Monday, June 30, 2008

McCain and Obama pledged to make immigration reform a priority.

  Recent polls show Obama with an edge over McCain among Hispanic voters, though he performed poorly in some Hispanic quarters against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. For the full story click here.


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

Virginia Journal of International Law On-Line Symposium

The Virginia Journal of International Law will continue its partnership with Opinio Juris this week with an online symposium featuring three articles recently published in VJIL Vol. 48-4. Discussion on Tuesday will focus on the constitutional history of American empire at the turn of the twentieth century. In her article, “They say I am not an American…”: The Noncitizen National and the Law of American Empire, Christina Duffy Burnett Cburnett_web0730_0083 (Columbia) revisits the historical events surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Williams (1904), which relegated Puerto Ricans to an ambiguous status between alienage and citizenship. Challenging mainstream historical critiques which focus on the ways in which the United States unilaterally imposed its own law abroad and influenced other legal traditions, Professor Burnett analyzes the events surrounding the Gonzalez decision to argue that the civic and political leaders of the colonial periphery brought a transnational perspective to the debate over law and American empire and transformed U.S. law in the process. Professor Mae Ngai (Columbia) and Sam Erman (University of Michigan) will be the respondents.


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

Cross Border Yoga

The Huffington Post reports on reaching over the border near Tijuana to share in a yoga class:

The rusty fence may divide the beaches of U.S. and Mexico, but it can't break up a yoga class.

A few dozen yoga aficionados rolled out their mats Sunday on both sides of the wall between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego. The international group stretched and meditated together before exchanging hugs through the fence bars.

The session was organized by the Border Meetup Group, which promotes cross-border understanding by staging social events on the divided beach.

Coordinator Dan Watman said the group aims "to make friends across cultural, political, societal, even emotional barriers."

The Tijuana beach is a popular destination for families who come to chat through the fence with loved ones on the other side. Click here for more.


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

Brief Commentary on the Fate of Employers after Raids

During this past week, ICE conducted at least two more worksite raids. One took place in Arlington, Washington at the Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies, after an audit indicated that some of the company’s workers used fake documents.  Thirty-two workers were arrested in that raid.  Earlier in the week, ICE conducted a much larger raid at Action Rags USa, a rag-sorting factory that employed mostly female workers.  That raid netted 166 undocumented workers.

ICE statistics reveal that as of May 2008 the agency conducted more than 2,900 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite enforcement operations.  In an unprecedented move, 775 workers have been criminally charged and most convicted of aggravated identify theft and Social Security fraud.  ICE also states that 75 owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees are facing charges of harboring or knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Indeed, after almost each raid, news stories emphasize ICE’s intent to go after the employer, in addition to the workers. It is unclear, however, how many, if any, of these employers are actually convicted.

Truth is that hardly ever are employers convicted after these raids. According to ICE’s own annual reports, in fiscal 2007 the agency secured fines and forfeitures of more than $30 million in worksite enforcement cases. ICE, however, did not provide statistics on the number of employers criminally charged nor convicted last year.

Statistical silence on the issue of employer criminal sanctions is not surprising.  Truth is that ICE does not spend many of its resources prosecuting employers, despite what is reported in the media immediately after a raid. And the reality of how raids are conducted suggests that employer prosecutions are hardly a priority.  Otherwise, why would the government remove and convict practically all the witnesses it needs to build a case against the employer – the workers themselves.

Take the Postville raid, for example. Even before the raid, Agriprocessors faced investigations and fines from federal and state environmental and labor agencies for multiple violations of workplace safety, child labor, environmental and immigration law.  But so, far, no sight at all that any Agriprocessors owners or employees face charges. As Jeff Abbas, of KPVL radio in Postville, IOWA tells me, “[n]ot even a whisper of charges against the plant owners.”  Instead, what Abbas observes is heavy recruitment by the company of another crop of disposable workers.  Abbas describes that the company is going to places like El Paso and bringing back a bunch of workers, many of them homeless, and putting them in company housing at rents that are much higher than the standard in the town. Today, Congressional leaders seek answers. Letters to the U.S. Department of Labor and other agencies from Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives Bruce Braley (D-IA), Phil Hare (D-IL), George Miller (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) seek answers from the Bush Administration about its handling of the Postville raid.  But unfortunately, none of this makes national media.  And so the message for many who support raids is that there are actually working.

But what does “working” mean? If it simply means a horrid fate for the undocumented workers and their families caught in the raids, then yes.  But if it means actually improving jobs and work conditions for U.S. workers or deterrence of bad practices by U.S. employers, then think again!


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

Class certification denied in "watch list" case

The 7th Circuit reversed class certification in case challenging the accuraacy of airport "watch lists."  Click here for the link to the decision.


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

Immigrant of the Day: Justice Joyce Kennard (Indonesia)

Kennard Joyce Luther Kennard (b. May 6, 1941) is an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. Born in a Japanese concentration camp in the province of West Java in Indonesia, English is not her native language. Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1989, Justice Kennard is the longest-serving justice sitting on the Court, having been retained by California's voters three times.

Justice Kennard immigrated to Los Angeles in 1961. In 1974, she graduated from the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California, where she also earned her Bachelor's Degree. Justice Kennard worked as a secretary to pay for her education.

Appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1986, Kennard was elevated in 1987 to the California Superior Court and elevated again, in 1988, to the California Court of Appeal. Finally, in 1989, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the California Supreme Court. Upon taking her oath, Justice Kennard became the second woman and the first Asian American to serve as a justice on the Court.

During her time on the bench, Justice Kennard has authored numerous high-profile opinions, the best-known of which is Kasky v. Nike, 27 Cal. 4th 939 (2002).  In that case, the California Supreme Court held that Nike could not claim a First Amendment "commercial free speech" defense when charged with lying about sweatshop conditions in its overseas manufacturing plants.

Justice Kennard has a reputation for aggressive questioning during oral argument.  She often asks the first question in a given case.

Justice Kennard's leg having been amputated when she was a teenager and she Kennard walks with the help of a prosthesis.

Justice Kennard has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees and is very involved in her community.


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

DNC Releases New Web Video: "McCain vs. McCain: Immigration Reform"

Over the weekend, we have blogged on the give-and-take on immigration reform between John McCain had with Senator Obama at the meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.  The Democratic National Committee released a new web video called "McCain vs. McCain: Immigration Reform."  Here is what the DNC has to say:

During this campaign, McCain has fiop-flopped on immigration. After adopting an enforcement-first approach that he previously said wouldn't work, McCain promised to vote against the bipartisan bill that bears his name if came up for a vote. McCain's conversion was on full display at NALEO. During his prepared remarks, Senator McCain said we must prove "that we can and will secure our borders first." But McCain flipped minutes later during the question and answer session, saying comprehensive immigration reform would be "my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow." Finally, McCain concluded by reversing himself yet again, saying we need to "move forward with our border security and then address this issue in a humane and compassionate fashion."

"After watching him debate himself on immigration reform at NALEO today, it's easy to see why John McCain wanted to make last week's meeting with Hispanic leaders in Chicago a closed-door event," said DNC Communications Director Karen Finney. "Apparently, Senator McCain's idea of 'straight talk' means giving two different answers to a straightforward question about whether he supports comprehensive immigration reform or an enforcement-first approach to the issue. McCain's promise to vote against his own comprehensive immigration reform bill is yet another example of his election year conversions on the critical issues facing our country."

To see the DNC's new video "McCain vs. McCain: Immigration Reform" click here:

DNC VIDEO: McCain vs. McCain: Immigration Reform

Chryon: McCain vs. McCain: Comprehensive Immigration Reform or Enforcement First? Chryon: Round 1 - "Secure the Border First" - 11:13 AM

MCCAIN: "That we can and will secure our borders first while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States." [McCain Remarks Before NALEO, 6/28/08]

Chyron: Round 2 - Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Not Enforcement First - 11:25 AM QUESTION: "As the next President of the United States of America, will comprehensive immigration reform and not just enforcement be one of your top policy priorities in your first 100 days in office?" MCCAIN: "It'll be my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow." [McCain Remarks Before NALEO, 6/28/08]

Chryon: Round 3 - Border Security First - 11:44 AM MCCAIN: "That is a compelling reason for us to move forward with our border security, and then address this issue in a humane and compassionate fashion." [McCain Remarks Before NALEO, 6/28/08]

Chryon: January 2008: Would Vote Against His Own Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill QUESTION: "If your original proposal came to a vote in the Senate floor, would you vote for it?" MCCAIN: "It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate." QUESTION: "But what if it did?" MCCAIN: "No, I would not." [CNN Debate, 1/30/08]


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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feds Looking at SF Sanctuary Ordinance

Feds allege that SF may be shielding some deportable immigrants from removal. Jaxon Van Derbeken writes for the SF Chronicle:

San Francisco juvenile probation officials - citing the city's immigrant sanctuary status - are protecting Honduran youths caught dealing crack cocaine from possible federal deportation and have given some offenders a city-paid flight home with carte blanche to return.

The city's practices recently prompted a federal criminal investigation into whether San Francisco has been systematically circumventing U.S. immigration law, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.

City officials say they are trying to balance their obligations under federal and state law with local court orders and San Francisco's policies aimed at protecting the rights of the young immigrants, who they say are often victims of exploitation.

Federal authorities counter that drug kingpins are indeed exploiting the immigrants, but that the city's stance allows them to get away with "gaming the system."

San Francisco juvenile authorities have been grappling for several years with an influx of young Honduran immigrants dealing crack in the Mission District and Tenderloin.

Those who are arrested routinely say they are minors, but police suspect that many are actually adults, living communally in Oakland and other cities at the behest of drug traffickers who claim to be their relatives.

Nonetheless, city authorities have typically accepted the suspects' stories and handled the cases in Juvenile Court, where proceedings are often shielded from public scrutiny. Click here for the rest of the story.


June 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Obama Challenges McCain on Immigration Reform

Obamabarack Mccain_context RA reported yesterday on John McCain's endorsement of comprehensive immigration reform before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.  Before the same group, Senator Barack Obama accused McCain of backing away from comprehensive U.S. immigration reform under pressure from the immigration enforcement hawks of the Republican Party.  Could it be that, as the Huffington Post has observed, McCain is pandering to Latino voters?

After comprehensive immigration reform failed in Congress, McCain has shifted his approach in seeking the Republican presidential nomination to emphasize the need to secure U.S. borders before addressing comprehensive immigration reform.  Note that the MCain for President website focuses first and foremost on border security.  In contrast, Senator Obama's blueprint on immigration is entitled "Fighting for Immigration Reform."


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

Border Fence to Divide UT Brownsville

As you know, these bloggers are not big fans of the extension of the border fence along the U.S./ Mexico border.  It will increase the border death toll and have minimal effect on the numbers of undocumented immigrants cominbg to the United States.  And now AP reports that the that the proposed extension of the fence would cut right through the University of Texas, Brownsville campus and cut off the golf course from the rest of the school. How can that be?  The school prides itself on with building ties between the United States and Mexico, with Mexican students, research collaborations, and bilingual classes


June 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

McCain Calls CIR His Top Priority

Speaking before the NALEO conference today, John McCain called for comprehensive immigration reform. Mosheh Oinounou reports for Fox News:

Boldly declaring that he will make comprehensive immigration reform his “top priority,” during his first 100 days in office, Sen. John McCain today assured Latino leaders that they will have an ally in the White House.

“It will be my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” McCain told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Saturday. “Immigration reform will be my top priority because we have the obligation to address a federal issue from a federal standpoint. I will reach across the aisle again and work in a bipartisan fashion. We will resolve the immigration issue in America and we will secure our borders.”

McCain made the statement in response to a question about his Oval Office priorities after mainly focusing on the economy during his opening remarks to the group. He addressed NALEO this morning just before his Democratic rival spoke, noting at the top of his remarks that he was hoping the conference could have served as a forum for his joint-town hall proposal.

While McCain mostly avoided attacks on Obama—not even taking his usual shot at the Democrat’s support for a labor-backed amendment that hurt last year’s Senate immigration effort—the Illinois Senator exercised no such restraint.

Instead, McCain noted the battle he had with his own party during the failed comprehensive immigration reform effort.

“We tried, I reached across the aisle..and we worked in bipartisan fashion. And we were defeated and by the way it wasn’t very popular–let’s have some straight talk–with some in my party and so I did that and worked together so we could carry out a federal responsibility,” he said. “We have to secure our borders. That’s the message. But we also must proceed with a temporary worker program.” Click here for the full story.


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

Arpaio continues with immigration sweeps

Despite protests and complaints by local police, Sheriff Arpaio continues profiling Latinos to rid Mesa, Arizona of the undocumented population. Twenty eight persons were arrested this week, so far.  For the full story, click here.


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

A Turning Tide: Immigrants to US and Europe beginning to go back

According to the Economist, economic downturn combined with aggressive anti-immigrant policies, such as rais and local ordinances are partly to blame.  For the full story, click here. 


June 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sangre de mi Sangre

Looking for a good movie? Consider this:

Winner of the Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival (under its former title Padre Nuestro), SANGRE DE MI SANGRE is an exhilarating and provocative thriller from newcomer Christopher Zalla exposing the dark side of the American dream. A young Mexican immigrant, Pedro (Jorge Adrian Espindola), journeys to New York City in search of the successful father he's never met only to have his belongings and identity stolen by a conniving thief, Juan (Armando Hernandez). As Pedro is left alone and unable to communicate in a country foreign to him, Juan cons his way into the home of Pedro's father, Diego (Jesus Ochoa), finding a man just as flawed as he is. While Juan attempts to reinvent himself, Pedro's only hope lies with a mysteriously complex prostitute, Magda (Paola Mendoza), as he frantically searches for his identity back.

Rating: Not yet rated
In Theatres: May 16th, 2008

Christopher Zalla (dir.)
Armando Hernandez
Jorge Adrian Espindola
Jesus Ochoa
Paola Mendoza


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

NAFTA and the Elephant in the Room

From Laura Carlsen of the America's Policy Program:

It's rare for the junior partners of NAFTA—Mexico and Canada—to have a chance to sit down and discuss regional integration without the dominating influence of the United States. Even when they do, of course, the U.S. is the elephant in the room. The University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico hosted a conference recently on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) from the Canadian and Mexican perspective. Although most of the presentations were from academics, businessmen or government officials, our panel on civil society participation set me to reflecting on the long personal and political history of the nearly 15-year-old NAFTA and its offspring, the SPP.

It gives me no great satisfaction to report that some of the most pessimistic predictions we made—the displacement of small farmers, lower than expected growth rates, the growing divide between the rich and the poor—have come true. Now we need to use these networks to continue to trilaterally organize against the SPP.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@) is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City.

See full article online at:


June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Kaplan v. Chertoff Implementation

Kaplan v. Chertoff is a class action lawsuit filed on December 6, 2006, by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, to challenge alleged delays by the government in adjudicating applications for adjustment of status (“Form I-485”) and naturalization (“Form N-400”) for those who are receiving or have received SSI benefits and the resulting actual or potential cut-off of SSI benefits.    The parties reached a settlement and now USCIS has issued this statement as to how it will comply with the settlement.

Questions and Answers: Expedited Processing Available for Certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Beneficiaries
SSI Beneficiaries can request expedited processing of Forms I-485 and N-400

Q: Why is expedited processing available for SSI beneficiaries?

A: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently entered into a settlement agreement in a national class action, Kaplan, et al. v. Chertoff, et al., CV 06-5304. The suit was brought by non-U.S. citizens who had lost or who were about to lose their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on a statutory seven-year limit, and who were unable to become naturalized U.S. citizens before the loss of SSI benefits.  Under the settlement agreement USCIS will expedite I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) – commonly referred to as ‘green card’ applications – and N-400 (Application for Naturalization) of current or former Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries if the application has been pending with USCIS for more than six months.

Q: What is expedited processing under the Kaplan Settlement?

A:  Expedited processing includes USCIS requesting an accelerated FBI Name Check and prioritizing any USCIS internal actions, such as scheduling an interview. USCIS will work with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify people who have lost or who will lose their SSI benefits within the next year and who already have an I-485 or N-400 pending with USCIS.  USCIS will then expedite those cases even if the applicant has not yet requested expedited processing and if the application has not been pending for six months. Information on the Kaplan Settlement is available at   

Q: What if I am a non-citizen who has lost my SSI benefits and am waiting for my N-400 or I-485 to be processed?

A: If you are a non-citizen who has lost eligibility for SSI benefits based on a statutory seven-year limit, and you have filed an I-485 or N-400 with USCIS, you may request expedited processing of your pending application at any time, regardless of   when you lost SSI benefits.   USCIS is working with SSA to identify people who have lost or who will lose their SSI benefits within the next year and who already have an I-485   or N-400 pending with USCIS.  USCIS will then expedite those cases even if the applicant has not yet requested expedited processing and the application has not been pending for six months.

Q: How will USCIS contact non-citizen SSI beneficiaries with pending applications who have lost their SSI benefits?

A: USCIS and SSA will mail a blue letter to people who have lost their SSI benefits due to the seven-year statutory limit.   The letter will explain that they need to do the following:

·                 File an I-485 or N-400, if eligible

·                 Be aware of the fee waiver application process

·                 For those who already have a pending application, how to request expedited processing

Q: What should I include with my I-485 or N-400 form?

A:  If you receive a blue letter from USCIS about your eligibility for expedited processing, you should include that letter when you mail your form to USCIS.  If you do not receive a blue letter from USCIS about the Kaplan settlement, you should include any other documents showing proof that that you are receiving or have received SSI benefits.

Q: How do I contact USCIS to request expedited processing based on my eligibility as a non-citizen beneficiary of SSI?

A: There are several ways you can contact USCIS to request expedited processing:

·                 Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

·                 Make an InfoPass appointment at and come to your local USCIS Field Office in person.  Our website,, has a list of all field office locations.

·                 Include a written request for expedited processing when you submit your application.

·                 Mail a request for expedited processing to the office where your I-485 or N-400 is pending once you receive a USCIS receipt notice for your application. To find out where your application is pending, please call 1-800-375-5283.

Whichever option you choose, please let USCIS know that you are requesting expedited processing based on your SSI status.

Q: If I am a non-citizen receiving SSI benefits and I just submitted an N-400 or I-485, can I apply for expediting processing now or must I wait until my application has been pending for over six months?

A: Customers may request expediting processing at any time, but USCIS will not start the expedite process until the application has been pending for over six months.

Q: If an applicant is eligible for SSI, will USCIS automatically waive fees?

A: No, however, USCIS is aware that applicants in the Kaplan class receive or have received SSI. SSI is a federal means-tested benefit and generally means that household incomes are at or below the poverty level, and that individuals are age 65 or over, or disabled.   Therefore, applicants are likely to establish eligibility for a fee waiver.   USCIS asks that class members write a large notation, “KAPLAN” on the outside of mailing envelopes containing either the I-485 or N-400 and the fee waiver request.

Q: What happens if I have changed addresses and never receive the blue letter?

A: It is vital that customers keep USCIS informed of their current address. It is critically important to ensure that correspondence with USCIS can be maintained.   Customers who move must submit a free AR-11 Change of Address Form with USCIS within 10 days of their move.   USCIS will check for an updated address for any blue letters that have been returned to USCIS within 90 days of mailing.

Q: When did the Kaplan Settlement take effect, and how long will it last?

A: The settlement took effect March 5, 2008 and will remain in effect until February 5, 2011.

Q: Does this mean that if I am a non-citizen receiving SSI benefits, I will become a citizen?

A: Expedited processing will ensure that USCIS prioritizes processing these forms.   However, it is not a guarantee that the benefit will be granted.   USCIS still needs to make sure that applicants meet eligibility requirements before the benefit can be granted. 

Q:   Can I visit a Service Center or the National Benefit Center to ask questions about this settlement?

A:   No.   If you believe you may be eligible for expedited processing under the Kaplan Settlement Agreement, then please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283, or you may make an InfoPass appointment to visit your local public field office.


June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

38 more arrests in Wisconsin Immigration Sweep

The Associated Press reports ICE arrested 38 immigrants in what are called "fugitive" sweeps conducted during the past five days in Wisconsin.  The term "fugivite" is strategically used to label persons who have failed to comply with a removal order against them. Typically, these raids occur in people's homes, generally early in the morning.  It is typical that many others who are not the target of the arrest are also arrested during these raids. Here, for example, 22 of those arrested for immigration violations were not the target of the raids. For the story, click here.


June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Immigrant Stance Would Hurt GOP

The Republican Party would suffer at the polls if it maintains an anti-immigrant stance, according to this report from America's Voice:

What Does Rep. Cannon’s Loss in Utah Say About the Republican Party and Immigration?

America’s Voice Says GOP Embrace of Hardliners Will Cost the Party in November and Beyond

“The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war on immigration, and anti-immigrant hardliners are ascending—a trend that doesn’t bode well for the long-term viability of the GOP.  While Republican primary voters are pulling their candidates to the right on this issue, they are hurting their Party’s chances in swing districts, key battleground states, and on the national stage.  Republicans like Rep. Chris Cannon and Senator John McCain are stuck between a rock and a hard place on this issue.  The rock is the unyielding, unforgiving, anti-immigrant wing of the Party.  The hard place is where the majority of Americans stand, which is for a practical solution that replaces an illegal system with a legal one.  Sooner or later, Republicans will realize that allowing the anti-immigrant wing to take the reins of the Party is both bad politics and bad policy.” – Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice

The loss by incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon to Jason Chaffetz in the Utah-3 Republican primary has been portrayed as a victory for anti-immigration extremists.  While immigration was not the only issue in the contest, it clearly played a role in setting up the scenario for a bitter Republican primary, and the result highlights a dangerous trend for the GOP over the long-haul.  The GOP base’s elevation of extremist candidates on immigration has the potential to cripple the Party’s competitiveness on the national stage.  The Republican Party is in the midst of a bitter battle on immigration, and the restrictionist minority is on the rise.  As a result, the GOP’s tone and positioning on the issue have become increasingly extreme and out of touch with broader national sentiment on the issue.

This intra-party divisiveness bodes ill for Senator John McCain, who is trying to have it both ways —attempting to placate GOP hardliners by distancing himself from his past support for comprehensive immigration reform, while also trying to maintain a positive relationship with Latino voters.  However Latino citizens, who are becoming an increasingly important group of voters, are disappointed by the Republican shift towards extremist positions and Senator McCain’s inability to stand up to extremists in his own Party.  Poll after poll shows that Latinos are rejecting the Republican Party in high numbers, and overwhelmingly supporting Senator Barack Obama over Senator McCain.

In addition, hard-line immigration policies have failed to attract independent and swing voters who will be critically important to deciding multiple Congressional races, as well as the outcome of the Presidential contest.

Following is our take on the lessons learned from Rep. Cannon’s loss in the Republican primary, and what this means for the Presidential contest and future elections.   

Background on the Cannon/Chaffetz Race

While immigration was a factor in the UT-3 race, it was not the only factor.  According to Chaffetz himself, “I knew early on we would lose if we focused just on immigration.  My message was purposely broader than immigration. … My signature issue is fiscal discipline,” (Politico, “Chaffetz’s win a GOP ‘wake-up call,’” June 26, 2008).

Utah’s 3rd District is one of the most Republican in the nation; President Bush won 77% of the vote in 2004.  Rep. Cannon, a six-term incumbent, had faced tough primary challenges in 2004 and 2006 from candidates to his right.  Representative Cannon has also been dogged by several traces of scandal in recent years, including former staff’s ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, controversy over a personal loan, and questions over the influence of his lobbyist brother.  Cannon made several notable verbal gaffes in recent years, including dismissing the seriousness of the allegations against Rep. Mark Foley’s conduct with Congressional pages by saying, “There’s not much we can do except educate kids to the dangers.  Frankly, this is the responsibility of the parents – If you get online you may find creepy people who will do and say creepy things – avoid them…  It looks like this one email was a prank--a bunch of kids sitting around, egging this guy on,” (Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 2006).

As the third Member of Congress to lose in a primary battle in addition to dozens of retirements by vulnerable Members, the results in Utah are further evidence of a widespread, anti-incumbent mood.  This was noted in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s analysis of the UT-3 race, which credited Chaffetz for running a “grass-roots campaign that centered on changing the way Washington does business — a theme that will be equally pertinent during the general election in the fall,” (NRCC, “Utah Primary Results,” June 24, 2008,

Reverberations on the National Stage: 2008

The schism in the Republican Party over immigration—and its impact on the larger electorate—is already visible in the 2008 Presidential election. 

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that in 2008, Latinos will comprise about 9% of the eligible electorate nationwide and will make up approximately 6.5% of actual voters, if past turnout percentages remain static.  The Latino vote is particularly concentrated in key battleground states.  As Pew reports, Latinos constitute “a sizable share of the electorate in four of the six states that President Bush carried by margins of five percentage points or fewer in 2004—New Mexico (where Latinos make up 37% of state’s eligible electorate); Florida (14%); Nevada (12%) and Colorado (12%).  All four are expected to be closely contested once again in 2008,” (Pew Hispanic Center, December 2007).  A recent poll from Latino Decisions/Pacific Research found that in the four southwestern “battleground” states, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, Senator Obama leads Senator McCain among Latinos 57% to 31.  Additionally, NBC/WSJ poll from June 11th showed Latinos favoring Senator Barack Obama 62% to 28% over Senator John McCain; a Gallup poll from May 31st found that Latinos favored Obama 62% to 29%; and a Reuters/Zogby poll from May 18th found Obama winning Latinos 57% to 29%.

In 2004, over 40% of Latinos supported George W. Bush’s reelection.  Although once a champion of comprehensive immigration reform, Senator John McCain’s recent alliance with the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party has been greeted unfavorably by Latino voters, and makes it unlikely he will reach or exceed Bush’s high-water mark with Latinos.  As the Politico recently reported, Senator McCain “dismayed Latinos last year when he stepped back from his immigration bill that would have tightened the borders and legalized undocumented immigrants.  As boos and hisses from angry Republican conservatives grew louder at campaign events, he switched course and vowed to “first” secure the borders.  Were his failed bill to come up again, he would not vote for it, he said,” (Politico, “McCain’s Immigration Zigzag,” June 20, 2008).  McCain’s poor showing among Latino voters in recent months is clear evidence that, despite his earlier support for comprehensive immigration reform, his efforts to appease the Republican base and distance himself from common-sense reform have cost him dearly with this key demographic.

In addition, recent research from Democracy Corps/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows that in the 45 most-competitive Republican-held districts, the Republican “amnesty” attack may excite voters’ passions but it doesn’t translate into votes, (“Democrats Improve Advantage in 45 Republican-Held Districts,” June 3, 2008,

Embrace of Anti-Immigrant Stance Will Hurt G.O.P. Long-Term

Nationwide, the Republican alliance with immigration hardliners does not bode well for GOP competitiveness in the 2008 cycle and longer term.  The increasing importance of the Latino vote and these voters’ disgust with the policy and rhetoric of the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party will have lasting political consequences.  In addition, swing voters who want solutions and not empty sound bites will reject politicians who pander in favor of politicians who are willing to roll up their sleeves and solve tough problems.


June 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Immigrant of the Day: Levi Strauss (Germany)

Levi_strauss Levi Strauss (1829-1902) founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. He founded Levi Strauss & Company in 1853 in San Francisco.

Levi's name at birth was Loeb, but when he immigrated to the U.S., it was changed to Levi. He was born in Buttenheim in Bavaria, Germany. Young Levi sailed from Bremerhaven to New York where his two older brothers had already established a textile and tailoring business.

In 1853, Strauss became an American citizen and moved to San Francisco, California, where the California Gold Rush was still in high gear. Strauss opened a dry goods wholesale business called Levi Strauss & Co.

The story goes that miners, often complaining about the easily torn cotton "britches" and pockets that "split right out," gave Levi the idea to make a rugged overall trouser for the miners to wear.

On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent #139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the first of the famous Levi's brand of jeans in San Francisco.

Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902 and was buried in Colma.

Levi Strauss & Co. continues to operate as a denim and clothing company.


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

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Edited by Peter Orner

176c9c3f098018f411d0460b9e9c26eb Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Edited by Peter Orner ries is a series of finely crafted stories where individuals in their own words describe the range of experiences and abuse the undocumented face. The book is published by McSweeney's as part of their Voice of Witness series where they seek to give voice to victims of human rights abuses.

Here is a blurb:

They arrive from around the world for countless reasons. Many come simply to make a living. Others are fleeing persecution in their native countries. Millions of immigrants risk deportation and imprisonment by living in the U.S. without legal status. They are living underground, with little protection from exploitation at the hands of human smugglers, employers, or law enforcement. Underground America, the third book in the Voice of Witness series, presents the remarkable oral histories of men and women struggling to carve a life for themselves in the U.S. Among them are:

FARID, an Iranian-American business owner who employs a number of American citizens while he himself remains undocumented. A critic of the Iranian government, he fears for his safety if he is deported back to his native country.

DIANA, who, along with thousands of other Latino workers, helped rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. After completing her job, she and many others were detained and imprisoned for not having proper documentation.

LISO, a South African woman who was the victim of a bait-and-switch immigration scam. She was enticed to come to the U.S. as a religious missionary, but once here, her sponsors forced her into unpaid domestic labor.


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