Monday, August 28, 2006
The federal government has barred two relatives of a Lodi man convicted of supporting terrorists from returning to the country after a lengthy stay in Pakistan, placing the U.S. citizens in an extraordinary legal limbo. Muhammad Ismail, a 45-year-old naturalized citizen born in Pakistan, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, have not been charged with a crime. However, they are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat, a 23-year-old Lodi cherry packer who was convicted in April of supporting terrorists by attending a Pakistani training camp. Federal authorities said Friday that the men, both Lodi residents, would not be allowed back into the country unless they agreed to FBI interrogations in Pakistan. An attorney representing the family said agents have asked whether the younger Ismail trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan.
Click here for the full story about the latest effort to get the Hayats.
Julia Mass at the ACLU is the the attorney for the family.
It took Esteban Velásquez a year to save enough money to buy a gold chain he had always wanted. But last summer, as Mr. Velásquez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, walked to a convenience store with a friend, a man punched him in the face and ran off with the $400 piece of jewelry. Robberies of illegal immigrants have become a serious problem here in recent years, and the victims, mostly from Guatemala, often avoid reporting the crimes, fearing deportation. Click here for the N.Y. Times story.
Many immigrants fear reporting crime to the police. The problem is likely to get worse as more state and local police are joining the feds in enforcing the immigration laws.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
The question has haunted the UCLA Islamic law professor since April, when he says a bullet whizzed past his ear and lodged in a book as he was standing near his living room bookshelf in front of his open front door. His fears intensified this month, after a news report in the Anaheim-based Al Watan newspaper and other Arabic-language media carried what Abou el Fadl calls a "solicitation of murder" against him. The article reported that Iranian extremists had declared it permissible to spill his blood because the scholar purportedly advised President Bush to support Israel's strike against Lebanon, resist a cease-fire with the Hezbollah militia and block the Islamist movement. Click here for the LA Times story.
Flying 500 feet above the simple barbed-wire fence that marks the U.S.-Mexico border, Armando Alarcon scans the desert below not just for a sign of life. He's also looking for a signal of distress. On this day, he sees only creosote bushes and ATV tracks in the dirt. He sees a big buck loping through the brush and a Border Patrol truck parked north of the border. He sees a cluster of cattle, a large field of black volcanic ash and the huge crater formed when the volcano collapsed. Finally, Alarcon's single-engine Cessna buzzes past the open arms of the Cristo Rey (Christ the King) statue built on a mountainside that straddles the end of the United States and the beginning of Mexico. It is down below where illegal immigrants take their first steps onto U.S. soil and where many collapse to their deaths in the brutal desert heat. For the entire Washington Post story, click here.
While Republican candidates are trying to hang on to their congressional majority by trumpeting the need for border security, the White House is laying the groundwork for a longer battle over immigration with an eye on capturing the Latino vote. Click here.
With immigration reform legislation stalled indefinitely, the congressional hearings on the issue that attracted overflow crowds around the Fourth of July have now fizzled with disinterest leading into Labor Day.
Most Americans paid little attention to the two dozen House hearings held around the country during the last two months. Many families have been on vacation, and the news has been dominated by war in the Middle East, the foiled terror plot in London and an arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. Click here.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
The price tag for comprehensive immigration reform was not a key issue when the Senate passed its bill last May. But it is now. One reason: It took the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - the gold standard for determining what a bill will cost - until last week to estimate that federal spending for this vast and complex bill would hit $127 billion over the next 10 years. Click here for the Christian Science Monitor Story.
Border governors -- including Arizona's Janet Napolitano and California's Arnold Schwarzenegger -- are chastising Republican congressional leaders for dragging their heels on immigration reforms and border security upgrades.
Napolitano, Schwarzenegger and Govs. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Rick Perry of Texas have written GOP congressional leaders asking them to move forward with stalled immigration measures this year. Click here.
A coalition of mostly Latino organizations filed a lawsuit Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court to remove an immigration enforcement initiative from the city's Nov. 7 ballot.
The group, including We Are America, is calling into question more than 700 signatures turned in by Randy Pullen, chairman of Protect Our City. Pullen's initiative aims to require Phoenix police officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
Danny Ortega, an attorney representing the group, said many of the signatures are invalid because felons collected them, which is not permitted by state law. Click here.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Umer Hayat is interviewed in today's Sacramento Bee. Mr. Hayat was unsuccessfully prosecuted on charges of lying to the FBI about his son's "terrorist training" in Pakistan. In the interview, Hayat indicates that the FBI set him up "in order to justify an expensive and unfruitful investigation into two Lodi Imams from Pakistan" who have since "voluntarily" departed the United States.
U. Hayat's trial last Spring resulted in a hung jury. He has been in federal custody since June 2005, but expected to be freed today after agreeing to plea to an unrelated charge of lying to customs officials about how much money he took to Pakistan on a 2003 trip. The full Sac Bee story by Stephen Maganini is here.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that, in a case considered a bellwether of United States policy toward foreign scholars, the government has decided not to appeal a court ruling ordering it to either issue a visa to Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Swiss Muslim scholar, or provide good reasons for not doing so. A federal court issued the ruling in June in a lawsuit brought on Mr. Ramadan's behalf by the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors, and the PEN American Center. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit. The government had been widely expected to appeal the ruling. But on Tuesday it let the 60-day deadline for appeal pass without doing so. Federal authorities now have 30 days to act on a second visa request from Mr. Ramadan, filed in September 2005, which has been left pending since then. Click here for the full story.
With ambitions to equal the turnout of massive immigration rallies in April and May, organizers announced Wednesday plans for Labor Day marches in the Bay Area and across the nation.
The Sept. 4 marches in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco and other U.S. cities, organizers say, will hopefully kick-start the stalled immigration reform legislation. Click here.
The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a national civil and human rights organization, has raised concerns about the paucity of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) on the list of nominees for the 58th Emmy Awards. Of the 16 nomination categories for outstanding actor or actress, only four minorities, one of whom was APIA actress Sandra Oh from Grey’s Anatomy, were nominated for awards. Last year, five minorities, including APIA actors Naveen Andrews and Oh, received nominations.
“The truth is there are few prime time roles being filled by APIA actors,” said Star Trek veteran George Takei. “The networks need to continue their efforts to significantly increase quality opportunities for Asian Americans and other minorities on prime time television, and then minority representation at the Emmys will also improve.”
A new report done by UCLA researchers for AAJC finds that APIA actors are practically absent from starring roles in prime time programming. The new report entitled, Asian Pacific Americans in Prime Time: Setting the Stage, reveals a dearth of quality roles for APIAs. It also looks beyond raw numbers to evaluate the type, quality and complexity of television characters portrayed by APIA actors.
Highlights from the report include:
- The percentage of regular APIA characters on prime time television comprises only 2.6 percent of all prime time television regulars despite APIAs making up 5 percent (as of 2004) of the population in the United States.
- Of the 102 prime time programs, only 14 feature at least one APIA actor.
- APIA regular characters remain absent from programs set in heavily APIA-populated cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
- All six networks feature smaller percentages of APIA regulars than exist in the U.S. population, with three networks (WB, UPN and FOX) at less than half and one network (CBS) with no representation whatsoever.
- ABC scored the highest percentage of regulars at 4 percent.
- While missing from 2004-2005 prime time situational comedies, APIA actors were featured on three sitcoms in the 2005-2006 season.
“Despite slight improvements in character prominence and quality, the lack of numerical representation renders APIAs still nearly invisible on prime time television,” said Karen K. Narasaki, chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and president and executive director of AAJC. “The study proves that APIAs continue to face barriers in obtaining quality roles in Hollywood in front of the camera.”
Of all television programming in the 2005 season, two series stand out in their inclusion and portrayal of APIAs. Lost and Grey’s Anatomy, both on ABC, are highly popular with audiences across
racial and ethnic groups.
Nancy Wang Yuen, lead UCLA researcher, added, “The public tend to rely on characterizations from film and television to formulate beliefs about groups with whom they may be less familiar. Representations of APIAs on prime time television will impact the treatment and perceptions of APIAs in real life.“
The new report, Asian Pacific Americans in Prime Time: Setting the Stage can be downloaded at www.advancingequality.org/files/aajc_tv_06.pdf. Also available on the Web site is AAJC’s 2005 television diversity report card.
The Pew Hispanic Center today released a fact sheet on Cubans in the United States. It includes the key characteristics of the population as well as results from opinion surveys conducted by the Center that shed light on attitudes held by Cubans. The analysis is based on the 2004 American Community Survey (ACS), a nationwide survey conducted monthly by the Census Bureau. The 2004 ACS public use micro sample included 4,622 respondents of Cuban origin (2,812 foreign born and 1,810 native born).The fact sheet is entitled "Cubans in the United States" and can be accessed on the Center's website, www.pewhispanic.org. The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization, is a project of the Pew Research Center and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Click here for the fact sheet.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Today marks the first day of the annual border governor's conference, which is being held in Austin, Texas. Since 1980, the conference has provided an annual forum for governors from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to discuss shared issues. Governors from Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Baja California and Coahuila will attend the two-day conference.
Unsurprisingly, the highlighted theme of this year's conference is "border security" - DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff is scheduled to attend - although economic issues are also scheduled to be discussed. The El Paso Times promises updates on the conference. The Austin American Statesman reports that the event has already drawn protests -- some of them seemingly aimed at California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but, the Statesman reports, also including demonstrations against proposals to build border fences and make felons of people in the country illegally.
Ruben Navarrette, syndicated columnist, has a special on the CNN website thatr synthezies his views on immigration.
Some longtime readers insist they have detected a leftward drift whenever I write about illegal immigration. They're wrong. But I can see how they might get that impression in a political climate that is increasingly all or nothing, with little room for nuance.
Click here for the full commentary.
Navarette is an interesting character. A graduate of Harvard (and author of the book A Darker Shade of Crimson), he endorses the calls for immigrants to learn English (and thus assimlate) but also criticizes the "close the borders" restrictionists.
Philip Hu fled Shanghai as a child after the communists took over China in 1949. After growing up in Taiwan, he went to UC Berkeley and eventually became a Silicon Valley tech executive. But he and his wife, Tanlie Chao, 55, have sold their house in San Jose and plan to retire to Shanghai in September, part of a reverse migration that reflects a turnabout among Chinese emigres. "I've been living here and speak the language," said Hu, 60. "But inside I'm very Chinese." For more on the growing reverse migration to China, click here.
More generally, one gap in the data about immigration is how many migrants in fact return to their native lands. Many immigrants come to the United States only to return home for a variety of reasons.
Hector Vega is co-valedictorian of James Lick High School in East San Jose, winner of a $20,000 National Merit Scholarship and an entering freshman on a full scholarship at Santa Clara University. He didn't speak a word of English five years ago when he arrived from Mexico, but he mastered the language in a year, advanced to honors classes and graduated from high school with a 4.0 grade-point average. Vega is also an illegal immigrant. Tall, soft-spoken and confident, Hector Vega, 19, is making a risky -- some say courageous -- choice in sharing his story and declaring publicly, ``Soy ilegal.'' In the divisive national debate about immigration reform, the young man from East San Jose is offering a rarely heard personal and public voice, representative of the predicament of thousands of children who were brought here by undocumented parents. Among the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, each year about 65,000 undocumented children graduate from U.S. schools, unable to work legally, or qualify for federal school loans and grants. ``I speak on behalf of many that come here in the quest for a better life,'' he said in a valedictory that moved students, parents and teachers to tears. ``I am, like many others out there who never give up their hopes, an immigrant. . . . '' The controversial DREAM Act, a provision in the U.S. Senate-approved immigration reform bill, would give legal status to students like Vega.
Click here for the full story.
From: Scialabba, Lori (EOIR)
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 4:20 PM To: All of BIA (EOIR)
Subject: My departure
Dear Board Staff, It is with very mixed emotions that I announce my departure from the Board of Immigration Appeals. I have been named Director of International Operations at the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, effective October 1, 2006. While I am excited to take on this new role, I am sad to be leaving so many good friends and colleagues. As you know, the Board has undergone a massive transformation during my tenure here. We have changed the way we adjudicate cases, we eliminated a large backlog of appeals, and we did it under time constraints that were more than ambitious. I am very proud of all we have accomplished over the past few years and firmly believe it was possible only because of your intelligence and hard work. You have my deep appreciation and respect for the dedication you have shown to the Board as an institution. There will always be new challenges to face and adjustments to make as we entertain cases under the ever-changing immigration laws we are responsible for administering, but I have every confidence that you will meet each challenge and continue to provide instructive, fair, and timely decisions. I will always consider the honor of having been the Chairman of the Board to be one of the highlights of my professional career. It has been a pleasure to work with you and I will miss you more than I can say. Lori
Cato Unbound has a an essay by Richard Rodriguez (click here to read). One of the responses to the essay is from demographer Douglas Massey, who writes in part that:
Mexican immigration is not a tidal wave. The rate of undocumented migration has not increased in over two decades. Neither is Mexico a demographic time bomb; its fertility rate is only slightly above replacement. Although a variety of trans-border population movements have increased, this is to be expected in a North American economy that is increasingly integrated under the terms of a mutually-ratified trade agreement. Undocumented migration stems from the unwillingness of the United States to include labor within the broader framework governing trade and investment. Rates of migration between Mexico and the United States are entirely normal for two countries so closely integrated economically. Mexico is not impoverished or disorganized. It is a dynamic, one trillion dollar economy and, along with Canada, our largest trading partner. Its per capita income is $10,000, which puts it at the upper tier of middle income countries, not far behind Russia’s per capita income of $11,000. Compared with Russia, however, Mexico has a much better developed infrastructure of highways, ports, railroads, telecommunications, and social services that give it a poverty rate of 18% rather than 40%, as well as a male life expectancy of 73 years rather than 61 years (U.S. figures are 12% and 75 years, respectively). Unlike Russia, moreover, Mexico is a functioning democracy with open and competitive elections, a separation of powers, and a well-defined party system. In keeping with these realities, Mexicans are not desperate to settle north of the border. Most migrants are not fleeing poverty so much as seeking social mobility. They typically have a job and income in Mexico and are seeking to finance some economic goal at home—acquiring a home, purchasing land, capitalizing a business, investing in education, smoothing consumption. Left to themselves, the vast majority of migrants will return once they have met their economic goals. From 1965 to 1985, 85% of undocumented entries from Mexico were offset by departures and the net increase in the undocumented population was small. The build-up of enforcement resources at the border has not decreased the entry of migrants so much as discouraged their return home. Since the late 1980s the rate of undocumented out-migration has been halved. Undocumented population growth in the United States stems not from rising in-migration, but from falling out-migration.
For the rest of Massey's essay, click here.