Sunday, May 31, 2009

Closure of Angel Island Park Threatened

Save the U.S. Immigration Station, Angel Island

On  May 28, California State Parks officials confirmed what had been dreaded for days by millions of Californians who love the cultural, historical and recreational resources of the State Parks.  It's official - 220 State Parks will be closed unless the Legislature acts to amend or rescind Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget recommendations.

Among the parks slated to be closed is our beloved Angel Island State Park, home of the Immigration Station, a National Historic Landmark, which just reopened to the public on February 15, 2009 after a three and a half year, $15 million restoration . Over 1,600 attended the Grand Reopening.  Just two weeks ago, 235 people came to a poetry reading at the Immigration Station in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  Thousands of people, many of them grade school students, have visited the site and tours are booked solid into the summer.  

Now all that could come to a screeching halt unless you act immediately.

You can make a difference. Only a huge public outcry can reverse the decision and stop the closure of Angel Island State Park and all the other State Parks on the chopping block.

On Tuesday, June 2, the Budget Conference Committee will meet at the State Capitol in Room 4203 starting at 9:30 a.m.   The public is invited to comment on the proposed cuts.  AIISF will be testifying, and you too can add your voice both in the all-day meeting or outside on the Capitol steps.  More details about a rally will be coming shortly.

If you can't come to Sacramento on Tuesday, June 2, you can also make your voice heard by sending a letters to Governor Schwarzenegger and to your state representatives.   We are working closely with the California State Parks Foundation, which is coordinating the state-wide advocacy effort.  Send a message today at by using their automated form to generate a fax on your behalf directly to the Governor and  your state representatives.  Let us know that you have contacted your representatives by sending us an e-mail at  We will keep you updated as this campaign unfolds.

You can also help the cause by writing letters to your local newspaper and blogs on TV station websites, community news sites, and to friends.  We've posted some sample messages and a fact sheet developed by the California State Parks Foundation.

The hour is late and the stakes are high.  If Angel Island State Park closes, the effort to restore and stabilize the crumbling Hospital, future home for more exhibition space, a genealogy center, and conference space, could grind to a halt.  Thousands of school children and members of the public would be denied the opportunity to experience the haunting and moving poetry carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks.  Our society would lose a lasting reminder of our nation's complex immigration experience.

We have worked too long and come too far to turn back now.  The Immigration Station and Angel Island State Park must remain open to the public.  Join us in the fight to save the Immigration Station and stop the closure of the State Parks.  Thank you.

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
50 Francisco Street, Suite 110
San Francisco, CA 94133

When it opened in 1910, the new detention facility on Angel Island was considered ideal because of its isolation. There were buildings to house and care for detainees, a pier, and regular boat service to the mainland. During the next 30 years, this was the point of entry for most Chinese immigrants and approximately 175,000 came to Angel Island.   The average detention was two to three weeks, but many stayed for several months and a few were forced to remain on the island for nearly two years.

Some detainees expressed their feelings in poetry that they brushed or carved onto the wooden walls of the detention center. Others simply waited, hoping for a favorable response to their appeals, but fearing deportation. Many of the poems that were carved into the walls of the center are still legible today. Others were documented through the efforts of two detainees, Smiley Jann and Tet Yee in 1931-32, who copied down the poetry while they awaited disposition of their cases.

In 1940, the government decided to abandon the Immigration Station on Angel Island. Their decision was hastened by a fire that destroyed the administration building in August of that year. On November 5, the last group of about 200 aliens (including about 150 Chinese) was transferred from Angel Island to temporary quarters in San Francisco. The so-called "Chinese Exclusion Acts", which were adopted in the early 1880s, were repealed by federal action in 1943, because by that time, China was an ally of the U.S. in World War II.

Both of my parents were held at Angel Island when the migrated to the United States.


May 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

An Interview from the Border: It is Not Just a Game on the Border But a Place of Real Human Suffering

 Statue_of_liberty_160 This message came by e-mail this morning:

"I live on a large ranch in South Texas. Too often we find dumped illegals that have been held for ransom, used as slaves, etc. They are basically dumped here to die as it is a 38,000 acre ranch with no stores or town for 12 miles. Sometimes they make theie way to the highway. But even on the highway, people don't stop to help because they think it might be an ambush.

I really want people to understand that if they take the illegal path to the country, they have a good chance of becoming victims. The Cubans and Chinese are big targets for kidnapping because the famiies pay a lot. Please help to make people aware of the dangers.

Thanks, Elizabeth Burns"

Here is the link to a YouTube interview (entitled "kidnapped pilgrim") that was included in the e-mail.

A follow-up e-mail reads as follows:

"I live here and it is so sad. Sometimes when people are walking in groups, a few guys will stop them and take a female as payment to let them pass. Then they keep the girl for a few days and do all kinds of horrible things and then kill them. Two survived that were dumped here. They were strangled and the people thought they were dead. They were crawling down the ranch roads. The oilfield workers don't even stop to help or call them in. . . . I just want people to know how ugly it really is. People think it is just cat and mouse games with Border Patrol and illegals running back and forth. The truth is horrible when you get to the ground zero of the actual people and their suffering. I am not pro immigration or anything like that. I just want to capture the stories unedited and let people decide. I don't know the answer to the problem and I don't have any suggestions." (emphasis added).

UPDATE (June 2):    Here is another interview with one of the ranch gate guards. "There is nothing for miles on the road except these guys in trailers who open the gate for the oilfield trucks. They have a lot of encounters with pilgrims."


May 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Files Suit Challenging Immigrant Detention

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a class action lawsuit (Alli v. Decker Complaint) on May 27, 2009, charging that the government is violating the law by incarcerating people for prolonged periods of time, sometimes for years, while they fight their immigration cases, without providing them with the most basic element of due process – a custody hearing to determine if their prolonged detention is justified.


May 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A University for Immigrants: Only in the Big Apple!

The L.A. Times has an upbeat story on the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York.  Many U.S. universities have honors colleges, but

 "CUNY's has an extra goal of turning ambitious immigrants and the children of the working class into worldly New Yorkers with a heart for public good. Macaulay scholars are required to take a series of seminars about New York and clock 30 hours of public service. They each get a laptop, $7,500 to study abroad or defray costs during an unpaid internship and a `passport" to New York arts and cultural venues. Each student is also assigned four advisors who push and coddle, strategize and negotiate, with the intention of getting these least-entitled students on equal footing with the elite."


Photo Courtesy of CUNY

May 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Don’t Ask, Can’t Tell: Immigration Inequality for Same-Sex Families

Same-sex marriages have been in the news for many months, and hit the front pages again earlier this week with the California Supreme Court's refusal to invalidate the initiative known as Proposition 8.  One of the Immigration & Nationality Act's primary purposes, it is often said, is family reunification.  Angelo Papparelli on Nation of Immigrators reminds us of a big limitation on the U.S. immigration laws' commitment to family reunification amd reports that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is not limited to the U.S. military:  "Inexplicably, while America prohibits same-sex family unity for green-card purposes, it allows committed life partners to come to this country, and remain for sometimes prolonged periods, as visitors, if the foreign life partner can prove that s/he won’t stay permanently. Don’t ask (me to explain), because I can’t tell (why)."


May 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

H-2A Rule Suspended

At the midnight hour of its time in office, the Bush Administration introduced final new H-2A regulations.   The regulations were hotly debated, but became effective January 17, 2009. 

According to the Washington Post, "[m]any immigration and labor advocacy groups had opposed the new rule for lowering wages and eliminating some protections for temporary farm workers. But farm owners supported the Bush administration changes, saying they eliminated red tape that made it harder to bring in foreign workers to help harvest crops."

As was expected, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Friday that it is suspending the H–2A Final Rule published on December 18, 2008. That Final Rule amended the regulations governing the certification for temporary employment of nonimmigrant workers in agricultural occupations on a temporary or seasonal basis, and the enforcement of contractual obligations applicable to employers of such nonimmigrant workers. To ensure continued functioning of the H–2A program, the Department is republishing and reinstating the regulations in place on January 16, 2009 for a period of 9 months, after which the Department will either have engaged in further rulemaking or lift the suspension.


May 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reminder: Not All Immigrants Are Latino!

NPR has a story on the increasing number of Black immigrants to the United States:  "Even though the number of black immigrants to the U.S.has more than tripled since the 1980s, immigrants of African descent are usually relegated to a footnote in the national debate on immigration."


May 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

On the Prospects of Immigration Reform in Light of the Sotomayor Nomination

The re has been some speculation that the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court might somehow delay the push for immigration reform.  I guess the theory is that Latinos are happy with the nomination and now will be willing to wait a bit longer on reform.  AILA President Charles Kuck on the AILA leadership blog is skeptical:   "One nominee to the Supreme Court still does not balance the incredible harm still being done to the legal and undocumented Latino community by the continuing aggressive and race based immigration enforcement only program the Obama administration continues to employ. Only when Driving While Hispanic is an historical footnote will the Latino vote be satisfied that America has lived up to her true potential."  These are strong words but Kuck may just be right.


May 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "Reverse Racist"?

200px-Sonia_Sotomayor A graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Judge Sonia Sotomayor served as a district attorney, was a partner at a private law firm, and, 1992, and was appointed by a Republican President to the federal district court before being elevated by a Democratic President to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge, one of the most prestigious circuit courts in the United States. With 17 years on the bench, Judge Sotomayor has more judicial experience than any nominee for the Supreme Court in many decades, including Chief Justice John Roberts (who had two years of experience as a judge before joining the Court). Her opinions reflect the technical skills and high quality of an intelligent, careful, and thoughtful jurist. Judge Sotomayor also has an incredible personal story, perhaps only rivaled by President Obama’s own life story. A product of the Bronx housing projects, she made the most of humble beginnings. The icing on the cake is that Judge Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect Supreme Court nominee? Maybe so, but talk show radio, television, and conservative bloggers have been crying foul. Rather than focus on Judge Sotomayor’s many opinions as a federal judge in New York City (a fact that itself is revealing), the opposition has jumped on remarks that Judge Sotomayor made at two academic conferences at elite law schools, UC Berkeley in 2001 and Duke in 2005. At Duke, she suggested, somewhat in jest in an aside to her main comments, that circuit courts make “policy.” I will leave this comment for inquiry by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which almost certainly – and rightly – will question Justice Sotomayor about her judicial philosophy just as it questions all nominees. But, in any event, that philosophy would seem to be best judged by reading her opinions over her nearly two decade career as a judge, as opposed to listening to a brief YouTube sound-bite.

Instead, my focus here is on the criticism of Judge Sotomayor’s comments at a scholarly conference at UC Berkeley’s law school in 2001, which provoked Rush Limbaugh to proclaim that she is a “reverse racist.”

In October 2001, Judge Sotomayor delivered an invited lecture named in honor of Judge Mario G. Olmos, a respected California jurist, at UC Berkeley School of Law. Her remarks kicked off a symposium organized by the students of the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal entitled “Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation.” Other participants in this conference included a group of distinguished Latino judges -- California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Paez, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Patricio Serna, and others – and law teachers – including Miguel Méndez (Stanford), Leo Martínez (UC Hastings), Cruz Reynoso (UC Davis and former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court), Joaquín Avila (Seattle), and me (ironically enough, talking about the significance of the first Latino on the Supreme Court).

Entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice,” Judge Sotomayor’s remarks offered some personal history in which she makes it clear that she is proud of her Puerto Rican ancestry. She discussed the importance of a judge’s personal background in the process of judging. Judge Sotomayor also spent some time discussing the under-representation of women and minorities on the bench, a proposition that few knowledgeable observers would dispute. But, the following statement is what triggered claims that this distinguished Puerto Rican jurist was a racist: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

Although provoking controversy, we have seen much more heat than light. I might not have put it quite like Judge Sotomayor did; however, in the context of her remarks, I know what she meant. At a conference devoted to increasing Latinos in the judiciary organized by students (many of them Latino) looking for inspiration, she was in effect stating the obvious – that a diversity of perspectives among judges matters. Race matters. Having a Latino on the U.S. Supreme Court matters. The take home message was simple: “we need to keep working together to diversify the judiciary.”

Judge Sotomayor’s message is not controversial. She was suggesting that diversity of perspectives among decision-makers is likely to lead to better decision-making. That is the reason why we strive to have a jury drawn from a cross-section of the community, not the much-maligned all-white jury trying the African American defendant. It is one important reason why nine – not one, two, or three – Justices deliberate to render the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is why, by virtually all accounts – including those of their fellow Justices, the first African American, Thurgood Marshall, and the first woman, Sandra Day O’Connor, made such a difference as members of the Supreme Court.

Some of the rest of the Judge Sotomayor’s speech makes it clear that she was not anti-white male, a preposterous proposition (but an accusation that many people of color are well familiar with). She said that “we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable.” In addition, she emphasized that “[n]o one person, judge or nominee will speak in a female or people of color voice.” In these remarks, Judge Sotomayor expressly rejects any notion of racial essentialism or superiority. At the same time, she proceeded to encourage the audience to pursue efforts that ensure that “statistically significant numbers” of women and minorities serve on the bench and that, some day, the judiciary hopefully will look more like America than it does today.

In my estimation, Judge Sotomayor’s stellar credentials and unique perspective — with a racial, class and gender background different from any Justice ever on the Supreme Court — will likely positively affect the Court's deliberations and inform and influence her colleagues on the Court. I am confident that the Senate and the public will reject the efforts by conservatives seeking to undermine her long-awaited nomination to distort her comments to some law students in 2001.


May 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mobilize the Immigrant Vote

SAVE the DATE: June 16th, 1-4pm
Location: San Francisco Foundation (225 Bush St., Suite 500, 94104)

Electoral Organizing as a Racial Justice Strategy
Bay Area Film Release & Strategic Funder Discussion

Please join us for the Bay Area release of the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote documentary short film, a panelist of speakers, and a rich dialogue among our fellow funders. Many of us are grappling with similar questions, so we wanted to create a space for us to hear from activists in the field of electoral organizing and share our best thinking.

What are community organizations doing in 2009 to engage voters in their public policy campaigns? What are our reflections coming out of the May 19th election? What are local, state and national organizations planning for the 2010 gubernatorial election year and 2012?
What are we as funders considering for our voter engagement grant-making for 2009-2010, particularly with the economic crunch?
What are the lessons learned and challenges/opportunities for using electoral organizing as a tool for racial justice?
 Speakers will include:

Mari Ryono, Coordinating Director, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote
Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, Executive Director, Oakland Rising
Renee Fazzari, Program Officer of the General Service Foundation, Vice President of the Board of State Voices
More details to come. Please RSVP as soon as possible to Leticia Alcantar at the Akonadi Foundation, The number of participants will determine our final logistics.

Warm regards,


Leticia Alcantar
Executive Director
Akonadi Foundation

The Akonadi Foundation

Since 2000, the Akonadi Foundation has been working to support a racial justice movement that can finally put an end to the structural racism that lies at the heart of social inequity in the United States. We do this in the following three ways: by providing grants to racial justice organizations, by communicating about our work and the work of our grant partners, and by nurturing support for racial justice movement building in philanthropy. For more information, visit <> .

The Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) California Collaborative

MIV is a multi-ethnic coalition of immigrant and anti-poverty organizations across the state who believe in movement-building electoral organizing. This means that we believe in culturally-based electoral organizing that is linked to organizations’ broader missions, that involves and develops all stakeholders, and that is anchored in political education for racial, social and economic justice. MIV seeks to contribute to the broader social change movement by building the capacity of community-based immigrant organizations to register, educate and mobilize their constituents to vote; increasing the participation and power of low-income immigrant communities of color; shaping the debate on immigrant civic participation; and developing models for sustainable alliance-building and collaboration. For more information, visit


May 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Support the Uniting American Families Act for Gay and Lesbian Couples

The first ever Senate hearing will be held next Wednesday, June 3 on the Uniting American Families Act, a bill which would allow American citizens and LPRs to sponsor their long-term same sex partner. For more information about providing written testimony for the hearing, contact: Victoria Neilson, Legal Director, Immigration Equality:

•    Gay and lesbian Americans who fall in love across borders face an impossible choice between being with the person they love and staying in their country. Americans should not have to choose between family and country.  
•    Gay and lesbian Americans in binational couples are forced to make terrible choices: interrupting careers, uprooting children, and leaving aging parents behind in order to be with the person they love.
•    According to the U.S. Census, 37,000 gay and lesbian Americans are in binational couples.  Their median age is 38, and 44% of them are raising children.  These are mature, committed relationships.  They should not have to choose between family and country.
•    It’s unfair to force hard-working citizens to choose between their country and the person they love, just because they’re gay or lesbian.
•    The U.S. government discriminates against gays and lesbians by forbidding them from sponsoring their life partners for residency in the United States. 
•    Gay and lesbian couples simply want the same opportunity to prove that their families deserve to stay together.  
•    Nineteen countries provide equal immigration benefits to gay and lesbian couples.  The U.S. should join these countries who do not discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.
•    Splitting families doesn’t just hurt gay and lesbian Americans – it hurts their parents, their extended families, their employers, and their communities. 
•    America is losing talented, tax-paying citizens, and American companies are losing talented employees because they are forced to move abroad to keep their family together.
•    We’re talking about families who are playing by the rules – they work hard, they pay their taxes.
•    The Uniting American Families Act requires gay and lesbian couples to meet the same standard of proof as straight couples to qualify for immigration benefits.  They have to go through the same interview process, they have to prove that their relationship is serious and committed, and the American has to sign a legally binding promise of financial support, even if the couple splits up.
•    The Uniting American Families Act includes harsh penalties for fraud, including fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in jail.
•    Congress has a responsibility to move this bill forward and fix this huge inequity.


May 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Immigrants Advocates, Including Tom Tancredo, Attack Judge Sotomayor

Tancredogun1 Apparently finding nothing in nearly two decades of judicial service that is worth attacking, the far right is attempting to smear Judge Sonia Sotomayor by claiming that she is a racist.  Such attacks on a minority woman -- and people of color generally -- are all too familiar in national politics.  Remember how Professor Lani Guinier was labelled a "quota queen" and withdrew from consideration as head of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in the Clinton administration.  

Anti-immigrant advocates have joined the fray.  Glenn Thrush on Politico.Com has the latest on Tommy Tancredo, gone but long from forgotten:  "Anti-illegal immigration crusader and former Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo was on CNN [yesterday] whacking Sonia Sotomayor for her association with the National Council of La Raza, which was listed in a 2000 American Bar Association bio of the judge. `If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case... which is from my point of of view any way... nothing more than a ... Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.'. . . CNN's Rick Sanchez seemed flabbergasted "

Similarly, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC announced yesterday that it "is launching a national campaign today to oppose President Obama's nominee for the US Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor because of her racist comments and her membership in a racist organization called `The Race'."  Bill Hing previously reported that Center for Immigration Studies guru Mark Kirkorian basically thinks Judge Sotomayor should have Anglicized her name so he could more easily pronounce it.

For the record, National Council for La Raza, according to its website, is 

"the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States – works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations (CBOs), NCLR reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. To achieve its mission, NCLR conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas – assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, it provides capacity-building assistance to its Affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families. Founded in 1968, NCLR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCLR serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country and has operations in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Juan, Puerto Rico."

The NCLR generally has been viewed as a mainstream group and in recent years has lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform.  Cecilia Muñoz, Senior Vice President for NCLR’s Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for President Obama.

I hope to soon write a column about Judge Sotomayor's immigration jurispudence, which is by the book.  The N.Y. Times today quoted an immigration lawyer today about Judge Sotomayor:  H. Raymond Fasano, "a Republican immigration lawyer who has appeared before her 24 times, mostly in asylum cases, and is a fan"; according to Fasano, “`When a judge asks a lot of questions, that means she’s read the record, she knows the issues and she has concerns that she wants resolved. And that’s the judge’s job.'”

When will the smear tactics stop? Has the far right no shame?  Why not focus on Judge Sotomayor's decisions as a judge (i.e., the merits)? 


May 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Krikorian is the Worst Person in the World

Anti-iimmigrant activist Mark Krikorian goes after President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, not on her judicial record, not on her professional background, nor on the many opinions she has delivered during her career as a litigator and judge, but for how she pronounces her last name.  In an article in the National Review, he states that “Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits.”  The piece was so ridiculous it earned instant fame in the netroots as the most inane and ridiculous criticism of Sotomayor to date, and earned him the dubious distinction of being named by MSNBC’s Keith Olberman as “The Worst Person in the World” for May 27.


May 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Bloomberg and Big Business Urge Passage of DREAM Act

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the business community sent a letter to Senators Dick Durbin and Richard Lugar urging the passage of the DREAM Act. Bloomberg had previously announced his support of the legislation.  Importnatly, yesterday's letter was co-signed by 18 CEOs of NYC-based companies, including American Express Company, Pfizer, Citigroup, Macy's, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and the Partnership for New York City.

We need the DREAM Act!


May 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is NOT an Immigrant!

200px-Sonia_Sotomayor Jennifer's Immigration Issues Blog has a nice post yesterday about how Judge Sotomayor's parents, who moved from U.S. territory Puerto Rico (where they were U.S. citizens) during WWII are not technically "immigrants" despite statements to the contrary by Reuters, The Washington Times, and's own Conservative Politics Guide.

Judge Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican ancestry and has a compelling personal story.  But it is not the same kind of immigrant story told by either Justices Alito or Scalia.  So do not expect us to name her or her parents as "Immigrants of the Day" anytiime soon.


May 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge orders discovery in case brought over U.S. denial of visa to South African scholar: At issue is whether meeting by videoconference preserves First Amendment rights of organization seeking his attendance

The National Law Journal reports on a very interesting immigration and First Amendment case percolating in the federal district court in Boston.   A judge there ordered discovery into whether allowing videoconferencing communication preserves the First Amendment rights of an organization suing the U.S. government for denying South African scholar Adam Habib a visa to attend a conference.

The government denied Habib a visa on the grounds that he engaged in terrorist activity. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of the American Sociological Association, contends that the United States is barring Habib because he's a vocal critic of U.S. activities in its war with Iraq and U.S. terrorism-related policies. On May 27, District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. issued a bench ruling allowing six months of discovery, meaning that Habib will likely miss the August annual meeting of the association for the third year.


May 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Passing of Ronald Takaki

Takaki It was with great sadness that I heard this morning about the passing of U.C. Berkeley Professor Ronald Takaki. Ron was a soft spoken, gentle giant; a pioneer in the ethnic studies movement; a model for all scholars who care about race and ethnic issues. While he wrote many, many books, one of his classics was Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, which is one of the first complete accounts of Asian immigration to the United States.


May 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sam Alito on Empathy, Judging, and Immigrant Ancestors

Lots of craziness is already happening on the part of the right's criticism of Sonia Sotomayor. Glenn Greenwald ( exposes the hypocrisy of this criticism by citing this exchange during Samuel Alito's confirmation hearing, where Alito relies on his immigrant ancestors to explain who he is as a person:

U.S. SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OK): Can you comment just about Sam Alito, and what he cares about, and let us see a little bit of your heart and what's important to you in life?

ALITO: Senator, I tried to in my opening statement, I tried to provide a little picture of who I am as a human being and how my background and my experiences have shaped me and brought me to this point.

ALITO: I don't come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

And I know about their experiences and I didn't experience those things. I don't take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

And that's why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country."

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.

Here is the entire column.

May 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Importance of Sotomayor Nomination to Latina/o Voters

Kevin Johnson is cited heavily in this interesting piece by  Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle:

President Obama's pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court represents a brilliant political strategy that could bring Latino voters, the nation's fastest-growing electorate, to the Democratic Party for generations to come, experts say.

The pick is "pathbreaking," said Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law, adding that Sotomayor's potential role as the first Latina on the nation's highest court is to Latinos like "the appointment of Thurgood Marshall was to African Americans in the 1960s."

"It's the sign of inclusion and their coming of age, and I don't think it will be lost on many Latinos," said Johnson, the first Latino dean of a UC law school. "You have someone who comes from humble beginnings, so she'll bring a different perspective. The more perspectives, ... the better a decision is likely to be."

Obama's naming of Sotomayor, the daughter of a widowed mother and the product of public housing, won raves from women and minority leaders such as Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who called her "a true American success story" who will bring "a common sense of understanding of how the law practically works in the lives of all Americans." Click here for the rest of the story.


May 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review of "Undocumented Immigrants in Higher Education"

Book+Cover+2 ImmigrationProf blog previously announced the publication of "Undocumented Immigrants in Higher Education" by Alejandro Rincón, part of the "The New Americans" book series edited by Steve Gold and Rubén G. Rumbaut.  Here is a review of the book.  Download Review, 26-5-09


May 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)