Despite a national discussion on immigration generally, often self-deportation legislation remains a local or state based issue. In June of 2013, the town of Fremont, Nebraska successfully defended in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals a set of ordinances written to prevent undocumented immigrants from living in the city.


October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

FROM THE BOOKSHELVES: Tom Syring and Susan Musarrat Akram, editors, Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises


Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises by Tom Syring, Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board, and Susan Musarrat Akram, Boston University School of Law September 1, 2014 STILL WAITING FOR TOMORROW: THE LAW AND POLITICS OF UNRESOLVED REFUGEE CRISES, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Susan M. Akram and Tom Syring (eds.)

Abstract: This volume is particularly concerned with identifying the root causes of some of the longest-standing unresolved refugee situations in the world today, and addressing the particular political and legal tensions undermining solutions to them. The book discusses the well-known factors that create refugee flows: war and armed conflict, environmental change and natural disasters, statelessness and protection gaps. It examines why particular refugee flows are not resolved — or are not resolvable — even where the original factors creating the flows have been mitigated or have disappeared. It also scrutinizes how various national and international actors’ policies have contributed with their interventions, omissions, and legal provisions to either alleviating a simmering refugee situation, or to turning it into a protracted or large-scale crisis. The volume covers historical and contemporary refugee situations, including Burma, Congo (DRC), Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Tibet, Vietnam, and West-Sahara. A table of contents, foreword, and introductory chapter is enclosed in full text.


October 6, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)