Saturday, July 1, 2006

A Chance for Moderation?

Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute argues in today's Washington Post that the delay on the immigration bill might not be such a bad thing.  Although the writer urges that we "get a border deal done," Jacoby does not think that the House proposition to debate the issue further is necessarily a bad thing:

The debate won't, of course, convince the angriest voters -- the ones who want to seal the border and deport or drive out illegal immigrants. That 20 to 25 percent of the public -- and poll after poll shows that's how strong they are, no more, no less -- is probably not open to persuasion. But what the discussion could do is energize some of the other 75 percent: voters who, most surveys show, are more pragmatic -- including being willing to legalize the 12 million -- though generally less intense in their beliefs and less likely to voice or vote on them.

For the full op-ed, click here.  Given the state of both bills, it is clear that a moderating influence would be a good thing.  I am perhaps less sanguine than Jacoby that moderation is what will come out of the House-led discussion of the immigration issue, but only time will tell.


July 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mexican Candidates and Immigration

sToday's AP wires carry a brief sketch of the Mexican candidates' positions on topics of importance to the US.  On immigration, they report the following:

CALDERON: Espouses temporary guest worker program in U.S. and job creation in Mexico so people won't have to leave.

LOPEZ OBRADOR: Promises to use Mexican consulates to defend immigrants' rights in U.S., and wants U.S. to contribute to job creation in Mexico.

MADRAZO: Promises to reduce migration by helping more Mexicans survive on their farms, through subsidies and aid programs.

A link to the full wire story is here.

As Marla Dickerson's story in today's LA Times reminds us, the role of the US in Mexico's economic woes is an important point of contention in the presidential debate in Mexico.

The contest pits leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who wants to boost social spending and rethink the NAFTA relationship, against conservative Felipe Calderon, who wants to maintain Mexico's policy on free trade and open the country's state-controlled energy sector to private investment. Their divergent views reflect the soaring achievements and bitter disappointments that have accompanied Mexico's economic restructuring.

The "restructuring" in question was the "the Washington-backed prescription of privatization, free trade and government austerity in the early 1980s."  The LA Times story is here.



July 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Nova Scotia Wants More Immigrants

Nova Scotia (Halifax, Canada) is hoping that eliminating immigration fees for skilled workers will help address a labour shortage in the province.

Starting today, a $5,000 fee will be eliminated for potential immigrants applying under the skilled-worker category. Click here.


July 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hearings Meant to Protect House, not White House?

Directed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Republicans this coming week will undertake a remarkable exercise: the public thrashing of President Bush's principles on a major initiative.

House "field hearings" on immigration, scheduled for San Diego and Laredo, Texas, weren't designed with fact-finding in mind. Their intent is rather to batter the Senate-passed immigration bill, which embodies Mr. Bush's goal of combining border security with a guest-worker program for the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

But will Mr. Hastert's maneuver bury chances for enacting legislation -- or provide the political cover that ultimately permits a House-Senate deal before the election? One thing already is clear: The speaker's first consideration will be protecting his members, not the White House. See column by John Harwood.


July 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Immigration News from the Netherlands and France

The Dutch government resigned Friday over a failed attempt to strip a prominent Somali-born critic of Islam of her Dutch citizenship - setting the stage for elections likely to be dominated by immigration issues. Click Netherlands.

The French parliament on Friday formally adopted a controversial law to encourage selective immigration of skilled workers.

The legislation, proposed by France's tough-talking Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, triggered heavy criticism from the opposition and immigrant groups when it was first launched.

The law aims to attract skilled workers while excluding unqualified immigrants.

But critics say it will stigmatise foreigners, discriminate against the poor and undermine France's traditional role as a haven for the persecuted. Click France.


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Midwest Social Forum

Dear friend,

We would like to invite you to participate in an important event concerning the immigrant rights struggle, which is fast becoming the civil rights movement of our time. This year, the Midwest Social Forum will include an Immigrant Rights Caucus titled “Challenges and Opportunities for the Immigrant Rights Movement: A State and Regional Dialogue.” The Caucus, which will take place on the afternoon of Thursday, July 6-9 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Union, is the first of a large number of events focusing on the immigrant rights struggle at the Forum. For more information about these events, and the Forum more generally (program, registration, logistics, etc.), please visit

Our goal for the Caucus is to bring together organizations from throughout the


to build the Immigrant Rights Movement’s capacity at the state and regional level. More specifically, we seek to:

  • Network with local, state,      and regional allies for immigrant rights;
  • Share best practices for      state-level organizing; and
  • Build or strengthen immigrant      right networks in the



A tentative agenda and list of host organizations are provided below, as well as a list of other immigrant rights events taking place at the Forum.

We hope you will join us in


for this important movement-building event.

To get involved, or for more information, please write to


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Citizenship applications on the rise

Today's El Paso Times has a story by Louie Gilot noting a 42% increase in citizenship applications in the El Paso area this year. Spurred by concerns over pending immigration legislation and the realization of the economic and social advantages of citizenship (including, of course, the right to vote), many long-time legal permanent residents are taking the plunge. The large increase in citizenship applications in El Paso is a somewhat extreme example of a national trend. "In El Paso, applications for citizenship have increased by 42 percent, from 901 between January and March 2005, to 1,278 during the same period this year. That's a lot more than the national average surge of 18 percent, Citizenship and Immigration Services officials said." The full story is here:


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wooing the Latino Vote

Today's Washington Post has an article by Charles Babington suggesting that House Republicans are complicating the Republican Party's efforts to woo the growing Latino vote. The article discusses two recent House actions that risk alienating some Latino voters - the enforcement only immigration bill and the more recent failure to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act b/c of the Act's 30-year-old bilingual ballot provision. It is predicted that the latter issue will be resolved and the Act will be reauthorized, but in the meantime, the move has raised some ire. The story is here:


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Delay on border ID implementation

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 17 month delay in the implementation of a post-9/11 security measure that would require passports or other biometric IDs for everyone entering the US. Senators cited the lack of coordination among US agencies and between US and Canadian officials as the reason for the delay. (The provision for delayed implementation had also been included in the Senate immigration bill, but with passage of that bill uncertain, the Senators decided to move the measure into a bill that actually is moving forward.)


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Which State Will Get a New Immigration Court?

North Carolina is among three states being considered for a new immigration court. Missouri and Nebraska are also on the list, according to Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice. North Carolina ranks eighth in the nation with almost 400,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center.

The top seven states have immigration courts within their borders. Click here.



June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Hearings to be held in San Diego and Laredo

The House yesterday announced that its first two field hearings on immigration will be held on Wednesday in San Diego and on Friday in Laredo, Tex. Senator Arlen Specter, meanwhile, scheduled his own field hearing, in Philadelphia, on Wednesday. He invited Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), one of the chief Democratic sponsors of the Senate approach, to join him. Click here.


June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

The Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the military tribunals created by the Bush administration to try terror suspects violate both American military law and the Geneva Convention.  The 5-to-3 ruling (in which Justice Roberts did not participate), also rejected Congressional efforts to strip the court of jurisdiction over habeas corpus appeals by detainees at the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Four judges also concluded that the conspiracy offense "with which Hamdan was charged is 'not an offense that by . . . the law of war may be tried by a military commission.'"

The full decision is here: Download HamdanvRumsfeld.pdf.


June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Changes to Operation Linebacker in El Paso


BNHR and the ACLU Texas Cautiously Commend Sheriff Samaniego and Demand Further Steps Be Taken to Insure the Protection of Human and Civil Rights

Friday, June 23, 2006, El Paso, TX- Today the El Paso County Sheriff temporarily suspended his policy and practice under the Operation Linebacker program by which he and his deputies engaged in the enforcement of immigration laws. The Border Network for Human Rights and the ACLU of Texas commend this action, but demand that the prohibition be permanent and that the Sheriff proactively seek to regain the community’s trust. 

For the past months, Border Network for Human Rights has been supporting the effort of communities in East El Paso to end the Sheriff’s Office attempts to enforce federal immigration laws. According to families and individuals living in the communities of San Elizario, Agua Dulce, Sparks, and Montana Vista, the Sheriff’s Department has been holding immigration roadblocks and conducting immigration raids in their communities.  Mothers expressed fear in taking their children to school, and other community members spoke of fear of going to the store or calling the Sheriff’s Office in the event of a crime, emergency, or even domestic violence. 

In June of 2006 the communities of East El Paso presented a petition signed by more than 3,000 persons asking for the resignation of Sheriff Leo Samaniego and a halt to the policy of harassment held by the Sheriff’s Office.

This week, the BNHR and the ACLU of Texas together are moving forward with a strategy integrating grassroots mobilization, public education, legislation and litigation to stop the policies of Samaniego and any other Sheriff who engage in similar practices.

The BNHR and the ACLU of Texas believe that the Public Safety Statement released by Sheriff Leo Samaniego today is a positive step towards ensuring community security and commend Sheriff Samaniego and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office on their position not to enforce federal immigration laws and to end referrals to the Border Patrol.

However, the commendation comes cautiously.  Both the Border Network for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas seek clarification of Operation Linebacker, the operation which appeared to serve as a pretext for many of the activities of the Sheriff’s Office which concerned communities.  The BNHR and the ACLU of Texas are also concerned about the term “temporary” with reference to the halt of checkpoints in Sheriff Leo Samaniego’s statement and seek a more permanent solution.

The Border Network for Human Rights along with community members and other community organizations such as the ACLU of Texas, will also ask the County Commissioners to pass a resolution stating that local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from enforcing federal immigration law. This would affirm the position taken today by the Sheriff’s Office.  This insures that any Sheriff of the El Paso County is bound to accept those parameters of policy and procedure.

The Border Network for Human Rights, in conjunction with the communities of East El Paso, will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and document testimony with regards to the violation of civil rights on the part of the Sheriff’s Office in the coming weeks.  This monitoring effort will insure that the words of Sheriff Leo Samaniego are in accordance with the reality as experienced by families and individuals in our communities.  Based on the results of monitoring, the communities of East El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights will consider withdrawing the petition for the resignation of Leo Samaniego.

However, the Office of the Sheriff is now faced with the challenge of restoring community trust and sense of security jeopardized by past activities from their office.   


June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

World Refugee Survey

USCRI Releases World Refugee Survey 2006: Risks and Rights

WASHINGTON DC, June 14, 2006The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) announces the release of the World Refugee Survey 2006—Risks and Rights, revealing the number of refugees in the world has increased to 12 million largely due to instability in Iraq.  The Survey counts 650,000 more Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria since 2005.  Although nearly 740,000 Afghans returned home, new data shows that more than 2 million Afghan refugees remained in Iran and Pakistan.  The Middle East and Africa continued to host the largest number of refugees, and two-thirds of the world’s refugees remained warehoused: deprived of basic human rights established in the 1951 Refugee Convention for five years or more.

The deteriorating situation in Iraq has led to the refugee outflow some predicted at the onset of the war, which has only now materialized.  Over 40% of the nation’s professionals have fled.  Syria now hosts 351,000 Iraqi refugees and has the largest population of Iraqi Shi’a Muslims outside Iraq. Jordan hosts 450,000 Iraqi refugees, many of whom are Christian minorities.  Neither Jordan nor Syria recognize the United Nation’s call for temporary protection and both refuse entry to many new arrivals. USCRI anticipates a more significant outflow in the near future, as the Iraqi government has issued over 2 million passports in the last ten months.

The Survey rates host country treatment of refugees, and this year’s grades reveal that physical protection for refugees is on the decline, with eleven countries scoring worse than last year for forced return and other violations.  Egypt dropped two letter grades for its deadly crackdown on Sudanese refugee protests, and the Russian Federation received all F’s for its treatment of Uzbek and other asylum seekers.  The United States again earned an F for its refoulement of thousands of Haitian asylum seekers and the European Union was not far behind with a D for its egregious detention practices.  Yet some of the poorest countries of the world scored quite well.  Benin earned straight A’s for hosting 32,000 refugees, mostly from Togo, without restricting their rights.

The Survey also highlights the success of the anti-warehousing campaign in influencing host country policies.  Lebanon lifted the ban on Palestinian employment in many manual and clerical jobs, Malaysia granted work permits to thousands of Indonesian refugees, and Thailand opened up educational and vocational training opportunities for Myanmarese refugees.

This year’s feature articles include “We Ain’t Refuges,” a message from USCRI President & CEO Lavinia Limón on refugees and the victims of Hurricane Katrina; a consolidated NGO Statement to the UN on “Women at Risk;” and a moving dedication by Senator Edward Kennedy to the life of Edward Marks, founder of the U.S. Committee for Refugees who passed away in October 2005. 

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that has served refugees and immigrants and defended the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons worldwide since 1911.  USCRI's resettlement program and network of community-based partner agencies help thousands of refugees build new lives in the United States each year.  USCRI publishes the World Refugee Survey and Refugee Reports.


June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Canadian Immigration Judge Sentenced for Bribery

For his leading role in a bribery scheme that targeted cases he was slated to hear, former Immigration and Refugee Board judge Yves Bourbonnais was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison.

''You have dishonoured yourself acting that way,'' said Quebec Superior Court Justice James L. Brunton. Click here.


June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Security and the Border

Although Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is currently using the homepage of the House of Rep's Committee on Homeland Security to rant about how the New York Times is the greatest threat to US security since Al Qaeda (, the more interesting information out of that Committee does not appear on the site.

Charles Allen, who joined the Department of Homeland Security as intellegence chief a few months ago testified today before that Committee's "Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assesment" that when he joined the DHS staff (4 years after the 9/11 attacks) "we did not have an intelligence campaign plan against the border.''
( See: Be warned, it is the treasonous NYTimes that is carrying the AP story on its website.)

Apparently, DHS is working on the issue. Good news, I suppose. But might it not have made more sense after 9/11 to prioritize intelligent border security rather than the ramping up of the scattershot deportations that have overwhelm the immigration enforcement bureaucracy in the interim?


June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Has Spector Caved on Comprehensive Reform?

The security of the border should be the No. 1 priority for an immigration bill, Sen. Arlen Specter said yesterday, and he's open to a compromise that sets goals for border and interior enforcement ahead of a guest-worker program and path to citizenship for illegal aliens.
    The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that in order for Congress to produce an immigration bill this year, President Bush must lobby personally on specific details in the bill -- something he has not done. Click here.


June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November Elections Turn on Immigration and Iraq

It’s now clear that Republicans have decided to fight the 2006 campaign on the battlefields of Iraq and the Mexican border.

But Democrats also think Iraq and immigration work to their benefit in this fall’s elections. The paradox: both parties believe the issues of immigration and Iraq will be winners for them. Click here.


June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Enforcement only?

Just as a portion of Utah's electorate apparently rejected an e"nforcement only" approach to immigration, today's LA Times has a story by Nicole Gauette suggesting that on the national level, the immigration deadlock in Congress may be moving toward resolution -- in a way that favors the House of Representatives' enforcement only approach, at least in the short term:

Now some Republican senators are suggesting — though gingerly — that they would be willing to agree to some kind of timetable in which goals related to border security and law enforcement must be met before the guest worker and citizenship programs that the senators favor could begin.

The full story is here.

Once an enforcement-only approach is in place, it is difficult to imagine what would bring restrictionists back to the table to talk about genuine, practical and workable solutions to the problems of undocumented migration.  The massive protests of this past Spring apparently are already fading in the Legislature's collective memory.


June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Utah: the results are in....

Incumbant Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah beat off challenger John Jacob, who ran on a restrictionist immigration platform.  The  vote was 56% for Cannon to Jacob's 44%, with 20% of the vote yet to be counted.

Cannon actually voted for the restrictive and punitive "enforcement only" bill that came out of the House of Representatives, but his campaign platform included support for a guest worker program.

A link to the full story in today's Salt Lake Tribune is here.

June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)