Sunday, August 31, 2008
We sometimes criticize the policies of the Department of Homeland Security. We just received a press release that, at least in my view, seems like welcome news::
Immigrant workers demanding a safe evacuation from the path of Hurricane Gustav received key assurances from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that no immigration enforcement actions or checkpoints would occur in the evacuation process or along evacuation routes. The New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice gained the assurances for safe passage of immigrant workers just as mandatory evacuations began across the Gulf Coast. The exact agreement is below.
As Gustav approached, immigrant workers and their families feared evacuation due to anticipation over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints. Of the over 200 surveys of day laborers which the Workers' Center conducted as Hurricane Gustav approached, the fear of detention and deportation by DHS was identified as the single greatest obstacle to accessing humanitarian relief. "We want to take our families to safety. We should not have to face deportation as we escape from the storm" said Dennis Soriano, an organizer with the Congress of Day Laborers.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers arrived in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to assist in the reconstruction of New Orleans and other cities. However, even as they were contributing to the rebuilding efforts, they faced extraordinary abuse, including high levels of wage theft, police brutality and massive immigration raids.
"This agreement would be the first clear assurance of safety from the federal government to immigrant workers who came to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina" said Saket Soni, Director of the Workers' Center. "It's a small victory on the path to a humane and just relief effort."
Despite these assurances, immigrant workers and their advocates expressed concern about the treatment immigrants would receive in the relief effort. "Once we have evacuated safely, will DHS come to the shelters?" asked Soriano; "When we are returning home to rebuild the city, will we face DHS checkpoints on our way back?"
"We hope that these public assurances from DHS will be the first step towards a Memorandum of Understanding that clearly establishes what we all know: there's no place for immigration enforcement in humanitarian relief" said Jennifer Rosenbaum, Counsel to the Workers' Center. Ms. Rosenbaum has represented hundreds of immigrant workers in post-Katrina New Orleans efforts.
Soni said immigrant workers would continue to fight for access to the relief. "Just like everyone else who was forced to leave, immigrant workers and their families want to stay safe in the shelters, and they want to come home to New Orleans and help rebuild their city."
The New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice is a membership based organization that works with African-American and immigrant workers in the post-Katrina landscape.
AUGUST 31, 2008
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
· All residents of the Gulf Coast region need to evacuate.
· There are no immigration enforcement operations, and there are no
immigration enforcement checkpoints associated with the evacuations.
· The Department of Homeland Security's top priorities in any emergency are life-saving and life-sustaining activities, preventing the loss of property to the extent possible, and assisting with a speedy recovery of the affected region.
· Todos los residentes del la región de la Costa del Golfo deben evacuar.
· No hay operacions de inmigración, y no hay puntos de inmigración asociados con las evacuaciones.
· Las prioridades mas altas del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS por sus siglas en Ingles) en cualquier emergencia son las de salvar y sostener la vida, preevenir la pérdida de propiedad lo tanto posible, y asistir con la recuperación de la región afectada.
POSTSCRIPT News reports suggest that many undocumenyed immigrants stayed behind when Gustav struck because they were afraid of being arrested if they attempted to take buses and trains out of the region.
Yes, we don't have much information on Sarah Palin's position on immigration policy, but we do know this. She was a supporter of Patrick Buchanan when he ran for president in 2000. And Buchanan, of course, is one of the most evil anti-immigrant xenophobes in the country--very anti-immigrant of color, and especially anti-Mexican. Palin is a Buchananite. See this from the Nation.
I happen to be blogging from Alaska right now, where I've been talking to locals about Palin. Many people do like her for a deal she struck on oil, but she's controversial. She has a reputation for being a bully, but I guess that doesn't make her unqualified, of course. However, many local Republicans I've spoken with cannot believe that such an experienced person has been nominated to be the v.p. Some didn't even think she was experienced enough to be governor. Bloomberg news has noted the lack of support by some Alaskan Republicans as well.
The raid last week in Mississippi continues to have ripple effects. The L.A. Times reports that many black and white residents of Laurel, Mississippi, where the raid occurred, applaud the raid. At the same time, the raid sent fear through the Latino community.
We have previously stated that we are uncertain of Rep VP nominee Sarah Palin's views on immigration. That is still true. However, we did run across a You Tube comedy routine in which the Governor of Alaska sends Craig Ferguson a personal video offering honorary citizenship. Palin does mention that responsibilities -- specifically a visit to Alaska -- attach to honorary citizenship.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Juan P. Osuna (official bio) has been named chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Osuna, 45, was appointed to the board in 2000 and became acting chair in August 2006. He is the first Latino to head the board. From June 1, 2005, to October 2, 2006, he served as Acting Vice-Chairman.
Osuna received B.A. degree in 1985 from George Washington University, J.D. in 1988 from the Washington College of Law at American University, and a master of arts degree in law and international affairs in 1989 from American University’s School of International Service. From April 1990 to December 1999, Osuna served at West Group as senior principal attorney editor, managing editor, associate editor, and assistant editor. From 1997 to August 2000, Osuna also served as a consultant for Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., in Washington, DC, where he edited a number of publications. Previously, he taught law at the Federal Judicial Center's Division of Court Education, in Washington, DC, and at American University, where he was an adjunct professor in the University's Washington Semester Program. Osuna is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar.
"Reform and adequate resources are the only approaches that will meet the twin essentials of due process and judicial economy. This is the only solution that will provide a `win-win' outcome for the public we serve," writes Dana Leigh Marks, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges and immigration judge sibce 1987, L.A. Daily Journal, Aug. 29, 2008.
Perhaps the next President will listen.
Farmers Branch leaders are persistent. Anabelle Garay writes for the Associated Press:
A federal judge issued a final judgment on Thursday permanently preventing a Dallas suburb from enforcing a rule banning apartment rentals to illegal immigrants.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay could conclude a nearly two-year court battle over a never-enforced ordinance that would have required landlords to verify tenants' legal status.
The judgment also triggers a countdown to another immigration-related rule by Farmers Branch officials. City officials approved the new rule to take effect 15 days after a final judgment on the ordinance that was being litigated. It would require prospective tenants to get a rental license from the city. Farmers Branch would ask the federal government for the applicant's legal status before approving the rental license.
Opponents of the previous ordinance — which included apartment complex operators, residents and advocates — plan to challenge the new rule. Click here for the rest of the story.
Since November 2007, Border Action, No More Deaths and Casa Maria have been working to change the Tucson Police Department's policy regarding undocumented immigrants. At a recent City Council subcommittee meeting, Police Chief Miller unveiled the draft policy to council members. While there are still two provisions in the policy that we are committed to eliminating, the policy has some notable improvements including prohibiting officers from asking people's immigration /citizenship status during traffic stops. Here is an editorial from the Arizona Daily Star regarding the policy. Congratulations to the advocates who have been working on this policy change.
Friday, August 29, 2008
In July, I wrote a blog entry entitled The Modern Sundown Towns. The discussion below is a lengthier exploration of the issue that is part of a draft article (with footnotes) tentatively entitled "The Intersection of Race and Class in U.S. Immigration Law and Enforcement," which will be submitted for inclusion in a symposium on race and class in Duke Law School's Law & Contemporary Problems.
The conventional wisdom has been that federal power over immigration is exclusive, with little room for state and local immigration regulation. Nonetheless, a number of state and local governments frustrated with the failure of Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform in recent years have adopted measures that purport to address undocumented
immigration and immigrants. Race and class unquestionably have influenced the passage of these measures.
A number of local governments have unsuccessfully attempted to address the efforts of day laborers – relatively unskilled workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America – to secure work. "Day laborers are short-term workers that assemble in areas where they are likely to be visible to potential employers. Day laborers typically assemble in areas such as sidewalks, parking lots, and around construction supply stores."
Prince William County, Virginia responded to an increase of Latina/o immigrants settling in the community by adopting a measure that required police officers to check the immigration status of anyone who is accused of breaking the law, whether for speeding or shoplifting, if they believe that person is in the country unlawfully, and also to cut off certain county services and benefits. As a result, Latina/o immigrants and citizens reportedly have moved out of Prince William County, to the dismay of some businesses and the approval of some white residents. Supporters of the local immigration measures claim that the laws will promote "self-deportation" of undocumented immigrants and thus foster adherence to the federal immigration laws. But the Latinos moving out of Prince William County appear to be moving to neighboring localities and states rather than self-deporting to their native countries.
Similarly, the city of Escondido, California, with a Spanish name not far from the U.S./Mexico border, is another local government that has sought to deter Latina/o immigrants from remaining in its jurisdiction. In the last few years, Escondido has tried to rid itself of undocumented immigrants through a number of means including passing an ordinance (later rescinded after a legal challenge) barring landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants, immigration sweeps, and aggressive enforcement of city codes and other policies. The department’s most controversial move was checkpoints targeting unlicensed drivers. In 2007, "the department set up 18 license checkpoints, which resulted in 293 impounded cars, 14 arrests and 296 citations.." Escondido currently is attacking undocumented immigration indirectly by, among other things, citing residents for code violations such as garage conversions, graffiti, and junk cars. City officials considered a policy restricting drivers from picking up day laborers. Escondido’s approach has been described as the method of "attrition: making life as difficult as possible for undocumented immigrants in the hope that they'll self-deport back home," which seems unlikely given that residence is possible in other jurisdictions. A retired sheriff maintained, however, that Escondido is "`looking for a way to reduce the number of brown people.’"
The end result of local immigration measures like those in Prince William County and Escondido may well be variants of the old "sundown town," communities in the United States that emerged in the North after the Civil War, when many freed slaves left the South, in which African Americans were systematically excluded from town after sunset. This allowed workers of color to provide labor needed in town but without the perceived burden on townspeople of having them be neighbors. Ordinances that bar landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants, including ones adopted by Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Valley Park, Missouri, and Farmer’s Branch, Texas, have been called the new Jim Crow. These ordinances may result in discrimination against national origin minorities (including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents).
There is little indication that the labor provided by immigrants will not be utilized to maintain the homes and yards of city residents as well as in restaurants, hotels, construction, and service industries. The elimination of day laborer pick ups would likely drive the employment of these workers further underground but would not likely eliminate this informal labor market. The new sundown town, it appears, thus will have Latina/o immigrant workers by day but will be white-dominated at night.
OntheIssues reports this about Palin on immigration: "No issue stance yet recorded by OnTheIssues.org." One news report concludes that Palin has conservative credentials but has said little on iImmigration: "Being that her state only borders Canada and is thousands of miles from the Mexican border, Palin has not often expressed her views publicly on illegal immigration."
Who wants to bet that Palin will veer enforcement-only very soon?
More generally, the ever-interesting Wonkette has the scoop about Sarah Palin's latest political controversy.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection warned football fans "to prepare for a potential increase in cross border travel in conjunction with the Buffalo Bills pre-season football game against the Detroit Lions on Thursday, August 28. It is expected that some of those attending the game will travel directly from Canada and others from Detroit to Buffalo through Canada. . . . Travelers should check traffic conditions at the four border crossings within the Buffalo/Niagara region and select the crossing that is least congested."
Detroit beat Buffalo 14-6. ESPN described the game as "a glorified scrimmage even by NFL exhibition standards." Hope nobody got stuck in traffic.
"You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. But this, too, is part of America's promise -- the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort."
Any thoughts from our readers?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
"Only one president was the son of two immigrant parents: Andrew Jackson. Five presidents ([Thomas] Jefferson, James Buchanan, Chester Arthur, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover) had just one immigrant parent each." http://www.wikinfo.org/index.php/President_of_the_United_States_of_America
As you know, I tend to be favorably disposed toward immigrants but, with the possible exception of Jefferson, I must concede that I am not really all that impressed with the president/children of immigrants.
And we, of course, are well aware that John McCain may be an immigrant. :)
The Cato Institute has produced a short clip from a recent speech by Jason Riley, Author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders. Riley argues that the case against illegal immigration is based on false conventional wisdom and that proponents of free markets should embrace open immigration, not shun it.
Will immigration be a major issue in the upcoming Obama-McCain contest? Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News writes that many observers think not:
Mindful of Hispanics' growing clout, Barack Obama has vowed to push for comprehensive immigration reform as president.
But energy, the economy and Iraq get top billing at the Democratic National Convention. Immigration won't get prime-time airplay – and that's fine with many advocates.
"There's going to be a lot of meat cleavers that McCain can use on Obama," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who represents 300 miles of border. "He can drag that bloody rag of immigration around if he wants to. But we're not going to hand him the rag."
Just as Sen. John McCain placated the GOP's right wing by promising to control the border before pushing a guest worker program he has long supported, Mr. Obama would alienate swing voters by coming off as too enthusiastic about amnesty for undocumented workers. Click here for the full story.
Raids, raids raids! We have been writing about raids at workplaces across the United States for many months -- Massachusetts, North Carolina, Iowa, and, last Friday, Mississippi. Undocumented employees have been the promary targets but buisiness feel like they are in a bind: "Major U.S. employers assailed the expanding crackdown, saying it creates a Catch-22. If businesses fail to enroll in E-Verify, they run the risk of a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said. But if they sign up, they face added costs, labor disruptions and discrimination complaints -- as well as the risk that flaws in the program won't stop all illegal hiring or prevent government raids, they said." Click here for the Washington Post story offering the employer perspective.
We have reportedly previously on the LA taco truck controversy. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge invalidated a controversial ordinance passed in April by county supervisors that made it a misdemeanor in unincorporated parts of the county to park a taco truck in one spot for more than an hour. The ordinance, Judge Dennis A. Aichroth ruled, was unconstitutionally vague in its description of how quickly a vendor could return to an area where the truck was previously parked. Aichroth said it also violated the vehicle code because county supervisors had not properly established that it was written in the interest of public safety.
A spokeswoman for Supervisor Gloria Molina, the ordinance's author, said the fight was not over. "We knew from the start," spokeswoman Roxanne Marquez said, "that this case would go to court. We will appeal and we expect to win." Marquez rejected claims that the ordinance targeted small vendors in favor of bigger businesses and developers who make larger political donations. "We are coming down on the side of our residents who deserve a good quality of life," she said.
The law was passed unanimously by supervisors after restaurateurs complained that taco trucks parking on the streets near their businesses were drawing away customers. The LA taco truck ordinance sparked an outcry, which included an internet petition that collected more than thousands of signatures. www.saveourtacotrucks.org.
Yesterday, we commented on the possibility that the new LPGA English only rule might be a way of discriminating by proxy against Korean golfers. One might think that a taco truck ban might be a way of targeting persons of Mexican ancestry. In the taco truck case, however, it appears that persons of Mexican ancestry (Mexican restaurant owners) support an ordinance that might injure small business owners of Mexican ancestry. Add politics to the mix and we have a very complex taco!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
As we blogged earlier this week, the U.S. immigration laws do not really allow the nation to compete with other nations for the best and the brightest. In "Recruiting the Tired, the Poor, the Wretched Refuse: Immigrant talent in the U.S. is an underused recruiting source of high-performers" in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, Richard Herman and Raghav Singh note that "Over 200 million people now work and live outside their country of birth. This is the largest number in world history.... Countries from Canada to New Zealand are scrambling to attract highly skilled immigrants to their shores.... In contrast, U.S. immigration policy is not designed to attract talent. . . . U.S. immigration policy has never placed great emphasis on talent and capital attraction."
The punch line: "In order to cotinue attracting the best and brightest job-creating minds, the U.S. needs to enact immigration-law reform that places an emphasis on attracting skills to fill shortages, as well as investment capital."