Thursday, April 30, 2009
Border Communities to Join Thousands Nationwide on May 1st in Support of Just and Humane Immigration Reform
Immigration, labor and religious groups across the country gather to demand reform this year
WHAT: Community March and Rally
WHEN: At 4:30 PM, Friday, May 1, 2009
WHERE: We will gather at 4:30 pm at the Corner of Mills and Walnut in central El Paso, and we will march towards the "Mercado Mayapan" (4:45) where we will join in a solidarity Workers Rights Rally with the Mujer Obrera at the displaced worker's new Mercado & Technology Center. Afterwards the march will continue towards in the Plaza de los Lagartos and begin the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Rally at 5:45 pm. After the Rally, local bands will be playing.
WHO: Border Network for Human Rights, La Mujer Obrera, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, ACLU Las Cruces, Annunciation House and Border Workers Association.
WHY: The momentum for immigration reform this year is growing. President Obama has expressed his support for immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hosting a hearing at 2 p.m. this Thursday to discuss a common sense approach to immigration reform featuring economist Alan Greenspan.
From New York City to Los Angeles to El Paso and every major city in between, immigrant rights grassroots groups will join forces with labor and religious groups to show that Americans want immigration reform this year. We are asking for a common sense approach that gives the hard working men and women already here an earned path to citizenship, keeps families together and provides legal avenues for future workers to seek out opportunities here and join our struggle to strengthen our economy.
Our broken immigration system and broken economy are linked. In order to get the economy going again, we need a common sense solution to immigration. Economists know it. Businesses know it. Labor leaders know it. And the American people demand action. They don’t want more excuses from Washington. That’s what Thursday’s hearing is about, and that is what the May 1st marches are about.
For a detailed of May 1st events in the rest of the country, please visit www.anewdayforimmigration.org.
DHS has issued a press release announcing new worksite enforcement guidelines. You can read the press release here. Download NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER press release here commenting on the guidelines.
From Aarti Kohli:
Language Acquisition and Immigrant Integration
The process of immigrant integration and policies related to language differ significantly between European countries and the United States. The United States does not have a coherent, unified national policy on immigrant integration or language access. In fact, it is often state and local interventions that have been at the forefront of improving language access for immigrant populations. In contrast, many European states have explicit strategies and dedicated funds for cultural, social and language integration and assimilation.
On May 4, the Warren Institute and UC Berkeley's European Union Center of Excellence will hold a conference intended to bring U.S. and European experiences with immigrant integration under a comparative lens. The conference will examine specific initiatives and programs in K-12 and post-secondary education, and also workforce training in the U.S. and Europe, focusing on the characteristics of successful cases. Further, the conference will seek to draw lessons for U.S. policymakers from the European experience with national integration policies, particularly in light of potential large-scale immigration reform in the United States.
May 4, 2009 ----- 10:00am - 4:00pm ----- Lipman Room Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
From the National Immigration Law Center:
DHS ISSUES "NEW" WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT GUIDELINES THAT ARE SIMPLY MORE OF THE SAME
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is disappointed at the so-called new directive on worksite enforcement issued by Sec. Napolitano today and announced by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press release. The directive itself has not been made public.
The press release announces a new emphasis on criminal prosecutions of employers and expanding coverage of humanitarian guidelines. But at the same time, DHS reports that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will continue to detain undocumented workers in workplace raids.
"Americans had been awaiting meaningful change under the Obama administration but all we've gotten seems to be more of the same type of ineffective and costly immigration enforcement that we saw with the mass ICE raids under the Bush administration," stated Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC. "We have seen the terrorizing effect ICE raids have had on families who have been ripped apart, children who have been abandoned, workers who have courageously come forward to report labor violations only to be detained, and on local economies which have been severely impacted. It is simply unacceptable that these 'new' guidelines are the administration's response to the millions of people demanding rational and humane immigration policies," said Hincapié.
The directive purportedly shifts the focus toward employers engaged in criminal activity. The press release does not even mention access to legal protections for workers who are victims of employer misconduct, such as access to visas for victims of human trafficking or other crimes, or as material witnesses to crimes. "We support an enforcement scheme that goes after employers who are flaunting the nation's immigration and criminal laws as well as undercutting businesses that do play by the rules. But the directive does not address the root causes of why employers recruit, hire, and exploit undocumented workers to begin with," said Nora Preciado, employment policy attorney with NILC. "This is a missed opportunity by the administration to focus on employers engaged in egregious labor violations and to see workers as essential to these prosecutions. Instead immigrant workers across the nation will be pushed deeper into the shadows of our economy," added Preciado.
The DHS press release states the agency plans to expand the existing humanitarian guidelines to worksite raids involving more than 25 undocumented workers. While this reflects a change from the previous threshold of 150, NILC's experience in supporting local groups in response to ICE raids has shown us that the humanitarian guidelines are fraught with more serious problems that should have been addressed. The humanitarian guidelines need to be improved so they are uniformly followed by local ICE agents and guarantee that workers are not detained when alternatives to detention are available, obtain prompt access to counsel, and limit the transfer of detained immigrants away from their homes and families.
"This new guidance sends a strong message to the millions of Latinos who voted for change when they elected President Obama that this administration is not serious about change and protecting the rights of workers. The stakes are even greater now for a broad and just immigration reform that will allow immigrant workers to come out of the shadows to continue contributing to the nation's economy and participating fully in their communities," concluded Hincapié.
From America's Voice:
Schumer Panel Seeks Way Forward on Immigration;
Republican Cornyn Seems Stuck in Reverse
Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, will hold a hearing: "Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?" The hearing is the kickoff of the immigration debate in the 111th Congress and shows continued momentum toward movement on comprehensive immigration reform this year.
"This past election was a game-changer and both parties are confronted with the new politics of the issue," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice. "The election showed that swing voters want solutions to tough problems rather than political finger pointing, Latino voters want their contributions respected rather than their families and rights threatened, and that anti-immigrant activists are more bark than bite. This creates a great deal of new political space for good policy."
Under the leadership of the Subcommittee's Chairman, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Subcommittee will hear from an array of prominent witnesses who will share their perspectives on the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform. Witnesses will include former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan; Montgomery County, MD Police Chief Thomas Manger; evangelical Pastor Joel Hunter of the Northland Church in Central Florida; Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights(LCCR); and Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
At the request of Ranking Member Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the panel will also hear from a business representative who supports comprehensive immigration reform, Jeff Moseley, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as the notoriously anti-immigrant Kris Kobach, who works with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cornyn's choice of witnesses reflects the schism in the Republican Party between moderate voices of reason and anti-immigrant extremists. While the 2008 election results should have delivered a final death blow to the Republican immigration wedge strategy, many in the GOP continue to cling to the mass-deportation approach. Meanwhile, new national polling numbers show that the American people strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and expect President Obama to follow through on his campaign promise to address the issue. Polling also shows that if Congress follows through on today's hearings and engages in practical immigration reform, they will be rewarded with strong support from the American people.
"Sen. Schumer is one of a number of Democratic leaders who now understand that the public wants their leaders to lean into this issue and enact common sense solutions, and we salute him for holding this hearing and officially inaugurating this year's debate," said Sharry. "On the other hand, we will be watching with interest to see how Senator Cornyn navigates this issue. He has talked a good game in the past, but when it came to voting he proudly opposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Given how the GOP's attempt to use illegal immigration as a wedge issue has backfired spectacularly, and given the shifting electoral map in Texas and across the country, will he finally have the courage to vote for reform and stand up to the very people that are driving his party over the cliff? Today's hearing lifts the curtain on what promises to be one of this year's most dramatic and high stakes policy debates."
You may have noticed a touch of anti-Mexican rhetoric attached to some of the legitimate public concerns with a potential swine flu epidemic in the United States. Joshua Holland on AlterNet claims that "[t]he right-wing pundits who seized on the swine flu to push their anti-immigrant rhetoric are employing an ancient racist tactic." He reports that
"blogger and former Fox News personality Michelle Malkin took a triumphal attitude over the handful of cases that have popped up in the U.S., writing: `I've blogged for years about the spread of contagious diseases from around the world into the U.S. as a result of uncontrolled immigration.' Hate-radio host Michael Savage also advanced the argument, saying, `Make no mistake about it: Illegal aliens are the carriers of the new strain of human-swine avian flu from Mexico.'"
Expect more on this front. I hope that we are able to keep our eye on he ball and focus on controlling the swine flu, not pursuing partisan political ends in a time of social stress (something we have seen throughout U.S. immigration history).
UPDATE (May 1): Sadly, the nativist backlash is getting worse, not better. See here and here. One internet comment was rather blunt: “This disgusting blight is because MEXICANS ARE PIGS!” these are the kinds of comments -- along with personal attacks and threats -- that led this blog to eliminate the Comments function. Keith Olbermann strikes back here. Jay Severin, a right-wing talk show radio host from Boston, has been suspended after calling Mexicans "primitives" and "women with mustaches and VD" who "leech" off the United States.
Economists and Other Experts Agree on the National Economic Benefits of Immigration Immigration Reform Cited as an Economic Necessity and a Net Gain
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
From America's Voice:
American People Want and Expect Comprehensive Immigration Reform
NYT/CBS Poll Highlights Continued Support for Sound Solutions and Practical Policies
Washington, DC – New national polling numbers show that the American people strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and expect action during President Obama’s first term.
An April New York Times/CBS poll asked nearly 1000 Americans what should be done about immigrants working in the U.S. illegally: should they “be allowed to stay in their jobs, and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship”; “allowed to stay in their jobs only as temporary guest workers, but NOT to apply for U.S. citizenship”; or “required to leave their jobs and leave the U.S.” Fully 44% chose a path to citizenship, 21% chose temporary legal status, and only 30% supported a requirement to leave the U.S. This compares with 38% who chose a path to citizenship, 28% who chose temporary status, and 28% who chose removal in a previous NYT/CBS poll from December 2007.
“While immigration reform may be ‘controversial’ on rightwing radio and cable TV, it is ‘common sense’ to a majority of Americans,” said Frank Sharry, Executive director of America’s Voice. “Nearly 2/3 of the American people support a policy that brings immigrants who are here illegally out of the shadows to apply for work permits, rather than forcing them to leave,” he continued.
The poll also asked about the likelihood of President Obama bringing about “significant immigration reform” his first term in office. Fifty-nine percent said they thought reform in Obama’s first term was “likely” (9% “very likely” and 50% “somewhat likely”), while 35% though reform was “not likely” (26% “not very likely” and 9% “not at all likely”).
“In the past, the federal government’s failure to enact immigration reform has been a symbol of how Washington ducked tough problems,” continued Sharry. “This poll shows that the American people are optimistic that this president will tackle immigration reform. While some remain skeptical that it will be a high priority, it is clear that if congress and the white house engage on a practical solution, they will be rewarded with strong support from the American people,” he concluded.
Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996 to pursue a Ph.D. in immunology but stopped short to become a writer. She has an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an M.F.A. in creative non-fiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, Best American Short Stories, O Henry Prize Stories and elsewhere.
Her debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. She was recently selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into more than ten languages.
Her novel, The Vagrants, is set in China right after the Cultural Revolution. It weaves the stories of several otherwise unrelated characters around a common event -- the execution of a one-time Cultural Revolutionary for subsequent "counterrevolutionary" thinking. For a glowing review by the N.Y. Times, click here.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Supreme Court granted certiorari yesterday in a motion to reopen decision of the Seventh Circuit. See the SCOTUSblog description for more information.
In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIA), which, among other things, stripped courts of jurisdiction to review any “decision or action . . . the authority for which is specified under this subchapter to be in the discretion of” the Attorney General. The Court granted certiorari to resolve one of the circuit splits that has arisen regarding the proper construction of this provision. In Kucana v. Holder, the Seventh Circuit held that such reopening decisions fall within the discretion of the BIA, and as a result, the courts lack jurisdiction to review them. Although that was also the position of the United States in the court of appeals, in responding to the petition in this case, the Solicitor General reconsidered that view and now agrees with petitioner that the jurisdiction-stripping provision does not apply. As a result, the Court will likely appoint an amicus to defend the judgment below.
The case arises because the petitioner, Agron Kucana, overslept and missed his asylum hearing. When he didn’t show up, the immigration judge denied asylum and ordered him deported in abstenia. The BIA denied a motion to reopen in 2002.
The Court's decision in Kucana could have far-reacihing impacts because the Immigration & Nationality Act bestows discretion to the Attorney General for many different decisions and forms of relief.
Here is a link, courtesy of Bender's Immigration Bulletin to the decision below, the docket, and the question presented.
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector will announce today that he is switching to the Democratic Party. Assuming Al Franken gets the senate seat in Minnesota, that will give the Democrats 60 members in the U.S. Senate--a filibuster-proof majority.. Assuming they can come up with an agreement, this bodes well for comprehensive immigration reform.
Born in South Korea, Luke Song is a designer and milliner, owner of Mr. Song's Millinery in Detroit. He became a celebrity receiving world wide media attention when soul goddess Aretha Franklin wore a hat he designed when she sang for President Obama's inauguration; the hat instantly became the talk of the town.
Hat tip to IntLawGrrl Diane Amann!
Here are two new immigration law articles posted by the Social Science Research Network (www.ssrn.com):
"Book Review of Christian Joppke, 'Selecting by Origin: Ethnic Migration in the Liberal State'" DAVID ABRAHAM, University of Miami School of Law
Christian Joppke's volume is a timely intervention into the highly-charged question of ethnicity and its proper role in the construction of citizenship and immigration regimes. If nations and societies are about a common past as well as a common future, how should they choose future members from the outside? Liberal democratic states are committed to laws and preferences that are universalist and meritocratic. Yet considerations of community and commonality, solidarity and identity, inevitably lead to legal preferences for one or another kind of kinsmen - by race, national origin, language, religion, etc. The solidarity of homogenous collective individuals in the nation, the nation as the totality of society, is gone. What James Scott famously and wrongly called the "high modernist state," namely "society as a military parade," is (and was) a phantasm. The real "high modernist state" is one that has stable democratic institutions and a functioning market economy. It is not much interested in uniformity or nationalism; it is at most an integument for the individual's exercise of liberty, equality, and property rights. Effective human rights are now the measure of, rather than a constraint on, sovereignty. Citizenship is increasingly territorial rather than descent-based, and naturalization increasingly requires only language acquisition and a professed commitment to constitutional democracy. Ethnicity and citizenship are decoupled as never before while dual citizenship is no longer either avoided or disparaged. BLOGGER'S NOTE: PROFESSOR ABRAHAM'S SCHOLARSHIP IS ALWAYS PROVOCATIVE AND INSIGHTFUL.
"Portraits of the Undocumented Immigrant: Epiphany Through Dialectic" Georgia Law Review, Vol. 44, STEPHEN H. LEGOMSKY, Washington University School o Law
Few subjects can match the pure polarizing power of illegal immigration. Yet surprisingly little attention has been devoted to identifying, much less evaluating, the critical assumptions that have driven either the perceptions or the policy prescriptions of the opposing camps. To fill that gap, this article asks a fundamental question: Who is the undocumented immigrant? Drawing on the grand tradition of Henry Hart and his successors, this article uses dialectic to explore what lies at the heart of the contentious debate over illegal immigration. Through a spirited dialogue between two fictional professors with polar opposite views on illegal immigration, the article paints sharply contrasting portraits of undocumented immigrants. As the two antagonists debate both the impact of illegal immigration and the appropriate policy responses, the moderator notices two recurring patterns. First, the more restrictive position reflects what this article calls "aggregation," or "clustering." This position visualizes undocumented immigrants en masse and thus emphasizes their collective impact on the host society. The less restrictive position, in contrast, starts with a mental picture of individual undocumented immigrants and their families, and consequently is more prone to emphasize the impact of a proposed policy on the individual immigrants. Second, while both sides agree that every undocumented immigrant is by definition both a lawbreaker and a resident, they attach different emphases to these two components of identity. On every policy response that they debate, emphasis on the lawbreaker attribute turns out to be a necessary predicate for almost all the arguments in support of the stricter view, while emphasis on the resident attribute turns out to be a necessary predicate for almost all the arguments in support of lenity. When the dialogue concludes, the article turns to the relevant social science literature. Drawing on the empirical data from that literature, the article demonstrates that in their daily lives undocumented immigrants resemble other residents far more than they resemble other lawbreakers. Because the opposing arguments rely so heavily on their respective depictions of undocumented immigrants as lawbreakers versus residents, that empirical conclusion supplies a strong normative case for generally lenient policy responses to illegal immigration. At the same time, the article encourages a fuller and more balanced public discourse that acknowledges and weighs the effects of proposed immigration policies on both the individual and the larger society. To that end, the article mines the same empirical literature for insights on the nature and magnitude of those effects. While the overall impact of illegal immigration on the larger society cannot be conclusively described as either a net positive or a net negative, the effects of the various policy proposals on the interests of the undocumented immigrants themselves tend to be more clearly positive or negative - another reason for prioritizing the individual interests when the policy questions are otherwise close. BLOGGER'S NOTE: PROFESSOR LEGOMSKY'S SCHOLARSHIP IS ALWAYS A "MUST READ" FOR STUDENTS OF IMMIGRATION LAW AND POLICY.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Forced to slash their budgets, some California counties are eliminating nonemergency health services for undocumented immigrants -- a move that officials acknowledge could backfire by shifting the financial burden to emergency rooms.
Sacramento County voted in February to bar illegal immigrants from county clinics at an estimated savings of $2.4 million. Contra Costa County followed last month by cutting off undocumented adults, to save approximately $6 million. And Yolo County is voting on a similar change next month, which would reduce costs by $1.2 million.
For the full story, click here.
During an appearance in U.S. Immigration Court in Boston earlier this month, the aunt of President Barack Obama was given a court date of Feb. 4, 2010, in her bid for asylum from her native Kenya. Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's late father, appeared at the brief hearing and declined to comment to reporters as she was led away from court by her attorneys and Federal Protective Service police.
By David Gonzalez in the NY Times:
For the father, the choice was obvious: An engineer with several jobs yet little money, he saw no future for his daughter and son in their struggling country, Ecuador. Eight years ago, he paid coyotes to smuggle him into Texas, then headed to New York, where his wife and children flew in as tourists, and stayed.
But the consequences of that clear-cut decision — the immigrant’s perennial impulse to uproot for the sake of the next generation — have been anything but simple.
The daughter excelled in her Queens high school and graduated from college with honors, but at 22 is still living in this country illegally. So while her former accounting classmates hold lucrative corporate jobs and take foreign vacations, she keeps the books for a small immigrant-run business, fears venturing outside the city and cannot get a driver’s license in the country she has come to love.
Meanwhile, her 17-year-old brother, who was born in the United States during an earlier stay and is thus an American citizen, enjoys privileges his family cannot, like summers in Ecuador with his cousins. But bored and alone most afternoons, he declared last fall that he wanted to move back to the old country.
“How can he even think that?” said his mother, stunned. “We’re sacrificing ourselves so he can get a better education and a better job. After giving up everything to come here, he — the only one with papers — wants to go back?”
These four — who let a reporter and a photographer trail them only if they were not identified, for fear of being deported — are part of a growing group of what are often called mixed-status families. Nearly 2.3 million undocumented families, about three-quarters of those who are here illegally, have at least one child who is a United States citizen, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Nearly 400,000 of them have both citizen and noncitizen children.
Their ranks are fed by the unending tide of illegal immigration, and by federal laws that deny legal status to foreign-born children — who had no say in moving here — while granting citizenship to their American-born siblings. Click here for the full story.
Whether on its own or part of comprehensive reform, we need the DREAM Act.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
From the National Immigration Law Center
Litigation Update on Social Security No-Match Letters
DHS Rule - DHS has requested another extension in the case brought against it by NILC, AFL-CIO, ACLU and others. As a result the case is still on hold, but more importantly this means that the injunction remains in effect and employers should not be implementing the DHS Rule. This also means that SSA has not sent out any employer no-match letters.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who signed onto the letter asking DHS to drop it's misguided attempt to use SSA as arm of immigration enforcement. If you would like to see a copy of the sign-on letter to Secretary Napolitano, please click here. (There were a few organizations who submitted sign-on's after we sent the letter, we are sorry that we weren't able to add you to the final letter).
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Christopher Caldwell writes for the Times:
On Tuesday French riot police rounded up 200 migrants near an encampment called “the Jungle” outside Calais. To listen to Eric Besson, the French immigration minister, the immigrants themselves were a side issue. The raid’s real goal was to rid France of “traffickers”. Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, saw it differently. For her, the problem was “nos amis britanniques”. Once migrants set foot in Britain, she said, “their situation is too comfortable and we [in Calais] can no longer tolerate being taken hostage by that”. Britain’s overgenerous asylum and welfare policies were drawing the world’s poor to the ports of France. Click here for the rest of the story.