Monday, March 31, 2008
In an era of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, a good story comes along occasionally. Lisa Rathke writes for the Associated Press:
When his family landed in Vermont three years ago, Rwandan refugee Jean-Luc Dushime didn't speak English.
more stories like thisNow, he's in college -- on a full scholarship -- and has his sights set on graduate school.
"Champlain College was the only school that gave me a full scholarship and was the only school interested to know me as a person," the 27-year-old sophomore said.
Moved by a documentary on refugees who fled to the United States, college President David Finney established the scholarship program to help them get a start in their new life without having to worry about the $24,000 annual tuition. College officials say it's the only program of its kind in the nation.
"Given what they faced when they arrived, which is basically about eight months of support and a handshake, and the tremendous difficulties that I realized they must be experiencing and acculturating to a society in some ways couldn't be more foreign, I thought that Champlain could play a role," Finney said.
In its first year in 2006, the New American Student Scholarship program helped 13 students. Now, about 16 students -- from Vietnam, Bosnia and Sudan, among other places -- receive a range of scholarships based on need.
But the small private college benefits, too, with the refugees enriching the school. Click here for the full story.
The Ford Foundation is currently seeking qualified applicants for the Migrant and Refugee Rights Program Officer position. For the job description and contact information, see Download migrant_refugee_rights_posn_postingfinal_draft.doc
The Program Officer will develop and manage a portfolio of grants in the field of migrant and refugee rights that strive to promote the consistent protection of the rights of migrants and refugees as well as effective sustained advocacy on their behalf. The Program Officer will build on current work with a network of grantees that work toward the aforementioned goals from a variety of angles, including litigation, community development and policy creation and analysis, and share a commitment to securing the protection of human rights of migrant and refugee communities. The position is based in New York City; grants will be made primarily in the United States and in select other regions in which the Ford Foundation has offices. Additionally, the Program Officer will be expected to support the development of a diverse, unified and effective migrant and refugee rights movement that includes advocacy for the most vulnerable, as well as provide intellectual leadership in the field of migrant and refugee rights. The Program Officer will work closely with other Program Officers throughout the Foundation on issues of common concern. QUALIFICATIONS: Advanced training in law or public policy, or other relevant field; substantial professional experience working on immigrant/refugee rights issues in the U.S. and internationally; and excellent analytical, oral presentation, writing, and interpersonal skills are required. Also desirable are fluency in a second language and familiarity with philanthropy and nonprofit sector issues in the U.S. and developing countries. The ability to work closely with colleagues and grantees of diverse backgrounds and perspectives is critical. Excellent people skills, high energy and commitment level are required. To nominate candidates, please contact Janet Graber: firstname.lastname@example.org, (v) 212-573-5262 or (f) 212-351-3644. Applicants should visit www.fordfound.org/employment or send full application materials (consisting of substantive cover letter, C.V., and a 5-20 page sole-authored writing sample) by April 30, 2008 to Ms. Janet Graber at 320 E. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017.
Victoria Tennant (born September 30, 1950) is a film and television actress, once nominated for a Golden Globe. Tennant was born in London, England to a Russian prima ballerina and her husband, Cecil Tennant, an English producer and talent agent. Laurence Olivier was Tennant's godfather.
Tennant attended the Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London. Her second husband was the American actor and comedian Steve Martin (1986-1994); she starred opposite him in All of Me and LA Story.
In addition to being a UK national and citizen, Tennant is also a naturalized American citizen.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Immigration & Nationality Law Review, the University of Cincinnati Federalist Society, and the Immigrant Community Legal Advocacy Project (ICLAP) will present "U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY IN A CLIMATE OF FEAR" on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 4:30 p.m.- 6:15 p.m. at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
Keynote speakers include:
MARGARET STOCK Associate Professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, member of the American Immigration Attorney’s Association (AILA), and expert in the fields of international affairs and national security.
ROBERT COHEN Attorney at Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur in Columbus, Ohio, former Ohio AILA Chapter Chair, author and speaker on immigration law, and instructor at Capital University.
WITOLD “VIC” WALCZAK Co-lead counsel in the case of Lozano v. Hazleton, 496 F.Supp.2d 477 (M.D. Pa. 2007), and Legal Director of Pennsylvania’s ACLU.
Panel Moderator: MICHAEL ZAVATSKY Head of Immigration and Citizenship Practice at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, and Adjunct Professor of Immigration Law & Policy at U.C. College of Law.
For more information please visit: http://www.law.uc.edu/news/news_inlr.shtml
Rhode Island is getting into the local law act as well. The Associated Press reports:
By Linking the presence of undocumented workers to the state’s financial woes, Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive order that includes steps to combat illegal immigration. The order requires state agencies and companies that do business with the state to verify the legal status of employees. It also directs the state police and prison and parole officials to work harder to find and deport illegal immigrants. The governor, a Republican, said that he understood illegal immigrants faced hardships, but that he did not want them in Rhode Island. Under his order, the state police will enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities permitting them access to specialized immigration databases. Click here for the story.
The El Paso City Council does not want to cooperate with DHS in its request to build part of the new border fence within city limits. Erica Molina Johnson writes in the El Paso Times:
The El Paso City Council on Tuesday unanimously opposed the installation of new border fencing sought by the Department of Homeland Security by denying access to a road by the Albuquerque District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The corps wanted to use the road to reach a staging area on International Boundary and Water Commission property.
Although prohibiting access to the Corps of Engineers may impede the federal government's process, it probably will not halt it, said Barry Morrissey, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C.
"We're looking at other options," Morrissey said. "We're optimistic we'll be able to work through this and continue with the project."
The vote came after a presentation by El Paso Sector Border Patrol officials on the national Secure Border Initiative, which would increase personnel, and improve technology, innovation and infrastructure designed to prevent illegal crossing on foot over 93.14 miles of fence in the sector.
About 12 miles of that fencing would be inside the city. Click here for the full story.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Racewire.org, the Colorlines blog has two interesting posts on immigration topics. One is by Terry Keleher on the often ignored needs of H2B guest workers. The other is a post by Julianne Hing (an aspiring young writer who happens to be my daughter) on her reaction to the sexual exploitation of women by federal immigration agents.
Black Churches, Labor Activists form Underground Railroad for Indian Guest Workers
On a recent visit to New Orleans, I attended a memorable celebration at a neighborhood gymnasium organized by the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity, a project of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.
As I entered the gym, the jubilant spirit was contagious, as a group of immigrant workers performed a series of lively popular education skits highlighting themes of organizing for justice and human rights. The skits were followed by a spontaneous succession of storytelling, singing and dancing shared by a multicultural audience of Indian guest workers, Latino immigrants, white supporters and an energetic group of young Black jazz musicians who lead everyone in a lively New Orleans–style parade around the gym.
Amidst all the hand-shaking, hugging, marching and moving, there was a palpable feeling of camaraderie and hope, as if this magical moment was the beginning of something much bigger; indeed, the possibility that people from across the globe could truly unite and experience the taste of justice. The celebration marked the culmination of an organizing drive by nearly 100 Indian H2B guest workers who had broken an 18-month chain of human trafficking between Mumbai, India and Pascagoula, Mississippi. Click here for the rest of the article.
Anti-Immigrant Fever Ignites Violence Against Women
I felt a sour taste in my throat, the one that immediately precedes my gag reflex, when I read the NY Times piece about an immigration official who forced a woman to perform oral sex on him in exchange for her green card.
After the 22-year-old Colombian woman, whose name has not been released, went in for an interview for her green card with immigration agent Isaac Baichu in December of 2007, she started receiving phone calls from Baichu demanding sex. When he called her to meet in a restaurant's parking lot in Queens, she was prescient enough to stash her cell phone, which was recording their conversation, in her purse. Her cell phone captured Baichu asking for sex “one or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.” Later in the tape there’s a minute-long pause when, the reporter writes, the young woman “yielded to his demand out of fear that he would use his authority against her.” The Times posted an audio clip of the woman’s recording in the web edition of the article (yay, multimedia?).
The sexual exploitation of immigrant women is nothing new, but there’s a very specific pattern of abuse tied to this case. News of a Miami ICE agent who made a pit stop at his home so he could rape the Haitian woman he was responsible for transporting to detention and reports of sexual assault on a woman held at the Don T. Hutto Family Residential Facility, a de facto prison in Texas for families awaiting immigrations processing, come to mind. Similar scandals have been reported in Maryland (Deputy Lloyd W. Miner this year), California (Agent Eddie Miranda in 2007) and Georgia (Agent Kelvin R. Owens in 2005). Click here for the rest of the article.
AP reporter Monica Rohr In "Locals Crack Down on Illegal Immigration" raises some of the criminal justice issues raised for Latina/os with the increased local police involement in immigration enforcement. Rohr rells the story of Mayra Figueroa — a naturalized U.S. citizen, community organizer and licensed driver — who was pulled over by a Houston police officer, who told her he found it suspicious that a Latina was driving a late-model car. The story proceeds:
"The first thing the officer requested? Figueroa's Social Security card, as proof of citizenship. Until now, few local police and sheriff's departments wanted any part of enforcing federal civil immigration laws. They had their hands full with local crime — and needed witnesses and victims to work with them without fear. But as local governments feel mounting frustration over illegal immigration, that hands-off attitude is disappearing. More than 100 local law enforcement agencies — including Los Angeles and Orange counties in California and Maricopa County in Arizona, which includes Phoenix — have begun or are waiting for training to help the Department of Homeland Security root out illegal immigrants and hand them over for deportation. Advocates say the training beefs up the power of the overworked Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. Detractors say it will discourage millions of immigrants from reporting crime or cooperating with police investigations. They also cite evidence of poor training and overeager cops, like the one who questioned Figueroa. The ICE training program began 12 years ago in 1996, but had only one taker until 2002, when political pressure began to mount to fix the illegal immigration problem. Now 41 law enforcement agencies are trained, and 92 more are waiting in line."
Friday, March 28, 2008
SF Immigration Attorney Paula Solorio will make the statement (see below) on immigration tomorrowcat the California State Democratic Convention tomorrow on behalf of the Latino Caucus. What do our readers think?
REMARKS FOR CAL DEMO PARTY CONVENTION PAULA J. SOLORIO
• IMMIGRATION IS AN ISSUE OF CONCERN TO ALL CALIFORNIANS AND TO ALL AMERICANS
• WE HAVE APPROXIMATELY 12 MILLION INDIVIDUALS IN OUR MIDST WHO CLEAN OUR HOMES, CARE FOR OUR CHILDREN, BUS OUR TABLES, WORK AT OUR CONVENTIONS, AND PAY TAXES BUT WHO ARE AT RISK OF BEING ARRESTED AT ANY MOMENT AT THEIR WORKSITES, ON THE STREET OR IN THEIR HOMES.
• WE HAVE COMPANIES AND BUSINESSES SEEKING TO FILL POSITIONS FOR WHICH THEY CANNOT FIND QUALIFIED INDIVIDUALS TO DO THE JOB
• WE HAVE BORDERS THAT HAVE TURNED INTO MILITARIZED ZONES. AS A RESULT, WE CURRENTLY DETAIN OVER 260,000 MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN – MANY OF WHOM POSE NO THREAT TO SOCIETY OR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY.
• WE HAVE AN ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON MORE INTENT ON ENFORCEMENT THEN JUSTICE, DUE PROCESS OR EQUITABLE RELIEF
• TODAY, MR. BUSH IS FORCING BUSINESSES TO FIRE EMPLOYEES WHOSE NAMES DON’T MATCH AN ANTIQUATED SOCIAL SECURITY DATABASE. THIS PROCESS WILL NEGATIVELY AFFECT MILLIONS OF WORKERS, INCLUDING U.S. CITIZENS.
• IT IS CLEAR THAT OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM IS BROKEN. NO ENFORCEMENT WILL FIX THIS BROKEN SYSTEM.
• HARDWORKING INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES TO OBTAIN THE AMERICAN DREAM FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND WHO PERFORM JOBS THAT U.S. CITIZENS CANNOT OR WILL NOT DO ARE NOW AT RISK OF LOSING THEIR LIVELIHOODS.
• UNFORTUNATELY IMMIGRATION HAS BECOME THE POLITICAL FODDER OF RIGHT-WING, REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES WHO SCARE AND INTIMIDATE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC INTO FEARING THE IMMIGRANTS IN OUR MIDST
• THE REPUBLICANS SCAPEGOAT IMMIGRANTS FOR THE ILLS OF OUR SOCIETY TO DEFLECT OUR ATTENTION FROM CORPORATE GREED AND THE WAR IN IRAQ. THEY FORGET THAT WE ARE A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS
• IN FACT IMMIGRANTS CONSTITUTE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF SKILLED & UNSKILLED UNION MEMBERS IN AMERICA; FOR EXAMPLE SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS OF SEIU, AFL-CIO, UFW, AND TEAMSTERS MEMBERS ARE IMMIGRANTS
• TO COMPETE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, AMERICA MUST MAINTAIN A POOL OF PROFESSIONAL, SKILLED, AND UNSKILLED LABOR NECESSARY FOR THE VITALITY OF OUR ECONOMY • WHEN WE WIN THE WHITEHOUSE IN NOVEMBER, WE WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FIX OUR BROKEN IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
• BUT TO DO THIS, WE WILL NEED TO EDUCATE AND INFORM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN ORDER TO REJECT THE MEAN-SPIRITED REPUBLICAN RHETORIC
• THEREFORE, DELEGATES, LET US EDUCATE OURSELVES NOW TO BECOME ADVOCATES ON BEHALF OF FAIR, HUMANE AND EFFECTIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
• LET US WRITE, EMAIL AND CONTACT OUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES AND TELL THEM WE WANT TO FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM, AND THAT WE WILL NOT USE HATE OR FEAR-MONGERING AS THE BASIS FOR SUCH CHANGE
• LET US TELL OUR REPRESENTATIVES THAT IMMIGRANTS ARE VITAL TO OUR ECONOMY, OUR CITIES, OUR TOWNS AND OUR COMMUNITIES.
• LET US AGREE TO BRING HARD-WORKING AND LAW-ABIDING IMMIGRANTS OUT FROM THE SHADOWS SO THAT, IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY, WE MAY KNOW AS A NATION WHO ABIDES IN OUR LAND
• LET US PROVIDE A FAIR, HUMANE, AND EFFECTIVE WAY SO THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS MAY APPLY TO LEGALIZE THEIR STATUS AND BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FABRIC OF OUR COUNTRY
• LET US GIVE BUSINESSES AND COMPANIES THE OPPORTUNITY TO HIRE THE INDIVIDUALS THEY NEED TO EXPAND;
• AT THE SAME TIME LET US PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS AND THEIR WAGES
• LET US AFFORD LAW-ABIDING IMMIGRANTS THE DUE PROCESS AND JUSTICE FOR WHICH OUR COUNTRY IS KNOWN
• THIS ELECTION YEAR HAS SHOWN US THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN AMERICA. IT HAS SHOWN US THAT EVEN A FIRST GENERATION AMERICAN CAN ASPIRE TO THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND
• LET US STAND TOGETHER TODAY IN THE MEMORY OF CESAR CHAVEZ, AND LET US DECLARE IN HIS WORDS: SI SE PUEDE!
Diane Amann of IntLawGrrls today celebrates the 110th anniversary today of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 731 (1898), the foundational case on birthright citizenship that, despite persistent attack from immigration restrictionists, remains the law of the land.
Julia Preston has an interesting article today in the N.Y. Times about immigrants in prison. According to the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie L. Myers, the annual number of deportable immigrant inmates was expected to vary from 300,000 to 455,000, or 10 percent of the overall inmate population, for the next few years. Ms. Myers estimated that it would cost at least $2 billion a year to find all those immigrants and deport them.
The Nevada Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, has issued an opinion that a proposed immigration bill would be premepted by federal law:
"IRCA preempts state laws imposing civil or criminal sanctions, but does not preempt "licensing or similar laws." The "administrative fine" imposed by [Nevada] A.B. 383 is a "civil sanction" which is both expressly and impliedly preempted by federal law. It is not a licensing or "fitness to do business" law because the Tax Commission has no other authority to act against an employer's business license for immigration-related matters. Therefore, it is an attempt to impose an additional state sanction on certain businesses that violate the federal law, which is expressly preempted. A.B. 383 also conflicts with the comprehensive federal scheme, which already sets maximum monetary sanctions for violations of IRCA."
Bruno Bettelheim (1903–1990) was an Austrian-born writer and child psychologist. He is widely known for his studies of autism.
Bruno Bettelheim is also the author of The Uses of Enchantment, published in 1976, in which he discussed the meaning and importance of fairy tales. Bettelheim suggests that if children are allowed to read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, they will get a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. The book was awarded the U.S. Critic's Choice Prize for criticism in 1976 and the National Book Award in the category of Contemporary Thought in 1977.
Upon his father's death, Bettelheim was forced to leave university in order to care for his family's lumber business. After ten years, Bettelheim returned as a mature student in his 30s to the University of Vienna, from which he received his Ph.D.
Bettelheim was interned at Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps from 1938 to 1939. He was released along with hundreds of other prisoners. Bettleheim arrived by ship in New York in 1939 and soon moved to Chicago, becoming a naturalized U.S.citizen in 1944.
Bettelheim eventually became a professor of psychology, teaching at the University of Chicago from 1944 until his retirement in 1973. The most significant part of Bettelheim's professional life was spent serving as director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago, a home for emotionally disturbed children. He wrote books on both normal and abnormal child psychology and was respected by many during his lifetime.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. immigration service has said that it will temporarily stop denying green cards to refugees and other legal immigrants tied to groups that sought to topple foreign dictatorships. The decision mayy affect thousands of pending applications for permanent U.S. residence. The cases of hundreds of others who have been denied green cards since December will also be reexamined, said Jonathan "Jock" Scharfen, deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. All the applicants are living in this country under refugee or political asylum provisions of the immigration laws. Most of the applications involve people linked to groups that U.S. immigration and counterterrorism laws have defined as "undesignated terrorist organizations" because they took armed action against a foreign government. The groups include U.S. allies that fought against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, as well as Burma's military junta and Sudan's Islamic leaders. According to the Post, Scharfen said that USCIS recognized the illogic of admitting immigrants under one provision of the law and then labeling them terrorists for green card purposes, calling it a "very good question." At the same time, he said, the restrictions are "written so that the definition of a terrorist organization and activity is very, very broad." Even groups that have been "closely associated with the United States," such as Montagnard tribesmen who fought with U.S. forces in Vietnam, "fall under the definitions."
Read Alvaro Huerta's tribute to hard-working immigrants by clicking here. The son of Mexican immigrants, Huerta, a Ph.D. student in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, delivered an excellent paper at the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies in Austin last week and was honored with an award for his scholarship and activism.
Members of the California State Assembly introduced a series of measures intended to punish undocumented immigrants. The bills vary in their focus and do everything from repealing SB 840 (Firebaugh) to punishing sanctuary cities to mandating that local police contact federal immigration authorities if they believe a dunk driver is undocumented.
According the the Applied Research Center: These bills represent a push to expand institutional racism. From separating families to encouraging racial profiling and denying students an education, these bills will no doubt have a disproportionately negative affect on communities of color.
Several of the bills are listed below:
AB 1468 (Garrick) - Would require hospitals to report on the citizenship status of their patients
AB 1882 (Garrick) - would require police to contact immigration authorities when a person suspected of being an illegal immigrant is arrested for driving under the influence.
AB 2102 (Walters) - would require state agencies to check all new employees' work eligibility through a federal electronic database called E-Verify
AB 39 (Benoit) - would require the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to tally the cost of jailing undocumented inmates each year and bill the federal government
AB 1928 (Anderson) - would require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when they arrest suspected illegal immigrants
AB 2420 (Huff) - would prohibit cities from declaring themselves "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants and not allowing their police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities
AB 648 (Adams) - would add 10 years to the sentence of anyone convicted of a felony who has a previous felony conviction in California for which they were deported
AB 2812 (Silva) - would allow the governor to cite illegal immigration as a cause to declare a local or state emergency
For more information on the bills go to http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html and type in the bill number (e.g. AB 1882)
Congress returns on Monday from its two week recess, and proposals regarding employment verification for all workers - foreign- and U.S.- born alike - are gathering steam. Several bills including the Shuler-Tancredo "SAVE Act" (HR 4088) and the Johnson "New Employee Verification Act of 2008" (HR 5515) include provisions to create a nationwide mandatory electronic employment verification system (EEVS). In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new proposed regulations to turn SSA "no-match" letters - a system SSA uses to correct errors in its database - into an immigration enforcement tool. These proposals are election year antics rather than answers. These policies rely on the government and its databases to be accurate, timely and competent - a stretch in the best of circumstances given what we know about database error rates. Both would have enormous negative consequences for U.S. citizen workers, employers, and the economy. This week, Immigration OnPoint highlights two new documents that provide policymakers and advocates with facts that are relevant to the current debate in Congress:
Rep. Johnson's New Employee Verification Act: Another Version of the Shuler-Tancredo Bill (National Immigration Law Center - March 21, 2008) - Provides a summary of the Johnson EEVS bill (HR5515) and its negative impact on U.S. citizens, employers, and the Social Security Administration.
Administration Announces New "No-Match" Regulations: DHS Regs Pass Burdens to Social Security Administration, Small Businesses, and Citizens (Immigration Policy Center - March 2008) - Provides a summary of the new proposed "no-match" regulations and their harmful impact on workers, employers, and the Social Security Administration.
Immigration OnPoint is a project coordinated by the Immigration Policy Center to create and maintain an online catalogue of short documents and fact sheets that provide quick answers to commonly asked questions about immigrants and immigration. Immigration is a notoriously complex issue area, and the current immigration debate is filled with myths, misinformation, fear, and emotion, making reasoned decision-making difficult. OnPoint documents are meant to confront myths and provide factual information about immigrants and immigration policy.