Wednesday, April 30, 2008

U.S. House Of Representatives Clears Final Hurdle for CNMI Immigration Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives today took the final legislative step needed by Congress to approve legislation to extend U.S. immigration laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and to authorize a CNMI non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives. The legislation, which passed by a vote of 291-117, will now be sent to the White House to be signed into law.

Kj

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Beat Goes On! Immigration Prosecutions Go UP, UP AND AWAY!

TRAC Immigration reports that the latest available data from the Justice Department show that during January 2008 the government reported 4739 new immigration prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 21.6% over the previous month.

KJ

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

AZ Governor Shows Backbone!

One of the hottest of immigration issues is state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, as the recent controversy in Los Angeles over LAPD's Special Order 40.  It is nice to see a politician buck the tide and defend a pro-law enforcement policy.  Janetnapolitano_potrait_08 Earlier this week, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed a measure that would have required local law enforcement to work with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. Napolitano, a Democrat, had been urged to reject House Bill 2807 by Latino activists who feared the measure would lead to increased racial profiling and further alienate the Latino community. The N.Y. Times has praised Napolitano's veto.

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Get Ready for Marches and Rallies

Spring immigration marches and rallies are being planned across the naiton. Sophia Tareen reports for the Associated Press:

Immigration activists and civil rights leaders are gearing up for rallies and marches in cities across the nation, hoping to revive the stagnant immigration debate in time for the presidential election.

Activists predict turnout for the more than 200 events planned Thursday from Seattle to Miami will be far less than in years past. But they say efforts demanding comprehensive immigration legislation — including pathways to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. — have extended beyond the streets.

"While the breadth of activities will be significant, most eyes are turned toward the November election," said Rich Stolz, a coordinator with Fair Immigration Reform Movement, which oversees activist groups across the country. "We've been calling on the candidates to prioritize immigration."

In Texas, where some of the largest immigration rallies have taken place in recent years, marches were planned in Dallas, Houston and El Paso. None were expected to be as big as the massive protests that snaked through Texas cities in previous years, such as the 2006 rally in Dallas that clogged downtown with tens of thousands of people. Click here for the whole story.

bh

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Anthony Joseph Celebrezze Sr. (Italy)

Celebrezzecampaign Anthony Joseph Celebrezze Sr. (1910–1998) was a Democratic politician, who served as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, a cabinet member in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and as a U.S. court of appeals judge.

Celebrezze was born in Anzi, Italy, but moved with his family to the United States as a young child. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He attended Ohio Northern University, where he received a J.D.

In 1950, Celebrezze ran for a seat on the Ohio State Senate and won. He served as an Ohio state senator from 1951 to 1953.  Celebrezze resigned to successfully run for Mayor of Cleveland.  Celebrezze was mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, from 1953 to 1962. In 1958, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Governor of Ohio.

From 1962 to 1965, Celebrezze served in the cabinets of presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, as the U.S. Secretary for Health, Education, and Welfare. One of Celebrezze's most important achievements as secretary of HEW was separating the public assistance and child health and welfare functions from the Social Security Administration and transferring these programs to a new Welfare Administration. Under Celebrezze's watch, HEW was granted power to deny funds for any federal program, to any state, or institutions which practiced racial segregation.

In 1965, President Johnson appointed Celebrezze to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He served as a federal appeals court judge until his death in 1998.

During his years on the Sixth Circuit, Judge Celebrezze authored a number of distinguished opinions. In Beasley v. United States, he established the standard of "effective assistance of counsel" under the Sixth Amendment. In Hill v. Tennessee Valley Authority, Judge Celebrezze held that the district court had erred in its refusal to issue an injunction against building a dam over a river in which an endangered species, the snail darter, was found. The opinion stated that Endangered Species Act violations must be enjoined despite strong equitable arguments to the contrary in special instances, such as in the Hill case. The Tennessee Valley Authority was directed to seek any exemption from the restrictions within the Act by an appeal to the Congress, if TVA so desired. In Gabriele v. Chrysler Corp., Judge Celebrezze held that an aggrieved person need not resort to state agencies prior to commencing an Age Discrimination in Employment Act lawsuit in federal court.

In dissent, too, Judge Celebrezze made law. In Krause v. Rhodes, the Sixth Circuit held that executive immunity is absolute, thereby barring suit by injured Kent State students against various state officials. In dissenting, Judge Celebrezze held executive immunity to be relative, dependent on the actor's state of mind. The Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit, adopting the dissent's reasoning. And in the area of criminal law, the Sixth Circuit held that mere possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon is a federal offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1202(a)(1). Judge Celebrezze, in dissent, argued that the government must also prove that the firearm in question was "in commerce or affecting commerce." The Supreme Court, in United States v. Bass, adopted Judge Celebrezze's view.

During his years of serving the public, Judge Celebrezze garnered many honors and awards. Among them were honorary degrees from Fenn College, Boston College, LaSalle College, Ohio Northern University, Rhode Island College, Bowling Green State University, Wilberforce University, Miami University (Ohio) and Cleveland State University.

The U.S. government building in Cleveland is named after Celebrezze.

KJ

April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NPR Stories on Immigration

NPR always has great immigration coveregae.  It reports that, in Alabama, there's a new battle brewing in the immigration debate. Some counties have decided to enforce a decade-old law that requires a Social Security card to get a marriage license.  (Please do not ask me why.). The Catholic Church says this has led to a surge of couples living in sin.

NPR also reminds us that, two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security promised that it would start bringing criminal charges against companies that employ illegal workers. Since then, there's been a dramatic increase in raids on businesses, but few prosecutions against employers.  Guess we know what DHS thinks of promises.

KJ

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bhutanese Refugees

According to Mary Ann Zehr of Education Week, the U.S. is resettling thousands of Bhutanese refugees:

Here are a few of the basics: Bhutan is a small country wedged between India and China. It has been the home to different ethnic groups, including the refugees, who lived in Bhutan for generations and retained their Nepalese language and culture. The refugees say they were forced out of the country by discriminatory policies that made it difficult for them to legally live and work there, though the Bhutanese government says they left the country voluntarily. The Bhutanese refugees who just started to arrive in the United States have been living in refugee camps in Nepal for about 16 years. Tens of thousands are expected to arrive over the next five years. Click here for more information.

bh

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Entrepreneurship High Among Immigrants

According to a report from the Kauffman Foundation:

The rate of entrepreneurial activity among women dropped sharply in 2007 while the activity rate among men and immigrants surged, according to a national assessment of entrepreneurial activity by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, the only annual study to measure business startup activity for the entire United States adult population at the individual owner level, 495,000 new businesses per month were started in 2007 with 0.30 percent of the adult population (or 300 out of 100,000 adults) involved in the startup process. This entrepreneurial activity rate is a slight increase over the 2006 rate of 0.29 percent.

"At a time when the nation is concerned about the economy, it is heartening to see that entrepreneurial activity continues to rise," said Carl Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "The entrepreneurial sector is a critical factor in our nation's economic growth. Even during times of recession, new firms have been responsible for the bulk of new jobs and innovations in America. That is why it is vital to track startup trends like we track other economic indicators."

Immigrants far outpaced native-born Americans in entrepreneurial activity, increasing from 0.37 percent in 2006 to 0.46 percent in 2007. Immigrants are now substantially more likely to start businesses than are native-born Americans, which remained constant at 0.27 percent. Click here for more information.

bh

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Symposium Issue

Last fall, SMU's Dedman School of Law held a top-notch immigration conference.  The SMU Law Review (Volume 61, No. 1, Winter 2008) recently published a symposium with papers presented at the event:

Forewords

Kevin R. Johnson, Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Laws

George A. Martinez, Deportation and the Pseudo-Science of Unassimilable Peoples

Articles

Howard F. Chang, The Disadvantages of Immigration Restriction as a Policy to Improve Income Distribution

Nathan G. Cortez, The Local Dilemma: Preemption and the Role of Federal Standards in State and Local Immigration Laws Download Cortez.rtf

James F. Hollifield, Valerie F. Hunt and Daniel J. Tichenor, The Liberal Paradox: Immigrants, Markets and Rights in the United States

Michael A. Olivas, Lawmakers Gone Wild? College Residency and the Response to Professor Kobach Download olivas_final.pdf

Rose Cuison Villazor, What is a “Sanctuary”?

Essays

Karen Engle, The Political Economy of State and Local Immigration Regulation: Comments on Olivas and Hollifield, Hunt & Tichenor

Teresa A. Miller, A New Look at Neo-Liberal Economic Policies and the Criminalization of Undocumented Immigration

Book Review

Karen E. Bravo and Maria Pabon Lopez, Crisis Meets Reality: A Bold Proposal for Immigration Reform

KJ

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Thomas Francis Meagher (Ireland)

Meagher4s Thomas Francis Meagher (1823–1867), as a young man, was an Irish revolutionary, fighting for Ireland's independence from British rule. During this time, Meagher introduced the flag that is now regarded as the national Flag of Ireland. In 1848, Meagher was convicted of sedition by the United Kingdom, and sentenced to death. Due to public outcry, his sentence was commuted to expulsion to Van Diemen's Land on the Australian state of Tasmania.

In 1852, Meagher escaped to the United States and arrived in New York City. Once in the United States he joined the United States Army and served as a Brigadier General during the Civil War, and most notably forming and leading the famous Irish Brigade, which fought valiantly in many battles including Gettysburg.  When the Civil War broke out, he raised Company K, Irish Zouaves, for the 69th New York State Militia Regiment which fought at First Bull Run.  He commanded the Irish Brigade.

After the war, Meagher served as acting governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, Meagher drowned in the Missouri River. 

KJ

April 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Asian Americans Disappointed in Court's Voter ID Case

Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 34-year old national civil rights organization, expressed its dismay with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in two consolidated cases, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, which rejected a constitutional challenge to the Indiana law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification before they can vote. 

AALDEF, with pro bono co-counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, had filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of twenty-five Asian American groups, detailing the problems of restrictive voter ID laws, especially for racial and language minority voters.

Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director, said, “We are disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the real-life impacts of voter ID laws in deterring Asian American and other minority citizens from exercising their right to vote."

AALDEF and the Asian American groups have monitored elections across the country over the last decade and found that voter ID requirements have discriminatory impacts on Asian American voters.  AALDEF's  exit poll of almost 11,000 Asian American voters in 23 cities in eight states in the 2004 elections revealed how voter ID laws place additional burdens on the right to vote:

-In New York, identification is not required to vote, but 23% of all Asian American voters surveyed were asked to show ID.  Of those, 69% were not required to do so under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires only a limited group of first-time voters to present ID.  In Chinatown, a police officer turned away all Asian American voters who did not have a photo ID with them.

-In New Jersey, where identification is not required to vote, 25% of all voters surveyed had to provide identification; of those voters, 51% were not required to show ID under HAVA.  One elderly first-time Korean American voter was asked to provide several forms of identification.  After he presented his voter registration card and other documents from the Board of Elections, he was still required to show a driver’s license, utility bills, and other forms of ID before he could vote.

-In Massachusetts, 24% of Asian American voters were asked to show identification; of those, 57% were not required to show ID under HAVA.  One voter presented his United States passport but was told that it was insufficient.  The voter was turned away.

-In Virginia, where some form of identification is required from all voters, a South Asian voter complained that he was asked to show identification, but his white companion was not required to show any identification whatsoever.

Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF staff attorney, said, “AALDEF will continue to monitor poll sites to ensure that such requirements are not misapplied and not applied only to Asian American voters.”

bh

POSTSCRIPT

MALDEF CONDEMNS U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION THAT JEOPARDIZES VOTERS APRIL 30, 2008 – On Monday, the United States Supreme Court failed American voters by upholding a state law in Indiana requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls on Election Day. The Court concluded that Indiana’s photo ID requirement, which provided for free identification cards and made exceptions for indigent voters and nursing home residents, did not burden voters. MALDEF had filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case, arguing that the Indiana law should be struck down as unconstitutional. The 6-to-3 Supreme Court ruling was one of the most anticipated election-law cases since the Bush v. Gore 2000 decision. This decision will potentially disenfranchise thousands of voters in the upcoming Indiana Primary Election as well as on Election Day in November. “Elderly and minority citizens will be hardest hit by the Court’s decision. MALDEF will continue the fight to protect the right to vote without unnecessary obstacles placed before citizens. Our challenge to Arizona’s Proposition 200 moves forward in the courts and we will there if Congress or state legislatures use this opinion to justify similar voter restriction laws around the nation," stated MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña. “Indiana’s voter ID requirement excludes many eligible voters while sending the wrong message to lawmakers in other states; it is never fair to deny the ballot to a voter who is qualified, particularly when the state has no evidence of voter fraud to justify its onerous policy,” said Nina Perales, MALDEF Southwest Regional Counsel. KJ

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Entrepreneurial Activity Remained Strong in 2007 With Major Shifts Among Men, Women and Immigrants, Says Kauffman Foundation Study

The rate of entrepreneurial activity among women dropped sharply in 2007 while the activity rate among men and immigrants surged, according to a national assessment of entrepreneurial activity by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.  Immigrants far outpaced native-born Americans in entrepreneurial activity, increasing from 0.37 percent in 2006 to 0.46 percent in 2007. Immigrants are now substantially more likely to start businesses than are native-born Americans, which remained constant at 0.27 percent. The entrepreneurial activity rate among Latinos increased from 0.33 percent in 2006 to 0.40 percent in 2007, the largest increase for any major ethnic or racial group.

"The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity remains the only study of its kind that provides states with some measurement for how their rate of business startups compare to the nation. Covering the past 12 years, this report has become an important tool for state and national economic leaders to gauge progress," said Robert W. Fairlie, professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who developed the Kauffman Index.

KJ

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Takes on Sweet Lou Dobbs and CNN!

Dobbs Last week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus challenged the Democratic leadership on immigration.  The Caucus continues to be in the news on immigration.  The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is taking on CNN. In a letter issued Friday to Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes, the CHC’s chairman, Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) contended that the news network is skewed in favor of anti-immigration efforts.CHC leaders expressed outrage that their appeals for a meeting with Bewkes have been rebuffed for several months

Roll Call reports that, according to Senator Menendez, many of CNN’s news programs have adopted “the language Lou Dobbs uses,” referring to the host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” who uses the platform to complain about illegal immigration. “The news program has become the equivalent of opinion and not information,” Menendez said, asserting that news anchors opt for language describing “hordes” of immigrants crossing borders, and use phrases such as “illegal” rather than “undocumented” when describing such immigrants.

KJ

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

More on Halloween-Gate: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Condemns ICE Halloween Party Cover-Up

We have previously reported on ICE's very own Halloween-Gate.  Earlier this month, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), with the release of a House Committee on Homeland Security report ("The ICE Halloween Party:  Trick, Treat, or Cover-Up?" here), condemned the attempted cover-up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) senior officials, relating to evidence of racist and inappropriate activities during an office Halloween party. The party was attended by those senior ICE officials. “These actions are completely deplorable and inappropriate,” said Congressman Joe Baca, Chair of the CHC. “In an environment where we are fighting similar racist actions on college campuses across the country, we would hope that our government offices would be a model to hold up for our young people. Instead, senior officials are giving out awards for ‘most original costume’ to someone in blackface make-up at a party.”

The House Committee on Homeland Security report detailed the events around the party, and the alleged attempt by Assistant Secretary Julie Myers to cover up the pictures of the event. The report states that an employee dressed in prison garb, dreadlock wig and skin-darkening makeup arrived at the judge’s table, stating, “I’m a Jamaican detainee from Krome, obviously, I’ve escaped.” The report includes a picture.  The judges responded with laughter, according to the report. Krome is an ICE detention facility located in Miami, Florida, with detainees primarily from Haiti, Jamaica, and Latin America. The facility has been subject to many allegations of sexual abuse, overcrowding, and mistreatment of detainees.

KJ

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Alice McGrath (Canada)

Licemcgrath Alice McGrath (1917-) was born to Russian immigrants in Calgary, Canada. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1922. McGrath volunteered for the Congress of Industrial Organizations in the late 1930s and met a well-known labor lawyer, George Shibley. He remembered her when in 1942 he became associated with the famous Sleepy Lagoon murder case, in which  a group of predominantly Mexican-American youths were accused and tried for murder in Los Angeles.

In January 1943, after a 13-week trial, 17 boys were convicted and 12 were sentenced to San Quentin. At the time of the trial, labor activist LaRue McCormick had formed the Citizens' Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth. Among the committee members was Carey McWilliams, who eventually became the national chairman when the group reorganized as the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (SLDC). The Committee's goals were to publicize the case and to fund a legal appeal for the boys in prison. The Committee quickly grew as people from the film industry, educational fields, Congress, and labor unions joined its ranks. In addition, the SLDC had significant support from African Americans. Numerous fundraisers were hosted and attended by celebrities including Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Nat King Cole, and Anthony Quinn.

Alice McGrath became the executive secretary of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee. She visited "her boys" every six weeks at San Quentin and would tell them about the Committee's progress, distribute its news bulletin, and tried to boost their morale. With many of them, she forged lasting friendships with the group, including Hank Leyvas, the group's perceived "ringleader."

In 1944, in People v. Zammora, 66 Cal.App. 2d 166, 152 P.2d 180 (1944), the court of appeals overturned the convictions, citing insufficient evidence, the denial of the defendants' right to counsel, and the bias of the trial judge. McGrath was the first to notify the defendants of the appeal's success.

For over 55 years, McGrath remained involved in a number of social, legal, and economic justice activities. And through all those decades, she remained a friend of the Leyvas family.

Professor Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval (UCSB) is writing a fascinating biographical article about Alice McGrath, focusing on her involvement in the Sleepy Lagoon murder case.

Alice McGrath's role in the Sleepy Lagoon case was captured in the film Zoot Suit, released in 1995. For more about McGrath, click here. For an interview with her about the case, click here.

KJ

April 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kansas Immigration Proposals Foundering

Legislators in Kansas are wrangling over immigration measures.

Jeannine Koranda of the Eagle reports:

Legislators declared illegal-immigration reform one of their top priorities at the beginning of the session. But as they head back for a final few days this week, a compromise bill is foundering.

The measure, significantly scaled back from earlier proposals, rankles lawmakers from both parties. Some Republicans say it doesn't do enough to go after illegal immigrants. Some Democrats say it doesn't punish the employers who hire them.

Both the House and Senate began the year with aggressive proposals that attempted to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits or in-state tuition or casting a ballot. They also included strict penalties for employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants. Those proposals have been pared dramatically.

The conferees' proposed bill cut House language to require employers to check potential employees' immigration status through a federal database called E-Verify.

It would drop a Senate-approved provision to penalize labor unions for collecting dues from illegal immigrant workers.

Jeff Glendening, vice president of political affairs for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said his group was happy with the compromise bill, given that it does not mandate E-verify and would not call for any business to lose its license.

The misclassification penalties were a big deal for Democrats, Loganbill said.

"We have a lot of employers that are less than honest in this state and they are getting away with some wrongdoing," she said. Click here for the whole story.

bh

April 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Marshal in Arizona: Get the Locals Out of Enforcing the Immigration Laws!

David P. Gonzales, U.S. Marshal since 2001, writes in the Arizona Republic that: 

"As a career law-enforcement officer, 25 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and six as the U.S. marshal for Arizona, it troubles me to see local law enforcement making a priority out of the enforcement of routine immigration issues.

. . . [L]ocal law enforcement is understaffed and underfunded and should be concentrating its finite and precious resources on protecting our neighborhoods and citizens from dangerous criminals, regardless of their immigration status.

Local law enforcement should work closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in sharing intelligence and investigating illegal aliens who are committing crimes. Local law enforcement simply does not have the time and resources to take on the additional duties of an immigration officer who is trained for 18 weeks on immigration law.

. . .

The illegal-immigration problem cannot be fixed by putting every illegal alien in jail. Remember, this is coming from someone who likes to put criminals in jail. My office is responsible for processing, housing and bringing to court all federal prisoners.

In Tucson, which is one of the busiest federal courthouses in the country, up to 100 illegal aliens a day are charged criminally and processed through the federal court system. This is out of the approximately 1,000 illegal-entry aliens that are arrested each day by the Border Patrol in the Tucson Sector. The other 900 are detained and go through an administrative process and then deported.

There is not enough jail bed space, not enough judges, assistant U.S. attorneys or deputy U.S. marshals to handle much more. The federal criminal-justice system on the Southwestern border is crumbling under the weight of the thousands of illegal-immigration cases.

The U.S. Marshals Service spends approximately $10 million a month just to house these prisoners. Add another $1 million for medical costs.

. . .

The illegal-immigration problem is so complex and multifaceted that only a long-term approach that tackles the core problem is going to work. One of these core issues is that Mexico and other countries, whose citizens risk everything they have to get here, must get their act together and provide for their citizens the basic needs in order to survive. We can no longer be a relief valve for countries that fail to do so.

Career criminals and fugitives who lower our quality of life are getting a walk while we debate the immigration issue. Enough already, let's go after the bad guys."

KJ

April 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taco Trucks Restricted in East Los?!

As we previously have reported, local governments across the country have begun to regulate taco trucks.  Now Los Angeles County -- the Latino Metropolis -- has entered the taco fray.  Taco truck owners have vowed to ignore a law passed earlier this month by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors making it a misdemeanor crime -- punishable by fines and jail -- to stay parked in one place for more than an hour. "They can try to move us, but we're not going to go," said Aleida De La Cruz, whose taco truck has been a family business for 20 years. "What are they going to do, take us all to jail?"  Supervisors unanimously agreed to pass the law after business owners, particularly in East Los Angeles, complained that taco trucks were keeping brick-and-mortar restaurants from flourishing by drawing away customers. Read the L.A. Times story on the taco controversy here.

UPDATE:  The L.A. Times has reported that the new L.A. County taco truck ordinace has provoked controvery -- perhaps it could be called a taco revolt!  "Carne Asada Is Not a Crime," proclaims a website that has suddenly caught fire to rally taco lovers across Los Angeles. Some residents have launched an Internet fight against the new law curbing how long the vehicles can remain parked as they sell their wares. A pair of former Occidental College roommates took it upon themselves to ignite a protest. Aaron Sonderleiter and Chris Rutherford have sent Supervisor Gloria Molina more than 2,200 signatures on a petition to overturn the law. Their website has also declared a recent evening to be Taco Truck Night, calling on residents to turn out to "support your local hard-working taco vendor."

KJ

April 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deported for Possession of Toy BB Gun?

Anna Pratt reports in the Minnesota Monitor:

Jorge Emilio Esquivel-Munoz, 31, who is from Mexico but has lived in Minneapolis over the past four years, probably didn't imagine that hanging out with a friend who was drunkenly fooling around with a toy BB gun would trigger his arrest and deportation. But last Sunday, April 20, that's exactly what happened, according to his girlfriend, a 24-year-old Latina who says her name is Judy.

Esquivel-Munoz, who doesn't speak English, was wrongly identified as the owner of the toy pistol, says Judy, who wasn't present at the scene. ("Toy" is no excuse under the law; it's illegal to have a replica gun in Minneapolis.) Currently, Esquivel-Munoz is located at an Elk River facility, awaiting deportation. Judy said she's been told that he will be dropped off somewhere around the Texas border in about a week.

It's instances like these, Judy says, that raise questions about the crossover between the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In Minneapolis, police officers are prohibited through a Separation Ordinance from doing double-duty as federal immigration agents (same thing goes for St. Paul) by inquiring about or taking action on the immigration status of people they encounter. While officials from both agencies claim that there's an element of natural overlap in their duties at times, such as joint handling of people who are in jail, MPD officials claim they strive to stay out of immigration affairs altogether, adopting a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy. They say building trust in immigrant communities makes day-to-day police work easier. But some local residents say that doesn't stop the police from overstepping that boundary at times. They claim reports of racial profiling by police and/or getting hassled on the basis of immigration status are fairly commonplace among ethnic-looking minorities.

In the case of Esquivel-Munoz, Judy believes he was unfairly arrested" "Jorge is not the owner of the toy gun and he never played with it. He had no idea the other guy had it. I think the police made up that excuse so he could be arrested… They took him in an arbitrary way, as the owner of the gun, so that he looks like he did a crime so they could take him to immigration." Click here for more.

bh

April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on Peter Schey's Lawsuits

Here is the press release related to the 114 lawsuits filed that Kevin Johnson reported on earlier today:

PRESS RELEASE

114 U.S. Citizens and Lawful Residents File Damage Claims Following Los Angeles ICE Factory Raid

For immediate release: Friday April 25, 2008 Noon PST

Contact: Kavita Kapur 213 388-8693 ext 302, kkapur@centerforhumanrights.org

Los Angeles, CA “One hundred and fourteen (114) United States citizens and lawful permanent residents today filed claims for damages with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) alleging that they were illegally detained and harassed during a large-scale ICE immigration raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE) in Los Angeles on February 7, 2008.

The raid was the largest recent workplace operation by ICE agents searching for undocumented wo! rkers. MSE employs about 800 workers, 138 of whom were arreste! d during the raid. Almost all of those workers were released on bonds or their own recognizance and are fighting deportation in hearings before Immigration Judges expected to last at least one year.

MSE is a global manufacturer of remanufactured imaging supplies. Lawyers for the workers bringing the claims argue that MSE is a high-tech manufacturer whose employees make well above the minimum wage and are offered a range of benefits, far from the type of labor law-violating "sweatshop" top ICE officials have claimed are targeted for raids.

Each claimant seeks five thousand dollars ($5,000) in compensation for the alleged detention that took place during the MSE raid. This is beliueved to be the first time that a group of U.S. citizens and lawful residents claiming they were illegally detained during an ICE workplace raid have brought claims for damages against the government. If the claims are successful, this strategy could force Secretary Chertof! f and ICE chief Myers to reassess how raids are conducted.

In a letter dated yesterday addressed to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law wrote:

"Despite the fact that labor unions, workers, and others have previously brought to your attention the blatantly unconstitutional use of 'group detentions' during ICE workplace raids, you have failed to in any way to reassess your operations, provide better training for your agents, or issue clear instructions to cease and desist from unlawful 'group detentions' during ICE operations."

Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said "ICE raids that result in the temporary detention of all workers will not be tolerated. Workers do not leave their rights at the work place gate. They are are entitled to be treated in full compliance with the law and the Unite! d States constitution. The ICE practice of detaining all workers during raids regardless whether they have done anything wrong is appalling and inexcusable. The practice of separating families and deporting longtime resident workers is irrational, especially given that all presidential candidates support comprehensive immigration reform that hopefully will soon offer these workers a path to citizenship."

Fabian Nunez, Speaker of the California Assembly, said “ "I am opposed to these raids and have joined other California elected officials in recently informing Secretary Chertoff of our strong disagreement with the manner in which these workplace operations are conducted. These raids accomplish nothing since employers immediately rehire new workers and end up with the same number of workers using unauthorized identity documents despite full compliance by employers with federal employee-verification rules. Raiding companies that employ large numbers of US citizens and pay well above the minimum wage makes no sense. The country needs comprehensive immigration reform, not arbitrary random workplace raids, particularly against employers who are not exploiting their workers."

Angelica Salas, Executive Director Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said “ "The result of these raids is always the same: torn apart families, injured businesses, injured workers, and debilitated communities.  We cannot ignore the truth that violating the civil rights of our very own citizens, legal permanent residents, or immigrants in process is just plain wrong."

Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and lead counsel for the claimants, said "During the raid, Micro Solutions was sealed off and effectively locked down by armed ICE agents. These armed government agents issued orders directing everyone in the building where to go, where to stand, and where! to line up. Those detained were not permitted to use their ce! ll phone s. This mass detention of U.S. citizens and lawful residents took place without a warrant or probable cause to believe every worker had violated the law and was therefore subject to temporary detention."

One U.S. citizen claimant reports that "ICE agents with guns stormed into the building. The agents yelled at us to stop whatever we were doing, and not to touch anything. The agents did not tell us who they were, or what was going on. They then ordered us to stand up and to go out into the hallway and line up against the wall. They would not let us gather our personal possessions before lining up … it was strictly prohibited to use cell phones. ICE agents patrolled the entire building. I had never seen so many law enforcement officers in one place before.  It was very scary because there were so many agents with guns and I still had no idea why I was being detained."

Under federal law the government has six (6) months to reso! lve these claims. If these claims are not satisfactorily resolved during the next six months, the one hundred and fourteen U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident claimants will then be authorized to prosecute their claims for compensation against the government in the federal courts.

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April 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)