Monday, July 31, 2006
The United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced today additional resources to enhance the enforcement of immigration laws and border security along the Southwest border. The Department of Justice will add 20 Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) to the five federal law enforcement districts along the border: the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the District of Arizona, the District of New Mexico and the Southern District of California.
Dan Kowalski asks the rehetorical question "...and how many new Federal Defenders are being hired?..." You all are bright folks and know the answer to that question.
Over the past five years, the number of investigations initiated by ICE of employers suspected of illegally employing workers who are unauthorized to work in the US has been extremely low, and falling. Similarly, criminal charges filed against such employers were quite low.
Recent events seem to auger a possible reversal of that trend. On Saturday, Bill Hing posted information about the case of U.S. v. Witt, the case involving the supervisors at Fischer Homes, a construction company. Today, the New York Times reports on another case against an employer - Garcia Labor Company, a temporary worker contractor. Julia Preston writes:
The criminal charges against Mr. Garcia and his company were brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The campaign has included at least five other federal indictments of business executives in Ohio and Kentucky and has sent payroll managers rushing to re-examine their workers’ papers and rethink plans for their work force.
It also created a new environment of fear in Ohio’s immigrant communities.
The full story is here.
At the moment, investigations of employers remains a tiny fraction of overall immigration enforcement measures.
TRAC released a report today on the disparity among Immigration Judges in asylum decisions from FY 1994 through FY 2005. It can be found on TRAC's website at http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/160/. For this report, TRAC analyzed the electronic records of 297,000 asylum decisions from FY 1994 through FY 2005. The data was obtained and generously provided to TRAC by asylumlaw.org. Among other things, the report found a very large disparity in grant/denial rates among judges. This gap held true even when looking at a subset of the larger asylum population: Chinese applicants in New York EOIR from 2000-2005. The report provides the name, court, denial rate, and ranking of all 208 immigration judges who had at least 100 asylum decisions during the most recent 5-year period. TRAC plans other reports on asylum and a variety of other immigration topics. Larry Katzman is director of TRAC's Immigration Project. For more information, Larry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The project was launched last year with the support of the JEHT Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Syracuse University.
What can the U.S. do if a huge trading partner like China won't take back thousands of undocumented immigrants? Not much, apparently.
In a spat over U.S. asylum policy, China is refusing to take back 40,000 deportable immigrants, insisting that asylum-seekers such as Falun Gong members and other political opponents of Beijing be returned as well. That has put the U.S. in a sticky position.
If undocumented immigrants "are not accepted back, then, for all intents and purposes, they are free to remain in this country because we have no place to remove them to," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. here.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
U.S. immigration activists clashed at the site of the World Trade Center on Wednesday when an anti-illegal immigration group called for secure borders to avoid a repeat of the September 11 attacks and counterprotesters yelled "racists go home."
Supporters of the Minuteman Project, which patrols the U.S.-Mexican border for undocumented immigrants, and immigrant rights activists, who showed up at the Minuteman event, became involved in a heated argument.
Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi, authors of "Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders," were whisked away when some immigrant rights supporters broke through a police barrier and scuffled with Minutemen supporters.
Corsi, who also wrote a book critical of Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, accused President Bush of leaving U.S. borders wide open. Click here.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
In US v. Witt, et. al, 06-2059M-1, complaint filed in USDC Eastern Kentucky May 08, 2006, the ICE agent filed a criminal complaint charging Defendants, the supervisors at Fischer Homes, a construction company, for harboring undocumented aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, in violation of 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(B)(i) and 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (a)(1)(A)(v)(II). We believe this is the first time that a criminal complaint for harboring has been filed against an Company's supervisors for undocumented aliens that were employed by a sub-contractor.
CLICK HERE FOR AN ARTICLE THAT POSES THIS SEEMINGLY AGE-OLD QUESTION:
The conference room at the law offices of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger and Tetzeli was crammed tight. Attorneys took turns at the microphone, their faces etched with frustration. The question they kept coming back to: Why? Why, they asked, are Haitian immigrants singled out by the U.S. government for unequal treatment? On this day, earlier in the year, the topic was temporary protected status, a designation the federal government can grant to foreigners allowing them to remain part time in the United States because of political unrest or environmental disasters at home. Central Americans have repeatedly been granted protected status following hurricanes and earthquakes in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Immigrants from Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan also enjoy such protections. But Haitians have never obtained relief, despite decades of political turmoil, kidnappings and killings, and tribulations from tropical storms.
One can only wonder how much race and racism affects all of U.S. immigration law and enforcement. yes, the immigration laws for the most part are race neutral. However, the law and its enforcement has racially disparte impacts. And just how much anti-Mexican sentiment is affecting the debate over immigration reform? I sure wish I could say "not at all" but that would be a lie.
As political leaders are mired in debate over immigration reform, the U.S. Catholic Church is busy reaching out to embrace the cultural richness of its increasingly diverse flock.
While it didn't make front page news, more than 2,000 young Hispanic Catholics -- many of them new immigrants -- gathered recently for dialogue with bishops from the United States and Latin America who heard their calls for a more visible place in their church and country. Bishop Felipe Estévez, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Miami, joined a delegation of 44 Miami Hispanic Catholic youth at this encuentro (gathering) held at the University of Notre Dame. Click here.
Colorado is the home of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Republican who has become a serious national figure courtesy of his vehement opposition to undocumented immigration. It is also the home of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat who worked hard for a Senate bill that combines tougher border enforcement with a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants. Tancredo happens to despise the bill Salazar supports.
Given the passions and the inevitable political calculations going into
this fall's elections, this may be the worst moment to write a sensible
national immigration policy. Bills that give a little to one side and a little
to the other can get so complicated that they become unworkable and fail to
resolve the fundamental issues. Click here.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Even as Congress is stalled over legislation dealing with the growing number of undocumented immigrants, a split has emerged among pro-immigrant rights groups over whether to back the Senate measure, seen as the more lenient of the two bills being considered by lawmakers.
A number of the larger and more well-known organizations, such as the National Immigration Forum and the National Council of La Raza, back the Senate bill, albeit reluctantly. But a growing number of other liberal immigrant rights advocates, dismayed at what they say are onerous provisions of the Senate measure, are now saying they would prefer that Congress not enact an immigration law this year. Click here.
Even as Italy and Spain have legalized hundreds of thousands of undocumented foreigners, the European Union is mulling a battery of anti-immigration measures, including border guards and patrol boats to scour Africa's coasts for vessels carrying suspected would-be immigrants. In France, the new legislation has sparked passionate reactions a year ahead of general elections, exposing deep-seated ambivalence toward immigrants. Successive polls underscore widespread support for tougher policies. Yet many are troubled at the prospect of deporting youngsters like Sambou, and particularly at expelling those born and raised in France. Click here.
On July 27, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued an opinion in State v.Aquino, deciding the case is moot because the record does not reflect whether the client was deported for his aggravated felony or because he was here illegally. The court did not rule on the question whether criminal defense lawyers have the obligation to determine their client's immigration status, and advise the clients of the immigration consequences of the criminal case. The Court vacated a bad decision at the intermediate appeals court level. Conrad Seifert represented Mr. Aquino, the appellant. Tova Indritz, Jorge Baron, and Bruno Bier filed an amicus brief on behalf of the following eight organizations: American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (CCDLA). Immigration Clinic, Yale Law School, International Institute of Connecticut, Inc., National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIP-NLG), National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA), and the Samuel and Anna Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic, Yale Law School. Click here (Download decision.pdf ) to read the decison.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued proposed immigration rules that would have a disastrous effect on all workers and our economy. Under the proposed rule, employers could be held liable for violating immigration law if they continue to employ workers who receive notification that the name and social security number they gave their employer does not match the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) records (otherwise known as an SSA “no-match” letter) – despite the numerous legitimate reasons for a “no match.” This may prompt panicked employers to fire thousands of workers before workers have a chance to resolve the discrepancy. For more information about the proposed rule, see "SSA "No-Match" Letters and DHS's Proposed Rules". We must fight back! Public comments are due to DHS by Monday, August 14, 2006. We need to bombard DHS with the message that these regulations will - Lead to discrimination, abuse, and unlawful mass firings that will harm all workers; Promote an underground economy that punishes “good” employers who play by the rules while actually providing more incentive to employers who continue to exploit undocumented workers; and Ignore the reality that the SSA “no-match” letter is ill-suited as a worksite enforcement tool, and that comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to create a workable solution. Please take a moment out of your day to help defend the rights of ALL workers! How individuals can fight the proposed regulations Spend one minute sending an electronic comment to DHS at http://seiuaction.org/campaign/immigration_dhs_regulations. Spend two minutes printing out a flyer and mailing it to DHS. Spend 10 seconds forwarding this alert to your friends and family! How organizations and unions can fight the proposed regulations Widely distribute flyers to send to DHS to your members or network. Ask your members or network to submit electronic comments to DHS at http://seiuaction.org/campaign/immigration_dhs_regulations. Send comments opposing the regulations. Please copy model comments onto your letterhead and include information about your organization and your experience with SSA no-match letters. Please also forward to organizations in your state. Tell the media why these regulations are bad for all workers. Use our media talking points to reach out to the press to tell workers’ stories. Introduce a resolution in your city. The Santa Fe, New Mexico City Council has introduced a resolution (see draft) stating that the city will not take adverse action against any city employee who receives a no-match letter. The resolution passed the Finance committee unanimously, and the full City Council will vote on it tonight. Use this resolution as a model in your city. Send stories of workers who have been unlawfully fired because their employer received a no-match letter. These examples are powerful and will help demonstrate the negative impact that SSA no-match letters have had on all workers. If you have a story, please send it to Jennifer Lai at NILC, email@example.com 213-639-3900 ext 123. For more information, please contact: Tyler Moran, National Immigration Law Center, 208-333-1424 Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO, 202-637-3949 Amy Sugimori, National Employment Law Project, 212-285-3025 x302 Sarita Gupta, Jobs with Justice, 202-393-1044 x227 (as a resource for actions that people can take in response to the proposed rule) Resources: DHS Proposed Rules: “Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive A No-Match Letter” 71 FR 34281-85 (June 14, 2006). PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE, EMAIL ALL RESPONSES TO MUNOZ@NILC.ORG.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
House Republican leaders announced a plan to blanket the country with hearings in August -- 19 of them in 12 states -- to stir public support for a border crackdown this year, perhaps before the November elections.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill, said he came away from his recent trip to the Arizona border convinced that the public wants the border closed to undocumented immigration before there is any consideration of either a guest worker program or legalization of the 12 million undocumented immigrants now believed to be in the country, as the Senate and the White House prefer.
The hearings are part of a series that began this month after House
leaders decided to delay opening formal negotiations with the Senate and
instead spend the summer collecting testimony on why the Senate bill is so
wrongheaded. Click here.
Click here for the full Seventh Circuit opinion. Thanks to Dan Kowalski for pulling out the punchline:
The immigration judge (O. John Brahos, whose decision was affirmed in a one-sentence per curiam order by the Board of Immigration Appeals) doubted the applicant's credibility on grounds that, because of factual error, bootless speculation, and errors of logic, lack a rational basis. These have been common failings in recent decisions by immigration judges and the Board. Hanaj v. Gonzales, 446 F.3d 694, 700 (7th Cir. 2006); Tabaku v. Gonzales, 425 F.3d 417, 423 (7th Cir. 2005); Hor v. Gonzales, 421 F.3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 2005); Lin v. Ashcroft, 385 F.3d 748, 755-56 (7th Cir. 2004); Cao He Lin v. United States Dep't of Justice, 428 F.3d 391, 403 (2d Cir. 2005); Elzour v. Ashcroft, 378 F.3d 1143, 1153-54 (10th Cir. 2004); Dia v. Ashcroft, 353 F.3d 228, 249, 250 (3d Cir. 2003) (en banc); Gao v. Ashcroft, 299 F.3d 266, 278-79 (3d Cir. 2002).
A P.S. from Michael Olivas
. . . ya gotta love Posner when he is dogging immigration matters: "The IJ's credibility findings in their weirdness gave the BIA pause..." (at 3)
On July 24, 2006, in the case of U.S. v. Romm, the Ninth Circuit upheld the admission of evidence obtained through the search of the contents of a laptop computer. Romm's computer was searched at a US port of entry after he was denied entry in Canada as he attempted to enter Canada from the US. The Ninth Circuit found that the search of the computer was a valid as a "routine border search." The court wrote:
"We assume for the sake of argument that a person who, like Romm, is detained abroad has no opportunity to obtain foreign contraband. Even so, the border search doctrine is not limited to those cases where the searching officers have reason to suspect the entrant may be carrying foreign contraband. Instead, 'searches made at the border...are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border.' Thus, the routine border search of Romm's laptop was reasonable, regardless whether Romm obtained foreign contraband in Canada or was under 'official restraint.'"
The language gives a good sense of the broad powers that inhere to government officials during border searches.
The focus of the news analysis has been upon the very intrusive, electronic nature of the search. Declan McCullough writes for CNET that the "[t]hree-judge panel unanimously says that border police may conduct random searches of laptops without search warrants or probable cause. These searches can include seizing the laptop and subjecting it to extensive forensic analysis." The CNET analysis can be found here:
It is worth noting, however, that it was not until the Ninth Circuit appeal that Romm raised the argument that the search of the contents of his laptop was too intrusive to qualify as a routine border search. The Ninth Circuit expressly declined to decide that issue. It is possible that, had the issue been properly raised in the lower courts, the Ninth Circuit may have been more reluctant to sanction such intrusive searches. Then again, courts are notoriously reluctant to limit the scope of border searches. The full decision is here:
Booth, Daniel. Note. Federalism on ICE: state and local enforcement of federal immigration law. 29 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 1063-1083 (2006).
Coffino, Eli. Note. A long road to residency: the legal history of Salvadoran & Guatemalan immigration to the United States with a focus on NACARA. 14 Cardozo J. Int'l & Comp. L. 177-207 (2006).
Nessel, Lori A. Forced to choose: torture, family reunification, and United States immigration policy. 78 Temp. L. Rev. 897-948 (2005). I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ARTICLE.
Richter, Jennifer E. Casenote. Return to sender: Supreme Court authorizes removal of aliens without prior consent from the destination country in ... (Jama v. ICE, 543 U.S. 335, 2005.) 57 Mercer L. Rev. 953-969 (2006).
An interesting op-ed by Bookda Geisar:
"The attack on immigrant rights is part of a broader attack on civil and human rights, one that diverts attention from the real issues. As long as we allow the poor, immigrants, people of color, religious minorities, gays and lesbians and people with disabilities to be used as scapegoats, we will never find solutions for poverty, lack of access to a quality education and lack of affordable health care." Click here for the entire commentary.