Sunday, February 26, 2006

Child Immigration Conference in El Paso

We are pleased to announce that the website for the Binational Conference on Child Immigration is up and running. You can access it at or by going to and clicking on the "Children on the! ir own" Conference. The conference is open to child immigration advocates and college students, and we invite you all to register. If you are interested in one of the border tours that will take place on Thursday, we ask that you register early, as seating is limited. Thank you for your support and we hope to see everyone here in El Paso in April!

Pamela Genghini Hernandez

Conference Committee Chair

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy

(915) 544-5126 Ext. 27


February 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Anti-Guest Worker Program by Center for Immigration Studies

Guestworker Programs:
Do They Make Sense for America?

WASHINGTON -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter has just circulated his version of a bill to establish a vast guestworker program that would legalize millions of illegal aliens and import an unlimited number of additional workers from abroad, in addition to unprecedented increases in legal immigration. Its passage would set the stage for a conflict with the House of Representatives, which approved a comprehensive enforcement measure in December.

Supporters of a guestworker program need to answer some important questions:

* Is the Department of Homeland Security capable of properly administering such a program?

* What can past legalization and guestworker programs, both here and abroad, teach us?

* What will be the cost to taxpayers of importing more unskilled workers and their families, and legalizing those here illegally (thus making them eligible for more government services)?

* Is the American economy truly reliant upon the labor of foreign workers?

* Is there no way other than legalization to address the problem of 12 million illegal aliens?

To assess these and other questions at the very start of the Senate's guestworker deliberations, the Center for Immigration Studies will sponsor a panel discussion featuring leading experts on the economics and administration of U.S. immigration policy. The luncheon panel will convene on Friday, March 3, in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club at 12 noon, and include:

* Bill King, former head of the Border Patrol Academy and administrator of the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty on the West Coast

* Philip Martin, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, and former member of the Commission on Agricultural Workers

* Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies

* Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. An RSVP is needed for lunch; contact John Keeley at (202) 466-8185 or


February 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Immigration to Avoid Academic Stress

Well-off Asian immigrants are settling in Great Neck, NY, in hopes of sparing their children the competition and pressure of scholastic life in their homelands.

Click on:

A Long Island Solution to Far East Stress

February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2005 Statistical Yearbook

Here's the link to EOIR's 2005 Statistical Yearbook:


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SEIU weighs in supporting a guest worker program

Eliseo Medina, vice president of the Service Employees International Union - the second largest union in the United States - has weighed in on immigration reform, calling for the implementation of a guest worker program as outline in a Senate bill cosponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy.  A New York Times story on the announcement is here.

The NYTimes article reporting the SEIU announcement notes that there is a split in the labor movement on the issue of the guest worker program. The AFL-CIO, for example, opposes the program.  The AFL-CIO did reverse its position on undocumented workers several years ago, calling for their legalization and the end of employer sanction enforcement.  But the guest worker program is a bridge too far -- the union remains concerned about the economic effects of a large-scale guest worker program.


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference at UC Berkeley: Citizenship Without Borders: Belonging and Exclusion in Immigrant America

Citizenship Without Borders:

  Belonging and Exclusion in Immigrant America


Thursday, March 16 - Friday, March 17, 2006 at Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley

This conference brings together leading scholars, immigrant rights activists and service providers, members of the legal community, faculty and students to evaluate the civic and political participation of immigrants; share stories about the daily practices of citizenship engaged in and experienced by immigrants; and consider the role that citizenship status plays and should play in mediating the legal rights and social benefits that immigrants receive in the United States.


Featured Speakers:

Thursday, March 16, 4:00-5:30pm, Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall:

The Robert D. and Leslie-Kay Raven Lecture on Access to Justice

"The Geography of Citizenship"

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

Dean, Georgetown University Law Center

with Mariana Bustamante, Public Education Coordinator of the national ACLU Immigrant Rights Project and Kevin Johnson, Professor of Law, UC Davis as respondents

Friday, March 17, 12:15-1:45pm, Rm. 140, Boalt Hall:

"The Immigration System Can't be Fixed Without

Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

with Maria Echaveste, Lecturer in Residence at Boalt Hall School of Law, as moderator

Other featured speakers:

Linda Bosniak, Professor of Law, Rutgers University

Karthick Ramakrishnan, Professor of Political Science, UC Riverside

Linton Joaquin, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center

Jennifer Gordon, Professor of Law, Fordham University

Eliseo Medina, SEIU Executive Vice President

Laurie Olsen, Executive Director, California Tomorrow

Gordon Mar, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association, Oakland

Irene Bloemraad, Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley

Michael Jones-Correa, Professor of Political Science, Cornell University

Sheila Chung, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition

Amagda Perez, Professor of Law and Supervising Attorney, Immigration Law Clinic, UC Davis

Louis De Sipio, Professor of Political Science, UC Irvine

Leoncio Vasquez, member of FIOB

Isabel Garcia, Pima County Legal Defender and Co-chair of Derechos Humanos

Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, Professor of Asian American Studies, UC Davis

For more information including the full conference agenda and directions to Boalt Hall go to: or call ISSC at 642-0813.

Sponsored by UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Social Change, the Center for Latino Policy Research, and Boalt Hall School of Lawl's Center for Social Justice.

The conference is free and open to the public. (No registration required.)

February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Tidbits

From Horseback to High-Tech: US Border Enforcement

Deborah Waller Meyers writes "In the minds of the American public, the term "border enforcement" conjures images of Border Patrol agents trying to prevent the entry of drugs, thugs, and illegal immigrants along a relatively uncontrolled, and, at times, chaotic US-Mexico border.",0227-meyers.shtm

Dual Allegiance: A Challenge To Immigration Reform And Patriotic Assimilation

John Fonte asks "Do we continue to permit the rapid increase in dual allegiance, which will happen by default if no Congressional action is taken, or do we begin to act to reject dual allegiance in principle and restrict it in practice?",0227-fonte.shtm

CRS Report On Border Security

The Congressional Research Service issued an updated report on the key federal agencies charged with border security.,0227-crs.pdf

Chennai Regrets

Recent visa denials by the US Consulate at Chennai of three prominent Indian scientists, including internationally recognized Indian scientist Goverdhan Mehta, have brought the issue of visa delays post-9/11 to the forefront. Particularly hard hit are foreign scientists with with expertise in scientific technology. For the full Washington Post story, see here.


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration lawyers Save the Olypmpic Games! :)

As skaters take silver, their lawyers get gold, Marcia Coyle, Staff reporter, 02-24-2006

Washington-Olympic medal winners routinely thank their coaches, their trainers and their families, but how often do they thank their lawyers?

"We want to thank our legal team," were the first public words by ice dancer Ben Agosto, who with partner Tanith Belbin had just won the silver medal, the first U.S. medal in ice dancing in 30 years during the Olympics in Turin, Italy, on Feb. 20.

Without that legal team-led by Barney Skladany of the Washington office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and assisted by Paul Virtue of D.C.'s Hogan & Hartson-Agosto and Belbin would have been forced to sit out their second Olympic competition in four years.

Belbin, a native of Canada, had a citizenship problem. Although she and Agosto had skated for the United States 32 times in national and international competitions, only American citizens can be on the U.S. Olympic team.

She came to Detroit to train with Agosto in 1999, earned her status as an alien of "extraordinary ability" in November 2000, and received her green card in early 2002. But she faced a five-year residency requirement, which meant she wasn't eligible for citizenship until 2007. She and Agosto needed a miracle by Dec. 31, 2005, to make the U.S. Olympic team.

Agosto turned to family member Jessica Weisel, counsel to Akin Gump's Los Angeles office, who in turn went to the firm's pro bono committee last spring. After examining the facts and the law, the committee concluded, as the old saying goes, "You're going to have to pass a federal law," recalled Skladany.

Skladany, a government process attorney in the firm's public policy practice, got the ice dancers to come to Washington to meet with him and Carl Levin, the Democratic U.S. senator from Michigan.

For more, see


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest Immigration Scholarship in the Law Reviews

Gokhale, Ashwin. Note. Finality of conviction, the right to appeal, and deportation under Montenegro v. Ashcroft: the case of the dog that did not bark. (Montenegro v. Ashcroft, 355 F.3d 1035, 7th Cir. 2004.) 40 U.S.F.L. Rev. 241-278 (2005).

Hull, Erin Bergeson. Note. When is the unmarried partner of an alien who has been forcibly subjected to abortion or sterilization a "spouse" for the purpose of asylum eligibility? The diverging opinions of ... (Ma v. Ashcroft, 361 F.3d 553, 9th Cir. 2004 and Chen v. Ashcroft, 381 F.3d 221, 3d Cir. 2004.) 2005 Utah L. Rev. 1021-1046.

Lindo, R. Victoria. Note. The trafficking of persons into the European Union for sexual exploitation: why it persists and suggestions to compel implementation and enforcement of legal remedies in non-complying member states. 29 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 135-151 (2006).


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

From the Border Report #13 (Final)

When the border delegation tour began last Friday in San Diego that would go on to Nogales and El Paso, I certainly expected to see the psychological as well as the physical effect of walls and fences along the border. Over the years, I have written about Operation Gatekeeper and the immoral deaths that resulted. I’ve written about the vast authority of the Border Patrol whose ranks have been exponentially expanded by Congress and whose power continues to be expanded by the courts. I’ve written about Border Patrol abuse and the need for reforms in the monitoring of misconduct. I’ve been to the border before, but primarily as a guest of the Border Patrol, for example as a member of the Citizens Advisory Panel appointed by Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. And, of course, I grew up in Arizona in a small copper mining town (in central Arizona) whose population was primarily Mexican American. However, what I did not expect to see and to sense was just how integrated the societies, the economies, and the lives are on both sides of the border.

Time and again, we heard from residents, religious leaders, community leaders, elected officials, local law enforcement, and even Border Patrol agents about the uniqueness of the communities. The barriers that separate the communities are unnatural. While barriers to “stop the flood” of immigrants might make sense to Lou Dobbs, the Minutemen, and misguided policymakers in DC, they miss the point of the traditions, the families, the relationships, and the tremendous benefit that flows from maintaining an open relationship between the two worlds. The two worlds are in fact one world, and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can make positive strides toward reaping the benefits of an integrated border.

On our last night in El Paso, earlier this week, the delegation had the privilege of hearing from local residents. Unfortunately, much of what we heard was about what life now is like living in a militarized zone, with hordes of Border Patrol agents constantly monitoring the activities of Latino-looking residents. When a series of young teens—elegantly bilingual—spoke of being harassed by agents as they walked to school and the fear that has been instilled in them by these experiences, it became even clearer that our nation’s border policies are marching in the wrong direction. At the end of the evening, these young girls presented each of the delegation members with a human rights tee shirt with a profound slogan that begins to inform us of a better way of looking at the border:

No somos enemigos, somos parte de la solución.


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tommy Lee Jones Film Positively Depicts Undocumented Immigrants,0,6443566,print.story

For 35 years, Tommy Lee Jones has been a strong and witty presence in the movies, and in directing himself he has reached the pinnacle of his career with "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," which at Cannes this year earned him the best actor prize and best screenplay award for Guillermo Arriaga, who wrote the explosive Oscar-nominated Mexican film "Amores Perros."

This gratifying classic trek western, full of grit and dark humor and a stubborn belief in the importance of honor, is so sly, stylish and full-bodied that the late Budd Boetticher and the late Burt Kennedy would not mind it being compared with the fabled westerns Boetticher directed and Kennedy wrote for Randolph Scott.

Jones plays Pete Perkins, a laconic, weathered cattle ranch foreman in the border community of Van Horn, Texas. He has formed a close friendship with Melquiades Estrada (Julio César Cedillo), a cowboy from Mexico. Meanwhile, Mike Norton (Barry Pepper) and his beautiful if vapid blond wife Lou Ann (January Jones) have just come from Cincinnati to Van Horn, where Mike has a taken a job as a border patrolman. He reports to Dwight Yoakam's hard-nosed Capt. Frank Belmont, who refers to undocumented workers with a racial slur.

Mike and Lou Ann's lives peaked in high school, and the swiftly bored Lou Ann has little to sustain her. Mike is a mindless macho type who pores over Hustler magazine on the job and immediately displays a propensity for excessive violence in capturing illegal immigrants. When Melquiades spots a fox menacing a herd of sheep he takes aim, and trigger-happy Mike, on duty nearby, returns fire, killing the cowboy.

Pete promised Mel that should Mel die he would see that his body was buried in his village in Mexico. With Pete, a man's word is taken seriously, and acting on a tip, he kidnaps Mike into accompanying him.

Arriaga backs into his story, alternating among its various strands, moving between past and present without warning; it's his way of plunging the audience into the lives of the various people who will soon interact in convoluted and unexpected ways.

The trek south of the border, which holds a climactic surprise revealing the depth of Melquiades' yearning for family ties and a life in an idyllic setting close to nature, is crucial in that it forces a reevaluation of Mike, heretofore easily dismissed as a lethal jerk. The adventures and hardships become a transforming experience for him and reveal Pepper as a young actor of range and depth.

Jones is unpretentious, economical and confident on both sides of the camera. He and Arriaga subtly move from the socially critical and observant into more mystical territory once in Mexico, with "The Three Burials" becoming fable-like. Yet the film remains all of a piece, with a strong assist from the legendary cinematographer Chris Menges' seductively graceful and clear-hued images with their inspired use of light. Equally seductive is Marco Beltrami's evocative, Latin-themed score.

The film's supporting characters are as deftly drawn as those of its stars, and Melissa Leo has a pivotal role as a sultry, seen-it-all motel waitress with a yen for Pete. Incisive yet supple, wrenching yet deeply pleasurable, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" easily ranks among the year's best pictures.


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Book on Residential Segregation

James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns:  A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (2005) is a fascinating book of the history of all-white towns in the United States.  It tells the story of the rise of "sundown towns," i.e., towns where African Americans could not be after sundown (and thus could not live), which were especially prevalent in the North, not the South.  Illinois and Indiana are famous sundown states.  And there is a section on the role of white ethnic immigrants in the Midwest in the rise of the sundown town. See pp.154-57.


February 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

From the Border Report #12

On Sunday in Nogales, we met with Dr. Grania Marcus, a volunteer with bi-national border ministries, who works with migrants along the border. She submitted this important statement:

Statement of Dr. Grania Marcus

Washington, D.C. Border Tour,

Nogales, Arizona

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I thank the Border Action Network for inviting me here and thank especially those who have come a long way to hear us. I have served for two years as a Volunteer-in-Mission with Frontera de Cristo, one of seven bi-national border ministries that are partnerships of the Presbyterian Church USA and of the Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México.  We have been a presence on the border for the past 20 years, and have therefore been in a position to experience directly the historic changes that US immigration policies have brought to our churches and communities during the past decade. Frontera’s two churches, in fact, have become microcosms of the consequences of US border policy.

By 1997, the new walls built on the border in California and Texas had shut down the traditional urban migrant crossing areas and had funneled the increasing economic migration from Mexico and Central America through Arizona.  Douglas and Agua Prieta, as well as Nogales, Naco, and other border communities in Arizona and Sonora, were soon divided by their own walls, night-buster lights, sensors, rows of cameras, and clouds of dust caused by denuded desert and the constant dragging of tires.   The noise of helicopters overhead at night interrupted our sleep. Border Patrol vehicles became omnipresent in our communities. The largest Border Patrol station in the country was built in the midst of pristine ranch land, bringing hundreds of new agents from all over the country.  Little was done to prepare our communities for the consequences of this militarization of the border.

Did this increasingly ugly and divisive infrastructure stop migration?  Not at all.  A recent Pew Hispanic Center study found that more than two-thirds of undocumented immigrants came to the US less than 10 years ago. This policy of increasing enforcement has not only failed to stop undocumented migration, and fails to recognize its economic basis, but has also had serious consequences for our communities and churches.

Fear is perhaps the most virulent by-product of our border policy. In the mid-90s, when Arizona began to bear the brunt of undocumented migration, members of our churches, including many ranchers, began to fear those who crossed their land.  The migrants left plastic trash that killed their cattle, cut their fences and water lines, hid in their outbuildings, and sometimes broke into their homes and stole from them in a desperate search for food. Long-time residents of Douglas also experienced thefts from their yards and houses. Richard and Ursula, for example, are active members of our Douglas church who have lived on their ranch for generations and lament the impact on their way of life. They fear for the lives of family members. Ursula told us, “When I see them [migrants], I give them food and water, but then I call the Border Patrol. Sometimes I feel like Judas.” Richard hopes greater enforcement measures will return the life they have lost. Another rancher, Guy, blames the Border Patrol for most of the destruction of his fences and loss of his cattle, and has given up his ranch on the border. He got tired of the constant repairs, with no end in sight. The increasing fears of these families, and the sense of helplessness in the face of forces than cannot control, have led them and some of their friends to support political candidates who advocate deploying the National Guard on the border, building more fences, deporting all undocumented immigrants, including those who have lived and worked in the US many years, preventing the undocumented from accessing health care and education, and building new prisons in the desert with no modern conveniences.

Racial profiling is another reality that many members of our communities and churches live with.  A border policy that makes all people with brown skin in the Douglas area suspect breeds fear and anger. Although many members of our churches are citizens or legal residents, and many others were born here and have lived in our communities for decades, they feel they must carry their passports and documents with them at all times.  They are frequently stopped and questioned by Border Patrol for no apparent reason. 

Gabriel, for example, a US-born citizen who has lived in Douglas for 34 years, who is an active member of the local Catholic parish and a retired Federal government employee, has been stopped by Border Patrol on numerous occasions.  When he asks why he is being stopped, the agents usually avoid answering. It is not unusual to see Border Patrol driving around residential neighborhoods in Douglas, a community that is approximately 90% Latino, chasing alleged undocumented migrants.  Sometimes the agents even attempt to get residents of these neighborhoods to help them locate the alleged migrant being pursued, or request entry into the yards of residents to continue the pursuit. Few residents are aware of their rights and many are intimidated into cooperating. Others are angry at the way they are treated, but concerned that they will bring unwanted attention to their families. Those who are undocumented, but are in the US simply to be with family members, live in constant fear. 

Family separation has also taken a toll on the lives of our church members on both sides of the border.  Family members used to cross back and forth quite easily, and those working in the US could return to Mexico to visit family there and return to their jobs.  Most working in the US were building their ranchitos in their communities in Mexico and planning to retire there with their families. Now, the high cost and extreme hardships of the journey force lengthy, and sometimes permanent, separations.  Some families in our churches who live on both sides of the border have been divided, no longer able to cross to see their children, parents, or relatives. Broken families occur here much more frequently than in the past. Family relationships are also strained when one partner to a marriage is undocumented and the other is a citizen of the US. We even know of cases where Border Patrol and Customs agents have on-going relationships with undocumented partners. These differences force decisions about where to live, where to work, how to be together, whether to marry, and where to send children to school that are dictated by the circumstances of birth and US immigration policy, not the needs of the family. They impose a life of deception. The stresses to family life are immeasurable, and we see them in the faces of the innocent children that suffer from these policies.

The rising death and injury toll among migrants has entered our churches in particularly compelling ways.  In the late 90s, we began to meet migrants who had barely survived their attempted journeys, and to learn of others whose family members had died from dehydration, hyperthermia and other environmentally-related causes. Some family members just disappeared, and their families were left to suffer the agony of not knowing their fate. Others desperately seek our help locating a family member who has made the journey to the US and has not been heard from. The death toll has risen sharply during the past decade, bringing a new record every year.  In FY 2005, 467 migrants died on the US/Mexican border, 282 of them in Arizona alone. 

Ricardo Bernal, a thirty-five year old father of four from Vera Cruz, showed up a few years ago at the Lily of the Valley Church in Agua Prieta.  He had found himself vomiting profusely by the side of Hwy 80 north of Portal. He thought he was going to die and each time a car would come by, he would struggle to his knees. But car after car passed him by, including Border Patrol vehicles. Finally, a little white truck driven by one of “God’s angels,” picked him up and took him for medical care. The man that picked him up told him that “he could lose his truck or be put in jail” for helping him, but that “it was his obligation as a Christian to help those in need.”  Ricardo’s angel had evidently taken seriously Jesus words in Matthew 25—that as Christians we are to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. Jesus teaches us to emulate the Samaritan who stopped and helped the wounded man on the side of the road, while the religious leaders and keepers of the law passed him by. This is the fundamental issue for faith communities on the border:  Is it legal to be a Christian?  And it is a question that challenges us at the heart of our beliefs and shapes our responses.

Many churches on the national level, most notably the Catholic Church, but also the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Mennonite, Quakers and others, have called for comprehensive immigration reform, and some have specifically endorsed the Kennedy-McCain bill. Other church judicatories, communities of faith, and individuals of faith have endorsed the Faith-based Principles for Immigration Reform, five principles that outline the basic requirements of a humane and just immigration policy.  All of these statements have been promulgated in recognition of the many people victimized by our current policies, and of the need to shift from an increasingly punitive enforcement policy to one that recognizes the economic basis of migration and the contributions of some 11 million undocumented workers in our country. The churches on the national level are attempting to take their call to be a “prophetic voice” seriously, in the face of a national debate informed mainly by ignorance, hate and fear.

On the local level, however, i.e. in the pews, our churches are, for the most part, silent.  Pastors, priests and their congregations want to remain a “family,” while at the same time severely buffeted by the extremes we experience here: fears of an alien “invasion,” recognition of the suffering on our border, the costs to our education and health services, environmental depredation, the racist and punitive platforms of some of our local and state politicians, increased vigilante activity, and an overwhelming helplessness in face of the perceived inevitability of the negative consequences of our “enforcement-only” immigration policy and increased economic migration. We know our churches are split and we know our congregations have strong feelings that, in the open, might produce permanent fissures. 

In my own church, the First Presbyterian Church in Douglas, a 2004 effort to create a short-term “respite” place for migrants recuperating from illnesses and accidents forced a discussion that expressed sympathy for the suffering migrants, and all the fear, pain and frustration of a seemingly intractable situation. Many members attended an open meeting of the congregation, including ranchers, humanitarian aid workers, educators, Latino immigrants and Border Patrol. Some wrote their feelings in an effort not to get into verbal arguments with those that disagreed. In the end, the proposal actually passed, by one vote. The governing body of the church then voted it down on the grounds that it would split the church. Several abstained from voting.  Most were simply relieved that they had not lost any members.

Most border churches in the Douglas area have been much less direct. They have resorted to limited efforts to help such as collecting blankets or cans of food to donate to the migrant centers in Agua Prieta, efforts that do not require them to take a public stand. In some cases, they have carried out extensive ministries to the poor in Agua Prieta, such as building houses.  Other people volunteer with some of the humanitarian ministries that serve migrants, or even help migrants that they encounter by the side of the road, sometimes at considerable personal risk.  One congregation in Bisbee has donated substantial funds to our desert water ministry, Agua Para La Vida. A few attend the weekly ecumenical vigil held at the border to remember the approximately 140 migrants who have died in Cochise County. Generally, however, there seems to be little desire within our churches to examine what it means to be a Christian in an era when the powers and principalities seem overwhelmingly arrayed against challenging the status quo of US immigration policy.

In closing, I can only pray that you do all in your power to prevent the enactment of any of the even more punitive enforcement bills now before you—those that would criminalize both economic migrants and Good Samaritans; those that would increase the walls, technology and firepower that kill hundreds of migrants every year and victimize countless others; those that would increase the destruction of families; those that would put the National Guard on the border; and those that would ignore the input of all constituencies on the border. And we will do all in our power to challenge the members of our churches to examine their faith and to act on what Scripture teaches us.

Thank you very much. I welcome your questions.

For further information: 

Grania Marcus

(520) 364-9257


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

OIS Issues 2004 Yearbook Of Immigration Statistics

The Office of Immigration Statistics at the DHS presents data on foreign nationals for FY 2004, including those who were granted lawful permanent residence, were admitted into the US on a temporary basis, applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized.,0224-Yearbk04.pdf


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


THE URBAN INSTITUTE, News Release, 2100 M STREET NW WASHINGTON D.C. 20037 T:202/261-5709,

CONTACT: Thomas Mentzer, (202) 261-5627,


WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 23, 2006--A new book from the Urban Institute Press examines what lies ahead if current immigration patterns and policies aren't

changed: farmworkers ready to work for poverty-level wages will continue to enter the country, and their U.S.-educated children, shunning their parents farm jobs, will continue to move to cities for better jobs, perpetuating a cycle of rural poverty.

The immigration and integration challenges facing the United States are profound, Phil Martin, Michael Fix, and J. Edward Taylor point out in The New Rural Poverty. Since 1990, the number of U.S. residents born abroad has doubled to 35 million, with one-third coming from Mexico. At least half of the Mexicans entering the United States in the past 15 years first worked in rural, agricultural areas.

"The wages of newcomer migrants are high by Mexican standards but low by U.S. standards, so the same immigration flows that preserve farms and farm-related industries in rural America are also increasing poverty in many of these new migration destinations," the authors note.

Throughout the book, the authors address fundamental questions: Does U.S.

agriculture have a long-term need for exceptions from labor and immigration laws? Would the cycle of rural poverty end if a guest-worker program required immigrants to return home after their work stints? Or should seasonal farmwork be a first step to permanent residency?

Part 1 outlines the interdependencies between immigrants and agriculture, charting the history of migrants in farming from former transcontinental railroad workers in 1869 to Braceros in the 1960s to today's illegal immigrants, many from Mexico.

Part 2 examines the changing face of rural America in three areas:

-- California's inland valleys of San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Imperial account for many billions of dollars in farm sales each year, but are also home to widespread unemployment and poverty. Just three counties in southern San Joaquin Valley account for almost $10 billion in farm sales, but wintertime unemployment can reach 20 percent.

-- California's coastal valleys also suffer from limited housing, a lack of immigrant integration, and high seasonal unemployment. Farm owners in Ventura County, with annual sales of $1.4 billion, used guest-worker programs, attractive worker benefits, and modern personnel practices to encourage seasonal workers to return year after year. But by the late 1980s, wage demands and the rise of illegal immigration undermined labor-owner cooperation.

-- Poultry processing, mushroom farming, and tobacco industries on the Atlantic seaboard and the meatpacking industry in the Midwest are contributing to high rates of illegal immigration; the regions face problems like California's, particularly challenges with social integration, and higher education and health costs.

In Part 3, Martin, Fix, and Taylor unravel three facts that frame the policy challenges and options facing rural America. First, many in the industry insist that a steady flow of foreign workers is necessary to agriculture's lifeblood. Second, rural Mexico has too many people given the weakening of Mexico's agricultural economy. And third, legalization programs have forged hard-to-break links between rural Mexico and rural America.

Two competing policy approaches result. One offers unauthorized foreigners guest-worker status with an eventual return to their native countries, the other a path to legal immigrant status. Among the policy options being debated in Washington:

-- Fair and Secure Immigration Reform, outlined by President Bush in 2004, would permit unauthorized but employed foreigners to become guest workers for six years;

-- The House in December 2005 approved the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, which adopts an enforcement-only approach to unauthorized migration;

-- The Senate is considering bills that would allow unauthorized workers to apply for six-year guest worker visas, but the bills differ on what happens after six years-under some proposals they could become immigrants, while under others they would have to return to their countries of origin; and

-- AgJOBS, a compromise measure, provides a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants and eases restrictions for guest workers.

"Farmers argue that migrants are needed to sustain and expand agriculture and related industries," Martin notes. "However, if newcomers seeking the American dream remain farmworkers for a decade or less, and their children shun farm jobs, rural America becomes an immigration treadmill, serving as a port of entry for newcomers but not providing careers for the immigrants and their children."

Philip Martin and J. Edward Taylor are professors in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis.

Michael Fix is vice president and director of studies at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The New Rural Poverty, by Philip Martin, Michael Fix, and J. Edward Taylor, is available from the Urban Institute Press for $26.50 (121 pages, ISBN 0-87766-729-2). Order online at, call 202-261-5687, or dial 1-877-847-7377 tollfree.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation.


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GAO Report on Border Security

The U.S. General Accountability Office has a report on border security. See


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Miami Herald Weighs in on Immigration Reform

For immigration reform that works OUR OPINION: SEN. McCAIN IN RIGHT PLACE TO PROMOTE SENSIBLE SOLUTIONS Like many other immigrant-rich regions, South Florida would greatly benefit from comprehensive immigration reform, particularly if it includes a path to legalization for 11 million undocumented people in this country. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will be promoting his own reform proposal -- the best of a variety of proposed immigration bills -- when he hosts a town hall meeting on the issue tonight in Miami. The senator has come to the right place. South Florida is a hot spot for immigrants who have lived the American dream and others still struggling to gain legal status. Our local communities have benefited from immigrant entrepreneurs and workers. But our social services are stretched by poor and undocumented. For the rest, see: KJ

February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Extension for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua

February 23, 2006, Press Release, DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status Extension for El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua

Details of Re-Registration Process to be Announced Soon

WASHINGTON, D. C. - In a continuing effort to assist El Salvador, Honduras,and Nicaragua in recovering from the natural disasters that affected the Central American region, the Department of Homeland Security has announced a decision to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an additional 12 months for all three countries. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

(USCIS) will provide additional information about the re-registration process and answers to frequently asked questions upon publication of Notices in the Federal Register soon.

Therefore, re-registration applications will not be accepted before the registration period is announced for each nation. Under this extension nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua who have already been granted and remain eligible for TPS will be able to continue living and working in the United States for an additional 12 months.

This extension covers approximately 225,000 Salvadorans, 75,000 Hondurans, and 4,000 Nicaraguans. This extension of these TPS designations will expire on September 9, 2007 for El Salvador and on July 5, 2007 for Honduras and Nicaragua.


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

From the Border Report #11

The border tour ended with a meeting on Tuesday morning with a meeting with the deputy chief of the local Border Patrol in the El Paso sector. He reiterated that since being subsumed by the new Department of Homeland Security in 2002, preventing terrorism is the patrol’s number 1 priority. The Border Patrol is very happy with the attention that the border has received in the last few years, because that attention has brought more resources to the patrol. Even the rhetoric of Lou Dobbs and the arrival of the Minutemen have brought attention that resulted in more resources to the patrol.

The Border Patrol has 11,000 agents in 20 sectors nationwide. In El Paso, there are 1,342 agents and 12 stations, responsible for 180 miles of land border and 88 miles of river border. El Paso is one of 7 sectors that gets resource priority. Like what we heard in San Diego, the deputy chief her emphasized the need for agents and technology. The patrol doesn’t need lighting and huge barriers (fencing) everywhere, but technology is needed everywhere.

In 2005, 12,500 criminal aliens were arrested in El Paso (perhaps half violent crime, including domestic violence; only small percent were LPRs). The deputy chief boasted that El Paso is the 2d safest city in the US over 500,000 population (something we also heard from local police offers), and the border patrol feels that it has contributed to that safety record. (On the other hand, local police credit the record to their own community police techniques, where the border patrol only plays a small role.)

As in San Diego, the border patrol in El Paso complains about its agents being assaulted with rocks, fists, and guns. They claim that agents exercise restraint and only resort to force when necessary. By increasing the number of agents, violence increased. The patrol argues that an increase of violence against its agents is actually an indicator of its own effectiveness!

The deputy chief would not comment specifically on the Sensenbrenner bill nor the CLEAR act, but noted that if local law officials stop someone for probable cause for a criminal activity and learn they are in violation of immigration law, they should and do call. Certainly they don’t want them at the border; but cooperation with local and state law enforcement is part of layered strategy. There are places for everyone. It’s up to local folks to ask about status. Do they have an obligation to act when they suspect someone is undocumented? That’s a moral question.

Regarding the Minutemen: The deputy chief reiterates that the job of border enforcement is best left to border patrol professionals. When they call, they aren’t treated differently nor given priority. He thinks the effort is waning now. It brought attention to the border, and that helped border patrol in terms of attention on the border. He does acknowledge that he told the Minutemen about areas where they should stay out of because of danger.


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TPS extended

A story in today's Washington Post forshadows that the Bush administration will soon issue its decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for the approximately 300,000 Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants in the United States for another year.

TPS is designed to help immigrants who have difficulty returning to their homelands because of natural disaster or war.  The status of individuals from the Central American nations was set to expire, which would have ended the ability of many of them to remain in the U.S. lawfully.

The Post story is here.


February 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)