Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mexico's Treatment of Migrants Questioned

Mexico's head of migration on Tuesday pledged to improve the agency's detention centers in response to criticism that Mexico fails to give Central American immigrants the same respect it demands for its own citizens in the United States.

Cecilia Romero Castillo, who said many of Mexico's 48 detention centers lack adequate personnel, supplies, medical care and social services, announced a plan to install doctor's offices in 16 centers, upgrade facilities and improve staff training.

Romero also said the agency will no longer use jails as detention centers and will fire any supervisor found violating the rules.

The Mexican government has acknowledged that many officials are bribed by human smugglers. Migrants face abuse from corrupt police as well as violent gangs who wait on the southern border to rob and assault them.

The government-funded National Human Rights Commission, U.N. human rights officials and other non-governmental organizations say they have documented abuses. Click here.


February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

National Conference on Race

March 22-24, 2007

FACING RACE, the national conference hosted by the Applied Research Center and The Center for Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center, is only three weeks away.

Are you ready?

Activists, organizers, journalists, and policy researches from across the country are preparing to pack their bags and join us to explore new strategies for advancing racial justice.

Don't be left out!

We're bringing the best speakers from across the nation to deliver innovative, interactive presentations on the issues you care about. At FACING RACE you'll find inspiration, unique resources and experts in your field at a diverse pool of policy, media and organizing workshops:

When Disaster Strikes...Communities of Color and the Next Katrina

The Price of the Ticket -  Opportunities and Challenges for Immigrant Rights Advocates

Closing the Gap - Solutions to Race-Based Health Disparities

I Love New York - A Roundtable on Communities of Color and the Future of NYC.

Raise a Ruckus - Election Protection in 2008

Race to the Middle Class? Report on the Racial Wealth Divide

White Rappers and Black Presidents - Race and Representation in Popular Media.

Playing the Race Card? How to Tell Your Story in the Media.

Reporting at the Color Line - The Future of Journalism and it's impact on Race Coverage

Vote with Your Feet -  Mobilizing Communities of Color to Elect the Next President.

Community Organizing to Advance Racial Justice

Join us for these and many, many more!


Sponsored by the Applied Research Center and The Center for Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center

March 22-24, 2007

City University of New York
Center for Humanities, Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York City

*Discounts available for Groups of 10 or more.

Visit or call 212-513-7925.


February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Faster USCIS FOIA Processing

Press Release
USCIS Launches New Track For Processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
Will provide certain individuals accelerated access to A-files 

WASHINGTON—USCIS today added a new and quicker path for certain individuals to access their immigration files when they submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

The ‘Notice to Appear’ track augments the agency’s overall procedures for responding to FOIA requests and is set aside for individuals who are scheduled to appear before an immigration judge.  This new track will allow for accelerated access to their Alien-File (A-File) when it is requested through the FOIA process. 

“One of our pillars to building an immigration service for the 21st century is improving service delivery,” said USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez.  “Part of that service delivery is improving our FOIA procedures.  This new processing track will not only enhance our FOIA processing times, but also help us to reduce FOIA backlogs.”

USCIS currently uses two tracks to process FOIA requests, including one for routine inquiries and another for more complex requests that require additional search and review.  The new track allows for accelerated access of a large portion of requests the agency receives from individuals, or their representatives, who have been notified to appear before an immigration court.

Individuals, or their representatives, may submit a FOIA request to USCIS seeking access to their A-file using a FOIA/Privacy Act request form (G-639).  While the form is not required, it provides step-by-step instructions.  To be placed in the new track for accelerated access to the file, requesters must provide one of the following:

•    Notice to Appear (Form I-862);
•    Order to Show Cause (Form I-122);
•    Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge (Form I-863); or
•    A written notice of continuation of a scheduled hearing before the immigration judge.

Cases in which an immigration judge has issued a final order or those in which an appeal of a decision has been filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals will not be included in the ‘Notice to Appear’ track.  Individuals wishing to move their pending FOIA request to the new track must resubmit it based on the above guidelines.

The notice, published in today’s Federal Register, is effective March 30, 2007.  Visit USCIS’ Web site at for more information on the FOIA program.


February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minuteman Mess

On Feb. 27, the LA Times, in an article by Jennifer Delson (here), reported on a controversy over the leadereship of the Minutemen.  The story begins:

A behind-the-scenes power struggle over control of the Minuteman Project spilled into an Orange County courtroom Monday with ousted co-founder Jim Gilchrist asking a judge to give him back control of the citizen border patrol group. Superior Court Judge Randell L. Wilkinson said he would issue a ruling within a few days. Gilchrist, 58, a national figure in the fight against illegal immigration, was removed as president of the Minuteman Project this month by its board of directors, which accused him of abusing his power and leaving more than $400,000 of the organization's money unaccounted for. Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Aliso Viejo, denied the allegations but said the controversy "could very well bring an end to the entire Minuteman Project. There are groups around the country with the name, but we are the most well known and the most powerful."


February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

More on the Study on the Impacts of Immigrants on Wages

Bill Hing posted yesterday about the study (click here for a copy) released by the Public Policy Institute of California finding that immigrants who arrived in the state between 1990 and 2004 increased wages for native workers by an average 4%. UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school dropouts to college graduates, because immigrants generally perform complementary rather than competitive work.   This undercuts the frequently-made argument that immigrants reduce the wages of U.S. workers.  For the LA Times story on the study, click here.   The Washington Monthly (here) has some interesting commentary, and readers comments, on the study.


February 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Immigrant Impact on California Economy

How Immigrants Affect California Employment and Wages
by Giovanni Peri, UC Davis Economist

A new issue of California Counts, published by the Public Policy Institute of California, examines the effects of the arrival of immigrants between 1960 and 2004 on the employment, population, and wages of U.S. natives in California. Among the study’s principal findings: 1) There is no evidence that the influx of immigrants over the past four decades has worsened the employment opportunities of natives with similar education and experience, 2) There is no association between the influx of immigrants and the out-migration of natives within the same education and age group, 3) Immigration induced a 4 percent real wage increase for the average native worker between 1990 and 2004, 4) Recent immigrants did lower the wages of previous immigrants. Click here.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

DHS Fugitive Squads Target Absconders

Far from the dusty Mexican border and Florida's coastal waters, federal authorities have stepped up the battle to control immigration, and, in many cases, the new front is just down the block.

A fast-growing network of fugitive squads is tracking and arresting undocumented immigrants inside the United States, in living rooms and on front doorsteps.

Though the squads' principal targets are terrorism suspects and convicted criminals, more than half of the people they snare are immigrants who lost legal bids for asylum or other relief, and then remained here illegally. Many have paid taxes, sent their U.S.-born children to public schools -- and quietly ignored a judge's order to leave the United States.

They're called "absconders," and increasingly they are the targets of federal fugitive squads.

Immigration authorities began the program in 2002 with eight teams, including one in Miami. After a gradual expansion, federal officials made the teams a bigger priority, pushing their number last year to 50, with two in South Florida. Authorities plan to add 20 teams this year. Click here.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Victory Against Haitian Colonel


Center for Justice & Accountability
Moira Feeney, Staff Attorney,, (415) 544-0444 x302
Pamela Merchant, Executive Director,, (415) 544-0444 x307

Holland & Knight LLP
Susan M. Bass, Marketing Communications Manager for Holland & Knight LLP, (813) 769-4326


(Miami, Florida, February 23, 2007). A federal jury in Miami found Colonel Carl Dorélien, a former member of the Haitian Military’s High Command, liable for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity suffered by plaintiffs Lexiuste Cajuste, Marie Jeanne Jean and her two young children. Colonel Dorélien was ordered to pay a total of $4.3 million to the plaintiffs in compensatory and punitive damages.

Lexiuste Cajuste was arbitrarily detained and severely tortured by Haitian military forces under Dorelien’s command because of his role as a union organizer and pro-democracy activist. Miraculously, he survived the beatings but, fourteen years after the ordeal, still suffers severe physical disabilities relating to his torture. Upon learning of the jury’s verdict in his favor Cajuste stated, “Today I have finally found justice, but I am only one person amongst an entire population who suffered abuses. My wish is to see that all the people of Haiti receive justice.” Cajuste went on to say, “Although today’s judgment was rendered against Colonel Dorélien, I see this is as a judgment against the entire armed forces of Haiti under the military dictatorship. This is a wonderful day for justice for me and my family and for the Haitian people.”

Marie Jeanne Jean lost her husband Michel Pierre during the massacre by the Haitian military against the citizens of the Raboteau neighborhood in the seaside city of Gonaives. Raboteau was known for being a stronghold of pro-democracy activism. The Raboteau massacre was one of the worst atrocities committed against the civilian population in Haiti while Dorélien was part of the High Command. She brought this suit on behalf of herself and her two minor children. “Today is a proud and happy day. This judgment is not just for me and my family, but for all of the many victims of the Raboteau Massacre. It is in their name that I am here in Miami today,” said Marie Jean about the jury’s verdict.

Colonel Dorélien was a member of the High Command of the Haitian Armed Forces during the military dictatorship in Haiti from 1991 to 1994. Dorélien’s presence in the U.S. became widely known after he won $3.2 million in the Florida state lottery in 1997. Dorélien, along with many other members of the Haitian military, fled to the U.S. where they lived with impunity. This case represents the first time that a U.S. jury has held a former member of the Haitian military responsible for the widespread human rights abuses that were committed by the military against the civilian population.

Matt Eisenbrandt, CJA Legal Director and member of the trial team said, “It is an honor to represent Marie Jean and Lexiuste Cajuste, their courage is an inspiration. Justice has been served.”

The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and Holland & Knight. CJA is a San Francisco-based human rights organization that works to end impunity by bringing to justice perpetrators of human rights abuses, especially those who live in or visit the United States. Holland & Knight is among the world's 15 largest law firms, providing representation in litigation, business, real estate and governmental law.

For more information and background on the case, please visit

Center for Justice and Accountability

phone: 415-544-0444

February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Navarette on Immigration Reform

For Ruben Navarette's endorsement of comprehensive immigration reform, click here.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

More RICO News

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opionion by Judge Edith Jones, has rescusitated a RICO case brought by Indian immigrant workers alleging that their employers had brought them to the United States under false pretenses.  See the opionion here  Download abraham_5_22607.pdf For a news article, see


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gitmo and the Supreme Court

Two Guatanamo Bay detainees, both facing war crimes charges before U.S. military commissions, on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to put their joint appeal on a fast track for decision in the current Term. The motion to expedite involves the first two rulings by federal courts on Congress’ move last year to strip the federal courts of any authority to hear habeas challenges by prisoners at the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For Lyle Denniston's analysis on SCOTUS blog, click here.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RICO Claim to Proceed to Trial

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied certiorari in Mohawk Industries Inc. v. Williams, 2007 U.S. LEXIS 2798 (Feb. 26, 2007) and declined to intervene in a class-action racketeering lawsuit under the federal racketeering (RICO) statute based on Mohawk Industries' alleged hiring of undocumented immigarnt workers. The case had previously been remanded by the Supreme Court, with the 11th Circuit adhering to its previous ruling to allow the RICO suit to proceed. See 465 F.3d 1277 (11th Cir. 2006). The decision returns the case for trial. The suit was filed in January 2004.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Music Break

Pistolera is a NYC-based band the plays an original hybrid of Mexican ranchera, cumbia, banda, and rock. Accordion melodies are followed by distorted riffs and frontwoman Sandra Lilia Velasquez (daughter of prominent immigration attorney -- and Cal Western law professor -- Lilia Velasquez) delivers her all Spanish lyrics like a bullet to your senses.  Immigration themes can be found in their music.  Check out Pistolera's music video (here) with footage of the spring 2006 immigrant rights marches.  For more on the band, check out their website at and its new CD "Siempre Hay Salida."

P.S.  To see, Lilia Velasquez (the proud mother of Sandra of Pistolera) comment on the problems with the numbers of family visas, click here.

February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Day Laborer Class Action

A class action lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, alleges that a Maryland company that paints luxury condominiums in the District defrauded Latino immigrant workers who routinely worked 60 hours or more a week by failing to pay them overtime. The company, SCCP Painting Contractors Inc., also allegedly did not pay the four plaintiffs named in the suit for their final two weeks of work. For the complaint, see Download montoya_complaint_22107.pdf.  Click here for the Washington Post story about the case.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Need for Pro-Assimilationist Policies

Over the years, an oft-made restrictionist claim has been that immigrants fail to assimilate -- specifically that many fail to learn English. The empirical evidence refutes that claim. As the N.Y. Times today (here) reports, English-as-a Second-Language courses are oversubscribed.

If we truly are committed to the integration of immigrants into U.S. society, the nation should consider pro-assimilation strategies, such as ensuring adequate numbers of ESL classes.  This is precisely what the late Barbara Jordan and the U.S. Commission of Immigration Reform recommended in the 1990s.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Employment Discrimination Clinics Launched by Rights Groups

The Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund and the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will sponsor a series of bilingual employment discrimination clinics in 2007. The goal of the clinics is to help eradicate barriers to employment opportunities for African Americans and Latinos in the Chicago metropolitan area. The organizations are collaborating in an effort to unite the two communities by addressing employment discrimination and by promoting affirmative action policies and practices.

In the past, immigration at times has divided the African American and Latina/o coimmunities.  Perhaps projects like the employment discrimination clinic will help bridge that divide.


February 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

New Immigration Articles

Lasker, Alida Yvonne. Note. Solomon's choice: the case for granting derivative asylum to parents. 32 Brook. J. Int'l L. 231-267 (2006).

Molina, Sarah Keefe. Comment. Rejecting the collateral consequences doctrine: silence about deportation may or may not violate Strickland's performance prong. (State v. Paredez, 101 P.3d 799, N.M. 2004.) 51 St. Louis U. L.J. 267-292 (2006).

Yang, Bryant Yuan Fu. Comment. Fighting for an equal voice: past and present struggle for noncitizen enfranchisement. 13 Asian Am. L.J. 57-89 (2006).


February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigration conference

The World Jurist Association is hosting a conference on immigration in Los Angeles, California from April 22-2, 2007.  The event is described as a "global conference on migration law, and immigration policies around the world."  A preliminary schedule and a list of speakers are available on the website, which is here.


February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Training on ICE Enforcement

Raids, Detention, & Deportation:

A Tele-Training on ICE Enforcement

WHAT:   A National Tele-Training on ICE Enforcement, Detention, and Deportation.  We will provide step-by-step information about what communities and families can do when a loved one is detained, especially within the first 24 hours. We will also discuss how you can protect yourself from future raids. We will provide facts about the ICE detention and deportation system as well as flyers and other resources.

WHEN:   Friday March 9th, 2007, 3 pm EST

HOW:      The call is free (aside from individual long distance charges). To register, go to We will send out the call-in details and materials in advance of the call. Because of limitations on the number of participants, please register by Wednesday, March 7th. For questions, please contact Andrea Black,; 520-240-3726.

WHO:     Detention Watch Network; (DWN) is a coalition of organizations and individuals around the country working to educate the public, media and policy makers about the US detention and deportation system and advocate for reform. Many of our members have been working locally on these issues for years and are collaborating to bring national attention to this abusive system. We are deeply concerned about the exploding enforcement in our communities that leads to the ever-increasing detention and deportation of our friends and families. We want to share information, tools, and strategies we have gathered to support the critical on-the-ground work of local organizers fighting immigration enforcement at workplaces, jails, and homes.

For Individuals:

·        What to Do if You or a Loved One is Apprehended?

·        How Can You Protect Yourselves From Future Arrests?
For Community Groups:

·        What to Do If You Get a Call About a Raid/Arrest?

·        How Can Your Local Organization Target the Federal Agencies Responsible for Raids/Arrests?

·        How Can We Proactively Educate our Communities and the Broader Public about Detentions and Deportations?


February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One Immigration Judge's Opinion

From the Wall Street Journal Online:

The immigration judge who dismissed the government’s long-running case against the “L.A. 8″ retired this month, and, free from Justice Department restrictions against speaking to the press, had some strong words for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The judge, Bruce Einhorn, in a story in the Daily Journal, a California legal publication, took issue with a January 2006 Gonzales memo saying some immigration judges had displayed “intemperate or even abusive” behavior on the bench. “I find it somewhat presumptuous that a government official who signed off on a memorandum which described certain anti-torture provisions of the Geneva Convention as quaint would then lecture judges on the need to show compassion for the foreign-born,” Einhorn told the Daily Journal. “I think the remarks were driven by what was perceived to be the need to demonstrate that the attorney general was not part of the problem.”

Click here for the entire piece.


February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)