Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lofgren Seeks Rollback on Immigration Fees

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) Monday introduced a bill to void the recent increases in immigration fees by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The bill would void the new fee structure set to take effect yesterday and reinstate the previous fee structure. The bill also states that USCIS has consistently failed to reduce application backlogs and has suffered from a lack of transparency and effective management.

“Our immigration services need to move into the 21st century,” stated Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “But, USCIS has consistently failed to explain or justify the amounts and distributions of this new fee increase. While I agree that USCIS needs to modernize its existing infrastructure and procedures, they must do so in a transparent and open manner. After repeated requests over several months, USCIS has yet to provide Congress with a detailed plan for its infrastructure modernization efforts. Our immigration system should be both effective and fair; sacrificing one to achieve the other should not be an option.”


July 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Finds Widespread Abuses in Immigration Detention

In a nationwide review of legal rights for immigrants in federal detention, a federal judge has found serious violations of the government's own standards relating to detention conditions. U.S. District Court Judge Margaret M. Morrow examined never-before-released reports regarding conditions at more than 200 immigration detention facilities and found widespread problems, including lack of access to telephones, attorneys, and legal materials, faced by thousands of immigrants seeking asylum or pursuing legitimate claims to legal residency. The court reviewed thousands of pages of government reports assessing conditions at facilities nationwide, as well as similar reports by a United Nations office and the American Bar Association. These reports showed that detained immigrants from all nations faced similar problems. "The government's treatment of immigrants betrays its promise of fairness and due process," said Linton Joaquin of the National Immigration Law Center, who served as lead counsel in the case. "The government should not deprive immigrants in detention of basic due process rights, such as meeting with lawyers, reading law books, and making phone calls to family members." The judge's findings came in a ruling, finalized on July 26, that upheld a nationwide injunction to protect Salvadoran immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. The National Immigration Law Center, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project had opposed the government's request to end the court-ordered injunction, which requires the government to treat people in immigration detention fairly. Judge Morrow ruled that substantial evidence showed "a significant number of violations of critical provisions of the injunction dealing with detainees' access to legal materials, telephone use and attorney visits." The court also found that despite the end of the civil war in that country, immigrants from El Salvador continue to have legitimate asylum claims, and that they, like all immigrants, must be provided basic due process. The ruling follows recent reports by the DHS inspector general and the Government Accountability Office showing similar problems in immigration detention. "What's happening to immigrants in detention should disturb all of us," said ACLU/SC staff attorney Ranjana Natarajan. "People seeking America's protection from torture and persecution deserve a fair hearing and respect for their basic rights." The legal team included Linton Joaquin and Karen Tumlin from NILC, Ranjana Natarajan and Mark Rosenbaum from the ACLU of Southern California, and Jennifer Chang, Lucas Guttentag, Judy Rabinovitz, and Monica Ramirez from the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project Pro bono assistance was provided by the law firms of Holland & Knight and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Click here for the order.


July 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Futility of Border Enforcement

Increased border enforcement long has been criticized has resulting in negative collateral consequences, including deaths.  Now, Mexico is calling on the United States to alter a plan to expand border fences designed to stem illegal immigration, saying the barriers would threaten migratory species that roam freely across the frontier.

In a L.A. Times commentary, Gregory Clark, a UC Davis economist, sees "illegal" immigration as the nation's "best foreign aid" and contends that "As long as the southern border divides prosperity and poverty, the natural flow of migrants cannot be stopped."   Along these lines, Business Week has a story with a title that tells it all "Immigration: The Lessons of History The country of immigrants has long tried to put restrictions on newcomers to keep the nation’s culture from changing. It has never worked."


July 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Open Season on Immigrants: Bounty Hunter Who Chased Immigrants Pleads Guilty to Impersonating a Federal Agent

AP reports that a bounty hunter who arrested fugitives accused of violating immigration laws has pleaded guilty to impersonating a federal agent and illegal possession of a firearm. A Sacramento, California man pleaded guilty to the impersonation charge on July 24 in connection with his detention of a woman and her 10-year-old daughter, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The defendant falsely identified himself as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent last May while detaining the woman and her daughter in a South San Francisco hotel room, prosecutors said. The woman's estranged husband had hired th edefendant to arrest the pair on the grounds that an immigration judge had ordered their deportation, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by investigators in Sacramento. The husband was trying to have her deported to gain custody of their son, the affidavit said.

As if immigrants -- and immigrant women -- did not have enough to be worried about.


July 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

Apu Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Jr., Ph.D., is a fictional character featured on The Simpsons television series. Hank Azaria is Apu's voice.

Apu owns the Springfield Kwik-E-Mart (a subsidiary of Nordyne Defense Dynamics) (called Stop-O-Mart in Ohio), a local convenience store. An immigrant from India who arrived in 1988, he is, like most Simpsons characters, a caricature of a common stereotype — in his case, that of the Indian convenience-store owner. His most defining characteristics are his exaggerated Indian English, and his indefatigable immigrant work ethic. His catchphrase is "Thank you, come again!" — cheerfully and dutifully repeated to customers (no matter how unpleasant) after each transaction, even after a robbery.

His first name is an homage to the main character in the Apu trilogy directed by Satyajit Ray. Many of his mannerisms, his intelligence, and even the appearance of his parents mirror this character. His surname, Nahasapeemapetilon, is a morphophonological blend of the name Pahasadee Napetilon, the full name of a schoolmate of Simpsons writer Jeff Martin.

Don't miss Apu in The Simpsons Movie!  For more information about him, click here.

UPDATE:  Alejandra reminds us of the following "facts" about Apu's background:

I had to chuckle while I read the little biography about Apu. Still, you forgot one little fact. Apu was for a small period of time an undocumented immigrant. He graduated from a technical school and overstayed his student visa. He later was help by "nativist" Homer to apply and obtain his green card. I don't remember which episode it was but it was a very old one and they have not re-aired for a long time.


July 31, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Mirror of Justice

Michael Scaperlanda's Mirror of Justice blog (here) is filled with great stuff.  Here is a recent entry on immigration: 

Folks who are following immigration debates might be interested to know that papers from Fordham’s 2005 conference, Strangers No Longer: Immigration Law & Policy in the Light of Religious Values, are now available on line in PDF Format through the University of Detroit-Mercy Law Review website as part of their special volume on law and religion. Contributions include Michael Scaperlanda’s keynote, Immigration and Evil: The Religious Challenge, and a response by Stephen Legomsky. Michele Pistone’s (Villanova) contribution has evolved into a book: Stepping Out of the Brain Drain: Applying Catholic Social Teaching in a New Era of Migration (Lexington Books 2007). Here’s a nice plug for the book by Don Kerwin of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network: "This is a ground-breaking book and should be read by everybody who cares about the interplay between migration and development. Pistone and Hoeffner detail the contributions that skilled workers make to economic development and poverty reduction in their nations of origin. In an era characterized by globalization, they see the mobility of skilled migrants as a 'gain' for both sending and receiving nations, a gain that very directly addresses the root causes of migration."

July 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Private Bills: Immigration Relief of of Last Resort

"Private bills" seeking immigration relief of last resort for individual noincitizens facing removal are little known to the general public.  Karin Brulliard has an interesting article on private bills in today's Washington Post, which includes discussion of the willingness of members of Congress to spopnsor such bills.  Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, criticizes private bills because not all noncitizens have equal access to Congress.  Of course, Turley is right, and most Americans would like some sort of truly comprehensive immigration reform but that does not appear to be in the cards.


July 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Immigrant Atmosphere in Georgia

Jenny Jarvie writes in the LA Times:

When Emelina Ramirez's roommates attacked her, punching and kicking her in the stomach, she called the police for help. The police handcuffed her, took her to jail, and ran her fingerprints through a federal database. She is now in an Alabama cell awaiting deportation.

In the last month, Ramirez's story has spread beyond the Hispanic community in Carrollton, the small rural town west of Atlanta where she lived, and across Georgia, which has just enacted one of the nation's harshest laws against illegal immigration. It is a story that, for many undocumented immigrants, has one moral: Do not trust the police.

"People are living in fear," said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, which is attempting to educate Hispanic residents on the state's new law. That is difficult, he said, because of the vast difference in how local enforcement officials interpret the law. The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which took effect July 1, requires law enforcement officers to investigate the citizenship status of anyone jailed for a felony crime or driving under the influence. It also directs Georgia's Department of Public Safety to select and train state patrol officers to enforce federal immigration law while carrying out regular duties. Click here for the rest of the story.


July 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Bhagat Singh Thind

Thind Bhagat Singh Thind (1892-1967) was born in the Punjab of India and immigrated to the United States in 1913. A year later, he was working his way through the University of California, Berkeley. When the United States entered World War I, Thind joined the U.S. Army. Honorably discharged in December, 1918, he in 1920 applied for U.S. citizenship. Since several applicants from India had previously been granted U.S. citizenship, Thind too was approved by the district court. However a naturalization examiner appealed the decision.

In 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "Hindus" are "aliens ineligible to citizenship" in United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U. S. 204. From 1790-1952, the U.S. immigration laws generally required that an immigrant be "white" to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, which resulted in the denial of naturalization to many immigrants from Asia.  For analysis of the whiteness requirement in court decisions, see Ian F. Haney Lopez, White By Law (10th commemorative ed. 2007).

Despite being denied U.S. citizenship, Thind remained in the U.S., completed his Ph.D., and delivered lectures in metaphysics all across the nation. Basing his lessons on Sikh philosophy, he enriched his teaching with references to the scriptures of several religions and the work of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau. Thind campaigned actively for the independence of India, and helped Indian students in any way he could. In 1931, he married Vivian Davies.

Thind was one of the few Indians in the U.S. Army during World War I. In 1935, the U.S. Congress passed a law allowing a path to citizenship for all veterans of World War. Under this law, Thind finally became a U.S. citizen in 1936. This time, no official of the U.S. government dared object or appeal his naturalization.

For information about Thind's fight for citizenship, click here. For information about his life, see here.


July 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogging: Voices From the Bottom?

Jay Brown (Denver) has an interesting paper on the relationship between reputational rankings of law schools and faculty and blogging. Here is the abstract:

Blogs are changing legal scholarship. Although not a substitute for the detailed, often intricately researched analysis contained in law reviews and other scholarly publications, they fill an important gap in the scholarly continuum. Blog posts can generate ideas and discussion that can be transformed into more a systematic and thorough paper or scholarly article. At the same time, blogs provide a forum for testing ideas once they are published in more traditional venues. While over time, a blog presence will likely become de rigueur for top scholars and law reviews, top tier schools as a group have not yet targeted blogs as a necessary component of scholarly activity. In the short term, therefore, blogs provide unique opportunities for faculty and law schools outside the top tier to enhance their reputational rankings. Blogs can enhance reputation by allowing faculty to route around some of the biases in law review placements and SSRN rankings that favor those at the top tier schools. Blogs also represent a cost effective mechanism for advertising scholarly activity. The paper discusses the evidence that blogs enhance reputation and surveys the way that scholars at law schools outside the top tier are already harnessing blogs to enhance their reputations. The paper also discusses what it takes to create a successful blog, from the search for content to the benefits of advertising. The paper finishes with a brief history of The Race to the Bottom, a corporate governance blog.

For Blog Emperor Paul Caron's spin on the study, click here.


July 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Immigration Story for A Quiet Weekend

A commentary piece in the Denver Post (here) tells the travails of a U.S. citizen seeking to bring his noncitizen wife into the United States from Canadaa.  Most revealing to me about the ability to engage in a polite discussion of immigration are the comments to the piece, which are printed immediately after the commentary.  One example : 

Readers need less illegal alien sob stories and more illegal ailens detained and deported. But, I should have guessed another Diane Carman's crying towel. whaaa whaaa

Similarly, a Sonoma County, California newspaper ran a story about immigrant rights and minority groups calling on local sheriff deputies to stop cooperating with the federal government in enforcinmn immigration law.  The comments are revealing about the (un)civility of the immigration debate.


July 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Was Immigration Debate Colorblind?

I called the Senate proposal on immigration the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007. Ruben Navarette opines [indystar.com] on a similar note today:

SAN DIEGO -- The winners write the history. And now that border restrictionists have won the battle to scuttle immigration reform, the history that many are desperate to write is that the debate was colorblind.

Really. The restrictionists and those pundits who have taken up their cause claim that race and ethnicity aren't even part of the discussion and that those who oppose giving illegal immigrants a shot at legal status would feel the same way if the immigrants were coming from Canada instead of Mexico. They say their concerns are limited to border security and the rule of law, and have nothing to do with nativism or xenophobia. And they reject any suggestion that the debate was hostile to Hispanics.
This is the fable being spun by CNN's Lou Dobbs, a commentator labeled by New York Times columnist David Leonhardt as "the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans." In recent days, Dobbs has argued that the Senate compromise died because Americans of all colors dispassionately concluded that it was bad for the country. Racism played no role, he insists.
Most Hispanics feel differently. I've seen three surveys, including one by the Pew Hispanic Center, where majorities of Hispanics say that the immigration debate has led to an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment. And, as I travel the country speaking to Hispanic groups, one thing I hear is that "anti-immigrant" rapidly morphed into "anti-Hispanic" and specifically "anti-Mexican." Click here for the rest of the op-ed.


July 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competing Rallies in New Jersey

The Associated Press writes:

About 500 people gathered here Saturday to rally for and against immigrants' rights, in a town [Morristown, NJ] that earlier this year applied for entry into a federal program that would give its police officers authority to enforce immigration laws.

The rally was organized by anti-immigration groups who say federal authorities have been lax in using immigration laws to curb illegal entries into the country and in finding and deporting people who are here illegally.

Launching into fiery speeches from a stage, anti-immigration protesters blamed illegal immigrants for drug smuggling, taking jobs from U.S. citizens, murders and diluting American culture.

"I will never accept English as a second language," said Daniel Smeriglio, from Voice of the People USA, a Pennsylvania activist group. "You disgrace us."

Across the street, about 150 people gathered in support of immigrants _ shouting, chanting and holding signs saying "Working people have no borders" and "Immigrants are not criminals."  Click here for the rest of the story.


July 29, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Editorial on the Hazelton Ruling

Today's Kansas City Star editorial criticizes Hazelton Mayor's decision to appeal court ruling:

[Excerpt:] Unfortunately, Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta stooped to a “them against us” tone in announcing his intention to appeal. In a written statement he said, ”Neither the city of Hazleton nor I will stop fighting for all legal residents.”

But the Constitution protects everyone, a concept that the mayor and many others misunderstand. Click here for the whole editorial.


July 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Arrests of Family Members Increase

Antonio Olivo of the Chicago Tribune writes:

ST. MICHAEL, Minn. — Breaking the silence in a middle-class enclave of tract homes and cul-de-sacs in St. Michael, federal immigration agents recently swooped in and grabbed Sara Muñoz, carting away the illegal Mexican immigrant before her five crying U.S.-born children.

In nearby Minneapolis, activist Juana Reyes was nabbed for her illegal status as she stepped out of her car, spurring a rapidly transforming neighborhood into action on behalf of her 9-year-old daughter, a U.S. citizen.

And, 110 miles south in Austin, Minn., Latin American immigrants are afraid to open their doors, while longtime residents press the mayor to do more to stop the changes in a town built around the headquarters of the Hormel Foods meatpacking operation.

Similar scenes nationwide are part of a ramping up of federal arrests of illegal immigrants, activity Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently warned is "gonna get ugly" after federal immigration legislation failed last month. Click here for the rest of the story.


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

Mad Rush for Filing to Avoid Fee Increase

The L.A. Times (here) reports that Hundreds of immigrants rushed to apply for citizenship at a free workshop in central Los Angeles on Friday, many seeking to beat stiff application fee increases that take effect next week. A throng of mostly Latino immigrants began lining up at 4 a.m. for free help filling out the applications at the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' Educational Fund office on Washington Boulevard. By 2:30 p.m., officials began turning people away because they had reached their capacity of 1,000 applicants, said Evan Bacalao, the fund's research associate.


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

Friday, July 27, 2007

Legal Clinic's Work for Immigrants Attacked

Monica0320copy Monica Schurtman runs the the University of Idaho College of Law's Legal Aid Clinic, which, among other things, offers representation in removal proceedings to qualifying limited-income immigrants.  The immigration wars have resulted in an attack on the clinic.  A former Canyon County commissioner and vocal foe of illegal immigration says clinic instructors and students are breaking the law by offering free legal representation to people who face deportation. "Federal law states that anyone who aids and abets an illegal alien in remaining in the United States is committing a felony," Robert Vasquez told the Lewiston Tribune. Schurtman's response:  "That's really funny," she said. "What we try to do is assist our clients in a well-established legal system to remain legally in the United States."

For the full story, click here.  To me, it is surprising that immigration clinics are not attacked more frequently.  Years ago, the good legal work of a Tulane law school environmental clinic led to a political backlash and its closure.  Today, there are many immigration clinics providing help to people in need and immigration is one of the hottest issues around.  I hope that immigration clinics do not become the next target in the war over immigration.


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

New Immigration Bill From Spector?

Elana Shor reports in the Hill.com today:

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican said on Thursday that he is on the verge of offering a new immigration reform package, making significant changes that could win over recalcitrant members from both parties.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who accompanied President Bush Thursday on his visit to Pennsylvania, said he has spoken to Bush and the two Cabinet members who have led immigration talks about his new bill. Specter also told reporters that he has spoken to most senators involved in this spring’s failed “grand bargain,” outlining his plan and appealing for a restart to the arduous immigration debate.

“I’m ready to unveil it now,” Specter said. “I’ve got letters to the 100 senators on my desk.”

Specter explained the new measure would omit the controversial “Z visa” program, which would have given the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Removing the Z visa would offer conservatives less opening to tag the bill as “amnesty.” But he would leave intact the family reunification standard that this spring’s defunct immigration bill partially replaced with a skills-based system.

The lone change in the status of the 12 million, Specter said, would be removing their status as fugitives from justice, an attempt to diminish their incentive to remain outside the system and in fear of deportation.

Specter added that he already has met with “stakeholders” from outside groups involved in the complex immigration debate, and he plans to hold more sit-downs next week. Offering green cards to immigrants seeking employment in the high-tech industry is under consideration, he said.


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

Immigrant of the Day: Jessica Alice Tandy

Tandy 200pxdriving_miss_daisy_ Jessica Alice Tandy (1909–1994) was a stage and film actress. Born in Geldeston Road in the London Borough of Hackney, Tandy's acting career spanned 65 years.  She found latter-day movie stardom in major studio releases.

Tandy first appeared on the London stage in 1926. She also worked in British films. Following the end of her first marriage, Tandy moved to New York and met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn, who became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen. She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). After her Tony-winning performance as Blanche DuBois in the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, (she lost the film role to actress Vivien Leigh), Tandy concentrated on the stage.

Tandy became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1952.

For the next 30 years, Tandy appeared sporadically in films such as The Light in the Forest (1957) and The Birds (1963). The beginning of the 1980s saw a resurgence in her film career, with character roles in The World According to Garp, Best Friends, Still of the Night (all 1982), The Bostonians (1984), and the hit film Cocoon (1985).   Tandy and Cronyn had been working together more and more, on stage and television, to continued acclaim, notably in 1987's Foxfire which won her an Emmy Award. However, it was Tandy's colorful performance in "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989), as an aging, stubborn Southern-Jewish matron, that made her a bonafide Hollywood star and earned her an Oscar.  She earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the grassroots hit Fried Green Tomatoes (1992).  Camilla (1994, with Cronyn) was Tandy's last performance. She died at home on September 11, 1994, in Easton, Connecticut, of ovarian cancer at the age of 85.


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

Obama on Hazelton Case

Obama Statement on Ruling in Hazleton Anti-Immigrant Ordinance Case

Chicago, IL-- Senator Obama released the following statement today in response to Judge James Munley's ruling that the city of Hazleton's anti-immigrant ordinance is unconstitutional.

"Today's ruling by Judge James Munley is a victory for all Americans. The anti-immigrant law passed by Mayor Barletta was unconstitutional and unworkable - and it underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform so local communities do not continue to take matters into their own hands. Recently, the U.S. Senate failed the American people by blocking progress on immigration reform for the second time in two years. We cannot put this off any longer. The ongoing problems with our immigration system are dividing our country, and distracting us from the work we need to do in other important areas such as health care, education, and jobs. We need to act urgently to create an immigration system that secures our borders and enforces our laws, reflects our best traditions as a nation of immigrants, and upholds the values and ideals that all Americans cherish. I have been fighting for that kind of system for several years now, and I will continue fighting for that kind of system until we pass comprehensive immigration reform once and for all."


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