Friday, July 31, 2009

Insure Undocumented Immigrants

Christopher Beam writes for

One of President Obama's favorite arguments for health care reform has been economic: If it saves money, do it. Except when it comes to covering undocumented immigrants.

Obama reiterated Thursday that a health care bill will not cover illegal immigrants. "Undocumented workers who are here illegally—we want to create comprehensive immigration reform so they can ge! t on a path to citizenship," he told Univision. "Until they do, we can 't reward them with some of the benefits which quite frankly cost us a lot of money." That was after some conservative commentators claimed that some versions of the bill would insure the undocumented, ignoring language in the bill that limits access to "an individual who is lawfully present in a State in the United States."

Adding the immigration debate to the health care debate isn't likely to make either one simpler or less emotional. Still, the reasoning is pretty straightforward: If you think insuring the uninsured makes economic sense, then so does insuring undocumented immigrants. But neither side in the health care debate seems eager to make this point.

The case for insuring illegals is simple. Society already pays the price for treating them. But it pays in the least efficient way. When someone who doesn't have insurance shows up at a hospital with a bronchial infection, doctors are required by federal law to treat him or her. The hospital then ! passes on those costs to the rest of us in the form of higher prices for other patients, which leads to higher insurance premiums and, in the cases of Medicaid and Medicare, higher taxes. Better to insure those patients so that they can go to a doctor at the first signs of illness—not when they start coughing up blood. Click here for the rest of the piece.


July 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Activists Strategize to Push for CIR Now

Sophia Tareen writes for the Associated Press:

Activists disappointed that the Obama administration has not given Immigration top billing are trying to yank the issue off the back burner by pressing ahead with their own lobbying and legislation plans they hope will reinvigorate reform efforts.

By honing in on national lawmakers they believe are sympathetic or can be swayed to support their cause and drawing on voters who said reform was a top priority, many immigrant rights advocates are striving to make headway at a time when the economy is top priority.

"We're not going to just be chanting, 'Yes we can! Yes we can!"' said Jorge Mujica, an Immigration advocate in Chicago, which held the largest May 1 rallies and often sets the tone for activists nationwide. "We are going to put the pressure on discussing the details."

It's been a roller coaster ride for immigrant rights advocates pushing for reform over the past few years. When a call to action came in 2006, more than a million people nationwide marched in solidarity to fight a bill considered anti-immigrant. Since then, two legislation attempts failed. The movement fractured and May 1 rallies lost attendance.

Then came a surge of energy with massive voter registration drives and the election of President Barack Obama, whose father moved to the U.S. from Kenya.

Many activists hoped Obama would push for Immigration reform during his first 100 days in office. Some even thought the president would go so far as to put a moratorium on Immigration raids.

But the first hint of movement didn't come until late last month when Obama met with about 30 lawmakers. Though some immigrant rights advocates praised the meeting and Obama's vow to take up the issue this year, others complain he's been too vague on his plans for border security, employer-based verification for workers and the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

"People are disappointed that things haven't moved further," said University of California, Los Angeles professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda. "They're beginning to organize their own set of priorities."

At this week's annual convention in Chicago of one of the country's largest Hispanic advocacy organizations -- the National Council of La Raza -- attendees got tips on how to lobby lawmakers.

During a session called "Take Your Advocacy to the Next Level! Getting Immigration Reform Done," panelists specializing in political strategy told activists to create a "power analysis" of their U.S. senators and representatives that would include finding out their political donors, stances on Immigration and core values so activists could better appeal to them.

For example, activists could target Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, of North Carolina, who has advocated for families and is a working mom, the panelists said. With that in mind, they could press her on the issue of keeping immigrant families together, they said.

On the ground, activists are getting a jump start on such efforts. One group in Chicago, United Front for Immigrants, has drafted its own legislation proposal that gives lawmakers specific ideas to reform Immigration including ways to "decriminalize the status of being undocumented." For example, instead of deporting illegal immigrants who have no criminal background, the proposal suggests alternative punishments like community service. Click here for the rest of the article.


July 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Manuel Pastor on CIR

 Photo_1013240 One of the threads of many posts lately has been the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform. Manuel Pastor (USC) offers some thoughtful perspectives on that subject -- and ties reform to immigrant integration measures -- on the Economic Policy Insttitute blog.


July 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Journalists' Guide for Covering Immigration

Media coverage of immigration -- indeed, even the terminology used -- can dramatically affect the public perception of immigration and immigrants.  The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) recently published a guide that aims to be a useful resource for journalists seeking to improve coverage of immigration. Titled "Covering Immigration," the guide was written by Stephen Franklin and Teresa Puente. The handbook is available in English and Spanish, in PDF or interactive formats. According to the ICFJ website, "[t]he guide focuses on avoiding and breaking stereotypes, cultivating sources, and ethics in immigration coverage. It also offers an analysis of the roots of immigration and a list of sources and resources for journalists."

Hat tip to my old Cal chum, Bill Hinchberger, editor of BrazilMax (


July 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Schumer on FAIR and an Immigration Reform Proposal by Labor Day

6a00d8341bfae553ef01157133088d970c-800wi In an op/ed in the Buffalo News last week, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) states that "Daniel Stein, head of an extremist group called FAIR [the Federation for American Immigration Reform], distort[ed] my position on immigration in order to scare the American people using false and distorting arguments.  My view on immigration is direct and simple. I believe that the vast majority of the American people are both anti-illegal immigration and pro-legal immigration. That’s why I intend to introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation by Labor Day that secures our border, stops the flow of illegal aliens to the United States and requires all illegal aliens present in the United States to quickly register their presence with the U. S. government and start paying taxes or face imminent deportation." (bold added).

There are several things interesting about Senator Schumer's statement, especially because he is the Democratic Senator taking the lead on immigration reform.

First, he refers to FAIR -- a misnomer of an acronym if there ever was one -- as an "extremist group," a fact of which those familiar with the U.S. immigration debate are well aware (see, e.g., here and here) but which the popular press and the general public appear unaware.  Given its advocacy of more and more enforcement and tighter immigration admissions (if not an outright moratorium on immigration -- an "immigration time out"), FAIR can be expected to oppose almost any comprehensive reform proposal introduced.

Second, Senator Schumer in the op/ed continues to promise to introduce immigration reform legislation by Labor Day, which is just arround the corner.  We will see what the holiday weekend brings and what kind of immigration reform will be on the table.  Senator Schumer's trial balloon on a national identification card for workers does not appear to have gotten any traction.  It should be a very interesting fall!  


July 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Texas AG Opinion on the Legality of In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students Without Clear Answers

Attorney General Greg Abbot provides the following Legal Conclusion:


f j 1623, if the state statutes provide a "postsecondary education benefit" to an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States on the basis of "residence," within the meaning of the federal statute, "unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit . . . without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident." 8 U.S.C. 5 1623(a) (2006). However, the terms "postsecondary education benefit" and "residence" are not defined in the federal law. In addition, no Texas or federal court has construed these terms or considered the substantive application of the federal law to a statute similar to the Texas statutes. Thus, while a federal or state court in Texas, following the reasoning of an intermediate California state appellate court decision, could find that 8 U.S.C. f j 1623 preempts Education Code sections 54.052(a)(3) and 54.053(3) to the extent ofthe conflict with the federal law, given the paucity of judicial precedent, this office cannot predict with certainty that a court would so find.

The United States Supreme Court has "approved bona fide residency requirements in the field of public education." Martinez v. Bynum, 461 U.S. 321, 326-27 (1983). Additionally, the Court has recognized "that a State has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving the quality of its colleges and universities and the right of its own bona fide residents to attend such institutions on a preferential tuition basis." Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441,452-53 (1973). "This 'legitimate interest' permits a 'State [to] establish such reasonable criteria for in-state status as to make virtually certain that students who are not, in fact, bona fide residents of the State, but who have come there solely for educational purposes, cannot take advantage of the in-state rates."' Bynum, 461 U.S. at 327 (quoting Vlandis, 412 U.S. at 453-54). Accordingly, a federal or state court in Texas would likely conclude that Education Code sections 54.052(a)(3) and 54.053(3) do not facially violate the federal Equal Protection Clause because the statutory prerequisites for in-state tuition are reasonable requirements that serve Texas's legitimate or substantial interest in assuring that only bona fide residents that graduate from Texas high schools or receive the diploma equivalent from this state are eligible for in-state The Honorable Rob Eissler - Page 7 (GA-0732) tuition. However, no court has addressed whether a statute similar to the Texas statutes conforms to the mandates of the Equal Protection Clause."

For the full opinion, click here.




July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

No New Rules Federal Rules on Immigration Detention

The Obama administration has refused to make legally enforceable rules for immigration detention, concluding that 'that rule-making would be laborious, time-consuming and less flexible' than the review process now in place."  This has disappointed and angered many immigrant advocacy groups across the country.  For the full story, click here.


July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Immigration Articles

Here are three pieces of immigration scholarship by authors whose work I always learn from:

Gilbert, Lauren. Citizenship, civic virtue, and immigrant integration: the enduring power of community-based norms. 27 Yale L. & Pol"y Rev. 335- 398 (2009).

Heyman, Michael G. Protecting foreign victims of domestic violence: an analysis of asylum regulations. 12 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol"y 115-149 (2008).

Morawetz, Nancy. Book review. (Reviewing David Ngaruri and Philip Schrag, Asylum Denied: A Refugee"s Struggle for Safety in America.) 58 J. Legal Educ. 587-596 (2008).


July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Note on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Readers of the ImmigrationProf blog might find of interest my musings on Concurring Opinions on "comprehensive immigration reform."


July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

SPLC to CNN: "Fire Dobbs"

From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda," wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen. "It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves." Click here.

I applaud SPLC's efforts to convince CNN to get rid of hate mongerer Lou Dobbs from the airwaves.

July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Immigration Litigation News

BIA Ruling in Asylum Related to Gang Persecution in El Salvador

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, through its Immigration Litigation Project, has been representing the young siblings ordered removed to El Salvador by the Board of Immigration Appeals in Matter of SEG, 24 I&N Dec. 579 (BIA 2008). The Board, while finding that the young men faced serious danger from the MS-13 gang if removed, denied their asylum claims, holding that there was no definable social group. They denied that youth who have been subjected to recruitment efforts by the gang and who have rejected or resisted membership due to their own personal, moral, and religious opposition to the gang constitute a particular social group. Working with co-counsel at the law firm of Latham & Watkins, the Immigrant Law Center filed motions to reopen and reconsider with the Board, submitted requests for certification of Matter of SEG to Attorney General Holder, and also were pursuing a petition for review at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Board denied the motion to reopen in June 2009. The Eighth Circuit appeal and request for certification remained pending. On July 6, 2009, ICE agents unexpectedly arrested and detained the clients and were poised to remove them to El Salvador this week. They had not been detained at anytime prior. ICE summarily denied the requests for an administrative stay. The Eighth Circuit denied a stay. An emergency application for a stay of removal was filed with Supreme Court Justice, Alito. When he denied the application, it was refilled with Justice Stevens who in turn referred the matter to the full court. The full court requested the government's response by July 29. Late last week, ICE released the clients. Shortly afterwards, the Immigrant Law Center were contacted by DHS appellate counsel and the Solicitor General's office, offering a joint motion to reopen. A motion was filed last week and the BIA reopened the case for further consideration of the asylum claims.  For the BIA order, see Download MATTER of SEG - BIA order reopening1

No Detention Rule

Despite the fact that immigration detention conditions have been consistently criticized (see, e.g.,here), the Obama administration has announced its refusal to make legally enforceable rules for immigration detention in a letter.  Immigrant rights advocates contend that much evidence "underscore[s] the government’s failure to enforce minimum standards it set in 2000, including those concerning detainees’ access to basic health care, telephones and lawyers, even as the number of people detained has soared to more than 400,000 a year."   The letter from the Department of Homeland Security concludes “that rule-making would be laborious, time-consuming and less flexible” than the review process now in placer.

The administration’s letter responded to a 30-day deadline set by the federal district court in June. In that case, Judge Denny Chin ruled that the agency’s failure to respond to the plaintiffs’ petition for two and a half years was unreasonable.

For Nina Berstein's story in the N.Y. Times on this, click here..


July 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hundreds of U.S. Citizens Arrested and Detained by ICE, and Some Deported are Suing

Among them are:

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, among them are:

-- Pedro Guzman, a mentally disabled man born and raised in Southern California, who was deported in 2007 to Mexico, where he survived by eating out of garbage cans for three months while his frantic mother searched for him.

-- Rennison Castillo, a Washington state man who was born in Belize but took his oath of citizenship while serving in the U.S. Army in 1998, who spent seven months in an ICE prison in 2006. He is suing the government with the help of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle.  For the full story, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Groups Finds North Carolina's 287(g) Program "Seriously Flawed"

The finding by the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are based on an analysis of documents released under FOIA. For the full story, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Arpaio Forced by Feds to Release Immigrants Illegally Arrested in Recent Sweep

Recently we posted on Arpaio's recent raid in Arizona, which led to the arrest of 13 immigrants.  Arizona newspapers now report that DHS has ordered the release of all 13 detainees because their arrests did not follow new DHS directives on local immigration enforcement. For the full story, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Jersey Court Grants Remedy to Immigrant ill-advised about the Immigration Consequences of his Criminal Pleas

The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision to deport Jose Nunez-Valdez of Camden, who argued he did not realize deportation was one of the stipulations to pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.  For the full story, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NEW AMERICANS IN THE KEYSTONE STATE: Pennsylvania's Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are a Political and Economic Powerhouse

The Immigration Policy Center (Download New%20Americans%20in%20the%20Keystone%20State[1]) has compiled research which shows that immigrants, Latinos, and Asians not only wield political power in Pennsylvania, but are an integral part of the state's economy and tax base. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse. As voters, they are a growing political force. Yet anti-immigrant groups are exaggerating the alleged fiscal "costs" imposed by unauthorized immigrants, and are completely discounting the many economic benefits which immigrants, Latinos, and Asians bring to the Keystone State.

Highlights of the research include:

• Immigrants make up about 5.4% of Pennsylvania's total population, and half of them are naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote.

• New Americans (naturalized U.S. citizens and their U.S.-born children) represent 5.2% of registered voters. • The purchasing power of Pennsylvania's Latinos and Asians totaled $22.6 billion in 2008.

• Businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $8.2 billion and employed nearly 53,000 people in 2002 (the last year for which data is available).

• If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Pennsylvania, the state would lose $5.3 billion in expenditures, $2.3 billion in economic output, and about 27,000 jobs. There is no denying the contributions immigrants, Latinos, and Asians make and the important role they play in Pennsylvania's political and economic future. Pennsylvania's budget deficit was not created by immigrants and it won't be filled by attacking them.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FAIR Challenged in its Findings on the Cost of Immigration in Pennsylvania

In response to a report published by FAIR about the economic burden of undocumented immigrants on Pennsylvania taxpayers, the Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that "immigrants, Latinos, and Asians not only wield political power in Pennsylvania, but are an integral part of the state's economy and tax base."  For the full findings, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cert Petition Filed to Challenge Arizona's Employer Sanctions Law


1. Whether an Arizona statute that imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized aliens is

invalid under a federal statute that expressly “preempt[s] any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens.” 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(h)(2).

2. Whether the Arizona statute, which requires all employers to participate in a federal electronic employment verification system, is preempted by a federal law that specifically makes that system voluntary.8 U.S.C. § 1324a note.

3. Whether the Arizona statute is impliedly preempted because it undermines the “comprehensive scheme” that Congress created to regulate the employment of aliens.

Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc.

v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137, 147 (2002).


For a copy of the full cert. petition, click here.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Pat Turner on the "Birthers," Lou Dobbs' New Hobby Horse

160px-ObamaBarack Here is Intelligent Talk Radio segment on "The Birthers Movement," which claims that President Obama is not a "natural born citizen" and thus is not elgible to be President of the United States.  This movement even has its own websitePatricia Turner, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies at UC Davis studies rumors and shares her expertise about these disturbing Pat-turner fabrications.

On a related note, the Southern Poverty Law Center has called for CNN to fire Lou Dobbs, who recently has given credence to the conspiracy theories of the birthers movement.   "Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda," wrote SPLC President Richard Cohen. "It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from
the airwaves."  Lou Dobbs long has been advocating strict immigration controls and has propagated myths -- such as that Mexican immigrants spread leprosy, swine flu, etc. -- about immigrants.


UPDATE:  Peter Spiro (Temple) seriously addresses the "birther" movement in thisop/ed.


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

IMMIGRANT DETAINEE RIGHTS ARE ROUTINELY, SYSTEMATICALLY VIOLATED, NEW REPORT FINDS "A Broken System" is based on 18,000 Pages of Previously Confidential ICE, ABA, and UNHCR Reviews of Detention Centers

Denied access to loved ones, lawyers and basic necessities, the fundamental rights of the men and women within the nation's immigration detention system are routinely and systematically violated, according to a new report released today by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the ACLU of Southern California, and the international law firm of Holland & Knight, LLP.

The first nationwide comprehensive report of its kind, "A Broken System: Confidential Reports Reveal Failures in U.S. Detention Centers," sheds new light on the conditions suffered by hundreds of thousands of people housed in detention centers around the country, and offers policymakers specific recommendations to ameliorate the situation.

Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims to conduct a formal review of each detention facility on a yearly basis, "A Broken System" shows that such reviews carry little enforcement weight, as many of the detention facilities fail to rectify problems identified by ICE's own inspectors. Even more troubling, the inadequacy of the ICE reviews is demonstrated when they are compared with independent reviews by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of the same facilities, which often found a greater number and more severe violations in detention centers than was reported by ICE. For instance, the ABA and UNHCR reviewers found detainees were retaliated or punished more severely than allowed for minor disciplinary infractions. ICE reviewers, on the other hand, overlooked these serious violations.

The findings from "A Broken System" are particularly timely, as they are released in the wake of a DHS decision to reject the long-standing request of NGOs and the ABA to promulgate regulations that would require immigration detention facilities to adhere to basic standards of care. This agency statement responds to a petition for rulemaking submitted in January 2007 by dozens of immigrant detainees and advocacy groups in the wake of public reports detailing the humanitarian crisis in the facilities. The report highlights the importance of having independent monitors of detention centers. In the Kenosha County Detention Center, for example, a UNHCR report found that while men were allowed two daily hours of recreation, women housed in the same facility were denied recreation rights. The following year, ICE inspectors rated that same facility "acceptable," despite the fact that women were still being denied access to recreation facilities.

"A Broken System" is based on an analysis of hundreds of ICE, ABA and UNHCR detention facility review reports from 2001 through 2005. The reports, which had been withheld from the public, were obtained through discovery in litigation. Although the report is the most comprehensive analysis of its kind, the government withheld a significant number of documents it was ordered to produce. As a result, the violations outlined in the report represent only a fraction of the number of violations that actually occurred but could not be documented.

The recommendations put forth by the report are based upon thousands of hours of research and analysis of the detention center reviews. Key among them is the proposal that the ICE revise its standards for immigration detention to make them judicially enforceable. The report also determines that given the gross abuses, further expansion of the immigrant detention system should be stopped, and more use should be made of humane alternatives to detention.

The findings from "A Broken System" are particularly timely, as they are released in the wake of a DHS decision to reject the long-standing request of NGOs and the ABA to promulgate regulations that would require immigration detention facilities to adhere to basic standards of care. This agency statement responds to a petition for rulemaking submitted in January 2007 by dozens of immigrant detainees and advocacy groups in the wake of public reports detailing the humanitarian crisis in the facilities. The name of the case involved in the petition is Families for Freedom v. Napolitano, No. 08-CIV-4056 (DC).


July 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)