Tuesday, June 30, 2009
ImmigrationProf previously reported that the backlogs of the immigration courts ar growing. Now, a new study completed by researchers from UC San Francisco finds that many immigration judges adjudicating cases of asylum seekers are suffering from significant symptoms of secondary traumatic stress and job burnout, which, according to the researchers, may shape their judicial decision-making processes.
The findings appear in “Inside the Judges’ Chambers: Narrative Responses from the National Association of Immigration Judges Stress and Burnout Survey” which will be published June 26, 2009 as part of the fall 2008 (cq) edition of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. The study is available online at https://articleworks.cadmus.com/geolaw/zs900109.html.
The study is the first to employ traditional psychological testing instruments to measure stress levels in immigration judges. The researchers found, through a quantitative data analysis of the 96 immigration judges who responded to a survey, that the judges’ burnout levels were higher than those suffered by hospital physicians and prison wardens.
The study is unique, the researchers said, because its findings include direct quotes from the judges themselves. Immigration judges are prohibited from speaking with outsiders about their work without Department of Justice permission, so their candid comments on their working conditions have not been captured before.
The survey subjects’ comments provide graphic and specific illustrations of the intense level of stress and burnout under which they are working, the authors said. The study notes that mental health clinicians have been interested in the occupational effects among those who work with trauma victims, such as immigration judges, since some victims, including asylum seekers, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The researchers note that the occupational hazards of the immigration judges may include “compassion fatigue” and “secondary traumatic stress” (STS). Sufferers of STS may manifest physical symptoms as significant and frequent as victims of trauma themselves do. “
Co-authors of the study were Niranjan Karnik, MD, PhD; Kevin Delucchi, PhD; Lakshika Tennakoon, MSc, of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry; Brent Kaul, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers; and Hon. Denise Slavin, JD, National Association of Immigration Judges.
A mesmerizing narrative about the rise and fall of an unlikely international crime boss.
In the 1980s, a wave of Chinese from Fujian province began arriving in America. Like other immigrant groups before them, they showed up with little money but with an intense work ethic and an unshakeable belief in the promise of the United States. Many of them lived in a world outside the law, working in a shadow economy overseen by the ruthless gangs that ruled the narrow streets of New York’s Chinatown.
The figure who came to dominate this Chinese underworld was a middle-aged grandmother known as Sister Ping. Her path to the American dream began with an unusual business run out of a tiny noodle store on Hester Street. From her perch above the shop, Sister Ping ran a full-service underground bank for illegal Chinese immigrants. But her real business-a business that earned an estimated $40 million-was smuggling people.
As a “snakehead,” she built a complex—and often vicious—global conglomerate, relying heavily on familial ties, and employing one of Chinatown's most violent gangs to protect her power and profits. Like an underworld CEO, Sister Ping created an intricate smuggling network that stretched from Fujian Province to Hong Kong to Burma to Thailand to Kenya to Guatemala to Mexico. Her ingenuity and drive were awe-inspiring both to the Chinatown community—where she was revered as a homegrown Don Corleone—and to the law enforcement officials who could never quite catch her.
Indeed, Sister Ping’s empire only came to light in 1993 when the Golden Venture, a ship loaded with 300 undocumented immigrants, ran aground off a Queens beach. It took New York’s fabled “Jade Squad” and the FBI nearly ten years to untangle the criminal network and home in on its unusual mastermind.
THE SNAKEHEAD is a panoramic tale of international intrigue and a dramatic portrait of the underground economy in which America’s twelve million illegal immigrants live. Based on hundreds of interviews, Patrick Radden Keefe’s sweeping narrative tells the story not only of Sister Ping, but of the gangland gunslingers who worked for her, the immigration and law enforcement officials who pursued her, and the generation of penniless immigrants who risked death and braved a 17,000 mile odyssey so that they could realize their own version of the American dream. The Snakehead offers an intimate tour of life on the mean streets of Chinatown, a vivid blueprint of organized crime in an age of globalization and a masterful exploration of the ways in which illegal immigration affects us all.
Widespread racial profiling by law enforcement agents as a result of Bush-era policies remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States, according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rights Working Group (RWG).
Government policies are a major cause of the disproportionate stopping and searching of racial minorities by law enforcement agencies, according to the report, which was submitted today to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). "Racial profiling remains a widespread and pervasive problem throughout the U.S., impacting the lives of millions of people in the African American, Asian, Latino, South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities," said Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program and the main author of the report. "The U.S. government must take urgent, direct action to rid the nation of the scourge of racial and ethnic profiling and bring this country into conformity with both the Constitution and international human rights obligations."
Today's report came in response to a last-minute Bush administration submission to CERD in January 2009. In both its initial report to CERD in April 2007 and the follow-up submission in January, the Bush administration relied on the Justice Department's 2003 "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agents" to support claims the government was taking steps to eliminate racial profiling. However, that document doesn't cover profiling based on religion or national origin, doesn't apply to state or local law enforcement agencies and doesn't include any mechanisms for enforcement or punishment for violating the recommendations. It also contains a blanket exception to the recommendations in cases of "national security" or "border integrity."
People of color have been disproportionately victimized through various government initiatives including FBI surveillance and questioning, special registration programs, border stops, immigration enforcement programs and the creation of "no fly lists," according to today's report. "Instead of curbing racial profiling, the overbroad national security and border integrity exceptions in the Justice Department guidance have actually promoted profiling and created justification for state and local law enforcement agents to racially profile those who are or appear to be Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Latino," said Margaret Huang, Executive Director of RWG. "We hope the Obama administration will fix the failed policies of the Bush administration and live up to its commitment to end racial profiling in the United States."
Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that ending racial profiling is a "priority" for the Obama administration and that profiling is "simply not good law enforcement." Today's report from the ACLU and RWG calls on the Obama administration to fix Bush administration policies that led to pervasive racial profiling. It also calls on Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which would compel all law enforcement agencies to bar racial profiling, create and apply profiling procedures and document data on stop, search and arrest activities by race. CERD is expected to consider the U.S. government's follow up submission, the submission of the ACLU and RWG and the submissions of other civil and human rights organizations in its August session. CERD will then issue recommendations to the U.S. government regarding its human rights obligations under the treaty.
CERD is an independent group of experts that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty signed and ratified by the U.S. in 1994. All levels of U.S. government are required to comply with the treaty's provisions, which require countries to review national, state and local policies and to amend or repeal laws and regulations that create or perpetuate racial discrimination.
The ACLU and RWG's report to CERD is available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/racialjustice/40055pub20090629.html
The Bush administration's final submission to CERD is at: www.state.gov/documents/organization/113905.pdf
Truthdig has a report ("America’s ICE Backwards Approach to Immigration") by Andrew Becker and Hugo Cabrera, CIR (a collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting) that is well worth reading. It begins:
"While the nation’s understaffed immigration courts strain under a backlog that has grown to more than 200,000 cases, thousands of new border agents have been hired and the number of government attorneys who argue for deportation has increased by 35 percent, pushing more cases onto an already overburdened system.
As a result, cases often take months if not years to complete, leading to more immigrants being held in a growing network of detention facilities and jails. On any given day there are more than 30,000 people in immigration lockup"
Monday, June 29, 2009
From the National Immmigration Law Center:
Calls Needed Today - Tell Congress That Immigrants and Kids Deserve Fairness in Health Reform
Now is the time to raise your voice to support immigrant inclusion in health reform.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are proposing health reform legislation that includes a number of positive features, but fails to remove the five year waiting period and other barriers to Medicaid for most legal immigrants. Many immigrant children also will be forced to remain uninsured unless Congress fixes its proposals. Please call your Senators and Representatives today, and continue calling and sending letters and faxes to insist that legal immigrants be treated fairly in all areas of health reform, and that the nation fulfill its promise of affordable health care for all children. You are also encouraged to visit members of Congress who will be in their home districts this week during the recess.
You can share this message:
"I want [name of Senator or Representative] to include immigrants in health reform. Legal immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens, and deserve to be treated the same as citizens in all aspects of health reform. I want [name of Senator or Representative] to give legal immigrants equal access to Medicaid with no waiting periods, which means that the five year bar should be eliminated from Medicaid. In addition, all kids deserve health care, and health reform should allow affordable coverage for all children in America, including immigrant kids."
The current health reform proposals by the Senate and the House of Representatives fail to remove the federal government's 5-year waiting period that prevents most recent legal immigrants from using Medicaid if they fall on hard times, even though these immigrants pay the exact same taxes as citizens. Current federal law not only prohibits all immigrants who lack status from using Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare, but also imposes a 5-year waiting period before most lawful permanent residents can enroll in Medicaid or CHIP, and denies these two programs as well as Medicare to many other lawfully residing immigrants.
Public opinion strongly supports:
Including legal immigrants in Medicaid.
Allowing all kids to get affordable health coverage, including all immigrant kids.
President Obama supports changing the law so that legal immigrants can have Medicaid and CHIP, and has spoken powerfully about the moral imperative that all children in America get affordable health care. It's time for Congress to do the right thing and follow the will of the public and the will of the President. Barack Obama said it best:
"No child in America should be receiving her primary care in the emergency room in the middle of the night. No child should be falling behind at school because he can't hear the teacher or see the blackboard. I refuse to accept that millions of our kids fail to reach their full potential because we fail to meet their basic needs. In a decent society there are certain obligations that are not subject to trade-offs or negotiations, and health coverage for our children is one of those obligations."
It's important to note that the House and Senate bills include important positive features that would allow many individuals, including many immigrants, to purchase affordable health insurance. However, these proposals fail to allow many low-income legal immigrants to use Medicaid, and leave millions of immigrant children ineligible for either Medicaid or affordable coverage under the new insurance exchange.
Please make your calls today, and send letters and faxes to Congressional leadership and to each of your own U.S. Senators and Representatives, and meet with as many as you can. We can't afford to lose this opportunity to restore fairness and allow affordable health care for legal immigrants and for all children.
Senate Majority Leader Reid (NV): (202) 224-3542
Assistant Majority Leader Durbin (IL): (202) 224-2152
House Majority Leader Hoyer (MD): (202) 225-4131
House Speaker Pelosi (CA): (202) 225-4965
House Majority Whip Clyburn (SC): (202) 225-3315
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Waxman (CA): (202) 225-3976
House Energy and Commerce Committee Senior Member Pallone (NJ): (202) 225-4671
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rangel (NY): (202) 225-4365
House Ways and Means Committee Senior Member Becerra (CA): (202) 225-6235
House Education and Labor Committee Chair Miller (CA): (202) 225-2095
Senate Finance Committee Chair Baucus (MT): (202) 224-2651
Members of Senate Finance Committee:
Senator Rockefeller (WV): (202) 224-6472
Senator Conrad (ND): (202) 224-2043
Senator Bingaman (NM): (202) 224-5521
Senator Kerry (MA): (202) 224-2742
Senator Lincoln (AR): (202) 224-4843
Senator Wyden (OR): (202) 224-5244
Senator Schumer (NY): (202) 224-6542
Senator Stabenow (MI): (202) 224-4822
Senator Cantwell (WA): (202) 224-3441
Senator Nelson (FL): (202) 224-5274
Senator Menendez (NJ): (202) 224-4744
Senator Carper (DE): (202) 224-2441
Senator Grassley (IA): (202) 224-3744
Senator Hatch (UT): (202) 224-5251
Senator Snowe (ME): (202) 224-5344
Senator Kyl (AZ): (202) 224-4521
Senator Bunning (KY): (202) 224-4343
Senator Crapo (ID): (202) 224-6142
Senator Roberts (KS): (202) 224-4774
Senator Ensign (NY): (202) 224-6244
Senator Enzi (WY): (202) 224-3424
Senator Cornyn (TX): (202) 224-2934
Contact information to send letters and faxes to Washington and to district offices:
Senate Finance Committee: http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/committee.htm
Senate Majority Leader Reid: http://reid.senate.gov/
Assistant Majority Leader Durbin: http://durbin.senate.gov/
House Majority Leader Hoyer: http://www.hoyer.house.gov/contact/index.asp
House Speaker Pelosi: http://www.house.gov/pelosi/
House Majority Whip Clyburn: http://clyburn.house.gov/index2.cfm
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Waxman: http://waxman.house.gov/
House Energy and Commerce Committee Senior Member Pallone: http://www.house.gov /pallone/contact.shtml
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rangel: http://rangel.house.gov/
House Ways and Means Committee Senior Member Becerra: http://becerra.house.gov /HoR/CA31/Contact+Xavier/
House Education and Labor Committee Chair Miller: http://georgemiller.house.gov/ contactus/
David Bacon, author and photographer (and regular contributor to the ImmigrtaionProf blog, has supplied this new set of photos with his narrative:
WATSONVILLE, CA Indigenous Mixtec migrants from San Martin Peras in the Mexican state of Oaxaca live in and near Watsonville, and work in the strawberry fields.
Twelve members of the family of Margarito Salvador live in a two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of town. In a nearby apartment, Saturnina Cervantes youngest daughter helps her mother sort and fold used clothes for her family.
Alfredo Lopez and his family live in Pajaro, across the river from Watsonville. He has three daughters - Esperanza, Ofelia and Sylvia Lopez, his youngest daughter. In a colonia not far from there, a Mixtec family sleeps and cooks in a trailer.
In the same colonia Liba Ramirez lives with her husband Israel in a converted garage, where she makes tortillas in their tiny kitchen. She is several months pregnant.
For more articles and images on immigration, see http://dbacon.igc.org/Imgrants/imgrants.htm
Larry Bush has an op/ed in the S.F. Chronicle on the need to reform the immigration laws to permit same sex couples to enjoy the same immigration rights as other married couples. (For a look at the current inequalities in the law, click here.). The piece was spurred by the proposal of Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) that the immigration laws be reformed to include "the right of committed noncitizen partners to cross our borders and live under the same rules as married partners." The bill has opponents lining
The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the state acted improperly when it terminated a Guatemalan woman’s rights to her two U.S. citizen children after she was detained on charges of falsely identifying herself to a police officer and deported.The woman was working in a local meat-processing plant a year later when social service workers went to her house with a police officer to check on whether she was properly tending to her severely ill daughter. Frightened that she would be arrested on immigration charges, Ms. Luis told the officer she was a babysitter. She was arrested that day, after the police discovered the lie. Her children, ages 1 and 7, were placed with protective services.
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Ms. Luis was deported without being given an opportunity to appeal in state court for custody of her children. For more on this story, click here and here. For the opinion, see Download S08-919
Sunday, June 28, 2009
The Des Moines Register reports that a controversy that ImmmigrationProf previously reported on continues. Postville, Iowa church leaders and the town's mayor wanted U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. attorney nominee Stephanie Rose to meet with them about Rose's role as a federal prosecutor in the cases against immigrant workers at Agriprocessors Inc. Rose's possible nomination has been criticized by people who contend she helped lead an unfair prosecution of workers caught in the May 2008 raid.
Senator Harkin sent two aides to the meeting but Assistant U.S. Attorney Rose did not attend.
The N.Y. Times reports on the fears in a small town, Arivaca, Arizona, near the Mexican border due to a double homicide in a home invasion earlier this month. "The three people arrested in the crime include the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a Washington State-based offshoot of the Minutemen movement, in which citizens roam the border looking for people crossing into the country illegally. Former members describe the group’s leader, Shawna Forde, 41, as having anti-immigrant sentiments that are extreme, at times frightening, even to people accustomed to hard-line views on border policing. . . . The authorities say that the three suspects were after money and drugs that they intended to use to finance vigilantism, and that members of the group may have been involved in at least one other home invasion, in California."
According to the story, other Minutemen groups warned its members to stay away from Forde and Minutemen American Defense and have otherwise disassiciated themselves.
The Human Rights Campaign responded today to the Office of Management and Budget indicating that they have completed review of a proposed regulation which would remove the remaining barrier to HIV-positive visitors and immigrants. The proposal, which would remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases that bar foreign nationals from entering the United States, will now be published in the Federal Register and open for public comment.
In July 2008, President Bush signed into law, as part of the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a provision that removed the ban from statute and returned regulatory authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine whether HIV should remain on a list of communicable diseases that bar foreign nationals from entering the United States.
UPDATE Here is a copy of the proposed regulation published in the Federal Register on Thursday.
Nina Bernstein of the New York Times writes on an interesting lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. "Substandard and abusive conditions in immigration detention “are of the utmost importance,” a federal judge in Manhattan said Thursday, ruling that the Department of Homeland Security’s 2 ½-year delay in responding to a petition for legally enforceable regulations was “unreasonable as a matter of law.” Judge Denny Chin ordered the Obama administration to grant or deny the petition asking for detention rules within 30 days.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The Miami Herald, inspired by DREAM Act students, calls for passage:
Congress must pass DREAM Act
OUR OPINION: Current law punishes some of the nation's most talented immigrants
As the Obama administration and Congress look toward reforming immigration law to deal with the estimated 12 million people living in the United States without proper documentation, there's one fix that warrants immediate attention: the DREAM Act.
This proposed law, which has failed in Congress year after year, would give high-achieving children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to stay in this country and go on to military service or college, paying in-state tuition and able to qualify for scholarships and other financial aid. It would provide a path to legal residency for young people who had no say where they should be raised.
Many of them don't speak their native language well or write it correctly, yet U.S. immigration policy now requires that they be deported. Some of these students arrived so young that they do not know they are undocumented until they apply for college and are asked to submit verification of their immigration status.
On Tuesday, about 500 such students from across the nation went to Washington to take part in a symbolic graduation ceremony to urge Congress to support the DREAM Act. A rally the same day at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus stressed the importance of tapping into the creativity of America's next generation. Faith leaders, business organizations, labor unions and civil- and immigrant-rights groups have come together to push for this sensible change in the law.
The case of Juan and Alex Gomez, students in South Florida whose Colombian parents were deported a couple years ago, stands out as an example of why the DREAM Act is needed. Juan is now studying at Georgetown on scholarship and Alex is studying and working in South Florida, thanks to a special temporary law that Congress passed to keep them in the country.
There are an estimated 65,000 such high-achieving students each year who hit a wall once they graduate from high school and find they can't go to college unless they are admitted as ''foreign'' students, paying exorbitantly high tuition. About 5,000 are in Florida. Click here for the rest of the editorial.
New York Times editorial today:
A Way Forward on Immigration
President Obama and Congress members met privately at the White House on Thursday for their first major discussion of immigration reform. Immigration is just one unsolved national crisis among many, and it was hard not to suspect that the parties might use the meeting — which had already been twice postponed — to dampen expectations for a bill this year.
The meeting was more encouraging than that. It led to a persuasive show of unity among Republicans and Democrats. Both sides made the case for getting a comprehensive reform bill written and passed this year, or early next. Mr. Obama announced that the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, would lead a working group of both parties and houses of Congress to do that.
It now seems more likely than before that Mr. Obama is ready to lead the way, uniting problem-solvers in both parties out of a long-stalemated debate.
He’d better, because the alternative — another crashing letdown and the traditional exchanges of blame — is awful to consider. Expectations for reform have been steadily rising since the unprecedented Hispanic turnout and Democratic victories of last November. Those hopes have been given a dreadful urgency by the harsh enforcement regime of raids and deportations begun under the Bush administration, which have piled suffering onto hopelessness for millions of people, but not brought the country any closer to a solution.
Thankfully, a path forward is coming into view.
Give credit, too, to Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who assumed leadership of the immigration subcommittee from the ailing Edward Kennedy. In a speech the day before the White House meeting, Mr. Schumer laid out core principles that could be a solid foundation for a bipartisan immigration deal.
The speech was notably tough-sounding, but the principles were solid. Illegal immigration is wrong. The borders and workplace need tighter enforcement. Illegal immigrants must be required to register, learn English and pay taxes — or face deportation. But they should also be allowed to seek citizenship. The path back to a lawful system is through legalization and an improved, well-managed immigration flow. Click here for the rest of the editorial.
Sandra Hernandez in the SF Daily Journal (Download Delegating_Leads_to_Judge) writes about the interesting Ninth Circuit decision in the case of Edgar Lacsina Pangilinan, a detained transexual noncitizen who walked into an immigration courtroom and "listened carefully as a government attorney questioned her for hours about her asylum application. Pangilinan waited to tell her side of the story, of life in the Philippines, of abuse by police, and of a gang rape. But Immigration Judge Sean H. Keenan never asked. Instead, Keenan delegated the duty of developing the record to the prosecution, and then ordered Pangilinan deported."
Based on due process concerns, the Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review and remanded the case. Download 07-73603o Pangilinan v Holder, 08-71274 (9th Cir. June 1, 2009).
Hernandez notes in teh story that Immigrtaion Judge "Keenan denied 99 percent of the asylum cases that came before him over the past five years, according to a recent study by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a Syracuse-based non-profit that studies government data."
Friday, June 26, 2009
An assessment of undocumented inmates in Utah's prison and county jails shows that undocumented immigrants do not commit crimes at a higher rate than the rest of Utah residents, according to The Sutherland Institute. The number of undocumented immigrants has risen 57 percent between 2004 and 2008, but the number of undocumented state prisoners only increased 10 percent. For the full report, click here.
An ACLU statement on immigration reform urges the following:
- Immigration reform must not create a national ID system. Calls for new and expensive electronic employment verification systems and biometric worker identification are thinly-disguised national ID requirements. It is unacceptable to force American workers to be fingerprinted or photographed in order to work. The intrusive verification regimes that have been proposed would rely on massive and inaccurate databases, undermine the privacy of American workers, lead to discrimination against those who look or sound “foreign” and impose new burdens on authorized workers. These systems neither prevent the hiring of undocumented workers nor resolve the nation’s immigration issues. They merely saddle taxpayers and businesses with enormous costs in a time of economic crisis.
- State and local intrusions into immigration policy and enforcement should be halted immediately. State and local immigration regulation and enforcement leads to racial and ethnic profiling and undermines effective policing by discouraging immigrant communities from cooperating with the police. Cities and states cannot be allowed to supersede national immigration policy by enacting their own laws targeting immigrants. When President Obama was on the campaign trail, he applauded a court decision striking down one such law, saying: “Today’s ruling … is a victory for all Americans. The anti-immigrant law passed by [Hazleton, Pennsylvania] was unconstitutional and unworkable – and … underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform so local communities do not continue to take matters into their own hands.” The president should act consistently with his principles and direct the Department of Justice to support the legal challenges against these unconstitutional state and local laws.
- Reforms to our immigration laws should be fair and ensure that the constitutional guarantee of due process for every person is fully respected and vigilantly protected. All immigration programs and policies of the Department of Homeland Security must be subject to effective oversight and judicial review by the federal courts. Every person, including immigrants, must have an absolute right to go to court to enforce the law and the Constitution. The power of courts to promptly review the actual practices and policies governing implementation of any legalization program that Congress may enact is essential to upholding fundamental rights, enforcing the Constitution, ensuring the rule of law, and preventing bureaucratic abuses.
- Any new legislation to reform our immigration system must address endemic due process failures embodied in current law. We must end unnecessary and unconstitutional prolonged detention of immigrants who pose no risk or danger; we must restore discretion to eliminate mandatory deportation laws that ignore U.S. citizen children and spouses; we must ensure effective judicial review as the cornerstone of due process; and we must repeal summary procedures that deny fair hearings to immigrants or fail to protect bona fide refugees.